Weightlifting for Athletes: Should You Be Power Jerking

Power Clean – The Most Popular Exercise in Weightlifting Today

The most popular exercise in weightlifting today is the power clean. It’s not surprising that it is the first thing many people think of when they hear “weightlifting.” If you’ve ever been to a gym or even just watched someone lift weights, then you probably have seen some form of the power clean performed with great success.

What Is A Power Clean?

A power clean is simply a full-body movement that involves performing several different movements at once. When done correctly, it is one of the best exercises for developing strength and size. However, there are other forms of weight training that do involve multiple body parts working together, but they’re usually referred to as compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) rather than isolation lifts (pullups).

For example, if you were doing pullups, you’d be using your arms to pull yourself up off the ground. If you were doing rows, you’d be pulling yourself up from a seated position. And so forth.

Compound lifts require a greater amount of muscle mass and tend to build larger muscles because they involve more joints moving simultaneously.

Isolation lifts, on the other hand, are usually meant to focus on the individual parts of the body. For instance, performing leg extensions works only your legs and does not require the use of any other body parts. This is great for building leg muscles, but terrible when it comes to gaining core strength.

How To Do Power Cleans:

If you’ve never done power cleans before, it’s very important that you start off learning the right form and then later you can worry about adding extra weight or doing extra reps. The more weight you add, the harder it will be to learn the proper technique, so it’s important that you don’t rush it.

It should go without saying, but make sure you have a spotter. The power clean is a very heavy lift. If you don’t have a spotter then you should be very careful about when and how you choose to do them.

A good starting point would be to have your feet hip width apart, and place your hands over the bar, slightly outside of your legs. You’ll then want to bend down and grab the bar with an overhand grip, straightening your legs as you do so. You don’t want to bend your back or lean forward too much, as this can cause back injuries.

Once you have a hold of the bar, you’re going to press up onto the tips of your toes and pull the bar up your thighs until it reaches your waist. At this point, dip slightly by bending your knees and then extend your ankles, hips and torso vertically all at once. As you’re pressing upwards, you should also be pulling the bar into your body.

Weightlifting for Athletes: Should You Be Power Jerking - Image

Make sure that you get a full stretch at the bottom of the movement and don’t just bounce the bar off your body. Also, make sure you keep all movements slow and controlled. Once the bar reaches your chest, you’re going to grab underneath it with both hands while twisting your wrists around to flip the bar over your shoulders.

It’s very important that you don’t “jerk” or throw the bar over your head, as this can cause shoulder injuries.

Once you get the bar over your head, bend your legs, dip and twist under the bar so that you can catch it in a squat position. This movement is called “cleaning” the weight because you’re cleaning (or scooping) it up into a squat position. To put the weight back over your head, stand up quickly and then lean back to get it to the top at a fast speed.

Your hands can either re-grip the bar or you can push it up from a stand position. If you have trouble standing up with heavy weight, then try placing your hands around the bar once it’s over your head and press up using the strength of your arms. This is called “jerking” the weight because you’re jerking the bar up from a squat position.

A final way to get the weight over your head is to place it in a squat position in front of you and then jump up while throwing your hips forward. This movement requires more explosiveness than jerking and cleaning so make sure you’re confident in your ability to handle heavy weight first.

You’ll only need to do power cleans once every two or three weeks since they’re such an intense exercise. Make sure you have a few days of rest before and after the power clean session to allow your body to recover.

Here is an example of a full power clean workout:

Warmup – 5 minutes of jumping jacks, arm swings, etc.

Workout – 5 rounds of the following

Weightlifting for Athletes: Should You Be Power Jerking - Picture

Power cleans x 5 reps

Rest – 1 minute between each set

That’s it. Just 5×5 reps of power cleans and you’re done. You should aim to increase the weight that you use by at least 5 pounds every session.

This is a great way to improve your explosive movement abilities.

Once you get used to the movement and have worked up to a weight you’re happy with, you can try adding in burpees after every set of 5 reps of power cleans. A burpee is a full body exercise that will test how explosive you are as well as putting your whole body under a heavy workload.

Here is an example of a full blown power clean and burpee workout:

Warmup – 5 minutes of jumping jacks, arm swings, etc.

Workout – 5 rounds of the following

Weightlifting for Athletes: Should You Be Power Jerking - GYM FIT WORKOUT

Power cleans x 5 reps

Burpees x 5 reps

Rest – 1 minute between each set

If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably find that the power clean and burpee workout is too much and you’ll need to stop at 4 rounds or even 3 rounds if you’re really feeling the burn. As your fitness level improves, you’ll be able to move up to 4 rounds and eventually even 5 rounds.

As your explosive power improves over the next few months from doing this workout, your athletic performance in other areas (jumping, sprinting, etc) will also get a boost. The faster you see improvements, the more likely it is that you’re improving.

Continue with this routine until you no longer feel yourself getting any better at the movements or you think you’re at a level you’re happy with. Aim for at least 3 months and then move onto another routine.

2. Knee Dominant Leg Workout

The second part of the leg routine is a knee-dominant exercise that involves single leg movement. This will strengthen your tendons and ligaments as well as your muscles, giving you stronger knees and more explosive athletic abilities (such as running, jumping, etc).

The exercises in this section also rely heavily on isometric holds which force your muscles to work at a high intensity level without actually extending or contracting. This helps to build strength within the contraction phase of the movement because the muscle has to fight to remain stable.

This is in complete contrast to the squatting exercises which all involve fully extending your legs. This means that the exercise itself is helping to stretch your leg muscles which can sometimes cause damage to the tendons and ligaments which are not strong enough to accommodate this level of stretching.

For this reason, you need to do these exercises first in your workout when your muscles are fresh and most able to handle the difficult movements.

Weightlifting for Athletes: Should You Be Power Jerking - | Gym Fit Workout

2.1 Single Leg Hamstring Curl

The Single Leg Hamstring Curl is a single leg movement that targets your hamstrings and will help to strengthen the muscles within this region. At first, you will need to focus on getting the movement pattern correct before adding any weight at which point you can start to feel your hamstrings working hard.

Sources & references used in this article:

Optimal load and power spectrum during jerk and back jerk in competitive weightlifters by FJ Flores, S Sedano… – Journal of Strength and …, 2017 – ingentaconnect.com

Comparison of 2-and 3-minute inter-repetition rest periods on maximal jerk technique and power maintenance by A Ammar, BL Riemann, K Trabelsi… – … quarterly for exercise …, 2019 – Taylor & Francis

The weightlifting pull in power development by D Hydock – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2001 – elitetrack.com

Overhead pressing power/strength movements by M Waller, T Piper, J Miller – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2009 – journals.lww.com

Weightlifting in the development of the high school athlete by RK Takano – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2013 – journals.lww.com

The relationship between isometric and dynamic strength in college football players by MR McGuigan, JB Winchester – Journal of sports science & …, 2008 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Weightlifting movements: do the benefits outweigh the risks? by A Hedrick, H Wada – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2008 – journals.lww.com