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Which Is Better, Deadlifts or Power Cleans?
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Deadlifts and power cleans are Olympic-style power lifts designed to build muscle and increase a lifter’s strength. The power clean starts with a deadlift movement and continues with an explosive pull. To avoid injuries, you must perfect solid technique and form with the deadlift before you progress to the power clean.
Deciding on the better of the two lifts depends on your skill level and the results you want to achieve. Whichever lift you choose, get a doctor’s release before adding the exercise to your workout and work with a strength trainer to learn the correct technique.
According to BodyBuilding.com, the deadlift is one of the best exercises to perform if your goal is to build strength and mass in your lower back. A workout program that incorporates deadlifts will strengthen the muscles that support your spine and help prevent lower back injuries.
Those who want to improve their posture or who have lower back muscle imbalances will find performing deadlifts beneficial.
As with deadlifts, the power clean works the posterior-chain muscles, which include the calves, hamstrings, glutes and lower back. The power clean also works the muscles of your upper back, in particular, the trapezius. The power clean is better if you want to develop and define your traps. The benefits of performing the power clean are that it is more of a full-body exercise, it increases your explosive power and strength, and it helps to improve your balance and coordination.
If you are new to power lifting, learn and perfect the deadlift technique before moving on to the power clean. The basics of the deadlift are that you stand behind the barbell, bend your knees and hips, lower your body into a squat position, grasp the bar, and slowly stand and pull the bar up to the middle of your thighs. You then lower the bar to the floor and repeat. Emphasis is placed on keeping your back straight, head up, chest forward and arms straight during the pull.
If you have mastered the deadlift, the power clean is a better exercise in that it involves more joint movements. T-Nation bodybuilder and strength coach Christian Thibadeau states that “very few, if any, other strength exercises involve more articulations.”
With the power clean, you start in a similar manner as with the deadlift. However, there are two pulls involved and you do not stop after the first pull. When the bar nears mid-thigh, the second pulling motion starts. At this point you extend your hips and knees and as you explode upward, and pull the bar up to your shoulders. When the bar is shoulder-high, you pull your body under the bar, rotate your arms down and under the bar, and catch the bar on your shoulders. The bar is then lowered back to the floor and the exercise repeated.