In honor of the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics, this post is dedicated to a personal favorite of mine: the power clean. I get asked by many athletes, “how do I get stronger, faster, and more powerful?” First, we need to define “power.” Power is force over time. So, the more force produced in less time equates to more power. In the weight room, this can be achieved by developing type II fibers (fast-twitch) in the muscles. These fast-twitch fibers produce greater and quicker force.
What exercises help build type II fibers?
Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and split-squats are great places to start. However, there is one move above all else that will provide you with the most bang-for-your-buck when it comes to power development, the power clean.
What defines a power clean?
The power clean is the pinnacle movement for power production because it includes full-body and multi-joint movements. It’s a combination of a deadlift, high pull, shrug, and squat. That’s a lot of movement to cram in such a short amount of time (remember, less time & more force = more power). Because of the intricate nature of the power clean, it can take some practice to maintain proper form. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to the movement and how to perfect it.
Step 1: pull
The first movement of the power clean is picking up the bar. This step will take place from the ground to the knees. Before you begin, keep your feet hip-width apart and have the bar directly over the base of your toes. Position your shoulders over the bar with your shoulder blades pulled back to help create tension through your back. As you pull, it is imperative that you have your hips and knees extend in one synchronous motion. This is where some athletes fault in their technique and can cause more problems later on in the move.
Step 2: pull again
This action will occur when the barbell passes the knees. The goal of the second pull is to get your hips to “drive” forward and help move the barbell in a straight vertical path. This is where you transition to the “triple extension” position through your ankles, knees, and hips. If one joint is not in an “extension” position, you are limiting your ability to produce power through the second pull. As you begin to maneuver yourself around the barbell to receive it in the “power position.” This is where athletes may fault while performing a power clean. Many try to move the bar around them when they should be moving their body around the bar.
Step 3: catch and receive
As the athlete performs the second pull, they will “feel” the weight of the bar traveling upward. This is a critical moment where the athlete will pull themselves under the bar to catch it in the “receiving” position. In many instances, coaches will tell their athletes to “jump” during the second pull to help achieve the “triple extension.” Coaching an athlete to “jump” during a power clean will often have the athlete spend more time in the air and limit their ability to pull themselves under the bar. I like to coach my athletes to “pull and drop” when receiving the bar. As the athlete drops to receive the bar, they will shoot their elbows forward, parallel to the ground, to catch the bar on the top of their shoulders in the quarter-squat position.
The complexity of the power clean may seem intimidating, but when performed properly it can provide a training stimulus nearly unmatched by any other exercise. It’s one of the best training tools to teach athletes and everyday gymgoers to become more powerful. If you want to improve your performance, strength, and explosiveness, contact one of our FAST locations today!
Wanting to take your fitness level to the next level, or at least track your progress? These fitness apps can help you keep track of your calories, motivate and ensure you’re getting the most out of your FAST workout.
Kyle Schneider, facility manager at FAST Ahwatukee
Fitness App: To make sure my clients are doing their part in the kitchen, I have them use MyFitnessPal. It gives them an easy breakdown to see trends and where they may be eating too much or falling short. It’s nice because you can set goals in there too—and who doesn’t like to meet goals!
Kyle Decker, facility manager at FAST Arrowhead
Fitness App: While working with athletes, it’s important to identify and provide feedback so they can improve. DartFish is a great tool, since you can slow down the drill and review it frame by frame with your athlete.
Nate Souza and Shane Anderson, facility managers at FAST N. Central Phoenix
Fitness App: Both Nate and Shane use Iron Path. This app helps track the bar path of Olympic style lifts. It’s critical in the efficiency of the movement and allows for great visual feedback to help coach and motivate athletes.
Travis Cummings, facility managers at FAST South Chandler
Fitness App: MyFitnessPal is a great app to keep track of the amount of food you’re eating. It even breaks down your food into macros, which is a huge plus! This app can save previous meals, making it easy to input meals you have on repeat, as well as options from different restaurants.
Glenn Steele, facility manager at FAST South Gilbert
Fitness App: The Fitbit app makes tracking activity, workouts, nutrition and sleeping a breeze. It’s also great to be able to measure your heart rate.
Wade Haras, facility manager at FAST Old Town Scottsdale
Fitness App: My favorite fitness app has to be Nutritionist +, which was created by professional natural bodybuilder, Kelechi Opara. This app offers complete customization or it can also plan for you. If you aren’t making progress it can adjust to help you meet your goals. It also has a carb cycle feature that adjusts accordingly as well.
Greg Stein, facility manager at FAST N. Scottsdale
Fitness App: My favorite fitness app is Coach’s Eye. It is used to record videos of exercises and then can be played back in slow motion and drawn on to analyze form. It helps me look at my clients or athletes form during things like running or Olympic lifts. Coach’s Eye has a free trial version that allows most features and then an upgraded pro version for only $4.99.
David Flanigan, facility manager at FAST Surprise
Fitness App: Fitness apps are something I’ve just recently gotten into, and my favorite is Nike + Training. It offers workouts broken out by 3 categories – strength, endurance and mobility. It’s a good option if you’re on the go or need to squeeze in a quick workout, as they offer workouts ranging from 7-47 minutes. My favorite feature is you can connect your ITunes account to listen to your music while you work out.
Jeff Bloom, FAST Program Director
Fitness App: Logging meals can be time consuming, but thanks to MyFitnessPal it’s actually quite simple. Item’s with barcodes, like protein bars, you can easily scan and input. It’s also easy to input previous meals or recipes you find online. And if you’re at a loss of healthy meals to try, check out their blog or our Pinterest page for inspiration.
Now that you’ve got the 4-1-1 on the best fitness apps, don’t forget about the pre and post fuel. Check out our blog posts on the facility manager’s favorite post-workout recovery snacks.