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Axle Clean Methods

Hello friends… I have a background in weightlifting but also have a deep love for Strongman. My gym will receiving an Axle within the next two weeks. It has tires, 2" diameter and doesn’t rotate. I know the main technique for cleaning it is to Continental it but the pause on the belly looks really sketchy for the low back to me. Do you think I would be better off trying to power clean it considering my background? Is it impossible to full clean it seeing as it doesn’t rotate?

Anyways any info would be appreciated.

With your background you will be able to eventually clean a ton of weight, but it’s very rare for someone to be able to true clean press more than they can continental once they are well into the training.

non-rotation does make a difference but not a big deal unless you try to clean similar weight to what you do on the barbell straight off the bat (easy to injure your wrist/forearm) start light and get use to it and it won’t be an issue.

Continental is fine unless you go crazy bending too far back, you really just hold it for a breath to recharge to bump it to your shoulders.

Play with both regular clean and continental, both are good to be able to do.
Good luck!

You need an insane grip to full clean the thing for a weight you can press (assuming a reasonable press) . If you bend at the hips instead of extending the lumbar spine it’s not too bad on the back - i find it plays havoc on the forearms though. Its an awkward crap movement but that’s kinda the point.

This is one of those things that a lot of folks misunderstand about the Continental (and strongman in general).

It’s honestly NOT a safe move, but it’s the only way to get something that is stupid heavy and won’t rotate onto your chest. It’s all about demonstrating feats of strength, and you end up doing some pretty stupid and dangerous things in the sport to do it.

As others have mentioned, you can reduce the risks, but the Continental was never designed with safety in mind. However, as someone that always used to power clean the axle, when it came time for me to need to know how to Continental in a show, I was hosed. It’s a very valuable skill to learn for this sport.

Power cleaning an axle is really difficult. First off, your grip needs to be phenomenal. You should be able to deadlift 500lbs without chalk or wraps on a regular bar to clean 225 with an axle. The axle will require you to let go of the bar when you do the flip, though the hardest part of the lift is the beginning when you have to accelerate the fastest (IE exert the most force). A regular power clean isn’t necessarily safe either. If I were you I would train it by doing power cleans then strict presses. Improving your strict will do more for your push or jerk than training those directly, ive found.

that’s not really true. I don’t let go of the bar at all.

Anyway, the continental clean ABSOLUTELY must be used to hit maximal weights, assuming your press isn’t terrible. I’ve never seen a different method used in competition at what I would consider a heavy weight.

And agree with pwnisher. The continental clean is hard as shit. I hate it, and refuse to train it unless it’s in an upcoming show. Really, I mostly plan to avoid shows that have a max axle, lol.

Probably the most famous example is Mark Henry at the Arnold (he was the only one to rep it and one of two who managed to complete the lift)

Someone also zerchers is up in that contest - not pretty but not many managed to get it to the rack position and that is likely to be friendlier on the back (going to be very awkward once you racked it though)

I’m the opposite. I don’t know why but I enjoy the event and prefer to double overhand continental clean even near max weights. I don’t have a gut but I definitely don’t have six pack abs. Being lean definitely sucks for this event but strongmen get by.

I would highly recommend getting efficient at power cleans with an axle. Definitely saves valuable time IF you can power clean it. There’s an army of guys who get too absorbed in technique that they forget how to be strong and just move shit like an animal. If you can move the weight easily, especially in contest setting, go fucking nuts and make that shit fly.


2 things about this. First of all, Mark Henry is an anomaly, potentially the most naturally talented strength athlete in history. But apart from that, this is a prime example of a lift that is NOT maximal. He destroys the weight. This is a VERY sub-maximal load for him. So it’s not that surprising that he’s using double overhand. He’s well below his limits.

As to what Vinny said, he mentioned time being a factor. Which means he’s also talking about cleaning and pressing for reps. Which again entails a submaximal load. The last show I did, the weight was light enough that I could power clean it, so that’s absolutely what I did. But I also completed 9 reps. A 1 rep max is different. That’s all I’m suggesting.

I think if you have monster hands you much be able to get away with it. I don’t use a hook grip on a standard Barbell when cleaning and have gotten 405 without a ton of trouble. To put it in perspective:

Standard Barbell double overhand max is in the 400’s
Axle double overhand max is 295
Axle Continental Clean & press Max 350

I was fortunate enough to actually hit the 350 yesterday and have a video here explaining what I am doing if you are interested.

400lb power clean on a barbell and only 295 on an axle?! What?!

My double overhand power clean on an axle is around 285-290 but my barbell is only 315. :confused:

My hands just won’t hold it through the hip explosion since it doesn’t rotate

Could this be because of the difference gripping the thicker bar(axle) has on the wrist/forearm?

Not exactly adding much to this discussion but I would assume hand size is pretty darn important, especially so when it comes to just muscling up the Axle. Tried the Axle for the first time last Saturday and the Axle was surprisingly thinner than I expected. My middle finger could touch the tip of my thumb. Do I have abnormally large hands or what? I know my hands are pretty oversized compared to most 5’9 guys so that’s nice.

From the video I saw, I think you might’ve been using a 1.9" axle vs a 2". It looked a little thinner, and that would explain why the plates kept sliding around.

That having been said, hand size helps absolutely.

Would that 0.1" make a huge difference? Silly question but I seriously ain’t sure.

I have a Rogue (1.9") and an Ironmind (true 2") axle, and I can wrap my fingers around and touch my thumb with the former but not the latter. It’s enough to make an impact. Then, when you factor in that a powder coated axle is grippier than a polished steel one, it really starts to affect things.

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Yes. Rogue axles sell the axle short on what it’s truly good at doing. Two inches makes all the difference. I have abnormally large hands/long fingers for my height. Just as an idea, my hands are slightly larger than my friend who is 6’5". That said, I can touch my thumb to pinky just barely on a rogue axle and my thumb to ring on a 2 inch.

What’s interesting is that my crushing grip strength isn’t particularly strong at all. It’s at average for someone my strength or slightly higher. What I do exceed at, is the ability to never let go of something in my hand, like a farmers walk. My upper back will fail before my grip does.

All in all, the hardest thing about the axle will be your ability to not yield to the harsh mechanics. A strong upper back and explosive ability, retained in the face of fatigue, like all things in strongman, is what makes you efficient at it.

Yup. I got mine in a package deal from a Criagslist buy, so I’m not kicking it out of bed, but I would be pretty disappointed if I bought it specifically for the purpose of being an axle. Powdercoat flakes off all the time too. I think a galvanized steel pipe is a better buy if you wanna go econo mode.