My Top 3 Kettlebell Exercises | No.1 Clean and Press

My Top 3 Kettlebell Exercises | No.1 Clean and Press

My top 3 kettlebell exercises that I use and enjoy are now yours to love as much as I do. Here is the first one in a three part series. The kettlebell is at least 350 years old and maybe more. Russian fitness culture has records of the use of kettlebell as we know them from the 1700’s. The Shaolin Monks of China have trained for centuries with similar “stone locks” that resemble stage weights called Shi shuo, to achieve incredible strength and fitness. I love the way that the humble kettlebell encourages flowing, truly functional movement for real world strength and fitness. In this, Part 1 of 3, I give you the Kettlebell Clean and Press.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

Imagine there is a heavy object on the floor and you need to put it on the shelf above you. This is where the clean and press comes in. The clean is a powerful technique that allows you to lift a heavy weight from near the ground, up to your chest so you can carry it or lift it overhead. The press is the final part that gets it over head. In my chosen version, we will use one kettlebell held in one hand. This adds an extra dimension in the form of torsion that means you need to resist twisting your body. Even better for your waist/oblique abs.

What’s It Good For?

Whole Body Strength & Explosive Power
Postural Control

Primary Body Parts:

Legs, Bum, Shoulders

Difficulty Rating:


The technique:


With your bottom tilted back, squat down as shown to grasp the weight. Notice how the bum sticks out, the spine is relatively neutral, approaching flat and the head and eyes are looking forward.

Drive & Pull High

Lift your chin sharply and stand up strongly as if in a rush. At the last instant, when you are almost upright, keep the momentum going on the kettlebell by pulling your elbow high as pictured.

Drop Squat Under

At the top of the Drive & High Pull there is a moment when the kettlebell is actually floating. It’s stopped flying up and is not yet falling. At this point, drop down into a squat, dropping your elbow as you do so. As you drop your elbow, imagine you are revving a motorcycle; this is how you safely turn the kettlebell upside down so it comes to rest against the back of your wrist as pictured.

That is the clean part completed.

From The Squat – Drive Up

From the squat, check your balance and posture (see Prepare^). Keep the kettlebell near your shoulder for as long as possible. Now, lift your chin sharply and stand up powerfully, driving with the legs. I like to imagine I’m driving so hard into the ground that I might leave indents in the floor! Superman/woman style.

Shoulder Press Finish

Again, at the last instant when you are almost upright, keep the momentum going on the kettlebell by pushing the kettlebell above your head, like a shoulder press, or push press.


Finally, safely lower the weight to shoulder level again. Un-rev. the motorcycle and raise your elbow, allowing the kettlebell to come down and hang from a straight arm. Squat down and prepare to go again.

There you have it, the Kettlebell Clean and Press. A superb, total body exercise that helps you develop real world strength, power and coordination. Start with a fairly light weight and work in the mirror with these notes to hand. Focus on a strong squat and back posture as described. See if you can really tune in to the moments when the kettlebell is floating.

Here is a link to a workout that will suit this exercise. Let me know how you get on with these instructions and if you need any further help. I’d love to hear what you think of this exercise.

Weight lifting can cause serious injury if performed incorrectly. If in doubt, seek direct instruction from a qualified professional. NEVER lift heavier than you can manage whilst maintaining CORRECT technique. The author does not accept responsibility for accident or injury resulting from abuse or neglect of the instructions given here.

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