The power clean is an Olympic lift that requires a high degree of flexibility and coordination. This highly technical lift is difficult to learn and takes countless practice repetitions to execute properly. However, once mastered, the power clean offers a number of physical benefits, regardless of your training goals. Always practice the power clean under the supervision of an experienced trainer or coach, and begin with light weight to avoid injury.
The most obvious benefit to the power clean is its ability to train muscular power. Power is a combination of strength and speed, and the power clean is nearly unmatched in its ability to promote the quick-firing muscle contractions needed for explosive sports such as football, rugby, wrestling and track and field.
Unlike machine exercises that isolate muscle groups, the power clean relies on several joints and works in several planes of motion. When designing resistance training programs for athletic programs, it's important to train movements and not muscles. The power clean transfers to a number of real-life athletic movements and does not isolate an particular muscle group.
The complexity of movements involved in learning the power clean helps promote coordination -- both within a particular muscle group and between muscle groups. Once again, this increased muscular coordination has much higher transference to real-life athletic activity than isolated machine exercises. For this reason, the gyms of most elite athletic programs are full of free-weights and barbells, while eschewing machines.
Connective Tissue Development
Because the power clean places substantial load on the axial skeleton, bones, tendons and ligaments are overloaded and all must adapt to support the weight. With machine exercises, a seat or lever usually supports much of the exerciser's body weight. Therefore, the power clean provides much greater development to the connective tissues throughout the body than machine exercises.