How to Perform Olympic Lifts, Part 2: The Power Clean

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Power Clean

In this three-part series on Olympic lifting, we will explain the correct technique for these complicated lifts. In Part 2, we focus on how to perform the Power Clean.

As a high school athlete, one of the staple exercises in your program should be the Power Clean. This exercise forces your body to generate enormous amounts of power to explosively pull the bar off the ground up to shoulder height. The Power Clean will improve nearly all skills in your sport, including jumping, running and tackling.

For some athletes, this lift can be difficult to perform, which can cause technique flaws that reduce its effectiveness and put you at risk for injury. So, it's important to hone your technique before making the Power Clean a feature your workout.

To start, you want to learn the Hang Clean, which we covered in Part 1 of this series. The Hang Clean teaches you necessary fundamentals before you start performing more advanced lifts from the ground. Once you master the Hang Clean, you can start performing the Power Clean.

1) Starting Position
Many common Power Clean mistakes are due to the bar's position on the ground. Some athletes roll the bar back and forth before they Clean, which causes inconsistent positioning, making it difficult to keep the bar close to the body.

Start by standing above the bar with the bar covering the bows on your shoelaces two to three inches from your shins. Push your hips back and bend your knees slightly to begin lowering to the bar; keep your back straight. Slide your hands down the front of your thighs and stop when your hands are just above your knees. This is the Hang Clean position.

From this position, Squat until you grasp the bar. Keep your chest and head up, back flat and shins near vertical. Now you are ready to perform the Power Clean!

Floor Position

2) Pull the Bar Off the Ground
Once you have practiced getting in the right start position, you are ready to move the bar off the ground. To do this, drive through your heels to extend your knees. While your knees are extending, pull your chest up by beginning to extend your hips. If done correctly, the bar should travel close to the shins. The finish position of this initial pull should be the Hang position, but you don't stop there, instead continuing to explode in a fluid motion through the Clean as described in Part 1 of the series.

Common Mistakes

  • Don't let the bar move away from your body; keep it close to your shins.
  • Don't let your hips rise too quickly; focus on a powerful hip extension and keeping your chest and head up.
  • Don't let the bar loop around your knees. You want it to move in a straight line from the ground to your shoulder.
  • Extend your knees during the pull to make sure the bar's path is unimpeded.


Wil Fleming is the owner of Force Fitness in Bloomington, Ind. During the past two years, he has helped more than 15 athletes go on to play Division I athletics. He is the author of the speed and agility portion of the soon-to-be released Essentials of High School Strength and Conditioning. Prior to his career as an athletic performance coach, Fleming was an All-American athlete at Indiana University and a competitor in the 2008 Olympic Trials for track and field.

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