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Squatting Power Part 5: The Power Clean

Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By John Davies - Chat with Coach Davies on the ProSource Fitness Forum | Feb 21, 2007

Before you jump into this training session, it is important to go-back to underlining the first two extremely important points that are contained in the Renegade Concepts of Training. They are:
  • Movements trained, not musculature
  • Efficiencies of movement reinforced
These points need to be stressed, as proper movement generation goes hand-in-hand with the stabilization of the core, hip and trunk flexibility and lower body action. Force can then be projected, accepted and redirected at maximal levels.

Through this early development period, this focus on the posterior chain, core stabilization and dynamic range of motion, a higher-performing individual/athlete is created. I also draw attention to those two points because one of the "hardest" parts of teaching advanced training protocols is trying to get the new user to forget what they have learned in the past and come to the training session as an empty vessel to absorb information. As it relates to technical matters such as executing the lifts with proper form, we as professionals are often dealing with a nightmare situation in which lifts are rarely executed with proper form, the users who are sometimes experienced li fters nonetheless use too heavy a load, and thus the movement pattern is never correct and the intended effect is negated.

With this said, our training session today provides you a leg-training program anchored by one of the most common exercises within athletic training circles, the power clean .

The Power Clean is considered a "Focus Lift" within Renegade Training and should be a staple of any exercise program. It is a compound exercise that is tremendously efficient in developing the entire body. Additionally, along with the Power Snatch and Push Jerk, it's one of the best exercises for developing explosive power and speed.

There are many points to stress in teaching this lift, but prior to doing so, I want you to understand this is not quantum physics and it really isn't that complicated. I have heard over and over how the classic Olympic lifts are too difficult to teach, but in fact, they are not. Apply yourself with dedication and commitment, it's incredible what you are capable of.

In teaching the Power Clean, the most effective way to start is from the "hang" position, bar just above the knees, then slowly progress to below the knees and eventually to the floor. While I prefer the use of the "hang" as a start position, any individual should be able to be comfortable with any start position.

Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart, with the toes slightly pointed out. The simplest way for you to find this natural stance is to stand upright, jump and stomp down hard. Your landing spot will be a solid indicator of your optimal stance. Stand tall, your chest out as your grasp the bar in an overhand grip, where your hands naturally lie to your sides, which is slightly wider than shoulder width. From here, I teach the lift somewhat different than most because I look at it not from a competitive Olympic lifter but for a wider training, sport and occupational use. Initiate the movement by pushing the buttocks backwards, which will create a bend at your knee's and the back will be at roughly a 45-degree angle known as the "neutral position." This action is extremely important as you become technically proficient you will drop and create a rubber-band effect of stretching, ready to explode.

From this position, it is basically an explosive leap, with the entire body violently driving the weight up into the second pull. From this stage, I prefer teaching the lifter to stomp, which is done by having your feet actually leave the ground and then driving down vigorously into the floor. While this creates all sorts of odd debates within lifting circles, from the vantage of athletic training, it has distinct carryover to teaching the all-important speed factor of creating ground impact.

At this stage, then, you continue driving the hips through, extending your trap and re-bend at the knees. As the bar moves up to the chest, it will have a feeling of "weightlessness" as it unloads. With the elbows driving up and flexed up, the bar is moving close to the body and as it hits mid-chest region, the lifter quickly dips under the bar and shoots the elbows up and through, catching the bar in the proper "rack" position (see photos of the start position of the front squat for an idea of this position), with the upper arms approximately parallel to the floor. Intensity level for this movement is between 40 percent and 65  percent of your one-rep max, performed for a total of 4 sets of 6 reps. Rest intervals, depending on work threshold capability, should be between 35 and 45 seconds without deviation.

Next up is the front squat. There are two definitive ways to perform it . One is Olympic style, which is my preference, and the other is the adaptation known as the bodybuilding style. I would stress heavily that you look to learn the Olympic style, as it will allow for greater loads, but also give us the latitude to branch off into the training complexes that will be introduced later on.

In performing the Olympic variation, the bar sits in the "rack" position as it rests on the collarbone/shoulder region. The lifter may in fact allow their hands to open, yet have total control of the bar. The elbows turn under the bar, basically with the upper arm parallel to the floor and the torso taut and firm. The feet are spaced roughly shoulder-width apart and turned out slightly.

Drop into the squat by pushing the butt back into a full rock-bottom squat then push and drive up and through. Those who try this lift for the first time will invariably realize the main issue will be the flexibility to grasp the bar, and may find it better to use the "bodybuilder" style, often associated with the Blond Bomber, bodybuilding legend Dave Draper. To perform this style, walk in the squat racks and align the barbell across your chest and shoulders. Cross your arms over the bar, hold and support the bar with your hands, keep your chest up and open and complete the lift as in the Olympic style. Intensity level for this movement is between 40 and 65 percent of of your one-rep max, performed for a total of 4 sets of 6 reps. Rest intervals, depending on work threshold capability, should be between 35 and 45 seconds without deviation.
From this stage, we need to introduce two extraordinary exercises that are instrumental in establishing a strong rotator cuff region: the Cuban Press and  Internal/External Rotation. These movements should be a part of every exercise regimen in creating a strong shoulder capsule. Pay careful attention to these movements, given their extraordinary importance for your long-term health and athletic development.
I find the best medium to perform the Cuban Press is with bands. They offer a perfect resistance and can be adapted for any strength level, as well as being transportable. Holding bands in front, pinch your rear delts, lift your elbows up high until your shoulder to elbow joint is parallel to the floor. From that position, lift the weight/band up so that the elbow-to-wrist span is perpendicular to the floor. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps at 70-75 percent of your one-rep max, with 45 seconds rest between sets..
You'll use a band again for Internal/External Rotation. Seated in a wide straddle position, with bands wrapped around your feet, pull your elbows back and rotate your elbow to hand joint so that it is perpendicular to the floor. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps at 70-75 percent with 45 seconds rest.

Putting all those together, this workout goes as follows:

Focus Lifts

Power Clean

Sets 4
Reps 6
Intensity Level 40-65%

Sets 4
Reps 6
Intensity Level 40-65%
Supplemental Lifts
Snatch Grip Deadlift

Sets 3
Reps 5
Intensity Level 80-85%
Good Morning Squat

Sets 3
Reps 5
Intensity Level 80-85%
Cuban Press

Sets 3
Reps 12
Intensity Level 70-75%
Internal/External Rotation

Sets 3
Reps 12
Intensity Level 70-75%
Postural Holds*


Side Plank

Horse Pose

* Perform each movement as detailed in Squatting Power, Part 4.

Now, get out and train ... and get ready for the upcoming Squatting Power Part 6 in this continuing series.

Missed Part I of this series? Read it here. Missed Part II of this series? Read it here. Missed Part III of this series? Read it here. Missed Part IV of this series? Read it here.
Editors Note Training Renegade Style is the most demanding style of training available but it produces a common theme -- champions. Champions who stand above the rest and are ready to take on all challengers. Are you ready for greatness or do you just want to be a part of the pack? Find out about the ultra-secret, yet simple diet and supplement plan that Renegade athletes make use of at
John Davies, Founder Renegade Training Chat Live with Coach Davies in the Renegade Training forums.


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