Squat Clean: The Ultimate Full-Body Exercise!

Squat clean is a variation on the power clean.

The body’s weight should be lifted off the ground, and the weight must hang in front.

It is a great addition to total-body strength training.

What’s Squat Clean?

Crossfit Hang Squat Clean

Let’s begin by defining the movement.

The starting position for this move is the hang position.

This means you start at the top of a deadlift (the hanging position) and not with the bar on your ground like a basic squat or power clean.

How To Do The Squat Clean

The appropriate weight barbell for your fitness level is loaded.

Place the barbell on the ground in front of yourself.

Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor.

Engage your core and raise your shoulders.

Grab the barbell using a hook grip.

Hook grip refers to a grip that places the palms on the body of the barbell.

However, the thumb hooks around it (closer than your body) and is held under your four fingers.

To stand up, push your heels forward.

Keep the bar near your shins and bring it to your mid-thigh.

As shown above, your arms should be fully extended.

  1. Keep your hips slightly bent and push your butt forward. Then, lower the bar to just below the knee height. Keep your neutral spine while you do this. Do not allow your knees or hips to move forward.
  2. Keep your hips straight while lowering your body into a squat position. You can also shrug your shoulders while lowering your body into a squat position.
  3. Stand up while keeping your bar in front of your neck.
  4. To return the bar to its original position (mid-thigh), lower the bar with control.

Tips & Tricks For Crossfit Hang Squat Clean

How To Do The Squat Clean

Start from the hang position and focus on your hips during the movement instead of your arms.

Jump hard, but not too high.

You should feel your feet touch the ground with a strong thrust.

Going higher will only make the rep take longer.

Good speed under the bar is key to improving your cleanliness.

You should use your full power to pull with long arms.

Bending your arms too soon can reduce the power of your hips.

You don’t need to raise the bar so high to do a squat, so you can lift heavier weight.

After mastering the hang squat clean movement, you will be able to catch the bar and receive the weight approximately a foot lower than with power clean.

8 Crossfit Hang Squat Cleanse Benefits

8 Crossfit Hang Squat Cleanse Benefits

Hang squat cleans are essential for Olympic weightlifting technique development.

This is true regardless of whether you are a regular lifter, CrossFitter, or a professional athlete.

Hang squat clean can be more effective than a power clean.

It will help with early arm bends and finishing the pull.

You can increase your body’s ability to promote force at higher speeds by doing this exercise.

This is a lot of science talk. 

This movement will allow you to accelerate the barbell higher into the pull.

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This gives you more time for the clean and full squat.

In Olympic lifting, finishing the pull is often a problem.

This can be due to poor technique, timing, insufficient strength, poor balance, or technique.

You can simplify the movement by doing a CrossFit Hang Squat Clean.

This will isolate one part of the clean pull and forces you to concentrate your energy and effort on end.

The hang will force you to finish the pull and increase your energy output at the hip/thigh area.

This movement enhances leg drive and should prevent you from bending your arms too quickly.

An early arm bend can cause balance problems and a loss of use of your legs at the end.

The hang squat clean will teach you how to drive your feet through the ground.

This will increase the velocity and height of your barbell.

Hang Squat Cleans are great for improving your mental ability to quickly and fluidly under-cleans.

It can also help you learn the timing of when you should expect to receive a clean.

What Muscles Does The Clean Squat Work?

What Muscles Does The Clean Squat Work

Squat cleans involve nearly all major muscles.

These include:

  • Glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius)
  • Quadriceps -Vastus medialis, intermediate and intermediate; rectus Femoris)
  • Hamstrings (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus)
  • Calves (gastrocnemius, soleus)

These muscles are responsible for getting the lift off the ground.

Then, you will extend your hips and knees and then explode your ankles and hips to propel the bar to the rack.

In the squatting section of the lift, the quads, glutes, and hamstrings play a major role.

  • Abdominals & core

Your midsection stabilizes your spine as you lift.

Cleans can put a lot of strain on the lower back.

It’s important to properly brace your core and breathe in.

  • Trapezius (middle, upper portions)
  • Shoulders (front and lateral deltoids).

The traps and the delts help the lower body raise the bar to shoulder height and stabilize the bar during the squat.

  • Biceps

These elbow flexors are used to complete the clean section of the lift.

However, you should not allow the cleaner to become a cheat curl.

Its momentum is mainly generated by the hips and lower body, not the curling of your elbows.

Squat Clean Or Power Clean? Hang Clean

Squat Clean Or Power Clean Hang Clean

The squat is one of three types of cleans.

The other two are the power clean or hang clean.

Because they are all cleans, the common goal is to develop power and explosiveness.

But, the benefits of squat, power, and hang cleans differ enough to offer each their own distinct benefits.

Let’s look at each of them, listing their distinguishing characteristics and identifying the athletes and goals each caters for.


A squat clean, as mentioned above, is a complete clean that goes from the floor to a front squat.

The squat clean has the most motion of all three.

The clean is less intense than the power clean.

However, the front squat follows and takes the hips and the knees through the full range of motion. 

The squat clean allows you to use the most weight if you have the right technique as you don’t need to raise the bar as high for power clean, hang clean, or power clean.

The squat clean involves so many movement patterns.

You get a lower body, hip-dominant pull, upper-body pull, clean, and quad-dominant sit – all in one exercise.

