this topic doesn't want to be a professional guide to power cleans, since it's so complicate for a newbie like me.

However, in my life there were plenty of situations in which I needed to lift a weight (a parcel, for instance) until about my head or just below it. Therefore, I thought to learn how to perform this movement without damaging my back. I'm not expert of power cleans, but as far as I'm concerned, it's an explosive movement which requires much coordination and much experience to be performed in a correct way.

However, when you deal with few kgs objects, I think it's not necessary to perform it in a so explosive mode like power lifters do. What I'm looking for is a basic and simple guide on how to lift a weight from the floor to our head. I don't need to learn how to do it with plenty of kgs, only with low weights. However, I've only found complex tutorials for professional power lifters.

So, I've thought of dividing this "basic power clean" for everyday life in the following steps:

  1. Deadlift. We perform a deadlift and bring the weight (barbell in the picture, but it may be a general weight) at hips height. We must follow the rules of deadlifts, which are supposed to be known.

enter image description here

  1. Upright row (until chest height) We perform an upright row. We don't have to bring the weight to our chin, but only to our chest. All its rules are supposed to be known. enter image description here

  2. Clean We perform a fast elbow rotation around the barbell axis, in order to get the following position.

enter image description here

  1. Overhead press We perform an overhead press and bring the weight over our head. All its rules are supposed to be known.

Some pictures taken here.

Do you agree with this basic guide? Do you have any advices on how to improve it by keeping it simple (since it's not supposed to be applied with plenty of kgs) and safe?

  • 1
    These steps don't describe a power clean, and your goal doesn't seem to be to describe a power clean. Since you say you want a method to lift something above your head without being explosive it's not clear what you're looking for. "Body english"? OSHA-recommended workplace lifting technique? This seems less and less like a fitness question. Feb 2, 2021 at 8:36

2 Answers 2


If you want a guide to lift a heavy object from the ground (or close to the ground) to around shoulder height, I would say you more want to look at the stone lifting in strongman training than something from the Olympic lifts.

Firstly, the power clean isn't a deadlift > upright row > rack > overhead press, though it might appear that way at first glance. It's more akin to a jump with a loaded barbell.

The upright row part that you've put in is actually the momentum from the jump carrying the weight up to shoulder height. Yes, there's a shrug movement in there as well, but that's mainly to give a little extra force, the main drive comes from the hips.

Something like atlas stone lifting or natural stone lifting is a lot more in line with what I think you want.

One of the main issues with trying to learn clean technique (it's not that hard, no harder than learning how to deadlift correctly, and less likely to result in shoulder injuries than performing upright rows) is that the weight has to stay close to the center line of the body, which you can't do with something much larger than a barbell. You try and do that with a heavy box, you're more likely to hit yourself in the face and topple forwards.

With something like a stone lift, it's a lot more controlled, and stones are weird shapes, so you're not learning the movement for a specifically designed piece of gear.

The most useful thing you can do to lift something without hurting your back is to get a stronger back and learn to brace through your core (which you need to do with heavy deadlift and squat training). So I'd suggest go do that. Once you can pull a 100kg deadlift, a box weighing a few kgs really shouldn't be an issue for you.


Lifting a heavy box up from the ground is done this way:

enter image description here

Notice the straight back. Instead of bending at the back which may hurt our back, we hinge at the hip. Also notice the wide stance. We try to get as close as possible to the box. We hold our breath while lifting and do not rotate. Ideally the person in the picture should have a more horizontal back position so that his back was over the center of mass of the box allowing his arms to pull vertically on the box(1).

This lift is very similar to a sumo deadlift:

enter image description here

According to Matt Wenning everyone should sumo deadlift (2).

Objects that are hard to get a grip on can also be lifted with the back in flexion: enter image description here

According to Rippetoe the main thing is that the shape of the back do not change during the lift (1). If you start with a back in flexion you keep your back in flexion. If you start with your back straight, you keep your back straight. The vertebras do not change in position relative to each other.

I would think that ordinary people could/should avoid lifting with their back in flexion and instead sumo deadlift stuff.

In order to ingrain the hinging at the hips I think it may be useful to practice with a dowel.

The second half of the lift I have no idea about.

(1) How to pick stuff up. Mark Rippetoe

(2) Everyone should sumo deadlift

  • Those pictures of "correct lifting technique" that companies put out (the first one in your answer), always make me half laugh and half cringe. That's really not how you pick up anything heavier than a pen.
    – Dark Hippo
    Feb 3, 2021 at 8:56
  • @Dark Hippo: so what specifically is wrong with it?
    – Andy
    Feb 3, 2021 at 9:07
  • @Dark Hippo: I have opened a question on this: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/43443/….
    – Andy
    Feb 3, 2021 at 9:24
  • 1
    The main issue is the feet. He's up on his toes, so there's no stable base of support. No stable base of support leads to instability up the chain. There's a reason people don't deadlift, squat, overhead press, or really do any weight lifting move on their toes. Same reason wearing squishy running shoes when lifting heavy is a terrible idea.
    – Dark Hippo
    Feb 3, 2021 at 10:01
  • @Dark Hippo: thank you! And the reason he is up on his toes is that his knees are too far forward for his ankle mobility? A wider stance + more out turn of toes would fix this?
    – Andy
    Feb 3, 2021 at 10:38

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