View Full Version : T-Nation Piece on Dumbbell Power Cleans and Snatches

Cold War Scout
02-26-2007, 03:20 PM
CWS: I do enough dumbbell power cleans to not know what the hell he is talking about in regards to power cleans being bad for you. I have observed that a lot of guys who pump iron at gyms do not like to do exercises that require them to have to huff and puff.


When Good Exercises Go Bad
by Charles Poliquin

Q: Are there any exercises out there that are so stupid or dangerous you'd throw them out of your toolbox?
A: The dumbbell power clean!
This is the most useless exercise prescribed on the planet. In fact, anyone prescribing it should be charged with a felony. Basically, it's one of the best ways to get someone injured. Many ART practitioners have treated strength coaches who were foolish enough to self-prescribe it, along with athletes who were unlucky enough to have it prescribed to them.
There are multiple reasons why dumbbell power cleans are bad:
• The diameter of the dumbbell plate puts the implement ahead of the center of gravity, which increases the loading on the disks far greater than a barbell would.
• The muscles of the shoulder most likely to be strained by dumbbell power cleans are the teres minor and the infraspinatus. The strains are caused by the body trying to stabilize the dumbbells once they fall toward the shoulders at the last part of the catch.
• The catch part leads to rapid overstretching of the forearm muscles, leading to bastardized forms of golfer's elbow and tennis elbow.
Basically, dumbbell power cleans are like having a hammer in your toolbox with a flexible rubber handle! It's not a good tool.

Cold War Scout
02-26-2007, 03:22 PM
CWS: I have noticed some discomfort on my wrists when I do upright rows with a barbell. I much prefer to do one arm at a time with a dumbbell.

The dumbbell power snatch is the same thing. Why expose the shoulder to something that could cause a lot of trauma when there are other exercises that are more effective and far safer? I know people in the industry who promote the one arm power snatch and in the same sentence tell me they're getting their shoulder operated on for the fifth time. Dude, maybe that's not very smart!
Another coach I know recommends leg extensions before squatting... and he's had 26 knee surgeries. Didn't he learn anything?
So, the worst exercises are the dumbbell power clean and the one arm dumbbell snatch. I don't know any successful top strength coaches who use those. A lot of these exercises are just gimmicks that don't contribute much except injuries.
Now, many people say that the upright row should also be tossed out of the toolbox. I'm not anti-upright row if it's done with a rope tied to the implement you're going to lift. This saves the wrist a lot of stress, which ultimately saves your shoulder.
You could also use a low cable pulley with a rope. This allows the wrist to be at an angle where it's not stressful to the ulnar nerve. In that situation, it's not a bad exercise as long as you lift in a position where the elbows aren't higher than two inches above parallel.
The problem is that most people who do upright rows already have a kyphotic posture; they're too far internally rotated. It's not a bad exercise if you're muscularly balanced, but it's a terrible exercise if you have any kind of dysfunction.
Use common sense. If it hurts, you don't need a dozen studies to tell you it's a bad exercise for you.

02-26-2007, 04:49 PM
First thing that struck me funny was the pictures of both the dumbbell clean & dumbbell snatch. Both show examples of improper positioning and technique. Doing the dumbbell clean the way it is shown here will most certainly cause injury. Without delving into it too much there are a couple of points I would like to make. His hand position in relation to the dumbbell is incorrect from the start, he is holding the dumbbell too far forward. This will cause the weight to pull out and away and as physics would dictate, that is bad. His rack position is weak, elbow should be up and forward where the body is strong and not down and out where you body is weak. Another thing that is an improper representation of both movements is the fact that they do not show the path of the weight as it goes from the floor to the finish. All you get to see is the most exaggerated and technically incorrect pictures that they could give you.
Olympic Movements are technically difficult and you must learn them from a proper source. Done right, there is no other movements out there that can rival the benfits that can be had with these two. That goes for doing them with a bar, dumbbells, Kettlebells, Clubbells, or whatever you use. I have a 60 year old women with osteoporosis that Ashley trains using these movements to great success. She used to be prescribed lots of medication for her condition and after a year and a half of training with a program that includes these lifts, the only thing that her doctor prescribes now is not to miss atraining session.
In conclusion, if you are going to make such claims about these movements, know how to do them properly first.

