Somewhere along the line in discussing the distinct styles of different lifting we managed to arouse a conversation on whether or not there is benefit to practicing and programming the power movements specifically the power snatch and power clean. I am a big believer that these lifts, if used properly, can be beneficial to your training. However, I also see how overusing and improperly teaching the power movements can create an adverse effect on the third pull. There is enough hesitancy and uncomfortability in the bottom of the squat already and often the power movements aid to this error. The positive effects of using the power movements come through creating bar velocity and further teaching lifters to finish the second pull. I have personally experienced the benefits from the power clean as I tend to short the second pull on my clean and as a result make the squat much harder. I program, teach, and implement power snatches and the power cleans with lifters who struggle with the same thing.
Completing the second pull is essential for bar speed and for maximal lifts. Often using the power movements can help create PRs In lifters who already have the strength and are simply not completing the movement. I’ve seen this become true with my clean here recently.
The flipside to this argument however comes in the teaching phase. Far too often I have seen coaches teach the lifts initially with the power clean and the power snatch. Nine times out of ten these types of lifters struggle down the road with pulling themselves into the bottom of the squat. I saw this firsthand in the first Olympic lifting class I taught. I initially taught the power movements and then spent quadrupled the amount of time trying to teach comfortability and hunger for the bottom of the squat. Speed to the bottom is absolutely crucial to complete maximal lifts. Not only is it crucial it’s important that a lifter can find the bottom of the squat quickly and easily and be experienced enough there to know how to stand up efficiently. Teaching the power movements from the beginning can often be a detriment to this level of competency.
My thought on the power movements is very simple. They serve two functions: to help lifters who struggle finishing the second pull and to allow lifters the ability to complete the lifts without overloading their legs. Often I use the power movements on deload days or in tapering weeks for competition. However, the power movement should never be used so frequently that they detract from a fast and strong third pull. At this level they become a detriment and not beneficial to the full lifts. It is important that coaches and athletes remember that the power movements are auxiliary movements used to aid the full movements. They are not full movements in and of themselves.
Below you will see two videos of my power clean from different angles. I pause at the top of the second pull to show the benefit of a power clean in training.
I use the power cleans intermittently for this end. However this comes from the knowledge that I need to work on the second pull of the clean. Some lifters may gain zero benefit from the power movements as their problem may be the first or third pull. If this is the case then a good coach who understands the lifts will observe and program accordingly. I see a necessity for a strong second pull in my clean and therefore the power clean is a great auxiliary movement to help my full clean.