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Clean and Press: What Kind of Clean?


What kind of clean should be used for the clean and press?

I was reading some old articles from the 60s at The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban, and one of the anecdotal stories talked about a lifter improving by switching from a power clean to a squat clean.

I've always just pulled the bar straight off the floor to the rack position (I guess this would a Muscle Floor Clean). I learned to do one-arm KB clean and presses a few years back and so that's the movement I was using. Honestly, I'd just never really thought about it.

But should I be using a different kind of clean for this? Power cleans seem pretty technical.


Well, what do you want from the clean?


Really just to get the bar into position for pressing. Neither the clean nor the press are anywhere near maxes right now, so neither is a limiting factor.


Power or squat clean would be best for just getting it there, although you likely won't get much training benefits from them unless you are doing push presses. For the traps/shoulders I would say hang , I really don't have much experience with muscle cleans other than they mess my joints up, (probably just being executed wrong) and get very sloppy whenever I get to what I can press/push press.


I suppose I'm allowed to hijack my own thread.

What kind of training benefits come from the olympic lifts? I'm just not really familiar with it. I know they're competitive, I know they're technical, I know they're explosive. Bodybuilding and powerlifting training make sense to me; but I don't know the benefits of olympic style training.


For physique it would be traps/legs/shoulders/and various other muscles in the back along with forearm. For performance it builds explosiveness, and a very efficient central nervous system, along with flexibility.


Unless I'm mistaken, that just an old timey name for power cleans (with minimal foot movement), kinda like how squats were "deep knee bends." I wouldn't stress over it too much, since pretty much the only variations of the clean you hear about nowadays are the hang clean, power clean, or squat clean/full clean. Anything other than those is probably making things more complicated than they need to be.

They're really not, unless you plan on competing. "Good enough" technique is 100% good enough for the recreational lifter/bodybuilder. Whatever technique lets you bring the bar from Point A to Point B, without exposing you to excessive risk of injury and while allowing for progression in strength and/or volume, is totally acceptable.

There have been a bunch of articles about the strength and muscular benefits of the Olympic lifts, especially lately. Basically, the explosive nature of Olympic lifting provides a unique stimulus for muscle growth that's difficult to replicate with other exercises, let alone near-total body exercises, and they teach the body to build strength through increased muscle/CNS activation.


It's the secondary hip drive that seem to be different with a true "power clean" and what I'm doing. I just pull the bar with enough force that it makes it to my shoulders, without any sort of dip underneath it.

Since I'm sticking with a more McCallum-esque bodybuilding through strength style routine, where's a good place to fit these in? Does it even make sense at this point?

Current split:
chest/shoulders/tris - flat bench, clean and press, lateral raises, gironda high pulley rope pulls (or whatever he called them)
back/bis - low pulley cable rows, drag curls
legs - back squats, sldl

Hitting everything twice a week (ABCABC-off); often with AM/PM sessions just repeating the same lifts.


Even if you don't "have to" dip to rack the bar, doing so will help lessen the joint stress on the shoulders, elbows, and low back.

You could clean once at the start of each overhead press set (instead of clean and pressing each rep, which I wouldn't want to do the day before training back), you could throw hang cleans into the back workout, or you could do power or full cleans for low volume at the start of leg day. With your high training frequency, I wouldn't do all three.

So you have up to 12 workouts per week? That's nutty. If you have to hit the same bodyparts twice a day, some exercise variety would be a good choice.


All right; I'll try that next time.

I guess I haven't really been doing C&Ps. Just clean once, then standing OHPs. I'll think about doing some cleans during my "2nd" back workout. Maybe that's a better place to put it? I also want to work regular deadlifts in somewhere, but I haven't done that yet either.

Yeah, up to 12. It's still working and I'm still progressing... for what that's worth. Legs are getting variety during the PM session -- high-rep parallel back squats AM, high-rep deep leg press on the balls of my feet PM. Otherwise though, things have been repeated.

