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The Clean versus The Power Clean

Daniel Brady | March 27, 2013 in Strength

I see lots of people are confused about the Clean versus the Power Clean, with many people even thinking they are the same thing. There is lots of incorrect information out there, so I want to make the differences between the two clear.

Power Clean, (Regular) Clean, Front Squat Video

This video clearly shows the difference between the Clean and the Power Clean (it’s only 25 seconds long).

As you can see, the Power Clean means you lift the bar to your shoulders while only doing a quarter squat. The regular Clean includes a full squat to get under the bar. You can think of it like this: the term ‘power’ means you need to exert more power to get the bar to your shoulders, since the bar has to travel a longer distance (since you’re not squatting under the bar).

Differences: Clean and Power Clean


  • Includes a full squat under the bar.
  • The bar travels a shorter distance.
  • You can lift more weight.

Power Clean

  • Includes a quarter squat.
  • The bar travels a long distance.
  • The bar requires more acceleration.
  • You can lift less weight.

In the words of Starting Strength:

The Power Clean is used in sports conditioning because it trains explosion, and done
correctly it is the best exercise for converting the strength obtained in the other exercises to power.
The Power Clean has always been used by weightlifters as an assistance exercise
for the Clean, the more complicated version of the lift.

If you’re into Olympic lifting, then the regular Clean is for you. If you want to train for sport, then go with the Power Clean. In our previous article Strength and Sprinting we found that the Hang Clean has an even stronger correlation with sprinting times than the squat. The Hang Clean is similar to the Clean, which suggests that the Clean is useful for sport, but as Mark Rippetoe from Starting Strength says, the Power Clean is better as it trains for power.

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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