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!
A typical day for many student athletes is filled with a busy morning, school, practice followed by homework—all to wake up and do it again—day after day. To keep student athletes focused both on and off the court, we’re sharing some tips that can be used every day to help improve their game and grades.
Have a routine. A good solid routine gives you and your body structure for a healthy day to day life. Try things like always going to bed at the same time each night, making sure you always eat breakfast or getting your school work done before practice.
– Wade Haras, FAST Old Town Scottsdale
Remember it is STUDENT athlete, emphasizing student first. Take care of your school work and home work before you train, practice or compete. You will feel better being stress free from having your school obligations done and therefore perform better on competition day.
– Greg Stein, FAST North Scottsdale
Attention athletes—don’t worry about that new supplement or protein powder, sleep is the most beneficial thing you can do to improve athletic qualities. If you want to get stronger, sleep. If you want to get faster, sleep. If you want to succeed, sleep. It will enhance your recovery and allow you to train harder and more efficiently day in and day out.
– Shane Anderson, FAST North Central Phoenix
Visualize every scenario. Go through exactly how you would react and perform during in-game situations, how you would work through an injury, and how you will handle a heavy school load with competition. If you can mentally visualize the situation and create a plan before physically experiencing it, you will feel more comfortable and be better prepared for the event. You can’t predict what will happen, but that shouldn’t stop you from being prepared for whatever comes your way.
– Kyle Schneider, FAST Ahwatukee
Remember that the student comes before athlete. Get your work done in the classroom so you can reap the rewards of playing on the field. Set yourself up for future success and become a model for your younger teammates. Prioritize your education before your athletic career.
– Jeff Placentia, FAST South Gilbert
- Perfect a warm up process
- Perfect drills for your sport
- Move weights fast
- Crush real food
- Dominate sleep
– Kyle Decker, FAST Arrowhead
“Every time you stay out late, sleep in, miss a workout, don’t give 100%, you make it that much easier for me to beat you.” – Anonymous quote
– Brandon Wood, FAST Litchfield Park
Make sure you get adequate sleep. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep for adequate physical and mental recovery. There are new studies showing that sleeping 8 hours increases your memory, and boost’s your critical thinking and decision making skills. Sleep also plays a role on the field. Athletes who sleep more have faster reaction times, sprint faster and make fewer mental errors. Sleep is one of the most underrated performance enhancers out there and the best part about it is its free.
– Travis Cummings, FAST South Chandler
If you’re a student athlete that is looking for more guidance both on and off the court, contact our team of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists today. Many members of the FAST staff have been in your shoes before—trying to juggle school, sports and life—either at a high school or collegiate level.
Strength is the missing component in many young athlete’s movement qualities. The most requested topic we get from parents about their children’s athleticism is to make them faster. It usually goes something like this “if you could make little Tommy faster he would get more playing time.”
Our next step is to do our FAST athlete assessment, where we look at some performance tests such as the 10-yard dash, pro-agility test, and vertical test, as well as some body weight strength tests for kids in elementary and middle school. We’ll do barbell strength tests for athletes who are older and more experienced with a barbell.
After doing the tests, we have consistently found that the athletes who are in desperate need of getting faster are also usually the weakest. They can do 25-35 squats in a minute compared to our faster athletes who do 50+ squats in a minute. The most squats I’ve ever had done in a minute is 84 by a kid who went on to play D1 soccer and guess what—he was one of the fastest kids on his teams.
Why is strength so important to running fast? It’s so important because strength is a huge component of force. The force you can put into the ground is what propels you forward. More importantly, the greater the strength-to-weight ratio a kid has the faster he’ll be.
One study done at SMU demonstrated that elite sprinters (Olympic level sprinters) put 5 times their body weight into the ground on each stride. Compare that to elite soccer players (D1 college level) who put 3 times their body weight into the ground on each stride. So, to run fast you have to be strong enough to be able to put LARGE amounts of force into the ground.
