POWER CLEANS FOR THE STRENGTH ATHLETE
By: Leo Totten
Originally Posted November 3, 2012
Whether your sport is powerlifting, strongman, football or any other “strength” sport, the power clean should be part of your workout plan. Obviously, the major emphasis of your training should be whatever discipline you are participating in, but including power cleans at the right time can enhance the performance in any strength sport.
Why do power cleans? They are aptly named because they require power – that, is, speed and strength combined (work / time). All athletes can use more power. They are great for off season conditioning as they help build work capacity, improve range of motion and flexibility as well as helping to prevent overuse injuries.
The “pull” part of the power clean utilizes the “triple extension” of the hip, knee and ankle, thereby working all the major muscles of the core, hips, quads and hamstrings. Think of the pull as a vertical jump with a weight in your hands. (Olympic lifters have awesome vertical jumps, a primary test of leg power used by most coaches and athletes).
The “receiving” position (or the “catch” or “rack”) is how the bar is received on the chest (actually, the bar will lie across the clavicles and shoulders) after the explosive pull motion. The primary benefit of “receiving” the bar on the chest is functional core stability. Again, what sport doesn’t need that? (However, if lack of flexibility is preventing you from receiving the bar in the proper position, you can still do the “pull” motion to get the benefit from that explosive, triple extension. As flexibility improves, then the power clean can be finished correctly).
How important is technique? For my Olympic lifters, we want to make the technique as perfect as possible, because that is what we do for our sport. However, for everyone else, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be “good enough”. By that I mean, “good enough” to be 1) efficient and 2) safe. Efficient so that you are getting the benefit of the exercise (a glorified reverse curl won’t cut it) and safe so that the bar doesn’t “crash” when receiving it on the chest and wrist and elbow issues arise.
For more information on performing Power Cleans correctly, I have put together a one hour DVD entitled, “Power Clean: Doing it Right”.