THE POWER CLEAN (Discover this dirty little secret for better functional fitness.)
Oxygen|Fall 2021
OLYMPIC LIFTS ARE A VALUABLE TOOL FOR IMPROVING STRENGTH and athletic performance — and as a side bonus, they also help develop crazy-good muscle shape, size, and definition. In fact, one could argue that the power-clean portion of the clean-and-jerk is the best exercise ever devised. “The clean is a functional movement used [routinely] in everyday activities,” says Aaron Viscounte, CSCS, head coach and manager at Summer’s Fitness Inc. in North Canton, Ohio. “We use aspects of the clean to pick up a box and put it on a shelf, move furniture or even go grocery shopping.” During a power clean, the barbell travels from the floor to the “racked” position at shoulder level and back down again. We tapped some elite trainers for their step-by-step expert advice on making the most of every rep.
MICHAEL BERG, NSCA-CPT

7 STEPS TO THE PERFECT POWER CLEAN

NO. 1 | THE SETUP

Place a barbell on the floor in the center of an Olympic platform or in an area with rubber or reinforced flooring. Clear the space around you, then load your plates and secure them with clips. If possible, use rubber Olympic-lifting plates, aka “bumper” plates, which are easier on the equipment and the floor and which raise the bar higher off the ground, decreasing the distance needed to lift the weight.

Crew Cue: Warm Up

Wisely Power cleans engage most of the muscles in your body, so perform a total-body dynamic warm-up before hitting the bar. “If your hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors are overly tight, it can lead to incorrect technique and risk of injury,” says Summer Montabone, CSCS*R, retired IFBB pro fitness athlete and founder of Summer’s Fitness. Include moves like leg swings, toe touches to overhead extensions, arm circles, cat/cow, Frankenstein walks, and wrist circles.

NO. 2 | POWER POSITION

Stand behind the bar with your feet about shoulder-width apart and take an overhand grip just outside your legs. “The barbell should be very close to your shins,” Viscount says. “Sit your butt down, draw your shoulders back and keep your focus forward.” This low-hip position with your thighs parallel to the floor makes for a much stronger vertical pull.

“Your shoulders should be right above or a little in front of the bar at the start, with your arms straight,” adds Josefine Holmberg, Oxygen ambassador, and NPC Bikini competitor. Also, make sure your elbows are pointed outward (not back). This puts your arms in a better position to pull the bar upward as high as possible.

Crew Cue: The Hookup

It’s good practice to use a hook grip on the bar for this or any other explosive Olympic or powerlifting move: Wrap your fingers around the bar and over your thumbs and squeeze. This helps lock in your grip and gives you a little extra security during explosive movements.

Error Alert: Look Here

If your back is straight and you’re looking at the floor, your hips are probably too high. Drop them down so they’re almost level with your knees and your focus is straight ahead to protect your back and shoulders.

NO. 3 | THE PULL (PHASE 1)

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