T Nation

The PowerClean Thread


We've had a lot of discussion about power cleans lately, so I thought I'd make a thread about it. I've personally been re-learning this lift, so I guess it can double as a form check/progress thread as well.

First, some learning resources I've used:


A couple of vids I shot the other day. First session in about two years. I was very uncomfortable with the movement, and my form just generally sucked:

Been working on it every day this week, and I'm getting more and more comfortable. This one was shot today. Today's focus was hip drive:


Can't really tell...are you triple extending or using the catapult method?

I've been trying to nail down the whole hip bump but goddamnit I just can't time it right.


practice... you will get it eventually and the weights will start to fly.

people on the oly forum will offer feedback on vids. though they are likely to tell you to stop powercleaning and do full cleans :slight_smile:


From seeing a more diverse range of video's I think my problem might be trying to hump the bar. Massive power clean noob. :frowning:


i used to practice with the bar just standing up. sit your butt back a little (like a bit of a romanian deadlift) then pull your hips through quickly. you should feel the bar jump up a little in your hands (from momentum - not from your using your arms or hands to lift it). then practice trying to get it to jump UP rather than jump OUT in front of you. you will find you need to hold your chest up pretty good when you sit back to get the up rather than outwards momentum on the bar.

play with it... then once it starts to feel alright pop it a bit harder - to the rack. then add weight. and so on.


If you don't mind, can you elaborate on the important differences, and more importantly why you/they recommend regular cleans over power cleans?


powercleans involve your popping the bar up quite high. high enough for you to rack on your delts without your bending your knees to lower your delts very much.

cleans involve your squatting your arse down under the bar to rack it on your delts. in the later case you don't need to pop the bar very high - just high enough for you to fit your arse down under it.

why are cleans better than powercleans?

if your aim is to do well at the sport of Olympic Lifting then you will (eventually!) be able to lift more weight by squatting the weight up than by popping the bar up high as you can.

the trouble when learning... is that full cleans are much harder in that they require a very good ATG front squat.

i'm finding that the pulling technique for powercleans (hip drive it as high as you can) is very different from the pulling technique for cleans (hip drive it high enough into the correct position and haul your frigging arse down under it fast as you can).

though i'm changing up how i do powercleans a bit so that they will help my full cleans more. basically being a lot fussier about them than i would need to be if i was only interested in getting progressively stronger hip drive for some such thing as Starting Strength.


see how they move their arse down under the bar??


Yeah, hard to tell with the dark pants and dark background. I'm using the catapult because I want it to be as close to a full clean as possible. I plan on doing full cleans later on, so I want to learn the right movement pattern for it. I find the "just jump with the bar" method a little clunky and weak.

I'm having a hard time timing the bump, too. I always hit low on my quads, but if I hit higher, I feel like I lose some power. Gotta get the jump and shrug in there, too. Just taking it a step at a time, practicing every day with light weight.

Here are some of the drills I've been doing:


Nice thread, hopefully it'll turn out to be a good resource. Don't mind if I repost my power clean post from the "Technique Thread" here in Beginners:

I'm of the opinion that power cleans can absolutely be successfully self-taught if they're treated like any other big compound exercise - progressively and patiently, treated with with respect, and given proper attention to prevent injury.

Unless you're competing in the Olympic lifts, "good enough" technique (which allows strength and muscle gains without causing injury) will, in fact, be "good enough."

Also, Dan John will hate me for saying this, but I was never able to get the form down with broomsticks or PVC. I personally needed to practice using some resistance, 55 or 65 pounds, so I'd be able to get a feel and control over the exercise. (The same also goes for snatches.)

Rippetoe (one of his several vids on the subject):


Justin Harris, hang clean and press:

Hope that helped a bit, one way or another.


Here are some vids I just found from Glenn Pendlay over at California Strength. Seems like a very good technique progression. I'm probably about to follow this for the next few weeks:






i think a problem a lot of people have is they turn the clean into a high pull/reverse curl clusterfuck. if you want to clean more than you can high pull you have to learn to pull yourself under the bar for the catch.


I was gone the past week so I didn't follow the previous thread.

so true

JayPierce, I highly suggest you follow this progression that you found from pendlay and that you indeed learn full cleans FIRST. They teach you to get under the bar FAST. And you need that in a power clean as well, the only difference is that you get under it, but don't go as much distance. The important thing is to learn how to explosively use the hips/legs and then reverse direction.

