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Improve Power Cleans


Power Clean
diagram of power cleans steps
Photo Credit: www.crossfitpa.com

1. Power Cleans

Today we will discuss one of the most underestimated exercises: Power Cleans (or Barbell Cleans/Barbell Clean) and how to improve power cleans. While underestimated as far as I am concerned since if you tell me that you rarely see bodybuilders doing legs. Furthermore, would you see people doing power cleans or any power move at all?

Yet Power Cleans are great for increased explosiveness. While most powerlifters and athletes do cleans on a regular basis. While that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a place in bodybuilding.

Cleans train proper explosiveness and trains one how to transfer force properly from his lower body to his hips to his upper body. While you can see cleans is a very easy way to include explosion exercises into your regimen.

Power Cleans Will Make You Stronger in The Long Run?


power clean
Now that’s some sick cleans!!!

Training explosive movement also means that you will be recruiting some heavy-duty fast-twitch muscles – which means you, will get to TRAIN and DEVELOP these heavy-duty fast-twitch muscles and results will be you will become stronger overall if you regularly execute explosion movements in your regimen

The Power cleans is a power-lifting “speed-move” as they call it, and it involves explosive execution. For complete beginners, I suggest you take a very lightweight and practice this first or have a seasoned lifter assist you in your form.

The disadvantage of this move is that you will rarely find a gym where people perform moves such as these. But if you are in a gym where power-lifters train then you are in luck. But as far as power-lifting explosion moves go this is by far the most basic one. This exercise is also included in our Vertical Jump regimen because of its explosive nature.

A) You will start this move with the weight (a loaded barbell) on the ground much like how you would in a deadlift. -Load it up with a weight that you can safely barbell bicep curl for ten reps (for safety purposes but you can go heavy once you are used to it) and then grab the weight from the ground with an overhand shoulder-width grip (it can be a little bit wider but not too much).

B) Now as you go up using the form of someone who is about to lift a barbell in a dead lift which means in squatting position knees bent – NOT THE BACK.

C)Halfway as you go up explode using your hips and bring the weight in front of you and the end part must resemble the starting position of a front barbell shoulder press. Bring the weight to the starting position repeat.


How to Improve your power clean?

Article by -Ben Levinson a.k.a. Heisman

Power Clean

What is a power clean?

A power clean is a full clean done without bending your knees more than 90 degrees. Many times in sports movies and high school weight rooms (whenever I refer to a high school weight room it has a negative connotation and I am making a mockery of what is done inside of them. This also applies to whenever I refer to a commercial gym or a fitness center.) you see people do power-cleans without bending their knees much.

Above all this does is require them to lift the bar higher to have time to get under it. In conclusion which means you can’t use as much weight you could if you didn’t pull the bar as high. However, it is hard to catch any weight exactly at parallel and stopping it there without riding it down. With practice, you’ll be able to catch the weight a little above parallel and then stop the bar’s downward movement by the time your knee angle is 90 degrees.

Power Clean

Whats a Full Clean?

Of course, none of that may mean much if you don’t know what a full clean is, but if you do you can now differentiate between a full clean and power clean. If you don’t, then just watch the videos in the link provided below until you hear the commentators say that somebody did a power clean. Then you will know what one is.

Go here, download all the videos, and look for the ones that feature Lara. In one of Lara, weighing around 165 pounds, I think, will power clean 420 pounds. Watch all the videos though. Study the videos to see some of the best in the world using good form.http://f1.pg.briefcase.yahoo.com/bc/bubba1…case.yahoo.com/

The most important thing to do to increase your power clean is to learn good technique, and the best way to do that is by watching the masters. Actually, the best way is to find an Olympic training coach and have him/her teach you, but that can be hard to do. Both of these methods are better than getting verbal lessons over the internet, but the verbal lessons do help (that’s why I’m writing the article ).

The parts of the power clean:

In contrast, there are actually three parts to the power clean: the first pull, the second pull, and the catch. The first pull is when you pull the bar off the floor to right above your knees. The second pull is when you explode the bar upward as soon as it gets above your knees. The catch is when you flip your wrists, drop under the bar, and rotate your elbows around to catch the bar.

