5 Steps to a More Athletic Clean

In the last phase in our Athletic Strength Training manual we shift our focus to maximum strength and power. This is assuming that the athlete has already mastered the foundational movement skills, feels confident and moves athletic with light dumbbells & medicine balls and has progressed (and is increasing loads) in barbell complexes. We also feel that it is important that the athlete has a solid grasp on technique and application of the elasticity phases of our plyometric program.

Max Power – Barbell Hang Cleans

This exercise is usually placed earlier in the week, and blends components of strength (heavier loads) and elastic muscle properties (plyometrics) into an explosive total body movement. In our program, we like to attack power from both ends of the spectrum…increasing the weight you lift, as well as the speed in which you lift it. In saying this, the player must put the same amount of consideration into the speed of movement as they do into the weight they put on the bar.

We are training athletes in the weight room, not weightlifters. On the field or court, nobody cares how much you clean. All that matters is how much you have improved your athleticism (first step explosiveness, vertical jump, etc.). And therefore we use the following progression when teaching cleans:


Work through the technique of the jumping and landing mechanics (what we covered in Phase 1 of our Athletic Strength Training manual). Make sure that you get into positions where you are capable of producing great amounts of power.


Get to where you can attack power from a more athletic, speed focused mentality. Even in the early stages of your training you can be focused on improving on-field or on-court performance from a positioning, to rhythm, to speed progression. This also helps to build coordination and synchronization, which will play a huge role in your ability to lift heavy loads fast.

3-Light Loads:

We start increasing loads when the athlete is able to control the speed. We start by adding light dumbbells or medicine balls in the jump squat exercises, and then instruct the athlete to slowly increase the weight week to week without losing form, speed or confidence…slowly transitioning from the speed side of power to the increased load side of power.

4-Super Sets and Complexes:

As the athlete gets stronger we begin to breakdown the more complex exercises into simpler “components” and familiarize them with the barbells. This helps us to increase the load they feel comfortable with…but at the same time we superset this loaded movement with an unloaded activity that reminds the athlete that we still want the speed and athleticism component in the workout.

5-Increase Load in the Focus Exercise:

Now we begin to challenge the athlete by adding more weight to the bar, demanding that they still focus on speed, and cue them with words that keep them in an athletic mindset… “Jump the bar to the shoulders.” or “Catch quick in a position you could move out of…”

From the first progression to the last progression we have focused on the outcome, not the exercise. And during each progression we have added a level of complexity without losing the focus on the ultimate goal of athletic power. Here is a quick glance at some of this progression.

If at any phase in this process you feel as if you are losing athleticism, we suggest you regress back to the more athletic (often lighter) version of the exercise. In most cases, we will be able to achieve great results with those exercises, and should only progress if confidence and technique allows.

If you would like our full progression of strength and power developmental programs for sport, check out our Athletic Strength Training manual. This manual is a step by step progression through athletic strength training laid out in 4 Phases, dozens of workouts per phase, and video examples of each exercise.

For a full list of programs go to www.athletefit.com/store 




Leave a Reply