Mastering The Kettlebell Clean

Building A Solid Foundation For More Advanced Kettlebell Exercises

Strong Man

If you’ve found this article then you’re probably interested in working out with kettlebells.  Perhaps you’ve even started using kettlebells to burn fat, build muscle and increase stamina.  If so, good for you!  Kettlebell exercises are effective and even fun.  Best of all, you can do them from the comfort of your living room or back yard.

If you are brand new to kettlebells, read up on the five basic kettlebell exercises.  Once you’ve master the two-arm swing and one-arm swing, you’re ready for the kettlebell clean.  The clean is a vital component of other movements, such as the jerk and the press, but you must be practice it by itself before incorporating it into other exercises.  To perform the perfect clean, follow these instructions:

  1. Start with your knees bent, hips and thighs ready to drive the kettlebell upwards.  Place the kettlebell slighty behind your heels.
  2. Grab the kettlebell with one hand, and make sure your thumb is pointing towards your back.
  3. Using your hips, drive the bell off the ground while rotating your arm towards the outside of your body.
  4. Keeping your arm and elbow close to your ribs, rotate the kettlebell around your wrist.  Your thumb should end up pointing towards your shoulder.
  5. Finish in the rack position – elbow tucked in to your ribs, arm close to your body, kettlebell resting on your forearm.
  6. Pause in the rack position, then lower the bell back down between your legs, rotating your arm so your thumb is pointing backwards again.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6.

Tips & Warnings:

  • If you are just practicing cleans, you do not need to lower the kettlebell all the way to the ground after each repetition.  Simply let it fall back between your legs (and slightly behind your feet), and repeat the movement.
  • This is primarily a lower body exercise; so don’t use your arm strength to pull the kettlebell up.  Keeping your elbow tucked will help control your form.
  • Be careful not to overdo it at the beginning.  It might not feel hard, but I can guarantee that you will feel it in your back and legs he next day!
  • Pay attention to form.  Watch videos and use light kettlebells until you’ve perfected your technique.

Once you've mastered the kettlebell clean, it's time to learn the kettlebell press and kettlebell snatch.