Kettlebell Kings Blog

Kettlebell Foundations: Hardstyle Kettlebell Clean

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Feb 8, 2018 8:52:23 PM

IMG_1184.jpgWe are excited to continue our popular Kettlebell Foundations series for those getting acquainted with kettlebells. Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training® where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury.  Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including: adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level. If this is your first reading one of our Kettlebell Foundations posts, we recommend starting at Part 1 here

Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at his website and receive two free eBooks and browse through numerous training articles and videos.

By Doug Fioranelli

Our Hardstyle Kettlebell Series is coming together nicely and, by now, you should have some good practice with your foundational strength lifts including:  the deadlift, squat, and overhead press.  Hopefully, too, you have also been practicing all the variations of the dynamic kettlebell swings because now it is time to get into the fun exercises starting first with one of my favorites; the clean. 

Proper Set Up and Patterning:

Technically speaking, the clean is a movement that brings the kettlebell dynamically from the swing into the rack position.  From this rack position you can do a number of different movement combinations like: squat, lunge, overhead press, do multiple cleans and even rest for a few breaths.   

The good news is you have all the prerequisites to complete a nice hardstyle clean; a swing and a rack position.  There is a bit of a learning curve to it, however.  We are used to performing the 1-arm swing where the upper arm moves away from the body and the arm and kettlebell are parallel to the floor.  For the clean we need to keep the upper arm close to the body as if the elbow was screwed into our side.  That way we keep the bell close and our clean will be smooth as butter.

To perform a proper clean, it’s important to have a good rack position and 1-arm swing:

Set up for a 1-arm swing where the bell is in front of you in a triangle in reference to your feet.

Hike the kettlebell into a backswing where the bell is close to your body and above the knees.

As you begin the upward portion of the swing: squeeze your glutes to generate power, keep your upper arm connected to your torso and slightly retract your shoulder to guide the kettlebell towards the racked position.

Make sure to receive the kettlebell in the racked position by sliding your hand through the handle and have your legs and hips locked out in a stable position.

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When bringing the bell back down to perform another clean: keep the upper arm connection to the torso and have the kettlebell remain close to your body during the backswing.  Because the swing arc is small, assist the kettlebell into the backswing using a little force so you have the elastic energy to perform multiple repetitions. 

Like I mentioned earlier, though the clean does utilize the 1-arm swing and rack position, the movement might be challenging at first and most likely will not be smooth until you have put your practice in.  Here are a few drills to achieve the perfect clean sooner rather than later. 

Read and watch more of the demonstration below!


Doug trains with his Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat Kettlebell

 

 

 


Swing with Retraction

In this drill we are going to practice not only the timing of the clean, we are also going to work on keeping the upper arm connected to the torso throughout the movement.  As you begin the upward motion of the swing imagine the elbow is screwed into the side of the body, so your upper arm does not leave your rib cage.  Then subtly pull the bell in towards you at the top of the swing using the shoulder blade like a row this will work in the motion to bring the bell into the racked position.  After the small retraction (you will not be racking the bell) you are going to reverse into the backswing.   

To go into the backswing: let the bell glide back forward but remember to keep the upper arm attached to the torso as not to cast the bell too far away of the body.  Push the bell into the backswing and repeat the drill.

Guided Clean

After you have the upper arm remaining in place and the retraction down it is time to work on the clean itself using my favorite drill; the guided clean.  You are going to perform the full clean, however you are going to use your free hand to physically assist the bell into your rack position.  As you get better and better the assistance you need from the free hand becomes less and less until you no longer need it at all.     

After you dial in your 1-arm kettlebell clean feel free to add another bell and go for the double kettlebell clean.

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Double Kettlebell Clean

There are not too many differences between the single and double kettlebell clean in-terms of technique; you do have two options when it comes to kettlebell positioning. 

The first way is traditional hard style where the handles are oriented sideways, and you will have a palm-back grip.  With this positioning your feet may be wider than your normal swing stance to be able to backswing the kettlebell without taking out your knees.  In this swing you can also turn your thumbs downward during the backswing to allow for the kettlebells to pass easier through the legs.

The second variation has the handles turned running top to bottom where your palms are facing each other.  This is a more kettlebell sport style where your stance can be slightly narrower.  With this hand orientation the backswing tends to be slightly shorter because the arms cannot reach through as far so if you need a bigger backswing to make the cleans smoother, this handle orientation might not be best suited for you.

I recommend trying both out and see which variation you prefer and go for it.

You now have all the tools needed to perform a proper kettlebell clean.  Keep practicing and start adding the combination movements after your clean to make your workouts more enjoyable.

Stay tuned for more Hardstyle articles and videos to come from Kettlebell Kings.

Please check out the video below for all the complete details discussed above.

Doug’s Bio:

Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training® where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury.  Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including: adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level.

Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at his website and receive two free eBooks and browse through numerous training articles and videos.

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Topics: Kettlebell Foundations, Kettlebell Clean