Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeOlympic Weightlifting
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lats, Lower Back, Shoulders, Traps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Muscle Clean Overview

The muscle clean is a variation of the clean and a full body exercise that is commonly performed in Olympic weight lifting and athletic training facilities.

The muscle clean is an extremely explosive movement used to build explosive total body strength to increase sports performance. Because Olympic lifts require a lot of technical skill, they shouldn’t be performed with heavy loads until the movement pattern has been mastered.

Muscle Clean Instructions

  1. Position the bar over the knot on your shoelaces but not touching your shins.
  2. Setup with your feet in a shoulder width stance, toes pointed out slightly, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
  3. Drop your hips and drive the chest up while looking forward.
  4. Keeping the bar close to your body, begin to push the floor away and shift your knees back.
  5. As the bar passes your knees, shift your knees forward into a power position with your torso upright.
  6. Explosively jump straight up and shrug the bar aggressively.
  7. As the bar passes your shoulders, rotate your elbows around the bar until they are facing forward.
  8. Catch the clean on your shoulders in the front rack position with your hands outside of your shoulders in a standing position.
  9. Reverse the movement by rotating the elbows back around the bar, unbending the elbows, and catching the bar at the crease of your hip before lowering to the floor.
  10. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Muscle Clean Tips

  1. Olympic lifting is about efficiency, not just brute strength.
  2. Given the difference in hand position, the hips will likely start a little lower in the clean compared to the snatch.
  3. Muscle cleans don’t require the lifter to squat and catch the movement. Instead, it’s one solitary vertical movement and the bar is caught in the standing position.
  4. Use this simple jingle to help groove the necessary positions for the snatch:
    • Starting position
    • Knees back
    • Knees forward
    • Jump and shrug
  5. Think “slow off the floor, fast into the hips”.
  6. Ideally you want the movement to take place in a vertical fashion. Don’t think about pushing the hips forward, think up.
  7. Work on front squats and RDLs initially before moving into the clean, this will ensure that you’re already strong in a hinge and front rack position.
  8. When initially learning the clean, start from the hang (middle of the thigh).
  9. Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what feels best for you.
  10. Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.