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Master the Kettlebell Clean for Explosive Functional Strength: A Comprehensive Tutorial

Posted by Jay Maryniak on
Master the Kettlebell Clean for Explosive Functional Strength: A Comprehensive Tutorial

The kettlebell clean is a staple in any functional strength training program.

This exercise is known for building lower body strength, power, and explosiveness but can often cause wrist and forearm discomfort due to improper technique.

In this tutorial, we will break down the kettlebell clean technique into simple steps, helping you to master this fundamental functional movement and make the most of your workout.

The Importance of the Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean is not just another exercise in your workout routine. It is an essential tool for building functional strength, increasing power, and improving overall physical performance.

Compared to traditional High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), functional strength training like kettlebell clean offers more dynamic movement patterns that reflect the challenges and demands of everyday life.

In addition to building a solid base for other kettlebell exercises, the kettlebell clean is one of the best exercises for functional strength.

It engages your core, glutes, hamstrings, and quads while challenging your grip, coordination, and balance.

Also, for athletes, the kettlebell clean serves as one of the best core exercises that can enhance sports performance by increasing explosive power and stability.

Despite its benefits, many individuals often face difficulties while performing the kettlebell clean. Wrist and forearm discomfort are common issues stemming from improper technique.

By understanding the correct front rack and deadlift positions, you can avoid these issues and maximize your gains from this exercise.

Understanding the Front Rack Position

The front rack position is the starting point for many kettlebell exercises.

A proper front rack position can help reduce wrist and forearm pain, and it's an essential part of how to train functional strength effectively.

In the front rack position, the handle of the kettlebell should be cutting across the meaty part of the hand and the base of the wrist.

Your grip should be tight but comfortable, allowing for a smooth rotation of the kettlebell.

Avoid a broken wrist position where your knuckles are pointed anywhere but towards the ceiling.

Keep your forearm vertical and elbow tucked in close to your body.

Building the Movement: Deadlift Position

The deadlift position forms the foundation for the kettlebell clean. In this position, you should stand directly over the kettlebell with a squat stance.

The kettlebell should be positioned so its handle cuts across your midfoot, providing the right balance and control.

This strong deadlift position, along with the proper grip on the kettlebell, allows for a dynamic and explosive lift, integral to functional strength exercises.

The deadlift engages your hamstrings and glutes while reinforcing the hip hinge movement.

It's crucial to remember this isn't a squat.

Keep your chest lifted and pack your lats down to provide a solid base for the lift.

Executing the Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean is a lower body explosive exercise, emphasizing on the 'triple extension' of the ankles, knees, and hips.

The force produced from this extension propels the kettlebell upwards.

You can think of it as "jumping the weight up".

The 'gunslinger' position forms the intermediate step to the full kettlebell clean.

As you stand tall out of the deadlift position, pull the kettlebell up while keeping it close to your body.

Your elbow should remain tight to your body as you point the bottom of the kettlebell forwards.

This movement helps with the transition to the full kettlebell clean.

Gradually, you can pull the kettlebell higher with more force from your lower body.

The final step is rotating the kettlebell smoothly around the wrist to bring it into the front rack position.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

One common mistake during the kettlebell clean is flipping the kettlebell over the wrist.

This can lead to forearm and wrist discomfort.

To avoid this, ensure a close and smooth rotation of the kettlebell around the wrist rather than flipping it over.

Using the other hand to assist with the rotation during the learning phase can be beneficial.

It can help you understand the path the kettlebell should take during the clean and avoid unnecessary injuries.


The kettlebell clean is a powerful and efficient exercise for developing functional strength.

With its emphasis on lower body explosiveness, it is a staple of functional strength training programs and one of the best exercises for functional strength.

It is vital to pay attention to the correct technique and avoid common mistakes to maximize your gains and avoid injuries.

Remember that mastering the kettlebell clean takes practice.

So, stay patient, keep refining your technique, and over time, you will see significant improvements in your functional strength and overall performance.

Mastering functional strength training, especially exercises like the kettlebell clean, can take time.

To make it easier, consider downloading the JTM Fit app, the best app for core exercises and the best functional training program.

It helps you build the ultimate functional physique from scratch, offering an array of functional strength exercises and the best kettlebell core exercises that cater to your fitness level and goals.

Give it a try today and transform your training experience.

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