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Couch to Champ
May 14, 2015 3 min read
I have been asked numerous times about power cleans over the last month and a half. I didn’t want to publicly respond to anything but the emails got old and here I am. What is the question? “Dane, Klokov said power cleans are pointless. What do you think?” Apparently, Klokov believes power cleans aren’t useful or necessary because the mechanics are drastically different from that of the full clean.
My immediate response is pretty simple. Klokov is a freak. He is strong as fuck. He is fast and sauced out of his mind and he knows what he is doing. He is probably a solid coach and obviously a tremendous weightlifter. With that being said, I have seen videos of him doing snatches jumping off two plates and landing on the floor. I have seen him do complexes that I call “freakshow” complexes, basically a bunch of crazy exercises put into one lift with an absurd amount of weight. So is the snatch jumping off two plates onto the floor more effective than a power clean? Probably not.
The argument that the mechanics are different is strange to me. Bud Charniga told me once that power snatches aren’t really useful and heavy pulls don’t help much either because the mechanics are different. That was 3-4 years ago when I bought some DHS equipment. I listened to him for about 2 weeks, then realized that if someone struggles to finish the pull on a snatch, power snatches work wonders. I also recognized that some people have shitty ass starting positions. What can fix that? Good, heavy pulls (snatch or clean) from different positions can greatly improve posture off the floor. These were all things reinforced by my time spent working with USA head coach, Zygmunt Smalcerz.
It is important for coaches and athletes to recognize that exercises are tools. Some athletes can benefit greatly from certain exercises; other athletes may need an entire different box of exercises. Does a sprint coach tell their sprinters to stop doing bounds or sled pulls or hill sprints because the mechanics aren’t similar?? No of course not, they recognize that bounds help lengthen the sprinters stride, sled pulls help the drive phase and hill sprints can teach a sprinter to pick up their knees while sprinting. Why didn’t Klokov tell Walter Payton that running endless sand dunes wasn’t the same mechanics as running over big ass linebackers in the NFL?!?!?!
So does everyone need to power clean? Of course not. In the US, most men that are in weightlifting probably don’t need a ton of power cleans. Why? Because they probably power cleaned their life away while playing football. Earth Fed Muscle weightlifter, Norik Vardanian, rarely uses power cleans in his programs and even feels that power cleans bug his knees. Meanwhile, the other Earth Fed Muscle thoroughbred, Alex Lee, bases much of his training off power cleans and power snatches. Some of my athletes at Garage Strength peak very well with the lower load that power cleans provide, while others feel better doing full cleans with less intensity.
So what does it come down to? Understand your athlete and what they need to accomplish their goals. Don’t throw out a good lift because that lift may be the difference between a big PR and a stagnant training phase.
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