Hanging Power Cleans – A Great Exercise for Strength and Definition

January 7, 2009

I am going to begin featuring specific exercises on a more consistent basis.

Today I’m going to talk about a really versatile exercise called Hanging Power Cleans. Some people call them hanging clean, cleans from dead hang, etc. You can use this lift to burn fat at the end of a workout, increase athletic ability, or gain incredible definition in your, back shoulders, and arms.

sweaty athletic woman

[Here is a good example of a fit woman without excessive muscle. It is good to strike a balance between muscle and aesthetics. A routine based around HIIT, Circuits, and Low Volume Resistance Training…creates this type of look. Obviously diet plays a crucial role as well.]

Hanging Power Cleans Will Help You Burn Bodyfat 

Before I get into the movement, I wanted to let people know that this isn’t just a performance lift for athletes. Also, it isn’t a lift for men only. Women will get a lot out of this lift to. I wanted to mention the ability for the exercise to help “burn body fat”, because I know that is a common goal.

Basically…I didn’t want people to click away from the post thinking that it didn’t apply to them.

The Proper Form Demonstrated on Video

This is one of those lifts that is much easier shown than explained with words. Thank god for online video. This video does great job at demonstrating the proper form of a Hanging Power Clean. Roll the video…

[Watch this video a few times. This guy does a wonderful job explaining the form of this technical lift.]

Hanging Power Cleans a Quick Lift that is Beneficial

Most of the lifting I recommend on this site is slow and controlled. I have found that when you lift slow, you are “mastering a weight” by generating stronger muscle contractions. This is a safe and predictable way to gain strength and definition in a muscle.

That being said, certain “quick lifts” like the hanging power clean have some benefits as well.

Quick Lifts – Moving at The Speed of Your Sport

The reason quick lifts like the hanging power clean are effective for athletes is because most sports move at a quick pace. When I was a high jumper back in high school, we use hanging power cleans as a way to improve our vertical leap.

The lift mimicked jumping, but with a bit of resistance. The nice thing was that my coach understood that lifting volume needed to be kept low and only wanted us to do this lift for 5 sets of 5 just one time per week.

You don’t want to add excess mass if you are trying to improve vertical leap.

Hanging Power Cleans – How Many Reps?

Reminder…the bodybuilding (muscle building) range is typically in the 6-12 rep range. This is what most mainstream fitness and bodybuilding magazines recommend. They mistakenly assume that everyone reading those magazines wants to build muscle.

Obviously there are more variables involved to build muscle than just lifting for 6-12 reps, but to be safe (especially for most women) I would shy away from lifting in this range.

Stick to 3-5 reps for tone and density…15-20 reps with a short rest in between for fat loss (basically an HIIT-type workout with weights).

Hanging Power Cleans for Density and Power

I don’t recommend doing heavy hanging power cleans more than once per week. A good way to incorporate it into your routine is to do it “every other” back and chest day.

It sounds weird, but I like to do these on my back and chest day after doing interval cardio. My joints and muscles seem to be at their best. I also seem to be a bit stronger after HIIT for a small window of time. Here is a post on that phenomenon: How to Get Stronger Than Ever While Burning Body Fat

Hanging Power Cleans for Fat Burning

If you do hanging power cleans in a high-rep range, with little rest in between…you are basically mimicking an intense HIIT session. You will jack up your metabolism like crazy and as a result, burn body fat long after the workout is over.

Pick a pretty light weight that you can do 30 reps with and try to do 5-8 sets of 15 reps. The key is to just rest 30-60 seconds in between sets. Start with 60 seconds for your first few times.

By your last 2 sets you should be breathing pretty darn hard and those 60 seconds of rest will seem like 10 seconds.

When to Do the Fat Burning Cleans

You can be pretty darn flexible if you chose to do hanging power cleans for fat burning. I like to substitute these for HIIT at the end of my workout…or do them after a tough HIIT treadmill workout.

You certainly could do them in place of the HIIT in the Low Body Fat Percentage Cardio Workout I outline on this site. Basically figure out what feels best to you.

Some Added Benefits of Hanging Power Cleans

A big side benefit of hanging power cleans is how they greatly improve grip strength. You will also find that it firms up your entire body. It is a lift that virtually requires the coordination of every muscle in the body.

