Power Clean » Power Clean Lift Explained

Power Clean - Power Clean Lift

The Power Clean is a full-body explosive weight lifting exercise popular with weightlifters, athletes and also CrossFitters. It has positive results when performed properly that athletes from all sports can benefit from. As with all Olympic lifts the Power Clean lift is technical and needs to be learned and performed with precision and care to get the benefits and to prevent injury. That means learning the Power Clean exercise technique should be guided by an experienced coach or trainer. Power Cleans are advanced movements and can take many months of training before you perfect them.

Whether learning it as part of your Power Clean CrossFit workout or including Cleans as part of your own training, there are a lot of benefits to be gained as Power Cleaning works the whole body. It is one of the best options for training power and strength. Powerclean gets the body working as a whole unit. Here is a closer look at why you should include Clean CrossFit workouts in your routine, how it is done and what other types of cleans there are.

What is a Power Clean?

The Power Clean is a core movement in our Perth CrossFit gym and you’ll find it in a lot of regular gyms too. It has been included in the Olympics in the past and is a move that involves almost all of the major muscle groups. Even if you do not lift competitively there are still very good reasons to include Cleans as part of your regular fitness workout besides other staple exercises, such as Air Squats, the Deadlift, Thrusters and much more. As you learn how to Power Clean with a trainer you will find there are basically five phases to the move, setting up, the pull, the pull and scoop, the catch and then the release.

Power cleaning is not the same as a Hang Clean, with this move you start with the weight on the floor, unlike the Hang Clean that starts holding the weight above your knees. Power Cleans need a lot of practice but you do not need to load them up heavy. Most times Powerclean workouts should be between 60% to 85 % of what your max weight is. Keeping the weight manageable in a Power Clean is the key so you achieve maximum speed. Below is a look at how to perform Power Cleans.

Power Clean Video – Step-by-Step Guide

Take a look at this useful power clean video to see how it is done.

Power Clean Muscles Worked

Wondering what Clean Lift muscles are worked? Almost all of them! It really is a whole-body movement, you have your glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads and core all working together as most of the driving force to achieve the exercise but it also works the shoulders and traps in the second pull. Plus the muscles in the back, forearms and arms are also working. The Power Clean muscles worked are not just to help you with lifting and to achieve muscle hypertrophy, it also means you are stronger for everyday life, moving heavy boxes, improving posture and so on.

Power Clean Benefits

Power Clean Benefits - Power Clean Exercise Benefits

The Power Clean will help you become a more explosive and powerful athlete  which is great for all athletes but especially for sports where explosiveness is important. There are a number of Power Clean exercise benefits, you can train your hip joints, ankles and knees to extend at the same time, generate greater speed and force and work the entire body. Power clean benefits also include better endurance and strength for everyday things as you’ll be able to lift and move heavy items and handle being on your feet all day.

Barbell Clean – Step By Step Guide

1) Setting up

  • Stand with your feet set hip-distance apart with your barbell on the floor at your feet. If you have limited flexibility and can not bend down to the floor to lift, use blocks or lifts.
  • Lower down into the squat position, grip the bar and have your palms face your legs. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width.
  • Make sure you are not hunched and that your spine is lengthened and stays strong throughout and look forwards.
  • To make sure the midsection and back are supported when you look at how to power clean, make sure you engage your core.

2) The Pull

  • As you stand up, lift the bar making sure you keep the weight close to you, almost as if you are sliding it along your shins and then over your knees.
  • Keep lifting until you reach your thighs keeping your back straight and your shoulders positioned over your hips and your knees, ankles and hips are aligned.

3) The second pull and scoop

  • To prepare for the next quick movements make sure your knees are bent a little.
  • Now scoop or thrust your hips forward to pull the bar to your chest in one explosive movement. You may find your feet temporarily leave the floor a little or you lift to the balls of the feet.
  • Next on the barbell clean you create power by elevating your shoulders as you pull the bar into the next phase being sure you flex your elbows.

