T Nation

Power Cleans

This was a staple in my high school football program. And for good reason: hits the low back like a mutha; fries the traps and delts; strengthens the quads a bit as well. We were always told it gave us good explosion off the line. Indeed, I never knew a hard-hitter that did not have a decent clean.

I actually built up some good strength in the lift at the time: 275 X 5 (hang).

However, ever since I cut the fat off and entered the bodybuilding state-a-mind, I rarely, if ever, powerclean.

So to my question: does the powerclean have it’s place in bodybuilding? Exactly when would it be inserted into the split? Would not pressing movements and iso delt (and even deads) work achieve the same “look?”

Flame Disclaimier: Yes, I have a pretty good idea concerning all my answers. Rather, my goal is to spark some real debate on the place of clean’in in bodybuilding.

Particular Call-outs: Joel, Christian, Patricia and Ko, Jason Norcross, Eric, Chad, and even Davies.

Thanks all.

I definitely think that the clean has its place in BBing, although I don’t think that it needs to be incorporated year-round as it would be for many athletes. Personally, upper traps are about the only thing that grows easily for me, so I can get away with deads (sometimes with an added shrug at the completion of the movement) and my regular ol’ back workout. On the other hand, cleans (for me at least) are a blast, so I make a point of including them every few training cycles.

If one was going to use cleans in a traditional BBing sense, I’d say that back day (with at least a few days between it and hip dominant day) would be the most appropriate way to incorporate them. I recall seeing one of Mike Mentzer’s old training programs; he always included cleans in his trap only section of back day. Then again, some individuals have had success with hybrid Westside/BBing programs, so it could be placed on a dynamic effort lower body day (the same is true of snatches and power pulls, etc.).

It most definatley does have a place in any and most BB programs in my opinion. The powerclean and press is one hell of an exercise that builds the delts as well as the upper and upper middle back. I love the PC and press cause it is the only exercise that is easy on my shoulder joints(This is cause a Push press takes a ton of stress off of my shoulder joints and tendons and still allows me to get an excellent shoulder workout. This is because the push press has a dip before you press it up and dip when you lower the weight and believe it or not that takes alot of stress off the shoulders in what is normally I high tension part of the movement.)

The powerclean in my opinion belongs in anybody’s workout who is looking to improve their explosive strength as well as getting a bigger, and better developed upper back and traps. Since the beginning of this year the PC and press has been a regular staple in my workouts, just for the fact that I love doing them and that I love the feeling of power and accomplishment I get from being able to PC and press 190 lbs over my head for 3-4 reps.

I have also noticed that my shoulder strength has gone up tremendously between the summer and now. Over the summer I was doing seated shoulder presses for every bit of 95 lbs for 8, if that. And I didn’t notice it until recently how much that has improved since july. And to top it off I am doing it with a powerclean at the beginning, so who know how much I could do without the Pc at the beginning to drain my strength before hand. But anyways def use the PC and press in your workouts your shoulders will fill out and your strength will skyrocket if you haven’t done them in a while. I’d stick to no more than 4 reps with pausing for 10 sec between each rep on the floor. take it easy bro and BTW check ur PM’s i PMed you.


what do you say you “call out” to mike mahler as well. the guy knows a thing or two about the clean and ought not be excluded from this attempt at discussion.

Just chill Porter. God knows I’m not trying to exclude anyone from my own thread.

Thang is, I pupmed out this thread and list in a matter of seconds, so if I forgot someone, my apologies.

Mike is an excellent source indeed. Anyone and everyone is welcome to reply.

Interesting stuff guys.

Pugs, you really never go over four reps? I guess that is a good volume though with a pause and bringing it from the floor.

What about hang cleans? God knows they’re easier.

I don’t really fdo hangs too much cause i like being able to use more weight with a full PC. I just like lowering the weight controlled better it allows me to use more weight so its more enjoyable for me. As for the reps I can’t do more than four and keep mmmy form good, it tires me out too much to do more than that.


No doubt about it. I think that power cleans and other olympic lift variations have a definite place in bodybuilding.

Because you asked about bodybuilding, I stay within those parameters.

Explosive lifting, specifically the power clean is beneficial to the bodybuilder for several reasons including:

  1. Increased neuromuscular connectivity - you learn how to recruit more motor units at one point in time. This will only make you stronger.

  2. It’s a big lift where you can move a lot of weight. I don’t think I need to expound on this one.

  3. It targets the posterior chain and upper back - areas that are neglected by many bodybuilders. It also helps deal with the internally rotated shoulder posture so many bench/curl bodybuilders have.

  4. It is associated with a huge energy cost - this bodes well for acclerated fat loss.

  5. It’s just flat out fun to clean - be it a barbell, dumbell, kettlebell, keg, wrestling oponent or whatever, it is a fun lift to do.

bump dis

Jason forgot to mention another pro-

Just like the squat, and other Olympic style lifts, there is a great positive hormone stimulation (incr T, scientifically studied) by including the big lifts into an intense workout.

As to where to place it in a split, that’s alweys difficult with a compound lift. I would just say stick it as the first, or at worst the second exercise in a routine, as the power/explosive speed/fresh nervous system is essential for efficient and maximum execution. SRS

Sorry for posting so late, pooh. Didn’t see that you had included me on your “target” for answers. And, I’m flattered!

Anywhoos: Jason hit it right on in his post. I couldn’t expound any further. Except to add that “yes”, power cleans are definitely alot of fun.

We like to follow a 5x5 type of session with cleans. And Ko and I do not (have not in awhile, too) followed a “typical” bb’ing style of training. And because of this, we’ve seen a vast improvement in overall thickness as well as strength. Who wouldn’t want that?

Jason hit the nail on the head and I actually emailed Jason and recommended that he write an article on the benefits of Olympic Lifting for bodybuilderS

Anothere thing to consider is that cleans and presses and snatches are both full body exercises that will stimulate a lot of GH like Squats do. In fact I read about some old time strongmen that used to do high rep cleans and presses to pack on weight fast. High rep meaning 15-25. I also remember reading an old article in Ironman(from the 1960s) discussing how many bodybuilders that had hit plateaus used cleans and presses to pack on some weight and blast through the plateaus.

Finally, I remember Charles Poliquin talking about how big UFC fighter Ken Shamrock’s traps were from doing a lot of powercleans in a 5x5 rep scheme.

I started doing hang cleans this past Saturday. I had never done them before and was pretty pissed at myself for being such a wanker. I tried them at the very end of my shoulder workout (after push presses, arnolds, standing db presses and lateral raise drop sets), which was my first mistake. From now on, I’ll try them on hip or back day.

I was so tired, I was only cleaning 150 pounds and was drooling and was only doing 4 reps at a time! Anyway, I’ve never felt so thoroughly invigorated as I did after doing them.

My shoulders, upper and middle traps, lower back and even the tops of my legs are sore. I can’t wait to try them again.

Thanks to all for the input.

Next week, when the hell begins (see DP thread), I do in fact plan to include them on delt/trap day. This is a generally lighter workout, so I think this would work best. I too will do the 5X5 protocol.

Thanks again.