The hang clean high pull, or hang high pull for short, is more commonly used by non-strength sports athletes like rugby and football players. However, it still plays a role in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting to develop technical proficiency in the clean.
So, how do you perform the perfect hang clean high pull, and how heavy should you go?
How To Hang Clean High Pull
The starting position of the hang clean high pull is above the knee. However, the bar should be deadlifted from the floor to the hip to get to this position. From there, lower yourself into the hang position above the knee.
The hang position is not a Romanian deadlift. Instead, keep your weight evenly distributed through your entire foot with your shoulders over the barbell. Maintain a big chest with tension in your lats, and your elbows pointed towards the plates.
To initiate the pull, push with your legs. This will ensure you stay over the bar as long as possible. As you push, your shoulders will raise as you bring your hips forward. The barbell will brush up the thighs, not smash into them.
Continue pushing as you reach triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles. Once you have fully extended, shrug your shoulders violently.
As you shrug, continue pulling with your arms. This is where having the elbows point out becomes vital as it maintains a straight bar path. You should pull the bar to approximately nipple height traveling as close to your shirt as possible.
Your elbows will be pointing up and back before the bar is lowered to your hip.
Common Hang Clean High Pull Mistakes
These are the most common hang clean high pull mistakes I see with Weightlifters I coach.
Not Finishing The Pull
Because you have less range of motion than pulling from the floor, there's less time to accelerate the bar. To compensate, cutting the pull short becomes a common mistake providing an illusion of speed. Instead, you must be patient and get to the top of the pull before finishing with your arms.
Banging The Bar With The Legs
Banging the bar with the legs is often a symptom of the mistake below. When the hips are moved forward and shoulders back when initiating the pull, the only way to accelerate the bar further is to pull further back, resulting in kicking the bar in front.
But this isn't the only reason this may happen. Beginners can struggle to maintain the feeling of tension in the lats. This is what keeps the barbell close to the body. The bar can drift in front if tension is lost at the top of the pull.
Lastly, if the elbows aren’t pointed toward the plates, the only way for the bar to go is in a looping motion like a reverse curl.
Not Pushing With The Legs
The contributions from the legs make this lift. It needs to be specifically cued; otherwise, you may lose the over the bar position too quickly. It will also make it very difficult to complete the pull.
Hang Clean High Pull Benefits
There's a reason Weightlifters and non-strength sports athletes use the hang clean high pull. It has multiple benefits, from reinforcing technical cues to developing immense strength and power.
Reinforce Completion Of The Pull
To pull the bar to nipple height, you must extend completely with the hips, knees, and ankles and stand up tall. If you fail to complete the pull, you will not be able to pull the bar high enough, providing instant feedback. The goal is to take the feeling of a strong finish over to your clean and jerk.
Strengthen The Hang Position
Because you’re lifting from the hang, you place further stress on the back muscles strengthening your Weightlifting posture to carry over to the clean.
Develop Full-Body Power
Sporting athletes will also use the hang clean high pull as a Weightlifting derivative to develop muscular power for sport. And it is very effective. For example, a ten-week training intervention at an average intensity of 70% power clean 1RM for the hang high pull vs. loaded trap bar jumps with 20% trap bar deadlift 1RM led to similar improvements in jump height and power .
When comparing the hang clean high pull to the hang power clean, we see the hang high pull generating significantly greater power output at loads of 40-70% hang power clean 1RM . Loads above 70% 1RM don't' show any significant difference so you can maximize that power training at lighter loads with the hang clean high pull.
Previous research has reached the same conclusion, with the hang high pull displaying greater speed and power at lighter loads than the hang power clean .
Don’t Need To Catch In The Rack Position
This benefit purely relates to the non-weightlifter. Since sporting athletes aren’t competing in Weightlifting, they don’t need to catch the bar. This reduces the need for front rack mobility while providing the speed and power benefits of an Olympic lift.
Which Muscles Does The Hang Clean High Pull Work?
The hang clean high pull is a full-body exercise working the muscles of the calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, lower back, spinal erectors, upper back and traps, shoulders, and arms. The only muscles it doesn’t work are the upper body pushing muscles.
When To Use The Hang Clean High Pull?
As an Olympic Weightlifter, you will use the hang clean high pull during strength-building phases to improve specific strength in the clean. Beginner Weightlifters will use the exercise as a progression before lifting from the floor.
Typically, the hang high pull will be programmed further away from competition. You usually won't lift from the hang as you get closer to competition. Every exercise you perform will be from the floor to get you competition ready.
The hang clean high pull will be performed on a lower-body or full-body strength and power training session for sporting athletes. This could be during the pre-or in-season.
How Many Sets And Reps Of The Hang Clean High Pull?
For the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, 4-5 x 2-4 reps at 65-85% clean 1RM is a typical prescription to reinforce technical considerations for the clean. For a non-weightlifting athlete, loading will range between 30-80% hang power clean 1RM based on the goal of your session or training cycle.
Peak force is maximized at 80% 1RM, peak velocity at 30%, and peak power is maximized at 45% 1RM . Therefore, heavier loads are used when strength is your goal. If you’re after speed and power, then the lower percentages are what you should use.
Hang Clean High Pull Alternatives
Clean High Pull
The clean high pull is the complete movement from the floor and is the more common clean high pull variation among Weightlifters. It’s typically performed at loads lighter than your clean 1RM, emphasizing speed and completing the pull.
Clean High Pull From Riser (Deficit)
Lifting from a deficit lengthens the pull. The goal is to carry this feeling to the clean, so you stay over the bar longer. It's an essential variation for Weightlifters who don't stay over the bar long enough.
The hang clean high pull is not limited to Olympic Weightlifters. While it’s great for reinforcing good technical habits leading to a stronger clean, sporting athletes benefit by expressing high levels of speed and power.
1. Oranchuk, D. J., Robinson, T. L., Switaj, Z. J., & Drinkwater, E. J. (2019). Comparison of the hang high pull and loaded jump squat for the development of vertical jump and isometric force-time characteristics. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 33(1), 17-24.
2. Takei, S., Hirayama, K., & Okada, J. (2021). Comparison of the power output between the hang power clean and hang high pull across a wide range of loads in weightlifters. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 35, S84-S88.
3. Suchomel, T. J., Wright, G. A., Kernozek, T. W., & Kline, D. E. (2014). Kinetic comparison of the power development between power clean variations. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(2), 350-360.
4. Suchomel, T. J., Beckham, G. K., & Wright, G. A. (2015). Effect of various loads on the force-time characteristics of the hang high pull. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(5), 1295-1301.