Clean Up Your Form: Performing The Power Clean

The Olympic lift of champions.

Anyone who is anyone in the bodybuilding community has incorporated the power clean at least once in their training routine. The exercise is a classic amongst athletes who require strength and the building of muscle groups. But are you performing the lift correctly? The key to seeing results in the gym is performing an exercise multiple times with good technique and avoiding injury at all costs. We’ve already touched on the keys to avoiding injuries in the gym and coupled with learning the proper technique, you’ll be performing the power clean and press with general ease, turning yourself into a beast in the process.

power cleanFront Squats from Racked Position

A great way to learn proper technique for the power clean is to start off in the racked position and perform front squats with the bar. By placing the barbell in a squat rack the user can walk up to the bar until it touches their neck, lift it from the rack and perform front squats while the bar rest on the deltoids. This motion is essential to performing the lift once you’re confident with the technique. Wrist flexibility will prove to be another essential to performing the technique correctly. If the wrists remain stiff the likelihood of injury raises exponentially. Warming up the wrists by doing wrist circles will prove beneficial to maintain wrist health.

Once the bar is resting on the delts and your grip is secure, lift the bar and step back away from the rack and begin performing squats. Keep the hips back and bend down, being sure that your knees don’t move forward in front of your toes. Performing such an action would put added stress on the knees which could prove pretty damaging. Complete the squat by standing back straight being sure to keep the back straight to avoid putting unneeded pressure on the back. Performing this action continuously will help you get into the proper motion when it comes time to performing the entire lift.

Grip

There are two grips used for the power clean: the hooked grip and the close grip. The hooked grip requires you to put the thumb over the bar while the fingers hook around the some. The closed grip is a normal overhand grip on the bar with the thumbs on the outside of the fingers like making a fist. Like everything there’s a give and take with every different technique. Though the closed grip is much more comfortable and natural for most, beginners and advanced alike, the hooked grip allows you to lift more weight.

The Lift

Remember the front squats explained before? Well this is where you can put that technique to good use. There are a few specific motions that must be followed when you’re going to perform the entire power clean. Firstly, the initial pull will give you the leverage needed to perform the catch. Approach the barbell, close enough for your shins to touch the metal, being sure to stand at the center of the bar. Bend at the waist, then bend the knees and grab hold of the bar with a overhand grip. The key to the initial pull is to keep the bar close to your thighs once you lift for added leverage. The lift should be an explosive motion from squatting position, knees bent, back straight, elbows flared, and hips back. You then push up from squatting position and lift with your legs. Once the bar is past your knees, push forward with the hips in order to stand in a more straightened position, keeping your arms loose all the while.

The Catch

Once the bar is lifted up, use your toes, ankles, knees, and hips to carry the bar up past the hips, past the stomach and up to the shoulders. The key to completing the catch is by squatting down again and positioning yourself under the bar, spreading your feet a bit wider for stability. Remember to maintain a sturdy grip and to perform all of this in a quick motion. Bending the elbows and being sure that the upper arms are parallel to the ground, the bar will fall into the palms completing the catch. Once the bar is caught it’s all a matter of using your legs to stand up straight and complete the lift.

The power clean is an impressive exercise for bodybuilders, power lifters, and other athletes looking to gain functional strength. Remember, it’s all in the technique. You can’t use just one body part or the other to pull off this lift, it’s all in a matter of using your entire body all at once to pull off things off without a hitch.

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Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.