Don’t let the complex power/hang clean consume time and attention in the weight room
One of the biggest mistakes in youth sports training rooms is the excessive use of power/hang cleans. The Olympic lifts deliver explosive energy when practiced correctly. However, beginners need conditioning and experience to work up to the power/hang clean, the necessary coaching for such a technical exercise is often unavailable in the training room, and the risk of serious injury is high. Fortunately, there are other, less technical, exercises to provide the athlete with the power they need while they mature.
Prerequisites for the power/hang clean. The power/hang clean is one of the most technical exercises used in training, requiring a level of strength, coordination, and flexibility rare among young athletes. To gain the benefits and avoid injury, the athlete needs to master proper squat form, requiring core strength, pelvic control, and balanced strength between the quads and glutes and the hamstrings. Youth athletes are unlikely to be equipped right out of the gates for such an exercise, and few coaches in high school weight rooms have time to devote the necessary attention to coach them.
Better ways to gain the benefits of power/hang clean. The goal of the exercise is to develop explosive force in the lower body and transfer it to the upper body, a critical skill in many sports activities from throwing a football to spiking a volleyball. The single arm dumbbell push press and the single arm dumbbell snatch, which depend on the lower-body power gathered in a knee bend to elevate the dumbbell, provide the training needed for such a transfer.
For Parents: When choosing a Sports Performance Program whether it be through a school, coach, independent program, or professional, here are a few important questions to ask about the use of power/ hang cleans:
- Will my young athlete be performing power/ hang cleans?
- If yes, how much of the program will involve power/ hang cleans and how do you see them benefiting my young athlete?
- If my young athlete is going to perform power/ hang cleans, which activities must my young athlete first master before attempting them?
- What processes do you use to help ensure safety while instructing power/ hang cleans?
If you are not comfortable with the answers, you should consider a different program.
All-Age Performance Training System™
The All-Age Performance Training System™ requires athletes to master a progressive series of exercises before power/hang cleans are attempted including:
- Neutral-Spine body weight squats.
- Neutral-Spine dumbbell squats.
- Dumbbell Push Press.
- Neutral-Spine weighted bar squats.
- Dowel Hang Cleans.
Some athletes can master all these activities in a few weeks; some athletes take months or even years. It depends upon physical and mental maturity, consistency and practice. In the meantime, lifts like the Push-Press serve to develop the neuro-muscular pathways needed to increase explosiveness, vertical jump, etc.
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