Weightlifting is a fantastic way to build strength and improve overall fitness. Two popular techniques among weightlifters are the clean and squat clean. At first glance, these two exercises may seem similar, but there are several key differences between them.
It’s important to understand the proper technique and form for both moves to avoid injuries and maximize benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between clean vs squat clean, discuss the benefits of each exercise, and provide practical tips for executing them correctly.
What is the Clean?
The clean is a weightlifting exercise that involves lifting a barbell from the floor to your shoulders in one fluid motion. It is a compound movement, meaning it works multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the legs, back, hips, and shoulders.
To execute the clean technique with proper form, begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell on the floor in front of you. Place your hands on the bar, slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart. Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, lift the bar off the floor explosively, extending your hips and knees until you reach a standing position.
Then, as the bar continues to rise, pull your body down and underneath it, catching the bar on the front of your shoulders with your elbows forward. The clean should end with the bar resting on the front of your shoulders and your elbows pointing towards the ground.
Practicing the clean exercise regularly can improve your power, speed, and strength. It is also an excellent movement for enhancing grip strength and engaging your core.
What is the Squat Clean?
The squat clean is a weightlifting exercise that combines the clean movement with a full squat, engaging the lower body muscles more intensely.
During a squat clean, the lifter starts in the same position as a regular clean, with the barbell on the floor. The lifter then performs the clean movement and, instead of catching the barbell in a partial squat, drops into a full squat position. The barbell is held at the shoulders with the elbows pointing forward, and the lifter then stands up from the squat position to complete the exercise.
The squat in the squat clean allows for a greater range of motion and requires more strength and mobility in the lower body than the regular clean. This makes it a more challenging exercise that can lead to significant gains in lower body strength and stability.
|Benefits of Squat Clean
|Engages the lower body muscles more intensely
|Improves leg strength and stability
|Involves core engagement for improved stability
|Burns more calories due to the added squatting movement
Like the regular clean, the squat clean can also be modified to suit individual preferences or goals. For example, the lifter may choose to use a power squat clean, where the squatting movement is shortened to a half squat, or a hang squat clean, where the lifter starts the movement from a standing position with the barbell held at the hips.
Key Differences Between Clean and Squat Clean
While the clean and squat clean exercises may appear to be similar at first glance, there are some significant differences between the two. Understanding these differences is crucial for deciding which technique is best suited to an individual’s fitness goals and abilities.
The main difference between the two exercises is the depth of the squatting movement. In the regular clean, the athlete catches the bar in a quarter squat position, whereas in the squat clean, the athlete catches the bar in a deep squat position.
Another important difference is the range of motion involved in the two techniques. The squat clean requires a greater range of motion as the athlete must lower themselves into a deeper squat position to catch the bar. This increased range of motion also leads to more muscle activation in the lower body, making the squat clean a more challenging exercise overall.
Muscles are engaged slightly differently in the two exercises as well. The regular clean emphasizes upper body explosiveness, with the focus on generating power through the hips and legs. In contrast, the squat clean places greater emphasis on lower body strength, requiring the athlete to generate more power from the legs.
Overall, the squat clean is a more challenging exercise than the regular clean and requires greater strength and flexibility. The regular clean, on the other hand, is more accessible to beginners and is often used as a stepping stone towards mastering the squat clean technique.
The Benefits of Clean
The clean exercise is a powerful movement that offers numerous advantages to fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating this exercise into your workout routine:
- Improved strength: The clean works multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the legs, back, and core. By increasing the load on these muscles, you’ll see significant improvements in overall strength.
- Increased power: Power is the ability to generate force quickly. The explosive nature of the clean exercise helps to improve power output, which is crucial for activities like sprinting, jumping, and throwing.
- Better explosiveness: Explosiveness refers to the ability to generate maximal force in a short period. The clean helps to develop this quality, allowing you to move with greater speed and agility.
- Improved grip strength: The clean involves gripping a loaded barbell, which can help to improve your grip strength over time.
- Increased calorie burn: The clean is a high-intensity exercise that burns a significant number of calories. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to lose weight or burn fat.
Overall, the clean is a versatile exercise that offers a range of benefits for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.
The Benefits of Squat Clean
The squat clean is a highly effective weightlifting exercise that offers a variety of benefits for those who perform it regularly. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Engages multiple muscle groups: The squat clean targets a range of muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and shoulders. This makes it an excellent compound exercise for building overall strength and power.
- Improves leg strength and stability: The squatting movement used in the squat clean places additional stress on the lower body muscles, leading to improved leg strength and stability over time. This can be especially beneficial for athletes who require explosive power in movements such as jumping or sprinting.
- Enhances mobility: The squat clean requires a full range of motion in the hips, knees, and ankles, which can help improve overall mobility and flexibility. This can be particularly valuable for older individuals or those who spend a lot of time sitting or standing in a static position.
