5 Benefits of the Clean and Jerk (For Full-Body Strength)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 22, 2023
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Anyone who has been regularly lifting weights at a busy gym has probably seen someone do a clean and jerk lift. And if you’re like me, this movement might scare you a bit.

But when you consider the benefits for full-body strength, posture, and cardiac health, you really should be encouraged to start trying out this Olympic weightlifting method.

To help you be better prepared, our team got together with a competitive powerlifter to come up with this guide, along with details of how it will help your fitness goals.

Quick Summary

  • The clean-and-jerk Olympic lift is a technique that requires some practice, but once you get the fundamentals right, it will give you.
  • Once you start doing these regularly and master the movement, you’ll find significant benefits for your strength, posture, and motor skills.
  • This workout will target the entire body leaving no major muscle group idle, making it an ideal compound form of resistance training.

Main Benefits Of The Clean And Jerk Exercise

Benefits of Clean and Jerk exercise using barbell

The main clean and jerk benefits can be summed up in these five points, and you shouldn’t underestimate them.

1. Improved Posture

The clean and jerk exercise will gradually build up a lot of core strength in your abs and back. And having stronger core muscle groups will have a significant impact on your posture [1].

Now, most people will just think of posture as being important for sitting at a desk while working.

But it’s just as important for keeping your spine properly aligned during different workouts.

The better you’re able to have good posture in deadlifts, squats variations, or bent-over rows, the more you’ll gain from those workouts.

2. Better Stability

Adding such an Olympic weightlifting movement to your routine will also provide a lot more stability for upper body muscles.

Athletes will get to a stage where they can lift heavier loads, but some part of their body isn’t keeping up. 

And that’s where the gains in multiple muscle groups you achieve from the clean and jerk should make a huge difference.

I know a lot of bodybuilders who got through a bulking plateau with a regular clean and jerk.

3. Entire Body Strength

In the middle of Clean and Jerk workout

What’s wonderful about the clean and jerk exercise is that it pretty much affects all muscle groups.

From lower body muscles in your legs and hips to your core, arms, back, and shoulders, there’s not really a body part that doesn’t get involved.

You will notice the effects of this with strength gains and improved athletic performance.

Because you’re moving multiple joints in this extreme compound movement, the effects can be significant for bulking [2].

“While isolation exercises use just one muscle or muscle group at a time, compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups.”

- Tara Laferrara, CPT

4. Cardiovascular Health

The surprising benefit of clean and jerks is also improved cardiovascular health, especially if you aim for higher rep-ranges in your sets.

I tested this with a client a few months ago, where I got him to add four clean and jerk sets per week.

His heart rate hit new highs during the workout, and after a few weeks, his resting heart rate and blood pressure were slightly lower.

5. Increased Mobility

A man lifting barbell

Because your leg, hip, arm, and shoulder joints go through multiple stages of flexion, the clean and jerk also improves overall mobility and flexibility.

The added mobility, along with motor skills for complex coordination that involves the nervous system as well as muscle strength, ultimately add up to improvements in many other types of workouts that use similar muscles of the human body.

How To Perform It With Proper Form

Now let me guide you through the proper form for the clean and jerk:

  • Start in a standing position behind a barbell.
  • Lower your body down and reach for the bar.
  • Pull it up to your hips in a movement like a deadlift.
  • Continue the momentum to raise the bar further while at the same time getting into a squat position.
  • The bar should end up across your chest, and now it’s time to rise up from the squat position.
  • You should now be in a front rack position with your hands under the bar and ready to start pushing it up.
  • From the front rack position, bend your knees, take a step forward, and lift the bar overhead as one coordinated movement.
  • Step your feet back together and hold the weight for a few seconds, then drop it down in front of you.

You should notice that the clean and jerk recruits every muscle group in the body to support a smooth movement.

What Muscles Does Power Clean And Jerk Work?

Carrying barbell overhead

The clean and jerk form of Olympic weightlifting will impact a wide range of lower and upper body muscles.

Here is a list of the main ones you’ll start feeling more:

  • Quads: The initial squat movement adds a lot of strain to these upper thigh muscles that will remain engaged for the whole time [3].
  • Glutes: These large muscles in your buttocks will also engage as you straighten out your hips [4].
  • Hip Flexors: These muscles are on the inside of the hips and are responsible for hip flexion at different stages of the movement [5].
  • Core: From start to finish, you’ll find that your core muscles remain fully engaged, and you’ll be building up a lot of strength here.
  • Delts: Both the pull and push press part of the movement will put a lot of strain on your shoulder muscles [6].
  • Lats: These are the muscles at the side of your torso, and it’s mainly the initial pull up to your chest that will engage these muscles [7].
  • Traps: These are the muscles in the center of the upper back, and strengthening these will have a positive impact on your posture [8].


Are Clean And Jerks Good For You?

Yes, clean and jerks are good for you as they can significantly improve your weight-lifting strength, coordination, and flexibility. It’s a difficult movement to get all the timing right, but mastering it will be a skill worth having.

How Many Times A Week Should You Clean And Jerk?

You should aim to do the clean and jerk about twice a week. I would suggest adding it to two workout days where you’ll be focusing on your core or your back and shoulders.


  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/3-posture-tips-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-core-workout
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744434/
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22816-quad-muscles
  4. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/gluteal-muscles
  5. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Flexors
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21875-deltoid-muscles
  7. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/latissimus-dorsi-muscle
  8. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Trapezius
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