March 01, 2007
The clean is a traditional and versatile kettlebell exercise that everyone needs to master. Its original purpose was to provide a safe means to get one or two kettlebells in position for overhead lifts. The clean is the precursor for the military press, push press, double jerk, etc. The clean can be used by itself as an exercise for strength and endurance or in combination with bodyweight exercises or other high-repetition kettlebell exercises. Many combination exercises will be addressed in future articles. For now, lets concentrate on mastering the KB clean.
Contrary to the belief of many beginners, the KB clean is not supposed to be a forearm-toughening exercise! When properly executed, it should land as light as a feather and cause no bruising or pain to either the forearm or shoulder. Make a permanent “note-to-self”: Sharp pain, consistent pain, or bruising usually means one thing—you are doing it wrong! Stop, assess the situation, make the necessary corrections, and then move on. The goal is training—not maiming.