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Common Power Clean Mistakes

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In part 1 of our how to power clean series, we teach a step-by-step progression to learning the clean. In this video, we address common power clean mistakes and how to fix them.

Bent Elbows

Bent elbows during a power clean is often referred to as “arm pull.” The arms during the power clean should be like two pieces of rope with hooks attached at the end. If the rope is taught, all the energy from the jump goes into the barbell. When the arms bend, some of the jump straightens the elbows, which is an energy leak.

Fix this by internally rotating your arms and flexing your triceps during the pull and the jump position.

If you’re still arm pulling despite focusing on internal rotation and tricep extension, practice your jump without racking the bar. Jump two or three times, and then on the fourth jump, rack the bar. This will help establish the motor pattern: “jump with straight arms.”

Setting Up Too Far Away

If you set up too far away from the barbell (and the barbell does not start over your midfoot), the bar has to scoop in to return to the midfoot. Start with the bar directly over your midfoot, just like in a deadlift.

Lifting the Chest, Opening the Hips

If you don’t stay leaned over the bar, you reduce the “whip” of your clean. Lifters who have a lot of experience deadlifting, but not cleaning, will often result in deadlifting their clean off the floor.

Think about how a vertical jump is performed – you break at the hips and knees and bend over, then jump into the air. You don’t prepare for an effective vertical jump by keeping your torso vertical, or not leaning over. This reduces the power of your jump. This is a similar concept as lifting your chest or opening your hips too soon during the clean.

The Shrug

When you have weight in your hands and you jump, your body will shrug. It doesn’t have to be taught, because you’ll do it automatically.

The Double Knee Bend

As the bar passes the knees, the knees actually bend a second time. It happens naturally out of the “second pull,” so it also doesn’t need to be taught. The first pull gets the bar off the ground and the second pull produces the jump.



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