Sibling to the Snatch and in the same sentence as the Jerk, the Clean gets a focus in CrossFit because of the athleticism it develops. It is also one of the most difficult lifts we perform.
In quick review, the Olympic lifts are essential while pursuing fitness and athleticism, specifically overall strength, power, and coordination (while increasing ROM and focusing on results). They are of course the lifts we have seen for years as a part of the Olympics. We use the Clean and related exercises at Amplify to foster athletic development, and we can safely perform the lift even while members are still learning the basics of the movement.
In looking at Cleans, as with any important lift or physical exercise, some debate surrounds the move and the pursuit of the best and most efficient technique. Like the Snatch, a variety of start and finish positions exist as well as countless drills to build power and muscle strength. These lifts and drills for the Clean all aim for the same goal of standing a barbell up into a front rack position, and also hope to trigger endocrine and central nervous system responses for future development (energy use, hormone development, impulse transmission, and memory of body position).
Often times a Clean and that goes through a full squat gets the designation “Squat Clean” in CrossFit. Interestingly enough, there is no such thing.
A Clean is a movement where an athlete picks the barbell up off the ground and “cleanly” stands it up in the front rack position. The term Power Clean is used to refer to such a powerful pull that the athlete did not need to drop under the bar as much, and thus a full squat was unnecessary. Power Cleans always/must keep the hips above parallel in the catch before standing. Calling a Clean a Squat Clean is mostly for beginners to help them understand the difference and also realize a trained athlete must squat fully in order to receive the barbell for maximal load. If the term “Hang” is used, it means the barbell starts up at the hips at some point… not the ground. High-Hang, Hang, and Low-Hang are common terms for positioning that starts higher than the floor.
Coming from the floor, both the Clean and the Power Clean use the same mechanics.
Although the general Olympic Lifting community stays away from high repetition workouts, CrossFit embraces and pushes these into its weekly programming as well as its competitions. The critique is that an Olympic Lift like the Clean should be done explosively, at a repetition rate that develops speed, power, balance, and coordination. The argument is that in order to develop this type of lift it should be performed with no more than 1-5 reps at a time, in a small set range. CrossFit often pushes upwards of the 100 rep mark for the metabolic conditioning effect and concurrently gets knocked for it. A response to this critique is that the movements used for conditioning purposes are at loads that are generally not near a 1rep max, and can be executed safely with efficient movement to develop strength endurance. Nonetheless it’s a valid argument against our system, and one that questions overtraining or potential injury. This is why a smart workout progression and great technique are stressed in any good CrossFit gym.
Skill / Strength
EMOM = 15 Min
Min 1-3, 55-65%
Min 4-6, 65-75%
Min 7-9, 75-80%
Min 10-12, 80-85%
Min 13-15, 85-90%
5- Squat Cleans RX= 225/155
10-Bar over Burpees
15- Wall Ball Shots RX= 20/14
5- Rounds For Time