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Advice on power cleans

Hi all,

Just introduced power cleans into my workout and although the pulling is okay. The final phase when I lower the bar is causing me trouble.

I’m dropping the bar, but the weight is dragging me forwards. The next workout I am going to try shoving my elbows back to lower the weight but I think that would make the movement jerky. The third plan is to just drop the weight and leg it out of the way :slight_smile:

Any suggestions?


Just drop that bitch. Try and drop it earlier then, like right after you squat the weight up.

Any good articles teaching the clean technique? I have been doing it for a while now but I am not sure if my technique is good. And I can’t afford a coach.


Why is it dragging you forward at all? You must be holding on to the bar still, push yourself away from it.

If you pm me your email address I can send you a good pdf on power clean technique, thought I had a couple but can only find the one right now.

If you save this and open it in paint, you can resize it and it will be easier to read.

Kenzo, are you an olympic lifter? (I useta-was, 30+ years ago.) When I switched to powerlifting, I made a little discovery: only olympic lifters get any benefit at all from racking the weight on their delts. Once you pull the weight as high as possible–what olympic lifters would call “clean-grip pulls”–the back work is done. All you get from “finishing” the power clean is a possible chance to hurt a wrist or a tricep tendon. The deadlift is my best lift (former WPC Masters W.R.), and clean-grip pulls are my most frequent back exercise. However, I absolutely never rack the bar. Strength & courage, Coach Joe

That’s a good point Coach Joe. I always rack the bar, but from a training standpoint I guess that’s not really necessary. My only question would be if you are only doings high pulls, what guide should you use for height? What I mean is, how high should I be able to pull the bar as an indication that the weight is not too heavy?

when you rack the bar, you do drop down a little with the knees to catch it right?

how far down do you catch the weight? I’ve watched videos of competitive oly lifters doing this and they catch pretty low. So when you catch, you still have to front squat the weight. Wouldnt that be a good reason to rack the bar so you get the front squat portion of the lift?

or am i using the term rack incorrectly?

In relation to SKman’s question about suitable height for clean high pulls, I don’t like them cause I hit myself in the chin alot! This doesn’t happen when I do a regular power clean.
I can avoid this by working up to 90%max on power cleans and then doing the high pulls but sometimes I don’t want to do power cleans first cause my wrist hurts.
Any suggestions?

I would suggest a better base kenzo. I think you might be falling forward, allowing the bar to pull you, because your base is not low enough. Try spreading your feet out more and lowering your butt. Tough to say without actually seeing you, but that might work.


I used to have awful wrist pain when I did Cleans. I then began to wrap and tape my wrists. Problem solved. Give a try it might help you too!

Thanks for all the advice - Coach Joe. I’ve been practising martial arts for over ten years and I’ve been power lifting for the past two years. Nothing to write home about numbers wise but it has made me a lot stronger and slapped on a fair amount of meat that has been useful. Getting old sucks :slight_smile: as I feel myself slowing down from my jack rabbit energy days of my early twenties to the desk bound me approaching thirty. I’ve decided to incorporate power cleans to train explosive strength. I am a great fan of kettlebells, but there is something about cleanig a bar that is just great fun! I’ve analysed my technique and think I’ve worked out why the bar drags me forwards. I’m trying to drop the bar down in an arc and that coupled with a forward lean when lowering drags me forward. I’ll try out your advice and keep you posted as to how it goes.


