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!
Meet Logan Houser—FAST trainer at our Litchfield Park facility. Get a glimpse of his favorite workout style, must-have food after a workout and what motivates him.
What’s your background?
I’m currently in school to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Sports Performance. My current credentials include CPT, AAS in Strength, Nutrition and Personal Training
What inspired you to embark on the fitness journey with your career?
Exercise became a significant part of my life at a young age and it persisted through the Marine Corps and into my life afterwards. I saw first-hand how exercise could change lives and I wanted to be a part of that in any way that I could.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give anyone interested in becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist?
I would tell him/her to never stop learning. The field is evolving every day and it is important to stay up to date with new research and knowledge as it becomes available.
What’s your favorite workout style?
HIIT training is by far my favorite. I come from a military background so HITT training is where I feel at home the most.
What’s your favorite song to listen to when working out?
Come and Get It by I Prevail
What’s your favorite thing to eat after a workout?
Peanut Butter and Jelly with Strawberry Jam
What’s one food that you can’t live without?
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
It is okay to fail. Failure produces growth.
What motivates you?
I’m a very self-driven person. My motivation comes from within. Thoughts of where I’ve been and things I’ve done motivate me to push harder and further to see what I’m truly capable of.
Does training with Brandon sound like something you’d enjoy? Contact the Litchfield Park facility today to learn more about our personal training, sports performance and group fitness options.
With the Waste Management Open and Spring Training right around the corner we thought it’d be a great idea to show you a few of our favorite rotational exercises. These exercises are great for the golf or baseball player that is trying to add more distance consistently to their ball. When we are strong and powerful through the entire range of motion the ball will fly farther more often.
The first two videos show a couple medicine ball exercises. The reason we like using the medicine ball so much is because you can throw the ball with as much force and power as possible. I really like using the D-Balls because they don’t bounce, so you don’t have to worry about it bouncing back at you really hard. This exercise allows us to train at a high intensity that mimics the swing very well. Remember to push off your back foot and rotate at your hips first before you throw the ball straight into the wall. Do 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps on each side.
The next 3 videos demonstrated are done with a cable column. They are all done very similarly by initiating the movement by pushing off your back foot, rotating your hips and finishing with the arms. The power to hit the ball far is generated by your hips so the initial push off the ground and rotation of the hips is very important. Putting the pulley high and low will give you different angles of the swing and will mimic either the start or finishing parts of your swing.
Here is a sample routine we typically would do with one of our golf/baseball clients. We will typically start them off with the lower number of sets and reps if they are a beginner and add more as they progress in their training.
A1- Medicine Ball Scoop Throw – 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 30 seconds
A2- Medicine Ball Reverse Scoop Throw – 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 1 minute
B1- Squat – 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 1 minute
B2- Lat Pull Down or Pull-Up – 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 1 minute
C1- Reverse Lunge – 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 30 seconds
C2- Inverted Row – 3 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 30 seconds
C3- Cable Chop – 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 1 minute
A1- 1 Arm Rotational Row – 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps each side- Rest 30 seconds
A2- Bench Press with Dumbbells – 3 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 1 minute
B1- Barbell Romanian Deadlift– 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 1 minute
B2- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 1 minute
C1- Leg Curl with Physioball – 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 30 seconds
C2- Pushups on TRX – 3 sets of 6-10 reps – Rest 30 seconds
C3- Cable Lift – 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side – Rest 1 minute
The rotational exercises are italicized. We, of course, want to be strong throughout our entire body to hit the ball far, so this is why we recommend more traditional exercises (squat, pullups, pushups, bench press, deadlifts, etc.) along with the rotational exercises.
Try these out for at least a month in your upcoming workouts and let us know if you notice any difference in how you’re hitting the ball. And if you’re looking for further guidance, contact the team at South Chandler today!