[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Jesse Wang, an Exercise Science student from the University of Oregon]
This blog is inspired by Athletic Lab client, Chase Rogers, who added 5kg (11lbs) to his all-time personal best on the power clean yesterday without doing anything other than improving his technique. Olympic weightlifting is a great way to build explosiveness but the lifts are technical. If done improperly, it will result in less weight being lifted and an increased risk of injury. This can cause strength coaches to eliminate Olympic weightlifting exercises completely from the program. My first exposure to Olympic weightlifting was through Glenn Pendlay. His learning progression was very easy to learn and it resulted in great form. There are several philosophies on how to teach the power clean and I’ve found this one to be quite useful.
The first position to learn in the power clean is the position where you begin your second pull. Stand up straight with the bar. Pull your shoulders back and keep the weight on your heels. Keep your arms long and straight. Make sure your head is facing forward and your chest is tall. Bend two inches at the knees without bending at the hips. Jump and catch the bar in a front squat position.
Once you have mastered step one, it is now time to go to step two. The second position is when the bar is right below the knee. You achieve that by going to step one, and bending at the hips until the bar is right below the knee. Make sure everything is the same as step one except the bar position. The weight should still be on the heels, back tight (shoulders back), straight arms, and head is still facing the crowd. Now move into step one, pause, and jump and catch.
The third and last step is when the bar is on the ground. This position is reached by bending the knees at step one, bending at the hips at step two, and bending at the knees again until the bar touches the ground. The weight should no longer be on your heels, it will shift forward to the ball of your foot. Make sure your back is still tight, arms long, and your head is still facing forward. Move into step two by pushing the knees back, pause, move into step one, pause, jump and catch.
After nailing those positions into your brain, it is now time to clean without pausing. If you are trying to do a full clean, make sure to do a front squat after receiving the weight. This is so you won’t be catching the bar with excessive distance with your feet.