To keep your upper body in a good place, you need to use your core to brace the clean.

Alternatives For The Squat Clean

Alternatives For The Squat Clean

Here are three variations of the squat clean.

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They all involve the same basic clean movements and squat movements.

#1 Landmine Squat Clean

Landmines are like a long empty can you can load one end a barbell into.

The barbell rotates and revolves, which allows you to use it as a lever to perform a variety of lifts in a more user and joint-friendly way.

You can do squat cleaning with a landmine with either one or both of your hands for different training effects.

Because the wrist does not extend, the catch at the top is easier than the traditional squat clean.

How To Do Landmine Squat Clean

Step 1. 

Place a plate on one end of the barbell and anchor the other in a landmine.

Step 2

Stand in the same position as the barbell squat but hold the end of your bar with one hand.

With the other, grip the bar with a pronated grip. (Thumb facing you, palm facing the side leg, and thumb pointing back at the bar).

Step 3.

Lift the weight off the floor using the same strong triple-extension that you use for a standard squat. Do this by bringing the bar to your side (or right shoulder, if using your right hand) and quickly flip your hands over to grab the bar with your palm facing the midline.

Step 4

Lower into a full squat while keeping the bar in front.

Next, lift the weight up.

Then lower the bar and do it again.

Each arm should do the same number of reps.

#2 Pentagon Bar Landmine Clear

The Pentagon bar is similar to the front of a trap bar and attaches with a regular landmine barbell.

The Pentagon bar’s swiveling handles make it ideal for wrist-friendly clean or press variations.

How To Clean The Pentagon Bar Landmine

Step 1.

The Pentagon should be equal in weight.

Step 2.

Step 3. 

Lift the weight off of the floor using a strong triple-extension.

Bend your elbows as you get near the top and turn your hands so that your knuckles face up.

For more reps, lower the bar and continue to do so.

#3 Dumbbell/Kettlebell Squat Clean

A dumbbell version allows you to transition from the clean to squat with the same wrist action as the landmine.

The only difference is that the dumbbell version of a squat clean allows for a true, unanchored weight.

Although dumbbells will not allow you to lift as much as barbell squat variations, they are still very user-friendly and can be performed in any gym or garage.

Like the one-arm landmine, the dumbbell squat clean requires that each arm move independently.

This promotes stability and balanced development.

If you have kettlebells, they will give you the best results.

You can perform a more traditional clean motion with kettlebells, such as spinning the weight around your wrist and not reverse curling it like you do with dumbbells.

How To Do The Dumbbell/Kettlebell Squat Clean

How To Do The DumbbellKettlebell Squat Clean

Step 1 

Stand in a squat clean and place a pair of kettlebells on the ground just below your feet.

If you find the height of the kettlebells is too low for your lower back to be safe, try a hang-clean instead.

Bend your hips and knees slightly so that the weights are at your sides, just below your knees.

Step 2. 

Lift the weight in a strong triple-extension motion.

To bring the weights up to your shoulders, extend your elbows.

Step 3 

Do a full squat, keeping the weights at your shoulders.

Then stand up.

For more reps, lower the bells.

Common Mistakes

Mistakes Made While Performing Squat Clean

These common mistakes can be avoided to make your hang clean exercise safe, effective, and enjoyable.

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The Bar

Low back strain and injury can be increased by allowing the bar to move away from your body.

To ensure you have good form and enough control, focus on holding the bar close to the body throughout each phase.

Bar Moves Horizontally

Make sure the bar is moving vertically instead of horizontally.

Adjust your form if your knees or legs are getting in the way.

Too Wide Or Narrow

A tight or loose grip could hinder your ability to do this exercise correctly.

For a proper hang clean, your hands should be a few inches beyond either leg.

Too Tight

While you should maintain a steady grip throughout the exercise, the bar should still move smoothly in your hands.

You shouldn’t grip the bar too tightly.

This will prevent a smooth transition from your thighs to your front shoulders.

A tight grip can cause you to drop your bar or not complete the move.

It could also increase your risk of injury to your hands, wrists, and back.

You should maintain a steady grip during the movement but not too tight.

Using The Arms To Pull

People try to pull the bar up with their arms instead of driving through the feet.

To hang clean, you must bend your knees and drive through your feet.

Do a few weightless cleans.

Instead of pulling on the bar, dive your body under the bar to a catch position.

This will reduce the urge to pull on your arms.

Dropping The Elbows

You can lose weight by lowering your elbows.

This could increase the chance of injury.

Increasing mobility, flexibility, strength, and mobility of your lats and triceps can improve spinal extension.

This allows you to lift your elbows higher so that the bar can be caught and held.

Improper Landing

It is common to not maintain proper body posture while landing the hang clean.

However, landing improperly can cause injury to your balance.

Some people land with their heels up and their torso bent.

It’s okay to jump or stomp on the floor while catching the clean.

However, it is important to land on your feet to ensure stability and proper front-rack position.

Too Many Reps

Doing too many reps without solidifying your technique can cause injury or bad habits.

Hang should be mastered quickly, so you don’t lose sight of the form.

Begin with only a few reps per set (between 2 and 4), then increase your strength and technique by adding more.

Start with a lighter weight to get used to the movement.


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

    [email protected] Carnes Timothy P.
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