This is the complete guide to the power clean from hang, written by an experienced coach and lifter. We’re going to cover:
- What Is a Power Clean From Hang?
- How to Do a Hang Power Clean With Proper Form
- The Big 2 Common Mistakes with the Power Clean from Hang
- Looking for An Olympic Weightlifting Programme?
- What Do Hang Power Cleans Work?
- 3 Benefits of Doing Hang Power Clean
- Hang Power Clean Alternatives
- Programming the Power Clean from Hang
- Next Steps
Let’s jump right in…
What Is a Power Clean From Hang?
The power clean from hang, also referred to as the hang power clean, is a weightlifting movement variation that combines a ‘hang’ start position with a ‘power’ receive position.
Hang Power Clean Terminology
Now, if you’re looking at me a little gone out, here’s a quick explanation of those terms.
Hangs: are lifts in which you start holding the bar rather than with the bar on the floor. Typical hang positions for the clean include:
- High-Hang: Bar is around the upper thigh or ‘pocket’ area.
- Mid-hang: Bar is at the mid-thigh area.
- Hang: Bar is just above the knee
- Knee: Bar is at the knee
- Below knee: Bar just below the knees
Powers: are lifts in which you catch the bar above a parallel squat position. So if you look at the picture below, the lifter on the left (Shi Zhiyong) has caught the lift in a power position, whereas the lifters on the right (Kendrick Farris) has caught the lift in a ‘full’ clean position.
How to Do a Hang Power Clean With Proper Form
“People like to overcomplicate it, but you can almost think of the hang power clean as a jump and catch“
Okay, so there are 4 steps that I’m going to run you through, but if you ever find yourself getting confused, keep the idea of jumping and catching in mind and you won’t go too far wrong.
1. Hang Start Position
Since you’re performing a power clean from hang, you need to start by deciding on your hang position (high hang, knee, below knee etc) From there, you’re going to pick the bar up, get nice and tight and set your back, then descend until you reach your chosen hang position.
2. Transition into Second Pull (Triple extension)
From your hang position, start the lift by pushing against the floor as you simultaneously raise your torso into a more vertical position. Once the bar reaches your upper pocket (top of thigh) area you need to aggressively drive into the floor, almost as if you’re trying to perform a vertical jump. This will end with you extended your hips, knees and ankles and adding speed to the bar.
3. Receive (Catch) the Bar
Once you’ve completed your triple extension, it’s time to start actively using your arms and upper back muscles to pull yourself under the bar, as well as pull the bar in to where you want it to sit on your shoulders. In order for the lift to count as a ‘power’ clean, you should catch the bar and stop it falling before you get into a parallel squat position.
This last step is literally just standing back up from wherever you caught the bar. It is basically just a partial front squat. Boom. Job done. Rep complete.
The Big 2 Common Mistakes with the Power Clean from Hang
As a coach and weightlifting tutor, there are 2 really common mistakes I see time and time again. Here they are, with quick and simple fixes.
1) Bar getting too far away
A really common mistake when performing the power clean from hang is to let the bar drift away from your body. This pulls your balance forwards and makes it incredibly hard to complete the lift. To fix this, practice pulling your elbows ‘up and out,’ and lifting the bar almost as if you’re trying to raise your t-shirt with each rep.
Another super common mistake is to keep jumping your legs out wider and wider to catch the bar instead of pulling under the bar properly (see the video below for what this mistake looks like)
To fix this, after you perform a hang power clean, try to perform a front squat, if it feels awkward and you need to bring your feet in, you’re jumping too far out. Keep correcting yourself like this, and you’ll soon be doing them properly.
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What Do Hang Power Cleans Work?
When people ask me “which muscles do hang power cleans work?” my honest answer is that the question isn’t really relevant or appropriate. Here’s why…
Hang power cleans work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back muscles, lats, spinal erectors, upper back muscles, plus your calves, core and traps.
So hang power cleans are very much a full-body exercise that is movement focused rather than muscle focused.
Is power clean a leg workout?
Well yes, but also no. Power cleans do work a lot of your leg muscles, but they do so in a way that doesn’t allow for high degrees of tension on any specific muscle. They also don’t have any eccentric (downwards) phase and are usually only performed for 1-5 reps. This makes them a poor choice for hypertrophy or strength development.
Do bodybuilders power clean?
For fun, absolutely. For hypertrophy and muscle building, absolutely not. As I mentioned above, the low reps, lack of eccentric component and inability to target specific muscles makes power cleans a poor choice for bodybuilding goals.
3 Benefits of Doing Hang Power Clean
So, if power cleans from hang aren’t great for muscle and strength, what are they good for? In my mind, there are 3 things:
- Develop Lower Body Power and Explosiveness
- Easier to learn that the full clean from the floor
- Can be used to correct technical errors for weightlifters
Hang Power Clean Alternatives
If you’re looking for a bit of variation in your training, two good alternatives to the barbell hang power clean are…
1. Dumbbell Hang Power Clean
This is a variation I’ve written about previously. It’s challenging, fun and versatile. Personally, I’ve used them when I’ve not had access to a barbell, or during GPP (General Physical Preparation) training blocks for a bit of variation.
2. Hang Clean High Pull
This variation is great for lifters who struggle with mobility for the rack (receive) position. Essentially, you still get all the benefits of the hang position and explosive triple extension, you just pull as high as possible then stop without catching the bar.
Or, if you’re just looking to develop your lower body without doing hang power cleans, consider using…
- Vertical jumps
- Broad jumps
Programming the Power Clean from Hang
Hang power cleans are best performed for sets of 1-5 reps.
As a coach, I’ll most often prescribe them as doubles or triples.
As a power development exercise, anything from 3 to 6 sets is a good rule of thumb.
Typically, I’ll give my heavier and stronger athletes fewer sets than my lighter or newer athletes.
Intensity and Loading
This can vary based on what the athlete is working on, but a general range that I use tends to be between 60 and 80% of the lifter’s best clean.
If we’re focusing more on technique or speed qualities, we’ll train on the lighter end. Whereas if we’re trying to overload the hang power clean (for example to work on aggressiveness in the extension) we’ll work on the heavier end.
Power Clean from Hang Workout
- High Hang Power Clean: 3×3 @ 60%
- Knee Hang Power Clean: 3×2 @ 75-80%
You would then follow this up with your planned strength work; squats, presses, deadlifts etc.
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‘Til Next Time
Alex Parry, MSc, BA
Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.
His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting.