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What is the Hang Clean?

By D. Messmer
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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The hang clean is a compound weightlifting exercise. Though it is not considered a competitive lift, it is good practice for the clean and jerk since it uses several of the same motions. If the lifter performs this exercise correctly it will provide a very intense workout for the quads and glutes. It will also benefit the lower back, the upper back, the traps, and the forearms.

Like all compound lifts, the hang clean involves more than a single motion and, since the lift depends on quick movements that create momentum, it is possible to lift more weight than would be possible during a comparable isolation exercise. Also, since the exercise targets multiple muscle groups at once, it results in a more intense workout than an isolation exercise provides.

The hang clean requires a weight bar and weights. Since the weights do not touch the ground during the exercise it is possible to do this lift with normal metal weights, but it is much safer to use rubber weights just in case the lifter loses control during the lift. It is also important that the lifter does not try to lift more weight than he can control, as the fast motions that the hang clean requires can be dangerous if the weight is excessive.

To begin the hang clean, the lifter stands with his legs shoulder width apart while holding a weight bar with an overhand grip. The hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The lifter should bend at the knees and hips to lower the weight to about the level of his lower-mid thigh. Then, in one fast motion, he straightens his legs and shrugs his shoulders to pull the weight into the air without ever letting go.

While the bar is in the air, he quickly pulls his body under the bar and "catches" the weight on his chest as he bends his legs towards a squat position. The elbows will rotate around the bar so that the arms will be bent with the palms facing the ceiling, still holding the bar firmly. At the bottom of the squat, the lifter then straightens his legs in a standard squatting motion until he is standing upright. To finish the exercise he bends his knees slightly and gently lowers the weight back towards the starting position.

The key to this exercise is proper form and maintaining control of the weight at all times. This will not only ensure safety but will also maximize the benefits of the lift. It is also important that the lifter makes sure to have plenty of space for this lift, and he should use a weightlifting platform whenever possible.

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