Power Cleans – The Ultimate Power Athlete Exercise

(Last Updated On: October 12, 2021)

power clean

If you play a power sport like football, wrestling, MMA, lacrosse or rugby then power cleans should be part of your workout routine. I would bet just about every athlete from every sport out there could benefit from doing power cleans. Even golfers would improve their game and certainly hit the ball farther if they would start doing power cleans as part of their training. Not to mention they would look pretty sweet in that golf gear being all swole.

The power clean is also one of those exercises that is just fun to do, not to mention it makes you feel like a bit of a badass throwing the weight around like that, especially if you are strong at it and can use a good amount of weight.

Nearly all athletes can benefit from cleans and should be doing them. They are also one of our best exercises to give you an athletic body; let’s move on and talk about some of the benefits that make power cleans worthwhile.


Benefits of Doing Power Cleans

There are many benefits to doing power cleans that can help all athletes as well as weekend warriors and even fitness nuts. These benefits include:

Increased Power – Power cleans are easily one of the best exercises there is out there for increased power. Many people think power is the same thing as strength, but it’s not. An example of strength would be how much weight you can deadlift while an example of power is how fast you can deadlift an amount of weight. So basically, power is the combination of strength and speed together. The power clean is the perfect exercise for power because you need to move the weight quickly in order to execute the lift. Have you ever seen anyone do a power clean slowly? Me either, you can’t, it’s impossible. You must go fast thus the perfect power-building exercise is the power clean.

Increased Strength – Power cleans are an underrated strength exercise. The nice thing about power cleans is they work the entire body and getting strong at power cleans means you have a good overall body strength particularly in the posterior chain If you can power clean over 300 you are a strong person even if it is the only lift you ever train.

Increased Speed – Overall body speed is required to get the weight up to the catch position. You can’t do this exercise slowly as we started earlier. It is a speed and strength exercise thus training your body to move faster to get the lift completed.

Increased Coordination – The power clean is a technical exercise that takes some skill to accomplish, your body needs to work in coordination between muscle groups to complete the lift.

Increased Vertical Jump – This one is a big one for volleyball and basketball players. This study showed that power cleans and other Olympic lifts can improve your vertical jump, particularly when compared to traditional powerlifting.

Increased Muscle Growth – Power cleans are a great exercise for building athletic muscle and you can build a lot of it. Get strong at the power clean and you will be jacked. Just look at Olympic lifters, top CrossFit athletes, and football players who can power clean a lot of weight, they are beasts.

Power clean girl


How to Do a Power Clean

We could go over the description of how to do a power clean but that would be boring and most people would probably skip right over it. A video works much better plus it’s always better to actually see the exercise being done rather than just reading the description. The video below does a good job of showing how it is done and the key things to watch out for.


Power Cleans for Football

When it comes to the complete exercise for football the power clean is at the top of the list. That is why it is so popular among high school, college and pro teams. It builds that explosive power you need to blast off the line or, explode through a hole or blow up an opposing player. Basically, every upper-level team has power cleans or some other form of the clean as a big part of its training regimen. While it is a great exercise for all sports football, in particular, is one that really gets a lot of the benefits from the power clean.

I can remember about a year or so ago when Penn State running back Saquon Barkley broke the power clean record for their program with a 390lb clean. It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that he is one of the smaller guys on the team at 222lbs. The video of his lift is below. As you can see, Penn State football does a lot of power cleans.


Variations of the Power Clean

When it comes to cleans, there are a few variations that are also worthwhile to note. The Hang Clean (video below) is also a pretty popular exercise that is used extensively by football teams, Crossfitters and other athletes. Then there is also the clean and jerk which is another badass exercises and serious muscle builder you see in the Olympics. There is also the squat clean in which you catch the bar into a front squat position then stand up. All of these are excellent variations that would be worth your while to learn along with the power clean.


Any Negatives of Power Cleans

The biggest negative about the power clean is that it can be difficult to get the technique down pat. If you decide to just go it yourself and grab a bar and start doing power cleans on your own there is a good chance you are likely doing some part of the lift incorrectly, and if you are not doing it correctly there is a chance you could get injured. It is best to find a knowledgeable coach to show you exactly how it is done and even then it usually takes time to perfect it. This exercise may take a bit more time and energy to get perfected but it is definitely worth it.

Best Alternative to Power Cleans

Med ball throws and tosses are a great alternative to power cleans and can be used by many athletes for training.

Med ball throws, offer the same benefits as power cleans and they also carry some extra benefits that you won’t find with standard lifts such as power cleans or deadlifts. Med ball tosses are easier to learn than power cleans since they are not as technical. They are more of an explosive exercise that is great for athletes but also clients looking to increase athleticism and performance.

A med ball throw we like that has no learning curve would be overhead throws or the med ball bomb toss as some would call it.

The bomb toss allows you to get the triple extension you would get with the power clean but without the learning curve. Choose a med ball that is on the lighter side and go for either height or distance.

See the video below for a good description and demonstration.


Overall the power clean is an excellent exercise for athletes that has many benefits including increased strength, explosive power, increase vertical jumps and increased athleticism. It is not a simple exercise though and it is one you should get some coaching on to be sure you are doing it correctly, you should also be sure to use a quality coach who knows what they are talking about.

Once you get this exercise down and get stronger at it, your athletic performance, strength and muscle mass will all increase. Workout with power cleans twice a week and reap the benefits. Now get to work.