The #1 Exercise For Building Athletic Power

I grew up watching Naim Süleymanoğlu or “the Pocket Hercules“.

What is Athletic Power?

Power is speed x weight. Or speed x force. The faster you can push a heavy weight, the more powerful you are. Technically.

In sports, it’s a little different than simply pushing a lot of weight. There aren’t many sports where a one rep max is all that you need. Instead, you need have this speed x force for an hour or more. In boxing, if you walk into the ring expecting to throw one punch and knock the guy out, odds are you’re going to gas out early and end up on your ass in a matter of minutes.

In sports we need power that runs throughout our body from our toes to our finger tips and we need this power to last for a long time. The same could be said for the real world. When do you need one single burst of power?

Transfer of Weight

In every sport, power comes from an efficient transfer of weight. In boxing, from the back foot to the front foot, but also from your legs, to your hips, to your shoulders, ending with your fists hitting your opponent. In golf, that transfer of weight is very similar, from your back foot to front foot, but also from feet, to hips, to shoulders.

The more effective we can get at transferring weight, the more powerful we’re going to be. It isn’t just force in a single motion, but how we can use all of the power in our body to effectively hit our target.

Leverage

By building a solid base, and by being able to generate power from a low, steady, and strong stance, we also improve our power and our ability to perform powerful movements. Being able to explode from a standstill is a must in any sport.

The exercise I’m about to show you, and explain, helps us with this. The goal of the exercise is to eventually lift the weight above our head. But there’s a proper way to do this, and an improper way to do this. The proper way will help you build athletic power, the improper way can lead to injury, and massive traps with no real power improvements.

The exercise that will help you accomplish all of the above:

the clean and press

There is no be all end all way of training. Nor is there one be all end all exercise, but the clean and press is an awesome full-body exercise that begins and ends with explosive movements. The exercise is often left out of many programs due to the risk of injury if done improperly, and it makes sense to do so.

However, below I’ll give you some helpful tips that’ll help you perform a proper clean and press, following it up with a free challenge workout with another visual explanation of proper clean form at the end.

1. The lower body is the focus, not the upper body.

When many of us first start doing the clean and press, we place the most stress on our upper body in the initial “pull” of the lift, and then again in the finishing push. This is incorrect. Our lower body should be the main focus for this exercise. This is where the power and explosiveness comes from in sports, and also where it comes from in the clean and press.

The lift begins in a low deadlift stance. The lift should be initiated with your legs and hips, not your traps and arms. Once cleaned, the press should be initiated with your legs and hips as well, with your arms following in the sequence.

We can lift a hell of a lot more with our legs than we can with our arms. So explode with your lower body like you’re jumping out of the building, just remember to bring the weight with you.

2. It’s more about quickness than strength.

If you get a chance to see some of the top Olympic lifters in the world perform – whether it’s on TV or live – pay attention to the speed they have in each lift. They explode with their legs at the beginning of the lift, then get right underneath it as quick as possible.

If you try to “muscle” the weight, you’re not benefitting your body as much as you’d think. This exercise is more about explosion than it is about simply lifting a weight above your head.

3. So why is it the best exercise again?

Have a look at the workout below. Actually. Do the workout below. When you get to the cleans part, tell me how it feels around rep 15, or even 10. Cleans are a full body exercise, they’re awesome for building athletic power because they help us explode from a low center of gravity, but if you up the reps they’ve also pretty killer on the ol’ lungs.

Doing the clean an press at higher reps counts is a great way to improve your power for the later rounds or period, or quarter, when you’re going to need it most. So give them a try.

First, have a look at the video below where I explain how to do them a bit better. Start off with a lighter weight then continue progressing.

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The Workout

Choose your weights (95 lbs, 135 lbs, or 185 lbs on the bar).

Workout Sequence:

Deadlift — 50 reps
Inclined bench press — 50 reps
Yates Row — 50 reps
Clean + Press — 30 reps
Bench Squat — 50 reps
Floor wipers — 50 reps
Clap push-ups — 50 reps
Chin-ups – 50 reps

Tell us how you do. I’ll post my time’s on here as well.