Kettlebell Training: part three the Power Clean
There is no disputing it but Kettlebell training has become a “cause célèbre” of the modern exercise world. While some praise its values to no end, still others recognize its limitations, thus creating the controversy.
Quite truthfully, the modern exercise “game” is both the vindicator of Kettlebell training and its assassin. Many of those who promote the tool in the media make such outlandish claims that the medium is an open target for those who see beyond the marketing efforts and countless “log-rolling” initiatives.
While the endless marketing imagery that likes to portray another historical perspective of the Russian exercise system, seems comedic at times given it is marketing to a group that conjures up grand images of being tough, with the ever-present black t-shirt on, it has deflected the mediums relatively steep learning curve, when taught properly.
The key to that notion is “taught properly” because while the much of the online training courses for Kettlebell training likes to promote a barbarian look to the medium, in truth it is façade that shields the public from a fun training tool for the mainstream. While this flies straight in the hornet’s nest of those who like to promote the tough-guy imagery of Kettlebell training, they are a simple tool that every training professional should know how to use but equally not espouse them as the panacea.
The great advantage of Kettlebell training is likely the simplicity of the tool as it is a basic fixed weight medium that the most effective movements are compound in nature. A new user, who is use to the standard isolationist exercises in most training environments, feels the immediate benefit of full body movements. Quite naturally, other mediums derive the same benefits but if the public finds kettlebells a “fun” approach to training, the responsible training professional needs to supply the proper learning environment to maximize benefit, within a safe learning benefit.
Though repetitious, Kettlebell training is a safe, effective resistance training method but in entering this genre, it is important to learn how to perform the movements correctly. Beyond the marketing of this sector, this is where I have some significant differences of opinion to much of the industry.
First off all training, regardless of medium, adheres to the my “Renegade Concept’s of Training™”, which are:
- movements trained, not musculature
- efficiencies of movement reinforced
- motor patterning and grafting of movement
- postural alignment is emphasized and perfected
- stabilization in the most destabilized training environments
- force developed such that it can be projected, accepted and redirected at maximal levels
- adopt to chaotic environments
This effectively outlines that force generated in compound movements is via a powerful drive of the lower body, despite the load being in your hands. Essentially, despite the weight, the kettlebell in this case, being in your hands, you perform the lift it with your legs.
While this might seem to be a modest difference from the standard approach but by using the legs, force increases exponentially and the movements become much simpler to perform. This is not only a “safer” approach to resistance training, as I never deviate from a neutral back position in the standard lifts but creates a problem for advanced athlete’s with Kettlebell training given the weight will not be sufficient. This is the peculiar nature of Kettlebell training because as you learn to use your total body in the lift, you will effectively have greater energy demands, thus improve fitness and potentially reduce body fat but you may find that you will quickly need to add further stimuli as the movements are “too light”.
Firstly, it is important to learn the basic lifts correctly. After learning the basic swing, the incumbent should capture the notion of generating power via the hips and legs and advance to the next lift; the Power Clean, from a "hang" position.
The Kettlebell Power Clean is an interesting movement that can be learned in a remarkably short time. It is a very short, quick movement and thus you have to learn how to lift the kettlebell just "enough" to perform the “catch”. Any above the “catch” will only cause problems with the bell striking the forearm and possibly causing injury. The position of the arm position is akin of a boxer in protecting their ribs and therefore the elbow is positioned against the ribs as the kettlebell is caught.
In the starting phase of the lift, the individual should be standing upright with feet slightly shoulder-width apart. To initiate movement push hips / buttocks back to a neutral back position (top photo)From this position, explosively driving hips up and forward, projecting elbows upward relatively close to the body as you rise up on your toes. As the kettlebells approach mid sternum level, the elbows shoot through, held tight against the rib cage and allow the load to smoothly land against the forearm (photos two and three). The kettlebell will be resting on the bicep / deltoid region while you simultaneously dip slightly underneath to "soften the catch" (bottom photo). At the completion of the movement, your fist will point directly towards your chin, with your elbows pinned against your ribs. To complete the movement, lift the elbow and thus allow the bell to smoothly descend in reverse order of the lift, catching it softly with your legs absorbing the pressure and begin the next repetition.
prepared by John Davies
photos supplied from Renegade Training's "Deuce's Wild"