In my first issue of Ultimate Power, I introduced kettlebell progressions for power development and challenged you to get to work on the #MPSnatchChallenge. How far along are you? Have you learned to swing and snatch yet? Goose Helton is leading the charge with an 18 kilogram bell in less than 4 minutes. Get on his level!
Kettlebell swing progressions allow for power development in a horizontal orientation, but how do we develop power in a vertical orientation?
Crush cleans. Chase technical mastery and heavy weights on cleans for the rest of your ultimate careers. You’ll jump higher, run faster and develop a better “global extension” position for the lay out and a sky.
Performing cleans is essentially jumping with weight. If we can clean, say 135 pounds, we’ll be programmed to push harder into the ground and quickly morph into our globally extended position when we don’t have that load in a game. Cleans develop the capacity to quickly put force into the ground. Recall from Ultimate Power Part 1 that Power is Force multiplied by Velocity (P=FxV). The force in this example is the 135 lbs of barbell and the velocity is the speed at which you move the weight. To increase our power we have to move heavier weights (force) faster (velocity).
Triple Extension & Global Extension
On top of making us faster, cleans can also help to prevent injury. This stuff is all about patterns, ya’ll! We want to get better and more powerful in the patterns we see in the sport. We know we are going to see layouts and skys. The safest and most efficient ways to perform these movements is with global extension: full extension of the hips, ankles, knees, and arms overhead (see the photo above, where a triple extension of a clean transfers to global extension of a sky). Too often, folks get injured on lay outs because they don’t acquire this position and land crumbled and end up tweaking something.
The movement of full global extension can forever be developed via stretching hip flexors, developing the glutes, mobilizing overhead position and working on timing and sequencing of muscle action.
Drill this global extension pattern and get into full extension as often as possible.
Cleans From the Floor vs The Hang
There are tons of variations of cleans. Which do we do?
First ,understand that Olympic weightlifting is a sport in and of itself. It is actually an Olympic sport featuring two events: Snatch, and the Clean & Jerk. The Snatch involves moving a heavy barbell from the ground to over your head in a single movement. The Clean & Jerk involves moving a heavy barbell from the ground to over your head in two movements.
Olympic lifters perform full cleans. A full clean is a deadlift, followed by a clean and caught in a full front squat. We are not Olympic lifters, however; we are ultimate players and we need to only use a piece of their sport in order to get the triple extension we’re after. We are, therefore, going to use the hang power clean. Pull from above the knees and catch in a quarter squat.
To illustrate the difference in variations check out this video of my boy Ryan Nie and I crushing cleans. Ryan is an Olympic lifter so he is pulling from the floor and catches in the full squat. I am an ultimate player so I pull from the hang and catch in the “power” position. Oh, and notice his knee wraps from too much full squatting #justsaying.
Pulling from the hang gets us the triple extension we are after, it is safe on the knees, and it is far easier to learn. A note on learning this pattern: it just takes reps, reps, reps. Just ask George Stubbs.
Learning the Hang Power Clean
Go and crush cleans, sensibly chase numbers, load only a proper pattern, and don’t accept lifts with rounded backs, lack of hip extension and comprised front rack catches. Make those cleans crispy!
What are some other ways to develop vertical force production? Look forward to the next installment of Ultimate Power for some ideas.
Here are some videos of MP crew crushing cleans. Join the jam party.
Tim Morrill Boracay Dragons & Team #Humiliswag
Simba Cleans – Boston Whitecaps & Boston Ironside
Goose – Chicago Machine & Chicago Wildfire
Julie Malecek – Bostons Brute Squad
The Cricket – Crick Shots – Boston Ironside – Boston Whitecaps
George Stubbs – Boston Ironside
Bryant Dean – Team #Humiliswag
One of my hockey players shows us what is possible. 300 lb clean at 185 lbs. Wow!