Why free weight exercises are the new ‘burpees’ in gyms
Sport is not spared from trends either. As in fashion, gastronomy or travel, to cite three examples that more or less everyone likes, it also “goes by seasons”. We see it globally, going from running fashion to triathlon, or from tennis to paddle tennis, among many others. And we also see it at a specific level, within each discipline: in the fitness, without going further. Although functional training, calisthenics or crossfit are still in force, it is evident that in gyms the weightlifting inspired workout and Olympic lifting.
Surely the rise of cross fit In recent years, it has had a lot to do with this boom in “classic” barbell lifting in gyms. For many years it was the essence of gyms, which had a dumbbell area, benches and, above all, many bars and positions to use them. Over time, they were cornered, sharing space with cardio machines of all kinds and work areas with machines or with materials typical of functional and high-intensity training. Now, although all the aforementioned fitness disciplines continue to have space, more and more people are seen, of all people and, above all, of both sexes, training cleans, deadlifts, and olympic liftingeither. That is why we wonder what has happened so that the charge is something like the new burpee (star exercise of functional training or HIIT) in gyms. Answer two personal trainers, Beatriz Diaz and Pedro Garcia-Calvillo.
The benefits of free weight strength exercises
The latter focuses, before going into specific details about the clean, on the benefits of strength training with free weights. “They can burn as many calories as cardio, and in less time since we need a large amount of energy to perform them. They are explosive, require balance, endurance and coordination, and allow work the whole body”, says the specialist. This, he adds, translates into advantages such as “increased muscle mass, bone density, lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugar and fat loss.”
About the charge in particular, Beatriz Diaz explains that “it is one of the top exercises in strength training routines because it helps improve maximum strength and powera” and that “in sports such as weightlifting or crossfit it is one of the star exercises because it It is an exercise that involves many muscle groups.”.
Of course, unless your goal when training requires a very high strength workload with free weights, cleans and other exercises of this type can be included in varied training. “It does not mean that you have to spend an hour doing Olympic or weightlifting lifts without stopping. in my sessions I alternate strength exercises with others of high intensity; even, the lifts can be part of a HIIT circuit, which is how I usually use them ”, he assures Pedro Garcia-Calvillo .
The personal trainer, in fact, also recommends adapting the lifts and cleans through variations that may involve a change of material. “Many types of lifts can be performed, there are simpler ones, not only with a bar, but also with dumbbells, kettle, sandbags, water bags or weighted balls”, he points out.
Be careful with movement and weight
As we said before, of all the exercises that can be done with long bars, the dead weight is the one that is repeated the most in training routines, but there is no lack of cleans (also called ‘clean’ or ‘power clean’), one of the most complete exercises that can be put into practice with this type of material and working hard.
To do it well, it is important to have fully assimilated the technique and, as far as possible, let yourself be guided by a professional who corrects us when we are not doing it well, since it can be harmful if it is not executed correctly. “Although it is an exercise that is very fashionable, it requires good technique and knowledge to avoid injuries.says Beatriz Diaz. “Technique is one of the problems with these movements, when we move important weights,” warns Pedro García-Calvillo.
Both coincide in emphasizing the execution technique and weight control used. “This is where the presence of a personal trainer is essential, since the correct performance takes time, an evolution of the exercise until you can master it and do it completely, since there is a high probability of injury if it is not done correctly,” he points out. the personal trainer. “If you have never done it, it is important that you first be supervised by a professional and, secondly, that you do not work with a high load of weight,” adds Díaz, who as a synopsis uses the phrase that says the most to his clients when train these types of strength exercises with free weights: “Lifting more is not better. Lifting better is better!”, he concludes.
Several chained movements
The clean or power clean consists of three or four chained movements depending on whether we bring the bar up to the shoulders or above the head, with the arms vertical. If you do, you would turn the clean into an exercise that will remind you of Olympic lifting, the clean known as the ‘hang power clean’, ‘hang clean’ or, in Spanish, hanging clean.
This step is less common in training that is not specific for athletes with a lot of muscle mass, although in HIIT-type training, it is often seen with materials such as kettels or weighted ballsvariants of the classic charge.
Below, we explain, step by step, based on Beatriz Díaz’s instructions, how to do the complete exercise.
Once you load and secure the bar, you have to get behind the bar, whose weight and length vary. Separate your legs the same width as your hips, and point your toes slightly outward. Grab the bar in a prone position, with your hands facing your body as you raise the bar and bringing your elbows just outside your knees.more or less at the level of the tibialis, and when you feel safe, stretch your arms and keep your back straight, a key detail because it will prevent the dorsal muscle from bending.
To initiate the movement, also known as the first pull, you must raise the bar controlling the gesture and without bending the back. Up to the height of your thighs or quads, the bar should come up very close to the body. In fact, if you practice the deadlift, an exercise that is also very common in these routines, surely your personal trainer or trainer insists a lot on your tibials.
The difference in the clean from the deadlift is that you don’t cut the movement when you get the bar to your thighs. From this position comes a second pull, which connects with the “fly or clean” of the bar, a critical step for the clean to be done correctly: you slightly raise your toes, as if you were going to do a little jump, bend your knees and You cushion the weight of the bar with a squat as you bring the bar and its weight to your shoulders. It is the part of the complete movement of the clean in which the most technical errors they are committed, and it is key to activate the core or abdominal belt, which is responsible for blocking the hip and spine, thus keeping the back aligned.
Although it can be considered a third movement of the clean, the truth is that it occurs almost at the same time that you bring the bar to your shoulders. Consists in extend the knees without locking them at any time. Or what is the same, from the squat position, stand up straight without locking your knees. From here, you can either lower the bar to the ground, back to its starting position, with control, or you can vertically extend the power clean to convert the clean into the aforementioned power hang clean.
If you continue the movement to completion, it is key to activate the glutes and hamstrings, and it is also essential to keep the elbows extended above the head.