Beginner’s Guide to the Power Clean
Maximize your full-body strength and power with a strength-training movement that’s highly functional. The power clean is an advanced Olympic powerlifting workout that utilizes the movement of many muscles and coordination skills. You should ensure the proper coaching and skill level due to the level of difficulty, but you’ll certainly gain numerous benefits from this exercise.
The workout was designed by Mike Burgener, a Level 5 USA Weightlifting coach, and designed to create full-body power. Mastering the power clean begins with a thorough understanding of the technique. Going into the workout blindly may lead to injuries, so be sure to take note of these 5 steps:
1. Prepare to Lift
The first step of the power clean is the first pull and lifting the bar right above your knees.
- Start by standing with your feet at a hip distance apart, and place the barbell at your feet so that your shins touch the bar.
- With your arms straight and knees slightly bent, get into squat position and get an overhand grip of the bar.
- Lift your chest and maintain eye contact with what’s in front of you, and then lengthen your spine so that your hips are slightly below shoulder level.
- Engage your core, raise your chest, slowly drive your hips forward and knees back, and lift the bar slightly above your knees.
2. Mid-thigh Hang Position
This step sets you up for the ideal exertion for an upward lift of the bar.
- While lifting the bar as you stand up, continue lifting until the bar reaches your thighs.
- Keep your back in a straight position and shoulders over the bar and hips.
- Your weight should be at your heels and your core should be engaged. This is when you prepare to push against the ground and extend your hips for the second pull.
3. Second Pull
The second pull is the accelerated pull into a jump and shrug motion.
- From the mid-thigh hang position, thrust your hips and make sure that your knees are straight. Then extend your ankles to almost jump off of the floor while pulling the bar closer to your chest.
- The bar should feel as though it’s gaining momentum, and then you elevate your shoulder and flex your elbows while pulling them forward.
- You should now be performing the power shrug movement that sets you up for a secure catch.
This phase of the power clean is a deliberate and quick hold of the bar.
- As the bar rises to its maximum height at your shoulders, pull your body underneath the bar very quickly. Your focus should still be ahead of you while your torso is upright in a half-squat position.
- While performing this motion move your elbows forward underneath the bar. Your grip on the bar should be loose as your wrists point upward.
- Catch the bar and let it rest on the front of your shoulders, and slowly stand straight.
The final step involves lowering the bar from the standing position.
- With the weight on your shoulders, lower it to the floor in a controlled and slow motion.
- Your knees should slowly bend and your back should be parallel to the floor as you release the bar.
* Athletes with rubber plates that protect the floor will typically drop the bar at the standing position.
Mastering The Power Clean Workout
Now that you have a better understanding of each power clean movement, you can master the workout. Make sure that you warm up your hips, wrists, and ankles before starting the power clean. It’s highly recommended that you practice each step separately, and then you should be able to work on the full-body movement smoothly.
To avoid risking an injury, learn the basic movements with a personal trainer until you’re fully comfortable to perform the power clean on your own. Doing the workout in front of a mirror is a great way to check the alignment of your body and ensure your movements are done safely. It’s also best to limit this workout to only once per week.
Give the power clean a try and take advantage of the full-body benefits the workout can give you. You can certainly increase your strength, as well as enhance power and force production.
Jacob Edwards-Bytom is the Director of E-commerce at Made4Fighters and Bytomic, two of the UK’s leading martial arts equipment suppliers. The company designs and sells clothing and training gear for martial artists including punching bags, gloves, and shin guards.