One Lift To Rule Them All

This article is not about the squat. Or the deadlift. Or even the bench press.

They are all great movement in their own right, don’t get me wrong. They can build muscle, increase functional strength, and even power.

However, today I am writing about a move that has been forgotten in today’s popular bodybuilding magazines and routines.

The Double Dumbbell Clean And Press

1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and stand tall – with your arms hanging at your side.

2. Hinge at the hips and bend until the dumbbells are about knee level.

3. Stand up quickly, squeezing your glutes and shrugging your shoulder while lifting the weights to your shoulders.

4. Perform an overhead press.

5. Return the weights to your sides.

 This video does a decent job at demonstrating the exercise:


Because it will break your ass down.

Seriously. Whether you choose a low weight and high reps, or vice versa. Cleaning the weight up to your shoulders builds explosive power. And the overhead press works the entire upper body.

Throughout the movement you work everything from your glutes and hamstrings to your back, shoulders, and arms.

Give it a try. Add this one exercise to the beginning of your next workout. Go for 5 sets of 5, upping the weight with each set. If you are having difficulty pressing the dumbbells overhead, then you’re going too heavy.

Strength, power, hypertrophy – it’s all here.

Read More: 10 Reasons You Can’t Build Muscle

49 thoughts on “One Lift To Rule Them All”

  1. These are good and I do them quite frequently. I picked up on them after watching some vids by Rudy Reyes.

  2. Good exercise. Although, I think anyone who wants to lose the belly fat needs to look up “full body exercises,” as that is the surest fire way to define the abs without power lifting. This is one good one out of many.
    I loved doing one leg squats, with small weights on the back leg to make balance a little more difficult with 25-35% squat weight on the shoulders. Or if you really want to kill yourself, lower the weight to 15%, and do shoulder presses at the top of the exercise for twenty reps 3-4 sets. Or until failure. Always until failure.

    Basic, but with a few tweeks, highly effective.

    1. Although I agree full body dynamic is the way to go, the surest way to define abs and lose weight is through diet and nutrition.

      1. Yup, I don’t disagree. I was talking about the gym time. Gym time 30%, diet 70%.

    2. Never go to failure, especially not consistently unless you want to get burned out. Stop 1-2 reps shy of failure everytime and your body will thank you. Stimulate, don’t annihilate.

      1. Interesting, I am a little older, and come from the school of thought that you should go to failure when you know you obviously won’t reach your goal for that week.
        Do you have any good articles for your statement? I will look as well.

        1. “The point is, if you look at the training of the strongest people in the world, be it weightlifters, powerlifters, strongmen, whatever, there’s one universal truth. They always lift heavy, in terms of percentage of one rep max, they always keep their repetitions low, and they never, ever train to failure. The exceptions you can count on your fingers without taking your shoes off.”

        2. This is from personal experience as well as from some reading from Jason Ferruggia’s site. It makes sense though, do you go into every training session with the mindset of “killing yourself and running your body into the ground” or “building your body up by providing an adequate stimulus”? Which one do you suppose will allow for faster recovery, more frequent training, less injuries and will leave you feeling better and stronger after every workout as you should? If anyone reading this has consistently been training to failure, overtraining, etc. then I challenge you to perform your next workout without going to failure and stopping 1-2 reps shy of it on every set. I would be shocked if you didn’t feel an immediate improvement.

        3. going to failure and destroying your body only works if your willing to eat like a pig afterwards.

        4. 10 reps or less as many times a day as possible. More than 10 calls for an increase in difficulty. Push-ups all day on push up days, kettle sets every time I walk by it and chin/muscle ups every time I walk past the bar.

      2. My experience says the same too. Regularly going to failure and beyond – grinding and straining while getting stuck during a rep you know you won’t make – is overkill for many people and will burn you out quickly. I believe the ideal ‘hard’ level of training is where the last rep of the last live set of any exercise, is the very last *complete* rep you could get. You don’t want to go beyond that, and even training just shy of failure can be too much if you don’t cycle in some periods were you cut yourself some slack.
        Typically you would settle on a program and work on it for as long as you can make progress, pushing very hard in the last leg but always shy of absolute failure, until you feel yourself going stale on the current program (adding weight, even in small doses, becomes very difficult). At that point change the program a bit, say select a different set-rep scheme and variations of the basic movements, and commence a new cycle which has you start at a comfortable level with reduced weights – no more than 90% intensity – so that you have no doubt in your mind that you will get all your reps with room to spare. You then take 4 or 5 weeks to build up again to all out effort. Those few weeks of down time every now and then help you to recover and avoid burn out.

