The goal of most strength and conditioning programs is to increase their athletes ability to produce force at higher velocities, which is known as power.  There are a number of methods and exercises that can be used to develop power, such as plyometrics, medicine ball throws, loaded jumps and utilizing the Olympic lifts.

The Olympic lifts seem to be a staple of many collegiate strength and conditioning programs because of the high power outputs that can be developed with the lifts and the many benefits that can be achieved through the movements.  The two lifts that make up competitive Olympic weight lifting are the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch.  I haven’t seen many programs that utilize the Clean and Jerk in conjunction but separate the movement into two different exercises along with the snatch.  Talking to most coaches, it seems as the clean is utilized by a large majority as an indicator exercise (test exercise) and becomes a primary focus of the training program.  The following is an account of my personal experience of how we don’t perform the clean anymore as part of our programs.  I hope it makes you think and you can better assess why you do what you do as a coach.

The clean has been a primary exercise in my training programs with all athletes since 2001 when I started training teams on a full time basis.  This changed in 2004 when I started working with basketball and had a coach that didn’t want to perform the movement for fear of risking injury.  I obliged and utilized other movements to develop power and started seeing great results with vertical jumps and sprint times.  I continued to use these methods with my basketball athletes and continued to utilize the clean with my other athletes as I felt it was a fantastic movement to develop power and athleticism.

I came to Quinnipiac University in 2008 and began working with both Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey and Men’s and Women’s Basketball.  I continued to teach the clean to my hockey athletes but not to my basketball athletes.  After our first year of training, our clean average for both hockey teams went up 25 lbs.  but our vertical jumps did not go up accordingly.  I started to look back at my athletes verticals from Holy Cross and noticed that their verticals didn’t improve as well as their cleans had and started to assess why I was performing the movement if it wasn’t improving our power based on the vertical jump.  Were we just becoming more efficient at cleaning?  Could we better utilize our time developing power performing another movement?  I started to take notice of what position seemed to be the weak point in the clean (I’ve always implemented the clean from the hang position) and noticed that it was the above the knee position. This was also the position that we would jump from, so my thought process was to increase the amount of force we could develop from this position and then program jumps and throws for our power development. We tested our vertical jumps after the season with our hockey athletes and nearly everybody’s vertical jumps went up or stayed the same in a sport that doesn’t jump. I continued to go with my intuition and started to program the rack pull (elevated deadlift) and other deadlift variations (trap bar, sumo) in place of Olympic lifting in phases when strength was our primary goal.  The other problem I realized with the clean was that if I wanted to improve my athletes’ clean, we had to perform the clean year round.   But when we made the switch to a deadlift variation, we were able to perform more movement towards developing force in a strength phase and then progress that to a jump when we were in a concentrated power phase.

This switch has worked for our program and with all of our athletes and I’m glad that we made this switch four years ago now.  I hope I was able to make you think critically about why you do what you do in an effort to make your programs better for your athletes.


I’ve put together some training videos of our teams so you can see how we train and what we do in-season.

This first video is of our men’s ice hockey team training during the playoffs.

This is womens basketball training session right before the playoffs.

This is a men’s hockey recovery session.


The Daily Adjustable Progressive Resistance Exercise system was introduced nearly 30 years ago as a simple tool to take the guesswork out of prescribing training loads and one rep max numbers.  Although there have been many advances in periodization models for athletes the DAPRE method has stood the test of time as an effective method to strengthen novice weight trainers and in rehabilitation. 

It is very difficult to design and execute many of the popular periodization schemes that exist during the course of an NBA season considering the lack of quality training days, lack of recovery time and the non-stop travel/game schedule over the course of 26 week regular season.  Imagine trying to write a program for somebody to “peak” at the end of an 82 game regular season schedule full of games on back to back nights and sometimes 4 games in 5 nights.  The reality is that periodization does not exist in the NBA unless you have a player that is out for the season with an injury.  So what can you do from a weight raining standpoint that will give the player enough of a stimulus to keep improving but not too much to cut into their recovery for the next game which could come in 24 hours.  After looking at and trying a lot of periodization models I have come back to a rarely used/seldom talked about method that was developed nearly 30 years ago!   Let’s take a closer look at DAPRE.

                                                            Table 1

Set Weight Number of Repetitions
1 50% working weight 10
2 75% working weight 6
3 Full working weight Maximum*
4 Adjusted working weight* Maximum+

*Number of repetitions performed in the 3rd set is used to determine the weight of the 4th set according to the algorithm in Table 2.

+Number of repetitions performed in the 4th set is used to determine the working weight for the 3rd set at the next session according to the algorithm in Table 2.

                                                            Table 2

# of reps performed during set Fourth set Next session
0-2 Decrease 5-10 lb Decrease 5-10 lb
3-4 Decrease 0-5 lb Keep the same
5-6 Keep the same Increase 5-10 lb
7-10 Increase 5-10 lb Increase 5-15 lb
11+ Increase 10-15 lb Increase 10-20 lb

 DAPRE works well with people that are just starting back in to weight training such as the case of an NBA player that has taken a month off after the season and is ready to resume training.  Most NBA players do not have a very high training age due to the long schedule and lack of quality strength training session.  The other reason that DAPRE works in this population is because the absence of 1 rep max training.  To design a workout and prescribe a percent of load in their training program would require a knowledge of that athletes 1 rep max.  I don’t know of any NBA Strength & Conditioning Coaches that are having their athletes perform 1 rep max tests so that they can prescribe percents in training.  There is very little concern for absolute strength in the NBA and generally the only time that we spend significant time with our athletes is in-season.  Those are just two factors that make testing for a 1 rep max not very practical.  In the DAPRE system we can measure our predicted max in every workout and provide feedback to management and coaches regarding the strength status of the athlete.

 By using the predicted max formula (repetitions x weight (.03) + weight) we can estimate a pretty accurate 1 rep max.  Let’s plug some numbers into the formula as an example.  We will use the weight 225 pounds and we will say that the athlete performed 5 repetitions.

 5 x 225 (.03) + 225 = 258.7 (we round up to 260)

 DAPRE can be used with almost any exercise however I like to stick with basic compound movements such as the squat, bench press and rows.