The clean, or cargada in Spanish, is one of the movements with which the most kilos are loaded in CrossFit, only after the deadlift and the squat.
It usually appears as an exercise on its own or paired with the jerk as well, which is known as the two-stroke lift.
What is a clean?
A clean is a movement that consists of bringing the load from the floor to the front rack position by passing or not through a squat.
Clean technique step by step
As we did with the snatch PR let's go through this movement step by step in order to control it.
The goal is to guide the bar from the ground to the hips, using the momentum of your extension to accelerate the bar on its way to the shoulders.
The athlete stands behind the bar and in contact with it, with feet at hip level.
Place your hands on the bar at shoulder width or slightly wider. It is advisable to use the hook grip.
The hips are below the level of the shoulders and the shoulders are in front of the bar.
What is hook grip?
The hook grip consists of gripping not only the bar with the hand, but also including the thumb. It can be a little awkward at first, but it is recommended for heavy lifts, as it is safer than leaving the thumb out.
The athlete keeps the arms extended without bending the elbows, activates the core and creates a strong posture with a straight back.
The shoulders are slightly in front of the plane of the bar.
Pull the bar using your lats so that it remains attached to the bar while pushing off the ground with your feet.
It lifts the chest while opening the hips.
Second pull: hip extension
Once the bar exceeds the knees, the pace of the bar should be accelerated.
The explosiveness of the hips is the engine that finishes driving the bar vertically at chest height with the elbows pointing back and shrugging the shoulders.
When it is time to extend the hips, the knees are extended and the heels come off the ground due to inertia.
Front rack input
Once the power is transferred to the bar that has risen, the athlete descends with a squat and the elbows rotate quickly to accommodate the bar above the shoulders.
Until the athlete has reached a fully upright position with the hips extended, the execution of the movement is not finished.
These are the variants in which clean is usually presented, either in the WOD or in the strength part.
The load is executed in such a way that the the barbell must be received above the parallel of the squat..
Full clean / squat clean
On the other hand, when specified as full or squat, se forces the athlete to make the reception of the bar on the way down to the squat position..
To end the repetition, the athlete must finish standing with the hips extended.
Hang means pendant in Spanish, which refers to the way in which the clean starts. Instead of lifting the weight from the ground, loading starts from a hanging position.
In turn, it can be further specified: high hang (above the knees).
This exercise is used as part of the technical training to help the lifter practice the transition to the front rack.
It is also a way to help improve strength and coordination.
The difference in the execution of the clean is that no knee flexion is used at any time.The entire stroke of the bar is made purely with the strength (muscle) of the lifter.
Tips to improve loading
In the front rack position the athlete is carrying the weight supported on the shoulders from the front and in a squat position.
This posture can be somewhat uncomfortable for several reasons, for one limitation or for several, as we will see below.
This is a complete upper body mobility tutorial: wrist, shoulder and dorsal with the specific exercises for each section.
While weightlifting shoes can be helpful in bridging a shortened ankle range of motion, it is important to improve mobility so as not to be dependent.
This video explains 5 exercises to work on ankle mobility.
Another major involvement in the front rack position is the hips. With these two exercises you can improve your tolerance to holding the squat position.
Work on the technique
In this Youtube list you have hours of clean technique to work on the movement.
Bending elbows prematurely
The trapezius is not activated and too much use is made of arm strength.
There is a false belief that once the barbell reaches hip height it must be struck to propel it upward.
The "caderazo", as this technique is known, causes the bar to move forward, deflecting it from its trajectory and making the lift inefficient. In order to save it, the athlete is forced to jump forward to find and catch the bar.
Body backward on the second pull
Pulling the body backwards at the moment of the second pull will cause the bar to move forward and it will be easier to lose it.
Sometimes the athlete, while going backwards, also makes an exaggerated heel lift.
Lifting the bar too fast off the ground
The first part of the movement is intended to start with a proper position for the rest of the movement. Doing the first pull quickly can cause the bar to collide with the knees and change the entire movement.
Too much weight
A very common mistake is to place too much weight on the bar. In addition to the risk of injury, this complicates the ability to internalize the technique of any weightlifting movement.
Accessories for clean
It may be helpful to use:
Weightlifting shoesThe hard sole provides stability when lifting weights. In addition, having a few extra centimeters in the heel helps to improve the range of motion of the ankles.
Knee padsIt is advisable to use it with large loads.
Lifting beltKnee pads, like knee pads, can be a support to turn to in times of high percentage lifts or personal best attempts.