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How To Do Power Cleans for Power and Strength

The Power Clean is slightly more technical than the other Main Lifts and it should be learned after the deadlift because of their similarities. Don’t skip it because it is immensely beneficial and a whole lot funner than the other exercises.

This single exercise will help your deadlift more than any other exercise in the beginner phase. It works your grip more efficiently than any other exercise that I’ve come across and out of the main lifts, the Power Clean is also the only exercise that trains your explosiveness, which will improve your athletic ability more than the other lifts.

Instead of the usual checklist like the other main lifts, we’re going to break down the Power Clean into 2 parts to practice when learning; divide and conquer.

How To Do The Power Clean

There are 2 parts that you can practice to learn the Power Clean, all very simple.

But first, let’s talk about grip width. It has to be wider than your deadlift grip (2-3 inches wider on each side than the deadlift grip for most people). The exact grip width will depend on your forearm length.

You’ll have to experiment. The grip width has to be wide enough so that when you rack it, you don’t smash your collar bones with the bar. Your grip width also can’t be so wide that it negatively stresses your wrists. If you have really long forearms, you probably won’t be able to do this exercise properly.

Part 1 – Jumping in the Hang Position With A Shrug

When you begin learning the Power Clean, start in the ‘hang‘ position. Start like you would in the deadlift, except hold the bar with a wider grip and using a hook grip as illustrated below.

This hook grip will allow you to finish the catch without messing up your hands/wrists on the Power Clean.

Pull the bar up to finish the deadlift and this finished position is hang position. From this position, just practice jumping while holding the bar with straight arms (no need to be extra tense).

While you are jumping, do a shrug at the same time and this shrug will help get the weight up higher. That’s it, this is the first part…jump and shrug at the same time.

Part 2 – Jumping Position to the Rack Position

The power clean is essentially a deadlift with a jump and then you slip your elbows underneath to finish with the bar resting on your shoulders.

In this next part , you practice where you should perform the jump from. Deadlift the bar to be a few inches above your knees then jump like we have practiced in Part 1. I realize that ‘a few inches’ is very vague, but this completely depends on the length of your legs. You will have experiment a little to find the point of greatest leverage.

The only difference now is that you thrust your elbows foward to get the bar on your shoulder. See the illustration below:

Start practicing this part with the bar just above the knees, jump and then thrust your elbows to point forward and catch the bar on your shoulders.

Once you rack the bar onto your shoulders, your elbows are pointing straight forward and the bar rests between the front deltoid and shoulder joint. When you lack the flexibility, you don’t have to hold onto the bar in the rack position, you can let your fingers go.

Keep your arms out of this, you will not be using your arms to muscle it up. All of the momentum should be generated from the jump and shrug. The arms act as chain or rope.

Performing the Actual Lift

Once you have practiced these 2 parts to satisfaction, start from the usual deadlift position with a modified grip for the power clean. Pull the bar slowly to the jumping position on your thigh and then perform the power clean.

Practice this movement as 2 parts until you become more familiar with it. Take the first pull slow and then explode. Once you get good at this, you can try performing this with fast from the initial pull.

Details of the Power Clean

Straight Bar Path

The bar should travel up in a straight line until the ‘catch’ at the end. Here is what I mean:

Jumping Position Can’t Be Too Low

In Part 2 of the ‘How To’ section, I talked about the jumping position being a few inches above your knees. You can’t keep the jumping position too low or you jump end up jumping forwards instead of straight up. Here is a video that shows what I’m talking about, it’s extremely subtle and important.

You Don’t Need Bumper Plates

Platform: The Iron Plate Problem from stef bradford on Vimeo.

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