The Dumbbell Hang Power Clean is a variation of the full Clean that is done in Olympic weightlifting. This variation includes three different alterations to the full Clean done with a barbell.
The most obvious difference is dumbbells are used instead of a barbell. Dumbbells can be great if there is an equipment limitation (you don’t have a bar), an injury limitation (bad shoulder perhaps) or just to change up the movement and add some variation to your workout.
The dumbbells will also start in a hang position just above the knee instead of from the floor. (Obviously starting from the floor isn’t really a feasible option for DB Cleans) The dumbbells are then caught in a quarter squat position instead of a full front squat like in a full Clean.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans, along with explaining its benefits and providing you with a couple of alternatives in case you need them.
Table of Contents
How To Do DB Hang Power Cleans
- With a flat back, stand tall with the dumbbells.
- Eyes should be focused straight ahead, and weight distributed between the heel and midfoot.
- Curl the wrists by turning the knuckles down towards the floor.
- Set the back by squeezing the shoulder blades together (“chest out”) and engaging the lats.
- Deep breathe in and brace the core.
- Put a slight bend in the knee and then hinge forward by pushing the hips back and allowing the dumbbells to slide down the thigh. Shoulders should end up above, or slightly in front of, the dumbbells.
- Once the dumbbells reach a few inches from the knee – you are now in the proper hang position for the DB Hang Power Clean.
- From here, drive the floor with the feet and explosively extend the hips forward.
- Finish the drive by triple extending through the hips, knees and ankles. This full extension should be immediately followed by an aggressive shoulders shrug.
- Now, pull the elbows high while keeping the dumbbells close to the body.
- Transition to the catch (front rack position) by quickly shifting the feet from hip width to shoulder width and dropping the hips down into a partial squat. The elbows should quickly swing down and under, staying close to the body and finishing with the elbows high and triceps parallel to the floor.
- The ends of the dumbbells should land on the shoulders with palms facing each other.
- Make sure you are braced to receive the dumbbells in the catch position and then return to a standing position.
Coaching points for the Dumbbell Hang Power Clean would be worthy of an entire article all to itself, but I’m going to at least touch on a few of the main ones here.
Make sure to maintain a neutral, flat back during the hinge. One of the biggest mistakes that can lead to an injury is allowing the back to round during the hinge. This puts an excessive amount of strain on the spine as the athlete begins the movement.
If the athlete cannot maintain a flat back, lower the weight and incorporate more exercises that can improve the upper back strength needed to maintain a proper position like RDLs.
The dreaded rounded back can also occur if the lifter hinges too aggressively and quickly extend without maintaining a braced core. I usually see this when athletes are trying to ‘rock’ into the pull instead of getting properly set.
If the athlete is striking the dumbbells on the thighs as they reach the hip crease, then they must make sure that the dumbbells don’t swing out away from them. The dumbbells should stay close to the body throughout the entire second pull.
Dumbbell Hang Power Clean Benefits
The benefits of DB Hang Power Cleans are really not much different than the benefits of almost all Olympic lifts and their respective variations – improving force production.
By explosively training the triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles – you are training and improving one of, if not the most important athletic movements. Accelerating on a soccer field, jumping for a rebound and exploding off the line to rush the quarterback (just to name a few) are all rooted in the triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles.
Utilizing certain Clean variations can give the lifter fewer pieces to think about and can allow them to focus on the specific movements that the variation emphasizes.
In this case, by removing the first pull from the floor and the full squat on the catch, the lifter is able to really focus on generating as much force as possible with the hips. This makes the DB Hang Power Clean a great variation to use with athletes.
DB Hang Power Clean Variations
There are plenty of variations of the Hang Power Clean that you can do, many simply by changing the starting position, the catch position or the equipment used.
Let’s look at a couple of the most popular ones:
Dumbbell Hang Clean
The Dumbbell Hang Clean is a popular variation that changes the catch position.
Start the movement in the exact same hang position, but instead of catching in a partial squat, the lifter will receive the dumbbells in a full squat position.
Dumbbell Hang High Pull
If the catch is giving you trouble technically (or you find the catch uncomfortable), you can adjust to a High Pull instead.
This variation involves the exact same starting position and the same pull, but the movement finishes with the high pull and doesn’t include transitioning to the catch position.
By removing the catch, this variation is also a simpler movement that can be easier for beginners to pick up on and allows the focus to remain on generating power with the hips.
DB Hang Power Clean Alternatives
If you can’t do DB Hang Power Cleans for whatever reason – lack of equipment, technique or maybe an injury – here are a few alternatives that you be able to try out.
Hang Power Clean
Don’t have dumbbells? No worries. If you have a barbell, you can give Hang Power Cleans a try.
The movement stays exactly the same as the dumbbell version.
The main difference will come when ‘catching’ the barbell. Once you rotate the elbows through, allow the bar to be caught with the shoulders.
If your Olympic lifting technique is a concern, then Kettlebell Swings may be a good alternative. You still get some of the same hip extension benefits in a less technical and more beginner-friendly movement.
If you’re learning on your own, this is a great substitute while you continue to get comfortable and proficient with your Hang Power Clean technique.
More Links and Info
Looking for more Olympic Lift Variations? The Horton Barbell Exercise Library has a growing collection of lifts, all with complete step-by-step instructions and more.