Dumbbell Clean & Press – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

In this article we will discuss the dumbbell clean & press, a total body strength and power movement that can be used by most coaches and athletes to build strength, movement, and even increase metabolic fitness.

Muscles Worked

The dumbbell clean and press is a total body movement that involves nearly every large muscle group in the body. The below muscle groups are primarily used with most clean and jerk movements. For help determining which muscle group is most active during which phases, notes are made for each muscle group below.

  • Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Calves (the dumbbell clean)
  • Shoulders, Upper Traps, and Triceps (the dumbbell press, and some of the pulling movement)
  • Back, Erectors, and Traps (the dumbbell clean and overhead positioning in the press)
  • Abdominals and Lower Back (th enfiter movement, as core strength and stability is necessary)
  • Arms and Forearms/Grip (the dumbbell clean)

Exercise Demo: Dumbbell Clean and Press

The dumbbell clean and press can be performed with one hand at a time, or two, with all of the benefits being very similar regardless of the dumbbell clean and press variation you choose from below (read about the single arm or double dumbbell clean and press below).

4 Benefits of the Dumbbell Clean and Press

In the below section we discuss four benefits of the dumbbell clean and press, either performed with one dumbbell at a time or two (one in each hand).

Unilateral Movement

The dumbbell clean and press is a unilateral movement that offers lifters and coaches all the unique benefits of unilateral training; such as improved unilateral strength, movement coordination, addressing asymmetries, and muscle development. The unilateral loading (assuming the lifter is doing one side at a time) also requires core strength to resist rotational force due to the asymmetrical loading on the body. If a lifter is performing double dumbbell clean and press (one per hand) the movement still offers unilateral benefits as the lifter must still control each limb independent of one another.

Total Body Strength Development:

When building strength we typically tend to seek out compound movements that integrate multiple muscle groups to allow us to train with heavier loads. While this movement is unilateral in nature, the amount of weight a lifter can clean and press with a dumbbell is still significant compared to their bilateral strength. Heavy single arm dumbbell cleans and overhead presses (push press, strict press, etc) are two key movements that can build serious strength in strength, power, and fitness athletes.


Metabolic Conditioning

The dumbbell clean and press is a total body movement the requires strength, movement skill, power, and coordination. These demands can result in a high amount of energy expenditure when compared with less ballistic, single joint movements The movement can be done with lighters weights or heavier weights in metabolic conditioning workouts to increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength, and overall fitness.

Train Around Certain Injuries

The dumbbell clean and press can be an alternative to the barbell clean and press or snatch during times of injury to a specific limb or joint. While the application of the dumbbell clean and press may not translate maximally to the technique and speeds seen in the standard barbell clean, it can still allow you to train similar movements, timing, and promote grip, back and pulling strength and coordination. For strongman and functional fitness sports, this can also be helpful as the dumbbell clean and press can allow you to train a complex total body movement even if there is a limitation with one arm/wrist/shoulder.

More Unilateral Exercises to Boost Your Fitness

Take a look below at some of the more poplar unialer exercise guides on BarBend!

Featured Image: @jakemonte.studio on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

Leave a Comment


Latest News

Featured Video


Follow Us