The power clean is a popular weightlifting exercise that is used to build strength, power, and explosiveness. It is a multi-joint, compound movement that targets the muscles in your legs, back, and shoulders.
Proper form is essential to get the most out of this exercise and to avoid injury. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do a power clean:
- Start with the barbell on the floor, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes under the bar.
- Squat down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your palms should be facing towards your body.
- Keep your back flat, your chest up, and your head in a neutral position. Brace your core.
- Begin lifting the bar off the floor, extending your hips and knees. Keep the bar close to your shins as you lift.
- When the bar reaches your knees, forcefully extend your hips, knees, and ankles, jumping up slightly. This will give the bar momentum.
- Shrug your shoulders and pull the bar up, keeping it close to your body. As the bar reaches your chest, bend your elbows and rotate your wrists to catch the bar at your shoulders.
- Stand up straight with the bar resting on your shoulders. Lower the bar back to the floor with control, and repeat the exercise.
Common Power Clean Mistakes to Avoid
The power clean is a complex movement that requires proper technique to be effective. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when doing power cleans:
- Rounding your back: Keeping your back straight is essential for preventing injury and maximizing power output. Avoid rounding your back by keeping your chest up and your head in a neutral position.
- Not using your legs: The power clean is a full-body exercise that relies heavily on leg strength. Use your legs to generate power by driving through your heels and extending your hips, knees, and ankles.
- Pulling with your arms: The power clean is not an arm exercise. Your arms should only be used to guide the bar to your shoulders, not to lift it.
- Letting the bar drift away from your body: Keep the bar as close to your body as possible throughout the lift. This will maximize your power output and reduce the risk of injury.
Benefits of Incorporating Power Cleans into Your Workout
Incorporating power cleans into your workout routine can offer several benefits, including:
- Improved power and explosiveness: Power cleans are a great way to improve your overall power and explosiveness. The explosive nature of the movement requires you to generate a lot of force in a short amount of time, which can translate into improved performance in other sports and activities.
- Increased muscle mass: Power cleans are a compound movement that targets several muscle groups, including your legs, back, and shoulders. Incorporating power cleans into your workout can help you build muscle mass and improve your overall strength.
- Better balance and coordination: Power cleans require you to maintain proper form and balance throughout the movement. This can help improve your overall balance and coordination, which can translate into improved performance in other activities.
- Improved cardiovascular health: Power cleans are a high-intensity exercise that can get your heart rate up quickly. Incorporating power cleans into your workout can help improve your cardiovascular health and fitness.
Power Clean vs. Other Olympic Lifts: What’s the Difference?
Power cleans are often compared to other Olympic lifts, such as the snatch and the clean and jerk. While all three lifts require similar techniques and focus on explosive power, there are some key differences between them.
The power clean is a variation of the clean and jerk that focuses solely on the clean portion of the lift. The clean and jerk involves two separate movements, where the athlete first lifts the barbell to the shoulders (the clean) and then lifts it overhead (the jerk). The snatch, on the other hand, involves lifting the barbell overhead in one continuous motion.
One of the main differences between the power clean and the other Olympic lifts is the amount of weight that can be lifted. Generally, athletes are able to lift more weight with the clean and jerk or the snatch, as the movements involve a greater range of motion and require more technique.
Another difference is the focus of each lift. While the snatch and the clean and jerk are both full-body movements that require a lot of technique and skill, the power clean is more focused on building explosive power and strength. It is often used as a supplement to other lifts or as a way to improve sports performance.
How to Use Power Cleans to Improve Your Sports Performance
Power cleans can be a highly effective exercise for improving sports performance, as they target the muscles used in many athletic movements, such as jumping, sprinting, and throwing. Here are some tips for using power cleans to improve your sports performance:
- Focus on technique: Proper technique is essential for getting the most out of power cleans and avoiding injury. Take the time to learn the proper form and work on perfecting it before increasing the weight.
- Incorporate power cleans into your training: Power cleans can be used as a supplement to other lifts or as a standalone exercise. Incorporate them into your training routine at least once or twice a week.
