Clean 101: A beginners guide to Increasing Mobility for the Clean
If there was one exercise that separates the men from the boys it would be the Clean. It doesn't matter how much you bench, or how many pull-ups you can do, to gain respect in the powerlifting world a strong clean is essential. When it comes to technical powerlifting movements the clean needs accessory work more than any other. In order to optimize our clean, we must become mobile in the shoulder, thoracic spine and wrists.
How to increase mobility in the Clean
Many clients will have the strength to perform clean but will struggle to locate their joints for the lift. To complete a clean successfully you need great wrist mobility and thoracic extension - both of which are perhaps the most overlooked components of any fitness plan.
Understanding that the wrist is comprised of several muscles all entering the carpal tunnel means we need to progress slowly. Aggravating the wrist will only lead to further setbacks.
To perform the clean correctly we need strong wrist extension. One of the best ways to increase mobility in wrist extension is to perform standing cleans at lighter loads. This will help to get used to the movement and open up the wrist without overloading the muscles.
Soft tissue therapy of the brachioradialis will also enable greater ROM in both wrist flexion and wrist extension.
Opening up the thoracic spine is best completed while laying on an incline bench. With arms overhead have your clients deeply breath in, retracting the scapula and pressing the sternum to the sky. Keep in mind this position will place stress on the low back - keep the volume low and quality high, this is not a numbers game.
You may find that some clients will benefit greatly from soft tissue therapy to the upper traps. When scapular protraction is restricted it generally comes from over recruitment of the Trapezius.
Myofascial Release of Pectoralis Group
Forward shoulder roll is all too common in the world of power building. To increase thoracic extension and overall mobility in the shoulder you need to release tension in the chest, especially at the clavicular insertion (Pectoralis Minor). Use a lacrosse ball to gently massage the area, then utilize PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching to open up the shoulder.
Enabling your clients to engage in corrective exercise prior to overloading for hypertrophy will allow greater activation of musculature and less rates of injury - which will lead to greater client retention.
Take time to walk your clients through mobility prior to their first WOD.