Ask Rogelio – Tips on improving the Power Clean, Manly Curls style

Rogelio answers today at Manly Curls a very interesting fitness question regarding his powerclean tutorial, which is becoming popular as more people use it to increase their power and strength.

Hi Rogelio!

I read your tutorial about the power clean and Im getting serious about them.

You suggested to me a routine to improve my power clean. On day 3, I have to work up to a 3RM in 6 sets. Does that mean I have to set a new 3RM PR within these 6 sets? Also, you suggested me to add 10 lbs once I can do 10 sets or 3 reps. Why not 5 lbs to get a smooth progression?
What is your opinion about lower body work outs? I cant squat nor dead lift heavy because of medical issues. When can I do front squat, lunges and leg press?
Finally, you suggested me to do my sets fast and furious. Im not sure I get that well neither. I assume you mean to take short rest to complete the 10 sets quickly? 60 seconds is good?
It is hard to find someone knowledgeable like you to get help about power cleans, so thanks in advance for the answers!

Alec, Québec

Dear Alec,

I am glad my power clean tutorial has been of help to you. To answer your specific questions, I will first remind the rest of ManlyCurls readers about the customized routine I designed for you in order to increase your power clean.

Work out how much you can power clean for 5 reps, this is now your 5RM. Do the following routine:

Day 1: 10 sets of 3 with your 5RM (use same weight).
Day 3: 10 sets of 2 with your 5RM (use same weight)
Day 5: Work up to a 3RM in 6 sets. Then do 5 sets of 2 with your 5RM (use same weight)

Everyday, you warm up with 3-5 sets ramping up to the work sets. If your 5RM is 150lbs, on Day 1 you’d do:

Barbell x3, 90×5, 110×3, 135×3, then 10 sets of 3 reps with 150lbs. You have used 4 warm ups sets and do 10 work sets.

Once you can do 10 sets of 3 reps on Day 1, throw in 10lbs more and repeat. Then take a few weeks to complete 10 sets of 3 reps.

Do them fast and furious. You can get very strong on my routine. You have good motor patterns from what I see in the video, you just need to stop doing the jumping thing and do a lot of power cleans as my routine suggests.

I would like to now answer your questions. With regards to your first question (working up to a 3RM), on Day 3 you will work up to a max set of 3 reps on the power clean. This means you will take 5 sets to build up to a final sixth set with a weight that allows you to perform 3 complete reps. If you can do 3 reps with 200lbs, a good progression would be:

95×3, 115×3, 135,3, 150×3, 175×3, 200×3

Remember to do a fet sets with the barbell alone and to stretch your upper arms and forearms prior to starting your sets.

On Day 1, you will increase the weight by 10lbs once you can do 10 sets with 3 reps because this will be your new weight with which to achieve, in a few weeks, a new 10 sets of 3. Even if you can only get 10 sets of 1 repetition on the first day with the newly added 10lbs, you will be able to add reps fast as the weeks go by and you get stronger, thus achieving 10 sets of 3 reps with an extra 10lbs will be  a goal to achieve in a few weeks (anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks). Five pounds is too little for an increase with this purpose.

About your ability to do lower body exercises, I don’t know what your medical issue is but if you can do front squats, you would generally too be able to do back squats. Having said that, if you can solely do those three lower body exercises (front squats, leg presses and lunges), you can still do some great work.

I would recommend you to do front squats two days and leg press once. So, do front squats on Day 1 and Day 3, while leaving leg presses for the lighter Day 2. On Day 1, I want you to work up to a heavy set of 3 reps in 6 sets, with the same set progression as I have mentioned earlier for Day 3’s power cleans. The other front squat day, Day 3, will see you doing 5 sets of 3 with your 5RM, so if you can do front squats with 200lbs for 5 reps, use that weight to do your 5 sets of 3 reps. On Day 2, you will do leg presses, 3 sets of 15 reps. Do them nice and deep and anywhere from 1 to 2 mins between sets. Lunges will be your finishing exercise on Day 3 and you will do a set of 20 reps, grab a pair of dumbbells and use good form; this exercise will be very humbling as a light weight will work your legs plenty.

Lastly, by fast and furious, I am talking about doing your power cleans explosively and like you mean business. Many times you see people doing power cleans like they are doing bicep curls, slow and casually. If you want to hoist big weights on the power clean, you need to attack the weight and be aggresive: when your hands grip that barbell, your brain should switch on your “beast mode” and explode that freaking weight up like you were throwing a bag of peanuts.

Rest anywhere from 2 to 3 minutes on your powercleans for Day 1 and 3 while 1 to 2 minutes is enough for Day 2. The power clean has an added benefit of working your cardiovascular system as it calls for all your body’s muscles to contract in some way or another, thus making your heart work harder and also burn a ton of calories. With the rep/set protocols I have designed, those rest periods are optimal so do them as outlined.

Incidentally, in our exchange of replies I saw your new power clean videos after having studied and applied my power clean tutorial. I have to say that the difference between your power cleans prior to reading my tutorial when compared to how you are currently doing them is mind blowing. You have truly grasped the concepts of exploding up and, as you continue to practise the lift with the advice I have given you, I am 100% sure you will be lifting some big numbers soon enough.

All the best,


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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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1 comment for “Ask Rogelio – Tips on improving the Power Clean, Manly Curls style

  1. Yeray
    January 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Awesome tips bro. I use your power clean tutorial and the one from stronglifts as my reference for this lift.

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