Kettlebell Moves: Kettlebell Clean

If you enjoy the kettlebell clean then check out my Kettlebell Moves page for a lot more exercises!


  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Shoulders
  • Core
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

The kettlebell clean is a foundation exercises of kettlebell training and should be one of the very first moves you learn. It is a phenomenal exercise that works a lot of body parts.

There are two ways to approach the clean.

  1. The Dead Clean – This version gets its name from the dead lift. It begins and ends with the kettlebell on the ground between your feet. Doing the dead clean takes you through a deeper range of motion and forces your legs and back to work harder. I feel that moving from the ground with every repetition uses a deeper range of motion and works the musculature more thoroughly.
  2. The Hang Clean – With this version, the kettlebell movement begins and ends hanging down between your legs. It doesn’t require the full range of motion of lowering, or coming up from the ground. I like the hang clean for more cardiovascular based sequences because the shorter range of motion allows for faster paced movement.

Kettlebell Clean

  1. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, with toes pointed so that the knees track out over them. Scoot your butt back as if you’re going to sit on a stool, and grasp the handle. It’s very important to keep your head up and eyes out in front of you. Your back will thank you for it!
  2. Arrange the handle of the kettlebell so that it is pointed back between the legs. Then, while you reach down for the kettlebell, rotate the forearm inward so that the thumb is pointed back through the legs and grab the handle of the kettlebell.
  3. Tighten your abdominal core, drive your feet into the ground, and in one “clean” movement, lift the kettlebell off the floor and externally rotate the forearm so that the kettlebell wraps around it and ends up in the “V” shape between your forearm and the bicep. This is the rack position.


Exercise Tips

  • Keeping a loose grip on the handle is the key to allowing the kettlebell to wrap around your forearm. If you find that the kettlebell flips over your hand and painfully smacks your forearm, first take a look your grip.
  • Look straight ahead, not up or down. This helps keep your spine from bending and prevents injury.
  • Utilize the power that is generated in the hips as you drive your feet into the ground. This will help you fluidly hoist the kettlebell up into the rack position. If you are not using your hips to help in this process, your bicep will end up doing all of the work.
  • Exhale during the most exertive part of the movement. This will force core engagement and allow you to draw from the additional strength and power that is generated there.

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