Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Progressing From the Hang Power Clean to the Power Clean: A 4-Step Model

Duba, James MA, CSCS, USAW1; Kraemer, William J PhD, CSCS, FNSCA2; Martin, Gerard MA, CSCS*D, USAW1

Strength and Conditioning Journal: June 2009 - Volume 31 - Issue 3 - p 58-66
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181a5939f
ARTICLES
Free

VARIATIONS OF THE WEIGHTLIFTING COMPETITION LIFTS ARE OFTEN USED AS PART OF AN ATHLETE'S COMPREHENSIVE STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING PROGRAM, SPECIFICALLY TO IMPROVE TOTAL BODY POWER. ALTHOUGH THESE VARIATIONS ARE EFFECTIVE, THEIR COMPLEX TECHNIQUE SUGGESTS CAREFUL TEACHING TO THOSE LEARNING. THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO PROVIDE STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING PROFESSIONALS A TEACHING PROGRESSION FOR THE POWER CLEAN, SPECIFICALLY FOR TEACHING THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY SKILLED IN THE HANG POWER CLEAN.

1Division of Athletics; and 2Department of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

James Dubais a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach in the Division of Athletics and the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.

Figure

Figure

William J. Kraemeris a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut and the editor in chief of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Figure

Figure

Gerard Martinis a strength and conditioning coordinator in the Division of Athletics at the University of Connecticut.

Figure

Figure

Back to Top | Article Outline

INTRODUCTION

Duba et al. (2) presented a progression model for the hang power clean, a variation of the weightlifting competition clean and jerk exercise (7). This progression model demonstrated how the hang power clean can be effectively taught in 6 steps, giving the strength and conditioning professional the option of using this exercise as a main part of an athlete's power training program. The following progression model for the power clean presents a progression from the hang power clean to the power clean, assuming that the lifter has a background understanding of and the ability to correctly perform the hang power clean.

Before using this model to teach or learn the power clean, it is strongly encouraged for the lifter to be able to properly perform the hang power clean. This is especially important because the most complex portion of the power clean occurs during the second pull and the catch phase. Additionally, classic literature has suggested that weightlifting exercises are more effectively learned in a reverse order (i.e., a top-down approach) (10). Therefore, this model should be considered as an addition or an extension of the teaching progression to “A 6-step progression model for teaching the hang power clean (2).”

Back to Top | Article Outline

THE POWER CLEAN

Incorporating the power clean into a strength and conditioning program expands the coach's options for the choice of exercises used to promote the training of whole body muscular power. During the power clean, the lifter achieves the proper starting position (Figures 1a, 2a, 3a) and lifts the bar from the floor into the proper catch position (Figures 1e, 2e, 3e) in a smooth and efficient motion. There are many sources available that discuss weightlifting technique, specifically clean technique, in detail (1,8,10). According to these sources, 5 main stages of the power clean may be referred to: the first pull, the transition phase (also known as the scoop, double knee bend, unweighting phase, and adjustment phase), the second pull (also known as the final acceleration or the final explosion), the catch (also known as the squat under), and the recovery phase. It is important that each phase be performed to successfully complete the entire movement.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 3

Back to Top | Article Outline

A BRIEF REVIEW OF EACH PHASE OF THE POWER CLEAN

First Pull

The first pull is the portion of the power clean from the lift off to approximately knee height (Figures 1b, 2b, 3b). During this stage, a proper starting position (Figures 1a, 2a, 3a), maintaining proper posture, maintaining a constant torso angle relative to the ground during the lift, and keeping the bar in slight contact or very close to the body are all extremely important.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Transition Phase

The transition phase is the portion between the end of the first pull (Figures 1b, 2b, 3b) and the beginning of the second pull (Figures 1c, 2c, 3c). Depending on the lifter's limb lengths and ratios, some knee bending or hip extension may occur during this phase. There seems to be much debate in weightlifting regarding whether or not the transition phase should be deliberately taught to the beginning lifter. In this progression model, the lifter is not taught the transition phase directly. Instead, a proper movement from the starting position into the hang position is emphasized. As a general rule, if the athlete reaches the proper hang position after the clean deadlift (which includes the first pull and transition phase), the transition phase was properly executed.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Second Pull

The second pull of the power clean is the point from the hang position (Figures 1c, 2c, 3c) to near the full extension of the ankles, knees, and hips (Figures 1d, 2d, 3d). This is the portion of the exercise that is found to produce the highest power output (3-6,9). After a proper first pull and transition phase (clean deadlift), the lifter should be in an advantageous position to create maximal force into the ground. For this to happen, it is absolutely necessary for the lifter to consciously apply full effort at this point during the power clean.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Catch

The catch phase of the power clean begins with an appropriate completion of the second pull (Figures 1d, 2d, 3d). After this, the lifter briefly leaves the ground, displacing his or her feet from the power stance (Figure 2a-d) to the strength stance (Figure 2e and 2f). At this moment, the lifter is also moving his/her body under the bar into the proper catch position (Figures 1e, 2e, 3e). Correct rhythm of the catch stage occurs with synchronized foot and bar landing.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Recovery

The recovery portion of the power clean begins with the appropriate catch position (Figures 1e, 2e, 3e). Once in the catch position, the lifter must finish the power clean exactly like he or she would finish the concentric portion of the front squat, ending tall (Figures 1f, 2f, 3f).

