Over at T-Nation, strength coach Charles Staley has posted an excellent introduction to doing power cleans for those new to doing Olympic lifts. This is one of the single best multi-joint lifts for generating strength, power, and fat loss. Staley is one of the most respected and sought-after strength coaches in the country, was a co-founder of the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) certification company, and developed one of the single most effective training protocols for strength and fat loss, Escalating Density Training (EDT).
Charles Staley - A Power Clean Primer For Beginners
This article is an encapsulation of a teaching progression that I developed over the course of 3 years while teaching the "Olympic lifts" to over 65 Crossfit facilities in the US and Canada.
It's designed for people who are new to the Olympic lifts, and/or for those who do have some experience but still find themselves struggling.
Note: Before we go further, let me state that this is designed to be a "learn by doing" article – it won't have much real value unless you watch the videos and actually try the drills I've provided in them.
With that out of the way, the goal of the following sequence of drills is rapid competence. Not mastery, not perfection, but competence.
How rapid? One session. Honestly, I'm not very patient, and I assume you aren't either. So my goal here is to get you up and running, doing decent power cleans in the very first session, so that you have a chance to taste the fun and unique satisfaction of this lift.
And trust me, it really is fun. Once you get that initial taste, my bet is that you'll then do the hard work it takes to go from competence to mastery, which, admittedly, takes a lot longer.
Since my approach is all about expedience, please excuse my choice to omit specific recommendations about breathing, grip, stance, and the "double knee bend" (whatever that is). You can worry about those details later, and/or we can hash them out in the LiveSpill.
Remember, we're after rapid competence here – like speed-reading, my job here is to help you get the gist of the story very quickly. After that, should you so choose, you can go back with an eye for more detail.
Let's Get Started
The following series of 8 drills is designed to be learned in the order presented. But before we get to the first drill, a quick word about the weights you should be using for each drill.
I obviously can't recommend specific weights, since all of you will have different strength levels. The key for each drill is that you want to select a weight heavy enough to get the proprioceptive feedback you need to facilitate learning, but not so heavy that you're forced to do "whatever it takes" to complete the drill. If you're not sure, err on the side of going too light, at least at the beginning.
Most people can successfully work their way through all 8 drills in a single session, while others may require a few sessions to digest the skills. Further, the earlier drills can usually be ditched very quickly – within a few weeks in most cases.
Wherever you happen to fall on the skill continuum, what's most important is that you learn these drills in the order they appear below, and don't be afraid to drop back a level or two if necessary.