These two types of exercise aren’t a new thing in the fitness sphere, and chances are, you have used one, or both of them. Now, do you know the differences, similarities, and everything about them?
If you are yet to try them out or don’t have the slightest idea what they are, you are not alone. What’s important is that you have landed on the right page, as I will be sharing all the details on each one here and now.
So stop speculating, read on to get the gist of what these two exercises are all about.
What Is the Difference Between a Clean and Power Clean?
For most, these two might seem like one and the same thing, and yes, there’s a fair share of similarities However, they have some distinguishing specificities that you just can’t ignore.
First, the starting position differs in that for clean, as you squat to pick the bar, your knees should be right above your feet, not bend to the inside, and the inside of your hands.
Your back should be straight in the squat, with the hips below the shoulders (the shoulders need to be slightly in front of the bar, not behind.)
The elbows should be straight too, with the thighs almost parallel to the ground. Lastly, you grab the bar right outside your knees, but if you have longer arms, you can grab it a little bit wider.
The Power Clean
On the power clean, the squat is pretty much the same (if you are starting from the ground). However, you should keep your elbows bend out slightly to keep the bar close to your body when starting from the hang position.
Otherwise, if it’s too far out it could pop out and even loop away from your body during the move. You also need to keep your body weight evenly distributed on your feet.
Another difference here is that the barbell acceleration is shorter on the power clean, and that’s to be expected since the pull is shorter, considering you’re starting from the hang position.
Is Power Clean Harder than Clean?
However, each of these exercises is challenging in its own right.
The clean variation requires you to lift the weight off the floor with every rep and then pulling off the sort of a full squat before rising to complete the move.
This can prove to be a bit harder for some than a power clean, which only requires you to sink slightly under the bar to position it on your shoulders then stand straight.
Are Power Cleans Worth It?
Power cleans pack in a wide variety of benefits that make this exercise worthwhile. These include the following.
First and by far the most important is the full-body workout that you get with this exercise. As a compound exercise, it drives pretty much every muscle on your body.
Besides being an all-rounder, this variation also helps build better grip strength from lifting your barbell, which works the hand, wrist, and enhances finger strength for a stronger grip.
You also get other perks including better balance, improved posture and bone strength, shedding of calories and fat, and better health for joints and cartilage.
Which One Works More Muscles?
It’s a tie here. With both being compound exercises that recruit virtually all your body muscles, it is hard to point out any undisputed winner on this one.
Right from the start, both variations require you to lift the weight off of the ground and then drive it to the hip position before thrusting it upward to the front rack position with an explosion of energy.
Thus, you have to throw in different muscles as hand muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calf muscles, and quadriceps among others.
Depending on the weight you use, of course, you can get different results, and if you don't have the proper physical ability these exercises can work against you not for you.
Which Is Suitable for Beginners?
The power clean allows users to handle a bit less weight, roughly 85% to 90% of a single rep.
This makes it ideal for those who are just getting started.
However, you could also opt for it if you are finding your overall clean to be heavier or harder to execute.
Which One Is for Bodybuilders?
If you are serious about your bodybuilding efforts, then brace for the clean. And it earns its keep with the following benefits.
It offers motor unit recruitment with improved rate coding for your neuromuscular system for a better rate of force development (RFD). You also get to build most of your body muscles, and a specific adaptation to imposed demands for more robust performance.
Not forgetting, you also achieve enhanced mobility, ideal for both bodybuilders and sportsmen.
Related Reading: Best Home Gyms for Bodybuilding
Which Exercise Do People Prefer? What Do People Say?
Some of the people who have tried these exercises for both sports and fitness goals have loved the power clean. And it has been hailed for the sheer muscle mass it can help you build.
“The exercise will involve a good amount of muscle fiber damage,” says Arby Keheli, the head trainer at F45 Oxford Circus. While this might sound like a bad thing, there’s a bright side.
“This damage causes a hypertrophic response, which means the muscle will become bigger and stronger,” he adds.
Also, he adds that you also gain substantial grip strength from holding your weight during the move.
However, this doesn’t come without a catch. CrossFit London’s Lee advises mastering a few other movements before taking on the power clean. Before you can master such moves as the box jump, deadlift, and kettlebell swing, don’t go in for the power clean.
“It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how experienced you are in the gym, you can always benefit from a qualified eye,” says Lee.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 18 years now.
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I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
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