TOP 5 TIPS FOR CLEAN AND POWER CLEAN
The clean is an extremely useful and essential exercise well-liked not only by professional weightlifters and functional fitness athletes but also by adepts of a whole pool of other sports: martial arts, athletics, all types of wrestling, etc.
Squat clean and power clean, in essence, is high-speed lift of the barbell from the platform to the shoulders in one continuous movement. This exercise is excellent for strength development and engaging all major muscles in the body.
In this article, I will share with you my personal top five pointers that are meant to upgrade your clean technique and help you come closer to lifting heavier weights.
Before I start, I would like to draw every athlete’s attention to a certain vital topic! Please remember that a general, full-fledged warm-up that opens the joints, warms up the back, leg and shoulder muscles is not a top-secret trick for chosen ones, but a mandatory rule for everyone who considers themself an athlete. Step one: a nice warm-up, step two: training session.
- Front rack position and elbow rotation.
The correct and secure front rack position greatly increases the chances of attaining an erect position after a heavy pull. For beginners, this part of the clean often presents a problem, as they often lack mobility in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints, and the elasticity of the lats and triceps.
Stretching and a set of special warm-up exercises:
will help raise your elbows higher and place the barbell comfortably on your shoulders. As a coach, I am not a fan of holding the barbell with an open-hand grip in the front rack position;
in my opinion, it is simply not safe, and one simply needs to work on the barbell positioning during training.
- The starting position.
The starting position - is the key position for a weightlifter. The mechanics of all other elements of the exercise depend on the quality and correctness of your initial stance. You must remember that the starting position is something that you have complete control over. So take your time and do it properly.
Before starting the movement, balance your feet, open up your chest, tighten your lower back, loosen up your arms and position your shoulders over the bar. I often see athletes being too relaxed or fidgety in their starting position. I believe that during the clean, the athlete should be taut like a string to maximize power development from the very beginning of the pull.
- Keeping the barbell as close as possible to the body.
The closer the barbell is to the athlete's body, the more precisely they can control it. As soon as the barbell starts moving away from the athlete, they lose their balance and cannot apply the force to it properly in the explosive phase. The quality of the barbell catching will depend on the position of the barbell during the pull and explosive pull phases. Also, many novices find it quite tough to control the barbell during the first pull up to the knees. That is why I recommend learning to handle the barbell as close to the body as possible — and take your time while you’re learning since crazy speed alone will not increase your chances of a successful lift, but the correct body position and mechanics of the movement will.
- The power position has to be performed correctly.
The explosive extension stage of the clean starts when the barbell reaches the athlete’s mid-thigh. At this point, the athlete should be ready to lift their feet off the ground: to leap up using their whole sole surface, with their chest extended and knees bent slightly. A significant nuance: stay flat on the soles of your feet as you pull the barbell.
The longer you do this, the more impact you force on the barbell. When the explosion reaches its peak, you will inevitably put more of your body weight on your toes, but this shouldn’t happen by force: make sure it’s natural. Remember: the power position is a jump! Of course, with maximum weight, you won't be able to jump as high as you would in case of a “normal” vertical jump, but lifting your feet off the ground is vital for strength development.
- Dropping underneath and receiving the barbell.
Trust me: just lifting the bar high enough and then dropping under it does not make a successful clean. Precision and timing are as important here.
One must accurately position themself under the bar, rotate the elbows and get in tune with the barbell vibrations as it contacts the shoulders. Muscle squat cleans, hang cleans, blocks cleans will help develop this phase of the clean.
Feel free to use these five tips as you are working on your power and squat cleans. More cool progression and methods in my CLEAN Masterclass.
Let me conclude with the words of my coach: “What weightlifters lack the most is often not strength, but skills and technique, so that’s where their focus should be. True for beginners and athletes of any level of training alike!”