6 Power Clean Benefits

If you buy through a link on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
By Alex
Last updated on

Power clean benefits include the ability to develop explosive strength, build muscle mass and that’s just the beginning! This page explains exactly what this full body exercise has to offer.

But first, it’s important to note that power cleans are a little tricky to get the hang of. So I strongly advise you to study how to do power cleans and read these power clean tips, in order to safely achieve the benefits.

Power Clean Benefits. The advantages of this lift include the following:

  1. Muscle Development. Power cleans are technically considered a shoulder exercise, but they do more than build up your deltoids. They hit your posterior chain hard, giving you well-developed muscles in the legs including the calves, glutes, and hamstrings. The power clean technique also targets the muscles in the lower and upper back and traps.
  2. Explosive Power. If you are looking for weight lifting exercises that improve explosiveness quickly, then look no further. The 1st pull portion of the power clean motion builds explosiveness rapidly. The rest of the motion also builds general strength and speed, which equates to yet more power and explosive potential.
  3. Burn Body Fat. Power cleans are tremendously effective in burning calories and body fat, which helps you achieve a lean physique including impressive muscle definition and size. That said, power cleans are best performed for low reps. High reps inevitably leads to quickly deteriorating form.
  4. Great for Athletes and Trainees. The initial phase of the power clean, which mimics the first half of the deadlift, requires intense muscle contractions. This trains your explosiveness from the ground, which helps in any fast paced sport with running or jumping, such as football, soccer or basketball. The second part of the power clean motion (the scoop, 2nd pull and catch) is extremely useful for athletes who need to move quickly on their feet.
  5. Bone-Shattering Grip Strength. Since the exercise requires you to hold onto heavy weights at high velocities, you can greatly improve your grip strength.
  6. A Full Body Workout. This Olympic-style exercise requires the coordination of every muscle group in the body. In time, the exercise adds muscle density and functional strength over your entire body (with an emphasis on the shoulders and posterior chain – traps, back, glutes, hams, calves).

So whether you are looking for a highly effective sport-specific exercise or just another great exercise to add to your weight lifting arsenal, you simply cannot go wrong with the power clean.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

13 thoughts on “6 Power Clean Benefits”

  1. In the last 50 years weight training has become increasingly popular. Currently all professional and college athletes participate in some type of strength and conditioning training. Even most high school athletic programs have a strength and conditioning program that their athletes participate in. The increase in popularity has resulted in an increase on research and knowledge about strength and conditioning. There are new studies and statistics that are released daily. Today many of the lifts that are found in every strength and conditioning program are outdated. Strength and conditioning programs are starting to fall behind the research.

    Each sport has individual movements that should require a specific set of lifts that correlate directly to that sport. Think of it this way, if students go to a math class to learn about math all semester and are given a reading exam at the end of the year it is unlikely that the students will be successful. The same goes for weight training. It is important to teach to the test. More specifically the power clean is an Olympic style lift that many programs teach because it “practices explosiveness.” What movements from a power clean translate to any sport? Power cleans are most often practiced by football teams. However, studies have shown since the 1960’s that the power clean is a very dangerous lift. The power clean does not replicate any movements that are found in athletics and the momentum used to perform the lift result in an increased amount of injuries.

    Lifts done with momentum are not as hard or effective as lifts that are done with slow controlled movement. A power clean is a movement that requires momentum to perform the lift. Compare a strict pull up in comparison to a pull up performed with the swing of ones legs. The strict pull up isolates the muscles requiring a greater amount of strength. Similar comparison can be made to a power clean. Other lifts can be substituted that use slow controlled movements are not only safer but also more effective on strengthening the same muscles.

    Momentum based lifts are uncontrolled movements that result in many injuries. The heavier amount of weight that is lifted the increased risk of injury and severity of injury. In conclusion power cleans put athletes of all ages at risk. In this case the risk is greater than the reward. There are many other lifts that can isolate the same muscles for more effective results at a much lesser risk.

    • Mariah, wow, that was quite the post! Very thorough and a well thought out viewpoint. It’s great to hear the argument against power cleans (and other momentum-based lifts).

      I certainly agree that it’s not necessary for most people–And if someone wants to learn it, they should do so intelligently, slowly and gradually with light weight, and (if at all possible) with the help of a skilled coach.


      • As a physical therapist, I would argue that a power clean does translate well to most sports, BECAUSE of the momentum use and explosiveness. More than half of a power clean, done correctly, is basically using squatting mechanics. My question is, what sport DOES NOT require explosiveness and use of momentum. Any sport that does not, likely does not require practicing a power clean. All others, likely would.

        I also agree, exercises done in isolation are great! I personally have not been a fan of the Cross Fit phase (for different reasons), but I think the power clean exercise translates to MANY, if not all, sports. The idea is to train how you would play, and protect your body in that sport from injuries.

