At first glance, the power clean may not look as useful as some other exercises. It can sometimes appear to be a “lazy man’s exercise” because of the way the bar is usually dropped at the end of each rep. However, the power clean is a deceptively difficult exercise. There are a lot of details that go into the perfection of this particular lift. In this article, we will attempt to cover them all.
For this article, we will assume that you are already familiar with this exercise. Thus, we won’t have to waste time teaching you the basics. If you aren’t familiar with this exercise, watch this video (and maybe this one as well) to give yourself a crash course before moving on.
The Many Benefits Of The Power Clean
In terms of benefits, the power clean has a lot to offer. The first and most obvious benefit is strength and muscle development. This is a very rough and aggressive exercise, and that kind of motion puts more exertion and stress on your muscles. Although this can increase the risk of injury, it can also lead to quicker and more significant muscle growth. As you may know, muscles grow by repairing micro-damage caused during exertion.
This brings us to another point: The importance of explosive motion. Most people who lift are familiar with the major muscle groups, but a lot of people don’t bother to learn about the next level of complexity that exists within each muscle. Every muscle of the body is composed of two types of fibers: Short-twitch and fast-twitch.
Here’s the short story on this subject: Slow-twitch muscle fibers are used for endurance training, while fast-twitch muscle fibers are used for explosive motion. The power clean gets a lot of its effectiveness from the fact that it is such an aggressive, explosive motion. It is sure to give those fast-twitch fibers a workout like few other exercises could ever hope to do.
Because of this, your level of intensity is a significant factor when doing this exercise. You should approach this technique in the way that you would approach a hated enemy that you want to smash and destroy. This idea might sound silly, but it is the type of attitude you need. Studies have shown that intensity plays a key role in this particular exercise and that it can increase your power output in a significant way.
The power clean is one of the best possible examples of a compound exercise. It works a huge number of different muscles and muscle groups. These include:
- All the major back muscles
This means more muscle exertion per rep and a little bonus in terms of time-efficiency.
It’s also worth mentioning that the power clean can actually strengthen your bones. We’ve already talked about the way that micro-tearing leads to muscle growth. The basic concept is that you injure the muscle in a non-serious way, forcing it to repair itself. As it repairs itself, it builds itself up larger and stronger. Believe it or not, this same process can also be used to thicken and strengthen the bones. All strength training does this, but the power clean is particularly good for this purpose.
There are a few other smaller bonuses, which might be described as the “hidden powers” of the power clean. First, it will help to strengthen your grip. The motion that is used to move the bar upward is slightly reminiscent of a wrist curl. Like a wrist curl, the power clean will help you to build up everything from the forearm down, including your grip.
Another little bonus benefit is an increase in body coordination. As you will see when we start examining points of form, the entire body has to work in unison to achieve good results from this exercise. If the arms, legs, and torso do not work as one unit, this exercise can become ineffective or even dangerous.
Knowing When To Quit
It is easy to go too far when doing power cleans. Once you get pumped up and ready to move, it can be hard to stop. However, we suggest that you watch this video and follow this advice: Don’t be that guy.
The power clean is a very strenuous exercise, and beginners should only do a few reps at a time. Besides, this exercise was designed for high-weight-low-rep workouts anyway. Even an advanced lifter should stop as soon as the exercise becomes too difficult. You might have noticed that the guy in the video was doing little things to “cheat” as he got more and more exhausted. He drops his body weight and ducks under the bar as he raises it, he pauses and rests after the initial lift…and those are just the first two things we noticed. Thus, we offer you one more piece of advice: Do it right or don’t do it at all.
You can extend your workout by making use of frequent rest periods. This might seem like laziness, but it will help you to do more lifts per session. That isn’t just opinion, either. It has been proven that the calculated use of rest periods will increase both your workout volume and power output. Think of it as a way to smooth out your exertion so that every rep is more or less the same.
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Just a repost of my power clean guys. Like I talked about in my earlier post it’s not about being a badass and slapping on weight you don’t properly know how to move. It’s a about practice, consistency, and most importantly form. I’m never afraid or embarrassed about using a little weight while I work on getting it right. You always want to have your form down prior to adding on weight, not only to avoid injury, but to get the most out of the movement so that it benefits you. . Have an awesome day guys! 💪💪💯😊🏋🏼 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE… . . . . . . #fitnessaddict #bodybuilding #crossfit #powerclean #fitnessmotivation #fitspo #trainhard #noexcuses #fitover40 #fit #instafit #insta #instagood #instadaily #girlswholift #instagram #backday #lift
Points Of Form:
- In the starting position, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. It should be a natural kind of stance. The barbell should be on the floor in front of you, and your shins should lightly touch the bar.
