Starting Position: Stand in front of a barbell, with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart and the balls of your feet directly under the bar. Your feet should point forward or be turned out slightly. Squat down to grasp the bar with fingers wrapped around the bar, and a closed-thumb grip. Your grip position should be immediately outside of your knees (slightly wider than shoulder width).
Keep your back flat. Your elbows should be straight and your shoulders over the bar or slightly ahead of the bar. Your chest should be forward and your head aligned with your spine or chin slightly lifted. Your eyes are looking forward. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Brace your abdominal / core muscles to stiffen your torso and support your spine. Keep these muscles engaged throughout the exercise.
Upward Movement - 1st Pull: Keeping a firm grip. Exhale and slowly push through your heels, straightening your hips and knees, lifting your hips and shoulders together. Maintain your shoulder, straight arm and flat back position. Keep the bar close to your shins. Remember, this first pull is performed slowly.
Upward Movement - Scoop or Transition: As the bar passes your knees, thrust your hips forward against the bar. Do not allow your low back to arch. This movement is performed "explosively".
Upward Movement - 2nd Pull: While keeping the bar as close to your body as possible, continue to lift the bar explosively upwards. Straighten the hips and knees while simultaneously adding an explosive shrug and calf raise (see illustration from the side). This helps pull the bar higher from the floor. Due to the explosive nature of this phase, the torso may exhibit a slight arch, the head may tilt backward and the feet may leave the floor. The palms are still facing down and the bar is as close to your body as possible. When you have reached the point where your ankles, knees and hips are straight, start bending your elbows and flaring them out. This should occur as the bar reaches chest level.
Upward Movement: Catch: At full extension, rotate your wrists and arms under the bar while simultaneously flexing your hips and knees to drop your body under the bar. Once your arms move under the bar, push your elbows forward and upward until your upper arms or forearms are parallel to the floor. The bar is caught on the front edge of your shoulders immediately in front of your collarbones (similar to how the bar is held for a front squat). Often, lifters will relax their grip on the bar during the catch phase and allow the bar to roll closer to the body. This allows the individual to lift the elbows and upper arms up higher.
At the end of the catch phase, the torso should be near vertical, feet flat, head neutral and shoulders just forward of the hips. The catch phase ends as you stand up straight.
Lowering Movement: Grasp the bar, inhale and slowly lower your elbows to point toward the floor, moving the bar off the shoulders. As the bar reaches hip level, bend the hips and knees similar to a dead lift, lowering the body and bar to return it back to the floor.
Exercise Variation: A modification to the Power Clean is a Hang Clean where the bar starts at the mid-thigh position (end of the 1st Pull). This exercise may prove to be more difficult as without the 1st pull, much of the initial momentum needed in the 2nd pull is lost.
This advanced, power exercise requires the individual to lift the bar quickly and forcefully from the ground to shoulder height in one movement, divided into 4 distinct phases. It is recommended that the 4 phases be learned and mastered individually, then integrated together gradually (part-to-whole-learning). Additionally, as the squat and dead lift are integral to this exercise, they should be mastered before progressing to performing cleans.