Do Athletes Need Power Cleans?

Power cleans are a staple exercise for many athletes at many levels – high school, collegiate, & the pros.

The idea behind power cleans is that it trains “triple extension” – the body movement seen in jumps and sprints.

And unlike other exercises, the power clean directly trains speed & power as opposed to just strength.

It’s because of these two distinctions that many people argue power cleans are the best training tool for athletes.

After training hundreds of athletes over the years at GameChanger, we’ve found that this is not the case and power cleans are not an ideal exercise. Here’s why:

1. Many Other Simpler Exercise Train a Similar Movement Pattern

Power cleans are not the only exercise that mimic sprints and jumps.

Deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, and even the venerable prowler push put athletes through similar movement patterns that carry over to such displays of athleticism.

What do they all have that the power clean doesn’t?

Simplicity.

An athlete can learn how to do any of these exercises in a single training session, whereas the power clean can take weeks or months to perfect.

2. Time Spent to Learn the Power Clean Takes Costs Athletes Big Time

Because an athlete needs to spend so much time learning how to power clean, he or she sacrifices time that can be used elsewhere.

Sure, the time could pay off in the long run, but if an athlete is concerned about running faster, jumping higher, and being more explosive, then there are drills and exercises that an athlete can spend time on that will directly translate to improving these traits.

Why bothering learning an incredibly technical lift, when all you could do is work on your sprinting mechanics and acceleration?

3. Strength Improves Power & Speed

The stronger an athlete is, the faster & more powerful he or she is.

Think about it: if you struggle to pickup 200 lbs, you could probably pick up 100 lbs with speed & ease. If you get stronger and can now manage to pick up 300 lbs, suddenly the 100 lbs becomes even easier to pick up swiftly.

That is exactly how your legs work with running and jumping. You can run faster and jump higher if your legs are stronger, because your bodyweight becomes “easier” to move around.

As long as an athlete continues to work on explosive movements in his or her training, any sort of strength increase will directly increase speed & power.


At GameChanger, we’ve designed the safest, most effective, & most efficient programs that get athletes performing at higher levels.

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