The kettlebell clean is great because it teaches your whole body to work as a single unit. Your legs, back, core, and arms all benefit from this exercise.
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You start the kettlebell clean from almost the same squatting, low hip position that you began the swing from. In one movement, stand up explosively with the hips and pull the kettlebell up to chest height.
Keeping it close to your body, let the kettlebell pivot around its handle and land on the outside of the forearm with the forearm against the trunk of your body. Your arm, the kettlebell, and the rest of your body should feel like one unit at this point.
I tried to look serious in these pictures showing correct form, but I think I just look angry, unfortunately :-) Try to imagine me smiling in them - they show the three different static positions in the clean movement.
Don't get scared by my determined face!
So that you don't bruise yourself when doing this, when the kettlebell is rotating punch upward to tuck your arm under the kettlebell and absorb its force. There's a trick to it, but you can learn it pretty quickly. Just remember to go slow until you've got the movement right so you don't bang up your arm.
At the top position in the kettlebell clean the weight should rest on the heal of the palm with the wrist straight. That way, the weight of the kettlebell goes into the forearm.
If the wrist isn't straight it will put a ton of strain on your wrist, elbow, and forearm and lead to not-fun joint problems. Don't do it!
Also, at the top your butt should be tight with your arm and the kettlebell resting against the trunk of your torso. If you're a girl, hold the weight a bit further out so that it doesn't hurt your breasts.
From the top relax your arm and, keeping the kettlebell close to you, drop the weight back between you legs to the ground. Then do it all over again.
Finally, don't lean back at the top. This puts a ton of strain on your lower back and is a great way to hurt yourself. I like my body not broken, and keeping yours healthy is good too.
That's the clean. Be careful not to hurt yourself, since done correctly it's an effective full-body exercise.
Go out there and practice. It a great exercise, and it makes your movements explosive!
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
Learn the Kettlebell Clean!
Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2006. Enter the Kettlebell!: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen. St. Paul, MN: Dragon Door Publications.
Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2001. The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness For Hard Living Comrades. St. Paul, MN: Dragon Door Publications.
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