Not for the faint of heart, explosive exercises are a powerhouse part of strength training. Used by professional weightlifters to increase their surge power, explosive exercises, like explosive cleans, engage your entire body, giving you a cardio and strength burn that lasts long after your workout. Your body is a powerful machine and explosive exercises are like pistons shooting the weight you are holding into position.
When combining strength training with cardio, it is so easy to injure yourself due to improper form or using too heavy weights. Be very mindful of never using a weight you are not comfortable with and perfecting your form each and every time. Sometimes injuries present themselves immediately and you can feel a lot of pain right away, or what is normally the case, your injuries could present themselves later and leave you with lingering pain.
To perform an explosive clean properly, follow these steps:
- Using a weight lifting bar, bend forward and grasp the bar with your hands, palms facing towards your body. Bring the bar up until it is in line with the tops of your thighs and your arms are straight, as if you came up from a deadlift.
- Bend your body forward to a 45-degree angle and bend your knees, holding the bar firmly in your hands.
- Holding your upper body straight upright, bend down further and pulse upward, jumping slightly. Quickly hoist the bar up and drop your elbows backward to “catch” the bar in your palms against your shoulders. Do this as quickly and safely as you can, hence the name, explosive cleans.
- Return to your starting position. Repeat five to eight times. Rest and repeat for three to five sets, being sure to drop the bar to floor to give your arm muscles a break in between sets. Because of the high intensity of this exercise, it is best to perform explosive cleans early on in your workout.
Explosive cleans hit your entire body, but they especially work your legs and upper arms as you explode upward, catching the bar against your shoulders. This exercise can be very difficult to perform correctly the first time without having a personal trainer perfect your technique. At the risk of injuring yourself, take the time to have someone look over your form before you attempt these movements, and be sure to start with a low weight until you feel comfortable with the exercise, then move on to more challenging weights.
Professional weight lifters make names for themselves by performing explosive cleans with extreme weights. They have had years of training in order to lift these incredible weights. Do not attempt to lift a bar with too much weight. The fast movement of the exercise makes it very easy to have an imperfect technique and you can seriously injure yourself.
Explosive cleans are a great way to build power because their fast movements using weights allow you to utilize as much of your body as possible. They help you get the most out of your workout, but they can also fatigue you very easily, so be sure to do them early on in your workout when you are fresh and ready to go.
Other explosive exercises you can add to your fitness routine include the hang snatch – very similar to the explosive clean, kettle bell swings (you can add band resistance once you build up your muscles), split jerks (a powerful quad movement), medicine ball throws, cross over sled drags, rotational lunge swings, seated box jumps, and medicine ball reactive throws. Be warned, all of these exercises take a lot of strength and endurance, so do not attempt too many in one workout routine.