What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work?

The hang clean exercise is a total-body workout that has been a favorite when it comes to building muscle mass. It is an explosive exercise routine that requires you to quickly pull up the barbell from the floor to your shoulder in one smooth motion. One of the benefits of this exercise is that it does not focus on one particular body part but in several. In this article, we will answer the question of what muscles do hang clean work and how to properly do this exercise routine.

What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work?

As an important reminder; hang cleans need practice, strength, and skill to pull off properly. If you are not familiar with this exercise you should always start at the lightest barbell weight possible. Never perform this routine using heavier weights if you don’t know the proper form yet as you might cause some undue injury to yourself.


Muscles That Benefit From Hang Clean Work Outs

Hang cleans should be part of anyone who wishes to build proper posture and build lean muscles. It also improves strength, stability, coordination and even jumping power. As it targets so many muscles your body will be pumping more growth hormones and is a great workout routine before returning to the bicep curls.

What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work

This exercise is also a great way to burn fat as it is quite a demanding workout routine. There are various types of “cleans” you can do. But we will discuss those after we talk about which muscles benefit the most out of this exercise routine. So let’s go right ahead and list down the specific parts of your body that will benefit greatly from doing clean.


The back of your thigh which consists of the muscles biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus are the ones that make up your hamstrings. The hamstrings will be taking much of the brunt of this exercise. It will help in stabilizing and flexing your knees which are key motions when doing hang clean. Simply put, your hamstring will get quite a workout when doing hang clean exercise and will help trim down and improve the strength of your legs.

What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work

Gluteus Maximus

Located in your hips, the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in this area of your body. It is primarily responsible for rotating and extending your hips.

During a hang clean exercise, you will be thrusting your hips frontward as you pull the barbell from the floor and then extending your hips as you complete the final phase of the routine which positions you in upright.


Consisted of four major muscles which include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and the vastus medialis.

These four muscles coordinate with each other in order to help stabilize your balance, extend the knee and flex your hips. The quadriceps are similar to hamstrings in that it focuses on stability.

What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work

During the exercise itself, your quads will be utilized when extending your knees as you begin to lift the barbell off the floor and again when you are about to complete the routine by standing upright as you raise the barbell to your shoulders or overhead.

Back and Shoulders

Specifically, the trapezius located on the back and the deltoids on the shoulders. When it comes to the upper body muscles that benefit greatly from the hang clean exercise, these two gains the most. The deltoids will do the heavy lifting by supporting the arms during the pull up while the trapezius supports the shoulder blades.


During the motion wherein you are transitioning to the second phase of the hang clean (the part where you are pulling the barbell upwards), your calves will be responsible for the momentum when you lift your heels from the floor. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles which make up the calf will be working over time during this phase.

Hang Clean Proper Form

What Muscles Do Hang Clean Work?

As discussed earlier, having the proper form is essential when doing a hang clean workout. With that in mind, I would like to give you some important pointers on how to avoid injury and optimize this routine. You will also need a good quality weight. Check out the US Weight Duracast Barbell if you are interested.

  1. Stand straight and make sure your feet are shoulder width apart. Maintain this upright position and make sure your back is completely straight and shoulders slightly
  2. Steadily lean forward to grab the handle bars on the floor. Lean forward from your hips.
  3. Bend your knees and ready your body for the first phase. Exert energy and pull the barbell in front of you in one fluid and quick motion.
  4. Flip the handle bars from your fingers and catch it in front of your chest.
  5. Bend your knees again to support the weight.
  6. Stand upright. Reset, and repeat.

Here is a quick video on how to perform the hang clean exercise properly for visual reference.

Additional Tips for Maximizing the Hang Clean Exercise

You should let the momentum of your upward swing. Think of it like allowing the barbell to “jump”. As you already start the motion with the bar on your hands, all you need is to use your strength to swing it upwards, let it fly and catch it with your hands over your chest.

Different Variations of the Hang Clean

1. The Snatch Hang Clean

This one needs perfect coordination and skill. You will be swinging the bars upwards and catching it overhead. Start off with a light barbell then make your way up as you get more confident.

2. The One-Arm Dumbell Snatch

You will be utilizing dumbells here. Pretty much the same except you will be focusing on each arm independently.

3. Clean and Jerk Hang Clean

This variation works on a lot of muscle groups. The key here is maintaining a perfect form during this exercise to maximize results.

Final Thoughts

This would hopefully have taught you a thing or two about this popular exercise routine. It is a great way to strengthen your lower and upper body, burn fat and improve your balance. You have to be aware of proper form as that is imperative in this workout. You can easily injure yourself here so if you are a beginner always start with the lightest bar available. You can check out the US Weight Duracast Barbell if you’re looking for a good quality one.

Comment down below if you have anything more to add to this discussion such as other tips for optimizing the results of hang clean exercise.

Harvie Brenton

I’m Harvie Brenton, chief editor at strongmusclegrowth.com! Believing in the great benefits of bodybuilding and fitness to the body, I’ve been motivated to become a fitness enthusiast. It also was what gave me the self-confidence and assurance to me both physically and psychologically. Hopefully, you will come along for the ride with me.