Really, I'm just not sure how to add variety into the 2nd workout. I doubled things up just to see if it would work, and it does... but didn't think through it much beyond that. I guess I could do BB first, DB later or something.


If you are pulling with your shoulders then you may as well not even be doing cleans. The purpose of a clean is to get triple extension in the ankles, knees, and hips and to do so in a small time window. Cleans are meant to develop rate of force development. Shrugging is fine but pulling or abducting with the shoulders is definitely not. That's practically an upright row. If you are looking for improving performance (which I doubt, judging by your program), then do cleans on leg days after your warmup and before any other big lift.

If you have physique goals than cleans or any olympic lift is not the best option. I don't understand why they have been preached so heavily for physique improvements lately. Look at any olympic lifter, do they have jaw dropping physiques? No, they look like athletes even though they spend years in the gym. How many professional bodybuilders don't do olympic lifts? There are far more that dont than there are that do. And to prove my point, just like Chris said above, they improve CNS activation. If anyone wants to fill me in on how increased CNS activity is going to be linked to hypertrophy then by all means go ahead. Im not convinced that it does.

Hypertrophy: Multiple Sets of 8-12 reps with short rest breaks. Maximize "the pump". Eat before workouts. Eat after workouts. Heck, even eat a few bites here and there during workouts.


I had to think about it. What I've been doing is sort of explosively pulling the bar up by driving my feet into the ground. Leg extension and hip extension, just not the ankles. Basically like trying to jump straight up with my feet flat, and pulling the bar to a standing height with that force.

Good point. I guess I could see how they could be incorporated when you start hitting some strength plateaus in an entirely bodybuilding context. When you start having trouble getting all 8 and you're just looking at options to help get more weight up.

OTOH, McCallum did say this about power cleans:
"Don't do too much with your legs and don't move your feet at all. Get the pull with your thighs, hips, back and arms."

This routine was Squats -> Bench -> Power Cleans -> BB Bent Row. Clearly he saw some value to them.

I put my emphasis on MMC, but not much on feeling the pump. I'm not convinced there's value in chasing the pump until I have more respectable numbers (in BB rep ranges).

Relevant quote:
"Work hard on them [presses] and try to force the poundage way up. There's no use kidding yourself on this or any other exercise. If you use baby sized weights, then you can expect baby sized muscles. It's as simple as that and there's no way out of it.

If you want respectable deltoid, trapezius, and triceps development, then you've got to work up to about three-quarters of your body weight for the twelve reps. That means around 105 pounds for a 140 pound man, 120 pounds for a 160 pound man, 150 pounds for a 200 pound man, and so on. Nothing less will do. If you think it will, forget it.

The biggest fallacy in weight training is the foisted notion that you can build big powerful muscles without hard work on heavy weights. You can't do it, brothers, and you're wasting your time trying. If you're not gaining like you should, give your training poundages a long hard look. The fault may be entirely yours."


Numbers don't matter in bodybuilding. Stan Efferding is freaky strong but does he ever win anything?

If you want numbers, drop the reps and raise the weight. Do a strength program. Don't have the mindset of becoming the most symmetrical and massive bodybuilder and also becoming the worlds strongest man. They arent the same thing. Its just like trying to gain mass while staying at 5% body fat. You can't serve two masters unless you want to make minimal progress in both directions.

"OTOH, McCallum did say this about power cleans:
"Don't do too much with your legs and don't move your feet at all. Get the pull with your thighs, hips, back and arms." "
Anyone that coaches the power clean like that immediately loses credibility in my mind. Since when are your thighs not part of your legs?!?!
Pyrros Dimas is one of the greatest of all time. He would cringe at that description.


