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!
The holidays are over and people have made their resolutions, many to get fit in the new year. The gym parking lots are packed and social media is exploding with before photos claiming this is the year! However, as the weeks (and months) pass the parking lots get quiet and the progress photos slow down. Whether you are brand new to fitness, trying to burn off all those holiday meals, or just trying to make a change in your lifestyle for the better, here are six simple tips to turn your new year’s resolution into results.
Tip #1: Set goals
We know that almost everybody is going to have the goal of weight loss, but challenge yourself to get specific. Break your goal down weekly or even daily. The goals don’t necessarily have to be about the actual amount of weight you’re planning to lose, but more on how you plan to reach your goal.
For example, set a goal of “make it to the gym 3 times this week” or “meal prep on Sunday for lunches throughout the week.” By creating simple, short-term goals, it’s easier to achieve and you’ll have more confidence in your fitness journey.
Tip #2: Write your goals down
It is easy to ignore that little voice in your head that says “get to the gym.” We answer by saying “I can go later” or “I will do double the workout tomorrow.” Inevitably, something comes up and it just doesn’t get done.
Write your goals down and put a checkmark next to them when you accomplish them. One trick is to write them on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. You are bound to look at them every morning and they are easily erased when completed. Or leave them up and see how much progress you have made, how many goals you have accomplished. The more often you see your goals, the more often you will think about them, and chances are, the more successful you will be.
Tip #3: Ask for advice
Seek out a fitness professional or a personal trainer to begin your journey. Most fitness experts got into the industry to help people, and many would be happy to give you advice. Collect their opinions on what they have seen work in other people. Although fitness professionals will usually be the most knowledgeable on nutrition, ask your friends what works for them. The more information you have, the more tools you will have to decide what direction you would like to go. And remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Tip #4: Pick a plan and stick to it
Nutrition plans are not one size fits all. Some work better for certain people than others. Try to find one that works with your life and is achievable for you. If it is a plan that you will constantly break the rules on, or “cheat” on, it is not for you. There are hundreds of nutrition plans out there and the only way they work is if you stick to them. Remember, this is a lifestyle change and it must be sustainable for a long time. Nobody knows you better than you do so find one that fits in with your life.
Tip #5: Drink plenty of water
It is colder outside in the winter, and with that, the desire for water can diminish, but we require just as much water in the winter as we do in the summer. Staying hydrated is key to keeping your metabolism running top-notch. A general rule of thumb is to drink at least 50% of your body weight in ounces of water per day if not 100% of your body weight in ounces on days you work out. The two biggest deterrents to physical performance are dehydration and inadequate nutrition. If your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs, it will not perform at the appropriate levels for you to reach your goals. You wouldn’t put regular unleaded in a Ferrari, would you?
Tip #6: Respect the process
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Making a lifestyle change to be healthier is not an easy thing. It’s going to take hard work and time. Remember, your body didn’t get the way it did overnight, so it is going to take some time to change. It takes about 6 weeks of a training program for friends and family to start noticing a change and about 8 weeks for you to start to notice.
The difference does not always come from the scale either, maybe your clothes fit a little better, you have more energy or you are able to lift a little more than you used to. This all means your body is making significant changes to adapt to your new way of living. Don’t get discouraged when the progress slows down, the body gets used to things, which is a perfect time to switch it up. Add an extra day into your routine or add another physical activity like hiking or biking. Challenge yourself and you will be surprised with what you can accomplish.
Take these tips for what they are, “tips” and apply them to make a serious change this year. At FAST we strive to help people with their physical and lifelong goals. Whether it is a massive lifestyle change you want or you just want to move a little better and get more active. Come talk to one of our Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists today to get jump-start your path to living healthier. Schedule a free fitness assessment.