If you would really like to get back into shape, lose some weight, build some serious muscle, and meet some cool people too, then maybe you should try doing some power cleans. Power cleans are one of those hardcore weightlifting exercises that you see those huge muscle men and women do at the gym. This exercise may seem really intimidating at first, and you may think that you are not strong enough to do them, but you can always start out small. Don’t be intimidated and don’t back down because this is one of the best exercises that you can do. There is also the point that there are many different power clean benefits which will make you a stronger and fitter person in a matter of mere weeks.
Let’s talk about what exactly a power clean is, how you do them, and what all of the benefits are that they bring to the table!
What Is A Power Clean?
The power clean is a special exercise that hardcore weight lifters, especially Olympic lifters, engage in. This is a big weightlifting exercise that involves using a barbell and can involve lifting several hundred pounds up above your torso. This is an exercise that involves a whole lot of weight, a lot of training, knowledge, and proper form, all so you can do it correctly without hurting yourself.
To be exact, the power clean involves lifting a heavily weighted barbell from the floor up to your hips in an explosive motion, then, almost fluently, lifting it up onto your shoulders and under your palms with your fingers and palms facing upwards. To make things a little easier for you to understand you can always look at this video of a power clean demonstration.
How To Do A Power Clean – Tips
Doing power cleans involves a lot of skill, knowledge, and proper form, not to mention a whole lot of power too. Doing them incorrectly can lead to serious injuries, so here we have a little instructional on doing power cleans correctly in order to avoid injury.
Phase One – Standing
- Stand with your toes pointing slightly outwards and your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Squat down just like you would with a regular squat and grab the barbell using a closed pronated grip. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart on the barbell.
- Make sure that before you lift, the barbell should be about an inch in front of your shins and above the balls of your feet.
- Before you lift, make sure that your shoulders are retracted, that your back is flat or only slightly arched at the most, and that you are holding your chest up.
- Make sure to keep your head in line with your spine, which is a neutral position. Keep your eyes looking forward and inhale a deep breath.
Phase Two – The First Pull
- Now it is time to exhale and lift the bar from the floor by explosively extending your hips and knees while making sure that your upper body remains in the same angle and position. Don’t bend at the waist just yet, and don’t let your hips rise up before your shoulders either.
- Make sure to keep your elbows fully extended and your head in the neutral position.
- As you raise the bar up, try to keep it as close to your shins as you can.
Phase Three – The Scoop
- When the bar passes your knees explosively thrust your hips forward while also slightly bending the knees to make sure that they don’t lock.
- You need to keep your back flat, your head in the neutral position, and your elbows extended while doing this.
- You should try to hold your breath during this phase.
Phase Four – The Second Pull
- When your lower body is fully extended and the bar reaches waist level, slightly pull your body under the bar while at the same time rotating your arms under and around the bar.
- Flex your knees and hips until you are in a quarter squat.
- When your arms are under the bar, inhale sharply and lift up your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- You now need to rack the bar across your collar bones and the front of your shoulders.
- Make sure to catch the bar with a straight upper body, your feet flat, and your head in a neutral position. This is when you exhale.
- Now stand up and extend your knees and hips until they are straight and you are standing more or less straight up.
Phase Five – The Let Down
- Reduce the tension in your arms and slowly let the bar down. Inhale as you are doing this.
- Flex your knees and hips at the same time so there is not too much impact on your thighs when you let the bar down.
- Squat down with extended elbows until the bar touches the ground.
Here is also another little instructional video on doing power cleans.
Benefit #1: A Full Body Workout – Muscles To The Max
One of the biggest benefits by far that you get from doing power cleans is that they serve as a total body workout, or in other words, they strengthen pretty much every last major muscle group in your body. The power clean is what is known as a compound exercise, which means that it works out more than one muscle or muscle group at once, or in this case, many different ones.
First of all, doing power cleans involves doing a slight squat in the beginning. This has the effect of strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and your calf muscles too. This is because the initial lift or push in a power clean comes from your legs, thus providing you with big length strengthening benefits.
Next, the stage after you lift the bar off the floor and get it up to your shoulders involves a whole lot of core, lower and upper back, chest, and shoulder strength. Power cleans require a lot of core and back strength to get the barbell up from your hips up onto your shoulders, thus strengthening all of the muscles in your midsection without question. This motion also does a lot for strengthening your arms in general because of course you do need your arms to get that bar up onto your shoulders. As you can see, the power clean is a great compound exercise that will strengthen many different muscles in your body at the same time.