Power Clean
diagram of power cleans steps Photo Credit: www.crossfitpa.com


The first pull

It can also be referred to as a clean dead-lift. While a power lifting and bodybuilding style dead-lift is done with a mixed grip (one hand facing forward and one hand facing backward) and with the shoulders behind the bar, a clean dead lift is done with a double overhand grip and the shoulders directly above or in front of the bar. The bar should start right next to your shins. You should NOT pull the bar up as quickly as possible.

You should pull it up with some speed, but at a steady pace. Do not overexert yourself on this. If you pull as fast as possible on the first pull, you won’t be able to explode as efficiently on the second pull. Also, the only body part that should be moving in the first pull is your legs. Your back should stay at the same angle from when you first pick up the bar until the end of the first pull.

clean deadlift

The second pull

Is the most technical part of the power clean? The second pull begins just as the barbell clears the knees. Basically, you do one thing: explode. Explode upward on your tiptoes while straightening your back. Also, and this is important, shrug with your traps, HARD. As you do this, keep your arms straight.

This is the first area that most people have problems with. They want to bend their arms and reverse curl the bar upward. You should not do this. Your legs traps and back should all work to make the bar go upward. Think so your arms as ropes; they are just there to connect the bar to your body, nothing more (until later).

The straighter the bar goes upward the better. As soon as you have finished exploding upward immediately bend your knees to catch the bar.

Power Cleans

The catch

It isn’t hard, as long as you have flexible wrists. As you bend your knees to get under the bar, rotate your elbows as quickly as possible. The lower they are, the harder it will be to make the catch, so try to keep them up. It may take some getting used to, but the better you are at flipping your elbows up to be parallel to the floor the more likely you are to catch the bar.

If you have flexible wrists, you should be able to catch the bar on your shoulders without difficulty. If you don’t have flexible wrists, then manually stretch them and start doing front squats with a clean grip. More on that later.

Power Clean

How to improve each part of the power clean:

Practicing form is the number one way to improve your power clean. At first, just use an empty barbell and do everything many times until all of the movements become second nature. This could take a few days if you are just starting with power cleans or weeks if you have done them for a long time with bad form.

After the movements become easy, start adding weight in ten-pound increments and do a lot of singles, doubles, and triples with the weight. Above all once your form is great with that weight. In addition, add more ten more pounds and repeat. Keep doing this until you get to a weight that you can’t power clean. If everything works perfectly, this will be your max with good form. Chances are that your form will suffer a bit when you get to within 90% of your max. When your form starts to suffer, take a little weight off the bar and do a bunch of singles and doubles with great form.

Then move back up and try again. This whole process may take a few days if you are lucky, a few weeks if you are honest to yourself about what your problems are and very meticulous with your form, or a few months if you have used a bad form for a long time and are having trouble with learning the new motor patterns. Regardless, keep practicing until your form is perfect. This is more vital than anything else (for using maximum weight and safety).

Improving First Pull

To improve the first pull, you basically just need to improve your clean dead lift. The higher your clean deadlift, the more weight you can do in the first pull without it feeling heavy. This will give you more confidence in your ability to power clean the weight and it will make it easier to explode.

Make sure that throughout the first pull your back remains at the same angle. Your shoulders should be over or in front of the bar at the start, and you should have a grip on the bar that is just outside your shins. Make the first pull steady, but don’t worry about getting it up with lightning speed; save that for the second pull. I’ll write another article on how to increase your deadlift.

Improving Second Pull

To improve the second pull, you need to learn how to explode upwards while shrugging hard and raising up on your toes. Some good exercises to help with this are power shrugs, explosive Olympic style good mornings, and clean pulls.

Power shrugs are regular shrugs done with a barbell, but you explode upward on your toes while you do them. They work your calves and your traps and teach you to use both of them at once. They also teach you to keep your arms straight while you shrug and raise up on your toes. This is important; your arms should not bend until after this step is taken.

Explosive Olympic style good mornings are regular good mornings but you explode upward on your toes while you do them. You actually don’t have to bend over all the way. Just bend down so that your back is bent slightly more than it is with power cleans, and stick your butt out while you do them. Doing them this way mimics what the power clean will look like.

