Why We Love the (Partial) Olympic Lifts

P360 Guiding Principle #6/10: Avoid Complexity

While we train everyday men and women here, we can take lessons and analogies from the world of sport to broaden our understanding.

In that vein, what do college and professional athletics for men and women have in common? They use the hell out of the partial clean variations but you’ll find very few performing full, complex versions of the lifts as part of their training foundation. For those who are not well versed in Olympic lift jargon, here is the difference between the two.

Full Clean
-Starts from the ground and ends in a full squat.

Power Clean
-Starts from the ground and ends in a quarter squat.

Hang Power Clean
-Starts from the thighs and ends in a quarter squat.

The partials, like the power and hang power clean, are more preferred by strength coaches (and Performance360) for the following reasons:

  • They are more effective for teaching explosive strength. Because there is less range of motion and more power application.
  • They associate less risk. Because we are taking the end ranges of motion away from the movement. A power clean that catches the barbell well above parallel rather than bottoming out into a compromised receiving position.
  • They are less cognitively limiting than their full version cousins. A faster learning curve yields faster results. Things that take ages to master are cool for those who want to master them for mastery sake, but for the rest of us who want fitness to be about results rather than hobby, we like stuff that’s easy to learn.
  • They are easier to coach. A clean and jerk has a dozen cues right off the bat for which you must have an excellent grasp that takes years for a coach to become seasoned. A hang power clean has maybe, three or four. Spoiler alert: good coaches like things that have a narrow focus. It is the amateur coach who thinks that complexity is a progression.

Here are some examples of highly effective partial Olympic lifts for those reasons:

  • Hang Power Clean
  • Power Clean
  • Push Jerk

We know you aren’t training for sport but the reasons to do them here are the same they do them there: highly effective, quickly adopted, regularly performed.

Simple > Complex.

As Leo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”