August 01, 2006
The power clean teaches explosion. It cannot be done slowly. And since it involves a longer pull than the squat clean, it emphasizes the finish, where the maximum hip, knee, and ankle extension occurs, without the added complication of the front squat part of the movement.
There will be a weight, however light or heavy, that the athlete can handle correctly. That weight can be gradually increased, enabling athletes of any level of advancement to increase power production. Since athletics depends so heavily on the ability to exert force rapidly, the clean is a very useful tool for all athletes
The power clean is best thought of as a jump with the bar in the hands, followed immediately by an upward forward slam of the elbows to rack it on the shoulders. It is much easier to learn from the hang position; learning it off the floor tends to understate the importance of the explosive phase at the top.
In fact, the reason the power clean is an important assistance exercise for weightlifters is that it teaches the “finish” of the pull at the top, that last little bit of extension that must be done before going under the bar. If the first thing learned is the jump, the trainee has a better chance of keeping the power part of the movement foremost in importance. The most important position is what I refer to as the “jumping” position. It is the point at which the bar touches the thigh when both the hips and knees are unlocked and the arms are still straight.