You are not doing this almost at all and that's completely understandable even if you are trying. Part of it is you don't know how to think about it(haven't figured out what cues to use) and part of it is just that your body simply isn't strong/fast enough to do it anyway!

Also for the record, power cleans are almost the same as cleans if done correctly. Some people will intentionally pull less in a lower weight clean and instead practice going under the bar faster, but at MAX weights the clean and power clean pull are almost entirely the same. Full power, same trajectory at all times. The differences would only be small changes in COG(center of gravity) and really not something to worry about.

In any case, I don't know if your technique used to be better, but this technique you are using right now is just NOT beneficial to someone starting out. Besides trying to learn the movement, it will be more hassle than anything for a beginner who wants to have a good program. In the long run though, it will start paying off once you learn it. Just don't be misguided into thinking that a beginner will really benefit from doing power cleans like that.

There are also some youtube videos from coach mccauley. I suggest people start with the dirty dancing drill.

The pendlay progression practically does the same thing, except with a barbell. This is the explosive part that your body needs to learn and takes time no matter how much you try to do it right.

I also suggest a cue that you just "punch" into the floor through the heels, rather than trying to shoot the hips forward. Don't even think about the hips for now IMO. Simply punch through the heels straight(not forward or backwards) and then get under the bar.


I agree with Chris that some people(most) will need some weight to learn the movement.

However the videos posted are all kind of bad and can send the wrong messages.

Use the progression that pendlay shows. Stay on your heels and don't try to triple extend(this isn't a calf raise). The heels WILL come off the floor at least a bit, but that happens only because of the power generated through your heels, not from your calves. In any case, ignore the feet, they will most likely do the right thing on their own anyway.

Again, do the progression. Post videos of you lifting from the very high hang(also called the power/explosion point- also the point that Rippetoe shows, although it can be higher on the thigh.) Once you get this right, then the 1st and 2nd pull are all about just getting the barbell at that point with as much speed as possible while being able to get to that position correctly and being able to explode.


I think it is harder to move a very light weight (e.g., a stick) than it is to move a heavier weight. I think it is because it is hard to do the movement correctly at less than full force. I'm finding that the stronger I get on the full lifts the better my stick work looks. But then the converse is the case for me as well.

Also for the record, power cleans are almost the same as cleans if done correctly.

I agree completely. The trouble is that power cleans as taught by people who don't have an eye to full cleans aren't taught correctly. What is and isn't 'correct' depends a lot on your aims, I think. The aim of developing a picture perfect powerclean for such a program as 'Starting Strength' is very different from the aim of learning to pull the bar correctly to win the Olympics.

What can be a bit hard is that different coaches can have very different conceptualizations of what it is that you are trying to do in each part of the lift. I think... Over time I've come to the idea that such differences are largely due to different things working differently for people with different lever lengths.

In my own case I had really very limited success with following Kono's advice (for example) because I simply don't have his stocky limbs! I had a lot of trouble getting the bar path moving back towards me once it was separated from the ground because my bloody knees get in the way! Posting vids really is a wonderful idea.

If you are serious about learning the full lifts then I'd really recommend your posting vids over on the Olympic Lifting forum. You will get a range of advice and you can weigh things for yourself and try out different things. Figure out what strategy / conceptualization of what you are trying to do works for you.

I've gotten some wonderful advice from over there. Still working on a lot of it. Figure I'll still be working on it in years to come...

Always nice to have more converts to Olympic Lifting :slight_smile:



@lordstorm: I did a little practice with Pendlay's method yesterday and really liked it. I think it's going to be a much better method of learning than what I previously did. It's not a lift you can think your way through, and it's really tough to learn and get the movements right when you have so many things to think about at the same time. Pendlay really simplifies it.

And yes, my form used to be MUCH better than it is now. I'm just thinking too damn much. And I don't have the catch down (my arms were much more flexible back then. They kinda get in the way now), so it's gonna take much more practice before I'm comfortable diving under the bar.

Big improvement yesterday, though. Found that if I focus on keeping my elbows IN as well as UP on the catch, everything else falls in place.


elbows don't matter much. Usually they are supposed to point outwards while pulling under the barbell after the explosion but it really doesn't matter. Different cues work for different people. The important thing in practice is that the barbel(which is on your hands)/your hands should stay close to your body. If thinking of elbows IN works, go for it!


Very good resources thus far.