The King of All Exercises
Were it not for the snatch, the clean would have but laughable challenges to the title "King of All Exercises." Oddly, we start our examination of the clean with mention of the snatch, as many of the superlatives attributed to the clean apply equally to the snatch. Clearing the air early with admission of the snatch's peer status, we can speak more freely of the clean's unrivaled qualities and need not repeatedly suggest the snatch’s possible exception to the clean's peerless qualities.
The clean is a pure bit of functionality. The clean is simply pulling a load from the ground to the shoulders where frequently the object is being readied for lifting overhead. With the clean we take ourselves from standing over an object pulling it, to under it and supporting. (Compare this to the muscle-up where we take ourselves from under an object to supporting ourselves over it.)
In its finest expression the clean is a process by which the hips and legs launch a weight upward from the ground to about bellybutton height and then retreat under the weight with blinding speed to catch it before it has had the time to become a runaway train.