The Power Clean is an Olympic Weightlifting exercise that develops serious strength and power, helps increase athletic performance and increases muscle mass.

You might not be able to do a power clean or don't have the right equipment to do this exercise.  

In this article, I’ll show you the best power clean alternative exercises and how to do them.

The Power Clean develops speed, power, strength and coordination. It's an advanced exercise that is used in Olympic Weightlifting and by athletes to increase sports performance by developing explosive power and strength. 

If you're unable perform the power clean due to lack of equipment, insufficient space or injuries, there are other great exercises to develop both muscle and power. Let's get straight into my top 12 best power clean alternatives.

1. Deadlifts 

Man Doing Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the most popular full-body movements that gym-goers perform worldwide. It primarily works your posterior chain muscles such as your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and spine.

It requires large amounts of core strength to help maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.

The deadlift is an excellent alternative for power cleans as it helps develop power and increase your body’s muscle mass.

However, if you lack equipment or have an injury, you can perform deadlift alternative exercises.


  • Strengthens your whole body in one exercise. 
  • Builds strength in your back and protects you from injury.
  • Releases anabolic hormones which help you get strong and build muscle mass.

How to do a deadlift: 

  1. Stand in front of a loaded barbell.
  2. Place your feet hip-width with your toes under the barbell.
  3. Keep your back straight, hinge from the hips, and bend your knees slightly.
  4. Hold the barbell with an overhand grip placed outside your knees.
  5. Brace your core and fire your hips forward in an explosive manner, lifting the barbell from the floor.
  6. Squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement. 
  7. Lower the barbell and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you get as rigid as possible by pulling the barbell upwards before initiating the pull off the floor by using your legs to drive the floor away. 

Related Article - Good Morning Vs Deadlift

2. Sumo Deadlift High Pull 

Man Doing Sumo Deadlift High Pull

The sumo deadlift high pull is a complex movement that should only be attempted by advanced gym-goers who understand how to perform the exercise safely with excellent form.

It’s a brilliant power clean alternative as it requires power generation from the hips and a powerful shrugging motion to lift the barbell.

The movement also focuses on the main muscle groups worked during a power clean. 


  • Strengthens the lower and upper body.
  • Teaching timing and coordination.
  • Builds a strong core.

How To Do a sumo deadlift high pull:

  1. Stand in front of a barbell with a wide sumo stance. 
  2. Bend the knees slightly, hinge your hips, and grab the barbell with an overhand grip. 
  3. Drive your hips forward and straighten the legs while pulling the barbell up underneath your chin.
  4. Lower the barbell to your hips and hinge your hips, ready to repeat the movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

Get your hips low in the starting position to get your back flat. Use your hips to drive the weight upwards and point your elbows upward at the top of the movement.  

3. Box Jumps 

Woman Doing Box Jumps

Box jumps are an explosive movement that targets your lower body.

During the exercise, your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves must work together to generate enough force to launch your body weight onto a box or platform. If you don't have a box - try out box jump alternatives.

It’s a simple movement that doesn’t require too much equipment. If you are a beginner then make sure you choose a height that you can do with good form and you can increase the height as you get stronger.


  • Builds explosive strength.
  • Great exercise as part of a WOD or HIIT session.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness. 

How To Do a box jump:

  1. Stand roughly a foot in front of a box (or raised platform). 
  2. Bend your knees and place your arms backwards, priming yourself to jump. 
  3. Explode upwards while swinging your arms forward and land on top of the box. 
  4. Step off the box and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

When doing box jumps, don’t jump off the box between reps; it’s not great for your knees and will end up causing injuries in the long run.  Step down and set yourself up for the next rep.

More Exercises - Best Plyo Boxes

4. Kettlebell Snatch 

Man Doing Kettlebell Snatch Exercise

This power clean alternative exercise is perfect for stabilizing your core, enhancing power output, and improving coordination. It’s often thought of as one of the best kettlebell exercises around.  

Throughout the movement, your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads are required to generate power.

This makes the kettlebell snatch a brilliant exercise for sports specific training where increasing your power output is essential.  


  • Builds explosive power.
  • Creates a strong posterior chain and a strong overhead position.
  • Challenges coordination and timing.

How To Do a kettlebell snatch:

  1. Hold a kettlebell with one hand using an overhand grip. 
  2. Place the kettlebell between your legs and hinge forward slightly so the weight sits backwards as if it’s preparing to swing. 
  3. Push your hips forward explosively and shrug your shoulders as your arm levers the weight up over your head, allowing the weight to catch on your wrist. 
  4. Reverse the movement and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

To avoid bruising on your forearm with the weight continually hitting the same spot, make sure you rotate your wrist as the kettlebell moves to the end position.

5. Kettlebell Swings 

Man Doing Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is a simple power clean alternative you can perform in your home gym, outside, or pretty much anywhere and builds lower body power.

It mainly targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back through a series of explosive hip hinge movements similar to what occurs during power cleans.

Kettlebell swings offer a wide range of benefits that can help you burn calories and lose weight.

