Kettlebell Techniques, Cleans

November 22, 2011


The kettlebell is a popular training tool in many circles. It is often used as a metabolic conditioning tool. However, the fact that kettlebells come in different weights means that they can also be used to increase strength and power. When it being used for this purpose, one needs to be flexible with some of the techniques used on kettlebell exercises. This post is going to focus on how to perform the clean with a kettlebell, with the goal being to use this as an exercise to increase power.

When it comes to kettlebell exercises, I’m a big fan of doing them one-handed. This provides benefits and challenges that you just don’t get wit the barbell.

To begin this exercise, stand up with the kettlebell in your right hand.
• Grip the kettlebell at one corner of the handle.
• Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
• Keep your right arm straight, push your hips back and bend your knees until the kettlebell is hanging between your legs.
• Your chest should be up with your shoulders back.
• This is the starting position.
• From the starting position, explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles. As this happens, relax your right arm allowing the kettlebell to travel up your body.
• When the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, push your hips back and flex your knees so that you squat down and meet the kettlebell.
• As you squat down, rotate your elbow under the kettlebell so that it rests on your shoulder.
• Stand up and repeat.
• After the desired number of repetitions have been done, switch arms.

To view this exercise, click here:Kettlebell Cleans

A few pointers to keep in mind with this exercise:
• First, if the desire is to train for power then the exercise cannot be a swing. It’s going to need the triple extension that has been described above. Swinging the weight is fine as a way to burn calories, it is not fine as a way to train triple extension and enhance power.
• Second, the kettlebell should never crash into the shoulders. This is the result of poor technique and shows that an athlete doesn’t have the timing of the exercise down. The kettlebell and the shoulders should meet as you squat under the kettlebell. If the kettlebell is crashing in the shoulders, it indicates either that the kettlebell is being pulled too high or the squat is being initiated too soon.
• Finally, make sure to keep the chest out and the shoulders back throughout. This is the help protect the lower back during the exercise.

When training for power, the focus should be on no more than six repetitions per side. Just like with the barbell and dumbbell, once the basic exercise has been mastered many variations are possible.