Over time it will add density to your entire body, but focuses this on the shoulders arms and back.

Note: Again, be careful with this exercise. Start with light weights and work your way up. If you have access to a knowledgeable Strength and Conditioning coach, then have them critique your form.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Steer - Better Is Better January 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Great job covering an important exercise Rusty!

I really got into the O-lifts when I was working through Christian Thibaudeau’s stuff a few years back. He does an awesome job of integrating them into overall strength programs (the guy is a genius).

Cheers,
Adam

John January 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm

This will work better than HITT, and it is way more fun.
total body moves always will expend more energy

Trevor January 7, 2009 at 8:32 pm

youve mentioned hangcleans before…..why not full power cleans?

Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit January 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Interesting look at the exercise. I’ve never seen those types of weights, or weight simulators if they don’t actually weigh 45 pounds.

Thanks for the post Rusty, I think we would all like to see more Fitness Black Book!!

All the Best,

Andrew R

Andrew January 8, 2009 at 12:03 am

This is a great post Rusty!

I have been doing this exercise for the past year or so off and on, and i must say it is one of my favorites. It is probably the most fun lift i’ve ever done because it really tests your power. I think it is strange that I don’t see many people doing them though. One thing I never thought to do, but I’m glad you talked about was how you could use this exercise in place of HIIT by using low weight. I’m definitely going to try this is see how I like it. I think it should feel wonderful.

Andrew

Son of Grok January 8, 2009 at 12:05 am

This has been added to the long list of exercises that I probably should be doing but am not 😉

The SoG

Yavor January 8, 2009 at 5:48 am

That’s cool.

When training for performance/explosiveness, I find it better to do sets of 3 instead of 5. The PC is a very demanding exercise so a top set of 3 is all that can be done at a peak performance level.

A typical PC workout could be a warmup set of 5 with the bar, then 100lbs /5, 120lbs/4, 150lbs/3, 175/lbs 3

Now, for fat loss and GPP – 2-3 sets of 15-30 work magic.

Yavor

Vic Magary - GymJunkies January 8, 2009 at 10:54 am

I love all of the Olympic Lifts and their derivatives. I like to compare them to swimming in that even if your technique is not perfect, as long as safety is maintained you can still get huge benefits from the exercise. Nothing builds explosive power like cleans and snatches!

And Rusty, I love the pics of all the hot chics you find!

Chris January 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Regardless of weight and rep schemes, if you’re a hormonally normal women who is not taking steroids, you’re NOT going to build excessive muscle lifting. What you will do if come up with ineffective and time wasting programming if you worry about this and actively try to avoid it.

I see a lot of paranoia in women about this, and it is largely due to misinformation. The link to my site with the post links to something I wrote about this very subject.

Also, here’s a youtube video of my girlfriend back squatting 180lbs (though the depth is questionable).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRvjo_1DBU0

Clearly, she’s a muscle bound hulk.

Brad January 8, 2009 at 12:12 pm

great post Rusty. I’ve just recently added olympic lifts back into my routine and there is nothing like them. They burn fat like crazy and you can really see the difference in your physique if you stick with them for a pro-longed period of time. The people I know who centered there weight training routines around them are in incredible shape…. a real athletic look, not bulky bodybuilding type muscles.

Brad

Helder January 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Hey excellent post Rusty, i Love this exercise tough i don’t do it much anymore, it’s really a fantastic exercise no matter what your goal is, if strenght and speed it’s a top exercise, if it’s mass building or fat burning it’s a top exercise. It’s good that you recommend it.

Now the not so good side of this exercise, and the same goes for snatches. First you have to learn the perfect technique, i know that is true for any exercise, but the injury potencial on this exercise is superior to most other exercises if you don’t do it correctly.

Second, this one is for me, and others that have the same “problem” the Clean overdevelops my traps really easy, even with low volume, low reps, that’s why i don’t do it much anymore, tough i Love the exercise. I don’t let my traps grow or i’ll have my look ruined, so this exercise is not the best choice if it makes someone’s trap grow too much, of course for someone who has trouble developing traps and wants that (i wonder why would someone want big traps unless you’re an athlete) cleans are the way to get those traps fast.

