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Barbell Power-clean form check please!

All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi everyone,

So I just started doing power-cleans today, and my form looks egregious. I would like some feedback please. There are too many things wrong with this. From what I can see: I am not jumping high enough; I am yanking the bar with my hands as the bar comes in contact with my mid thigh; my arms are bending and they shouldn't; I am doing something weird in the rack position at the top; my balance is all over the place; the bar is swinging around and then coming to the rack position instead of coming up in a straight line.

I didn't think it would be this awful. Btw, the weight was not an issue. I started light as I don't know how to perform the move yet. I worked on it for 45 mins today, doing 5s x 6r. And it's so ugly. When I first did my deadlift and squat, they were no where as awful as my power-cleans. Any help is appreciated.

75 lbs (front angle)

95 lbs (45 degree front angle)
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Good start @All Pain No Gain , you've got the right idea. It takes a lot of practice! Mine were at least that ugly when I started. I've been at it well over a year now and still have a long way to go. Recent video

So, I'd recommend you focus on three things. 1) You mentioned "I am not jumping high enough", well, you don't have to jump high. You just want to produce power and have fast feet. "Punch and pull under" is the cue from my coach @randyh. "Use your legs to punch the platform away rather than use them to catch air". 2) Yes you are pulling the bar with your hands (early arm bend) so you want to work on having straight arms at the point you are punching the platform with your legs. THEN pull under with the quick arm bend. This usually takes a lot of practice with an empty bar. 3) As for the rack position -- work on mobility, and spend time there. I'd recommend holding a few seconds in the rack position after each PC to continue to get more comfortable with it. I actually think you might need to widen your grip a little bit to have a better rack position.

Hope that helps. It's a complicated movement! Just keep after it.
 

Hardartery

Level 5 Valued Member
@Anna C offers good advice. Not just here but as a general rule from what I've seen, so pay attention to her.
You are just standing up with the bar and then trying to accelerate essentially from the Deadlift lockout position. You don't appear to putting anything at all into it until the point where the lift should essentially be over. At the point where your hips can hit that bar you are done except for the shrug. You should be pulling hard from just off the floor. Most people also do not do high reps. It's a technique lift and technique erodes quickly with reps. You aren't going to see O-lifters pulling for sets of 5, there's a reason for that. Also, don't jump. I do not know what cues are being advised from whom, but in my experience ther is no jumping with this lift. You see feet leave the ground because they generate so much force on the pull that it carries them up off of the floor. That is not going to happen with light weight unless you trying to throw it for height like it's a Highland Games event. Your Clean grip should be roughly a thumb length outside of your calves - give or take - not with your elbows wrapped around them in a bad bent arm start. There are plenty of videos online for developiing flexibility for the catch position.
 

Chase Hines

Level 5 Valued Member
Two things from my personal experience -

1 - I found that hang cleans from slightly above my knees really helped me grove this movement. Great way to hone in your timing.

2 - Play around with the front squat & front rack position with 135 on the bar then move to power cleaning with the 135. Having a bit more weight (not to much) will probably clean up the early arm bend and prevent you from being able to do the movement without using power from your legs/hips.

255 DL moved pretty quickly for you on your channel so I’d be willing to bet 135 power clean would be just fine.
 

mgracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Hi @All Pain No Gain so all of the notes above are great cues. I’ll add my 2 cents if you like.

I’ve been weightlifting and coaching weightlifting for over 10 years now and while I’m no expert I’d say do a few corrective drills first before attempting the power clean.

Your position off the floor is key. Like Anna said your grip looks a bit narrow because it looks like you are fighting for space with your knees. Your hands should be just outside. Also from the front your feet look very close together as well. You want to start just under hips, for best force production IE your pulling stance, and fiddle with what feels comfortable from there. When you receive your clean or power clean you will land in a squat stance width.

Check your start position as well to see if you can get your back a bit arched with tension, your butt a tad lower and shoulders in advance of the bar. I have a feeling if you widen your hands and feet your hips will lower a tad and your back will be in a better angle to keep tension in your legs during the first pull.

I also notice your are not using hook grip. While one can do the competition lifts with a full grip, hook grip will allow for a stronger connection to the bar without too much arm tension and allow you to keep the bar closer. Too much arm tension slows the turn over resulting in more of a reverse curl.

