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Examining The Kettlebell Clean

Examining The Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean is one of the first movements you can perform with the iron bell. This is because it is a prerequisite point of position for many other movements. I mean if you’re going to lift the kettlebell from the ground to start then you’ve got to be able to perform the clean. The thing is that there are many aspects to this lift that are missed. This results in it commonly being done wrong with many lifters.

Kettlebell Clean

Every strong professional lifter understands the vital importance of technique. Technique is so crucial that it is literally the difference between a successful lift and a failed lift. It can also potentially be the difference between an injury and a non-injury.

The problem I see with many folks starting out today is that everyone wants to hurry up. Hurry, hurry, hurry seems to be the theme of nearly every individual I come across.

The problem with getting anxious is that it usually causes sloppiness and rapidly worsens an already bad situation. Once you can be patient and accept this then you can ease anxiety and perform a subsequent task without failure and without worry that you’re making an already bad situation worse. How many times have we all been there?

The thing is that both in life and when in training you should learn to slow down and get it right the first time. For whatever reason when it comes to the kettlebell clean in my experience it seems that first time lifters just want to hurry to pull the weight off the ground almost without any thought or seamless execution.


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It’s as if they are thinking more about the next move rather than the clean itself which is why I’m placing emphasis solely on the kettlebell clean today. Of course, as a coach it’s my job to force you to pump the brakes and slow you down to think about what technical aspects of the lift you are speeding by because you’re in too much of a hurry to notice.

The thing is that solid execution of the kettlebell clean is crucial because it does often set you up for presses, snatches, and other movements. The problem if it’s off is that it will bleed you of energy. This will also cause your other lifts to be done in subpar fashion. Like with any other lift the focus should be on getting the clean right if you’re going to train with a purposeful goal in mind.

Now in the video I’m performing a continuous clean. This variation is also known as a swing clean. The point here is to take notice of the smooth transition of the kettlebell to the racked position.

Other technical issues people have with the kettlebell clean often involves the breaking back, or bending of the wrist at the bell causing the sphere of the bell to compress your forearms and even cause bruising. Additionally this will place you into an awkward position. As a result this will throw off  your stability and control. It’s like throwing a wrench into a gearbox.

Once again the point of control is by making a smooth transition with the bell. I mean why even bother attempting a press, or front squat if your kettlebell clean isn’t properly handled?

Kettlebell Clean: The Takeaway

You will find that a great deal of your problems can be solved from cleaning up your clean! Nice choice of words, right?

Besides being a beacon towards technical mastery the kettlebell clean offers many other physical benefits to the you as well. Kettlebell cleans are great for coordination, core stability, shoulder stability, and overall just being able to place your body into optimal position before attempting to lift.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Great post with great information and instructional videos. Mastery of technique should your number one priority when working with kettlebells.

    1. Thanks so much Brian! Yes, you are spot on my man! So many people butcher the technique and are quick to move on to other lifts before handling the initial lift with confidence and skill. It takes time to do this, but so many people are quick to want to “move on” before they should be moving on. Thanks for the feedback and please don’t be a stranger.

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