Thursday – 101812

PALEO CHALLENGE : DAY 4

Why you should clean…
Six Reasons to Get Your Clean On

As I said, you aren’t that guy. You’d know a power clean if you saw one. But, unless you played sports in college or dabble in CrossFit, chances are you haven’t yet tried them, or done them with the frequency and intensity it takes to see results.

Should you?

If you’re an athlete, power cleans and other modified Olympic lifts get an enthusiastic thumbs up. The movement pattern may not precisely mimic anything you’d do on a field or mat, but the total-body power it helps you develop is useful in just about everything.

“Athletes have to react to any change in their playing environment quicker than their opponent,” says T NATION contributor Matthieu Hertilus. “Lifting explosively can help.”

For bodybuilders, the answer is also yes, but for different and somewhat more nuanced reasons:

1. Cleans recruit more muscles than standard gym exercises

“Very few, if any, other strength exercises involve more articulations,” says veteran T NATION coach Christian Thibadeau. A power clean involves movement at the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. That means you’re using your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, traps, deltoids, and forearms, as well as the core muscles that come into play to stabilize your spine throughout the movement. Cleans, Thibaudeau says, “are unparalleled in terms of implicated muscle mass.”

2. Cleans makes you a better lifter

Even the most serious lifters in today’s gyms rarely attempt exercises more complex than squats, deadlifts, and bench presses — all of which are great exercises for strength and size development. But adding power cleans to your programs can make you better at those lifts.

“When you build explosive strength, you train the muscles to more readily activate the higher-threshold motor units,” says author, coach, and neurophysiology nerd Chad Waterbury. “The best bench pressers in the world have tons of explosive strength. If you’ve ever watched a world-champion bench presser train, you’ll notice how fast the barbell accelerates compared to the lesser mortals.”

You’ll also develop better balance and coordination, improving your form on front squats and other classic muscle-building exercises.

3. Cleans get you yoked

Well-developed glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors are crucial for athletes as well as bodybuilders. But you can develop those posterior-chain muscles with deadlifts, squats, good mornings, glute-ham raises, and just about any other lower-body exercises you’ll find in the powerlifting playbook.

Power cleans bring one more set of muscles into the mix: upper traps.

“The traps have to fire explosively in conjunction with the legs to accelerate the bar upward with enough force to get you underneath the bar,” Hertilus says. “Look at some of the best middleweight Olympic weightlifters and you’ll see the density of their traps.”

4. Cleans help you get ripped

Even when performed for relatively low reps with long rest intervals, power cleans are metabolically taxing, due to their explosive nature and enormous muscle recruitment. You can intensify this effect by bumping up the reps and decreasing rest periods.

But, with apologies to our friends at CrossFit, it’s not a good idea to go apeshit with the volume. Power cleans are among the most technique-sensitive lifts you can tackle, and when volume comes at the expense of form, you’re putting yourself (and possibly those around you) at risk for an injury. Even if you don’t get hurt, you don’t want to reinforce faulty recruitment patterns by lifting with sloppy form while you’re fatigued.

5. Cleans work your core

You need a strong core for all the major multijoint lifts that employ heavy loads, like squats, deadlifts, and weighted chins. That’s especially true for power cleans and other explosive lifts. But once you’re ready to add cleans to your routine, you’ll find your core strength improves rapidly and dramatically. “Lifting explosively requires the recruitment of many additional muscles to stabilize your body,” Waterbury says. “This builds total-body stability and strength.”

6. Cleans just look cool

Anyone can do a biceps curl or leg extension. They’re the first things they teach newbies at commercial gyms. Power cleans are at the opposite end of the exercise hierarchy. You need a solid base of conditioning, coordination, and weight-room experience before you learn the exercise, and then you need focus and effort to master it. It’ll be a while before you’re ready to pull heavy weights from the floor to your shoulders.

But once you’re there, you’ll be among a small percentage of lifters who can do one of the best exercises in the world for strength, power, muscular development, and overall conditioning.

And you’d better believe the other lifters in your gym will notice.

Skills Practice : Pistols
SWOD : Hang Cleans
Warm-up to WOD weight
WOD : For time
225/135 pound Hang clean, 30 reps
50 One-legged squats, alternating
Row 2000 meters