Now about reps, i agree totally with coach Charles Poliquin, cleans should never be done for more than 6 reps per set, because it’s a speed movement, and usually after the 6th rep you start to decrease speed, and also concentration, so the exercise grows in its injury potencial and it becomes a little more useless if you’re not able to keep speed.

IMHO it’s one of the best and more complete exercises for the upper body, and if you do it from the ground (Power Clean) it’s one of the most complete for the whole body, no matter what your goal is, but i would keep it with low reps, even for fat burning. It will be enough to melt that fat off your body. If it overdevelops your traps and ruins your look, and aesthetics is your main goal, then be carefull not to do too much.

Very good post Rusty, i’m glad you brought olympic lifts to your blog, they can be really really good

Caleb - Double Your Gains January 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Rusty!

Hang cleans are great exercises, not as technical as full power cleans which I’m a BIG fan of — and perfect to get in some high speed strength work, build an athletic base, learn to move a weight fast and of course like you pointed out — burn fat!

Love it!
Caleb

admin January 8, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Adam,

Olympic lifts certainly have their place in a workout routine. They are technical lifts and I probably wouldn’t suggest them unless I had a great video. Luckily I found a great video on explaining and demonstrating the details of the lift.

John,

It certainly will be a great change of pace to someone who has only done HIIT on a treadmill or exercise bike. I can get shredded from HIIT on a treadmill, so I do enjoy that type of HIIT, but this gives me the added density in the arms, shoulders, back, etc.

Trevor,

I don’t like power cleans as much, because the potential for injury is so much higher. The form from the ground to the knees needs to be flawless, otherwise the lower back can get smoked. Plus…it is the law of diminishing returns…a much tougher technical lift without that much more benefit (at least in my opinion).

Andrew,

That video is great because the plates are transparent. It really shows the position of the low back, butt, hips, very well. I am going to try and post more this year…I backed off a bit since this past June, but will ramp it up a bit. I will also create downloadable PDF’s, mini-courses, etc.

Son of Grok,

This is a pretty darn good one and can easily be done in any home gym.

Yavor,

Good call…sets of 3 will work very well with these.

Vic,

Yep…these lifts are great to include in workouts from time to time. Glad you enjoy the pics…I’m pretty picky about the pictures I chose for each post. I think it makes a difference in motivation to see good role models. Plus, people enjoy looking at other attractive people.

Chris,

I understand where you are coming from, and I do believe that women can do a similar routine to what men do. Obviously your girlfriend isn’t big and bulky, but some women do put on muscle at a faster rate than others. I still recommend training for strength and doing low reps for women, just like I do for guys…I just caution women to monitor their size and avoid “training for the pump”. I’m not saying that women will get to bodybuilder size, but most women don’t even want to get to fitness competitor size.

Brad,

Good point on mentioning the prolonged effects of olympic lifting. I definitely noticed effects over time. It really creates a nice density that is hard to re-create with other training methods.

Helder,

I would never recommend going high rep to muscular failure or even close to muscular failure. This is where the danger in higher reps comes into play. So in a sense I agree with Charles Poliquin. If someone goes high rep it should be with a weight that is light enough to where they can still get high reps in, but stopping 5-10 reps short of failure. Uusually the heaving breathing and sweating with this lift comes long before the muscles begin to fail.

Good call on people with overdeveloped traps. They would most likely need to avoid this lift. I like to focus on functional fitness and aesthetics…so this is important.

Caleb,

Yeah…power cleans require a lot more training on technique, more concentration, etc. I just feel “hanging cleans” are extremely efficient at working many of the same muscles and burning fat with a lot less headache.

Good comments guys,

Rusty

Chris January 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

———–
Caleb – not sure I’m following the terminology.

“Hang” denotes where the clean is started from, i.e. the high hang position at the mid thigh.

“Power” denotes where it is caught. A muscle clean is caught with no squat at all. A power clean is caught above parallel. A squat clean is received in a full squat.

You can do a “hang power clean” or “hang squat clean”, etc…

Some very well respected coaches have suggested that the hang version are better for developing explosive strength (more carry over to athletics). They do hit the traps a bit harder than cleaning from the floor though.

————
Rusty – I get your point. It does sound like we’re on the same page and you’re one of the few sites that recommends heavy lifting to women (thank you!).