Of course, we all want stronger muscles because it makes us look better in front of the mirror and in our swim wear, and the guys and girls at the gym will definitely have a certain level of respect for you. There is also the obvious fact that having stronger muscles will greatly improve your physical performance in sports, in other physical activities, they make everyday life easier, and they can even help make you a better lover too.
Benefit #2: Better Balance
Another huge benefit that you get from doing power cleans on a regular basis is that they will help you improve your overall ability to balance. Power cleans can involve lifting anywhere from 50 to 500 pounds, at least if you are a professional lifter. At any rate, getting the bar from the ground to your hips, and from your hips to your shoulders takes a lot of balancing skill.
The heavier the barbell is that you are lifting, the more your balance is tested, and when something is tested or trained, just like with any other skill, over time you will get better at this. This is because of something known as the proprioceptors. These things are in our bodies from top to bottom, and they are the things which dictate how well we can balance.
Proprioceptors register positional changes, they compensate for those changes, and ultimately they keep us upright. The more weight you lift and the more often you do it, through the power clean, the more your proprioceptors are engaged, and therefore they will constantly get better at helping you balance.
Balance is not only great for various sports but also for your everyday life, especially as you get older. Having good balance in your old age can make all of the difference between catching yourself when you slip or falling on your butt and breaking your tailbone or a hip.
Benefit #3: Improved Grip Strength
Yet another benefit which the patented power clean brings to the table is the improvement of your grip strength. Lifting a heavy barbell with several hundred pounds on it requires a whole lot of forearm, wrist, hand, and finger strength, all of which combine and translate into what is your grip strength.
The more you do power cleans, the more reps you do, and the more weight you lift with each rep, the better your grip strength will become. Lifting that heavy barbell from the floor all the way to your head requires amazing grip strength or else you will probably drop the bar halfway through the exercise. Just like with all of your other muscles and skills, the more you work at something the better you will become at it.
You may not be able to grip a barbell very well at first, but after a few weeks of doing power cleans you will definitely realize your grip strength increase. Grip strength is important for many things in life. Holding that big kitchen knife, swinging a baseball bat, doing power cleans, and even stopping your baby stroller from rocketing down a hill all require good grip strength, something which you can definitely get from doing power cleans.
Benefit #4: Improving Your Posture
Bad posture is something that none of us want to have because it makes us look smaller, less confident, and it can end up being pretty painful too. Well, as we discussed above, power cleans do a great job at strengthening your core muscles and your back muscles too, not to mention your shoulder muscles as well.
If you did not already know, bad posture is often a result of weak core, back, neck, and shoulder muscles. When you have weak muscles your body has a hard time finding the strength to stay straight and upright.
The result of bad posture over a prolonged period of time can be severe back pain and even permanent injuries. Since power cleans strengthen the muscles which are required to maintain good posture, they will inherently help your posture improve.
Having strong core and back muscles results in better posture, which ultimately results in less or a total relief of back pain, you will look taller, and feel more confident too. Be careful though, because doing a power clean with improper form may actually injure your back muscles, therefore going against the benefit of good posture which they can help you achieve.
Benefit #5: Building Bone Strength
Yet another advantage of doing power cleans on a regular basis that you definitely need to reap is the fact that they do an amazing job at building your overall bone strength and the integrity of your skeletal structure. This is because many different weight lifting exercises like the power clean are considered to be weight bearing exercises, and perhaps the power clean is one of the most intense weight bearing exercises that you can engage in.
Weight bearing exercises are any kind of exercise that forces your bones and overall skeletal structure to hold up or resist an increased amount of weight. Since power cleans involve lifting several hundred pounds, pounds which your bones support, it is one of the most intense weight bearing exercises that you could engage in.
Well, weight bearing exercises also translate into being a bone building exercise, which is because just like your muscles gain strength from lifting weights, your bones get stronger from holding up weight, aka weight bearing exercises. Just to talk science for a quick minute, your osteoblasts are the cells in your bones which are responsible for creating new bone mass and adding it to the structure of your skeleton.
The more weight bearing exercises you do and the more weight you hold up, such as with a several hundred pound power clean, the more your osteoblasts are spurred on to create new bone mass. The overall result is therefore a drastically strengthened skeletal system with stronger, bigger, and thicker bones.
This is something that comes in handy for your everyday life, but especially for your old age. As you age your bones get weaker and become susceptible to degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Doing power cleans now will strengthen your skeletal system and help keep your bones in top shape well into your old age.
