weights loaded on barbell for a split clean https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

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Basics on the Split Clean

The split clean is a great exercise that you can add to any routine. It is an Olympic-style compound exercise meaning it requires multiple joints to move to complete the movement.

This article will cover how to perform a proper split clean. The benefits that you will receive by adding it to your strength, power or CrossFit routine. And the different muscles that this exercises will work.

You can use a barbell or dumbells to perform Split cleans. Both provide an excellent workout for your body helping to increase your balance and athleticism.

Being a compound exercise makes it well suited to any routine that is incorporating progressive overload. It helps to develop total-body strength and power since it requires an explosive triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips.

If you are new to using progressive overload, check out our article.

Many CrossFit athletes include splits since they require quick footwork, strength, and balance.

For Olympic lifters, the Split Clean is primarily used nowadays by master lifters who have mobility issues or injuries. Before the 1960s splits were used by most weight/Olympic lifters.

After the lifter would pull the weight from the floor, they would use a split(lunge) to catch the weight.

The main reason that Splits have fallen out of favor is due to the Squat style taking over. The Squat form allows a lifter to move a higher amount of weight which is ideal for competitions.

It also gives increased leverage and better control of the weight this is why higher loads can be lifted.

If your goal is to compete in Olympic-style lifting, it is best to stick with the Squat style. The only reason a competitive Olympic lifter should incorporate this lift is if the lifter was suffering from mobility issues.

But if you are looking to improve your athletic performance including splits into your routine is an excellent idea.

Splits require the lifter to have speed, fitness, balance and athleticism and have a high carryover to running jumping and throwing.

When performing the lift focus on keeping the weight as close to your body (like when deadlifting) to help limit your chances of injury.

Remember this is a high-skill movement, and you want to focus firmly on every rep and not rush through them.

What is a Split

A Split is when you move(split) one leg forward approximately one foot and the other leg back by approximately two feet.

Splits are a great exercise to help you to enhance your sports performance.

When incorporating splits, you should alternate your legs (the foot you move forward should be your left 50 percent of the time and the right the other 50 percent).

Doing this will help to ensure you do not create any muscle imbalances.

Splits do not place the same level of stress on the knees and shoulders as there Squat style counterpart. Many taller lifters (6'3") and over may find splits feel much more comfortable to their body.

This is due to the fact many taller people do not have the most efficient body proportions for doing the Squat lifts.

It is also common to include splits into a routine as a way of including split footwork to prepare for the jerk exercise without adding any addition activities.

Most beginners have the most difficulty with their foot placement.

By drawing marks on the floor with chalk for where your feet should be placed, you can check how close you came to hitting the marks and make the nessesary adjustments for your next rep.

Try to keep your feet traveling straight forward and backward since many people have a tendency to swing the rear foot inward.

By slamming the lead foot into the floor, it will help you to move faster and establish a stronger base.

How To Split Clean Images

Step 1

Split Clean step one, man getting into starting position https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

Step 2

Split Clean step two, man performing fist lift pull https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

Step 3

Split Clean step three, man performing second lift pull resting weight on shoulders and splitting feet  https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

Step 4

Split Clean step four, man beinging feet together to complete the lift https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

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How To Split Clean Description

  • Place a barbell on the floor close to your shins. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your arms just outside of the legs.
  • Have the weight focused on your heels as you lower your hips, keep your back straight, your head should be facing forward, shoulders in front of the bar, and your chest up.
  • You are now in the starting position.
  • Drive through your heels well extending your knees, keep your arms straight and do not change the angle of your back. Continue this movement until the weight is above the knees.
  • When the weight hits your mid thigh position, you will perform the second pull portion of the exercise.
  • Extend through your hips, knees, and ankles with a jumping motion to move the bar upward (do not pull through the arms). Keep extending until your body is fully extended and lean slightly back.
  • You will now move into the third pull of the exercise.
  • Aggressively shrug and flex your arms moving the elbows up and out.
  • Once you hit the top of the extension, you will pull yourself down rotating the elbows under the bar.
  • Well, you are receiving the bar you need to split your feet by aggressively moving one foot forward one foot and moving the other foot back by two feet. Rack the bar on your protracted shoulders.
  • Move your body down into the bottom of the lunge position.
  • Now drive through your heel with your elbows up keeping your body upright and bring your feet together as you return to the standing position.


When using dumbells to perform the slit clean, you will use the same movement pattern. The only portion of the lift that changes is the third pull portion of the lift. Refer to the video at the end of the article to see how this variation is performed.

How To Split Clean Video

Split Clean Muscles Worked

  • Primary

  • Quadriceps
  • Secondary

  • Calves
  • Forearms
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower Back
  • Shoulders
  • Traps


The split clean will strengthen the hip musculature and help to promote mobility of your hips.

Split Clean CrossFit

The Split Clean exercise is a very powerful lift to include into your CrossFot routine.

You will add this lift under the strength portion of your CrossFit training method.

The exercise works best by using a lower repetition scheme with a barbell and generally a higher amount of repetitions are used when the movement is incorporated with dumbbells.

If you do plan to use this lift for a set time interval, you may find using the dumbells variation with a lower weight better suited.

When using a barbell you should be using this action with two to six repetitions.

If you are using Dumbells, it is more common to use anywhere from 8 to 20 repetitions per set.

This is because you will not be able to move as much weight with dumbells as you could with a barbell. But with dumbells and a lighter load, you will find this is a great conditioning exercise.

Dumbell Split Clean CrossFit Video

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