Clean pulls are where you do the whole power clean except the catch. It is like an upright row, but you do them like a power clean (and you don’t have to worry about shoulder impingement as you do with upright rows). You can use more weight than your max power clean and just concentrate on pulling as high as possible (or you can use less weight and do the same thing). These will help a lot because when you don’t have to worry about dropping under the bar to catch it the rest of the lift becomes simpler.

To improve the catch you need to do two things:

You need to practice flipping your elbows around as quickly as possible. If you look at the videos in the link, you’ll see that all of the lifters have their elbows pointing straight outward when they catch the bar. Most people without much training will have their elbows be perpendicular to the ground when they should be parallel. Just practice rotating your elbows quickly when you do them; it will make the catch easier when you are going as heavy as possible. It will also take almost all the stress off your arms and you will dramatically reduce the chance of getting an injury.

The other thing you need to do is make your wrists more flexible. To do this you need to start doing front squats with a clean grip. Do not cross your arms over the bar; it won’t help anything. Use a clean grip and do them. At first, you won’t be able to use much weight because your wrists won’t be flexible enough. Give it a few weeks. When I first did them, I couldn’t use more than 70 pounds. After 6 weeks I could use 200.

Also, you should manually stretch your wrists throughout the day. If you are just sitting around doing nothing you can stretching your wrists by pushing your hands against each other (I’m sure you can figure out what I mean).

From a discussion on Bodybuilding.com

06-15-2009, 04:20 PM

I have sorta stalled in the power clean department. All of my other lifts are skyrocketing except for that. In football its one of the key lifts and I need it to go up.

I’m stuck at about 230.

I figure it could be my technique because that’s what the power clean is all about but my coach tells me my technique is right on.

What do I do???

06-15-2009, 04:27 PM

What’s your routine look like? Do you have a video of your form? Don’t take this the wrong way, but if this is an HS coach he might not know good from bad form. Have you considered moving to a full clean?

06-15-2009, 04:37 PM

Well, usually we do power clean on Monday and Friday after we do squats. Its usually either 5×3 on power cleans or 3/3/2/2/1 with the weight going up each set. I don’t have a video of my form but I could get one sometime this weekend.

edit: wtf is a full clean?

06-15-2009, 04:55 PM
In a full clean you catch the bar below parallel. Well, a couple of things. Technical lifts should be prioritized before squats. Second, you need to address cleans differently than a normal exercise. There should be a loading pattern dealing with percentages. For example M
Clean 95% 4×2 across (all at same weight)W
Clean 85% 4×2 across (all same weight)F
Clean to a heavy double (try to hit the double again, or with a very small decrease)
-Aux- Clean High Pull- 3×3 [email protected] 110-120% of max clean (immediately above)
Tom Mutaffis
06-15-2009, 05:37 PM

Full Clean

A full clean is a “squat clean” where you catch the weight in a low position and then front squat it to the lockout. A power clean is where you begin from the floor and catch the weight in a standing position (hang clean would be starting out in the standing position with the bar on your thighs). As mentioned above the clean is a very technical lift and technique alone will add a lot more weight to this lift than strength will in many cases. There are a number of technique videos on Youtube and if you can find a good Olympic lifting coach in your area he could probably put 25 lbs on your lift in just one session of training with him.

In general, you will want to have strong hips and a strong upper back. Things like deficit deadlifts, high pulls, and front squats are all good assistance exercises when looking to build a strong power clean.

06-15-2009, 05:39 PM

Check these out. The pull for the snatch and clean are virtually the same. Snatch Demo Series: Part 1: Setting up

Part 2: Dead Hang Snatch

Part 3: Snatch Balance/Drop Snatch

Part 4: Pulling Sequence From Above the Knee

Part 5: Pulling From Above the Knee

Part 6: Pulling Sequence From the Floor

Part 7: Eccentric Pulling

Part 8: Accessory Pulls

Jerk Demo Vids:

Part 1: Setting up

Part 2: Dipping

Part 3: Drive and Catch

Part 4: Jerk Balances

Part 5: Other Types of Jerks

Part 6: Other Jerk Assistance

Misc Stuff Regarding Bar Height:

For the Clean

For the Snatch

06-15-2009, 06:07 PM
Wow, guys thanks for all the help!
Its greatly appreciated. Sometimes we do hang cleans along with shrug cleans, and I have tried snatching a couple times but its kinda hard.
I’m about to check out the videos right now, I will get you guys a video of my form and technique by this weekend.

