How to do a Power Clean: Proper Form, Variations, and Mistakes

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    The power clean is an explosive weightlifting exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the legs, back, and shoulders. This dynamic movement involves lifting a barbell from the floor to the front rack position in one fluid motion. In this article, we will explore the proper form for performing a power clean, discuss variations to challenge your training and highlight common mistakes to avoid. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve explosive power or a fitness enthusiast aiming to enhance overall strength, the power clean is a valuable exercise to incorporate into your routine.

    Proper Form 

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    1. Starting position:

    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Position the barbell on the floor, close to your shins. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips, reaching down to grip the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

    2. Set your back:

    Ensure your back is straight and maintain a neutral spine. Brace your core and engage your lats, creating tension throughout your body.

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    3. Initial pull:

    Push through your legs, driving explosively off the ground. As the barbell rises, extend your hips and knees simultaneously, generating upward momentum.

    4. Triple extension:

    As the barbell reaches the mid-thigh position, forcefully extend your hips, knees, and ankles. This explosive triple extension is key to generating power and momentum.

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    5. Pull under the bar:

    Once the triple extension is complete, aggressively pull your body under the bar by shrugging your shoulders, bending your elbows, and rotating your elbows forward.

    6. Catch and rack:

    As the bar rises, quickly drop into a quarter squat position. Simultaneously, rotate your elbows forward and raise your forearms, catching the barbell in the front rack position. Ensure your elbows are high and parallel to the ground, and the bar is resting on your shoulders/clavicles with your fingers relaxed.

    7. Stand up:

    From the front rack position, push through your heels and extend your hips and knees to stand up tall, completing the power clean.


    1. Hang Power Clean:

    Instead of starting from the floor, begin with the barbell at the hang position, just above the knees. This variation emphasizes explosive power and is useful for athletes focusing on specific positions within their sport.

    2. Power Clean from Blocks:

    Set up blocks or elevated platforms at various heights to start the lift from. This allows you to focus on specific portions of the movement and develop explosive power without worrying about the initial pull from the floor.

    3. Dumbbell Power Clean:

    Perform the power clean using dumbbells instead of a barbell. This variation enhances stability, coordination, and unilateral strength.

    4. Clean Pulls:

    Concentrate on the first and second pull of the power clean by removing the catch and rack phases. Increase the weight and focus on explosive extension and shrugging motions, reinforcing the proper mechanics of the power clean.

    Common Mistakes 

    1. Rounded back:

    Maintaining a rounded back during the power clean can lead to decreased power output and increased risk of injury. Focus on keeping your back straight and maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement.

    2. Early arm pull:

    Pulling with the arms too soon can disrupt the proper sequencing of the power clean and limit the force generated from the legs and hips. Remember to initiate the movement with an explosive leg drive, followed by the shrug and pull under the bar.

    3. Insufficient triple extension:

    Failing to fully extend the hips, knees, and ankles limits the power generated during the power clean. Practice explosive triple extension to maximize power output.

    4. Lack of coordination:

    Coordinating the different phases of the power clean is essential for a smooth and efficient lift. Ensure proper timing between the pull, shrug, and catch phases to optimize performance.


    The power clean is a dynamic and explosive exercise that develops full-body power, strength, and coordination. By focusing on proper form, exploring variations, and avoiding common mistakes, you can master this lift and reap its benefits. Remember to start with lighter weights and gradually increase as your technique improves. Incorporating power cleans into your training routine can enhance athletic performance, increase power production, and promote overall strength development.

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