Power Clean Variations for Strength and Power

STACK Expert Chris Thomas describes the technique and benefits of two variations of the Power Clean.

Power Clean

A variation of the Olympic Clean and Jerk performed from the floor and caught in a quarter-squat position, the Power Clean is commonly used to increase strength and power during resistance training programs.

Power Clean variations depend on your goals for the session—whether you're training for strength or power—and your technical competency. They can increase your performance by imitating sport-specific movements (such as sprinting and jumping), while using explosive power.

Hang Power Clean

  • Hold the bar just above your knees with your shoulders over the bar (Romanian Deadlift position).
  • Slide your knees forward so the bar is at mid-thigh position (transition).
  • Explosively extend your ankles, knees and hips and simultaneously shrug your shoulders, keeping your arms straight (second pull).
  • At the end of the second pull, rapidly flex your hips, knees and ankles to drop into a quarter squat.
  • Bend your elbows and rotate under the bar.

This variation engages the stretch-shorten cycle (SSC) by shortening the quadriceps and therefore increasing elastic energy storage, similar to sporting activities that use whole-body extension when running and jumping. It has been shown to produce peak power at 70 percent 1R,  but this is not significantly different between loads 0f 50-90 percent 1RM.

Mid-Thigh Power Clean

  • Start with the bar at mid-thigh with your arms straight.
  • Flex your knees with your shoulders above or slightly in front of the bar.
  • Explosively extend your ankles, knees and hips and simultaneously shrug your shoulders, keeping your arms straight (second pull).
  • At the end of the second pull, rapidly flex your hips, knees and ankles to drop into a quarter squat.
  • Bend your elbows and rotate under the bar.

This variation produces the greatest force because of the explosive triple extension at the ankles, knees and hips. Peak power can occur at 60 percent 1RM. This variation can also be performed as a mid-thigh Clean Pull, where loads as great as 140 percent 1RM produce greater force and impulse compared to vertical jumping, and 40 percent 1RM produced the highest power.

Athletes and coaches should consider whether their aim is to engage the SSC. The Hang Power Clean may be the most advantageous variation, because the transition phase uses the SSC. To maximize power, force and impulse, the Mid-Thigh Power Clean or Mid-Thigh Clean Pull are more beneficial. These should be incorporated appropriately into a periodized training program that focuses on enhancing strength, then into higher velocity movements during a power mesocycle.

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References:

Comfort, P, Udall, R. & Jones, P. "The effect of loading on kinematic and kinetic variables during the mid-thigh clean pull." J Strength Cond Res. 26 (5): 1208-14. 2012.

Kawamori, N, Crum, AJ, Blumert, PA, Kulik, JR, Childers, JT, Wood, JA, Stone, MH, & Haff, GG. "Influence of different relative intensities on power output during the hang power clean: Identification of the optimal load." J Strength Cond Res. 19 (3): 298-708. 2005.

Kawamori, N., Rossi, S. J., Justice, B. D., Haff, E. E., Pistilli, E. E., O'Bryant, H. S., Stone, MH. & Haff, GG. "Peak force and rate of force development during isometric and dynamic mid-thigh clean pulls performed at various intensities." J Strength Cond Res. 20 (3): 483-491. 2006.


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Topics: POWER CLEAN | POWER | CLEAN | JUMPING | SHRUG