4 Exercises That Improve Power Clean Strength and Technique


Form and strength are both key for developing a better Power Clean, which is one of the big five exercises used in strength and conditioning programs. Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Presses and Bent-Over-Rows round out my top five.

The Power Clean is used in many strength and conditioning programs from high school all the way through the pros. The reason is that this exercise involves explosively exerting a lot of force against the ground in a manner that has a great deal of transfer to many sporting movements and jumping.

As a result, this is a really important exercise to master. It's important not only for performance but also because it's a frequent strength and power test. In other words, it might help to determine whether you play or sit on the bench!

Proficiency in this exercise requires a unique combination of technique, total body strength, and power. This article describes four exercises you can use to supplement your strength and conditioning program to improve your Clean. It also includes an eight-week program that will help increase your numbers.

Power Clean from the Hang

Purpose: To improve your ability to execute the second pull (the explosive part) of the lift and your ability to move under the bar rapidly.

Set-up: Approach the bar. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Take a power clean-wide grip on the bar. Stand up with the bar in your hands. Pull your shoulders back and elevate your chest. From this position unlock your knees and push your hips back until the bar is touching your thighs at mid-thigh level.

Execution: From the starting position do three things simultaneously:

  • Extend your hips and knees violently.
  • Rise up onto your toes.
  • Shrug your shoulders up.

As you do this, keep your arms straight and keep the bar close to your body. When the bar reaches chest level, move into a quarter squat and receive the bar on the front of your shoulders. Stand up. Lower the bar and repeat.

Volume and intensity: 3-5 sets of 3-6 repetitions with 60-85% of your power clean maximum, provided you can lift it with good form.

Clean-Grip Deadlift

Purpose: Strengthen your ability to pull weight off the floor during the Clean.

Set-up: Approach the bar. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Pull your shoulders back and elevate your chest. Squat down until your hands grip the bar. Take a power clean-wide grip on the bar. Pull the bar toward your shins.When you do this correctly, your shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar.

Execution: Stand up with the bar in your hands. Keep your arms straight and the bar close to your body. Lift the bar until it reaches mid-thigh level. Your shoulders will still be slightly ahead of the bar at this point. Lower and repeat.

Volume and intensity: 3-5 sets of 4-8 repetitions with 80-150% of your power clean maximum, provided you can lift it with good form.

Clean Pull From the Hang

Purpose: To improve your strength and explosiveness in the second pull (the explosive) part of the lift.

Set-up: Approach the bar. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Take a power clean-wide grip on the bar. Stand up with the bar in your hands. Pull your shoulders back and elevate your chest. From this position unlock your knees and push your hips back until the bar is touching your thighs at mid-thigh level.

Execution: From the starting position, do three things simultaneously:

  • Extend your hips and knees violently.
  • Rise up onto your toes.
  • Shrug your shoulders up.

As you do this, keep your arms straight and keep the bar close to your body. Lower and repeat.

Volume and intensity: 3-5 sets of 3-6 repetitions with 80-100% of your power clean maximum, provided you can lift it with good form.

Front Squats

Purpose: To improve your strength for racking the weight on the front of your shoulders and your ability to control it.

Set-up: The bar is in the squat rack. Approach the bar and grip it with a power clean-wide grip. Step under the bar so that it is on the front of your shoulders. Rotate your elbows in and up so that your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Step back, make sure your chest is elevated, and position your feet about shoulder-width apart.

Execution: Keeping your upper arms parallel to the ground, squat down as far as is comfortable. Reverse directions and repeat.

Volume and intensity: 3-5 sets of 3-8 repetitions with 70-90% of your Front Squat maximum, provided you can lift it with good form.

The Program

Here is an eight-week comprehensive strength and conditioning program that allows you to focus on improving one lift while still working everything else. The program runs four days a week—two lower-body sessions and two upper-body sessions. Take days off as needed during each week. It is divided into two four-week blocks. The first helps to lay the foundation for your success, and the second focuses on strength and power. Note that every week starts with the Power Clean. All the supplementary exercises in the world are great, but if you want to improve this lift, you need to practice it!

Block 1, Weeks 1-4

The workout below shows you the volumes and intensities for the first week of training. The table below shows you how this should change during the first four weeks depending upon the type of exercise.

