Let’s kickoff a series of articles to empower coaches incorporating the Power Clean for their non-weightlifter athletes. As a coach working with various athletes from gen-pop, field sport, or Olympic Weightlifting, the Power Clean can be one of the most effective barbell exercises you can use to help unlock athletic potential. To use a Charlie Francis analogy for training, we use the Power Clean as one of the “Big Rocks” of our Bedrock training program.
That being said, the Power Clean also happens to be one of the more difficult exercises to not only perform, but also teach! The benefits of this lift are largely predicated on one’s ability to effectively communicate, teach and coach an athlete to execute each component of the movement with proficiency.
Additionally, there seems to be a myopic view of the Power Clean in that the benefits and the purpose of the lift start and stop solely at the development of power through the all-important “triple extension”. Luckily for those athletes, there’s more to be gained from the proficient implementation and execution of the Power Clean. (But we’ll get into later – so hold tight.)
This high barrier to entry of the Power Clean coupled with a limited understanding of its comprehensive benefits, has resulted in many coaches choosing smaller rocks, or even pebbles, to accomplish what the Power Clean can accomplish in one fell swoop.
To me, the argument that the Power Clean is too “time-consuming to teach” is bullshit. And as you know, one of our main missions at Power Athlete is to battle the bullshit. If you’re in a position- as a coach- to where you work sporadically with athletes for anywhere between 2-8 weeks at a time and they have limited to no experience using the Power Clean, then sure, its implementation might not be an ideal use of time. You’d be better off incorporating more dynamic medball work (check out these ideas here and here) and/or explosive jump training to complement the less technical portions of squatting, pressing, and pulling.
But, in the context of long term athletic development, and applying Bedrock into a high school program or collegiate setting where a Base Level of Strength is prioritized, we can assume you’re going to be working with an athlete for an extended period of time that goes beyond 12 weeks, potentially lasting up to 4 years in some cases.
Being unable to get your athletes to Power Clean with some level proficiency in the timespan of weeks or even years is indicative that: 1) You simply don’t know how to coach 2) Your way of teaching the Power Clean is different for every athlete and you don’t have a systematic process of teaching, progressing, or regressing the Power Clean or 3) You find yourself shifting between options 1 and 2 above and you’re too stubborn to seek out help to sharpen your coaching blade for the betterment of your athletes.
By reading this article, chances are you’re a coach seeking more knowledge to better yourself and your athletes. Good! This article series will empower you as a coach by providing you a better understanding of WHY we incorporate the Power Clean into the Bedrock program, HOW it all fits into the overall training plan, and finally, to provide you with a simple and proven process for teaching, implementing, and progressing the Power Clean. By the end of this, you’ll be able to make this process more time effective so you and your athletes get a bigger rate of return on your investment of time and training.
Don was a two time National Champion and All-American water polo goalie at the University of Southern California prior to getting involved in coaching strength & conditioning and weightlifting. He is the founder and head coach of DELTA Weightlifting, a high performing USA Weightlifting Club. The Power Athlete Methodology has been a crucial component in developing better overall athleticism with his competitive weightlifters with international level athletes and national medalists to show for it. In addition to proudly being a Power Athlete Block One Coach, Don is also a USA Weightlifting Level 4 International Coach, a USA Weightlifting Lead Instructor USA Weightlifting Coaching Courses and a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA). Don has coached and trained athletes from virtually every sport at levels ranging from youth beginner to National Team level. He resides in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and 3 young kids.
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