Strength Training For AFL Players – Week 3
The Hang Power Clean
Performance in AFL, like all field sports, relies on not only the player’s sports specific skills, physical strength and endurance, but also on their ability to react with speed and agility.
Due to the speed of play in the modern game, rapid change of direction with accuracy is a necessary skill. Players that are able to repeatedly sprint for the ball or to run down and tackle an opposition player on multiple occasions throughout an entire match are sought after by coaching staff.
For a player to develop speed and power they need to be able to optimise both triple flexion and triple extension. These movements involve three major joints: Hip, Knee, and Ankle. When moved from the flexed to extended position, these three joints create the explosiveness needed to initiate a sprint or jump, movements which consist of the player applying force with the feet against the ground.
The Hang Power Clean is another compound movement that is vital for Australian Rules Footballers. It is a lift that requires triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles in a coordinated and explosive pattern while also building on the lifters ability to absorb and transfer force, which has additional benefits when tackling or in the ruck.
A recent study conducted at Edith Cowan University (1), investigated whether an AFL players performance in the Hang Power Clean translated to an increased ability in sprinting, jumping and change of direction. Testing was administered over 3 separate days, each separated by a 48 hour period to minimise fatigue. During the 3 test days the players took part in a 20 metre sprint, a 5 metre by 5 metre Change of Direction drill, a Counter Movement Jump test with and without a 40 kg weight, and on the third day of testing a 1 RM Hang Power Clean and Front Squat.
Over a two month period in the off season, the players performed Hang Power Clean and Front Squat 2-3 times per week.
At the end of the second testing period it was evident that those players who performed in the top 50 percent of the group in the 1 RM Hang Power Clean relative to body mass had higher performance in both jumping and sprinting.
When training to maximise force and power it has been found to be advantageous to use loads of 60-80% of your 1 Rep Max (2), while keeping your rep range low. 5 sets of 2 to 3 reps at these loads are ideal.
How to complete a HANG POWER CLEAN
1.Your stance for the setup should be hip width or slightly wider (ideally in a position that you would jump from). You need to keep your weight in your heels, while keeping your back straight (neutral spine position).
2. The bar should be held in an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width, with your arms locked straight.
3. To initiate the lift, bend the knees and hips and lower the bar against the quadriceps with, your shoulders over the bar, to just above the knee.
4. The next stage is an all-out explosive pull in a “jump and shrug” motion. Quickly and powerfully extend your legs, thrusting your hips forward and upwards, straighten your knees and extend your ankles (triple extension).
5. Keep the bar close to your body and bring it into contact with the hips as you reach extension. As you feel the bar gain momentum, fully shrug your shoulders whilst keeping your arms straight and by your sides.
6. After extension, drop down whilst moving your feet into a squat stance. At the same time, pull your elbows high and to the sides, moving yourself into a partial squat while keeping the bar and your body as close as possible.
7. Turn the elbows around the bar, transitioning into a rack position with elbows high, stopping the squat above parallel. Keeping your gaze at eye level and upper body upright.
8. Once the bar steadies, stand all the way up, maintaining the bar in the rack position on the shoulders.
Always work at a weight that you are able to achieve the set number of reps in a set, and most importantly, that you are able to complete the lift with good form. A very common fault with this exercise is lifters going too heavy too soon, not maintaining straight arms in the extension and shrug portions of the lift and “muscling” the bar into position.
In conclusion, the addition of the Hang Power Clean in strength and conditioning programs has been proven to improve explosiveness in athletes by optimising their ability to increase the amount of force generated against the ground when sprinting and jumping.
How are you going to stand out this season?
- Hori N, Newton RU, Andrews WA, Kawamori N, McGuigan MR, and Nosaka K. (2008) “Does performance of hang power clean differentiate performance of jumping, sprinting and changing of direction?” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22 (2) , pp. 421-8
- Comfort P,Fletcher CM and McMahon JJ. (2012), “Determination of optimal load during the power clean, in collegiate athletes” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26 (11) , pp. 2962-2969