Master The Kettlebell Clean for Beginners
Kindal cleaning a kettlebell

Master The Kettlebell Clean for Beginners

The kettlebell clean is an exercise... duh... but it's more of a foundation to all other kettlebell exercises.

Without being able to clean the kettlebell property, linking different exercises together is going to be impossible.

Very similar to the kettlebell deadlift and swing... it's a bedrock of kettlebell training.

Let's break the kettlebell clean down but first you have to accept a kettlebell truth.

The Kettlebell Truth

A kettlebell rests on your forearm when you're holding it... almost all the time.

And if you're new to kettlebells, your forearm are not use to the constant pressure. So you'll get sore and in the beginning and you'll get small bruises too.

If you're new... don't freak out... this is normal and it goes away after a couple weeks.

And trust me... it's soooo worth it!

Kindal smiling as she sits on a box after a tough workout
A Big Idea

Should you get wrist guards?

Yes and no.

As you're learning, no. Wrist guards don't let you feel the kettlebell. if you can't feel the kettlebell, it's easy to get into bad habits that will haunt you later.

So just suck it up and get through the sore period.

Once you master proper technique... then you can start using them.

I use to use them a lot. But now I only use them when I'm using the 62 or 70 pound kettlebell... those things are crazy heavy on my tiny wrists.

The Modified Clean

Start with the modified clean. This is going to make learning the technique much easier.

  • Grab the kettlebell with one hand... the handle is perpendicular to your shoulder line.
  • Wrap your other hand around the hand on the kettlebell... so you have both hands on the handle.
  • Keep the handle of the kettlebell perpendicular as you swing the kettlebell back between your legs.
  • As the kettlebell comes through your legs... tug up on it. Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • The hand that is touching the kettlebell is going to punch around the kettlebell... this is the key movement.
  • You'll keep moving your arms up to chest level as the kettlebell gently rests on your forearm.

This is a tough to explain.

Having both hands on the kettlebell helps you control the kettlebell better... and keeps your arms tighter into the body... like during a real clean.

As you practice you'll feel the difference and it will make more sense.

Elbow Close To Your Body

As the kettlebell is coming through your legs (the swing part)... don't let your arms go out as if you're doing a swing.

Keep your elbow close to your body. This helps to redirect the kettlebell up so you can catch it gracefully.

Even with the floor clean... it's the same thing.

I'm tugging up AND keeping my elbow close to my body. This sets me up for...

Punching Around the Kettlebell

The kettlebell does not flop over your hand.

It probably will in the beginning as you're learning this... but you don't want a flop like this picture.

You want to punch around the kettlebell. This is what helps it land softly and gently on your forearm.

The bad news is...

It takes practice. It's the only way to learn.

I can't really give you one magic move that will have you doing this perfectly... although the modified clean is a great way to grove the punch around movement.

Here The Steps

1. Master the modified clean first

Get the modified clean down pat on both arms.

Make sure you're smooth... to the point where you can go from swinging the kettlebell to modified cleaning it with near ease.

2. Practice the swing clean first

The swing clean or curve clean is easier to manage and learn.

You'll learn quicker and you'll start getting used to the kettlebell landing on your forearm.

3. Master the floor clean last

When you have the curve clean down... then master the floor clean.

It feels weird at first which is why I say lean this one last.

Kindal walking out in an inchworm with great form
Form Tip

Here's a floor clean tip.

When you're doing the floor clean... notice in the pictures how my thumb is pointing through my legs to start.

This helps because it mimics the swing a little. The handle of the kettlebell is usually close to vertical when it's passing through your legs.

So start with it vertical... thumb pointing through your legs.

Plus the internal rotation for your forearm sets you up perfectly for a punch around the kettlebell as you actually clean it.

It really does make a difference.

Lastly... Have Fun Learning!

Take your kettlebell swing skills... and start linking in your clean skills.

Go from swings... directly into cleans... straight back into the swings without the kettlebell hitting the ground.

Switch from side to side and toss in other kettlebell exercises that are prefect for beginners like:

  • Squats while holding the kettlebell in rack.
  • Prisoner squats while holding in rack.
  • Lunges...
  • Walking lunges...
  • Just walking around...
  • And of course working in some kettlebell swing variations !

The rack position is great for your core strength BTW.

If you have any questions... hit me up on social and I'll help you out!

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