        1. Solid advice. I agree it is important to deload regularly to keep things fresh, support recovery and avoid injury. It’s also important to start off a new training cycle with lighter weights than you can lift in order to build a buffer of sorts so you can continue making progress consistently for longer than if you started using the heaviest weights you could possibly lift at the beginning of the cycle.

        2. deloading =/= not training. can’t train balls to the wall 52 weeks a year. you would be very shortsighted to say that taking time off or going lighter for a short period of time would not have any benefits.

    3. Dude, to lose belly fat, it’s usually about the diet for most people. Fast for one or two days a week, doesn’t have to be consecutive, and you can have less than 500 cal to tide yourself over. On the rest of the days, eat whatever the fuck you want. The fat will melt off.

  3. How about just doing the clean and press with a barbell? It is the king of lifts and really the only lift you’ll ever need. Works almost every muscle in your body plus makes your heart race. Dumbells are just a substitute for barbells.

    1. Dumbells allow your wrists, and thus the shoulder girdle, to move through a wider range of motion and thusly must stabilize much more. In effect, the barbell is a cheat, because it removes the rotational component and thus a big piece of the demand for stability. In this instance, dumbells rule, barbell drools.

      1. Which would be true if it wasn’t for the fact that barbell moves more weight and more weight = more muscle. Both are good, like dumbell and barbell bench, but the total workout from barbell – due to higher weight – will be much harder. If you don’t believe me, try it going 80-90% of your max and see if you aren’t close to puking afterwards.

    2. The clean and press (assuming push press or even jerk, because you can surely clean a lot more than you can strict press) is indeed the best in that it hits more of the body than any other lift, but it’s not sufficient itself. If you *had* to pick one exercise to get a nice body, this would be it, but if your goal is a nice body and you don’t have to stick to just one then there’s really not much reason to.

      1. I’m talking clean and press with a little legdrive if too heavy to strict press.
        Of course, you should do many lifts, but if pressed for time or with no squat rack and a barbell, the clean and press is the one exercise that will work the most muscles AND give some nice high intensity cardio training.
        Plus it is a very explosive move that carries over to many sports.

  4. This is an old strongman move. I believe the gold standard is being able to do 30 reps of 55lb dumbells. This WILL break your ass down. The first time I tried it, I tried it for reps with 45 lb dbs, and it shredded my biceps, which are already pretty darn good. Took me a week to recover. But man, did it take things to the next level.

  5. I started rocking these just last week. They are smokers and quite awesome. Started getting sore all over again, so that tells me they are working some muscles I was missing.

  6. I live in London and I see shortish 5’2 -5’6 guys sometimes with hot early 20’s women who on a whim have decided to go for them. The guys have no muscle, aren’t good looking and have poor or no job prospects. The thing is, over here because of free healthcare and the welfare state, women’s whims rule. And if they decide that they are insecure and this is the best that they can do, no amount of muscle is going to compensate for their choices. This situation will probably change in a few years as the welfare state is being dismantled and free health care is going slowly, however, it is quite possible that ‘water seeks its own level’ and even if these things were to happen, the women would still go for such guys, or would stop being good looking due to a lack of their own personal cash, so you would no longer want them. As a result, unlike perhaps the US, building muscle isnt that useful (at least in London). Being completely useless to yourself and society, and having all day free to pursue women however, will get you laid.

    1. bullshit. making excuses for yourself.
      self development makes you valuable. you may not snag that one who walks around your neighbourhood with the scrawny ass. but you will snag something better if you make yourself into a better person. LIFT!

    2. I don’t know, that would seem to fly in the face of human nature which no matter how much some feminists and beta-males would like to deny, always causes a more muscular, healthy male to be attractive to (worthwhile, normal) women.
      But I’ve never been to London.
      Given the problems with obesity in the UK and USA (I’m in USA) I would suggest that a man would have even more advantages if he’s muscular in appearance, due to the additional contrast with the “average” male.
      That’s been my experience given that I’m much more fit than guys my age on average.

    3. Agree with other reply, you’re making excuses. I’m from London, and there simply aren’t very many muscular guys here, the skinny hipster look is everywhere currently.
      Girls logical minds might convince them they like effeminate dweebs, doesn’t stop them practically eye raping me when I walk past looking ripped – while they hang off their boyfriend’s arm.
      Your body language, clothing and confidence have to be on point as well, being muscular isn’t a panacea by itself.

    4. “the women would still go for such guys, or would stop being good looking”
      Dude that’s already happened in America. During the past 10 years especially, women turned to complete shit. THey became fat, ugly, bitchy with arrogant attitudes, and yet still think they are entitled to a princess lifestyle.
      I’m so happy in Southeast Asia. Just last night, I was walking on the street and two hot ass Asian girls grabbed me and tried to drag me into their massage parlour.
      Asian women are the best!

