Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean emphasizes the hip snap to varying degrees.

The clean starts the same as the 1 arm swing, the kettlebell swings to about shoulder height, and the wrist is twisted outward a bit to coax the kettlebell to swing around the forearm. At the top of the clean, you pull the kettlebell into your chest as it swings around your forearm. Be careful not to swing the kettlebell too high or it will land hard on your arms. You can also practice this move with less hip snap to emphasize arms and shoulders. Not hard enough? Try cleans with two kettlebells. The hips can only contribute half as much help to each arm. You'll have to maintain a slightly wider stance to give the kettlebells room to swing.

For bodybuilders and advanced trainees that want a really good trap,arm and shoulder motion, keep the kettlebells on the outside of the legs, and clean from a dead rest. The outside clean cancels the hip's assistance and resembles the cheating or hammer curl except that there is an explosive shrug at the start to overcome the kettlebell's unique sticking point near the top of the clean. Like the swing, slight changes in timing and position greatly affect the emphasis.

Try 3 sets of regular double cleans with a light or medium kettlebell in the 15~20 rep range (clean form), to get a feel for the motion and the cardio burn.

Maybe, the best part about the clean is that the rack position serves as the starting point for two great kettlebell motions: military press and the Front Squats. Taken together, the clean and military press (C&P) make a great compound motion that hits the whole arm and shoulder along with a challenging cardio load. The C&P has another aspect, just before the kettlebells rack you should be loose. Then, tighten up and let the kettlebells compress your rack position. This preloads your traps and shoulder muscles so that you have a strong foundation for the following pressing motion.

For trainees new to kettlebells, find a weight %33 less than your dumbbell press and try clean and pressing for 3 sets of 6~8 reps. Focus on form and balance. An interesting aside point, if you switch the military press for a jerk, you have the challenging Russian kettlebell event called "Long cycle". Advanced Russian heavyweights are capable of over 100 reps of clean and jerk with a pair of 32Kg in a 10 minute period.

Once you know how to clean and rack a pair of kettlebells, it's time for double front squats.