The Power Clean Form is an impressive full-body exercise that has tremendous benefits if it’s performed correctly. However, this exercise—like all Olympic clean lifts—is very explosive and needs to be performed with precision to reap the benefits while diminishing your risk of injury.
Ideally, we recommend you learn how to Power Clean under professional guidance. But in this money-tight, stay-at-home world, that’s not always feasible, so we’ve put together this article to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to nail the move safely.
First, we’ll go over the amazing benefits of the Power Clean Form and then show you how to perform the move itself. Let’s get to work!
Benefits of the Power Clean Form
The Power Clean targets “triple extension“— the move requires strong knees, ankles, and hip joints to extend simultaneously while strengthening fast-twitch muscle fibers. Athletes who need to jump are particularly well-served by nailing the move, which has been proven to improve vertical jump. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved Anaerobic Endurance
- Promotes Body Fat Loss
- Improves Posture
- Strengthens Bones
- Boosts Balance
Power Clean Workout: A Step-by-Step Guide
In the Power Clean, you always start the lift with the load on the ground, unlike the Hang Clean, which begins with the load held above the knee.
Step 1: Power Clean Form – The Setup
Start with the weight on the ground located close to your shins over your shoelaces. Bend over with your feet hip-width apart, reach down and grasp the weight with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Stick your chest up. Draw your shoulder blades down and back and squeeze your core. Your elbows should be pivoted out to the sides with your arms completely locked straight. Keep your head straight.
Step 2: Initial Pull
Pull the weight off the ground by forcefully extending your legs, while keeping your back flat and your chest squeezed up. The bar should move vertically in a straight line, not toward you like a Deadlift.
Step 3: Scoop and Pull
Next, we’re going in for the scoop! Once the weight is over your knees, shift your torso to an upright position, and re-bend your knees slightly.
Now launch the second pull—the most powerful part of the exercise—by vigorously jumping straight up, extending your knees, hips, and ankles while simultaneously raising the weight with your shoulders. NOTE: Try to keep the bar as close to your body as possible.
Step 4: The Catch
Quickly drop into a mid-squat stance with your back upright and knees and hips slightly bent. Push your elbows forward to pivot them around in the bar and catch it in the racked position in front of your shoulders with your fingers under the bar. Now stand up!
Step 5: Drop It
Don’t hold it! From this position, let go of the bar to the ground in front of you, but only do this if you’re on a lifting platform. If you’re using a lightweight bar, lower it to the ground slowly while focusing on your form.
Don’t Overdo It, Start Light
Because the Power Clean is a complex and highly explosive move, we recommend practicing it often and starting with what you can handle. It’s one of those moves that load is not the only driving factor.
Your speed of movement is just as important. You want to reach maximum velocity on each rep. So, it’s good to start light and keep your rep range limited to 3-5 reps per set. Yes, you can max out once in a few reps. But the goal is to take a moderate weight and nail it fast, and with the correct form.
Power Clean Form Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Landing With Your Feet Too Wide
Landing with your feet too wide is a common mistake we see in people performing this move. It restricts your hip mobility and makes it harder to correctly drop under the bar. To fix this, land with your feet in the same position as a Front Squat. If you have difficulty achieving this move, check out these drills here.
Not Engaging Your Core and Back
It’s important that your back is not rounded during this move. Engage your back and bring your shoulder blades down and back while tightening your core as hard as you can. This reduces your chances of injury.
Muscling Up the Weight
You have to launch the bar by vigorously extending your hips. Practice this a few times by extending the hips while holding the barbell close to your body. To master this movement, try the Hang Jump Shrugs.
Gripping the Bar With Your Arms
One of the most common mistakes people make is grabbing the bar with their forearms locked in a vertical position. Doing it this way automatically restricts the amount of weight you can raise, adds tension to your joints, and makes each rep more tedious than it is supposed to be. To fix this, practice snapping your elbows through and grabbing the bar across your shoulders with a light load before attempting the real thing.
Doing Too Many Too Fast
Power Cleans are not meant for conditioning. They are intended to train your body to handle as much pressure as quickly as possible. So, quality over quantity is the name of the game. The maximum number of reps you should aim for in a set is five or so.
If you overdo it, you’ll tire and compromise your output and technique. To fix this mistake, pause briefly between reps to reset and refocus before executing the next rep. There’s no disgrace in taking a break if you feel that your form is not as perfect as it was at the start of the exercise.
It’s worth noting that while the Power Clean Form is a powerful exercise with great benefits, it’s not for everyone. Especially younger gym-goers. If you can’t seem to get comfortable with the move, or just don’t think you can master it, try these alternatives that provide many of the same benefits.