Where I was going with that was that even the fitness competitor size you see on women takes a ton of work, and often drugs. If a woman has the ability to get to that level of development without drugs it certainly won’t sneak up on her.

Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips January 8, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for the post Rusty. Grip strength is one thing that never seems to improve with me so I will have to give these hanging bodyweight cleans a try.

Yash January 9, 2009 at 1:24 am

Hey Rusty,
Good post, and I’d love to see more of these featured exercises, especially this kind of compound/Olympic style exercise. I’ve been really tempted to start doing snatches and cleans like this in my routine, but i’m trying to be consistent especially since it involves the basic lifts and i want to establish that strong base before i branch out. I could probably throw this in for my back exercise when i get back to the gym, but considering i’m gonna be regularly exercising for the forseeable future, whats the rush? A particular thanks for doing this post since i asked about a back/shoulder exercise last time i commented and you suggested the hanging power clean to push press. I just need to work on my technique going from the batch position to a push press, which i find tricky since it goes from the bar on your fingers to your palm. I haven’t tried it with any heavy weights since i don’t want to snap my hands.

On another note, regarding what Chris said, its almost a pity that not enough women realize that weightlifting won’t make them look like men, because they don’t even remotely have the hormonal profile for it. Someone should really tell that one girl at the gym that’s on the treadmill from the second i get there, warm up, exercise, cool down, shower and until i leave. I’m gonna go ahead and guess theres at least a few of those at every gym.

Ivan January 9, 2009 at 4:45 am

Hi Rusty,
I have been reading your site for only two days now and it is great! Finally I found a place that says the things as they really are, no commercials…
This exercise I think could be a great substitute of the dead lift which is kind of extreme workout and you could harm yourself…
I was wondering about your opinion over the fat burning supplements, do you know anything we don’t ?

Saludos from Spain

Yavor January 9, 2009 at 7:41 am

The pendulum swings both ways.

Some girls don’t do almost anything in the gym, swinging pink dumbbells around and sorta working on the treadmill.

Now others work out diligently.

Still others push hard. Now, take squats for example – if the woman is quad dominant – and many are, squats will develop bigger thighs that won’t fit in their jeans.

Also traps for example develop too easily. Trap heavy girls don’t look good.

Any more serious lat development and they won’t fit in tighter tops or dress shirts.

See where I’m going?

The way to go for women is – low volume, low rep strength training with bio-mechanically perfect form + intensive cardio/sport/HIIT/body weight circuits/whatever makes you sweat.

This way they will be slim and hot, with good posture and just a hint of muscle. Think athletic looking cheerleaders, beach volleyball girls, dancers, etc.

Son of Grok January 9, 2009 at 9:12 am

I won’t argue that with you rusty. It just seems like everyday I discover a new exercise that I “should” be doing. There aren’t enough workouts to squeeze in all the darn exercises! Lol.. I recently added deadlifts (for the first time) in to my workout though and am loving it. I am going to have to figure out a way to work HPC’s in as well.

The SoG

darla January 9, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Hey Rusty
First, I’d like to thank you for all the great info you put out. It’s really helped me as a woman to get over the fear of having large bulky muscles if I train hard with weights. I would like to add my two cents worth if I may concerning men. I agree than being defined is a great look on a man, but a guy could be shredded to the bone but if he has 14 or 15 inch arms, he just looks skinny. I’ll take the Rock over Cam any day! Even Vin Diesel sends shivers down most girls spines. Something about a man with good arms and chest that make women feel safe. So about posting some goal measurements for the guys reading this post not just body weights? Thanks, Rusty

Rebecca January 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Hey Rusty, I have a question. Almost every piece of diet advice I’ve ever read says to reduce your caloric consumption enough to lose weight, but not so much as to make your body go into starvation mode. Most of the time, they say not to eat less than 1,000 calories a day. I usually do this easily, but some days I’m just not hungry enough to want to eat that many calories. How often can I eat, say, 700-900 calories without “going into starvation mode”?
Thanks!
Rebecca

darla January 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Oops! I meant so how about posting some goal body part measurements, not just how much they should weigh

admin January 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Ivan,

I will do a post on supplements in the near future. I like to be supplement free for the most part, with the exception of a multi-vitamin. That being said, they can be useful at times. As far as fat burning supplements go, no need for them. Save your money and do it the natural way.

