Elite athletes in all sports have one thing in common...strong and explosive hips. Development of core muscle strength and explosive strength are essential to excelling in sports. This type of strength must be worked at to be attained: enter the exercises of power cleans and hang cleans. These two simple, yet very complex, weight room exercises will develop core muscle strength and explosive hips.
When performed improperly power cleans and hang cleans can have the potential for back injury and reinforcement of improper techniques. Proper technique in performing these lifts is paramount in gleaning the most from the time spent and minimizing injury.
Proper technique begins with the beginning stance. The feet are shoulder width apart with the knees inside the arms. The back retains a “flat” posture with flexion of the knees and hips that result in the knees in front of the bar. In this position, the heels are flat, arms fully extended, shoulders are over or slightly ahead of the bar. A flat back posture is attained by retracting the shoulder blades, holding the chest up and out, and tilting the head slightly up (DO NOT LOOK UP).
Begin this motion by extending the knees, moving the hips forward and raising the shoulders. The angle of the back is kept constant. The bar then begins to be lifted up. The bar is kept close to the body, retaining straight elbows while keeping the heels on the floor.
Upward Movement Phase: Scoop
This motion begins with a hip thrust forward while continuing to pull upward with legs extending the knees. The torso should be nearly vertical and erect. The shoulders are still positioned directly over the bar with the elbows fully extended.
Upward Movement Phase: Second Pull
This is the explosive portion of the lift. The lifter continues to maintain a flat back while keeping the bar close to the body. Move the bar up by explosively extending the hip, knee, and ankle joints in a jumping action. Do not actually allow the feet to leave the ground, the toes should remain in contact with the ground. At the body’s highest point, shrug the shoulders, flex and pull with the arms. The elbows are kept high during the pull while keeping them over the wrists.
During the catch phase the lifter rotates their elbows around and under the bar. The wrists extend as the elbows move under the bar. The elbows should point forward or slightly up while the bar is “racked” across the front of the shoulders. The back is kept erect while the hips and knees flex to absorb the weight of the bar. The athlete then straightens the hips and knees completing the lift.
Downward Movement Phase
The bar is slowly lowered and under control to the top of the thighs. The hips and knees then flex as the bar lands on the thighs. Squat down toward the floor maintaining an erect spine and heels on the floor. The bar is then lowered, close to the shins, and placed on the floor. The body should be in the same position as at the beginning of the lift.
As described, the Power Clean and Hang Clean are excellent weight training exercises to develop core and explosive muscle strength. Proper technique must be stressed for the beginning lifters versus weight. As muscle memory improves and the lifter becomes coordinated with the lift explosive strength will follow.
Please feel free to contact one of our Athletic Trainers with any questions you may have about sports medicine or strength and conditioning. Keep in mind that all of our Athletic Trainers are also Certified Strength and Conditioning specialists under the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
©2000 - 2009 David Edell
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Last Update for AthleticAdvisor.com: 10/24/2009 12:09:35 AM