The power clean is an excellent exercise to develop power and strength. While it is fairly simple to teach a group of athletes how power clean in a competent manner, it takes countless reps to maximize potential in this lift. Here are a few things to consider to maximize efficiency in the power clean.
1. Proper starting position:
Arguably, the most important position is your starting position. The start position correlates very well with the amount of success an athlete has with the lift. The starting position is something you have complete control over. You can take all the time you need to set up. Get it right.
There is more than one way to get to the top of the hill, but there are certainly a few things every athlete must do to be proficient at this lift. Chest up, shoulders back, back tight. We refer to the start position as the ?Silver Back Gorilla position??.
I see far too many athletes relaxed in this start position. There should be built up tension from the start. This additional tension will transfer more power during the initial pull.
There is much debate as to whether it is more beneficial to start with the shoulders in advance of the bar, on top of the bar, or behind the bar (yes, some elite lifters start with their shoulders behind the bar). Again, there is more than one way to get to the top of the hill, but for the purpose of minimizing errors; beginning athletes should start with the hips just higher than the knees and the shoulders in slight advance of the bar.
2. Keeping the bar close:
The closer the bar is to your body, the more control over the bar you have. If the barbell starts travelling away from your body, you will find that the barbell will have more control over you. Keeping the bar tight to the body can help keep your weight concentrated in the right area of the foot throughout the lift.
The bar position throughout the lift can also facilitate a proper catch position. Proper rack position will be addressed later on.
3. Hit the power position:
The power position is quite often overlooked by coaches and athletes. The power position I’m referring to is when the bar reaches mid-thigh. When the bar reaches this point in the lift you should see the athlete’s chest open up and become more vertical and knees rebend under the bar. This subtle movement will put an athlete in the best position to transfer the most power into the bar.
Think of this position as a vertical jump. It is difficult to get high vertical jump test score when you don’t bend the knees. This is the same type of movement that is required to launch the bar up in a power clean. You clearly won’t be able to get as high off the ground as you would in a vertical jump, but leaving the ground is important to generate more power.
4. Rack the bar properly:
The lift isn’t over yet. Racking the bar correctly will allow for a clean, balanced lift and decrease the likelihood of injury to the wrist and hand. The last time I checked, the goal of training is to keep athletes healthy, not on the sideline.
With the elbows pointing straight ahead, the bar should rack nicely across the deltoids with the bar in close proximity to the throat. The weight of the bar should be resting on the shoulders and only guided by the fingertips. It is common to feel uncomfortable in this position at first as it may feel like the bar is choking you. Repetition is important. Overtime, you won’t even notice that it’s there.
Keep these four things in mind when training the Power Clean. Poor technique is often the culprit of poor power clean, not immature strength and power qualities.