Do you want to add Power Cleans to your strength training workout? But you are unsure what day to do Power Cleans?
Should it be on Leg Day, Back Day or when to do Power Cleans?
This article and video discusses
- What day should you do Power Cleans
- Why you should prioritize Power Cleans
- When to do Power Cleans in a strength training session
- Special considerations if you do Power Cleans more than once a week
In previous articles I discussed the Power Clean benefits, how often you should Power Clean is dependent on your training goal and I have outlined how much you should be able to Power Clean, the next logical question is when to do Power Cleans in the training week.
What day should you do Power Cleans
What day should I do Power Cleans is a very common question, if you read discussions in popular forums, such as
- What day to do Power Cleans from Elite Fitness
- What day do you guys Power Clean from Bodybuilding.com
- When to do Power Cleans from Muscle Talk
- What day should I do Power Cleans from Marunde Muscle
The list could go on and on…
Most of the discussions revolve around, where to put the Power Clean into a Split Routine.
Let’s have a look at my thought process, what day to do Power Cleans regardless of split-routine or not.
Why you should prioritize Power Cleans
The Power Clean is a very demanding strength exercise, it’s very demanding neurologically, metabolically, technically and mentally.
Neurologically, because it requires a high activation of motor units.
Metabolically, because it demands a lot from the ATP-CP system or Phosphagen system
Technically, because the Power Clean technique requires high skill levels and motor control.
Mentally, because you need to commit to the lift and go at it without any hesitation, especially, when you are approaching your 1 RM or near 1 RM.
Check out the article
Which discusses the points in more detail.
Due to the high demands of the Power Clean, it makes a lot of sense to do Power Cleans early in a week or microcycle when you are most fresh.
Why training week or microcycle, what is the difference?
Some coaches and athletes don’t train according to a Monday to Sunday week structure and much rather train in micro-cycles, with its’ own structure.
This structure could be
- 2 days training, 1 day off, 2 days training, 1 day off – followed by next micro-cycle
- 2 days training, 1 day off, 1-day training, 1 day off – followed by next micro-cycle
- 3 days training, 1 day off – followed by next micro-cycle
The micro-cycle variations are almost infinite and depend on the training goal, but you can see, the outlined examples can’t be squeezed into a regular week.
Concluding what day should I do Power Cleans?
Regardless of the structure of your training week or microcycle and regardless of split routine or not, due to the high demands of the Power Clean, do the Power Clean early in your week or micro-cycle.
When to do Power Cleans in a strength training session
The same principle that applies to the question ‘What day should I do Power Cleans?’ applies to the question of sequencing strength exercises and the question ‘When should I do Power Cleans in a strength training session?’
What does that mean?
Do it, when you are most fresh!
That is usually as the first strength exercise after the warm-up.
The Power Clean technique requires high skill levels and in most cases a state of non-fatigue (or at least very little fatigue).
Are there exceptions to the rule?
The Power Clean has to be done always as first strength exercise?
Well, there is no ‘always’, there are always exceptions to the rule.
What are these exceptions?
There are a few different scenarios, let’s just look at 2 of them, called PUF and TUF.
The Power Clean and PUF (Power under fatigue)
The Power Clean is often used as a strength exercise to increase power development, as it doesn’t only require to lift a heavy weight, but also to lift a heavy weight fast. Remember, Power is the product of force and velocity (P = F * v).
If you think about many sports, that require power for sprinting, jumping, hitting, throwing or changing direction, and the competition format of these sports, most of these sports last a certain duration. And towards the end of the competition, athletes are usually most fatigued, but also need to perform and develop high power outputs in order to win the competition.
This concept is called Power Under Fatigue or PUF.
In an attempt to this Power Under Fatigue, there are different solutions.
One of these solutions is, to simulate similar situations in training, and as an example to put a high power producing strength exercise as the Power Clean at the end of the strength training session, when the athlete is fatigued.
The Power Clean and TUF (Technique under fatigue)
Similar to the concept of PUF (power under fatigue), TUF (technique under fatigue) is an attempt to challenge technique under conditions of fatigue.
The principle in sport is obvious, just figure the basketball player, who has to shoot a free throw at the end of a game, the tennis player who has to hit serves in the final game to close the match or the football player who has to take the deciding penalty.
The list could go on and on and everyone can probably think of an applied example in his or her favorite sport.
The idea is, that technical tasks that are fairly easy under conditions of no fatigue early in the competition, become infinitely more difficult under conditions of fatigue.
This is the concept of Technique Under Fatigue or TUF.
Ok, but what does this concept has to do with the Power Clean?
The idea is fairly simple, athletes that experience certain difficulties with parts of their Power Clean technique, can choose to put the Power Clean towards the end of the strength training session.
And then what?
The more often you train your Power Clean technique under conditions of fatigue, the technical flaws will even out, once you train your Power Clean technique under conditions of no fatigue.
Let me give you my opinion, would I choose for that approach?
I chose the Power Clean to achieve a certain goal, for example, high power production, training the triple extension or learning to effectively absorb forces.
If an athlete has a technical flaw in the Power Clean (or any other strength exercise), I address it during the warm-up and in the regular training.
If this technical flaw remains, I will look at choosing a different exercise with which I can achieve the goal I want to achieve (high power production, training the triple extension, etc).
So why not put more effort into learning the Power Clean technique and using TUF?
The reason is pretty simple, the athletes I am training, compete in a certain sport and I see them 2 or 3 times a week and in these 2 or 3 sessions, I want to achieve a certain training goal.
In addition to that, 2 or 3 weekly sessions aren’t enough to change a persistent technical flaw (remember I tried to address it during warm-ups and that usually works).
Bottom-line, my athletes need to be good in their sport and not necessarily good at Power Cleans, in certain and rare cases, where the athlete doesn’t manage to perform the exercise correctly, there are always opportunities to replace the exercise.
Special considerations if you do Power Cleans more than once a week
Now, that we have covered what day to do Power Cleans and when to do Power Cleans in your strength training session, the last question that stands out is ‘What day to do Power Cleans?’ if you train Power Cleans more than once a week?
If you train Power Cleans more than once a week and train on different days, you probably modulate the training intensity, set and rep scheme and even the strength exercise within the week and you don’t do the same thing in 2 strength training sessions or in 3 strength training sessions.
What does that mean?
If you do Power Cleans twice a week, you will do one session heavier than the other one, right?
And the heavier session is done first and the less heavy session second.
An example, if you only modulate the training intensity, set and rep schemes, the session design could look like this
If you modulate the training intensity, set and rep schemes and exercise variation, the session design could look like this
If you do the Power Clean on 2 days in a week, make sure, that there is enough time for recovery in between.
In most cases, this is 2 or 3 days between the strength sessions.
The rationale behind modulating training intensity, set and rep schemes, as well as exercise selection, is to plan and manipulate training load, training volume and volume load for optimal adaptations
For more details on that complex topic, please check
- The Holy Grail of Strength Training – Sets and Reps
- How often should I Back Squat
- or the tutorial of our preparation for the London Olympics 2012 including the strength training program, that you can download from the start page
Concluding What day to do Power Cleans
The Power Clean is one of the most demanding strength exercises, therefore the day of the week you do Power Cleans should be prioritized, as well as when to do the Power Clean in a strength training session.
If you do Power Cleans more than once a week, make sure you modulate training intensity, set and rep schemes and exercise variations in the different strength training sessions to allow optimal adaptations.