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Stop beating yourself up: Clean tips

Sara_Cheatham

New member
The clean is a finesse drill, meaning the difference between a solid, safe clean and a bruising clean, is in the details.

Step 1: Starting Position
From the quarter-squat position, reach out and grip the bell with one hand. The bell should be placed about a foot in front and center of you. With one hand on the bell, do not be tempted to place the other hand on your leg or hip. Leave the non-working hand free, out to the side. Look straight down at your bell, keeping the neck in line with the rest of the spine. The starting clean position is the same as the starting swing position.

Step 2: The Loading Phase
You should feel the hamstrings and glutes load as you hike the bell back, between your legs. The forearm should be close to the groin, even touching the inner thigh, on the back swing. Keep your neck elongated as the bell moves back. As soon as the bell clears your hips, quickly reverse the movement.

Step 3: The Rack Position
Snap the hips forward after the hike pass, just as you would in a kettlebell swing, only, do not over power the movement for the clean. Do not under power the hip snap either. An over-powered hip snap on a clean will surely give the bell enough energy to bruise your forearm. An under-powered clean will not give the bell enough energy to make it into the rack, and will result in more of a cheat curl than an effortless clean. As you progress, you will find just the right amount of power to get the bell from the hiked position to the raked position.

As the bell swings forward from the hiked position, keep the upper arm attached to the upper body. The upper arm should stick to the rib cage in order to keep the bell from arcing too far away from the body and incidentally banging the wrist. A tighter arc results in a much less painful clean.

Another technique to keep from banging the wrist is, as the bell reaches belly button level, aggressively pull the bell toward you then immediately punch through the kettlebell handle.

The bell should land comfortably in the ‘V’ made by the upper and lower arm. As the bell lands in the ‘V’ of your arm, brace the abdomen as though someone were to punch you in the gut. Your glutes should also be tight at the top of the racked position to protect your low back. Bracing the abdomen and squeezing the glutes will help absorb the shock of the bell.

In the proper racked position, the bell should rest low and comfortably in the ‘V’ of your arm with the shoulder sunken and relaxed and the wrist straight.

Conclusion
Finally, DO NOT OVER THINK THE CLEAN. Also do not over work the clean. If you are not getting the movement down, do not beat yourself up. Set the bell down and walk away or do a different drill. Improperly performing the clean is a painful experience. You may be surprised by the simplicity of clean and how easy it is, once you “get it.”

 

Sara_Cheatham

New member
Thank you Steve!

I couldn't agree more! It took me a full year of clean work to finally "get it." You have to catch the bell with your torso really, as opposed to the actual rack.
 

Peaceful John

New member
Sara, that was a great post. Most helpful to me was your advice ("The upper arm should stick to the rib cage ...") to control arcing.

Great job!
 

specialk

New member
Hehe, I saw that video for the first time a few months ago, and I could safely say (even in the company of my wife) "geez, this woman looks like she belongs on Mount Olympus." Anyway, the wife's abs don't have to stand back for Ms Brooks's abs these days—big part of the reason why I don't buy into it when someone says "it's not about the kettlebell.":D
 

dbt1959

New member
Hehe, I saw that video for the first time a few months ago, and I could safely say (even in the company of my wife) "geez, this woman looks like she belongs on Mount Olympus." Anyway, the wife's abs don't have to stand back for Ms Brooks's abs these days—big part of the reason why I don't buy into it when someone says "it's not about the kettlebell.":D
o
Yes, Lauren has great abs (which I am sure have as much to do with diet as kbells), and is a good person to boot. Generous with her time and you have to hand it to her for emphasizing recovery post-pregnancy. Doing a lot of people a world of good there.

But what I like about the vid is the brevity of the explanation, kind of like Sara's original post, and was looking for input as to Lauren's technique on the clean, because to me, it looks damn close to what Sara has written.
 

mozz64

New member
Hey Sara, you have DVD as well don't you? Can I assume it has more technique gems like this one?

Cheers
 

Chasonh

New member
Question re clean technique

When I grip the KB in the clean position it doesn't reach the V of my elbow, but rests with its side against my mid forearm. Am I gripping it incorrectly or did I get the wrong size KB? It is a 16 KG. As such it is nailing me in the bony part of my foream, as opposed to the fleshy part by the elbow. The only way I can keep it from really hurting is to squeeze the handle with my grip really hard which decelerates the rotation of the KB and unloads it somewhat. This doesn't seem right intuitively and it seems that I must be doing something wrong. The pictures show the KB resting in the crook but the only way I can get it there is to completely bend my wrist back and open my palm, and I know that isn't right. If the way I am doing it is the way it is done, I don't see how I will ever get to heavier weights because of the demand on my grip.

I am an experienced olympic lifter new to KBs, so I am very familiar with how to receive weights. The problem is not with using my body, but with the contact area.

Please help.
 

ShuriteKempo

New member
It's technique. I would have to see you to tell you what is going on though. Unless you are not built like other humans the length of your arm will not effect it.

From Kempo I know that for the most part humans are about the same length from the elbow to the wrist. The difference in the length of the arm is primarily made up in the upper arm and the hand and fingers. All Okinawan Kempo kata technique for arm striking is based on this and I have measured by comparison hundreds if not thousands of different people. A 6'4" person will be within 1/2 inch of a 5'8" person from the elbow to the wrist, but will have 6 inch reach advantage. shhhh don't tell anyone, ancient kempo secret :)

So that is why it is almost for sure a technique problem and not the length of your arm.

Can you post a video, also Sara's post is old, I have never seen it but it is an excellent post on the clean. Read it carefully, especially the part about pulling the hand as the bell passes about the belly button height.

Most people try to tame the arc way to late on the clean.
 

DrJAG2

New member
Hey Sara, you have DVD as well don't you? Can I assume it has more technique gems like this one?

Cheers

I have this DVD and the instruction is very precise and very well demonstrated. It really helped me clean up my snatches and windmills. I highly recommend it.
 
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