Craig Fingrutd: RKC, AKC, MKC
Izzy Barish: AKC


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Olympic Clean
Bottom Up Clean
Waiter Clean
Seated Clean
Single Leg Clean
Circular Clean
Outside Leg Clean 


The Clean is a modified swing where near the top of the swing the elbow bends and brings the fist to the shoulder while rotating the kettlebell over to the back of the hand bringing the bell to rest in the final position on the outside of the arm. This is performed in one flowing or "clean" motion. Start the same way you start a swing. All the same rules apply. As you start to swing the kettlebell up, bend or "break" the swing at the elbow when the arm is little higher then waist level.

While breaking the elbow bring the hand up to the shoulder. Do this by rotating the fist of the hand up to the shoulder. Make a fist and look at the side of your fist where the thumb is wrapped around the index finger. This is the part of the fist that should move toward the shoulder. Of course your hand will never reach your shoulder but use that imagery when bringing the arm up. The bottom of your fist will face away from you pointing directly in front of you. When you rotate the fist up, this produces a cork screw effect of the hand and the kettlebell will rotate over to the back of your hand resting on the outside of your arm. At the final position of the movement, the arm is in a vertical position from the elbow to the hand with the inside of the upper arm and elbow held tightly against your ribs. The kettlebell will end up on the outside of the body against your biceps, shoulder and forearm. The shoulder is packed.

You will know immediately if you do not perform the clean correctly as you will end up slapping the kettlebell against the outside of the forearm of the arm. Good technique is key to efficient and painless shock absorption. Doing the form incorrectly will leave you with a nice bruise on the arm the next day. This means you are not correctly turning your hand to your shoulder. Instead the kettlebell is coming directly over the top of the hand and slamming into the arm. You can slow it down and prevent it from slamming the arm by squeezing the kettlebell with the hand as it comes over the top, but you will only be able to do this with a light bell, and the technique is incorrect. Another mistake is to let the kettlebell pull down outside of your body, making your elbow move up and inside your body at a 45 degree angle. If you are doing this, you are not stopping the hand vertically at the shoulder and you can injury your shoulder, your elbow or both. At the top of the clean, stop for a moment and then either push the kettlebell out and let it fall down or drop down in an arch and let it swing down back between your leg, continue on the up swing etc.

You should not have any wrists in this technique, meaning here should be a straight line from your knuckles through the wrist to your forearm. In other words, do not bend your wrists. Your whole body should work as one and not employ the muscles of the shoulder or arm to bring the kettlebell up. Take advantage of the ballistic motion of the swing to bring the kettlebell to it's resting place. Remember to start the motion with your hips. At no point lean back or pull back with your shoulders. Always keep your back straight or arched but never rounded.

There are several other ways to perform the clean. One is a dipping technique where you dip your knees and get under the kettlebell right before the kettlebell reaches your shoulder. Then you stand up to the final position. This helps your body absorb the weight of the kettlebell against your body. We use this technique when we use a very heavy kettlebell.

Another technique that is slightly different is where the kettlebell comes to rest on top of the inside of the arm. The ball rests on the top of your biceps/shoulder instead of on the outside of the arm. This is used in the Girevoy sport of kettlebell lifting. You can also use the pinch grip or move your grip to the corner of where the handle and horn attach.

Final position of Clean
Final position of Power Clean AKC style
  Clean more in line with RKC      

Clean Video

Olympic Clean

The Olympic Clean is a powerful explosive clean. The power comes not only from the hips but also from the legs as you are in a deep static squat when firing off the floor. There is no swing. The kettlebell is blasted up the center of the body, as in a row, from the floor and brought up to the final clean position. All of the other rules apply, especially where the back needs to stay straight or arched throughout the clean. There is a tendency to pull up with the lower back or upper shoulders instead of the legs, hips, and gluts. If you do this you are in jeopardy of hurting your back. If you start to fail when you get tired, stop and rest.

The Dead Clean has the kettlebell sitting on the floor at the start and end of the technique.

The Hanging Clean has the kettlebell hanging down close to but not touching the floor.

In both of these cleans there is a slight pause to stop the inertia of the kettlebell at the bottom or start of each repetition. This prevents a rebound by pulling from a dead position each time. Both can be done with either one or two (power) kettlebells.

