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Build Quads, Shoulders and Back with the Hang, Clean, Squat and Press


The military press, deadlift and squat (amongst a couple others) are regarded as the staple of any serious weightlifter’s workout routine because the motion needed to perform these exercises use a combination of muscle groups. And because more muscles are being used, more weight is being pushed, more calories burnt, strength increases and a more efficient workout is had – and not to mention less injuries and muscle fatigue.

One such exercise is the Hang, Clean, Squat and Press which I must confess to have a bitter love-hate relationship with. Very few weight lifting exercises will leave you gasping for breath and wincing in anguish after only the 8th rep quite like the Hang, Clean, Squat and Press will and this beauty literally works every muscle in your body (bar maybe your pubococygneus: the muscle used to prevent you soaking your knickers in public) in one perfect synchronous ‘muscle inferno’ you’re sure to feel 48hrs post.

Essentially there are 4 movements to the Hang, Clean, Squat and Press (see below): the hang (lower back, quads), the clean (shoulders, biceps), the squat (quads, glutes, back) and the press (shoulders, triceps and back).


Using a barbell or ez-bar bang on a few weight plates, roughly about your 10 rep max for the shoulder press, but find your ideal weight here because what you don’t want to happen is base the weight on your squat and then find out just as your quads are getting warmed up (say by the 5 rep) you’ve maxed out on the shoulder part of the movement and have to kill the set short. A good balance between the two is needed – work up your shoulders if you feel they’re lagging and letting you down in the movement.

Standing shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent, bend over (keeping the lower back straight) grab the barbell with your hands at about a foot apart each other (position 1). Lift the weight up to your chest in a smooth, non-jerking movement (position 2). Now squat, keeping the barbell straight all the way down, until your legs are parallel to the floor. Bring the barbell back up to the standing position (position 2), then press the barbell over your head, extending your arms until straight and keeping your posture and back straight. Return to position 2, then lower the barbell back down to just above the floor (position 1). That’s one rep. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Remember to keep:

  • Your back straight during the movement
  • Weight balanced, based on your squat and shoulder press rep maxes
  • Your balance throughout movement (especially between position 1 and two). It could be quite easy to topple over here if you don’t concentrate
  • Your dignity if you missed the above tip and find yourself on your knees and hoping nobody saw (or heard) you grunting and farting as you keeled over

Position 1

Position 2

Position 3

Position 4

The Hang, Clean, Squat and Press is actually a great exercise if you’re in a hellish hurry and need a movement that is simultaneously going to work more than one muscle group and leave you with that self inflicted burn you love so much after a gym session.


About Author

Lover of gadgets, men's culture, cool stuff, Earl Grey tea and all things manly. An optimist in his prime. When he's not keeping the wheels turning at Mantality HQ you'll find him trawling the web, and visiting trade shows to find the newest and coolest gadgets. During his down time he's usually with his 2 dogs, on the golf course, cycling or basking in the literary company of Oscar Wilde, Bret Easton Ellis or Martin Amis whilst drinking espresso strong enough to strip paint.

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