06-15-2009, 06:16 PM
I have a question should my grip be pretty wide when I clean or close together or does it matter?

06-15-2009, 06:29 PM
Hand position on the pull is dependent on how comfortable you are in that position when the bar is racked on your shoulders. Id highly suggests learning to drop under to catch the bar. If you want to keep the power clean then that’s fine, some people have problems separating the subtle form differences but try to work in the full snatch, it should have some carryover.

06-15-2009, 07:09 PM
Good HS coaches are pretty rare. Just another vote for improving your technique.

06-15-2009, 09:55 PM
One option would be to do snatch for a while until it stalls out like your clean has – then move back to clean. Not necessarily the “best” option – but it’s fun, different, and it’ll work.

Weightlifting Exercises and 1 RM

by Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT


I have below a One Rep Max Chart along with information so you can learn what a 1 rep

max chart is, why it’s useful, and how to read the chart.

Weightlifting What is a One Rep Max Chart?

Power Clean

Weightlifting. Power Cleans.


A 1 Rep Max Chart gives you a rough estimate of the number of reps. And the amount of weight that corresponds to the maximum amount of weight that you can lift. While the chart works by assuming that the number of reps you can lift. And a certain weight can be predicted using mathematical relationships.




Power Clean one rep max circa 2011 Pirie Enzo


Why Is A One Rep Max Chart Useful?

While One of the most frequent frustrations guys express to me. Consequently is having no idea how much weight they can lift for a given number of repetitions.

So for example, if you can bench 175lb for 10 reps, then what should you try to bench if you are shooting for 6 reps?

Hence using a 1 Rep Max Chart is an effective way to make the process of calculating the amount of weight you should be using. For a given number of reps more methodical. In addition, if you are curious how much weight you can lift for only one rep (your max lift).

While Instead of putting yourself at risk for serious injury. While you can shoot for 6 reps then use a 1 rep chart to estimate your 1 rep max. So no need to put yourself in the hospital attempting to lift a weight that’s too heavy.


Weightlifting This 1 rep max chart is not perfect because


  1. Some exercises may correspond better to the chart than others.
  2. Your strength and endurance levels can affect the number of reps you complete. For a given amount of weight that may be above, or below the amount predicted. Overall, the 1RM chart is a great guideline to help you increase your weights over time to properly progress your workouts.


In fact, when I was a college athlete, all of our strength training programs were based on our 1RM for a given lift. Hence we figured out by completing 6 reps with all of the basic lifts (squat, bench etc.). While most advanced strength programs for athletes are based on 1RM. And build in progressions so that the workout program forces strength increases over time. Reps for a given workout can vary dramatically from 15 reps to as low as 2, or 3 reps, but this is the extreme.

Weightlifting How To Read The One Rep Max Chart

The left-hand column has the 1 rep max. whereas the numbers in the right-hand columns represent how much weight can be lifted for the specified number of reps (reps are listed in the top row).


For example, find the 135lb max on the left, the scroll across the columns. If you can lift 99lb for 12 reps, that corresponds to roughly a 135lb max. A lift of 119lb for 4 reps also corresponds to a 135lb max.


In contrast, the chart below uses the Brzycki Formula after its creator, Matt Brzycki, but is still very close to the old school strength chart based on percentages.* While for more 1 rep max formulas,

check out this page: 1 rep max formulas


Rep Max Chart

  • The old school 1RM max chart is based on a linear relationship such that 10 reps corresponds to 75% of your max.
  • Every 1 rep change corresponds to +/- 2.5% change in the amount of weight that can be lifted. For example, 10 reps of 135lb (75% of max lift) corresponds to a 180lb max and 6 reps of 135lb (85% of max lift) is a 158lb max.
  • I encourage you to try this chart out and see how it corresponds to your actual lifts. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment.





Power Cleans – The Ultimate Power Athlete Exercise


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