The Hang Clean is a variation of the full Clean that is done in Olympic weightlifting. This variation involves a change to the starting position of a full Clean. The barbell will start in a hang position just above the knee instead of from the floor. The rest of the movement stays exactly the same.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to Hang Clean including important coaching tips and a couple of alternatives in case you need them.
How To Hang Clean
- Bumper Plates (technically iron plates could be used, but not recommended)
- Start by taking a clean grip, about a thumbs length away from the start of the knurling. Using a hook grip (wrapping the fingers over the thumb) is recommended.
- With a flat back, stand tall with the bar.
- Eyes should be focused straight ahead, weight distributed between the heel and mid foot.
- 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 barbell to slide down the thigh. Shoulders should end up above, or slightly in front of, the bar.
- Once the bar reaches a few inches from the knee – you are now in the proper hang position for the 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 bar 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 full squat. The elbows should quickly swing under the bar, finishing with the elbows high and triceps parallel to the floor.
- Make sure you are braced to receive the bar in the catch position.
- Once you have secured the catch quickly drive out of the catch position as you would a Front Squat.
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 bar with the thighs once it reaches the hip crease, then they must make sure that the bar doesn’t swing out away from them. The bar should stay close to the body throughout the entire second pull.
Hang Clean Benefits
The benefits of a Hang Clean are really not much different than the benefits of almost all Olympic lifts and their respective variations. Mainly, improving the lifter’s ability to generate force in a short amount of time.
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.
More specifically, utilizing Clean variations gives the lifter fewer pieces to think about and allows them to focus on the specific movements that the variation emphasizes. In this case, by removing the first pull from the floor, the lifter is able to focus on generating as much force as possible with the hips.
This makes the Hang Clean a great variation to use with athletes.
Hang Clean Variations
There are plenty of variations of the Hang 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:
The Power Clean is one of the most popular clean variations and can be achieved by simply changing the starting position. By starting from the floor instead of the hang, you can switch to a Power Clean pretty easily.
Hang Power Clean
The Hang Power Clean is another popular variation that changes the catch position.
Start the movement in the exact same hang position, but instead of catching in a full squat, the lifter will receive the bar in a quarter-squat position. (Just like with Power Clean mentioned just above) It’s a bit less technical, and therefore, can be more beginner-friendly.
Hang Clean Alternatives
If you can’t Hang Clean for whatever reason – lack of equipment, technique or maybe an injury – here are a few alternatives that you be able to try out. Want even more options? Here are my 10 favorite alternatives for Hang Clean.
Dumbbell Hang Power Clean
Don’t have a barbell? No worries. If you have dumbbells, you can give the Dumbbell Hang Power Clean a try.
The movement is exactly the same as the barbell version. The main difference will come when ‘catching’ the dumbbells. Once you rotate the elbows through, let the palms face each other and allow the dumbbells to rest on the shoulders.
If you have an injury limiting one arm, then you might even want to try Single Arm Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans. Same movement, but using just one dumbbell and one arm. (Consult with your Doctor or Athletic Trainer before working around injuries)
If the 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 Clean technique.
More Links and Info
If you’d like to see even more Olympic lift variations, head over to the Olympic Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of exercises, all with complete detailed instructions.