A lot of youth athletes don’t have the strength to be able to withstand those large forces into the ground. If a weaker kid tried to put that much force into the ground, their body wouldn’t be able to withstand it after some time.
If you’re a parent of a kid or a youth coach, take a look at the fastest kid. 9 times out of 10 that kid is usually the kid who is stronger and leaner than the rest of them. Of course, there are exceptions but majority of the time this is the truth.
So, one of the best ways to help your young athlete get faster is to get him stronger first. Once he has sufficient strength than the next steps would be to make sure he’s using his strength as efficiently as possible. This is where teaching him the proper running mechanics will come in as well as plyometrics to increase his power or rate of force development.
Luckily at FAST we do the assessment first, so we know what aspect of their athleticism is missing and from there design our programs to help the youth athlete get ahead of the competition.
PS – I just talked about speed, but strength is just as important for jumping high. You can read more about that in this article here.
The sport of volleyball is explosive in almost every aspect of play. Whether referring to the spike approach, blocking, jump setting or serving, being powerful and explosive is an advantage in every facet. It’s for this reason that it’s vital volleyball players partake in a strength and conditioning program with an emphasis on developing these areas. As a former collegiate volleyball player, it was this type of training which helped me take my game to the next level.
Just how do you develop power or what types of exercises are most beneficial, you may ask. Current research suggests a program involving powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and plyometrics is the best approach to improve your vertical jump and volleyball performance.
Powerlifting movements, specifically squatting and deadlifting, are vital components to a volleyball strength and conditioning program. These exercises focus on developing a base of strength to help perform more complex movements.
The back squat is a great functional exercise which will help increase an athlete’s vertical by strengthening the muscles of the lower body, specifically the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Squats aid in injury prevention by promoting stabilization, balance and mobility, as well.
Olympic lifting, such as the snatch and clean variations, pushes an athlete to develop muscular coordination, power and mobility. Just as in volleyball, athletes perform these exercise for minimal repetitions as stress should be placed on form and power each time it is performed.
The clean and jerk is an Olympic lift with proven benefits of increasing vertical jump and overall explosiveness/power. This exercise mimics the extension and intensity of jumping, while adding extra weight to increase strength during the movement.
Plyometrics, for both upper and lower body, are core components of a volleyball player’s program. These exercises require maximal muscular force, utilizing mainly body-weight, in short intervals of time to help increase force production. These exercises are less complex in comparison to Olympic lifting, which allows implementation into younger and more novice athlete’s training programs.
This example photo shows direct correlation to movement on the court as the athlete approaches the box with proper volleyball hitting form. The athlete then explodes upward, as if hitting at the net, and lands on top of the box in an athletic stance. Also shown, the lateral jump, pushes an athlete to develop quickness and explosiveness when having to move in multiple directions on the court. In volleyball, being able to jump in all directions repeatedly, and do so explosively each time, in important. These plyometric drills, along with others should be implemented into a volleyball training program to increase force and quick transitions.
Implementing these exercises, along with many others, is vital to increasing vertical jump and overall performance on the court. For more information or if you’re interesting in improving your athletic performance, contact me or your local FAST facility to learn more about our sports performance training programs.
The NHL season is in full swing as are all of the youth programs around the United States. Here in the desert, hockey often gets overlooked, but one of the brightest stars in the NHL, Auston Matthews, is showing how great talent can be developed even in the hottest of climates! Hockey is a very unique sport in not only the setting it’s played but the demands placed on the players. Because of the many differences compared to its land counterparts, strength and conditioning geared towards on-ice performance should reflect the demands of the sport.
Aside from being played on ice, the biggest factor separating hockey from other sports is the length of time during exertion. Most sports require an athlete to be consistently moving over a long period of time or in the case of volleyball and football, only a few seconds in between rest periods. Hockey, on the other hand, utilizes short line changes to keep players explosive. Even though the game of hockey is generally played over three, fifteen to twenty minute periods, long distance endurance is not critical. Too often, off-ice training programs focus on getting an athlete in shape through long, slow endurance exercises. During the 2016 NHL season, the average shift length was only 44.25 seconds. Hockey players must be able to exert maximal force for this length of time, recovery in the roughly 90-120 seconds while they are on the bench, and repeat. Here are the best tips toward getting the on-ice edge through proper off-ice training techniques.
