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How to master the power clean: Trainer tips for perfecting your form


How to master the power clean: Trainer tips for perfecting your form

Hoisting a heavy barbell over your head with lightning speed and strength is seriously impressive. Nailing a power clean can be a little intimidating—but you don’t have to be a CrossFit devotee or competitive powerlifter to ace this full-body strength exercise. In fact, the power clean is quickly becoming a staple in strength training. Once you know how to do it properly, it’s totally badass. Power cleans are a dynamic lift that can get your heart rate up and burn fat while building muscle. The power clean is an explosive movement that demonstrates power and strength.

The Benefits of Power Cleans

This exercise delivers so much to your overall fitness. If you want to jump higher and sprint faster, cleans will deliver. Perfecting the fluid motion required for a clean also offers a serious confidence boost. Once you have the basics down, you can add plates and build strength pretty quickly. It’s empowering.Ready to try a power clean or perfect yours? Read on for all the trainer tips for proper form, how to add it to your workouts, and the many benefits you’ll get when you do.

How To Do A Basic Power Clean With Proper Form

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart, barbell against shins.
  2. Hinge forward at the waist with a flat back, bending slightly to grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hands should be just outside your knees. Ensure your chest is up, core is tight, shoulders are back, and head is in a neutral position.
  3. In one fluid motion, lift the bar, pushing through your feet, engaging glutes, and thrusting hips forward; keep the bar close to your body as you pull it toward your chest. Quickly flip your wrists back, drop into a quarter-squat, and “catch” the bar in front of your shoulders, bringing elbows forward.
  4. Stand with triceps parallel to the floor; flip your wrists down and lower the bar, bracing your core and hinging at the waist to relieve pressure on your back.

The Muscles Worked

When I say it’s a full-body exercise, I mean it. At any given moment in the move, muscles can be lengthening under tension, contracting, or being held isometrically.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Hamstrings: This move utilizes the hamstrings during the pulling portion of the lift. They are activated and shortened.
  • Glutes: The gluteus maximus is responsible for the extension of the hip joint. It’s where a lot of the power and explosiveness comes from in that second pull when you push the bar outward and up for the catch.
  • Quads: The quads are used several times throughout the movement. They aid in extending the knee and play a role in absorbing force during the catch when you stand up with the weight.
  • Back: The lats, traps, and rhomboids keep the spine in alignment throughout the movement. You also use the back when pulling the weight from the ground.
  • Biceps: Biceps are used in the catch movement. They provide the pulling strength needed to get the arms in the correct position for the catch.
  • Shoulders: The deltoids create a ‘shelf’ for supporting the weight during the catch portion.
  • Abdominals: They maintain the center of gravity and help keep the spine in alignment by supporting the lower back.

Power Clean Benefits

Power cleans work major muscles, firing up your abs, hip flexors, glutes, and legs while involving your shoulders and upper back. This exercise offers numerous benefits:

  • Next-level coordination: Cleans require several muscle groups to work together in a continuous movement. Mastering it helps improve control and balance.
  • Stronger, healthier bones: This move loads the hips with weight, causing tiny fractures that the body repairs, making your bones denser. Strength training can also encourage new bone cell growth.
  • Body composition: Performing HIIT resistance exercises like this can help build muscle while burning fat. Regular resistance training can reduce body fat percentage and body fat mass in healthy adults.
  • Agility and athletic skills: Your ability to move quickly, pivot, jump, and swing kettlebells depends on the power of your hips, abs, and glutes. Cleans target these areas and mimic explosive motions often performed in workouts or sports.

Common Power Clean Mistakes

To maximize benefits and avoid injury, maintain proper form. Here is a common mistake to watch out for, and how to fix it:

Your spine is out of alignment: Most people hyperextend their back during the first ‘pull’ motion.

How to fix it: Make sure the spine always remains erect. Don’t allow your spine to curve in either direction.By following these guidelines and focusing on proper form, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the power clean and reaping its full benefits.


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