Barbell Clean and Press Alternatives

The barbell clean and press is a very popular movement in fitness, strength, and power sports. While it does differ from the barbell clean & jerk (view comparison article here), the clean and press vs clean and jerk are two movements patterns that should be mastered by most individuals looking for sports performance or increased abilities in daily life.

Here I am still learning proper log clean and press technqiue. See below video for set up and technique tips.

The barbell clean and press is a movement that requires strength, skill, and power, often one that many beginners struggle with. Therefore, in this article we will uncover five (5) barbell clean and press alternatives that lifters of all levels can start to performing to gain total body strength, power, and athleticism. In the below video, the barbell clean and press is demonstrated. Note, that this movement, while similar to the clean and jerk, is distinguished by the usage of either a strict press of push press to hoist the weight in the overhead position (rather than a jerk).

Why Do A Barbell Clean and Press Alternative?

Unless you are an Olympic weightlifter, odds are your aren’t hell bent on alway doing barbell lifts day in and day out. In the event you are looking to diversify your fitness, you can substitute some of the below barbell clean and jerk alternatives into strength days, conditioning WODs, or warm-ups.

Injuries can also limit an individual from performing barbell movements (such as shoulder or wrist injuries), making some of these more unilateral clean and press options more doable during the healing process.

Barbell Clean and Press Alternatives

Below are five (5) barbell clean and press alternatives to fit the needs and abilities of lifters and coaches of all levels. While the general movement is similar across all alternatives, some key distinctions are made and must be considered prior to selecting the correct movement for your goals/purpose.

Ball Clean and Press

The ball clean and press is a great alternative to teach younger adults and beginners how to properly use the legs and hips to lift a load from the ground, transition into the squat, and stand up. The ball clean and press can be done with a light ball for teaching purposes or a heavier ball for a total body workout. While the loading is somewhat limited due to the awkward overhead ball press, this movement is a great way to instill lower body movement mechanics necessary for more advanced alternatives like the ones below.

Dumbbell “Circus” Clean and Press

In a previous article we discussed the dumbbell clean and press and how it can be used to increase unilateral strength, movement, and total body fitness. Like the barbell clean and press, this movement often allows a lifter to lift significant amounts of weight relative to their strength, which can aid in strength development and athleticism. Additionally, this exercise can be done with either one or two dumbbells, increasing the loading, complexity, and coordination required. Lastly, the dumbbell clean and press is a great alternative to less skilled athletes looking to perform a clean and press movement, as it does require slightly less skill and timing than the barbell clean and press.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

The kettlebell clean and press is very similar to the dumbbell and barbell clean and pressing movements. Like the dumbbell clean and press, the kettlebell variation can be done with one kettlebell or two, both of which can be used to build strength, hip drive, and total body fitness. The kettlebell clean and press differs from other forms of clean and pressing in that the loading itself is asymmetrically placed, forcing the upper back, wrist, and shoulders to stabilize the load whether in the front rack or the overhead position; both of which can have a positive impact of joint integrity and positional strength when performing more systematic exercises like dumbbells and barbell. Lastly, the kettlebell clean and press is often done with a slight kettlebell swinging motion (arch instead of vertical pull) offering slightly different loading and movement demands on an athlete.

Log Clean and Press

The log clean and press is often seen in strongman events and training workouts, which involves a lifter to hoist a log bar from the ground to the racked positioning, and then overhead via a strict press of push press motion. While this is a formal strongan event at the Arnold Sports Festival, it can also be done by lifters of all ages and abilities. There are a few key differences in setup and pulling mechanics when compared to the barbell clean and press, so be sure to watch the video demo below.

Fat Bar Clean and Press

The fat bar clean and press is nearly identical to the barbell clean and press, with the slight exception that the bar itself is much wider than a standard barbell. Due to this different, the lifter is often limited by grip strength and forced to minimize arm pulling (good) in the movement. Instead of arm pulling, leg drive and proper pulling mechanics (back tension) is reinforced. Once cleaned, the lifter must place the fat bar overhead which can be demanding on the triceps and shoulders.

More Clean and Press/Jerk Articles

Interested in learning more about cleans, pressing, jerks, and snatches? Take a look to some of our most popular weightlifting articles!

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