If you don't have kettlebells at your home gym or regular gym, you can try out kettlebell swing alternatives.


  • Builds a strong posterior chain.
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness.
  • Increases sports performance. 

How To Do a kettlebell swing:

  1. Stand over a kettlebell with a hip-width stance. 
  2. Slightly bend the knees and hinge from the hips while maintaining a straight back. 
  3. Hold the kettlebell with an overhand grip. 
  4. Fire the hips forward explosively and allow the kettlebell to swing upwards (keeping your arms straight). 
  5. Reverse the movement while maintaining a swinging motion and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don’t use only your arms during a kettlebell swing, they are simply a lever. Let your hips do all the work, they will drive the weight upwards.

6. Barbell Back Squat 

Woman Doing Barbell Back Squat Exercise

The back squat is arguably the king of all compound exercises; it requires almost every muscle in your body but primarily targets your lower body, especially your quads. 

One of the best aspects of this power clean alternative is that it allows you to overload your lower body with a large amount of weight, stimulating your muscle fibers to grow. 

The only downside to this movement is that you need to have a squat rack, barbell, and Olympic weight plates. 


  • Targets all leg muscles and builds strength and size.
  • Builds a strong core.
  • Increases strength and mobility in the hips.

How To Do a barbell back squat:

  1. Rest a barbell on your upper traps with your arms holding the bar evenly on either side. 
  2. Place your feet hip-width with your toes slightly angled outward. 
  3. Take a deep breath and brace your core. 
  4. Bend your knees and lower yourself until your legs reach 90-degrees. 
  5. Push upwards and breathe out. 
  6. Take a deep breath at the top and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your ribcage down during the back squat to maintain a neutral spine during the lift. Ribcage should be stacked directly above the pelvis at all times. 

7. Dumbbell Step Ups 

Man Doing Dumbbell Step Ups At The Gym

The dumbbell step-up is one of the most straightforward exercises to perform on this list of power clean alternatives, and it doesn’t require much equipment and can be performed anywhere with an elevated platform.  

It’s a brilliant power developer for your lower body and improves coordination and stability.

If you don't have a step or a box at home, I suggest you check out step up alternatives.


  • Reduces muscular imbalances. 
  • Builds strong legs and glutes.
  • Challenges balance and develops stronger hips

How To Do a dumbbell step up:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. 
  2. Stand in front of an elevated platform (box, bench, steps). 
  3. Place one foot on the platform at 90-degrees and drive upwards, extending your leg until it’s straight. 
  4. Reverse the movement and repeat. 
  5. Switch legs and perform another set.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can switch the focus of this exercise by torso positioning. If you learn further forwards you will target more glute, stay upright and you'll hit your quads. 

8. Medicine Ball Slams 

Woman Doing Medicine Ball Slams Outdoors

The medicine ball slam is a brilliant power-generating exercise that doesn't require much equipment or space, making it ideal for smaller home gyms or training outdoors.  

During this power clean substitute, you’ll replicate the explosive movement of the power clean while working your entire body.

However, if you don't have a medicine ball at home or at the gym, try out medicine ball slam alternative exercises.


  • Develops full body explosiveness. 
  • Build powerful and strong legs.
  • Increases the heart rate and improves cardiovascular fitness. 

How To Do a medicine ball slam:

  1. Place a medicine ball in front of you. 
  2. Stand with feet at shoulder width then bend your knees and hold the medicine ball with both hands. 
  3. Pick the ball up and stand up tall as fast as you can while raising the ball above your head. 
  4. Slam the ball down with as much force as possible. 
  5. Immediately repeat the movement and repeat for desired reps. 

Tips From A Trainer!

Weak throws will reduce the effectiveness of this exercise. Make sure each slam is performed by throwing everything you've got into it. Imagining you're trying to break the ball should help!

Related Article - Medicine Ball Vs Slam Ball

9. Pull-Ups 

Woman Doing Regular Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are one of my all-time favorite exercises for developing my lats. They massively recruit your lats, biceps, rhomboids, traps, and core.  

Nothing is more impressive than jumping up to a bar and performing a few sets of pull-ups; it requires upper body strength and power.

This exercise is difficult for beginners, and I’d recommend you build your base strength first by using an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands to help with the movement.


  • One of the most effective upper body strengthening exercises.
  • Can easily be regressed or progressed depending on fitness and strength levels. 
  • Builds a strong core. 

How To Do a pull up:

  1. Jump up and hold a bar with an overhand grip in a shoulder-width position. 
  2. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, and slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended. 
  3. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

When you start pulling, don't just focus on your arms. Think about your shoulder blades pulling down and back as the elbows travel towards your ribs.  

Build It Yourself - DIY Freestanding Pull Up Bar

10. Jump Squats 

Woman Doing Jump Squats

This power clean alternative is easily performed anywhere as it requires zero equipment and minimal space.

The bodyweight jump squat is a brilliant plyometric compound exercise that improves your lower body’s power output.


  • Builds strong legs and explosive vertical jump power.
  • Great option to add to a conditioning workout or HIIT.
  • Easy to do anywhere, no equipment required.

