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If you walk into a weight training facility today, chances are you'll see someone performing an Olympic lift. And more than likely, that lift will be the Power Clean. One of the more popular Olympic lifts, the Power Clean is a favorite of athletes—and for good reason.
Benefits of the Power Clean
Performing the Power Clean trains athletes to make explosive, athletic movements on the court and field. Blocking a lineman, rebounding a basketball and crushing a serve all engage the same muscles that are involved in the Power Clean. Your core, quads, hamstrings and glutes are the driving force behind most of the movement, while your traps and shoulders are engaged during the second pull. This exercise works the entire body.
The Power Clean is a full-body, athletic movement that can benefit any athlete in any sport. But this exercise—and all Olympic movements—are very technical and need to be taught and coached by a certified strength and conditioning professional to prevent improper form and reduce risk of injury. Below, I provide a step-by-step description of how to perform the Power Clean.
Begin with the bar on the floor, keeping your feet hip-width apart and the bar close to your shins over your shoelaces. Grip the bar with a Clean grip, a thumb's length away from the edge of the smooth part of the bar. Your arms should be positioned right outside your legs. Make sure your wrists are curled in toward your body, elbows rotated out to the side and arms completely straight. Keeping your feet flat, bend at the hips and knees. At this point, your thighs should be slightly above parallel and your shoulder blades pinched together. Your eyes should be focused straight ahead.
Squeeze the bar off the floor by extending your legs, making sure to keep your back flat and your chest and shoulders up. Use a powerful leg drive throughout this phase.
The scoop leads into the second pull. The bar should be just above your knees. Keep your chest out, head back and shoulders slightly forward.
Violently explode out of the scoop position. Keeping your arms straight, jump straight up by fully extending your hips, knees and ankles (triple extension), while simultaneously shrugging the bar explosively as your shoulders move up and back.
Quickly drop into a quarter-squat position with your back straight and hips back. Your elbows rotate around the bar in an aggressive whipping action and into a racked position. The bar should be resting high on your shoulders and collarbone. End the movement by standing up with the bar.
Want more? Learn how to perform the Squat and its numerous variations.
Shelton Stevens is a member of the strength staff at the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining USM, he was the head strength coach at Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). He has also worked under LSU strength coach Tommy Moffitt, helping to train the Tigers’ nationally-ranked football team and their 2009 national champion baseball team. During his career, he has worked with four national champions, seven conference champions and 12 All-Americans. He is CSCCa, SCCC, USAW, NSCA and RSCC certified, and he holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in athletic administration.