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How to do a kettlebell hang clean the right way every time

Posted Sep 29 2008 10:51pm

When people first pick up a kettlebell, the first exercise they are taught is the kettlebell two handed swing. Once they master one and two handed swings, people generally learn the kettlebell clean next. Kettlebell hang cleans are a great fat burning exercise that will also improve muscle imbalances around the shoulder girdle and help you burn off that unsightly fat. The first time you see someone do a kettlebell clean it will seem pretty straight forward, but it takes some practice to do a nice smooth clean that won't hurt your wrist or pull a muscle with a heavier weight.

When I first started doing kettlebell cleans I would just swing the kettlebell out in front of me then bend my elbow and catch it against my chest. Using this technique, or lack of, made banging my wrist and sometimes hurting my shoulder fairly common. Over time and after attending some kettlebell classes I have finally learned how to do a proper kettlebell clean.

  1. Sit down and back and grab the kettlebell with your thumb facing towards you

  2. Keep your chest and head up, and your spine neutral

  3. Breath in to your bell as you lower yourself, making your abdominal wall tight and strong

  4. Bend your wrist inwards like a forearm flex and grab the kettlebell (watch the video for proper grip placement)

  5. Now shoot your hips up sending your butt forward and straightening your legs

  6. Use the momemtum of your hips to send the kettlebell up instead of forward (like in a swing)

  7. Turn your palm as you send the kettlebell up so your palm is facing your body

  8. Bend your elbow, lift your arm and catch it palm in against your chest

  9. Rack the weight on your chest as you finish exhaling, then take another breath into your belly and lean forward to let the kettlebell drop back down

Your arms should only guide the kettlebell to your chest, it is your hips that are doing all the work here. If you pull with your arms you might pull a biceps or shoulder muscle so the most important aspect of the kettlebell clean to remember is make sure your abs stay tight and your hips snap the kettlebell up to your chest.

Some great drills to try are one legged kettlebell cleans, two handed kettlebell cleans or uneven weight kettlebell cleans. All these drills will wake up the nervous system and help you perform more one handed kettlebell cleans with perfect form. Check out the video below for a great video on perfect kettlebell clean form.

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