To feel what the punch and pull under feels like I’d do some dip power cleans as a technique drill. This will teach you to use your legs and extend first and at the same time pull under aggressively versus pulling the bar to your chest.

Also I’d work on some muscle cleans from standing. With hook grip in power position think knuckles down and elbows turned out. Keep the bar close to your torso like a scarecrow then rotate around. This will teach you to not curl the bar towards you and will help with your rack reception.

Once comfortable with these drills then start doing the power clean lower on your leg each time until you are pulling from the floor. You can also pull from the floor and pause at 1”, mid shin, at knee and mid thigh until you feel more comfortable.

All of these drills are of course effective only if you have the prerequisite front rack mobility. So you’ll want to do some front squats to test that.

Hope that all helps and if you like I can link some videos as well for examples of the technique drills. Also I commend your efforts and eagerness to learn the details in this lift. Keep up the effort and tenacity and it will pay off. Good work!!!

Best of luck.

-Mira
 
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All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
Good start @All Pain No Gain , you've got the right idea. It takes a lot of practice! Mine were at least that ugly when I started. I've been at it well over a year now and still have a long way to go. Recent video

So, I'd recommend you focus on three things. 1) You mentioned "I am not jumping high enough", well, you don't have to jump high. You just want to produce power and have fast feet. "Punch and pull under" is the cue from my coach @randyh. "Use your legs to punch the platform away rather than use them to catch air". 2) Yes you are pulling the bar with your hands (early arm bend) so you want to work on having straight arms at the point you are punching the platform with your legs. THEN pull under with the quick arm bend. This usually takes a lot of practice with an empty bar. 3) As for the rack position -- work on mobility, and spend time there. I'd recommend holding a few seconds in the rack position after each PC to continue to get more comfortable with it. I actually think you might need to widen your grip a little bit to have a better rack position.

Hope that helps. It's a complicated movement! Just keep after it.
Hello Anna, thank you so much for the feedback. I will start working on the "punch and pull under" cue.

Your form looks great, thanks for sharing the video. The very first thing I noticed was that your elbows at the rack position were pointing forwards, where as mine were pointing down. So I tried to correct that. I think that was one reason why I was having trouble balancing the bar at the rack position. I have to work on my mobility more to correct the elbow position. A wider grip helped. Any chance you have a step by step learning video?

Also, do you actually "hit" the bar on your upper thigh or does the bar just brush against your thigh? I mean when the bar passes you knee, are you thinking "I need to hit the bar hard on my mid thigh"? That is what I am thinking and I seem to be messing it up.
 
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All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
@Anna C offers good advice. Not just here but as a general rule from what I've seen, so pay attention to her.
You are just standing up with the bar and then trying to accelerate essentially from the Deadlift lockout position. You don't appear to putting anything at all into it until the point where the lift should essentially be over. At the point where your hips can hit that bar you are done except for the shrug. You should be pulling hard from just off the floor. Most people also do not do high reps. It's a technique lift and technique erodes quickly with reps. You aren't going to see O-lifters pulling for sets of 5, there's a reason for that. Also, don't jump. I do not know what cues are being advised from whom, but in my experience ther is no jumping with this lift. You see feet leave the ground because they generate so much force on the pull that it carries them up off of the floor. That is not going to happen with light weight unless you trying to throw it for height like it's a Highland Games event. Your Clean grip should be roughly a thumb length outside of your calves - give or take - not with your elbows wrapped around them in a bad bent arm start. There are plenty of videos online for developiing flexibility for the catch position.
Hello Hardartery,

Thanks for the advice. And yes Anna C has given me some great advice here and with my Squats and Deadlifts. And so have you. Thanks!

About the jumping thing: I was following the Starting Strength power clean tutorial where Mark teaches to come off the floor slow when learning the movement to get used to touching the bar at the mid thigh position (which they call the jumping position). They teach that when the bar touches the mid thigh, we should jump up. This does feel a bit weird for me now.

And yes, you are right about the reps; I reduced it to 3 reps per set. But I really want to get the movement down. So, how many sets do you suggest I do? I did 5 sets of 3 reps yesterday. And I used a wider grip, which allowed me to have straight hands and locked elbows.
 

