The power clean is probably the single best exercise in the world of sports. That’s not a statement I make lightly, but I think I can convince you.  Consider the following:

  • The power clean is a *heavy* lift. It’s not the heaviest lift – for most people that’s the deadlift. But most people can learn to power clean to between 50% and 80% of their deadlift, and that’s still a lot of weight. Generally speaking, the heavier the weight lifted, the more muscle growth is triggered, and the more beneficial the hormonal changes that occur.
  • The power clean is a *fast* lift. It is possible to attempt to do other strength lifts quickly, certainly, but what is not possible is to do the power clean slowly. Fast lifts force the recruitment of all the muscle simultaneously and helps to teach but the muscles and the neural pathways how to work together most effectively. These biological changes then aid in other fast activities like the quick movements and jumps in sports
  • The power clean is easy to program. And by program I mean that it is easy to change the waits, slowly adding or sometimes dropping the amount of weight lifted to make the most precise progress possible. This makes it superior to other explosive exercise programs like plyometric jump training

Also, you don’t need to take my word for it. People in lab coats (I presume) have done studies where they compare various methods and they have determined that power cleans absolutely rock at increasing vertical leap. In fact, the data suggests that on average adding 50 pounds to your power clean results in an increase in vertical leap of around 7 inches. What sports athlete couldn’t use another 7 inches of vertical leap?!

How to Power Clean

Us humans can be pretty visual, so if you have 25 minutes to spare, I really recommend watching this video of Mark Rippetoe teaching the power clean. It’s a very well rounded introduction by one of the premier strength coaches today. And while 25 minutes might seem like a lot, it’s actually pretty short for Mark!

Once you’re ready to try it yourself, remember these important keys:

  • GRIP: The grip you want here is for the front rack, a.k.a. the overhead/military press hand grip. It’s about four inches wider than your shoulder – or, more importantly, wide enough that you can swing your elbows comfortably forward while holding onto barbell that is resting on the front of your shoulders.Your feet are slightly wider than your hips. Basically where they would be if your were about to do your best standing jump for height. The barbell is very close to your shins. Take care not to let it drift away. It will stay extremely close to your body for the entire exercise.

    Starting stance for Power Clean

    Starting stance for Power Clean

  • DEADLIFT the bar up until it passes your knee.
  • TOUCH the barbell to your leg approximately halfway between the knee and the hip.

    Trigger point to start the JUMP phase of the power clean

  • JUMP (with arms completely extended) allowing the barbell to float upward. The jump is lifting the bar, not your arms.
  • CATCH the barbell with the front of your shoulders in the front squat position.

    Final Catch Position of Power Clean

And that’s it, now you know how to do perhaps the greatest training exercise in the history of sport. The power clean is part of the Barbell Fundamentals II working in the Strongifier app.