Back to Top | Article Outline

THE POWER CLEAN VERSUS THE HANG POWER CLEAN

It is important to note the difference between the power clean and the hang power clean. Although similar, the power clean differs from the hang power clean, in that the maximal load used in the power clean is higher than the maximal load used in the hang power clean. A study examining the snatch in elite weightlifters that illustrated barbell velocity during competition repetitions (reps) shows this theory. The illustration showed that the barbell accelerates during the first pull and does not decelerate during the transition phase before the biggest acceleration occurs during the second pull (6). Therefore, when done correctly, the second pull of the power clean occurs when the barbell is already accelerating, whereas the second pull of the hang power clean occurs at a zero velocity. Theoretically, this means that the maximal load used in power clean must be higher than the maximal load used in the hang power clean. Therefore, training with the power clean allows the athlete to train with a greater absolute load than the hang power clean. This gives strength and conditioning professionals the option of using a highly loaded power exercise as part of an athlete's power training workouts.

Back to Top | Article Outline

THE 4-STEP MODEL

STEP 1: LEARN THE PROPER HANG POWER CLEAN TECHNIQUE

This 4-step model progresses the lifter from the hang power clean to the power clean (Figure 4). Although the first exercise learned in this model is the clean deadlift, the base and first step of the progression is a proper hang power clean technique, which makes this progression model a modification of the USA Weightlifting model (1). This model is not designed to replace USA Weightlifting's model but to add to the strength and conditioning professional's options for teaching such a complex movement. Again, for full understanding of the hang power clean, the reader is encouraged to review “A 6-step progression model for teaching the hang power clean,” as this is the first step in our 4-step progression model presented in this article.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Back to Top | Article Outline

IMPORTANT STANCES AND POSTURE

The important stances and posture associated with the progression are described below:

  • Power stance (also referred to as the pulling stance): approximately hip width, toes pointing forward or slightly outward, and center of gravity on mid foot (Figure 2a-d)
  • Strength stance (also referred to as the squat stance): approximately shoulder width, toes pointing forward or slightly outward, and center of gravity toward the heel (Figure 2e and 2f)
  • Proper posture: thoracic spine extended, shoulders neutral, head vertical or in neutral alignment with spine, and eyes looking forward (see Figures 1a-f, 2a-f, 3a-3c and Table 1 for posture cues)
  • Table 1

    Table 1

Back to Top | Article Outline

STEP 2: CLEAN DEADLIFT

Purpose

To teach the athlete the proper starting position, first pull, and transition phases for the power clean using the 15- to 20-kg barbell with standard-sized training plates.

  • Starting grip: firm shoulder width, overhand grip (thumbs in), closed grip or hook grip, and wrists neutral or flexed (Heavy loads will cause the wrist to be more neutral.)
  • Starting stance: power stance (Figure 2a-d)
  • Starting position: clean deadlift position-head vertical or in alignment with the torso, shoulders slightly ahead of the bar, elbows and knees in alignment and side by side (if the athlete has a high leg length to torso length ratio, that is, for most tall athletes, the knees may be in advance of the elbows), the thoracic spine extended, the lumbar spine extended, hips higher than the knees, and feet flat on the ground with the center of gravity over the middle of the foot (Figures 1a, 2a, 3a)
  • Action: After getting into the proper clean deadlift starting position, the bar is brought to the hang position
  • Action of the first pull: The bar is separated from the floor to knee height through knee extension and ankle plantar flexion with conscious thought of bringing the bar toward the body and moving the center of gravity toward the heels while keeping a constant posture, a constant back angle relative to the ground, the shoulders ahead of the bar, and the bar in slight contact with the body via wrist flexion (Figures 1b, 2b, 3b)
  • Action of the transition: Without slowing or stopping the movement, the bar is brought from knee height to the hang position through hip extension. Although the shoulders move back with this hip extension, they remain in front of the bar, and the center of gravity is brought toward the mid foot (Figures 1c, 2c, 3c). (see Table 2).
  • Table 2

    Table 2

  • Ending position: hang position-weight on the balls of feet, bar at lower midthigh level, tension felt in the hamstrings, and the shoulders slightly in front of the bar (Figures 1c, 2c, 3c)
Back to Top | Article Outline

STEP 3: CLEAN DEADLIFT + HANG POWER CLEAN

Purpose

To teach the athlete how to properly perform the power clean, with a brief 1- to 2-second pause between the transition phase and the second pull using the 15- to 20-kg barbell with standard-sized training plates.

