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One exercise you cannot do without

The power clean is an exercise that is entirely fundamental for any serious fitness enthusiast.  It helps to build raw, static strength, but more importantly, it develops your power, and power is much more useful in sports and everyday life.  Defined as the time rate of doing work, power allows you to not only move heavy objects, but also move them with speed.

The power clean can be divided into 6 phases.  This may sound complicated, but it will all come together when you actually attempt the exercise.  Acquaint yourself with the power clean by first watching this video, and then read on for specific instruction.

Starting position

  • Feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down with hips lower than shoulders.
  • Grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • The bar is about 1 inch in front of your shins, your back is flat, and head is up.

First pull

  • Lift the bar by explosively extending your hips and knees.
  • Keep torso angle constant.
  • Keep bar close to shins, and shoulders over the bar.

The scoop

  • This phase will happen somewhat naturally.
  • As the bar rises above the knees, thrust your hips forward and slightly re-flex the knees.
  • Your thighs should now be against the bar.

Second pull

  • Forcefully jump upward by extending knees and ankles.
  • Keep bar close to body.
  • When the lower body is fully extended, shrug your shoulders explosively.
  • Then pull the bar upward by flexing the elbows, like an upright row.
  • Your feet may lose contact with the floor.

The catch

  • Rotate your arms underneath the bar.
  • Simultaneously go into a quarter-squat position.
  • Lift the elbows parallel to the floor.
  • The bar should be across your clavicles.
  • Stand fully erect.

Downward movement

  • Lower elbows.
  • Slowly lower the bar to your thighs.
  • Flex your knees to cushion the impact.
  • Slowly lower the bar to the floor.

Of course, this is all done in one quick motion, but after performing this exercise a few times, you will begin to see the different phases of the lift.  

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