Cleans To Replace Squats and Deadlifts

One of my [short term] goals in life is to get a 300# DL, but I also want to work on explosive power for MMA.

It appears to my beginner’s eye that a clean is simply a dlift combined with a squat. Considering I’m not interested in the dlift or squats for their own sake (aside from the aforementioned goal), I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better (better as in more efficient use of my time to do the two of them at once as it were) to simply work the cleans 2x/wk. rather than the dlift and squat.

Would I want to do the dlift and squat say 1-2x/wk. as supplements to my cleans?

Also, how do numbers for the Dlift and Squat appear: are they generally close or is one generally substantially larger than the other?

If my goal is for a 300# DL, should I expect the clean to help me get up there? For some reason, I have it in my head that Olift numbers would be smaller than Plifting ones. Is that generally the case?

A lot of this is highly individual, but I, and several others, have noticed that improving your squat will improve both the squat and the DL, while improving your DL will just improve your DL. Dan John says somewhere on his Web site that a program of nothing but squats, cleans, and push presses/jerks will make you plenty strong. In my experience, I made the best progress when I did nothing but squats, cleans, and push presses. So, keep the squat, do your cleans, and test your DL max once a month or so.

I introduced Cleans (and Clean & Jerks) into my routines about 3 months ago or so. It adds a new dimension and challenge, and I believe creates a better balance in terms of overall body strength. DL’ing 300LB as a goal is fine, but if you get there doing Clean’s (as I believe you certainly can) will also make sure you’ve not neglected anything on the way.

I suggest you give them a try and see for yourself. Good luck! :slight_smile:


Depends on your bodyweight. If you weight 300#, this isn’t going to be too hard. If you weigth 100#, you’re looking for a triple.

I use the deadlift as my base lift. Deadlift once a week. Right now, I’m doing 5x5, add 10# on the next session. It is a very “full” body lift and easy to build off of.

Cleans are great, but you need to get in something heavy. Have fun.

You can always do clean pulls to build strength and help you clean. Just do a deadlift with the same set up as your clean, but as you approach the top, drive up onto your toes and shrug like you would in a clean extending hard. Then as the weights get too heavy to do this, continue doing regular deads.

I don’t do the O-list myself so I can’t say for certain how much they will help your deadlift, but I will say I don’t know too many powerlifters who do them. It’s up for debate how helpful they will be in developing your deadlift.

I will say that stiff legged deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, deadlifting off a box definitely will help your deadlift.

Finally your deadlift will probably be a lot more than your squat. THere are some exceptions to this but without gear deadlifts are generally higher.

I hate Deadlifting, so I use very low volume. I normally work up to a 1RM through about 4 singles. So in an entire DL ME day I get about 4 or 5 reps in. The same can be applied to squats. Don’t ever leave them out of a program though.