Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Power Clean is the most functional movement you can learn

A foot of heavy Colorado spring snow
I shoveled my neighbors' driveways this afternoon. Did you get your workout in too?

It's no secret that the Power Clean is one of my favorite exercises. The coordinated explosive hip extension followed by the re-bend of the knees and solid landing with a strong solid trunk translates to just about every athletic movement we do. Jumping, running, sprinting, rowing, even kipping into a muscle up are all variations on the core movements and timing needed to execute a power clean.

I usually pair box jumps and power cleans in a workout because they reinforce each other. I don't think anyone can argue that runners and sprinters won't be faster by keeping their core tight, having a powerful hip extension followed by a quick hip flexion. Ted once wrote that a 2k erg test can be viewed as "For time: Power clean 15,000 lbs unbroken. Use a 50, 75, or 100 bar. Rx is 7:00."

I would program the power clean as a core component of the strength work for just about any sport. But what about if you're not training for a specific sport and just want to be a strong functional human? I'd still recommend the power clean.

For example, how do you shovel heavy Colorado spring snow without hurting your back? If you bend over with a hunched back, you're going to end up with a sore back in a few minutes.  If you "lift with your legs" like they always recommend on the local news, you still need to throw the snow - or spend hours walking the snow to the side of the driveway - either way you'll end up using your arms and you're going to quickly get out of breath and have that heart attack - the other thing they're always talking about on the local news. When I shovel snow I treat each shovel load as a power clean: set my back, tighten my core, explode from the hips, and with straight arms you can throw the snow anywhere just from the powerful hip extension.  Set your pace and you can do this all day long - safely and quickly clearing snow.

The movements we learn in the gym aren't just for the gym. We don't learn them just for fun (though it is fun) or to just get better at exercising. We use the barbell to get stronger for life.
Image courtsey
strength - add weight from last time (more info) 

3 attempts for max pull-ups 


5 rounds with full recovery

5 heavy thrusters
20 KB swings