All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
Two things from my personal experience -

1 - I found that hang cleans from slightly above my knees really helped me grove this movement. Great way to hone in your timing.

2 - Play around with the front squat & front rack position with 135 on the bar then move to power cleaning with the 135. Having a bit more weight (not to much) will probably clean up the early arm bend and prevent you from being able to do the movement without using power from your legs/hips.

255 DL moved pretty quickly for you on your channel so I’d be willing to bet 135 power clean would be just fine.
Hi Chase,

Thanks a lot for the feedback. I think doing front squats is a really great idea. Or I am incredibly stupid to not have thought about that. And I will do my worksets with 135 lbs and see how that goes. I feel that in the rack position, I am too far upright. I don't know if I should catch the bar by getting more lower. And thanks for taking a look at the DL video and the advice. I will post one with 135 lbs the next day I do it.
 

All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi @All Pain No Gain so all of the notes above are great cues. I’ll add my 2 cents if you like.

I’ve been weightlifting and coaching weightlifting for over 10 years now and while I’m no expert I’d say do a few corrective drills first before attempting the power clean.

Your position off the floor is key. Like Anna said your grip looks a bit narrow because it looks like you are fighting for space with your knees. Your hands should be just outside. Also from the front your feet look very close together as well. You want to start just under hips, for best force production IE your pulling stance, and fiddle with what feels comfortable from there. When you receive your clean or power clean you will land in a squat stance width.

Check your start position as well to see if you can get your back a bit arched with tension, your butt a tad lower and shoulders in advance of the bar. I have a feeling if you widen your hands and feet your hips will lower a tad and your back will be in a better angle to keep tension in your legs during the first pull.

I also notice your are not using hook grip. While one can do the competition lifts with a full grip, hook grip will allow for a stronger connection to the bar without too much arm tension and allow you to keep the bar closer. Too much arm tension slows the turn over resulting in more of a reverse curl.

To feel what the punch and pull under feels like I’d do some dip power cleans as a technique drill. This will teach you to use your legs and extend first and at the same time pull under aggressively versus pulling the bar to your chest.

Also I’d work on some muscle cleans from standing. With hook grip in power position think knuckles down and elbows turned out. Keep the bar close to your torso like a scarecrow then rotate around. This will teach you to not curl the bar towards you and will help with your rack reception.

Once comfortable with these drills then start doing the power clean lower on your leg each time until you are pulling from the floor. You can also pull from the floor and pause at 1”, mid shin, at knee and mid thigh until you feel more comfortable.

All of these drills are of course effective only if you have the prerequisite front rack mobility. So you’ll want to do some front squats to test that.

Hope that all helps and if you like I can link some videos as well for examples of the technique drills. Also I commend your efforts and eagerness to learn the details in this lift. Keep up the effort and tenacity and it will pay off. Good work!!!

Best of luck.

-Mira
Hello Mira,

Really, I am just amazed at this. Thank you so much for the great feedback. This is really detailed and I really appreciate the help. Okay, so I widened my grip, which allowed me to straighten my arms and lock out my elbows at the starting position. I widened my stance a bit too, and got my hips a bit lower as well. I switched to a hook grip. And next day I will spend some time on doing front squats. Maybe I will do some with 135 or 155 lbs. To be honest I never did front squats, which is probably why I feel awkward at the rack position and have poor shoulder/elbow mobility there. I noticed my elbows point down at the rack position.

Thanks for listing the drills. I will work on them the next session. So, some tutorials and coaches suggest creating contact between the bar and the mid thigh. And this "hit" or "contact" will help the bar to pop upwards. I feel like in all my reps, I was looking way too hard for the contact (i.e., I was anticipating the bar hitting my mid thigh hard). I think this kind of distracted me a bit from lift itself.

On day 1, when my hips were a bit high at the starting position, I felt it was easier to find this bar contact with my thighs. But on day 2, after lowering my hips at the starting position, I felt it was much harder to get the bar to hit hard on my mid thigh. I don't quite know the physics of this yet. I don't know if what I am saying makes sense to you. But any advice on that? Do you teach your students to create a hard contact between the bar and the mid thigh?

Oh and please, link some videos for technique drills. And it would be really helpful for me if you can comment or add a video on the bar contact thing.