Kenso et al: I apologize for the slow response. Your reasons for doing power cleans make sense, and they still work for you ancient 30-year-old’s. (I’ll be 59, if Polite Society allows me to live another 2 weeks.) In my “semi-Westside-style” training (highly modified for a seriously old fart), olympic-style pulls do the work of “speed deadlifts,” but they build more trap strength. In the real world (I.e, every gym most of us will ever have access to), you can’t just dump the bar after each rep and let it crash, as you see olympic lifters do. I keep it close to my body as it comes down and “catch” it on the upper quads. That sounds like a disaster, but you’ll soon develop the ability to do it without bruising your quads, and it prevents being “jerked forward” as you lower the bar. (Because I don’t rack the bar at the delts, it isn’t dropping quite so far.)
SKman asked how high you pull it, and creed mentioned the possibility of hitting your own jaw with the bar. Answer: you cut the pull a little early on your first two warmup sets, to avoid hitting your jaw. After that, the bar is too heavy to pull to your teeth, but you TRY HARD to pull it that high. The answer to “How high?” is “As high as possible.” On “heavy legs/light back day,” I do “high pulls:” work up to a weight that’s perhaps 10% heavier than you could power clean, for a hard triple, then back the weight down for a hard 5-set. On “heavy back/light legs day,” I’ll do “low pulls:” work up to a double or triple with a weight that I can barely pull to the bottom of my chest when my body is fully extended (vertical), then back down for that bloody 5-set. My best deadlift is 63% heavier than my best low-pull triple. This is done instead of some form of deadlifts, about every second heavy back workout. It’s very hard work for the traps and lats, and it works the erectors without leaving them sore as long as deadlifts do. (There really is a reason why most advanced powerlifters don’t do maximum-effort deadlifts every week.)
-vvsonicvv asked about dropping low to catch the bar. If it’s a LOW drop, it’s a “squat clean,” the first half of a competition-style clean-and-jerk. It allows you to clean a weight roughly 30% heavier than you could power clean. The recovery part of a squat clean is a front squat, but, in my estimation, you can build much more quad strength by doing your pulling and squatting in separate sets. (Also, your lifting career will last decades longer that way.) Each heavy squat clean is a semi-controlled trainwreck. I useta do them; they’re a necessary evil for olympic lifters. I recommend them to all my enemies…
Creed mentioned wrist pain. Tight wrist wraps help; switching to powerlifting helps more. I’ve been away from olympic lifting since forever, but I gotta suspect that most of the masters olympic lifters are guys who have NOT been olympic lifting since age 13. After 10 or 15 years of olympic lifting, every tendon in your carcass will be stretched about a km too far: it’s substantially worse than powerlifting in this respect. Coach Waterbury will say: “Whatcha TALKIN’ 'BOUT, white boy?!?” With very sincere respect, Coach, it remains to be seen how well you will olympic lift at my age. Strength & courage, Coach Joe

coach joe,
wow your very well knowledged. I never knew it was a squat clean. I could never get that low. It never occured to me that it was that harmful. I just thought they were trained for it and all.

so technically, a powerclean, is there an OLY style and a power lifting style? Where should the catch be then? I’ve been doing cleans where i catch with my thighs about parallel to the ground. I should ‘dip’ to absorb the weight right? Otherwise it does feel like a lot of weight jarring on my body. so then is a powerclean a lowerbody - hip movement with some traps? or should it be about 50/50 ?

so if racking on your delts is dangerous, is it also dangerous to do push presses or push jerks? is there a better method to accomplish those lifts? laters pk

Quick update:

Tried the Coach Joe approach and it works!

Also, I’ve been analysing my technique and I’ve focussed on the first pull. Much more explosive and the weight flies up

Keep you all posted as the week goes by


In a power clean, you are pulling a weight that is light enough to allow you to rack it on the shoulders while standing erect or with a slight bend in the knees. If you watch olympic lifting competition, in the clean-and-jerk you’ll see weight so heavy that the lifter can barely pull it to his lower chest. He then “drops” under the weight (pulling himself down as the bar reaches the top of its travel) and catches the bar with the tops of his thighs far below parallel. It’s an extremely quick move, and the patella tendons feel like they hit their stretch limits in one-twentieth of a New York second. The bar must be “caught” with the elbows high (upper arm roughly parallel to the floor), or the wrists are forced to bend beyond “design limits.” As the arms grow and the tendons get tight (or, in my case, OLD), it gets harder to get a good “rack” position, and the bend at the wrist gets ridiculous.
The danger involved in racking the bar comes from the high-speed motion that puts it there, combined with flexibility issues, insufficient warmup or an occasional technical mistake. Taking the bar at the delts, from a squat rack or power rack, and doing presses or jerks doesn’t present the same risk. With good flexibility and really tight wrist wraps, you might do power cleans forever, injury-free. The full squat clean is a much faster, deeper move, involving about 30% more weight: every rep a potential trainwreck. Strength & courage, Coach Joe

Good thread. Coach Joe - when doing high and low pulls, where do you start the lift from; on the floor of from a hang position or use both?

I start my pulls from the floor, out of habit. They don’t necessarily have to be done that way.

makes sense Coach Joe, thanks pk