- Use a variety of rep ranges
- Use appropriate weight: Use a weight that challenges you without compromising your form. Start with a weight that you can lift for 3-5 reps with good form, and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
Variations of Power Cleans: Hang Clean, Push Press, and More
There are several variations of the power clean that can be used to target different muscle groups or to add variety to your workout. Here are some popular variations:
- Hang clean: Instead of starting from the floor, the hang clean starts with the bar hanging at knee level. This variation targets the muscles used in the second pull of the clean, which involves explosively extending the hips and knees.
- Push press: The push press is a variation of the power clean that involves using your legs to help press the bar overhead. This variation targets the shoulders and triceps, as well as the legs.
- High pull: The high pull is a variation of the power clean that involves pulling the bar up to chest height and keeping your elbows high. This variation targets the muscles used in the second pull of the clean, as well as the upper back and shoulders.
- Single-arm dumbbell power clean: This variation involves using a dumbbell instead of a barbell, and performing the power clean with one arm at a time. This variation can help improve unilateral strength and balance.
Tips for Increasing Your Power Clean Weight
Increasing the weight of your power clean can be a challenging but rewarding process. Here are some tips for increasing your power clean weight:
- Focus on form: Proper form is essential for lifting heavier weights safely and effectively. Take the time to perfect your technique before increasing the weight.
- Build strength in your legs and back: The power clean relies heavily on leg and back strength. Incorporate exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges into your training to build strength in these areas.
- Practice explosive movements: Power cleans require explosiveness and power to lift heavier weights. Incorporate exercises like box jumps, kettlebell swings, and plyometrics into your training to improve your explosiveness.
- Increase the frequency of your power clean training: Incorporating power cleans into your training routine more frequently can help you get stronger and lift heavier weights. Try doing power cleans twice a week instead of once.
- Use progressive overload: Gradually increasing the weight of your power clean over time can help you get stronger and lift heavier weights. Start with a weight that you can lift for 3-5 reps with good form, and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
- Get enough rest and recovery: Proper rest and recovery are essential for building strength and lifting heavier weights. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and taking rest days as needed.
Equipment Needed for Power Clean Workouts
The power clean requires some equipment to perform correctly and safely. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Barbell: The barbell is the main piece of equipment used for power cleans. Make sure you choose a barbell that is appropriate for your strength level.
- Weight plates: Weight plates are used to add weight to the barbell. Make sure you have enough weight plates of different sizes to gradually increase the weight of your power clean.
- Weightlifting shoes: Weightlifting shoes are designed with a raised heel and a sturdy sole to provide better stability and support during the power clean.
- Chalk: Chalk can help improve your grip on the barbell, especially if your hands tend to get sweaty during workouts.
Power Clean Workouts for Beginners and Advanced Lifters
Power cleans can be incorporated into a variety of workout routines for both beginners and advanced lifters. Here are some sample workouts:
- Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of light cardio (e.g. jogging, cycling)
- Power clean: 3 sets of 5 reps (use a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain good form)
- Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Deadlift: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Push-ups: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Cool-down: Stretching
- Warm-up: 10-15 minutes of light cardio (e.g. jumping jacks, burpees)
- Power clean: 5 sets of 3 reps (use a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain good form)
- Back squat: 4 sets of 6 reps
- Romanian deadlift: 4 sets of 6 reps
- Pull-ups: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Box jumps: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Cool-down: Stretching
How Often Should You Incorporate Power Cleans into Your Training?
The frequency of power clean training depends on your goals, fitness level, and training routine. For beginners, incorporating power cleans once or twice a week can help improve technique and build strength. Advanced lifters may incorporate power cleans into their routine more frequently, such as three or four times a week.
It’s important to listen to your body and avoid overtraining. If you feel excessively sore or fatigued after power clean workouts, consider reducing the frequency or volume of your training. Gradually increasing the frequency and intensity of your power clean training over time can help you build strength and reach your fitness goals.