The penultimate stop of the Favorite Fifteen train is at the station called “The Clean and Press.” This is – as the name suggests – two separate drills that go together like peanut butter and chocolate. The ballistic movement of the clean helps to get the heart rate up and fire fast-twitch muscle fibers. Chasing it with the grind-it-out military press is the cherry on top.
This is a fantastic pairing for building back (clean) and shoulder (press) strength. But the beautiful thing is that – done properly – you’ll be recruiting the core, lats, upper chest, and even the lower body as you root yourself to the ground. This “simple” exercise can become a full-body drill, putting it near the top of my list of favorites.
3-5 Clean and Press Ladders, 2-5 rungs Rest two minutes between ladders
How I Do It
I usually use a 53# bell, but I change up the sets and reps. Here are some things I’ve learned from experience and research:
Sometimes it’s good to do five ladders to three rungs; other times it’s four ladders to five rungs. It’s not hard to see what’s heavy and what’s light. The difference between four and five rungs is significant (ten vs. fifteen reps). So the important thing is to vary the load. You can do this three times a week (on non-consecutive days) for four weeks and see impressive results. But if you do, I’d suggest waving the intensity something like this:
Monday: Medium (5 ladders, four rungs)
Wednesday: Light (5 ladders, three rungs)
Friday: Heavy (5 ladders, five rungs)
You see how that works?
To give another idea, let’s say I’m pressing a 70# bell. I may wave the load differently like this:
Monday: Medium (4 ladders, 2 rungs)
Wednesday: Light (3 ladders, 2 rungs)
Friday: Heavy (5 ladders, 2 rungs)
These formulas aren’t magical; they’re principle-driven.
A “ladder” involves working your way up. You do one C&P left, then one C&P right, then two left, two right, three left, three right, four left, four right, then rest. That would be one “ladder” with four “rungs.”
In order to press the bell, an athlete must first clean it to the rack position. The press requires the clean, but the clean can stand alone (i.e., you don’t have to press it after you get it to the rack. So some folks will do one clean with each “rung” followed by the appropriate number of presses. I like to do a clean for every press. It takes almost no additional time, and it enables the direct working of the back, hips and legs to clean the bell.
A variation on this is to pair it with pull-ups. To do so, simply add in the same number of pull-ups (or twice as many) as “rung” on the Clean and Press ladders. It’d look like this:
1 C&P Right, 1 C&P Left, 1 pull-up
2 C&P’s Right, 2 C&P’s Left, 2 pull-up
If the pull-ups are too few or too easy, just double them or weight them. You’ll be whipped by the end.
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started. Give the KB Clean and Press a shot and tell me how it goes!
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