The kettlebell clean is the easiest to do, but the hardest to learn. Beginners show frustration with this as the kettlebell slams onto their forearm in the front rack position. I wasn’t perfect when first learning either, but when I finally got it I thought “why didn’t someone tell me this all along?” So I want to get straight to the point what issues need to be fixed for a SMOOTH kettlebell clean and why a solid front rack matters.
Issue #1: It’s Slamming Because You’re Death Gripping
What draws a beginner away from the kettlebell clean is the slamming effect caused from over gripping the handle. The kettlebell NEEDS to rotate around the wrist — so therefore your grip need to relax for a split mili-second to do so. This is easily taught with a light kettlebell and performing a simple curl (with no hip hinge). When performing your hands & fingers will require smooth dexterity so it can rotate. You want to think, “zip up the jacket” to keep your elbow connected to your torso as well. Once you have a understanding of this, you can perform a Deadstop Clean — all featured in the tutorial below:
Issue #2: Front Rack Position is Weak
No good comes to kettlebells with flexed wrists and a weak grip. As you see below, you want the forearms vertical (with singles or doubles) with a SECURE grip. The most common compensation many make is “chicken winging” the kettlebells onto the forearms like a shelf with the wrists flexed (cutting off any engagement from the lats) as you see pictured below.
Issue #3: Pulling the Kettlebell With No Hip Power
Before learning kettlebell cleans, your skills with a two (2H) and one handed (1H) swing should be solid. This is so you can translate the same hip power to the clean. You want to think a kettlebell clean IS A SWING that’s ends in front rack position. So if you perform 1H swing to a clean…I should see the hips look exactly the same. I shouldn’t see a powerful 1H swing…then a weak clean with the kettlebell being pulled up as demoed below:
Issue #4: Over Rotating the Torso With The 1H Clean
What a lot of beginners don’t know is it’s actually easier do kettlebell double cleans because it keeps your shoulders & hips square as you ballistically hip hinge. It’s harder with singles because your free side wants to rotate toward the asymmetrically loaded side. When the torso over rotates at the back swing (or hike) position…you’re more likely to dump your shoulder forward with it and makes you go unnecessarily faster to compensate. So a the double clean’s extra load makes you slow down in the front rack by pausing — keeping the shoulders connected to your lats (not hugging toward the kettlebells). Take notice of my pace with the kettlebell double cleans demoed below:
If you feel you need more work on kettlebell doubles be sure also check out my other related article:Double Kettlebell Swings For Double The Strength. You also get more correctives like this in all my ebooks. You can use the codes below to save on any of them or checkout the bundle deals all linked HERE.