Yavor,

Yeah…a good balance of low volume resistance training and tough HIIT is the way to go for most women.

Darla,

I don’t really get into measurements so much. The look I emphasize for guys is to let their body gain a natural amount of muscle for their frame by balancing strength training with HIIT. Some guys will naturally have bigger arms and chest than others. I just don’t think it looks good when excessive muscle is forced upon a smaller frame. The Rock looks great because he has the right amount of muscle for his large frame. Daniel Craig has less muscle than the rock, but looks great because it is a natural amount for his frame. Both of these guys have the slim athletic look, because they aren’t forcing or growing beyond their natural athletic size. The Rock used to look like hell when he was wrestling, but made a good decision to slim down.

Rebecca,

Type in the term, low calorie, into the search box in the upper right hand corner of this site. It will bring you to about a dozen posts I did on the subject of slowing metabolism. This will make a lot more sense when you read these posts. If you are dipping down to 700-900, you can do this two days per week without any metabolism slowing effects whatsoever. If you do go a week straight at this level, then I would go a week at a more moderate level. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you could possible go two weeks at this level and one week at a higher calorie level.

Lyle McDonald has an entire course based around this way of eating: The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook: A Scientific Approach to Crash Dieting.

Hope that helps,

Rusty

Randi January 9, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I agree with Darla… Big arms are sexy!! ( of course gotta have that sixpack)

Ben January 9, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Rusty,

Good post. I’ve been reading your site for about 6 months now. I wrestled, swam and ran track. Ran Track in College too(Pole Vault and Hurdles). The hang clean is great. Although, I think that the clean and jerk or the snatch would be more taxing on the cardiovascular system for most people. The hang clean is a good starting point if you want to get into olympic lifts. I learned how to clean in 9th grade. It’s helped with every sport. When I see people just doing dead lifts and and then a little later doing shrugs I ask myself why not just do power cleans or snatches?
Another thing, these can be done using dumbbells on each side. It hits the core a bit harder while hitting the same muscles as the normal olympic lifts. I love your site. Mostly for the articles about diets, setting goals, and being functionally fit. I look forward to more articles.

-Ben

Joe January 9, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Hi Rusty!

I love your blog. Your articles are informative, insightful and entertaining! Keep up the good work.

I’m in a rut and I need your help. I’m a 31 year old out of shape computer analyst. My weight is at 230 (approx 30% body fat) and I’m 5’9″ tall.

I would like to get down to 180 lbs (12-15% body fat). Since your site is very informative, it can get very overwhelming. Where do I start? You mention that I should take my goal weight and multiply that by 10. And that will give me the number of calories I should eat per day. 180X10=1800 Cal per day. Is this a good start?

Thanks!
And keep up the good work.

Jeff January 10, 2009 at 1:17 am

V interesting exercise.

Zlatan January 10, 2009 at 9:13 pm

So i was wondering when you talk about the reps, do you mean that only this exercise gets tone and definition between 3-5 exercises or is that for all exercises?
Could you please explain the difference between how many reps should be done for tone, and gaining size? Because i want to be more defined, should i do more reps or less? This post kind of confused me.

Thanks,
Zlatan

baz January 11, 2009 at 2:54 am

Rusty, wen doing bicep exercises, how can i take the stress off my wrists and more onto my biceps? Whenever i do my curls, once i put the weights down, i have serious pain in my wrists which lasts for a few seconds and the only way to get rid of this pain is to twist my wrists to the sides and crack them similar to cracking your knuckles.

chris - www.fitnessfail.com January 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Zlataon –

Definition is (for the most part) just a function of the development of the muscle, and the amount of fat over it. There is no magic rep range for definition. Lifting in a certain rep range will not “build definition in the muscles”.

If you want to be more defined work on your diet (so there is less fat covering the muscles). The effect of various rep ranges is pretty well understood, though obviously there is some overlap.

1-6 reps:

Will lead to strength gains, primarily through increased neuromuscular recruitment. I.e. without the jargon this means that the central nervous system becomes more effective at firing all the fibers in the muscle. This is of a lot of interest for athletes, since it means you can increase strength without large increases in size. (i.e. better strength to weight ratio).

