Sep 9, 2016From the Hang Position
The power clean involves lifting the barbell from the floor to the shoulders in one swift movement. It is a popular exercise in strength and conditioning programs and has several variations.
One of the most popular variations is to perform the lift from the “hang position,” which means it is being performed from a starting position other than the floor with the athlete supporting the weight.
Performing the lift from the hang position has several advantages. First, it is easier to learn because there are fewer phases within the lift. In fact, the lift is usually taught from the hang first because of this fact. Second, it requires the athlete to strengthen his or her grip and back muscles in order to become accustomed to supporting the weight. Third, it actually results in a higher power output than other variations of the lift.
To perform the lift from the hang position, take a shoulder-width grip on the bar. Stand up with the bar in your hands and your feet shoulder-width apart. From this position, pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out. Push your hips back, allowing the barbell to slide down your thighs. Allow the bar to slide down your thighs until it is at mid-thigh level.
From here, explosively extend the hips and knees while shrugging the shoulders upward. Some athletes will rise up onto their toes while others do not — either approach is fine. This explosion will force the barbell up along the body. When the bar reaches shoulder height, move into a quarter squat and receive the barbell on the front of the shoulders with the elbows high. Stand up and repeat.
There are several common mistakes with this lift:
- Rounded shoulders: This increases the stress experienced by the lower back and should be avoided. Focus on keeping the chest out and shoulders pulled back.
- Arms bent: Bent arms usually mean the athlete will try to pull the bar with his/her biceps, which will actually slow the lift down. Focus on straightening the arms during both the start and the explosion phases.
- Reverse arm curl: We have all seen the person in the gym leaning back and doing a reverse curl in place of a clean. The challenge here is that there is no power in this type of power clean.
- Jumping off the ground: Leaving the ground sounds impressive when you land, but it is inefficient and unnecessary. During the explosion phase, focus on jumping without leaving the ground.
- Jumping forward: This is the result of an incomplete explosion, usually the shoulders shift behind the bar prematurely.
- Stepping backwards: This is the result from swinging the bar away from the body during the explosion phase. When this happens, the bar swings around and into the athlete, forcing them backwards. Focus on keeping the bar close to the body during the explosion phase.
Once this lift has been mastered, it can also be done with dumbbells or with kettlebells using many of the same positions and techniques. As this is an explosive exercise, the focus needs to be on technique and speed. As a result, extreme fatigue needs to be avoided. Normally, this is done for sets of six repetitions or less.
Here are some photos showing the correct technique.
This article was originally published on the website of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is being used with permission from the organization.