Benefit #6: Burning Calories & Fat
The next benefit that you will get from doing power cleans is that they will definitely help you burn calories, get rid of body fat, and help you achieve your ultimate weight loss goals. Now, to be clear, most weight lifting activities don’t burn as many calories as something like an aerobic exercise, but power cleans are so intense, especially if you lift several hundred pounds, that they still burn more than enough calories to consider it a great weight loss exercise.
Power cleans are a very energy and calorie intensive exercise and that means losing fat and overall weight. Even a small set of doing power cleans can help you burn several dozen calories without issue. Just to go over the mechanics quickly, your body, and when it comes to power cleans, your muscles, need a whole lot of energy to lift that weight above your torso.
Well, that energy comes in the form of calories, so using that energy for power cleans means burning away those 3 double cheeseburgers you ate for lunch. The beauty of this is that if you don’t have enough calories in your system to fuel your bodily functions and your muscles, then your body will turn to a secondary source of energy, which in this case is your fat reserves, thus helping you burn fat.
There is also another way in which power cleans can help you lose weight and it has to do with your metabolism, which is how fast your body burns calories and how many calories it burns for an equivalent unit of energy. The more you exercise, or in this case, the more power cleans you do, the more efficient your metabolism becomes. In layman’s terms, that means that your body burns more calories on average for the energy it gets.
The ultimate result here is that power cleans will help you burn more calories on a daily basis, even after you are done with your power clean sets for the day. Your EPOC or exercise post energy consumption will be revved up through the roof, and that means burning a whole lot of calories, thus helping you with your weight loss goals.
Benefit #7: Building Explosive Power
Yet another benefit that you get from doing power cleans is pure explosive power. You see, there is a difference between normal strength and explosive strength. In essence, explosive strength means being able to go from 0 to 100 in a matter of microseconds. It means being able to lift a whole lot of weight without taking a year to do it.
This is the difference between doing a power clean, which is lifting several hundred pounds in just 1 or 2 seconds, and doing something like bicep curls where you do 10, 20, or 30 reps with a relatively low weight.
Explosive power is useful for fighters, Olympic weightlifters, many sports, and for many aspects of everyday life. The first stage of the power clean, the stage where you lift the bar off the ground and up to your hips does a great job at building explosive strength, and the other stages of the power clean do a pretty decent job with that as well.
Benefit #8: Joint & Cartilage Health
The next important benefit that you can reap from doing regular power cleans is that they can actually help improve your joint health by a great deal. You see, as you get older your cartilage starts to wear down, and for all intents and purposes, your cartilage is like the lubrication in the pistons of an engine, or in this case the lubrication between your joints.
Cartilage helps you move easier and it helps you retain your full range of motion, something that starts to slip away as you age. When you get older your cartilage will deteriorate and disappear, which can result in a lack of a normal range of motion, pain, and even things like arthritis, none of which are desirable in the least. The deterioration of your cartilage does not only have to do with age, but also with a lack of nutrition.
Your cartilage is like a sponge in the sense that it can get squeezed. Well, cartilage needs nourishment, which it gets from the fluids that run through it, but the problem is that physical activity is required to make the nutrient rich fluids flow to your cartilage. In other words, your cartilage absorbs nutrient rich fluid, which then needs to be squeezed out so that your cartilage can get rid of the nutrient devoid fluid and replace it with fresh fuel.
If you can’t tell where we are going with this, the moral of the story is that power cleans get your joints in motion, thus squeezing your cartilage and allowing it to absorb fresh nutrients. The final result here is that power cleans really do help keep your cartilage and your joints in top condition, thus keeping your joints lubricated and keeping things like arthritis at bay.
Benefit #9: It Is A Community Activity
The final thing that is worth mentioning is that power cleans are not exercises that people usually do from the comfort of their homes. In other words, to do power cleans, you need to go to a gym and chances are huge that you will meet other passionate weightlifters and power clean fanatics. What we are trying to say is that this exercise is a surprisingly good way to make new friends, meet new people, and become involved in a tight knit community that will be there for you, support you, and give you solid weightlifting advice.
As you can see, the power clean benefits that you can reap from this fairly simple yet absolutely muscle busting exercise are vast and boy are they ever big. The power clean will make you a stronger, better balanced, and upright person that will impress all of the people at the gym and at the beach too. This is a really hardcore exercise that needs to be done properly (refer to the section on how to do the power clean) or else you risk injuring yourself but do them properly and you will become a big strong man or woman in no time at all.
If you have any questions about the power clean, just ask us and we will get back to you as soon as we can!
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