8-12 rep:

More hypertrophy. You’ll see the biggest gains in size in this rep range. It tends to stimulate the muscle fiber types most susceptable to increasing their size. Obviously if they get larger the absolute strength will improve (75% of 100 is still more than 75% of 90).

12-15 reps (and up)

You’ll see more gains in local muscular endurance here. At higher rep ranges you can see some (not much) decrease in size.

Individual differences in the relative percentage of muscle fiber type will to some extend dictate which type of training the muscles respond to best. Also as I mentioned, there is a good deal of overlap. Heavy sets of 5 or 6 WILL increase muscle size, just not to the extend that a rep range optimized for this will.

This indicates that a great deal of individual trial and error is called for.

Yash January 11, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Zlatan,
Another thing about this particular exercise is that it’s more of an explosive lift than a controlled lift. This exercise would be more for conditioning in the high rep range, or improving explosive movements such as your vertical leap like Rusty said. That being said, if you are using heavier weights, you don’t want to go to failure/higher than 3-5 reps since you won’t be as explosive on the last reps.

Diana January 11, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I ran track in college (sprinter) and genetically i DO bulk up a bit, ok alot, much much easier than other girls. I tend to really get large in my quads, which was fine and great when I needed it to compete. Now being 3 years out of college, I am going for more the Miranda Kerr/Marisa Miller look rather than the Marion Jones look. It seems the only way I can keep my body from bulking is to not work out at all. Running, light weights etc all add more muscle than I would like. Do you think this is genetics, or more a matter of eating too much while working out? My ideal body is Miranda Kerr, although the closest I have been able to get to this is by a strict low carb diet ( as all the VS models swear by) and zero exercise. What do you think of yoga? The VS models are claim to run, box, do pilates etc. Although I find this hard to beleive as many of them have veery little muscle tone. Also the more I work out, if any, the hungrier I get, thereforth the more I eat, thereforth I just get bigger and stronger with fat and muscle. I know low carb diets are of huge importance in acheivng this look, but what exercise do you reccomend to have minimal tone and long lean muscles? My husband says I can do anything, run, lift, etc, in the morning on an empty stomach and if I dont overeat I will only get smaller and non bulky??? I feel my genetics doom me to not exercise much at all to have the body I desire……

Zlatan January 11, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Thanks Chris

Tom January 12, 2009 at 9:54 am

Hey Rusty I must have read your article on sqaure pecs about ten times this weekend on several different sites. About any where on the net you type in square pecs your name is about the only one that keeps popping up(Great work!!!) I guess everyone else loves man boobs!. My question is to build a thick slab across the whole chest is incline and cable crossover the only thing I should be doing for chest? Also it seems that no matter what I doe on one side I cant get complete thickness is that just me or do a lot of men have that problem?

Thanks Tom

Chris January 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Diania –

You seem to have a fairly uncommon problem. A few train of though questions and observations. I apologize in advance, since looking over this post, it appears to have gotten rather long winded.

What would you describe your general build as? Working out can do wonders, but if you’re naturally endomorphic (broad shouldered, well muscled) attempting to go for a the model look is going to be conter productive. I’m not trying to be negative in any way – I’m certain you can make gains with what you have, but a lot of genetics is just what you have to work with.

When I was in highschool it really frustrated me (as an insecure adolescent) when I realized that despite all the lifting and getting stronger, I was never going to have the large football player build.
Even with an additional 30 pounds of muscle on my frame it wasn’t me though.

The exercise selection is a little more problamatic. If you’re really concerned about avoiding size (again, most women don’t need to be, but you might be an exception to this genetically) you can avoid the 8-12 rep range that will cause the most hypertrophy. Heavier lower rep sets (1-6) or higher rep ones (14-20) will both produce gains in strength (and muscular endurance) without as much mass gain, though there will still be some.

You’re correct that you won’t gain as much if you don’t eat for it, but this is a tough balance, since a calorie deficit (especially post workout) will interfere with recovery. You may need to resort to really regimented eating, such as tracking everything you eat via fitday.com.

The idea of burning more fat doing cardio on am empty stomach has largely been debunked.

In summary, to approach it seriously, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

How much are you eating in a typical day? What are the ratios of carb, prot & fat?

About what is your maintaince caloric intake?

