The power clean is a great exercise for developing overall strength and power. Yet many bodybuilders pass on this great exercise. That’s unfortunate, since getting proficient on this exercise can translate over to stronger deadlifts, squats, and even rows. And handling more weight on these exercises places greater overload on the muscle fibers, which can lead to greater muscle growth in the long run. But there’s some debate about how much weight to use on explosive exercises like power cleans. Squat jumps are best done with 0% of the one-rep max (1RM). And for developing power on the bench press, the optimal load is about 40% of the 1RM. But a recent study confirms that optimal load for power and force development on the power clean is much heavier. U.K. researchers had collegiate athletes perform power cleans using 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80% of their 1RM while measuring their power and force production. They found that peak power occurred with the 70% RM weight, while peak force occurred with the 80% RM weight. Consider doing power cleans at the start of your leg or back workouts. Do two to three sets using 70–80% of your one-rep max or a weight that you can perform for 8–12 reps, but keep rep ranges at three to five per set.
REFERENCE: Comfort, P., J Strength Cond Res., 2012 Nov, 26(11):2970-4.