Power is the single most important aspect of hockey. Whether you’re looking to increase your speed, shot power, or how hard you check an opponent, it all depends upon how much power you can generate. Also, most injuries occur when attempting to decelerate a motion. It is key to train the body to not only be strong enough to generate the initial force but to absorb that power and decelerate the body without injury. The impact of Olympic lifting and plyometrics are vital to keeping an athlete off the trainer’s table. A few great exercises to help development explosive power are single arm dumbbell snatch, lunge jumps (lateral & vertical), and medicine ball throws.
Although sprinting on land has differences compared to accelerating on the ice, there are similar components which can be trained off-ice. Just as with sprinting, skating is explosive and with each stride, the body must generate force to propel forward while then decelerating the leg without injury to reload and fire again. Utilizing overspeed training to train the motor neurons to fire at a faster rate and resisted running to gain strength and power are essential components to gaining skating speed off-ice. Utilizing a treadmill for overspeed and power generation pushes, resisted band runs (forward, lateral, backwards), and slideboard skaters will help to develop you acceleration and top speed on the ice.
In order to maintain proper form and prevent injuries during explosive movements, you must have built a proper base of strength. There are three tips that will help to build the strength you need for on-ice performance. Utilizing “big movers” to incorporate numerous muscles and gain the most strength is an important part of planning your workout. Focus on squat and deadlift variations to build strength in your lower extremities. Pull-ups and push-ups are a great way to build upper body strength.
Filling in your workout with exercises involving offset loads (holding weight on one side of the body vs even-balanced resistance) and unilateral (single limb vs double) movements help to engage the muscles of the trunk as well as correct any strength imbalances. Performing exercises involving offset loads or unilateral movements help to diminish any muscular imbalances or asymmetry while recruiting more stabilizing muscle groups. Skating, as with most sport specific movements, is primarily performed with only one leg in contact with the ground at a time. This means that all of the force needs to be generated and absorbed with one limb. Training your body with the use of offset step-ups, single leg get-ups, and Turkish get-ups will help to improve your on-ice performance.
It has become a hot topic to train the “CORE,” especially with hockey players. Too often we find our athletes partaking in numerous sets and repetitions of crunches and planks. These aren’t bad exercises but there are much better options when transferring to the ice. The primary function of the muscles of your trunk is two absorb the forces of your extremities and transfer them without injury. Even though you swing your arms while taking a slap shot on the ice, the power for the shot is generated in your legs and hips. The trunk must transfer this power to our upper extremities and into your stick to make contact and produce a hard shot. When it comes to training the CORE, there is the debate of Isometric VS Rotational/Mobile CORE training. How much stress do we want to put on the spine with twisting and bending if the trunks purpose is to stabilize? As much as we don’t want to overload the spine, it is a vital component of hockey and numerous other activities. As stated earlier when discussing power and strength, exercises with heavy loads, explosive movements, and offset loads engage the CORE to maintain proper posture during the exercise. These along with Paloff variations are better options to help build your CORE strength. The ability to be strong through the full range and absorbing great forces is the key to staying healthy.
Having proper range of motion is important for preventing injury in any activity. When it comes to hockey, thoracic and hip mobility are especially important. Without proper hip mobility, stride length and power will diminish. Proper thoracic mobility will help with stick handling, shot power, as well as defensive stick use all while maintaining proper skating posture. Work on gaining full range of motion through the use hurdle over-unders, quadruped thoracic rotation, and quadruped hip circles.
Gaining the on-ice edge with proper off-ice programming can be the difference between being a first-liner and not making the team. Use the tips above to help improve every aspect of your game. If you have any questions or would like to take your game to the next level, contact your local FAST!