Beginning of Dead Clean
On way up through center line
Top of Clean

Olympic Clean Video Missing

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Bottom Up Clean

The Bottom Up Clean finishes with the kettlebell in the bottom up position. The ball of the kettlebell is in the the air and the handle is on the bottom. This is one of the best techniques for working the grip strength and balancing of the kettlebell. Perform the bottom up clean the same as in the regular clean but instead of flipping the kettlebell over your hand keep it extended as you bring your hand to your shoulder. If possible, start with a lighter kettlebell then you usually use. It will be easy to work up to your regular size kettlebell once you are comfortable with the grip and balance needed to keep the bell in this position. You need to place most of the emphasis on the grip when the kettlebell stops at the top of the movement. Keeping your eye on the kettlebell helps to control it. Try adding a press and/or a squat when the kettlebell is in this position. This will test your entire body, you have to stay tight and have total concentration.
Bottom Up Clean
Power Bottom Up Clean

Clean Bottom up Video

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Waiter Clean

The Waiter Clean finishes with the ball of the kettlebell held in your open palm. Everything in waiter clean is the same as in the basic clean except the kettlebell is flipped up and caught with the opened palm. The palm in this position at the top of the clean resembles a waiter carrying a tray in the open palm. From the top position, push the kettlebell lightly, away from you in the forward direction. Because of the mass of the ball, it will flip over almost by itself, all it needs is a little push from you. As the ball rotates the kettlebell over, grasp the hand with your hand, swing down and repeat.

The biggest stumbling block when performing the flip in either direction is your mind. Many people are afraid of the bell dropping on their foot or hitting themselves with the kettlebell. To get past this, practice only the flip on the way up, repeatedly until you can do this with confidence and no fear. Flip the kettlebell close to you as if you were throwing it at your own shoulder. If you flip it too far away from you, you can hurt yourself by running after it or catching it when you are not in a stable position. Once you get the hang of the flipping up, next is to get use to pushing it away and catching it by the handle. Again, do this close to the body. If you do this too far away from the body you are in the same danger as the flip up.

The technique takes not only concentration but faith in yourself. If you perform the power waiter clean and flip both bells at the same time be careful as this is a high risk movement.


Waiter Clean
On way to Waiter Catch
Power Waiter Clean

Clean Waiter

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Seated Clean

Seated Cleans are performed as the name says, sitting down. Sit on the edge of a bench and perform a clean. Make sure you have clearance under the bench and are using a stable and strong bench with plenty of room. Even though you are sitting down, the same basic rules apply as in the Clean. You will not have the luxury of using your lower body to help facilitate the swing. Get the same feeling as if you are pushing back with your hips, this will help propel the swing upward. Do not pull with your back, keep out of your lower back. The other techniques, olympic, bottom up, and waiter clean can also be performed from a seated position.


Bottom of Seated Clean
Top of Seated Clean

Clean Seated Video

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Single Leg Clean

The Single Leg Clean is easily one of the hardest cleans to perform because you are standing on only one leg throughout the movement. As in the basic Clean all the rules apply, except you are standing on one leg. The leg that is in the air acts as a counter balance. When the kettlebell goes down between the legs your moving leg will come forward, when you bring the bell to rest at the top, the leg moves to the back position. Your body might move around and you will have to keep moving the static standing foot to keep balance.


Bottom of Clean.
Top of Clean.

Clean Single Leg

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Circular Clean

The Circular Clean moves the kettlebell in an circular arch laterally inside and outside the body instead of swinging the bell up and down between the legs. The movement starts and stops in the rack position. From there you can choose to direction you want to move the bell from inside to outside the body or vise versa. In either case push the bell across the body to the side keeping it parallel to the floor shoulder height until it is extended. Swing down down around in a circle and back up to the other side of your body. Break or pull the arm back in when the hand reaches about shoulder height. Bring the bell back into a racked position. You need to stay tall in this clean because if you bend forward too much at the waist, you will hit your knee and it will hurt. Also we suggest that the side you are holding the kettlebell bring the leg back a foot or so from the other leg. In other words if you are holding the kettlebell in your left hand and whether you are performing an outside to inside or inside to outside movement, your left leg be further behind your right leg. This will keep your knees safe. Try this clean both ways outside to inside or inside to outside. You will find it is harder going one way then the other.
Starting in the rack
Swinging outside the body
Down before On the way up
Still on the way up
Before coming back to clean

Clean Circular Video

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Outside Leg Clean

The Outside Leg Clean is the same as the Outside Leg Swing except you perform a clean at the top of the movement instead of continuing the swing. You need to be in a narrow stance. You can be feet on rails or even together, but never too wide. Take care when bringing the bell down from the racked position. Make sure you swing down to the outside of your leg. If you get confused or forget and start to come down in the center of the body from the racked position it will be hard to stop the bell. Drop it and move out of the way.


Starting in the rack
Swinging outside the body
On the way down, careful
Back of Swing
Back to starting point
Back to Rack


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