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For Physique, Power Cleans or Hang Cleans?


If muscle development is mass x force x distance are power cleans better for the physique than hang cleans?


[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
If muscle development is mass x force x distance are power cleans better for the physique than hang cleans?[/quote]

Well first of all get your terminology straight.

You can’t compare hang and power since they are both describing different things.

“hang” refers to the starting position. In that case it means that the bar starts not on the floor and is “hanging” somewhere between your tight and mid-shins at the start. Other starting positions can be “from the floor” or “from blocks” although in most circles when a lift is done from the floor we normally omit the term.

“power” refers to the way the barbell is caught. In the case of “power” we’re talking about catching the barbell with the knees bent less than 90 degrees. Other receiving positions would be “squat” (caught in a full squat), “split” with the bar caught in a split stance and “muscle” which means caught with no knee bend at all. However the “squat” position being the default one in the competition lift, when a clean or a snatch is caught in a full squat position we generally omit to say “squat”… a “squat clean” doesn’t exist except in crossfit circles.

So really a “hang clean” would refer to a clean caught in a full squat (when no catch position is given the default is the squat position) lifted from the hang.

A “power clean” would refer to a clean starting from the floor and being caught with a knee bend higher than 90 degrees.

But you can also have a power clean from the hang which would be a clean caught with the knees higher than 90 degrees from a hang position.

That having been said… your question is somewhat irrelevant. For three reasons:

  1. the force x distance might not apply 100% because you aren’t really applying force over the greater distance (I made the mistake of believing that myself in the past so don’t feel bad). Regardless of the pulling height, maximum force is only applied for a VERY brief period (explosion point)… after that the bar is traveling mostly due to its own momentum. Now one could argue that you must pull harder (produce more force) to get the bar to go up higher due to its momentum. That’s true. BUT by catching the bar lower you can also lift bigger weights, so even though you are producing less acceleration, the mass lifted is higher so the force produce at an equal intensity level will be the same.

  2. Factors other than pulling distance is at play when it comes to stimulating growth via the olympic lifts. For example, in the lifts from the hang, the muscles are under tension for longer and are more active during the lowering of the barbell (eccentric action) which could have an impact on hypertrophy.

  3. The lift from the floor can be (1) more technical (2) more fatiguing. As a result it’s harder to do enough volume with a high weight. For example 5 reps at 75% on a power clean from the floor is very demanding and it might not be possible to do many of these sets. But 5 reps with 75% on the hang power clean is much less fatiguing and is very doable for many sets. So because of the technical aspect and the fatigue one, you can normally use bigger weights over many multi-rep sets (which is necessary for hypertrophy with the olympic lifts) with lifts from the hang.


[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
If muscle development is mass x force x distance are power cleans better for the physique than hang cleans?[/quote]

BTW, where did you get that mass development is mass x force x distance…

First of all force is mass x acceleration, so you can’t include mass twice in there.

From my experience, stimulating muscle growth has much less to do with biomechanics than physiology. You can’t evaluate muscle growth stimulated with a math formula.


Thank you for responding; I appreciate it. All I can say is that I just learned a lot. Cheers!


Thanks for that - I found the distinctions useful. You have a knack for converting seemingly ordinary questions into good opportunities for laying out the basics - the hallmark of a good teacher. Great job.

PS: This is not a knock on nick_777 at all - I am the biggest OL noob there is.