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While power cleans may sound more like the latest kitchen-scrubbing tool, they are actually an explosive weightlifting exercise. The motion involves lifting a barbell from the floor to your shoulders in a continuous, powerful movement. The barbell power clean is considered a compound exercise movement, which means multiple muscle groups are utilized in the exercise. Understanding how to correctly perform the power clean can help you maximize muscle-building while performing the exercise. Always speak with your physician before beginning an exercise program to ensure your condition safely allows it.
Exercise Part 1: The Squat
The power clean involves starting with a barbell in front of you on the floor. Add weighted plates to achieve a weight heavy enough to perform 10 to 12 repetitions in each set. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your feet slightly under the bar, but not touching the bar. Squat down to reach for the bar, holding your hands slightly wider than your knees. Keep your back flat and your abdominal muscles engaged as you straighten your knees to lift the bar off the ground.
The first muscle-building position of a barbell power clean is the barbell squat. This move occurs at the start and end of the power clean. The quadriceps muscles in the front of your thigh are the major muscle group worked. However, your butt, outer thigh and calf muscles are also working with your thighs to lift your body. Your back or erector spinae muscles are also working to lift the barbell from the ground to your shoulders. Keeping the abdominals contracted to maintain proper posture also means you are working your rectus abdominis or ab muscles along with your oblique muscles on the sides of your stomach.
Exercise Part 2: The Upright Row
The next portion of the barbell power clean involves your arms. When your knees are almost straight, start using your arms to lift the bar the remainder of the way up. Rotate your arms and wrists to slightly flip the bar up toward your shoulders. This movement is known as the вЂњcatchвЂќ and ends with your palms facing forward and the barbell slightly touching your shoulders. Your legs should be straight. Move your wrists forward to return to the beginning position as you lower the bar -- your palms should be facing behind you. When the bar reaches your knees, squat down to return the bar to the floor. This exercise may take practice to achieve fluid, powerful movements.
Upright Row Muscles Worked
The second major action of the barbell power clean involves lifting the bar to your shoulders. This part of the exercise resembles a barbell upright row. The major muscle group worked is the lateral deltoid, or the top part of your shoulder muscle. However, several muscles work alongside the shoulders. These include your biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis in the upper front portion of your arms. The trapezius and rotator cuff muscles also are worked in this portion of the exercise.