Hip Clean: Exercise For A Bigger Weightlifting Total

September 29, 2022

The hip clean can be a very technical lift in Olympic weightlifting, but if done correctly, it can do wonders for beginner- to elite-level athletes.

What makes the hip clean so effective is you can use it to teach a beginner-level weightlifter how to move efficiently under the bar from the top down. For intermediate and advanced level weightlifters, the hip clean reinforces the completion of the pull and speed or aggression under the bar in the pull and catch phase.

This means you will learn the classical clean from the hip, the hang, below the knee, and finally from the ground.

How To Hip Clean

Starting Position

  • Feet will be shoulder width apart or slightly wider with your starting position.
  • Toes will face slightly out; this will help open up the hips and keep the bar closer to the body.
  • As a rule of thumb, you will grip the bar (regular grip, hook grip, or with straps), and your grip will be wider than shoulder width.
  • The next step will be to get the back straight and lats activated and to deadlift the bar to the tall position.
  • After reaching the tall position, you will bend your knees slightly to start getting ready for the hip clean.
  • You want to keep your torso as upright as possible, but leaning forward with your torso slightly is also acceptable. You don't want to have the shoulders behind the bar at this stage.


  • Now that you are in the set-up position to start your clean pull, start pushing with the legs, driving the feet into the ground to produce more force, and stand up with the bar to the fully extended position.
  • You want to keep your arms as relaxed as possible, but the lats will stay activated and keep the bar as close as possible to the body.
  • You will pull yourself aggressively under the bar and jump out with your feet simultaneously.

Catch Position

  • Once you start pulling yourself under the bar, the bar will meet the shoulders in the front rack position.
  • You will then catch the bar, and depending on what depth you catch it, ride it down into the full squat position. Remember to make sure the bar does not crash on you.
  • Once the bar makes contact with the shoulder, you want to aggressively bring the elbows through and keep them as high as possible. This will ensure your core stays tight, and your torso stays nice and upright throughout the movement and the recovering position.
  • Once you have caught the bar in the squat clean position, you will recover by standing up tall and dropping the bar down either to the high hang/hip position if you have multiple reps or drop the bar down on the ground if you are done with the movement.

Hip Clean Muscles Worked

The hip clean is a swift and explosive movement. The primary muscles that work in the hip clean are the glutes, quads, traps, and the upper back.

Hip Clean Benefits

Teaches You To Complete Your Pull

The hip clean will force you to focus on completing your pull before pulling yourself under the bar. If, however, you do not complete your pull, you might find yourself missing the lift.

You have to emphasize getting into that triple extended position (ankles, knees, and hips) before focusing on getting under the bar for the clean.

Reinforces Speed And Aggression Under The Bar

Suppose you lack speed and aggression in your cleans when you pull yourself under the bar. The hip clean is a great exercise to reinforce speed in that movement. If you slowly pull yourself under the bar, you have a good chance of missing the lift.

When training this movement for speed and aggression, the aim should not be to go as heavy as possible but rather on the quality of the movement.

Breaks Down The Clean For Beginner Level Weightlifters

If you are a beginner-level athlete, this is a great place to start when learning to do the clean. I am a big believer in teaching from the top down, which means I will teach you first the clean from the hip.

Then move onto the hang, below the knee, and finally from the ground. This breakdown of the movement will make it easier for you not to overthink all the technical steps along the way. The aim would be to feel where the bar should sit in the hip position and pull yourself under the bar, catching the bar in the front rack position and standing up.

Hip Clean Variations

Hip Clean No Feet

Hip clean with no feet means that you will perform the hip clean without moving your feet or jumping out with your feet in the catch phase. The main emphasis here is to focus on getting tall and completing the pull before pulling yourself under the bar.

Hip Clean With A Pause In The Squat

The hip clean with a pause in the squat can be done for two reasons, to build strength in the catch phase or work on technique in the catch phase. You will pause in the squat after performing the lift for about 2-4 seconds, focusing on keeping tension in the squat position and staying tight under the bar.


The hip clean is a great assistant exercise for the beginner to the advanced level weightlifter. The main emphasis is to teach you to complete your pull or work on that aggression and speed when you pull yourself under the bar.

If done correctly, this movement can be very powerful for your technique and help you work on more minor details without having to overthink the lift. Typically, you will find athletes working between 65%-90% of their current 1 RM clean for 1-3 repetitions depending on your goal for the movement.

About the Author

Mona is a Bronze Medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been competing Internationally for 20 years in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has also been African Champion, Commonwealth Champion, and the youngest South African Weightlifter to compete on the International stage.

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