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How to Master The Single Arm DB Clean

By Kristin Rooke / February 22, 2017

This move builds some serious power and will definitely elevate your heart rate. It’s a low impact plyometric exercise that emphasizes your glutes, abs, and biceps.

Choose a weight that’s challenging, but that enables you to do this exercise with perfect form. Form and technique are critical here. Keep your abs tight to support your spine, and focus on moving from your hips and not your low back. Your spine should stay tall and your shoulders should stay packed the entire time.

Check out these step-by-step instructions to master this total body move.

Single Arm Dumbbell Clean Instructions

1. To start, squat down and bend forward while keeping your back flat, grabbing the dumbbell with one hand.

2. Brace your core and pack your shoulders while staying in the squat position.

3. Drive strongly through your feet, and using the power of your hips and legs to swing the dumbbell up to your shoulder. Bend your elbow as you swing the dumbbell up.

4. Catch the dumbbell at your shoulder and pause, squeezing your glutes and abs as you stand tall.

5. With control, let the dumbbell drop back down and catch it at the starting position.

As you’re doing single-arm dumbbell cleans, there are a few key things you’ll want to focus on. Because this is a power move, you want to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Keep your abs tight and your shoulders packed, and remember to squeeze your glutes at the top. As for breathing, you want to sniff to inhale at the bottom, and exhale strongly as you stand up strong and tall.

3 Common Mistakes

While this move looks pretty straightforward, there are some key mistakes you want to avoid. Doing the single arm dumbbell clean with good form can make you more injury resistant, but doing it wrong can lead to injury.

1. Curling The Weight

The purpose of the single-arm db clean is to use your hips and legs to swing the dumbbell. You should only secondarily feel your bicep engage to control and stabilize the weight in the top position.

If you’re curling the weight up, you miss out on all of the leg strengthening and metabolism boosting benefits of this exercise. So focus on your hips here, not your arms.

2. Rotating Your Torso Too Much

Because you’re only working on arm at a time, the single arm db clean is a great anti-rotation exercise. Anti-rotation exercises increase your core strength and stability.

Oftentimes, when you rotate your torso too much during this exercise, a number of other things are going on too. For example, you drop your shoulder out of the packed position, your core is less stable, and your hips fall out of alignment. This puts torque on your lower back, and could eventually lead to low back pain or injury.

3. Rounding Your Shoulders & Low Back

Again, one of the biggest benefits of this exercise is the hip and glute activation. Your glutes are the powerhouses of your body, so training and strengthening them can help you become stronger, more powerful, and more injury-resistant.

When you round your shoulders and low back, you’re not longer using your butt to drive the dumbbell up to your shoulder. Instead, that action is coming from your spine. Doing this over and over again puts wear and tear on your back, which could also contribute to back pain and injuries over time.

Add this exercise to your next strength circuit workout, and let us know what you think. Have any lingering questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below.