Power Clean Program for Throwers
By Jud Logan, Throws Coach Ashland University
3 x Olympian, Former American Record Holder
I read with interest about the Power Clean by Charles Poliquin. He wrote a 22 week program for me that enabled me to add 40 lbs. to my power clean, which had been stuck @ 404 for 8 years. I only did actual Power Cleans from the floor in the last three weeks. I will list the exercises I did, but the key was strengthening the weak links, including the brachialis and forearm extensors, the abdominal wall and low back areas.
In 1988, I did 352 x 8 reps, but still failed at anything over 404. His ideas are similar to Louie Simmons in many regards, but his programs are geared more for athletes in Olympic disciplines than the specific sport of Powerlifting. Both have much to offer and I have spent time with both and interchange protocols to continue to make progress @ age 38 and over 20 years of training.
I will try to explain the methodology behind my improvement to a 440 Power Clean. In 1992 I visited Poliquin in Montreal and was tested for muscular imbalances. The results were humbling, although he concluded I was stronger in some aspects than anyone he ever tested, certain areas left me weaker than 105 lb. figure skaters. He fixed my squat first, and although I boasted a 770 BS and 550 x 3 FS, I could not squat 250 lbs. 5 seconds down, 5 seconds up for 6 reps-- a test being accomplished by female speed skaters on the next platform. The second phase was my pulls. He started me with 6 sets of 6 Snatch from mid- thigh w/ a pause to reset technically each rep. After each set I did 6 reps of Pulls from the floor w/ 15 kilos more to the nipple. Each compound set had a 90 sec. rest period between the Mid and the Floor. Each set got easier due to the lighter feeling. This was a total of 12 work sets- w/ 5 lighter warm-up sets- yes I puked! 90 secs. came quickly to someone use to 4-5 min. recovery. This initial program lasted 3 weeks, done on M and Th, along with Squats- upper body was T and F, w/ W off. I finished w/ 105k x 3 Mid thigh Snatch and 120k pulls for 3 and also a 350 x 5 slow tempo squat.
The next 3 week block switched to Hang Clean and F. Squat. The protocol was 5 x 4 wk. 1, 4 x 4 wk. 2 and 5 x 2 in wk. 3. My best was 160 K for 2 in the hang clean done to upper patella. I also did Romanian Dead lifts during this cycle. The next 3 week cycle switched to progressive range PC. Depending on the reps, starting with 4 x 6, the first rep was done from high thigh, moving down 2 inches per rep until the last rep was mid shin, but never touching the floor. The first rep was the hardest and by rep 6 I was in a more favorable position for strength. The Squats went to BS and 8 x 3 @ 70% 3 secs. down/1 sec. up, with 60 seconds rest- yes I puked! I also did seated good mornings. I finished with a 147k x 4 Progressive range set, 2 reps above knee and 2 below- never letting the plates touch the floor- in the squat I finished @ 405 for 8 x 3 w/ 60 sec. rest. This program was Neural Drive and my throwing took a big jump, 75 meters in Jan. and 75 feet in the weight. The next 3 week cycle was Mid Grip Snatches and paused front squats in the hole posistion 6-4-6-4-6 (Wave loading) The mid grip snatches were 1+2. One from mid thigh and 2 from the floor. I finished w/ 110k from mid grip 1+1. I also did Standing good morning during the cycle.
The next 3 week program switched to the floor for the first time on the clean. Week 1 was 4x4, week 2 was 5x5 and week 3 was 3x4 and the second workout of that week was 5-3-2-1-1. The key was Jump Squats before PC, 3x20 w/ 50k, this was the precursor for speed and dynamics. The Squats were heavy 1/2 squats and killer hamstring workouts. I did 170k x4 and eventually 200k or 440 lbs on my descending set day. My throwing went to hell this cycle and 4 weeks before nationals, I could only throw the weight 74 feet, but the 9k hammer was at a lifetime best of 68 meters, strong but no neural drive yet.
The finishing cycle was Snatch Grip jumps 4x6 w/40k and speed snatches from blocks, high shin, 3-2-1-2-1. I only did ONE set of Front Squat, 80k x 5 per workout and recovery was amazing. The upper body workout featured pushpress and chins only and I went to New York for the nationals breaking the world record in the weight @ 801/4 and losing to lance Deal.
In hindsight changing workouts every three weeks was key for me and by concentrating more on tempo of squats and increasing my work capacity instead of just cleaning and squatting heavy- I was able to make the breakthrough that lead to over 80 meters at the Olympic trials and 4th in Barcelona. Don't try to copy my workout, but maybe learn from the variety in tempos, grips, rest periods and positions of pulls for breaking plateaus.
On the jump squats, the key is to have the elbows under the bar pointing straight down ( good power line). Next the athlete squats into what I call a high 1/2 squat position, and attempts to drive the feet through the floor in a violent change of direction--- try to reach maximum height each jump (I tell my athletes to feel sensation of reaching for the ceiling w/ their head, and to point the toes down on lift off). Keep the bar tight to the traps and upon landing repeat w/out pause. When done correctly it looks like weighted hopping in place. Remember this is more plyometrics and a stimuli for the nervous system to prepare the fast twitch muscle fibers to fire! Again, I used 110 lbs, I had my all-american (207) use 40 k or 88 lbs, on his way to a 150k (330) clean @ a BW of 210. Hope this gives you some guidelines.
Absolute strength for throwers:
I would take the increase in vertical over the extra weight in the clean. Lance will clean 110k or so is great maintenance for him and allows him to recover for throwing workouts. He threw over 80 in New Zealand off of these type of workouts. After nearly a four year layoff I cleaned 170k the first day back- physiologist call this muscle memory. Does this mean for someone throwing 60 meters, proportionally he should only clean 70k for 5x5 and expect to progress the same way Lance is? The balance is a double edged sword- most people advocating not lifting heavy- for the most part have been strong at one point in their career. Others like myself MAY be using strength training as a crutch, but I believe I am only trying to cover all the bases. Lift, throw, plyos, and work on technique. I am my own coach and have a strength coach that writes most of my work-outs (Poliquin). I fit the throwing schedule around my job (coach) and do my drills, film and make an honest effort to fix what technique I can. I enjoy weight training and I am still motivated by the gains I make at age 38- lifting and throwing. Taking a page out of Lance's book, I am currently only squatting 315 for 8 sets of 3 w/ one minute rest- I continually search for the right balance. I am unable to do any pulls w/a torn calf currently and maybe i will start to feel the ball better. I compete against only one person-myself, I am finding the journey to remain competitive over 75m to be an exhilarating and challenging- I may never see 80m again, but it won't stop me from trying!