Day One

  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@70%
  • Clean Pull from the Hang: 3x3-6@80%
  • Back Squats: 3x8-12@80%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x8-12

Day Two

  • Bench Press: 3x8-12@80%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x8-12
  • Standing Military Press: 3x8-12
  • Superset: Biceps/Triceps: 3x12-15

Day Three

  • Power Clean from the Hang: 3x3-6@60%
  • Clean-Grip Deadlift: 3x6-8@80%
  • Front Squats: 3x6-8@80%
  • Good Mornings: 3x8-12

Day Four

  • Incline Press: 3x8-12@80%
  • Pull-Ups: 3x8-12
  • Kettlebell Press: 3x8-12 each arm
  • Superset: Biceps/triceps: 3x12-15
Exercise Type Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Power Clean 3x3-6@70% 3x3-6@75% 3x3-6@80% 3x3-6@60%
Power Clean from Hang 3x3-6@60% 3x3-6@65% 3x3-6@70% 3x3-6@50%
Clean Pulls from Hang 3x3-6@80% 3x3-6@85% 3x2-4@90% 3x3-6@70%
Clean-grip Deadlifts 3x6-8@80% 3x6-8@90% 3x4-6@100% 3x6-8@70%
Back Squats 3x8-12@80% 3x6-10@85% 3x2-6@90% 3x8-12@70%
Front Squats 3x6-8@80% 3x4-8@85% 3x2-6@90% 3x6-8@70%
Romanian Deadlifts/Good Mornings 3x8-12 3x8-12 3x6-10 3x8-12
Presses 3x8-12@80% 3x6-10@85% 3x2-6@90% 3x8-12@70%
Rows/Pull-Ups 3x8-12 3x8-12 3x6-10 3x8-12
Biceps/Triceps 3x12-15 3x12-15 3x12-15 3x12-15

Table One: Volume and intensity for the first four weeks of the program.

Block 2, Weeks 5-8

The volumes and intensities for week five are shown below. Table two details how this should change throughout this block of training.

Day One

  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@80%
  • Clean Pull from the Hang: 3x2-4@90%
  • Split Squats: 3x6-8@50% of Back Squat on each leg
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x8-12

Day Two

  • Pause Bench Press: 3x6-8@60% of Bench Press
  • Kettlebell Rows: 3x8-12 on each arm
  • Seated Military Press: 3x6-8
  • Superset: Biceps/triceps: 3x12-15

Day Three

  • Power Clean from the Hang: 3x3-6@70%
  • Clean-Grip Deadlift: 3x4-6@100%
  • Front Squats: 3x2-6@90%
  • Good Mornings: 3x8-12

Day Four

  • Close-Grip Bench Press: 3x6-8@60% of Bench Press
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3x8-12 on each arm
  • Standing Military Press: 3x6-8
  • Superset: Biceps/triceps: 3x12-15
Exercise Type Week Five Week Six Week Seven Week Eight
Power Clean 3x3-6@80% 3x2-4@85% 3x1-3@90% 3x3-6@70%
Power Clean from Hang 3x3-6@70% 3x2-4@75% 3x1-3@80% 3x3-6@60%
Clean Pulls from Hang 3x2-4@90% 3x2-4@95% 3x1-3@100% 3x3-6@80%
Clean-grip Deadlifts 3x4-6@100% 3x4-6@110% 3x2-4@120% 3x4-6@80%
Split Squats 3x6-8@50% 3x6-8@55% 3x4-6@60% 3x8-12@40%
Front Squats 3x2-6@90% 3x1-3@95% 3x1@100% 3x3-6@80%
Romanian Deadlifts/Good Mornings 3x8-12 3x8-12 3x6-10 3x8-12
Presses 3x6-8@60% 3x4-6@65%@ 3x2-4@70% 3x6-8@50%
Rows 3x8-12 3x8-12 3x6-10 3x8-12
Biceps/Triceps 3x12-15 3x12-15 3x12-15 3x12-15

Table two: Volume and intensity for the second four-week block of the program.

READ MORE:


Topics: SQUAT | POWER CLEAN | BENCH PRESS | DEADLIFT | RDL | WORKOUT PROGRAMS | ROW