- Engages the core: The squat clean also engages the core muscles throughout the movement, helping to improve core strength and stability. This can lead to improved posture and reduced risk of injury in the lower back and hips.
In addition to these benefits, the squat clean can also be modified to suit different skill levels and fitness goals. For example, beginners can start with lighter weights and focus on perfecting their form before progressing to heavier loads. Meanwhile, more experienced lifters may choose to perform multiple reps of the squat clean in a row, which can increase endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
Which Technique is Right for You?
Now that we have explored the differences and benefits of clean and squat clean exercises, you may be wondering which technique is best suited for your fitness goals and abilities. Here are some factors to consider when deciding:
- Skill level: If you are new to weightlifting or have limited experience with Olympic lifting, it may be best to start with the clean before progressing to the squat clean.
- Flexibility: The squat clean requires greater flexibility in the hips, ankles, and shoulders than the clean. If you struggle with mobility, the clean may be a better option.
- Muscle activation: The squat clean engages the lower body muscles more intensely than the clean. If you are looking to increase leg strength and stability, the squat clean may be more suitable for you.
Ultimately, the choice between clean and squat clean depends on your personal preferences and fitness goals. If you are still unsure, consider consulting with a certified personal trainer or weightlifting coach to get more personalized guidance.
Tips for Performing Clean and Squat Clean
Executing the clean and squat clean exercises properly is crucial for maximizing their benefits and achieving desired results. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you perfect your technique:
Tips for Clean Technique
|Start with the right stance
|Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly angle them outward. Position your toes under the bar and grip it with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
|Engage your core
|Activate your core muscles by squeezing your glutes and tightening your abs before initiating the lift.
|Focus on the triple extension
|Drive through your heels, extending your hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously to propel the bar upward.
|Keep the bar close to your body
|As the bar rises, keep it as close to your body as possible, brushing your thighs and hips on its way up.
|Master the catch
|Quickly drop into a quarter-squat position and catch the barbell at the shoulders, keeping your elbows high and chest up.
Tips for Squat Clean Technique
|Assume the squat stance
|Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed slightly outward. Lower yourself into a deep squat position and grip the bar with an overhand grip, hands positioned shoulder-width apart.
|Engage your core and glutes
|Keep your core tight and glutes engaged, maintaining an upright posture with your chest up.
|Initiate the lift
|Rise up from the squat position, powering the bar upward with the momentum generated from your legs and hips.
|Quickly catch the bar
|Drop into a deep squat position and catch the bar at the shoulders, keeping your elbows high and chest up.
|Rise up from the catch position
|Push yourself up and out of the squat, extending your legs and hips, while simultaneously pressing the bar overhead.
By following these tips, you can improve your clean and squat clean form and technique, leading to greater strength, power, and stability. Practice regularly, and don’t be afraid to seek guidance from a professional trainer for further assistance.
FAQs about Clean vs Squat Clean
Weightlifting exercises like clean and squat clean are becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts. However, many people are still confused about the differences between these two techniques. Here are some frequently asked questions about clean vs squat clean that will help you gain a better understanding of these exercises.
What is the main difference between clean and squat clean?
The primary difference between clean and squat clean is the squatting movement involved in the latter exercise. While both exercises involve lifting a barbell from the ground to the shoulders, in squat clean, you squat down to catch the weight at the bottom of the movement. This deep squatting motion engages the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings more than the regular clean.
What are the benefits of clean compared to squat clean?
Clean and squat clean offer different benefits, depending on your fitness goals. Clean exercise focuses more on building explosive power and upper body strength; it engages your shoulders, back, and arms more than squat clean. On the other hand, squat clean targets your leg muscles more heavily, building lower body strength and stability, along with core engagement and mobility.
Is it necessary to perform both clean and squat clean in my workout?
No, it is not essential to perform both clean and squat clean exercises. You can choose one or the other based on your fitness goals, skill level, and personal preferences. If you are looking to build explosive power and upper body strength, the clean might be the better option for you. However, if you are targeting lower body strength and stability, squat clean may be more suitable.
Are there any risks involved in performing clean or squat clean?
Like any weightlifting exercise, clean and squat clean carry a certain level of risk if performed incorrectly or with poor form. Common risks associated with these exercises include wrist and shoulder injuries due to improper bar positioning, knee pain due to incorrect squatting technique, and lower back pain due to overloading the spine. It is essential to learn the correct form and technique to avoid these risks and perform the exercises safely.
Can clean and squat clean help me lose weight?
Yes, incorporating clean and squat clean exercises into your workout routine can be an effective way to lose weight. Both exercises are high-intensity movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to increased calorie burn and fat loss. However, you should pair these exercises with a well-balanced diet and regular cardio workouts to achieve optimal weight loss results.
What are some tips for improving my clean and squat clean technique?
To improve your clean and squat clean technique, try the following tips:
- Focus on proper form and technique
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine
- Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the movement
- Breathe deeply and consistently throughout the exercise
- Practice with lighter weights before moving on to heavier loads