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Clean Up Your Power Clean Form

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 16 January 2018
Clean Up Your Power Clean Form

Power cleans may sound like an industrial-strength dishwasher fluid, but they're actually one of the most effective full body lifts anyone can learn:

What NOT to Do

Power cleans are ideal for those involved in competitive sports, yet many athletes struggle with the lift, as seen below:

Poor form and execution eliminate the benefits of power cleans. The technical demands of the lift require more practice than simple bench presses, preacher curls, or even barbell squats.
We'll break down each phase of movement, step-by-step:

Phase 1 - The First Pull:

Step One:

  • Stand behind barbell.
  • Keep feet parallel, at hip width, while your shins touch the bar.

Step Two:

  • Keep your arms straight.
  • Keep your lower back in a natural arch.
  • Slightly bend your knees and lean forward.
  • Push your hips back, and take a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar.

Step Three:

Lift your chest while looking straight ahead.
Lower your hips to slightly below shoulder level.

Step Four:

  • Keep your elbows locked.
  • Shift your weight onto your heels.

Step Five:

  • Keep the weight close to your body while pushing your knees back.
  • Raise your chest and drive your hips forward.
  • Lift the bar from the floor to just above your knees.

Phase 2 - The Transition

Step One:

  • Keep looking forward, while your lower back remains in its natural arch.
  • Keep your arms straight and your shoulders directly over the bar.
  • Keep pulling the bar upward until it's at your mid-thigh.

Step Two:

  • With your weight on your heels, set up to explode off the ground.
  • Extend your hips.

Phase 3 - The Second Pull

Step One:

  • Explode forward and upward with your hips.
  • Straighten your knees.
  • Extend your ankles, emulating a jump.

Step Two:

  • As the bar gains upward momentum, explosively shrug your shoulders while keeping your arms straight.

Step Three:

  • Bend and raise your elbows upward to your ears.
  • Keep the bar close to your body.
  • You shouldn't be lifting with your armsthey should be acting as anchors.

Phase 4 - The Catch

Step One:

  • Once you're fully extended, pull your body underneath the bar.
  • Keep looking forward while landing in a quarter-half squat.

Step Two:

  • While squatting underneath the bar, rotate your elbows under the bar.
  • Loosen your grip as your wrists turn upward.
  • Catch the weight on the front of your shoulders.
  • After you've caught the bar, complete the quarter-half squat.

The Benefits of Power Cleans

Since the power clean is akin to a super-deadlift, it strengthens your posterior chain your glutes, hamstrings, calves, lower, and upper back.

It's a full body workout that adds muscle density and functional strength from head-to-toe, including superior grip strength. In fact, by hitting nearly 200 muscles, your body undergoes an anabolic surge that drives muscle growth and promotes fat burning.

Power cleans also activate your central nervous system, increasing your muscle fiber recruitment, because it triggers high threshold muscle fibers, which assist in explosiveness.

Athletes who rely on split-second acceleration such as sprinters, football players, and rugby players benefit greatly from the power clean.

Also, athletes who need to generate immense force in one swift full body movement, such as golfers and baseball players (pitchers and hitters), reap the rewards of this full body lift.

A Final Caution

If you've never performed the power clean, we must stress the importance of starting slow and light. You need to develop the flexibility in your elbows and wrists, while learning the complicated muscle engram pattern throughout the rest of your body.

We suggest practicing with a broom or thin PVC pipe. Once you've graduated from that, move onto the bar without any weight.

Only when you're able to fluidly complete the movement with correct form, should you graduate onto bigger lifts.

Still not sure you should be trying to power clean on your own?

SEMI's professional fitness trainers in Toronto can work with you on your form, helping you reach your health & fitness goals.

Join us in our modern studio settings, and take advantage of the private environment, so you can focus entirely on your exercises with zero distractions.

Call us at 1-855-572-9177, or book an appointment online today!

Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
Tags: Upper body Performance


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