        This is just my opinion, and I love hearing others’ ideas!


    • This is an old post but I somehow felt I just had to leave a reply. I grew up Olympic lifting and I would say that the safest most beneficial exercise (when done correctly) that a person can do which is at all related to Olympic lifting is hands down the power clean. The problem with working solely on exercise like the kind which Mariah suggests is that they are all slow and worse yet the majority of them do not teach you how to lift using your entire body. when you work predominantly on slow isolation type exercise you are training your body to be slow unathletic and poorly coordinated when working as a cohesive whole. The Olympic Lifts require a lot of pulling and dropping at fast speeds with a reverse G affect with heavy weights which in the long run is probably not that great for your joints and can leave you open to injury if not done correctly and in addition works contrary to building muscle mass – unless you are trying to build your glutes. The Power Clean teaches you speed, coordination using your entire body, and employs a minimum of the reverse G affect. If you want a great looking body and want to also be athletic Power Cleans are a great exercise. Alex is 100 per cent correct

  2. Nice write up. At 37 I just started taking care of my body and experimenting with different lifts. My favorite is the power clean. It has taken YouTube and practice of each individual movement to get proper form but this exercise has improved my posture, , and has enabled me as a family man with limited time to get a great workout in, in as little as 30 minutes. I’m sure people get hurt doing it but with a non-competing and study of form you limit risk, and it’s great for your Hamstrings, thighs, calves, lower/middle/upper back and posture. I can’t wait til Mondays and Fridays, my power clean days. Thanks for the article

  3. Nice write up. At 37 I just started taking care of my body and experimenting with different lifts. My favorite is the power clean. It has taken YouTube and practice of each individual movement to get proper form but this exercise has improved my posture, , and has enabled me as a family man with limited time to get a great workout in, in as little as 30 minutes. I’m sure people get hurt doing it but with a non-competing weight and study of form you limit risk, and it’s great for your Hamstrings, thighs, calves, lower/middle/upper back and posture. I can’t wait til Mondays and Fridays, my power clean days. Thanks for the article

  4. I disagree. I have been doing Olympic lifting for 20 years for supplementing my soccer games. I am 59 years old ,and I have never got an injury doing Olympic lifting exercise. As a matter of fact, it helped me to perform better at my soccer games and prevent injuries.

  5. Power Cleans… well they’re a thing, like a really good thing.

    The posts above are three years old, but I can’t help but reply. The reason you should powerclean is to increase your power production.

    Some Definitions

    Power: the rate at which work is done, or the amount of energy expended over a period of time. The faster we can move weight, the more lethal we are.

    work: the ability to displace an object with applied force. Again tossing weight around is great, but it’s even greater if you do it faster.

    So the primary aspect of the power clean is moving weight, and doing it fast. this has a direct correlation with an athletes ability to move his body, an object, or the athletes opponent with explosivenes. To place it in meat head terms, the power clean allows you to savagely throw shit around. This is can come in handy in the majority of sports that require explosive speed, or explosive contact. It also stimulates fast twitch muscle fibers. Along with the barbell squat, deadlift, over head press, barbell row, and bench press, you can build general athleticism. Their are several other plyometric and compound movements utilized by skilled trainers that helps athletes drastically improve in their sport. The reason this happens is because someone that is stronger, faster, and more coordinated is more likely to excel in any sport.

    The comment about athletes being more likely to get injured is extremely skewed. Most people don’t take the time to learn the power clean, learn to squat properly, and apply a linear progression strength program to get stronger. The reason why, is that it’s hard, and requires commitment. If you don’t take time to do those things, you are going to get hurt. Stuff your ego, and start squatting with lower weight, the right way. Get with a competent strength and conditioning coach and most importantly listen. Read Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, Bill Stars book (can’t think of it at the moment), and any other super competent strength coaches. Louie Simmons the owner of Westside Barbell has been an elite lifter in 5 different powerlifting classes, trains professional strength athletes, still squats, deadlifts, cleans and god knows what else, and the guy is in his 60’s. It’s never going to hurt anyone to be bigger, stronger, faster, in better shape, and in the case of the powerclean, lethally explosive.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave this comment, AM. Very insightful, and helpful for anyone on the fence about adding the power clean to their exercise repertoire.

  6. Good article, fairly old but shows up in my google searches.

    I do not agree with this sentence though:
    “Power cleans are technically considered a shoulder exercise”.

    I do not think that is correct, if the author wants to make the case I’d love to learn why.

  7. I shoulder press 225lbs for 5+ reps strict form standing at 46 years old. Lifetime Drug free.

    How did I get there?

    Power Cleans

    Do them


Leave a Comment