- When you bend down to grab the bar, most of the bend should come from your knees.
- Keep a flat back as you bend. It won’t be vertical, but it should be a straight line.
- When grabbing the bar, your hands should be right beside your calves on both sides. Palms should face you.
- When you bend to grab the bar, keep your hips higher than your knees. If you go any lower than that, you have gone too far.
- When you bend to grab the bar, keep your chest higher than your hips. If you go any lower than that, you have gone too far.
- When bending to grab the bar, make sure that your feet remain completely flat against the ground at all times. Resist the temptation to get up on your toes.
- As you stand up, and the knees are unlocked, there is often a temptation to bend over, thrusting the buttocks into the air. This is poor form and should be avoided.
- As you start the vertical lift, make sure to lift the bar straight up. Some people will try to swing it outward, but this tends to throw the entire body backward. By doing this, you compromise your balance and create a potential safety issue.Keep your feet at more or less the same width throughout the exercise. Spreading your feet can be a way of cheating, as we saw earlier.
- Don’t stop and take a rest after the initial pull. That is cheating. Send it straight up as soon as possible.
- When you drop the bar, don’t slam it down. The professionals sometimes do that, but it’s mainly to put on a good show. You don’t need to worry about that, so just let it drop with gravity alone. Note: Watch your toes!
How Much Weight Should You Use?
The answer to this question will depend on the user somewhat. There is no one “perfect” weight for everyone. However, there is no doubt that finding the right weight level is very important. As a general rule, you should try to keep it in the upper ranges of what you can realistically do. Once again, the power clean tends to be a high-weight-low-rep kind of exercise, so bear this principle in mind.
Researchers have attempted to determine the optimal weight level for this exercise. They found that athletes of different types showed different results when doing this exercise. Thus, there was virtually no consistency to be seen. The best conclusion they could make was the basic idea that results differ for everyone.
Here is another study where they attempted to determine optimal loading for the power clean. As in the previous study, the researchers acknowledged that results would vary according to the individual, but they found a way to account for this difference. Instead of measuring in terms of pounds and kilograms, they measured it in terms of percentage. To be more exact, they used the percentage of each athlete’s maximum lifting capacity (referred to in the study as “1RM” for “One-Rep-Maximum”). So, for instance, if you can lift a maximum of 200 pounds, 100 pounds would be 50% of your lifting capacity. This method turns out to be a much better way of measuring optimal loading. The study determined that a person should use 60-80% of their maximum lifting capacity.
There are a lot of different ways that you can do this exercise. The most significant difference lies in the follow-up. Some people stop after the “catch” phase, holding it for just a second or two before dropping the bar. Some others will continue and lift the bar over their head before dropping. Both ways are considered to be correct.
Some people choose to do the power clean without lifting the barbell from the floor. Instead, they start with the bar at the thigh, hanging loosely in hand. An explosive motion is used to pull the bar upward and complete the clean. We found one study that determined this method to be the most effective in terms of pure power. This is a little surprising when you consider how much easier this version appears to be. Of course, it should be mentioned that peak power output is not the only metric that matters.
For another thing, we might mention the difference between free weight training and machine training. Power cleans can be done using a Smith machine, and there are some excellent arguments for this practice. The use of the Smith Machine forces you to lift the bar in a perfectly vertical fashion, making it easier to develop the proper technique.
The Smith machine also adds an increased safety level. Obviously, the power clean can be a little dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. This creates a potential hazard for the beginner, and the Smith machine is a convenient way of getting yourself through the learning stage with minimal risk.
The Smith machine is like training wheels: Great for the beginner, useless for the advanced. Research has shown that Smith machines are not quite as effective for this exercise. They took two groups of volunteers and had them do a bunch of power cleans; One group was using free weights while the other used a machine. It was found that the machine users achieved greater velocity, but this was no doubt due to the assistance of the machine. Those who used free weights showed greater exertion and more power overall.
The power clean is one of the best all-around tools in your bodybuilding toolbox. If we are comparing exercises to tools, we might well describe the power clean as being kind of like a set of pliers. Pliers are good for many, many things, and this exercise is no different. Those who are looking for an isolation exercise will (of course) not find it here, but for those who want a single exercise that does as much as possible…They will surely be pleased. If we have helped and pleased you with our work, we hope that you will follow us on Facebook and continue to expand your knowledge.