The power clean is the most basic variation of the clean—the only difference is that the lifter doesn’t squat to full depth when receiving the bar. This makes it a simpler lift for learning and more accessible to new lifters with limited mobility, but it also serves important purposes in training for more advanced lifters, such as training explosiveness in the pull, better timing in the finish and pull under, and a more accurate turnover.
With a clean-width grip (hands half a fist to a fist-width outside the shoulders), set the starting position tightly—feet approximately hip width and toes turned out with the weight balanced evenly across them; bar over the balls of the foot; knees pushed out to the sides inside the arms; trunk braced forcefully with the back extended; shoulder joint above the bar; arms relaxed and straight; head and eyes forward.
Push with the legs against the floor through the whole foot similarly to a squat, maintaining approximately the same back angle until the bar is above the knee. Continue aggressively pushing against the floor with the legs and extend the hips violently, keeping the bar as close to the body as possible and ensuring full contact with the upper thigh.
Once you’ve extended the body completely to maximally accelerate the bar with the lower body, pull the elbows up and out to begin moving your body down, and lift and move your feet into your receiving stance as you squat partially under the bar.
Spin the elbows around the bar to establish a secure rack position—bar in between the throat and highest point of the shoulders; shoulders protracted and slightly elevated; grip relaxed; elbows lifted high. As the bar is racked on the shoulders, brake hard with the legs to stop the squat as quickly as possible to ensure you remain above a parallel squat.
Note that more advanced athletes will often perform power cleans with a receiving stance considerably wider than their squat stance. This is a natural way to make braking in the receipt stronger. Newer lifters should receive with their squat stance, both to reinforce that technique for the full lift, and to allow them to safely continue into a full squat if they’re unable to stop higher.
Coaches have different definitions of what constitutes a “power” receiving position. Most commonly, anything received with the thighs above horizontal is considered a power lift. Others will require the knee to be bent to no more than 90 degrees, and others will count lifts with the thighs exactly horizontal and higher.
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 power, speed and aggression 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, as well as helping teach the lifter how to better meet the bar in the turnover of the clean rather than losing connection. 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, both because the weights will be limited relative to a full clean, and because the absence of a squat reduces the systemic load. For speed training, weights of 60-75% are more appropriate, and for general use in lighter training days, 70-80% weights are typical.
In the programming paragraph above, when it says "For speed training, weights of 60-75% are more appropriate", which of the following two is meant?
1. 60-75% of maximal load for a power clean?
2. 60-75% of maximal load for a "full" clean?
I suspect the author means #1 based on the immediately prior sentence "Even at maximal weight, the power clean can serve as a _lighter_ exercise for lighter training days between full heavy clean days.." But I'm just asking to be certain.