What’s a Good Power Clean for a College Football Player?
The Power Clean is one of the most common tests used to measure the strength and explosiveness of college football players (and athletes in general).
I went through 20 years of data on college football Power Clean numbers with teams that I’ve worked with, combined with numbers from other strength coaches, and have broken it down by position into ranges of what’s considered “good”.
Before we get into the numbers, please understand that “good” is very relative.
For example, if you’re a high school sophomore you most likely will not stack up to the numbers listed below and that’s okay. You still have a lot of development and maturing to do and your Power Clean will improve quite a bit over the next couple of years with proper training.
Also, you’re going to find a difference depending on what level of college football you’re examining. Average numbers at an SEC school are generally going to be higher than what you may find at a D2 or D3 school.
Next, while these are broken down by position, size is still a huge factor when evaluating what a “good” Clean is. I’ve coached Defensive Ends who were 215 pounds and I’ve coached Defensive Ends who were 285 pounds. All else being equal, a 285-pound athlete is likely to have a higher Power Clean.
Finally, technique will play a factor as well.
Olympic lifts like the Power Clean take a certain level of technique to maximize the weight that can be moved. And, utilizing a full Clean (catching in a full squat vs quarter squat) will also typically increase max weight.
Coach’s Note: Speaking of technique, you should never do a lift that you don’t know how to do the proper technique. There are always alternatives to exercises like Power Clean if you feel you can’t do the lift safely.
Power Clean Numbers By Position
|College Football Power Clean Ranges by Position|
|Quarterback||< 240||240 – 263||264 – 273||274 – 295||> 295|
|Running Back||< 250||250 – 263||264 – 285||286 – 307||> 307|
|Wide Receiver||< 220||220 – 249||250 – 263||264 – 284||> 285|
|Tight End||< 250||250 – 263||264 – 285||286 – 307||> 307|
|Offensive Line||< 264||264 – 285||286 – 307||308 – 327||> 327|
|Safety||< 240||240 – 263||264 – 273||274 – 295||> 295|
|Cornerback||< 220||220 – 249||250 – 263||264 – 284||> 285|
|Linebacker||< 250||250 – 263||264 – 285||286 – 307||> 307|
|Defensive Ends||< 250||250 – 263||264 – 285||286 – 307||> 307|
|Defensive Tackles||< 264||264 – 285||286 – 307||308 – 327||> 327|
What Do The Categories Mean?
The terminology I used for each category was Reserve, Starter, All-Conference, All-American and NFL Athlete. These are just categories that I found resonated well with our players. They don’t carry any deeper analytical meaning though. They could easily be Elite, Above Average, etc.
Where Do These Numbers Come From?
The number ranges are rooted in historical data that I’ve accumulated over the course of my career.
Other input like testing data that our coaching staff had acquired in their careers and feedback we received from peers in the strength and conditioning field are also considered.
For Power Clean, numbers are also slightly adjusted to create milestones for each category. If you’re familiar with using kilo bumper plates, you’ll recognize many of the numbers to advance from one category to the next.
3 Blue plates (20kg) on each side of the bar is 308 pounds and is always a celebrated achievement in the weight room regardless of position. 286 (2 blues and a yellow) and 264 (2 blues and a green) and two other significant milestones for most players.
Finally, when looking at the category ranges understand that they are not designed to be evenly distributed. Most of the guys on our team would fall into the Starter or All-Conference categories (freshmen often fell into Reserve or Starter). Fewer players would achieve All-American level and fewer still would reach NFL Athlete.
The Power Clean is one of the most popular physical tests done at the college football level and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Knowing what a good Power Clean number is at your position is a great way to set goals and use them as motivation.
Just remember, if you’re still a few years away from college, your numbers may still have a lot of improvement left to go, but don’t let that discourage you! Work hard, work smart and you’ll see your Back Squat continue to improve.
Finally, I just want to mention one more time that you should not do the Power Clean if you don’t know how to use proper technique. Find a Coach that can teach you and focus on technique before you even start to worry about chasing some of the numbers above.
Instead, use safer tests – like vertical jump for example – to compare your explosiveness to players at the collegiate level.