How To Do a jump squat:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width; toes pointed out slightly. 
  2. Squat down by moving your hips backwards and bending your knees until they reach 90-degrees. 
  3. Push through the floor, straighten the legs with as much force as you can, jumping at the top of the squat. 
  4. Land softly and repeat the movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don't forget about your arms with the jump squat. As you squat down bring your arms out in front of you and as you explode upwards, swing them back. The momentum will assist with a bigger jump and more power.

11. Push Press 

Man Doing Push Press Exercise

The push press is a brilliant power clean alternative as it stimulates your shoulders and upper back muscles while forcing your core to work incredibly hard. 

All you need for this movement is a barbell and Olympic weight plates.


  • Increases full body power.
  • Improves overhead stability.
  • Helps build maximal power and more weight lifted than a strict overhead press.

How To Do a push press:

  1. Place a barbell across the front of your shoulders with your hands under the bar, palms facing up. 
  2. Stand with feet at shoulder width and bend the knees slightly then rapidly straighten them while pushing the barbell up. 
  3. Straighten the arms and press the barbell over head.
  4. Reverse the movement and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

During the dip drive your torso should stay vertical. To do so keep the weight towards your heels and make sure you dip sharp and short to build power. 

12. Hang Clean 

Man Doing Hang Clean Exercise

The hang clean is relatively similar to the power clean, but I mention a few minor differences further down the article in the Q&A section.  

This power clean alternative is brilliant for developing power and strength and burns a load of calories. 


  • Reduces the difficulty of doing a clean from the floor. 
  • Improves explosive power and hip drive. 
  • Good for beginners who want to learn how to do power cleans.

How To Do a hang clean:

  1. Place your feet under a barbell, standing roughly with feet at shoulder width, and lift it to hip height. 
  2. Hinge your hips slightly, so the barbell is placed on your mid quad, and quickly fire your hips forward. 
  3. Shrug the barbell up and drop under the bar, catching it on your shoulders. 
  4. Bend your knees and squat down, perform a full squat and push up until you’re standing. 
  5. Bring the barbell back to hip level and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don’t focus on weight; try to perfect the movement first.  

Benefits Of Doing Substitute Exercises

There are many benefits of performing the power clean alternatives mentioned above.

Muscle Development

It’s well known that the power clean helps with muscle development. Alternatives such as the deadlift are incredible power clean alternatives to help develop muscle mass all over your body, primarily in your posterior chain. 

Full Body Workout

While the power clean is primarily considered a shoulder movement, it uses the whole body. Power clean alternatives like the hang clean work your entire body similarly.

Explosive Power

The power clean is one of the most explosive movements around; it's perfect for anybody looking to increase their athletic prowess in any sport. Power clean alternatives like the box jump also increase your power generation. 

Burns Body Fat

Performing the power clean uses many calories, which helps burn body fat. If you’re looking to lose weight, the power clean or another substitute such as the sumo deadlift high pull is an excellent way to burn calories. 

What Muscles Do Power Clean Alternative Exercises Work?


The largest muscle in the body works incredibly hard to help generate the force required to move the weight during these power clean alternative exercises. Alternatives such as the deadlift require large amounts of glute activation.[1]


Power clean substitute exercises such as the hang clean largely require your hamstrings to help with firing the hips forward along with the glutes.[2] Training this muscle helps increase your overall athleticism. 


The quads are powerful leg muscles on the front of your legs responsible for knee extension/flexion. Power clean alternatives such as the box jump are brilliant for developing the quadriceps.[3]


One of the most powerful muscles in your back, responsible for the v-shape most men desire. The lats are required to help stabilize your upper body during the power clean. You can develop the lats by performing power clean alternative exercises such as pull-ups.


This small but powerful muscle group is responsible for the shrugging portion of the power clean. You can work this muscle by performing the power clean substitute sumo deadlift high pull. 

Power Clean Exercise FAQs

Do cleans make you faster? 

Power cleans are one of the best ways to improve your athleticism; they help you become faster, jump further and higher, and even help you lift more weight in a fast & explosive manner. If you participate in sports such as football, baseball, MMA, and many others, you’ll benefit from including power clean alternative exercises into your program. 

Do power cleans build muscle? 

Power cleans are an excellent way to develop your deltoids and most of your posterior chain muscles. During the movement, your hamstrings, glutes, and calves work hard to generate enough power to move the weight. As the movement is a full-body exercise, you’ll notice increased strength in other areas such as your core, lats, and traps.  

What is the difference between a power clean and hang clean? 

Both exercises follow a similar movement pattern, but with two exceptions: each movement’s starting point and the position you catch the barbell in. The power clean starts from the floor and involves you sinking slightly below the barbell to catch it (not a full squat). Whereas the hang clean begins between your hip and knee level and requires you to sink fully under the barbell in a full squat position.


Power cleans are a brilliant whole body movement helpful in developing muscular power, strength, and size. 

Not everyone can perform them, so it’s useful to have a selection of power clean alternatives to help you develop all the same muscles while increasing your body’s power output.





Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website