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Clean up your Kettlebell Clean in 5 minutes or less

April 14, 2009 11:57 AM


When teaching beginners, there are 3 technical aspects of the clean that must be considered. And a solid mastery of the swing is paramount to executing an effective clean.
  1. Mechanics: assuming that the client has no prior experience with Olympic weight lifting, they will have no motor engram for performing the clean. The positive side of this is that the client will not have developed any bad habits. The negative is that …well I really don't see a negative because the ETH (Ears to Horns) clean will teach proper arm mechanics without banging up the wrists of your unsuspecting victim.
  2. Speed and Timing: The ETH clean will give the victim the feel of the clean in real time without the negative reinforcement of getting shellacked on the wrist every time they over swing the kettlebell.
  3. Diminishing returns: beginners typically have a limited number of attempts at learning the clean before it becomes a liability. By performing the preparatory drills listed below, you will reduce the learning curve and increase the speed at which the clean is mastered.
This teaching sequence has worked well in helping teach the kettlebell clean in record time.

1.ETH (ears to horns) clean:
  • Start in the hang position grabbing the corners or "ears" of the kettlebell.
  • Thrust the hips forward a la the swing, pull the kettlebell straight up to the ceiling while keeping it close to your body.
  • If you have an Olympic lifting background, your tendency will be to lift the heels. Resist the temptation to do this because it will not carry over properly to the full kettlebell clean.
  • The start of the drill is identical to a kettlebell high pull and the finish is sliding the hands towards the "horns" or the vertical part of the handle.
  • Lower the kettlebell back to the hang position by letting it drop down and catching it at the horns.
2.2-hand clean, one hand dump:
  • From the hanging position, place the free hand on the bottom of the kettlebell and use it to assist the kettlebell into the rack position.
  • Dump the kettlebell back to the hang position using one hand. Make sure to "catch" the load by sitting back into your hip fold. This is key to making a smooth transition into the full one arm clean.


  • Continue to progress to the full clean allowing the kettlebell to swing back and through the legs.
They say the necessity is the mother of invention and this was the case with the ETH clean. Please provide feedback as to how this sequence works for you.

In Health and Strength,

Terrence Thomas

Terrence Thomas, RKC draws from 18 years of experience in health, sports performance and orthopedic rehabilitation consulting. Author of HardStyle Golf Conditioning (www.hardstylegolf.com), the first golf performance book using Russian Kettlebells, Terrence conducts group and individual kettlebell classes in the South Florida area. To contact Terrence please email: terrence@kettlebellexperts.com. For your free 12-week kettlebell email course, please go to www.kettlebellexperts.com
 

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