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Barbell Clean and Jerk

Barbell Clean and Jerk

The barbell clean and jerk is a popular and dynamic exercise that works multiple muscle groups, making it a fantastic choice for overall strength and power development. It is a two-part movement that combines the clean, where the barbell is lifted to the shoulders, and the jerk, where the barbell is explosively pressed overhead. This exercise is a staple in Olympic weightlifting, but it's not just for athletes – it can be a great addition to anyone's workout routine. The clean and jerk primarily targets the lower body, specifically the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calves. As you lift the barbell off the ground, you engage your core, lower back, and grip strength. Once the barbell reaches shoulder level, the jerk part activates your shoulders, triceps, and upper back. This exercise stimulates the fast-twitch muscle fibers, promoting explosive power and activating multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Beyond just muscular development, the clean and jerk also offers various benefits in terms of coordination, balance, and joint stability. It requires proper timing, body control, and technique to execute correctly. Regular practice improves kinetic awareness, making it a highly functional movement that carries over to athletic performance and daily activities. Remember, before attempting the barbell clean and jerk, it's crucial to master the proper form and technique. Start with an empty bar or minimal weight and gradually progress as you become more comfortable. As always, when it comes to heavy lifting exercises like the clean and jerk, prioritize safety and listen to your body.


  • Start with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Bend down and grip the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your back straight, core engaged, and chest up as you lift the barbell off the ground.
  • Drive through your heels, extend your knees and hips to generate upward momentum.
  • As the bar reaches hip height, quickly drop into a partial squat and rotate your elbows around the bar.
  • In one swift motion, explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles while thrusting the barbell overhead.
  • As you extend, drop under the bar and catch it with your arms fully extended overhead, feet in a split stance.
  • Stand up and bring your feet back to a hip-width position.
  • Lower the barbell back to the starting position by reversing the movement pattern.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips & Tricks

  • Focus on proper technique and form to prevent injuries and maximize efficiency.
  • Incorporate a variety of exercises that target the muscle groups used in the clean and jerk to improve overall strength and power.
  • Practice explosive movements like kettlebell swings and box jumps to develop the necessary power for the clean and jerk.
  • Increase your flexibility and mobility through regular stretching and mobility exercises to improve your range of motion during the lift.
  • Implement progressive overload by gradually increasing the weight used for the clean and jerk to continually challenge your muscles and promote growth.
  • Ensure adequate rest and recovery days between intense clean and jerk sessions to allow your body to repair and adapt.
  • Fuel your body properly with a balanced diet that includes an adequate intake of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and energy levels.
  • Stay hydrated before, during, and after your workouts to maintain optimal performance and prevent dehydration.
  • Listen to your body and adjust the intensity and volume of your clean and jerk workouts based on how you feel to prevent overtraining and injury.
  • Consider working with a qualified coach or trainer to receive personalized guidance, feedback, and programming for the clean and jerk.

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