  7. First Comment Sensored. Now I’m back, bitches. Weak sauce, that’s what I said. This maneuver is much better with Kettlebells and that variation is referenced as the Clean and Jerk. This move is actually just stupid. This article is almost as pompous as the AW photo ideology one. (comment also sensored.) Wouldn’t a more fitting ‘lift to rule them all’ be… THE TURKISH GET UP? That’s a glorious movement.
    Now, these gym shenanigans are for symps who like to move water around and look pumped. I bet you hit the 2D machines, too… LOL. The ultimate way to invigorate your nervous system and build your body from the ground up is old school calisthenics and bodyweight training bar-none and that’s all I’m going to share for you puss brains.

  8. Ah that shit is too complicated, there’s too many subtle movement you have to focus on like bending the knees, arching the back, etc. It’s hard enough to focus on those subtle moves on a much simpler exercise like Deadlifts.

    1. I agree. When I watch guys “try” and do cleans it just looks painful, And as you move up in weight, or try to test moving up in weight rather, those jerking movements is a quick way to pull something. If anything, its a good way to find out if you have imbalances in your physique when you tear a muscle doing those kinds of exercises lol.

      1. yea it’s too dangerous. maybe with very light weights and high reps, okay, I MIGHT try that. But that dude is using some pretty heavy DBs in the video. He’s probably fucked up his shoulders by now. Shoulders are very prone to injury, you have to be very careful. I don’t even do DB military presses, I use a machine. I also don’t do DB chest flys, I use a pec deck to do flys. I actually hurt my right shoulder a bit doing incline DB flys, so after that, no more fucking DBs for me.

        1. I can understand that. A few years ago I was doing snatches and I pulled a muscle in my left shoulder…never again lol. I can do DB presses and flys no problem. What I found out is that I was not ingesting enough carbs in my diet for that needed glucose. May want to play around with your diet and bump up your healthy fats and carbs around your workout. I used to just take a pre workout protein shake and hit the gym. I was having tightness in my right shoulder and my left hamstring all the time. Now, since I bumped up my carbs significantly and reduced my protein, the problem seems resolved. My pre/post workout is protein, 1/2 cup oats or glyco maize, and a fist full of almonds.
          Of course as your shoulders get stronger, the likely hood of injury reduces too. But still I avoid the big weight throwing movements.

        2. Carbs is no problem for me, rice, pasta, or bread is daily for me. I probably got too much carbs

  9. Look, does anyone know any good ways to exercise the full body without using weights or machines at all, things you can do in the privacy of your own home?
    I’ve started doing like 100 push ups a day, and 200 squats (free form, no weight) a day, and damn, I am feeling the burn.
    The only major muscle group I am not hitting is my back, and I can’t afford a fucking Pull Up Bar, so I go to the gym simply to work back, and do light Deadlifts, T-Bar Rows, and Wide Grip Pulldowns using the machine. I am doing like 20 reps for 4 or 5 sets. No more fucking high weights and low reps for me, I am fucking exhausted from killing myself like that.

    1. You can’t afford a pullup bar?
      (a) I bet there are at least 10 objects within a 100 foot radius of your house that I could find to do a pullup on, free.
      (b) You don’t need to buy “a pullup bar.” You can buy a threaded steel bar from Home Depot and screw it in to something.

      1. “I bet there are at least 10 objects within a 100 foot radius of your house that I could find to do a pullup on, free.”
        I’ve been brainstorming, man, but I can’t think of any. I don’t know of any children’s playgrounds that has all those bars. I’m also living in Asia, and things are a little different here than America.
        “You don’t need to buy “a pullup bar.” You can buy a threaded steel bar from Home Depot and screw it in to something.”
        I’ve thought of that too but considering that this is an apartment, and that housing is not very sturdy here (or America either), I’d rather not damage the walls by doing pull ups in such a method.

        1. Find a concrete stairwell, walk underneath it, jump up and grab a stair from the underside. There is your pull up/chin up station.

  10. “This article is not about the squat. Or the deadlift. Or even the bench press.” It would be a lot better if it was about those lifts.

  11. 90% of a real man’s strength is in his legs and torso. Boxers and wrestlers know this. Squat and press is the single most effective exercise and will rip you from head to toe.

  12. This looks good but I think dumbbell snatches are probably better. You’re going from the ground to over your head in one explosive movement that works everything. It wears me out

  13. Hey, something new to try. I like it because it’s compound, can use pretty heavy weights and actually is a tad aerobic as well. Nice!

Comments are closed.