Fix Your Kettlebell Cleanby Jen Sinkler
Like the kettlebell swing, the kettlebell clean is a complicated exercise, but it can often be tidied up with just three simple cues.
1) Pretend you’re holding a cute lil clutch purse under your arm during the movement. Or a newspaper, if you’re not the purse-clutching type. The idea is to keep your elbow close to your body — the tendency in a sloppy clean is to let the elbow chicken-wing out away from the torso.
2) Zip your coat. So now you’ve got to clamp your purse and zip your coat at the same time. An awkward visual, no doubt, but this takes care of another common tendency in a messy swing, and that’s to let the kettlebell stray too far out in front of you, causing crappy timing for moving the kettlebell into position against the back of your wrist.
3) Imagine a wall right in front of you. Or, actually go face a wall like a dunce. This drives home the same point as cue No. 2, but I can’t emphasize it enough: Keep that kettlebell close to you!
Bonus! One last point: Unlike the kettlebell snatch, the weight does not have to move over the top of your hand to land against the back of your wrist. Rather, you can just “sneak” it around the pinky-side of your wrist. (Your wrist, by the way, must remain ramrod straight throughout the movement.) This swiveling motion helps nix the clang of the the kettlebell crashing down on the back of the wrist. The idea is to maneuver the weight gently into place, so eliminate as much separation between yourself and the kettlebell at all points during the movement.
Here’s a quick two-minute video that walks you through all of these points. In it, I demonstrate a rectilinear clean (where the kettlebell moves straight up and down), but the same principles apply to a curvilinear clean, in which the bell moves backward between the legs between reps (mimicking the kettlebell swing recovery path). I recommend starting with a rectilinear clean until form is tight, then transitioning to a curvilinear clean.
Did that help tidy up your clean? What other exercises would you like me to troubleshoot?
Note: These are cues I’ve picked up over the years from a number of other kettlebell trainers — I wish I could remember where they all came from so I could attribute them properly.