6 Tips to Master the Kettlebell Clean

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

A clean kettlebell clean is the gateway to mastery of a lot of other kettlebell skills.

If you want to truly master the kettlebell having a solid kettlebell clean is a must. Your kettlebell press, squat, windmill and bent press all rely on some or all parts of the kettlebell clean. The kettlebell clean is also the first variation to the swing that enforces that taming of the arc when it comes to bell control and positioning so it also has some cross over to your snatch when you’re learning the pop, pull and punch.

So why is the kettlebell clean one of the biggest sticking points for people when they’re trying to master the kettlebell? Let’s take a look at some high impact tips when it comes to achieving correct kettlebell clean technique.

Dead Cleans

Have problems with that kettlebell bashing your forearm? It might be because the kettlebell you’re using is too light and you’re muscling the kettlebell. This is common when we transition from swings to cleans and we are using a kettlebell that is potentially too light to give the relevant feedback.

We can fix this by focusing on dead cleans. This forces us to drive the elbow back on the “pull” phase of the movement and the fast drive of the punch phase. If you’re doing this right you will feel the bell slide comfortably into the rack position.

Use A Wall

The transition from swings to the kettlebell clean can sometimes be a big jump for some. Help tame the arc by using a wall or something similar to give you external feedback on your position. This will help you keep the kettlebell close to the body during the movement

Start From The Top

Having trouble with the catch using your hips? A common problem is people breaking at the hips too early in the drop phase of the kettlebell clean. It’s usually caused by some reluctance to absorb the weight of the kettlebell.

You can fix this by focusing on top down cleans. Simply letting the bell fall, the hips absorbing the weight at the last minute and placing the kettlebell on the floor. Once you’re confident, re-clean the kettlebell.

Bump Up The Weight

Still not getting that smooth kettlebell clean? If you’re still muscling the kettlebell you might need to bump up the weight. By going up a bell size or two, this forces you to focus on efficiency as you will simply not be able to hold onto the kettlebell with a death grip.

Pop, Pull & Punch

Practise the different stages of the movement sequentially. Practise the pop with single arm swings to emphasise the hip pop, then practise the elbow drawback for the pull and then focus on the punch through to the top. A simple drill is

  1. One swing
  2. One pull and
  3. One clean.
  4. Repeat for both sides as many times as you need to.


If you’re still struggling with the kettlebell clean the last tip would be practise. Practise reps when you’re fresh and try varying sizes of kettlebells to increase the awareness and confidence during the pop, pull and punch movements. By practising your clean around your other skills and strength goals will allow to slowly improve your skills without letting your other training goals suffer.

Finally, remember your press and squat is only as good as your clean. Take your time and commit to mastery of the kettlebell clean and your kettlebell skills will thank you for it.

Want to master the kettlebell clean? Sign up for Kettlebell66 and receive 66 days of workouts designed to help you master kettlebell skills.

Join the Minimalist Minute!


Sign up to get the weekly 60 second email that helps you move more and move better and also receive my deskbound athlete program!

Join 1.5K Other Minimalists!

Join our weekly 60 second newsletter and receive my deskbound athlete program for free!