02-27-2007, 02:54 AM
In conclusion, if you are going to make such claims about these movements, know how to do them properly first.
I am not expert and don’t even begin to claim such, but I do agree wholeheartedly with the basic message atrox vis is putting forth. Technique and form is everything… you can hurt yourself quite easily even with relatively light weights. I exercise often and use dumb bells for part of my training… mostly less than 55 pounds each. I really try to maintain good form and think carefully before trying any new moves or lifts.


02-27-2007, 03:10 AM
The guy that wrote the article needs to go back to doing e-z bar curls.:rolleyes:

Cold War Scout
02-27-2007, 05:02 AM
Remember my posts about the two guys who were massive weight lifters, who got hurt doing basic combatives training? I think the lack of tuned up stabilizer muscles, the kind of tune-up Olympic lifting provides, was a factor in their injuries.

02-27-2007, 05:56 AM
For those who are interested, a short bio on the author of the above article:

Founder, Poliquin Performance Center

Charles Poliquin is a native of Ottawa, Canada. While completing graduate studies in Exercise Physiology in Canada, Charles began coaching athletes, a career move that has resulted in hundreds of medals, wins and personal bests of many elite athletes. He is known worldwide for producing faster athletes. When a country wants a Gold medal, they come to Charles.

Coach Poliquin has been hailed as the most successful strength coach in the world. He has spent years-researching European journals (he is fluent in English, French and German) and speaking to other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. He has perfected the art of writing routines that produce results, and his books and courses are the culmination of his theories and knowledge.

Charles Poliquin has lectured extensively on practical and theoretical aspects of physical conditioning in eight different countries and in 3 different languages. Charles has also written over 500 articles for various web sites, magazines and journals. His work has been translated in 7 different languages. English, Swedish, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Japanese.

Applied Background:
Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the Worlds most successful strength coaches, having coached Olympic medalists in twelve different sports including the US female track and field for the Olympics 2000.

His current clients include:
Al MacInnis, St Louis Blues, Norris Trophy winner, strongest slap-shot in the NHL
Joe Nieuwendyk, Dallas Stars, Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Stanley Cup winner
Chris Pronger, Colorado, St. Louis Blues, winner of Norris and Hart Trophy
Canadian short-track speed-skating team
Nanceen Perry, World Record Holder 4 x 200 m
Michelle Freeman, number 1 ranked hurdler in the World
Chris Thorpe, Olympic Silver & Bronze Medalist, Double's Luge

Athletes on Professional Teams which Charles correctly trains include:
Detroit Red Wings
Colorado Avalanche
St. Louis Blues
Montreal Canadians
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ottawa Senators
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Calgary Flames
Chicago Blackhawks
New Jersey Devils
Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning

World Championship medals in:
alpine skiing
freestyle skiing
figure skating
speed-skating short track
speed-skating long-track

Theoretical Background:
B.Sc. Kinesiology
M.Sc. Exercise Physiology

Books Published:
Modern Trends in Strength Training
Winning the Arms Race
The Poliquin Principles
The German Body Composition
Manly Weight Loss

Multimedia Publications:
Poliquin Power! Audio Series

Writer of the foreword on the upcoming UNICEF fundraising recipe book which include recipes of Canada's Olympic athletes like Myriam Bedard, Jean-Luc Brassard. International lecturer in practical and theoretical aspects of physical preparation (more than 190 conferences since 1985).

Take it for what it's worth. After all, he's clearly not training warriors.:rolleyes:

03-03-2007, 11:47 AM
For those who are interested, a short bio on the author of the above article:

Take it for what it's worth. After all, he's clearly not training warriors.:rolleyes:

He is training NHLer's. They are warriors.

Joseph Timbs
03-03-2007, 01:35 PM
He is training NHLer's. They are warriors.

NHL players are just that , not warriors . They are tremendous athletes and tough to boot , but they hardly qualify for a lofty title . When they start living a true warrior lifestyle (dedicated to mastery of MA , traditional or not) with the intention of doing battle to the death against their enemies then we'll talk about changing their title to warrior .

Everyone isn't a warrior , this includes celebrities , athletes , writers , housewives , metro sexuals , etc...