What does your training program look like at the moment?

What is your current body type (height, weight, estimated bodyfat % and level of training)?

What are your goals?

Jon January 12, 2009 at 2:57 pm

rusty, why stop there? throw in a military press and you got a clean & press.

Diana January 13, 2009 at 11:27 am

Thank you so much for your reply! I am 24, 5’4, and though my weight fluctuates a bit, I currently (with my lack of all muscle) weigh 112, my bf is unknown right now but I estimate around 17-19% based on previous body fat tests. I am very small boned, and come from a family of small petite women. My ring size is a 4, which is very tiny for a woman! Also, 3 years ago I gained a huge amount of weight and went from 108 to 135, due to a knee injury leading to quitting track, losing my scholarship, and depression. (Even at 135, with a body fat of 26% I wore a size 4, so I think that kinda shows my small bone structure.)
I typically eat about 1300-1400 calories a day, although I aim for 1100 at the start of each day! After noticing that I gain weight from fruit, most carbs, and even moderate bread, I try to eat more protein and veggies and lower carb. Although to be honest, I tend to have those dreaded hunger and carb cravings at night, and occasionally give in to an English muffin or some crackers (but still have my caloric intake less than 1400). A typical day would be:
Breakfast: 8 am ………….2 organic scrambled eggs (150 calories)OR organic turkey sausage (130 cals)
Lunch 12 pm……………. 1 meal shake (Atkins, low carb, 160 cals) OR salad with lean meat (300 cals)
Snack 4 pm……………….. 1-2 Tablespoon Peanut butter, OR string cheese, OR nuts (100-200 calories)
Dinner 6 pm…………….. 5 oz meat, 1 cup steamed veggies, 1 cup salad with low cal dressing (500 calories)
Then it gets bad…….
Snack 9:30-10 pm……………. 1 Ezekiel English muffin with low cal jam (180 calories), OR sugar free fudge pops (200 calories), OR Atkins meal bar (160 cals, low carbs) OR crackers (150 cals). ( On a bad night, this can be a combo of all the above tending to balance this snack total out to 400 calories! I know this is likely my whole problem!)
I am currently not working out, the past 2 years (up until October) I was walking for one hour at night, and it seemed to do well, aside from the fact that it did greatly increase my hunger and cravings which led to carb loading at 10 pm(not good!!). Then previously, the year before, (so 2 years ago) I quit working out (from running 6 miles a day to nothing!) while I was planning a long distance wedding in 8 weeks, graduating college, and working, which led to no time to work out! WOW, Shockingly, in 3 months I had the best body ever, I was small, minimally toned, and healthy looking. This was a huge shock to me, as having ran track all my life competitively, I had never had a very toned, trim, petite figure.
My problem is that I want to return to running, although I do not want to return to the bulky legs and sprinter like body that seems to be my norm with any type of exercise. I am all about women having tone, and being healthy, although my husband and friends can attest to the face that I have genetics that make me a candidate for women’s bodybuilding! If I lowered my protein intake while training for 10k’s, would this derail the extreme muscle building? Or would working out on an empty stomach? Or should I just walk and stick to pilates?

Thank you so much for your help, I truly appreciate it!
Diana 🙂

Chris January 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm

(apologies if this is a duplicate – I can’t see the text of my previous post)

Diana –

Wow, that’s a pretty serious caloric deficit. Granted, there is a lot of individual variation, but a standard maintaince intake for a 5’4” 112lbs SEDENTARY female is around 1600kCal a day. If perform even some modest workouts you’re getting into the 1900-2000calories/day range.
Consistently holding a deficit, as you seem to be, could be part of the problems. I can dig up study links if you want, but in English, you’re probably kicking your body into starvation mode most of the time. There’s some evidence that a severe calorie deficit can actually make your body more reluctant to get rid of fat, though judging by your numbers it sounds like you don’t have much excess bodyfat to begin with. There’s also a whole slew of health problems this can lead too – in short, it’s a really bad idea.

