T Nation

The Power Clean & Push press... King of all lifts?


It seems that various crowds have their own "king of lifts"...

  • The "average gym rat" puts the bench press on a pedestal
  • Powerlifters quite often puts the squat on top of the mountain
  • Strongman competitors puts the deadlift as the no.1 foundation movement
  • Strength coaches working with football players are in love with the power clean
  • Crossfit athletes have a crush on the snatch

I'll be 100% honest here... to build a monster, you can't go wrong with a bench press, deadlift, squat, clean and snatch... these are all super exercises that diserve to be on top of anyone's list (I would personally put the snatch grip high pull in there too).

But there is one lift that stands above all else when it comes to building the beast: The power clean & push press.

To put it simply this is an exercise that involved all the muscles in the body. And it requires both power and limit strength (the power clean requiring more explosiveness and the push press more strength). It also requires coordination and balance.

If someone can clean and press overhead big weigths he cannot help but be a monster.

Now, I'm not talking about a (squat) clean & jerk. While this is a great lift, it is more based on technique and explosiveness than strength (you do need leg and back squat, but not as much upper body strength).

And the power clean & push press is much simpler to learn than the clean & jerk. Investing in learning that exercise is a sure way to take your physique to new heights in your quest for the power look.


@CT: Is off a box from mid-thigh the best option for the "Power Look," if you're not accustomed to the power clean or would you recommend learning the full lift?


I recommend learning the full lift, but starting from blocks while gradually learning the first pull and transition.


@CT: Awesome! Thank you! I've been debating on doing these. I'm gong to do it; I think it will be a wise investment long term.


I've gravitated towards this movement alot, it is very complete , i enjoy it , makes me feel like im getting some good work done. Started to make a habit of holding the weight for at least a few seconds at the top.



For the average Joe, what would be a BW% to shoot for in this?

125% BW? 150%?

My power clean is close to my push press, but, IMHO, they both stink...

I have been looking for a new movement to put into my schedule, resting another movement - this looks like the one.

Definitely agree about the perfect blend of everything in one move; explosivity, coordination and limit strength.



we basically did these 3 times a week when i was a shot putter.
definitely gives you Explosiveness!!


@CT: how would the Power Clean and Push Press be integrated into the layer system if I currently do the following:
Decline Bench
SG High Pulls
Push Press
SG High Pulls (sometimes add SG CHPs and CG Low Pulls)
DS Launch

If I replace the Push Press with it then the High Pulls before & after would become a factor right?

And I assume any of the layer system routines would work, eg 3RM, 90% Clusters x 2-3 sets, Ext Sets / HDL 54321 etc



Good to know CT.Timing of this Is perfect.I've been working on the full lift from the floor with the clean and push press for the last week and a half In the mornings grouped together with a couple of other lifts.A HFS type training session.I also would like to know how to put this into the layer system.I don't want to replace a SGHP day since I've seen so much change In my physique from them but will do what has to be done.Thanks again.


@Heath & Jppage: I remember one way CT put the power clean & push press in the layer system was under his 3 key intensity zone forum spill.

I had asked CT if the goal was the power look how to incorporate movements into that method of using the layer system & he had said:
Decline bench press tilt, accessory lift floor press
Power clean & press, accessory lift front squat
SGHP, accessory lift Deadlift


@CT: Do you catch the bar in the quarter squat position? Thank you I appreciate your time and answer, your knowledge of Olympic lifts & variations far exceeds mine.


A "power" clean (or snatch) is anything caught at a 90 degrees knee sangle or more. So yes, a quarter squat catch would be a power clean.


@CT: Thank you! I appreciate your time & response.



I've noticed at times I have a bit of a 'hop' when I do a high pull or power clean.

My feet leave the ground, but I don't know that it's necessary.

Is this bad?

What would be done to correct it?



As far as I've seen, the best way for a new lifter to get going hard is with the push clean & press, all the muscular recruitment and stimulation you get from it will kick start progress for sure.


CT - What is your preferred form for this movement to develop the beast/power look? Are there any videos/teaching cues you recommend? I've seen different variations of the movement so wanted to learn the optimal way to preform it. Thanks!


Hi CT,

I am currently following your 3,3,3,6,6,6 program with 2 push days, two pull days and 1 leg day. I assume you would place the power clean and push press on push day?

Also, would reccommend reducing the reps slightly. I would have the power clean and push press and my first main movement. would 5/4/3/2/1 or 3,3,3,5,5,5 be better considering how taxing the exercise is?

Many Thanks CT


The two that have the greatest potential for causing growth are the power clean & push press and the second one is something I began playing with that shows A LOT of promise... I call it a continuous clean & press; although sometimes it is called a muscle clean & press and even mislabelled as a muscle snatch (e.g. there is a video of Koklyev soing 160 and one of him doing 170kg in that style... you can find it by searching for 'koklyev muscle snatch')... basically you do like a power clean but do not rack the bar on the shoulders... as soon as you finish the pull (which should be about mouth level) you rotate your elbwos down and press the barbell overhead.


koklyev muscle snatch loks awesome. Coincidentally I've been naturally doing the "clean and press" motion this way since I can't rack properly. When I force the the bar onto my front delt/shoulder shelf in the rack position the bar is basically on my fingers rather than hilt of palm, making the actual pressing motion very awkward...


So could I just give this lift it's own day, I train 3 days a week 2 lifts a session, one major one minnor, I've been reading this post, and have lately been thinking about a forth day. So for me to start doing clean and push press, mostly being a PLer, I've never really done this exercise, but I believe in basics and consistancy,

I'm thinking of starting light, and spending an hour once a week for the next year, and see what this adds for me. I like to superset for an hour, one low rep one high rep10-20sets than go home. I'm wondering what to put with this, think pullups between sets of these would work. I would ramp up in 5s till I couldn't get 5, than do a some triples, followed by some back down sets, hopefully doing straight sets of say 10 pullups between every set of CnP.

This is the way I train, and I enjoy it, but I'm just wondering your thoughts CT, or mabey put this in place of my landmine press and Tbar row day, I don't know,