Master the kettlebell clean

Kettlebell swing

The clean is a dynamic kettlebell exercise which is an advancement from the single hand swing.

The clean strengthens the posterior chain carries over to general activities of daily living and sports due to the powerful snapping hip extension involved.

It's also an essential exercise to master for individuals looking to progress to over head exercises such as the shoulder press. 

Muscles used during the clean

With all dynamic kettlebell exercises there is a demand for large muscle recruitment.

Below are the specific lower body muscles used during the kettlebell clean.

Muscles used in kettlebell swing

Coaching points for the clean

Begin as attempting a kettlebell swing, rather than arching the kettlebell, clean it up to the racked position by bringing the kettlebell up vertically close to the body using the power generated from the hips as the arm stays loose.

Lead with the elbow to do this then dynamically whip the elbow underneath the kettlebell to gain a vertical forearm (keep the wrist strong), allow the kettlebell to wrap around the forearm. The kettlebell should be close to the body in the 'racked' position on the outside of the forearm (keep the body strong).

In this position do not relax or let the kettlebell drop away to the side. To reverse the action, let the kettlebell drop in towards the midline of the body while simultaneously bringing the elbow out and high.

How it should be executed

To be able to execute the clean correctly, it needs to be broken down into the ascending and descending phases. 

See how its should be performed in this demonstration video which we have broken down into the two phases.

Common mistakes

The clean is a dynamic exercise which has many benefits once executed correctly, however with lack of practice or poor execution then injury can occur.

When performing the clean make sure that you avoid:

Excessive knee and hip flexion (Squatting).

Excessive hip force.

Kettlebell hitting forearm.

Wrist off line from sternum.

Alternative exercises

Once you are comfortable with the clean you may wish to progress and try the following alternative exercises which are slightly more challenging;

Clean and press.

Clean and split press.

Double kettlebell clean.

Double kettlebell clean and press.


Download our free kettlebell exercise guide.

Download our free booklet here, explaining exactly how to complete the 7 different fundamental kettlebell exercises which will be a great addition to your or your clients workouts.



Would you like to become a kettlebell instructor? We deliver online and face to face courses, to become level 2 qualified through our Active IQ qualifications.

If you would like to enrol onto our next course or find out more information about our course click here