Exercise 101: The Medicine Ball Clean

Exercise 101: The Medicine Ball Clean

We've said it before and we'll say it again, the medicine ball is one piece of fitness equipment you need to try this year. Part of its appeal is its versatility.  There’s plenty of exercises to choose from, but we’re going to start with the medicine ball clean.


The medicine ball clean is one of several Crossfit foundational movements. The ‘clean’ part refers to the process where the hips and legs thrust rapidly forwards to launch the ball upwards to stomach height and then return rapidly downwards to catch the ball. In more basic terms, “pop the hip and drop – catch it in a squat”.


The medicine ball clean will build strong, functional muscles that look great.  Your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, core and shoulders will all feel the workload and show the benefits. The technical complexity of the move is especially good for developing speed, explosive power, agility, balance and coordination. It also improves your ability to lift heavy objects without straining your lower back.


You should be able to perform a complete squat – with and without a weight - before you perform the medicine ball clean. Beginners can use lighter balls.

  • Stand  directly over the ball, feet spaced wide enough to allow the ball to sit between your feet.
  • Move down to put your palms on the outside of the ball.
  • Keep your weight on your heels and lumbar spine locked in straight.
  • Holding onto the ball, stand and extend your hips fully forward (dead lift).
  • Shrug, then drop the ball, pulling yourself underneath it into a full squat and catching the ball.
  • From there, stand up with the ball and repeat the movement.

It may help to see the movement in action.  The medicine ball clean can be tricky to master, but the benefits make it worth practicing. 

The Author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for PayasUgym. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.


Mike D.
17 January 2016

Mike D.

I have never heard of the medicine ball clean so wondered what this was. I tried it earlier with a football. Great fun! Though I guess it's better for you with a heavier medicine ball....

Trevor D.
15 January 2016

Trevor D.

that headline grabbed my attention - and I will be giving this a go.

craig t.
15 January 2016

craig t.

I remember learning this when I was at college. It's a very satisfying movement but yes can be tricky to master initially.

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