I do hang clean and press for building traps and shoulders. They are really easy to learn, I taught my new workout partner how to do them and his form is decent after 2 sessions. When I press it is a push press, with a decent amount of leg drive. I usually do 5 sets of 3 with heavy weights. For volume work I do strict standing military press or seated dumbell shoulder press, usually in 8-12 rep range. Olympic lifting movements are not generally suggested for volume work since your technique tends to falter. Your call, but I tend to stick to low rep ranges so I can be explosive and focus on the technique.


I don't really think a focus on increasing poundages in bodybuilding ranges is serving two masters. While a more experienced bodybuilder can get more out of 4x8 bench press with 135 than a beginner (due to better MMC, tighter contractions, etc.), it doesn't mean they won't get more out of 225.

I think the more important point is numbers aren't the end-all/be-all in this case. They're just another tool in the arsenal... and I think his point was that progression is STILL a necessary component in mass gain.

I have no idea. He seems to be describing something entirely different than a power clean, just using the same name.

My point was that while it's obviously not the description for a proper olympic lift, McCallum -- who is, or at least was, a respected name in the bodybuilding training world -- has found a use for explosive Olympic-style movements in a bodybuilding context.


Ill put it this way, John Mccacllum is respected because he was a trailblazer. However, at the time of his relevance, much less was known of the human body and adaptations to stimuli so his ideas are simple. Now we have scholarly journals that can tell us much more detailed information such as IGFs role in hypertrophy and the role of mTOR and other signalling pathways rather than reading some 50 year old article that just says to drink a gallon of milk a day. If he had the information available to him that we have today, there is no doubt in my mind that his program would look completely different.

I don't disagree with the quote about working hard and pushing the weight up. However, it also had nothing to do with what I was saying. Bodybuilding revolves around doing a large amount of reps at a high percentage. The percentage is all that matters, not the weight. If your 90%1RM is 90lbs then busting ass with 90lbs is going to create just as much adaptation as if 90%1RM was 180lbs.

My point: there are much better resources available than a 50 year old article written by a bodybuilder. Especially if this person says to include cleans when it seems like he was just making up some awkward movement involving a barbell. If I wanted to be an NFL runningback, I wouldn't cut out all weights and stick to push ups just because Hershel Walker did.


I agree with El Dingo. Your routine also looks pretty horrible.

If your goals are physique related then cleans/etc are a waste of time imo - you're working a whole bunch of muscles sub optimally at the cost of recovery and risk of injury.


But if the simple ideas worked, why not continue to use them? They're certainly not 100% optimal, but I don't think at this stage I will get enough benefit to justify additional complexity. For instance, advanced supplementation and nutrient timing can obviously provide an edge, but good old post-workout steak and eggs has a good history of working.

From what I understand, McCallum's programs worked very well for a great number of people (beginner/intermediate), and personal experience with his 20-rep squat program has shown the same.

All my current program is basically his 20rep squat program (with his later addition of arm work), broken out into a 3 day split so I can test the effects of increased frequency with the 2-a-days. I subbed a couple exercises based on Gironda's preferred "best exercise per bodypart". Until I stop seeing gains on this, I really don't see the need to change it.

Did you really say anything different than that quote? Genuinely wondering.

I say that because wouldn't ones 1RM increase over time, and couldn't you reasonably say that until you're able to do 12 reps at x% bodyweight, you've not built a good base of muscle? By the time one has reached that point, you've got all the adaptation coming from working at 90% of 1RM for however many months/years.

If I set a goal to work up to doing 12 overhead presses with my bodyweight, and use a methodology of only increasing the weight when I can do 15 of a particular weight, doesn't all the "science" of %RM training at bodybuilder rep ranges just sort of work itself out on its own?

Not being contrarian here, but short of programs written by tnation members like kingbeef, what are these resources?

For specific bodyparts, there's always John Meadows, but for overall "stick with this for several months"-style programs -- that focus on physique goals [so not SL/SS or 5/3/1], I haven't seen much out there that's better than what McCallum wrote.

