How to hang clean with proper form (beginner)

A strong hip drive is extremely essential in strength sports. The ability to push with confidence leads to a stronger deadlift and squat, bigger glutes, and more forceful clean and jerks and snatches if you’re a weightlifter. Every exercise mentioned works your hips, but you must make it a priority to truly master your hip drive. The hang clean is one of the best moves for doing this.

The hang clean is a weightlifting movement in which a weight is pulled to the shoulders from a hanging posture. It’s a good approach to strengthen your entire body’s muscles, and it’s a useful movement pattern to master in real life.

The term “hang” refers to the bar’s initial position. If you wish to do a movement that starts with the prefix “hang,” you should do so while standing.

A barbell is typically used for the hang clean, although it can also be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, or any other weight.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to do the hang clean, benefits, and also go over some common mistakes to avoid.

What’s A Hang Clean

Hang clean is a compound weightlifting move that focuses on the posterior chain, which includes your legs, back, and core muscles.

The most distinguishing feature of a hang clean is that it begins with the weight somewhere between your hips and knees, rather than dead on the ground. Athletes then drive through their heels and bring the weight up to chest height with the help of a triple extension.

Hang cleans are commonly done in CrossFit and weightlifting sessions. Athletes learn to perfect the second and third pulls of the clean, from the hang position to the full squat receiving the bar, rather than the initial draw from the ground.

How To Do A Hang Clean

girl demonstrating how to perform hang clean exercise

Load the barbell with the weight that is appropriate for your fitness level. Place the bar directly in front of you as you stand with your feet hip-width apart while keeping your shoulders back and chest forward.

Squat down and take a hook grip on the barbell, just wider than shoulder width. The thumb hooks around the bar (closer to your body) and is fastened under your four fingers that grab the bar on the side farthest from your body in a hook grip.

To stand up, push through your heels and raise the bar to mid-thigh level, keeping it close to your shins. In this starting position, your arms are fully extended.

  • To pick up the bar, bend down and grab it with your hands slightly wider than your hips.
  • Bring the weight up to your shoulders using a hook grip and stand tall; this is where the hang clean begins.
  • Lower the bar to approximately the middle of your thighs, maintaining a straight back and pressing your hips back. Your arms should be straight and your heels should be on the ground.
  • Drive through your heels and stretch your hips and legs quickly to generate force and lift the bar close to your torso. (keep in mind that the legs and hip thrust should provide the force, not the arms).
  • Jump under the bar – shrug your shoulders and snap the elbows forward to bring the bar up so you can almost jump under it.
  • Drop into a deep squat and catch the bar in the front rack position.
  • Rise to a standing position while keeping the bar on your shoulders in front of your neck.
  • Lower the bar down with control to mid-thigh level, i.e, starting position.

Benefits Of The Hang Clean

The hang clean is an excellent full-body exercise. There are a lot of joint actions involved, with the primary muscles activated being the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, gastrocnemius, erector spinae, trapezius, and soleus.

The hang clean has been shown to have a considerable favorable impact on strength, power, performance, and speed development in studies. It’s one of many Olympic weightlifting techniques that promote high rates of force and power output without requiring a more difficult lift from the floor.

The hang clean can also aid functional fitness (day-to-day tasks) by allowing you to pick up heavier objects from the floor. It can help lower the risk of developing back discomfort by promoting a good posture.

Why To Do Hang Cleans?

Man performing hang clean exercise

Depending on the application, the hang clean can serve a variety of purposes. Because of the shorter movement and the ability to maintain proper stance and balance at the start of the second pull, it can be an exercise to help teach beginners to clean that is often easier than lifting from the floor. Due to the limited time and distance to accelerate and elevate the bar, the common goal of this training activity is to build better force output in the extension and more aggressiveness in the pull under.

Another application is as a lighter clean variant for days when you don’t have much time to practice. Performing the movement with lighter weights relative to the clean, and somewhat less work for the legs and back allows for more recovery for subsequent training sessions.

Muscles Worked During Hang Clean

The hang clean is a compound action that primarily targets the posterior chain, as well as the muscles of the legs, back, and core. All of the muscular groups listed below are engaged during a hang clean.

Glutes And Hamstrings

The hamstrings and glutes are engaged during the first lowering phase of the bar, just before the first pull. These muscles operate like elastic bands during the hang clean, allowing tension to develop before explosively shoving the hips forward to begin the lifting phase.


During the catch and squat phases of the lift, the quads are worked. As you sit at the bottom of the squat with weight loaded in the front rack position, they’re being worked isometrically. As you squat down, they become much more active.

Traps And The Back

During the squat component of the workout, your entire back works hard to hold your torso straight, as you’ll be tempted to sink forward during the front-loaded squat. Also, your traps will be most useful during the hang clean’s second pulling phase.

girl preparing to attempt hang clean exercise

Hang Clean Mistakes

Keep an eye out for these frequent mistakes in order to keep your hang clean exercise safe and effective.

Horizontal Movement Of The Bar

Check to see if the bar is dropping vertically rather than back and forth horizontally. Adjust your form if your knees or thighs are in the way.

Swinging The Bar

Allowing the bar to swing away from your body puts you at risk for injury and low back strain. To ensure that you have proper form and enough control, maintain the bar close to your body during each phase of the exercise.

Improper Grip

You may be unable to complete this exercise correctly if you have a grip that is too narrow or too wide. The hands should be on the bar a couple of inches outside each leg to properly complete the hang clean.

Too Tight A Grip

Although you should maintain a firm grip during this exercise, the bar should slide smoothly in your hands. When shifting the bar from your thighs to your front shoulder area, gripping it too hard prevents a seamless transition.

Too tight grip may cause you to drop the bar, fail to execute the motion or put your wrists, hands, and back at danger of injury. Maintain a strict yet manageable grip.

Pulling with the Arms

Instead of driving through the feet, some people try to pull the bar up with their arms. To land in a correct front-rack position, you must bend your knees, drive through your feet, shrug your shoulders, and hop under the bar.

Practice a few weightless cleans by diving under the bar into a catch position rather than pulling on the bar. This will help you resist the impulse to use your arms to pull.

Dropping The Elbows

Dropping your elbows may cause you to drop weight, which raises your chance of injury. An improved spinal extension can be achieved by increasing the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your lats and triceps. This enables you to raise your arms higher to catch the bar.

Incorrect Landing

A common mistake is failing to maintain proper body position when landing the hang clean. However, failing to land properly can cause you to lose your equilibrium and put you at risk of harm.

Some people land with their heels lifted and their torso flexed. When catching the clean, it’s acceptable to slightly hop or stomp the floor, but it’s critical to land on both feet for stability and a good front-rack position.

Doing Too Many Reps

Rushing through too many reps before perfecting your technique might lead to injury or bad habits. Keep your concentration on an appropriate form when you’re initially starting out with hang cleans so that it becomes second nature.

Begin with a few reps per set (2–4) and gradually increase as you gain strength and master the technique. Start with a lighter weight until you’ve gotten the hang of it.

Take Away

Depending on where you are in your training, performing hang cleans can provide a variety of benefits. Hang cleans are an excellent way for athletes of all fitness levels to improve their power, strength, and quickness.

For many rookie athletes who haven’t yet mastered the full clean and its demanding coordination requirements, hang cleans can be a good option. Athletes can also learn to finish the last pull during the clean and correct early elbow bending with this workout.

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