We 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.
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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.
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.