  • Starting grip: firm shoulder width, overhand grip (thumbs in), closed grip or hook grip, and wrists neutral or flexed (Heavy loads will cause the wrist to be more neutral.)
  • Starting stance: power stance (Figure 2a-d)
  • Starting position: clean deadlift position (Figures 1a, 2a, 3a)
  • Action: After properly performing the clean deadlift to the hang position (first pull and transition phase), pause for 1 to 2 seconds and execute the hang power clean into the catch position.
  • Action of the second pull: Nearly full extension of the ankles, knees, and hips is achieved through aggressively pushing the feet into the ground rising up on the toes and shrugging the shoulders (Figures 1d, 2d, 3d)
  • Action of the catch: After the second pull, the bar is caught in the catch position with the upper arms parallel to the ground and in the sagittal plane and the feet flat with the toes pointed forward or slightly outward (Figures 1e, 2e, 3e). This is achieved through the action of bringing the elbows up, under, and around the bar, while the feet are displacing laterally. During this action, it is important to keep the bar close to the body to minimize its horizontal movement (looping) and to make sure the bar and feet land simultaneously. Also, arm strength should not be used to pull the bar up to the catch. Instead, the ankle, hip, and knee extension from the second pull should be used to transfer force into the bar with the intent of then getting the body under the bar into the correct catch position (see Table 3)
  • Table 3

    Table 3

  • Ending stance: strength stance (Figure 2e and 2f)
  • Ending grip: front squat rack position (Figures 1e, 1f, 2e, 2f, 3e, 3f)
  • Ending position: catch position (Figures 1e, 2e, 3e); the lifter then finishes the front squat driving through the heels with the elbows up, forward, and aligned in the sagittal plane (Figures 1f, 2f, 3f)
Back to Top | Article Outline

STEP 4: POWER CLEAN

Purpose

To teach the athlete how to properly perform the power clean in one movement using the 15- to 20-kg barbell with standard-sized training plates.

After introducing the progression model and learning each step, it will make the lifter practice before he or she completely learns the power clean. Even with the same proper background in the hang power clean, some lifters will learn quicker than others. During this learning process, it is recommended for the lifter to practice with about 3 to 5 reps per set with lighter loads than would normally be used with the hang power clean. With these lighter loads, it is helpful to control the speed of the first pull and transition phase (clean deadlift portion) before applying full effort during the second pull. This helps the lifter to consistently maintain and reach the correct positions required for a proper technique. With continued practice, though, the lifter should apply full effort during the first pull and the transition phase without losing proper position. Therefore, the lifter should use a higher load with the power clean when compared with the hang power clean. Consequently, the strength and conditioning professional will then be able to appropriately use the power clean as a safe and effective means for a heavy power training.

Back to Top | Article Outline

REFERENCES

1. Drechsler A. The Weightlifting Encyclopedia. Whitestone, NY: A is A Communications, 1998. pp. 17-108.
2. Duba J, Kraemer WJ, and Martin G. A6-step progression model for teaching the hang power clean. Strength Cond J 29(5): 26-35, 2007.
3. Enoka RM. The pull in Olympic weightlifting. Med Sci Sports 11(2): 131-137, 1979.
4. Garhammer J. Power production by Olympic weightlifters. Med Sci Sports Exerc 12: 54-60, 1980.
5. Garhammer J. Biomechanical analysis profiles of Olympic weightlifters. Int J Sport Biomech 1: 122-130, 1985.
6. Gourgoulis V, Aggelousis N, Mavromatis G, and Garas A. Three-dimensional kinematic analysis of the snatch of elite Greek weightlifters. J Sports Sci 18: 643-652, 2000.
7. Pierce K. Clean and jerk. Strength Cond J 21(3): 46-47, 1999.
8. Roman RA and Shakirzyanov MS. The Snatch, the Clean and Jerk. Translated by Andrew C Jr. Moscow, Russia: Fizkultura i Sport, 1982. pp. 1-8, 58-119.
9. Souza AL, Shimada SD, and Koontz A. Ground reaction forces during the power clean. J Strength Cond Res 16: 423-427, 2002.
10. Vorobyev AN. A Textbook on Weightlifting. Budapest, Hungary: International Weightlifting Federation, 1978. pp. 38-47, 53-119.
Table

Table

Keywords:

clean; weightlifting; power training; teaching progression

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association