Learning to Clean

After mastering the swing with both one and two hands the next lift to progress to is the clean.

There are a number of ways to perform the clean and in this post I’ll be explaining how to do the clean from the floor, which is more physically demanding. As well as the swing clean, which requires a bit more practice to get the timing right.

We’ll begin with the clean from the floor.

As with the Goblet clean, before we attempt the clean in full we begin by practicing the first part of the lift. The single arm high row.

Begin as you would with a Deadlift only this time gripping the kettlebellĀ  with one hand, lifting the kettlebell from the floor by driving explosively with your legs and hips. Now as you reach the top of the deadlift and your legs begin to straighten, pull the kettlebell up by shrugging at the shoulder and allowing your elbow to flare up and out as you pull with your arm until the handle of the kettlebell reaches about nipple height then allow the kettlebell to decend back to the floor keeping it under control the whole time.

With the single armed high row it is important to keep the kettlebell moving up the centre line of the body.

Now we’ve got the hang of the high row we can begin learning the transition into the rack position. The front rack position is the point from which all overhead pressing is done, therefore a good rack position is essential for healthy shoulders.

Holding the kettlebell with an inserted grip, your hand at chest height towards the centre line of the body, arm tucked close your body and elbow resting on the hip allowing the kettlebell to rest on the back of your forearm. Whilst in the rack position a slight lean is sometimes necessary to keep the kettlebells over your hips/centre of gravity.

(Rack Pics here)

So to transition from the high row to Rack involves rotating the elbow down whilst supinating (turning thumb out) the hand to allow the kettlebell to rest on the forearm. To practice this motion I like to use the mime of zipping up your coat and putting on a glove as demonstrated in the video below.

After miming for a while I then like to have people practice guiding the bell to the rack position with their free hand. This allows you to practice rolling the kettlebell whilst minimising the chance of banging the kettlebell on your forearm.

But once it’s time to try the full clean from the floor expect some arm banging whilst you get the hang of timing the transition and loosening your grip. I highly recommend getting a pair of wrist guards to help reduce the chance of injury, they can be relatively cheap for a basic pair but I suggest springing for the more expensive type with built in splints.

Cheap Guards

Better Guards

So, time for the full clean.

Begin as you would with a High Row, lifting the kettlebell from the floor by driving explosively with your legs and extendong at hips. Now as you reach the top of the deadlift and your legs begin to straighten, pull the kettlebell up by shrugging at the shoulder and allowing your elbow to flare up and out as you pull with your arm until the handle of the kettlebell reaches about nipple height. At this point tuck the elbow back down and roll the wrist to rest the kettlebell on your forearm in the rack position.


Mastering the clean can take a lot of practice to get the timing of everything down but once you get the hang of it, it opens up a lot of other lifts like the shoulder press and Windmill.

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