CrossFit is a sport all on its own.  We borrow from a lot of sports but we often employ movements in ways unique to CrossFit.  Though it drives purists mad, I wouldn’t perform 21 power snatches at 105lbs the same way as I’d perform a 1 rep max snatch.  I would tailor the technique to suit the specific task. 

This is the case with the Dumbbell Hang Power Clean.  The video demo for this movement simulates the mechanics of a barbell hang power clean but with dumbbells.  This makes sense if you want to learn how to more efficiently move a barbell through the second and third pull of the clean.  But it isn’t the most efficient way to move heavy dumbbells from the hang to the rack position.  And for me 45 or 70lb dumbbells are heavy.  They probably are for you too.

Olympic Lifters are chasing 1 rep maxes.  They are not interested in cycling a barbell.  They are purely about explosive power.  CrossFit is a different animal entirely.  In today’s workout we are trying to maximize our reps inside a 10 minute time domain.  So instead of using a technique designed to move the heaviest possible weight one time, it behooves us to use a technique that allows us to move a sub maximal load for higher repetitions.

It is also worth recognizing that a dumbbell is a very different implement than a barbell with some unique properties.  A barbell, for instance, cannot cross behind the frontal plane because it is blocked by the presence of your body.  A dumbbell, held at your side, has no such restrictions.  This means that you can actually swing the dumbbell behind you as you dip into the hang power clean and use the momentum of the dumbbell to assist the lift in a way not possible with a barbell.

This of course will result in the dumbbell arcing in front of the body a bit like a kettlebell swing and thus violating the ideal barbell bar path by travelling out in front of our frontal plane.  If we were trying to move a barbell this way it would then crash into our collar.  It would be ineffective for moving maximal loads.  And even with dumbbells, were we performing the full clean, it would interfere with the vertical force produced by the leg drive in the first pull.  But we’re not lifting a maximally loaded barbell AND we’re not utilizing the first pull in today’s exercise.

In Olympic Lifting the hang power clean is a drill used to train the second and third pulls without the distraction of the first pull.  It is a technical drill.  Not a stand alone movement.  In CrossFit we are using the dumbbell hang power clean to maximize work capacity over a 10 minute domain.  Given this goal, adhering to standard technique is counterproductive. 

The best way to move the dumbbells when starting from a hang position, given the limited opportunity to recruit leg drive, is to maximize hip thrust by swinging the dumbbells back and then forward in a movement more akin to a power snatch performed from the high hang or even a dumbbell swing.

With a barbell we’d want to execute efficiently in the frontal plane maintaining a near vertical bar path, but with the DB HPC you are better served to sacrifice the vertical path in favour of greater hip recruitment.  You can take advantage of the fact that the Dumbbells are held at your side to exaggerate their path and therefore use their weight to create momentum for your swing. 

This is a total bastardization of Olympic Lifting form.  But Olympic Lifters do not train the lifts with dumbbells.  The most efficient way to move a barbell is not the same as the most efficient way to move a dumbbell.  As athletes we need to adapt our movement mechanics to best accomplish the task set before us.  This means our technique must alter to match the different training implements employed.  Be warned, if you’re spotted using this technique on your DB HPC’s by anyone with lifting experience, they are going to cringe at your failure to understand correct lifting mechanics!  Just more proof that we CrossFitters don’t know what we’re doing;)

Monday WOD
All you need today is a pair of dumbbells.  They should be heavy but you should be able to do a set of 10 Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans unbroken.  Today we will teach you a more efficient way to perform the dumbbell hang power clean.  And after the workout, when you are nice and tired, we are going to continue developing your work capacity with a little post-WOD burner.

Warm Up
1 min Each:
Belly Breathing
Head Up Crosstouch Deadbugs
Head Down Windshield Wipers
DB Pullovers
Crosstouch Bird Dogs
Judo Push Up Rock
DB Plank Pull Throughs
Side Planks (L/R)
Sit Throughs
Shin Box
Leopard Crawl
Get Ups
DB Swings

DB Push Up

10 min AMRAP
10 DB Push Ups


Group A Group B
DB Goblet Squat Hold
50ft Sled Push
400m DB Carry

Cool Down
Upper/Lower Body Half Rolls
Shoulder Pullovers
Egg Rolls
Rocking Chairs
Scap Rock
Forearm Stretch
Hamstring Rock (R/L)