In a society obsessed with appearance and dieting, it comes with no surprise that professional body builders and even the occasional gym member will utilize different exercise techniques in order to gain a competitive edge. This “edge” has brought about a variety of products and exercises that have come and gone through the years, however one exercise which has endured and has been arguably the topic of conversation amongst those in the body building community is described as “Cleaning”. Cleaning, which provides a person with an intense lower body workout, also targets areas in the chest and the arms. This exercise however is not without risks. Below are the facts about cleaning and some things you need to consider before you lift.
Although many people may have never heard of “cleaning” outside of its domestic connotation, chances are that most have performed the maneuver in some fashion without being aware of its technical terminology. A clean in weightlifting is when an individual lifts a weighted barbell from the floor to their shoulders without making any contact with the body. The Clean which is actually just a part of a series of movements, can be incorporated into a workout with such exercises as the clean and press or the faster power clean. If properly performed, cleaning exercises can provide excellent muscle development results in the shoulders, hips, glutes , back, and abdominal muscles. Muscles in the arms and chest will also be targeted during this exercise however in order to reduce the risk of injury they should not be the primary muscles performing the task.
One common mistake that beginners taking on cleaning exercises experience is poor posture. This simple element can literally make or break the exercise. Poor posture during a clean whether lifting heavy or moderate weight, can significantly increase the risk of muscle and ligament damage and even dislocations. One attempting a clean should never pull exclusively with the arms. The upper back and the trapezius muscles or traps as they are commonly called should take the initial load followed by the gluteus maximus muscles and hamstrings during the pull down or loading phase. From there the weight is propelled up and either racked on the chest or thrust up past the head.
As with any exercise there is always an element of risk. When performing rigorous activities such as cleans, it is important to seek the advice from an expert to see if the exercise is right for you and will help meet your goals. Once it has been determined that cleans will be incorporated into a routine, one should practice the proper form without excessive weight and perhaps no weight at all in order to assure proper technique. Safety should always take precedent in weightlifting and failure to do so can result in serious injury and even death.