A 2-Exercise Combo That Improves Football Power and Explosiveness

Help your athletes build strength and power this football season with a Power Clean/Front Squat combo from STACK Expert Tammy Kovaluk.

Power Clean Lift

Success, for football players, is largely determined by their power and strength. They must be able to explosively drive into the field to sprint and have the strength to tackle or break through the line.

It's possible to simultaneously develop these essential physical abilities by combining two of my favorite exercises: the Power Clean and Front Squat. The combo is difficult and intense, but the benefits cannot be ignored.

Physical Benefits

  • Football movements are never performed in isolation, so combining the two movements simulates how muscles are recruited during a game.
  • Performing the Power Clean for low reps at roughly 90% max has proven to increase gains when performed only twice per week.
  • Increasing the Front Squat weight after a short rest period recruits large lower-body motor units and fast-twitch fibers, enhancing explosive power and max strength.
  • Time can be short as the season approaches. Combining the two exercises maximizes efficiency.
  • The two intense movements performed in succession improve an athlete's ability to be strong and explosive when fatigued.
  • The average football play takes 5.5 seconds, with 32 seconds of rest before the next play. The exercise combo simulates this work-to-rest ratio.
  • Splitting the four prescribed Front Squats reps into mini-sets of two allows each rep to be performed with max power. [1]
  • You spend the majority of the time between Front Squat mini-sets adjusting the weight, forcing you to actively recover with a demand similar to jogging back to the huddle after a play.


Warm-up: 1 Power Clean + 1 Squat Clean + 1 Front Squat. Do 3 to 4 sets and increase the weight load so that the fourth set is close to the working weight.

  • Perform 1 Power Clean at 90% max
  • Perform 2 Front Squats once the bar is in the catch position
  • Rack the bar and increase the load to 85% max
  • Perform 2 Front Squats
  • Rest for 30 seconds
  • Perform 2 Front Squats
  • This concludes the first set. Rest for 2 minutes before the next set
  • Perform a total of 4-5 sets
  • Adjust the weight as needed to account for you individual fitness level

A Word of Caution

This is an advanced combo. Athletes need to be comfortable performing both the Power Clean and the Front Squat with near maximum loads. They also need to have sufficient conditioning to maintain form. If technique is an issue, don't be afraid to use lighter loads until you master the movement.

Learn more about why the Power Clean is so important for football players.


[1] Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R.W..(2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (2nd ed.). Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.


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