The Medicine Ball Clean

The Medicine Ball Clean

So CrossFit HQ came out with the statement on the Facebook page that looked a little like this:

No it's not. Please stop.

A photo posted by Mark Watts (@mjdubs_elitefts) on

As you can see I cannot disagree anymore then this statement. Now there are a few issues with this I think our important to discuss. As much as people would agree, there are those that feel that the medicine ball clean is validated. I feel there are two levels to this idiocy.

1.) There is an argument between whether the med ball clean is a legitimate exercise for developing whatever the hell someone is trying to develop with this exercise. I assume someone would feel the medicine ball clean would have similar benefits to a barbell clean when implementing this exercise. So I am assuming that the medicine ball clean is validated by its enhancement of power development. I believe this is ridiculous, and by itself the medball clean might be the dumbest exercise ever invented.

2.) The statement that the med ball clean is an actual step in the teaching progression of the barbell clean makes me wonder about the awareness of the S.A.I.D. principal. Am I to believe that there are actual coaches that feel that the med ball clean is in adequate progression regression to his barbell counterpart? Someone justifying this movement and how it relates to the barbell clean literally crushes my faith in coaching humanity.

Now, this is not a bash on CrossFit, but rather an inquisition into how on gods green earth did this movement make it into any certification program. Maybe this exercise should be replaced by a detailed explanation of the principle of specific adaptations to imposed demands. That's just my thoughts.

So to explore deeper into this exercise, I'm trying to figure out why this moment would be implemented into any program in the first place. Here are my guesses:

1A.) If this exercise is a specific event in a fitness competition, then yes it probably should be integrated into training for that particular event. This has always been my justification for kipping pull-ups. Kipping pull-ups to me are asinine in developing the same motor qualities as a strict pull-ups would. Most practitioners would prescribe pull-ups as a way to develop the eccentric strength necessary for deceleration of throwing (overhead) type mechanics.

1B.) If there is a need to increase hypertrophy for combat/collision sports to protect from injury.

1C.) Develop strength in similar rowing movements in a different plane for sports performance. Incorporating kipping pull-ups to me would serve one purpose: To perform more pull-ups in a given time. Kipping pull-ups are not cheating, they merely giving the athlete in advantage in performing this exercise in competition. So this means that kipping pull-ups enable an athlete to perform more pull-ups. that's it. So if an athlete does not require the specificity of performing a pull-up then the execution of this lift is important produce a training effect relative to their sport. This is the difference between pull-ups for SPP and for GPP.

This would be the same for wall balls. I can think of hundreds of better exercises and the specific execution of those exercises that are better suited to produce force. But, if wall balls are part of your competition, then proficiency at this movement is imperative.

2.) If the movement serves as a progression regression for another movement. This would include performing a kettle bell swing in order to progress to a snatch. Peforming hang clean as a progression to the full clean (if you are a top-down coach). Basically the movement should be similar in at least one of the following ways.

i. Have a similar biomechanic position to each other with different range of motion or starting position.

ii. Have a similar sequencing pattern as each other in terms of activation

iii. Have a similar movement pattern at a different speed

The Medicine ball clean has almost now relationship to the clean. In fact, if both are done properly (I am going off of how CF teaches the MB Clean) then the Med Ball clean will actually inhibit technique for performance the barbell clean.

Here are the reasons:

I. The load of a med ball cannot be increased to the point where the first pull will require the same loading sequencing. Once the med ball is increased to even a training bar weigh, that same load forces a compensation in the muscles you are inherently try to NOT ingrained as the prime movers (think fast-pitch softball with a basketball).

II. The starting position of the MB clean is low enough to change the mechanical levers. The foot position and hip height are not even close to the starting position of a clean.

II. One of the most difficult positions to reach on weightlifting is the rack or catch position. Even watching CF HQs video, the demonstrator, Julie Foucher is awkwardly hitting herself in the face.

In conclusion, This is really one of the dumbest movements in the history of exercises. Think there are dumber? Me too like probably Wall Balls and Burpees. Unless of course the object is to make you tired.

Some people still want to argue that the Med ball clean is a way to get beginners used to the movement. No it's not. It teaches an incomplete triple extension and to be passive. Here's a question for you coaches, if you really have someone that is not physically ready to perform cleans with even a training bar, why is it so important to have them perform cleans in the first place. Are cleans really what they need or do you just want them to be good enough that you don't have to make any modification to your class?

Its an inefficient way to develop power. Here's a better idea, pick up the med ball and throw is as high and as far as you can from appropriate athletic positions in a variety of ways. If you have medballs, for heaven's sake, throw them.

Snatch + Hang Snatch

50 for 4 doubles

Log Press

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