Swing Clean – Kettlebell Exercise Guide with Photos


Kettlebell movements are a great way to add some fun and variety to your workouts. Your muscles and lower back will thank you for the change of pace by getting stronger along with your hips and core. This particular article is going to shed some light on the kettlebell swing clean. Keep reading to break out of your usual workout routine and start doing a few of these unique exercises.


Muscles Targeted: The kettlebell swing clean is another great total body exercise you can work into your routine. This exercise is broken into two parts. The first part is the hip drive which is powered by your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The second part is the pull and this is when your rhomboids and trapezius come into play. Your posterior deltoids and biceps also play a small part in the pull portion of the lift.

Exercise Instructions: Take a shoulder width stance. Hold a kettlebell in one hand with an overhand grip (palms facing in). Squat down and position the kettlebell between your feet and just behind your knees. From the squat position, explode up with your legs while swinging the kettlebell forward and raising your arm up to the top position. At the top position, flip the kettlebell with your wrist so that your palm will be facing out and squat back down to the bottom position while bringing the kettlebell down to shoulder level. This exercise is one fluid motion so be very careful when first performing it to make sure your technique is correct.

Why This Exercise is Important: Kettlebell exercises train your body in what is termed functional fitness. This references the ability of these exercises to carry over in a greater way than some isolation or machine exercises. These exercises improve your general athletic ability and your day-to-day life is improved too. The kettlebell swing clean improves your cardiovascular system at the same time as strengthening the involved muscle groups. Using lighter weight can improve your joint health and give them a break from other compound movements. You also build explosive strength when lifting kettlebells because of the acceleration involved. This trains your body to be more explosive.

Things To Avoid: When performing the swing clean, do not let the kettlebell itself get too far away from your body. It can be helpful to picture a wall in front of you to follow the proper path. Avoid your elbows going too far from your body or you will have too much of your shoulders and biceps in the lift. Don’t let your core get loose at any part in this lift. Don’t let the kettlebell dip too far below the knees in between lifts. Lastly, keep your upper back from rounding at the bottom of the lift.

Reps and Sets: You’ll want to avoid lower reps on this exercise. You can perform this exercise by changing hands between each rep or wait until you’ve done all the reps you are going to do for that arm. On kettlebell swing cleans you’ll want to stick to sets of 3-4 and reps in the 10-12 range per arm.

Other Exercises To Use: You can switch the kettlebell cleans for regular cleans of the one-armed or two-armed variety. Another kettlebell variation that will substitute for swing cleans is the double arm swing squat. Go heavy and throw in barbell deadlifts in place of swing cleans. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the whole body.

Have fun with this exercise and keep your elbows close to your body and your core tight. Kettlebells are great for recovery from hard workouts or to work around injury. It is also a great way to boost your cardio with weights. Give these a try today!

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