WATCH: How to Perform Strongman Axle Clean Pulls

TAGS: full clean, continental clean, strongman axle clean pull, The House of Biceps, clint darden, strongman

Answering more of your questions from The House of Biceps, in this video Clint Darden provides a walkthrough and demonstration of a somewhat unusual movement: the strongman axle clean pull.


WATCH: The Biggest Mistakes of the Strongman Axle Clean and Press


Clint's first point is that anything in your training program can work and anything in your training program can fail, and the difference depends on you. If you can do an exercise and make it carryover to the intended event, it works. If you can do an exercise but can't make it carryover to the intended event, it doesn't work. No exercise is perfectly effective or perfectly ineffective in a vacuum. Clint's seen this demonstrated in many cases — including some lifters doing some really stupid stuff that they somehow made work for them.

Beginning to discuss the strongman axle clean pull, Clint says that the goal is to do a pull that helps build the continental clean or the full clean. Most lifters do this movement in a position similar to that of a barbell row, with their shoulders over the bar. This leads to using the biceps to flip the axle and to pull. Instead of this approach, Clint says to think of the axle clean pull as a movement broken up into several different segments.

First, your shoulder should be a little over the bar and your feet somewhat behind the bar. When you're setting up, you want to turn your knuckles under so that your wrists are a little cocked. Second, when you start, you want your back tight and your head up. With your hips low and your back tight, begin the first part of the movement and pull to your knees. Third, when the bar reaches your knees, use your quads to jump while avoiding using your back to pull.

Clint says that ideally, you want the bar to travel high enough to the point where you would catch it on the continental clean. Whatever point that is for you, you need to pull the bar to that height. This also means that it isn't necessary to catch the axle in a full clean position — if that's what you wanted, you would be doing a full clean instead of an axle clean pull.

The main thing Clint says to avoid with this movement is using weights excessively above your true max, in the range of 150% or more. There is no point in loading up with so much weight that it alters the movement and destroys the intended carryover. Instead, technique will always determine the amount of weight you should have on the bar. Don't ever use your biceps. This puts a lot of stress and a lot of likelihood of injury on the biceps, which is something every strongman needs to avoid. With this in mind, Clint gives general guidelines and says that the majority of axle pulls can be done with 90% of your best axle clean and jerk. It is much more valuable to do multiple sets of three to five properly with 80% to 90% of your best axle than to do 10% incorrectly and get absolutely nothing out of it.

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