The power clean is the most basic variation of the clean; the only difference is the height at which the bar is received.
Begin the lift exactly as you would the clean. Once you have extended completely to accelerate and elevate the bar, pull under quickly and aggressively and rack the bar on the shoulders in a partial squat position. All downward movement must be stopped with the lifter’s thighs above horizontal. The power clean is simply a clean without a full-depth squat to receive it.
Coaches and athletes sometimes have different definitions of what constitutes a “power” receiving position. Most commonly, anything received with the thighs horizontal or higher is considered a power lift. Others will require the knee to be bent to no more than 90 degrees, and others will count only lifts with the thighs above horizontal (i.e. a lift with thighs exactly horizontal is too low). Some lifters will also intentionally receive power cleans with a much wider foot stance than in the clean. This makes arresting the downward movement easier, but also means that the lift cannot continue into a full squat if the bar isn’t elevated adequately.
The power clean can be used to train speed and force production in both the second pull and the third pull by limiting the amount of time and distance the lifter has available to get under the bar. It can also be used as a lighter clean variation for lighter training days. The power clean can also be useful as part of a learning progression for beginners, or as a variation for individuals who are not mobile enough to sit into a front squat.
Power cleans should generally be programmed with 1-3 reps. They can be performed at maximal effort for training or testing at this rep range. Even at maximal weight, the power clean can serve as a lighter exercise for lighter training days between full heavy clean days. For speed training, weights of 60-75% are more appropriate, and for general use in lighter training days, 70-80% weights are typical.
The primary variations of the power clean include hang power cleans and block power cleans. They can be done without the hook grip for grip strength work.