Science Says: 70% Is Your Most Powerful Power Clean

At what percentage of your 1RM power clean do you output the most power? If you are training to develop power, that would be useful to know. Science can now tell you the answer.

Power means applying strength quickly. Strength and conditioning programs put high priority on power production because power development is crucial in athletes. Today’s study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research asked the question, “What load is best for expressing power in the power clean?” Meaning, what load allows for the greatest power output? This is interesting because the answer might help coaches prescribe loads that give the best results for athletes.

The study examined nineteen male, college athletes who had plenty of experience in strength training and the power clean. Researchers had the athletes power clean many different loads while standing on top of a plate that measured the force the athletes were putting into the ground.

Peak power occurred with loads at 70% of one rep max (1RM). So it would appear that 70% 1RM is the answer. But loads all the way from 60-80% 1RM weren’t significantly different in power output. So while 70% 1RM may be the precise answer to the question above, the authors conclude that loads anywhere from 60-80% 1RM could be optimal depending on the individual athlete.1

My conclusion: This is a great data point for coaches designing programs for power athletes. Want to emphasize speed and metabolic conditioning? Choose a load of 60% 1RM. Want to emphasize absolute force production and strength development? Choose a load of 80% 1RM. Training for pure power production? Use 70% 1RM.

These results are also in line with previous research on the topic that studied the hang power clean. I do wish that this study would have examined a broader population than just young men. I would also like to know if these percentages hold true for slow lifts like squats and presses, as well as full versions of the snatch and clean, not to mention what results might be with female athletes.

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