4) The catch

  • As you continue the lift pull your body under the barbell and your elbows will snap forward under the bar. Your shoulders move forward so now it feels like your shoulder blades are pulling back and down.
  • Keep your posture erect and your back strong drop into a quarter squat.
  • Catch the barbell so it is resting on the front of your shoulders.

5) Stand and release

  • With the weight resting on the front of your shoulders stand up tall again.
  • Now lower the weight in a controlled and slow manner to the floor.

 Dumbbell Clean – Step By Step Guide

When looking at how to power clean you will commonly see the barbell version but you can also use dumbbells. Make sure you use a weight you can control and that you can still use good technique.

  1. Start your dumbbell power clean by taking a pair of dumbbells and holding them down by your sides. The palms are towards the legs and you should have your feet shoulder-width apart with a small knee bend. Keep your neck and head neutral and your posture tall.
  2. Keep your weight distributed evenly and grip with your feet to make yourself stable. Your arms should be at your side with a slight bend and you need to engage your core.
  3. Keeping the dumbbells close to the body and your spine neutral start to bend your knees, hips and ankles. Lower till you reach the point where your upper legs are parallel or mostly parallel with the floor.
  4. The CrossFit dumbbell power clean at this point is where the explosive push with your legs comes. When your shoulders are at their highest pull your body under the weights and turn the elbows forwards.
  5. Punch your elbows forward quickly and catch the weights on your shoulders and follow up by lowering into a squat position. Again upper legs are parallel with the floor.
  6. To finish the DB power clean, stand tall, then in a controlled manner, lower the dumbbells to your sides and then lower into a squat position for the next rep.

Recommended Power Clean Sets and Reps

There are many options when it comes to a power clean workout plan. The following is the 5×5 workout basics.

5×5 Workout Basics

This is a simple set and rep workout. It typically consists of only three exercises each of which targets several muscle groups. There are more modern versions of it that also use a more varied number of moves each week but the original is still great too. On each day the lift that is targeted is different so that one needs increased resistance while the other 2 lifts use less. This power clean sets and reps looks like this;

Day 1 – Squat, power cleans, bench press

Day 2 – Squat, power cleans, incline bench press

Day 3 – Squat, power cleans, overhead press

Other Variations of the Clean

There are different variations of the clean so here is just a brief look at the power clean versus the hang clean, the squat clean and the jerk.

Power Clean vs Squat Clean

There are similarities between the two but where the power is all about timing, synchronization, and rate of force. Which you do depends on what you are looking to achieve. If you are not yet strong enough for any kind of speed or force keep working the squat and then come back to power clean vs squat clean when you are ready!

Hang Clean vs Power Clean

These two moves are very popular in CrossFit and weightlifting as both have a lot to offer, some similar and some different. The most noticeable difference in the hang clean vs power clean is that the weight comes from the hip and it needs something more explosive from the hip as a result. That makes the hang clean great for the glutes! The hang also builds more strength in the legs as it has a complete front squat in it. The Power clean as the name says is all about developing more power.

Power Clean and Jerk

Also called the clean and jerk this is one of the more well known moves as it is seen in competition lifting. It is great to add to any workout schedule, the power clean and jerk is not easy though so be patient as you learn. It boosts coordination, full body strength and power.

Power Clean Safety Precautions

It is easy to end up injured, complaining you hurt my wrist doing power cleans to friends, because power cleaning is not easy and it takes time. Here are some common mistakes and precautions to take.

  • A stance that is too wide can be tempting as it feels more stable but hip distance is important.
  • Start correctly with a flat back and have your hips behind your shoulders.
  • You do not want your back to curve. If it is curving because you can reach the bar properly, raise it.
  • Make sure you engage the core and do not arch your back.
  • Do not lift weights that are too heavy.
  • Do not do too many reps, between 1 to 5 reps is enough to build power and force.
  • Avoid catching the bar with your arms so that it causes your elbows to point to the ground. Keep your body under the bar when you are catching.

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