Squat Clean CrossFit: What You Need to Know

How to do a Squat Clean

What is a Squat Clean and How Does it Work

Your CrossFit Squat Clean Guide

We can now employ some amazing pieces of technology in our reach for better health, better strength and fitness. Modern gyms full of machinery, equipment and innovation are amazing things. But sometimes the fact still applies that going back to the classic moves is also a great way to meet your fitness goals. With squat clean CrossFit workouts you are doing just that. The squat clean is a basic lift that has been around for many years. It is a combination of the classic clean and squat lifts using most commonly a barbell. Squat clean drills are a popular exercise weightlifters, athletes and CrossFit members use. Even if you are not an athlete the squat clean exercise is great for building strength, overall power and fitness. Here is a closer look the what the squat clean looks like and other useful information you need to know.

What is a Squat Clean?​​

If you know the clean and jerk movement when lifting then the squat clean is the first half of that move. The clean part is where the lifter pulls the weight from the floor, heave it into the rack position on the shoulders and then all in the same move lower into a full squat and then stand again. When lifters train on the clean and jerk, they often split it into the two parts to practice, thus performing squat clean exercises. When looking at what is a squat clean it is a more challenging step up from the power clean.

Benefits of Squat Clean

​​Squat Clean Benefits – What is the Squat Clean Good For?​​

The squat clean is a great move that comes with a number of benefits when performed as part of a regular routine. It is good for improving that explosive power needed for some lifts, building strength to lift heavier weights and improving overall fitness for other sports and everyday life. The benefits of squat clean exercises are especially seen in the core and lower body. Whether you compete in weightlifting, are challenging yourself in a CrossFit gym, want better power and strength in another sport or just want to be able to carry your food shop without struggling, this as part of your routine, can help.

How to do a Squat Clean

How to Do a Squat Clean Properly – Beginner Guide​​

Just as well all lifts there is a right way to do it which you need to focus on and perfect. How to squat clean is something a trainer can help with and that helps you avoid injuries from poor technique. Here is an outline of how to do a squat clean properly;

  1. Stand so you are in front of the bar with your toes pointing out a little. Do a front squat clean grip on the bar, a little wider out than if you are Drop your hips and get into the starting position bending your knees. Breath in as you look at the floor and tense your core.
  2. Push into the floor with your heels and bring the bar up in front of your chest using your hips to drive. As you rise you want the bar to be as high as possible.
  3. Flip your elbows when the bar is level with your core and then bring the bar to shoulder height in the rack position.
  4. When the bar is in contact with the deltoids drop into a full squat making sure you keep your chest up.
  5. At the bottom of the squat move back straight away into the erect stance. That is how to squat clean.

​Squat Clean CrossFit Technique Explained​​

The squat clean is a great training exercise but it is technically hard to master. Getting your squat clean CrossFit technique correct is important. It is worth working on and getting expert advice on. Some tips to keep in mind to get the squat clean technique in CrossFit just right are;

  • At the start of the lift, you should find your elbows are touching your knees.
  • When you begin to lift it really is important to take a deep breath and engage your core.
  • When you are at the top of the clean recovery includes a partial small squat.
  • When you drop you need to go into a full squat with your knees and elbows level.
  • Your chest should be kept up all the time
  • When moving from the clean to the squat do not take a breath here.

Difference Between Squat Clean, Power Clean and Hang Clean​​

Here is a look at three of the similar lifting clean techniques and an outline of how they are different.

Squat Clean​​

We have gone over above what the full squat clean looks like but when comparing it to the power clean it is certainly the harder exercise and more taxing. You can use more weight in the squat clean because of that squat component and you are not pulling the bar up as high as in a power clean move. This allows you to get under it while conserving energy that you can then put towards lifting 10 to 15% more weight. As well as being a strength and power builder it is better than the power clean for calorie burning and functional fitness improvements too.

Power Clean​​

A power clean is one-half of the squat clean without the squat basically! You have the explosive pulling of the barbell from the ground but rather dropping under into a squat you just dip your knees to catch the bar and then stabilize. The power clean lift is easier to do and you cannot go as heavy. It is usually quicker to pick up and perfect and is great for improving explosiveness and speed. Power clean CrossFit training is less about leg development.

Hang Clean​​

The hang power clean is another version of the power clean except this one you have the bar at knee level at the start, not on the floor. With the barbell resting on your thighs you pull it back up to rack position and dip your hips. It is the second part of the power clean movement. The hang clean is a shorter range of movement than the other two and you cannot lift as much weight. The hang squat clean does help condition your upper body and boosts strength.

What Weights Can Be Used for the Squat Clean?​​

It is best to start out by learning the squat clean or hang squat clean thruster with a barbell and an empty one at that. When you have the technique down you can then add weight slowly and move to other versions such as using doing a medicine ball squat clean. Also to using different types of weights to do weighted squat clean and press exercises.

The dumbbell and kettlebell are weights you can use to do a version of a dumbbell squat clean thruster or kb squat clean. It allows for easier wrist action if you find the barbell hard on the wrists. Doing a squat clean press with dumbbell weights means you cannot lift as heavy as with a barbell, but they are more user-friendly. Kettlebell clean and squat exercises are easier to do even in a crowded gym or at home in your home gym. You can have a weight in each arm and work each arm independently with a single-arm kettlebell squat clean too.

What Muscles Does The Squat Clean Work?​​

The squat clean is a great lower and upper body exercise. When looking at squat clean muscles worked it engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, core and then the biceps, deltoids and trapezius.

How Much Weight Should I Use for the Squat Clean?​

The squat clean involves essentially four movements, the deadlift, the clean, the squat and the ascent. It is a taxing and hard exercise so before you start adding weight you should get the technique learned and learned well. Start adding weight slowly, don’t rush it. How much weight you start with and add varies from one person to another depending on their skill, strength and experience. Be conservative when in doubt and ask your trainer.

How to Do the Squat Clean Safely?​

Always do everything you can to make sure any lifting you do is done as safely as possible. When you squat clean CrossFit style you should first make sure you have no injuries or shoulder problems or mobility issues. If you have any doubts talk to your doctor and talk to your trainer or coach. When you are getting ready to train and do the squat clean routine you should make sure the lifting area is clear and safe with no hazards that might get in the way and cause an accident. Check the equipment and make sure there is no damage and any screws are well fastened. Avoid equipment that seems to have excessive wear and tear, plates that are cracked or collars that are damaged. Also, make sure you learn the technique and master it before piling on weights.

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