Alan Calvert (and Jowett, and Sandow, etc.) wrote good treatises covering general principles, like discussing the importance of a strong back and legs [and cautioning against training the upper body exclusively]. Gironda designed some great isolation movements and had some useful [sometimes bizarre] nutritional insight. Rippetoe reiterated the importance of compound movements for building overall strength and balance. Meadows designed good protocols for training specific bodyparts.

But for basic programming, focusing on hard work and steady progression in a bodybuilding context, McCallum seems to really be it.


For the same reasons you don't go out and have to hunt and gather your own food... better methods exist. For the same reason you are using the internet rather than sending me a letter every two weeks. Society has progressed. This includes the world of strength and conditioning whether you agree or not. Why don't we all strive for mediocrity, complacency and simplicity?

Im starting to question your reading comprehension skills... % of a 1 RM and weight are not synonymous. I said weight doesn't matter. % of 1 RM does.
Example #2:
Which one of these will see more skeletal muscle adaptation?
1RM = 500lbs, This person does 3 sets of 8 at 250lbs
1RM = 300lbs, This person does 3 sets of 8 at 230lbs

There is an entire world outside of Tnation. Try a book put out by the NSCA called Essentials of Strength and Conditioning. It breaks down the basics so you aren't just learning someone's program. You learn the fundamentals and no longer have to be someones "follower."

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. So you can apply what is done through research (PhDs, smart people) to your newly developed mantra.

And for articles written by coaches rather than the "heavy to digest" JSCR, you can look up the Strength and Conditioning Journal.

These are all published by the NSCA. There are plenty of bodies out there that do the same things.

I have never heard anyone associated with strength/hypertrophy say anything about not working hard and progressing... I seriously wonder where you are getting half of your responses to what I type. If you don't get the answers you want from this post then you aren't going to find them.
Ill go ahead and say this also since I never really came right out and said it...


Ok, I agree with you there. I'll put it into context with what I meant.

McCallum's program consists of steady progression on overhead presses, squats, SLDLs, bench press, bent rows, curls, and extensions. Squats are a single set of 20, SLDLs are a single set of 15, and everything else is 3 or 4 sets of 8-12. With squats and SLDLs, weight increases are every single session; with the other stuff, once you hit 12 reps. 2-3x a week.

They're simple ideas, seemed to have worked in the past, and seem to be working for me.

The main differences I've seen is that BB routines moved away from full-body to splits. So, they use more exercises per bodypart, they have more volume on a given day, and bodyparts are only hit once a week.

I'm admitting ignorance here, because I thought his exercise selection and progression methodology were still pretty well regarded. Full-body training not so much, but the rest.

I think you missed what I said. I agree completely with what you said.

What I said was... if I stuck to a methodology like sets of 8-12, and only increased the weight once I hit 12... then I'm basically using a %RM approach.

Let's say I start with a 1RM of 100 lbs, and I do 3x8 at 85 lbs (85% 1RM)

By the time I'm capable of 3x12 with 85lbs, I will have gotten stronger. At this point, 85lbs is only roughly 70% my 1RM. And my 1RM around roughly ~121lbs.

So I increase the poundage, and repeat.

By the time I'm able to lift 170lbs for 12 reps, I will have a history of using 70-85% 1RM for 8-12 reps. If it takes on average three weeks for each 5lb increase (faster in the beginning, slower later on), then we're talking 53 weeks.

What we end up with a year of working at 70-85% 1RM. Just by sticking to 3x8-12 and working toward BWx12.

I wasn't talking about chasing the weights themselves... just using a weight progression methodology in order to continually stay in that 70-85% 1RM range. I thought was exactly what you were talking about.

Thank you, I will take a look.

I agree. I guess I should have said this a few posts ago. I'm not doing any olympic lifting for hypertrophy, and I don't have any plans to.

I was only cleaning to get the bar up for my overhead pressing sets; I was just wondering which style of clean I was "supposed to" use, or if it even mattered.