Kettlebell training has firmly set itself on the map in the UK over the last 12 years.
Many people enjoy the training benefits they offer from weight loss, cardiovascular efficiency, strength, explosive power and for dynamic correspondence to many different sports. The primary objective with any new form of exercise should always be mechanical proficiency – start light, get it right, and repeat it again and again until you can do it properly.
Kettlebell training is not difficult; it is just different when compared to traditional resistance and cardio approaches. How many times have you seen people doing swings, cleans, jerks, snatches windmills and get ups in your local gym or leisure centre? All that this means is that professional education is the bridge between knowing nothing about kettlebells to being proficient in them and being able to reap the rewards they offer for constant and applied effort.
As one of the most technical exercises covered on our workshops we will take the clean under the microscope and break it down so that it can be enjoyed rather than feared…..
The kettlebell clean is a very technical exercise that many people find challenging.
These tips are aimed at improving the exercise and minimising the most common problems with the movement pattern and forearm impact. Exercises like the swing and press follow a fixed and predictable movement path that requires little action from the person exercising.
However, the clean, snatch and jerk are all exercises where the lifter is required to intervene at exactly the right moment in order to interrupt the movement path and change the trajectory of the weight. All of them require explosive power and all of them are filed under technical on our courses and workshops for that very reason.
The clean is an excellent exercises for teaching people the basics of force production – how to use Newton's third law in order to drive forcefully into the floor in order to get an equal and opposite reactive force.
Think of it as a vertical jump. Stand yourself up nice and tall and then jump as high as you can. The first thing you will do is bend your legs in order to prepare the body for the jump. Therefore the nervous system instinctively knows what is required for the body to be successful in this task.
Now try the same task by squatting down slowly, over a few seconds. You have just confirmed that explosive power does not come from slow and controlled movements – think of a tennis serve. Now try again by squatting until your hips are parallel with your knees. The effort required to stand from this position into an explosive jump has now greatly multiplied in difficulty and is no longer effective.
If you view the floor as being a trampoline you will get an idea of what is supposed to happen. There will be a short and sharp bend of the legs by just a few inches and then an explosive jump aided by an arm swing. The great thing about the kettlebell clean is that it condenses all of the above into one simple action. If you do not produce enough force, the kettlebell will not finish in the right position. If you produce too much force, the kettlebell will lift far too high and forcefully strike the forearm with the assistance of gravity.
As such, it is the perfect exercise for teaching people effective force production through the floor and also how to control that resulting force through triple extension and effective mechanics. The clean can be as valuable to athletes as hang pull variations of the Olympic lifts are for developing explosive power.
It also engages the upper body, core and requires a great degree of mental focus for the correct timing of the exercise and a smooth movement arc
The 10 tips covered in the video are as follows –
Pendulum back swing. Unless there is a circular motion for the clean and you are not training strength or explosive power you are doing far too much work.
Thumb forwards for grip. Alternating the position of the eccentric swing phase will spare the grip – essential for long cycle clean and jerk.
Arm contact. Mechanical efficiency is greatest when the body acts as and integrated unit. Long levers mean a weaker kinetic chain and keeping the arm close the body improves performance.
Alternate the prime movers. If you train for reps, especially reps in time with no rest, then allowing some recovery to take place by switching the load to alternate muscle groups is essential. Especially when fatigue kicks in and form breaks down.
Double suspension. Learn how to actively control the landing of the kettlebell rather than have it strike you like a cannon ball.
Safety first. The ball of the kettlebell never travels higher than the fist. Why? Gravity!
Offset the handle. Most kettlebell routines come to a close when the grip gives out. By offsetting the handle in the rack position you are able to recover rather than drain the grip.
Elbow to iliac crest. If you are lucky enough to be able to get your elbow to your hip then you will be fully supporting the load and greatly slow down your accumulated fatigue.
Shoulder nudge. A brief shoulder nudge is essential to allow the kettlebell to move in a circular action rather than straight down as less effort is required for future repetitions.
Learn to hook the handle. Hand damage is a way of life for many kettlebell lifters. Knowing how to move the handle from the offset rack position to a hook catch will slow down any skin tears and blisters.
buy quality kettlebellsbuy quality kettlebells are not difficult, they are not dangerous, they are not bad for your back, women will not turn into the Hulk and men will not die of boredom because they could not isolate their beach muscles. When done correctly, kettlebell training is possibly the single best activity that the general public can participate in based on cost, effectiveness, risk, time invested, results and many other positive factors. Don't believe me? Come and try them for yourself at our workshops!
Yours in Health!