Thanks very much for all the help. And I will work on the drills.
 

Hung

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm a noob at O-lift, so take my advice at the grain of salt:
I would like to see your front squat/front squat hold at the top. Being comfortable with the front squat rack helps me a lot when I was learning the clean. Also, negative clean (from front rack hold drop the bar to the hang) helps me visualize the lift.
 

All Pain No Gain

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi @All Pain No Gain so all of the notes above are great cues. I’ll add my 2 cents if you like.

I’ve been weightlifting and coaching weightlifting for over 10 years now and while I’m no expert I’d say do a few corrective drills first before attempting the power clean.

Your position off the floor is key. Like Anna said your grip looks a bit narrow because it looks like you are fighting for space with your knees. Your hands should be just outside. Also from the front your feet look very close together as well. You want to start just under hips, for best force production IE your pulling stance, and fiddle with what feels comfortable from there. When you receive your clean or power clean you will land in a squat stance width.

Check your start position as well to see if you can get your back a bit arched with tension, your butt a tad lower and shoulders in advance of the bar. I have a feeling if you widen your hands and feet your hips will lower a tad and your back will be in a better angle to keep tension in your legs during the first pull.

I also notice your are not using hook grip. While one can do the competition lifts with a full grip, hook grip will allow for a stronger connection to the bar without too much arm tension and allow you to keep the bar closer. Too much arm tension slows the turn over resulting in more of a reverse curl.

To feel what the punch and pull under feels like I’d do some dip power cleans as a technique drill. This will teach you to use your legs and extend first and at the same time pull under aggressively versus pulling the bar to your chest.

Also I’d work on some muscle cleans from standing. With hook grip in power position think knuckles down and elbows turned out. Keep the bar close to your torso like a scarecrow then rotate around. This will teach you to not curl the bar towards you and will help with your rack reception.

Once comfortable with these drills then start doing the power clean lower on your leg each time until you are pulling from the floor. You can also pull from the floor and pause at 1”, mid shin, at knee and mid thigh until you feel more comfortable.

All of these drills are of course effective only if you have the prerequisite front rack mobility. So you’ll want to do some front squats to test that.

Hope that all helps and if you like I can link some videos as well for examples of the technique drills. Also I commend your efforts and eagerness to learn the details in this lift. Keep up the effort and tenacity and it will pay off. Good work!!!

Best of luck.

-Mira
Okay I just read your bio on industrial strength, and omg unreal. I really appreciate the feedback and the time you put into your comments.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Hello Anna, thank you so much for the feedback. I will start working on the "punch and pull under" cue.

Your form looks great, thanks for sharing the video. The very first thing I noticed was that your elbows at the rack position were pointing forwards, where as mine were pointing down. So I tried to correct that. I think that was one reason why I was having trouble balancing the bar at the rack position. I have to work on my mobility more to correct the elbow position. A wider grip helped. Any chance you have a step by step learning video?

Also, do you actually "hit" the bar on your upper thigh or does the bar just brush against your thigh? I mean when the bar passes you knee, are you thinking "I need to hit the bar hard on my mid thigh"? That is what I am thinking and I seem to be messing it up.


About the jumping thing: I was following the Starting Strength power clean tutorial where Mark teaches to come off the floor slow when learning the movement to get used to touching the bar at the mid thigh position (which they call the jumping position). They teach that when the bar touches the mid thigh, we should jump up. This does feel a bit weird for me now.

That's how I initially learned also, in 2018 and I couldn't ever make it work right. (Actually my first learning was from a CrossFit coach in 2014 but only did it a few times back then... their method is different, too.) With the SS method I was never able to make the bar hit the thighs, and the effort to jump was helpful initially, but eventually that was counter-productive for me and I've had to correct it. In January 2020 I went to USAW course and learned the more classic weightlifting method with a distinct first pull and second pull, which is what I've been using since then. This video series or this article (Catalyst Athletics has lots of great videos and resources) will probably be helpful if you want to go that route. If you want to stick with the SS method, they have some instructional videos that may be helpful.

As for elbow position, your rack position will be somewhat dependent on your arm segment lengths. I have a long humerus and large hands and therefore the "elbows up" position is more natural for me. But most people can get closer than they are initially with practice and mobility work.
 
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