The hang clean is one of the most effective full-body exercises. It uses many major muscle groups in the body, making it an excellent addition to your strength training workout routine.
The primary muscles targeted by the hang clean include your gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, trapezius, deltoids, soleus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and gastrocnemius.
The hang clean can be quite challenging for people who are just starting their strength training exercises. Without the right guidance, learning the correct form of this exercise can be tricky.
However, the good news is that once you learn the proper technique, you won’t find this exercise difficult. It will also become easier for you to perform complex variations and lift heavier weights.
How to do the hang clean correctly
For this exercise, you’ll need a barbell. Here’s how you can do the hang clean correctly:
- Load the barbell with a weight that you can easily handle.
- Place the barbell on the ground on a flat surface in front of you. Keep your feet hip-width apart and keep your chest forward and shoulders back. Make sure you properly engage your core.
- Squat down and hold the barbell wider than your shoulder-width grip. Your palms should face your body, and your thumbs should be under your four fingers.
- Now push through your heels and stand up in a straight position. Keep the barbell close to your shins and bring it to your mid-thigh level. Make sure your arms are fully extended when you are in the standing position.
- Slightly bend forward at your hips and push your buttocks back. Lower the barbell until it reaches above your knee height. Keep your gaze and back straight, and don’t bend your knees forward.
- While you drop your body into a squat position, allow your hips to thrust forward. Snap your elbows forward, slightly shrug your shoulders and take the barbell up to hop just under it while taking it to your chest level in front of your shoulders.
- Take a standing position while keeping the barbell on your shoulders in a front rack position.
- Lastly, lower the barbell down on the floor slowly and return to the starting position.
Here’s a video for reference:
Tips to make the best out of hang cleans
Here are some tips you can follow when doing hang cleans:
- When performing this exercise, make sure you take a good hang position by engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
- Push your buttocks back and hinge at your hips until your hamstrings are in the correct posture.
- When squatting down, make sure you don’t sit down. Instead, push your butt back and go down in a squat position. Sitting down takes away the focus from your hamstrings and puts stress on your quadriceps.
- Make sure you check the position of the barbell. When you take the hang position, the barbell should be straight down. Do not restrict your thighs.
Benefits of the hang clean
One of the most amazing benefits of a hang clean is that it is a full-body workout. Performing hang cleans involves several joints and muscles, including your deltoids, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, erector spinae, etc.
Various studies have shown that the hang clean has a very positive impact on the speed development, power, strength, and overall performance of a person.
This exercise also helps with day-to-day activities and makes your functional fitness more efficient and easier. Since the hang clean promotes good posture and balance, it may also potentially help reduce the chances of back pain.
Once you gain strength and confidence, you can try different variations of the hang clean. Some of the variations include:
1) Front squat with rack grip
This variation excludes the explosive part of the basic hang clean and can be performed by holding the bar in the front rack position.
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold the barbell with a tight grip and keep it in front of your neck, over the front edge of your shoulders (front-rack position).
- Perform squats.
2) High pull
Another great variation of the hang clean is the hang clean high pull. This exercise reduces the stress on your wrist and shoulder.
- Take the basic hang clean position and hold a barbell at your mid-thigh level.
- Pull the bar up to your chest and push your hips back, and then return to the initial level.
3) Increased weight
This variation requires you to add some weight to the barbell to make the exercise even more challenging. However, you should try this hang clean variation only when you have gained more strength.
- Add some weight to the barbell and increase the intensity of the exercise.
- Perform the same steps as the basic hang clean exercise.
- Increase the weight in small amounts to avoid back pain or injuries.
4) Full power clean
The full power hang clean is an advanced Olympic weightlifting exercise. In this variation, you need to start and end the exercise at your thigh level. This makes it more difficult and complex than the basic version.
- Start by taking a squat position and place the barbell at your thigh level.
- Lift the barbell close to your legs as you stand up, and stop when it reaches your mid-thigh level.
- Push your hips forward and flex your knees while keeping your elbows forward and catching the barbell in front of your shoulders.
- Stand up completely with the barbell in your hand, and then lower it down to its initial position.
Some common mistakes to avoid
Avoid these mistakes to keep the hang clean productive and safe.
- When performing the hang clean, do not allow the barbell to swing away. This increases the risk of back pain and injuries. Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the exercise to keep the correct form and control.
- Make sure the barbell drops vertically rather than moving horizontally or back. Do not allow your thighs and knees in the way.
- Be very careful about your grip. A too wide or too narrow grip can reduce your ability to perform the exercise with the correct technique.
- When pulling the bar, use your knees and drive the force through your feet. Do not use your arms to pull the bar.
- Maintain a proper body position as you land. A wrong position can affect your balance and also might increase the risk of injuries and strain.
- Do not perform too many repetitions. Instead, start with a few reps and focus on your posture and the form. Also, do not lift heavier weights until you are strong and confident enough.
Performing any weightlifting exercise incorrectly increases the risk of injuries. Since the hang clean is an advanced weightlifting workout, you should be even more specific about your body posture and form.
If you have pain or injuries in your shoulders, elbows or wrists, avoid this exercise as it may not be good for your condition. Stop exercising immediately if you feel pain or discomfort, and talk to your doctor to seek guidance on whether the hang clean is safe for you.