Without pictures, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of you gaining too much muscle too easily. Nearly all the female sprinters I’ve encountered were well muscled and lean, but not overly large. Marion Jones with a tad large, but she was also (caught) taking steroids.
Of course I’m not sure what your goals are, if you goal is to look like this:
(Chris…my blog isn’t letting me put links in some of the comments…they disappear)
I’d suggest a long, serious look in the mirror. This girl has nearly no muscle – she’s pretty obviously very “skinny fat” ( i.e. not terribly low body fat, but very thin with nothing to her. The heavy airbrushing is a good way to tell she’s not as lean as they make her appear here).

I don’t mean this to be overly harsh. If anything, the completely unrealistic idea of beauty that is pushed on women gets me pretty angry. Most women are not going to look like this, ever. Personally, I’m not sure why they’d want to. These women don’t really look like this without a ton of editing.

Tony Schwartz - Athletic Muscle Building January 17, 2009 at 2:35 am

Thanks for this great post.

The power clean is definitely a great exercise. I would highly recommend avoiding higher reps though, as the fatigue they create will wreak havoc on your technique and speed, which not only hurts your results but can also set you up for an injury.

Train hard!

You are the man February 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Hey Bro,

Excellent job of bringing these types of lifts to the mass audiences.

The other day I was talking with a co-worker and he wanted some advice as to what he should be doing to get a total body workout… I told him… bra, all you have to do is look into olympic type lifts…

Love your site.

peace,
zz

Greg February 12, 2009 at 2:20 am

Call me squeamish, but just looking at the video, the potential for injuring my wrists and elbows seems significant. I’m also not too comfortable with swinging that much weight toward my face. Judging from the comments here, most of the readers are okay with it, but I think I’ll stick with something safer.

Brian December 16, 2009 at 3:05 am

Greg,

That’s a foolish fear to have. I’ve NEVER seen someone hit themselves in the face with the bar when doing any sort of clean. I’ve seen someone fall backwards, but that’s when I was in high school. The kid was doing way too much weight and from the floor. It’s pretty much a given that he was doing them improperly. That would be much harder to do from the hang position. If the weight is too heavy you aren’t even going to get close to a position that could get you in trouble– you’ll simply pull the bar a few inches and it will come right back down. I suppose it’s possible that you’ll drop it, but that’s not nearly as dangerous.

Brian December 16, 2009 at 3:07 am

And likewise, the fear of wrist and elbow injuries is unfounded. Practice doing hang cleans with just the bar for a few weeks until you have the form right and move up slowly.

Leetenant February 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Is it safe to do hanging power cleans with a degenerative disk condition?
I started doing them yesterday and I feel great. My posture seems good today which is most likely due to torn muscle fiber and tighness of worked muscles.
My massage therapist friend says it might not be good for me and a coworker says I might feel good now and not notice potential damage until later on. However neither of them are doctors or experts in the field.
To help support my fitness I am working on changing my lifestyle to mostly eating hard boiled egg whites, whey protein, and grilled chicken to promote muscle and bone health in hopes of reversing the condition. Would anybody likew to share their opinions? Am I whey over my head?

CrossFit Junkie March 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

God bless you, Chris. And that woman just looks skinny to me. I see no abs, just ribs.

matthew Bowen March 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Definitely vary the reps from 6-12 then 3-5. 3-5 would be more for increasing the weight you can execute with the lift.

matthew Bowen March 24, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Greg / Brian:

Concern for wrists and elbows is a realistic one with the HPC. I always use snug velcro wraps on the wrist for my HPC work. The elbows (and knees and lower back) should be warm and stretched in advance as well, and I wear a good pull over knee wrap (Mueller Hg80) and sometimes rubber elbow wraps, too. of course, I’m nearly 55 🙂

M.Prakash Rao January 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

In regard to hanging exercises, I would like to share my views with readers. I am now 74 years and was a practicing lawyer in High Court. As a result of asthma, I discontinued my practice and developed exercises by which mucus related respiratory health problems like common colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma etc can be brought under control within 30 to 40 minutes. The exercises pertain to cleaning of nose, mouth, pharynx, the primary sites of colonization of pathogens from excess mucus formed as a result of exposure to allergens. At this age, I am doing hanging exercises by which the excess mucus formed in airways gets cleaning from as a result stretching of airways during hanging.
By seeing me and posture, people thing that I am younger by 20 years. My muscle power also increased and I am able to drive car perfectly. The benefits of hanging exercises are immense and beyond imagination.
M.Prakash Rao 74 years old.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: