Cleans guide and tips

If you want to develop explosive power and increase your fat burning and conditioning, you can’t go wrong with kettlebell cleans. Cleans are a functional exercise as in everyday life you can be picking objects up from the ground. It is a full body exercise, in particular hitting your hamstrings and whole posterior chain. As many muscle groups are used together, your coordination and timing will improve as will your grip strength. All these benefits of performing cleans will carry over into other exercises you perform.

Cleans can be performed with barbells also but can be easier to learn with kettlebells as one hand is used at a time so there are less restrictions on arm movement as both hands aren’t holding the bar at the same time. Going from repetition to repetition, you can bring the kettlebell down again to the ground between your feet or swing it between your legs as if performing a kettlebell swing if you fancy some variety. A shoulder press to lift the kettlebell overhead can also be performed once the kettlebell has been cleaned and is in the rack position thus turning the exercise into a clean and press.

Kettlebell clean tutorial:

  • Keep back straight, bend at knees and hips and grip kettlebell from ground between your feet with thumb pointing backwards and arm straight.
  • Hinge and hips and pull with shoulders and lift kettlebell.
  • Continue lifting kettlebell whilst keeping it close to your body and rotate your wrist.
  • End repetition with kettlebell in the rack position.

No more wrist banging!

One of the main issues people have with kettlebell cleans is that at the top of each repetition, the kettlebell swings over the hand and bangs the wrist/forearm area. This can certainly be avoided and with some practice, you should not encounter the problem at all. The below steps will help in achieving this and keeping your arms bruise free.

1) When lifting the kettlebell, keep it close to your body and move your hands as if you were zipping your top closed.

2) As you near shoulder height, rotate your wrist outwards so that the kettlebell spins around roughly 180 degrees.

3) Continue to rotate the kettlebell a little bit more. As long as you are keeping the handles above the bell at all times, you will be OK.

4) End in the rack position where your fist, wrist and forearm should be in a straight line.


Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or experiences with kettlebell cleans that you would like to share, please leave them below.

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