Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
by Sam Franklin
How to Master The Kettlebell Clean & Jerk: An Explosive Full Body Booster
A swift, explosive movement, the kettlebell clean & jerk is one of the best kettlebell exercises for anyone looking to get their heart rate up while working many of the body’s major muscle groups.
A firm favourite among bodybuilders, athletes, and home fitness enthusiasts alike, the kettlebell clean & jerk offers no end of health & fitness perks—if you get it right.
Here’s everything you need to get started with this most dynamic of kettlebell exercises.
How to do a kettlebell clean and jerk: video tutorial
Before we dive into the benefits of kettlebell clean and jerk, watch our quick tutorial video by Luke Baden, Kettlebell Master Trainer.
Luke will take you step by step through the entire movement, ensuring your form is correct and you get the absolute maximum out of the exercise.
Step by Step Guide to the Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
Step 1: The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
To start, line us the malleolus, the ankle bones, with the horn of the bell. Chop and drop the hips. Put one hand on the bell. The free arm is forward. Pack the shoulders - squeeze the shoulder blades back and down.
Step 2: The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
Drive up. Dead clean the kettlebell up to the front rack position.
Step 3: The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
From this position, we're going to do a push press. Shallow dip of the legs and then drive your body into the bell.
Step 4: The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
As the bell is moving, drop into a low squat before fixing the bell over head.
Step 5: The Kettlebell Clean and Jerk
Once here, stand tall. Reset to the chest. Guide the kettlebell back down and reset to the deadlift position. For each rep, pack the shoulders. Dip, drive, drop. Stand tall. Reset to chest then down to the floor.
The body-boosting benefits of the kettlebell clean & jerk
The kettlebell clean & press may a little more tricky to master than other kettlebell moves—but, with a little perseverance, you will reap many body-boosting rewards, including:
- Better coordination: The fluid and dynamic nature of the clean & jerk engages a wealth of muscle groups and systems within the body, helping to improve general coordination in the process. Not only will this help you in your everyday life but it will also improve your performance in other sports and activities.
- Improved back & core stability: The kettlebell positioning and jerking motion, in particular, activate the core while strengthening the upper back, offering increased back and core stability over time. As a result, you will benefit from better posture while reducing your chances of injury.
- Complete conditioning: Conditioning: If you condition your joints and muscles well, you will reach your strength, health or fitness goals faster—you will also become stronger and more supple. As kettlebell clean & jerks involve a mix of big movements, performing them regularly will condition your body to the max.
- Better overhead & upper body strength: By building well-conditioned shoulder muscle and placing focus on the back, working the clean & jerk into your kettlebell routine will boost your upper body as well your overhead strength no end.
What muscle groups does the kettlebell clean & jerk work?
One of the greatest things about the kettlebell clean & jerk is that when it's performed well, it works vital muscle groups throughout the body, boosting strength in the legs, core, arms, upper back, and shoulders.
Here are the main muscle groups covered by the kettlebell clean & jerk:
- Anterior Chain (the hip flexors, abdominals, and quads)
- Upper Back, Traps, and Lats
- Shoulders & upper back
Kettlebell clean & jerk form tips
What to do
To help you get the kettlebell clean & jerk just right, here are some essential form tips that will guide you in the right direction:
- The starting position: After picking up the kettlebell carefully with your preferred hand, flex and bend your knees slightly (legs shoulder-width apart), keeping your shoulders squared and your back straight. Hold the kettlebell between your legs with your free hand by your side as if you’re about to start kettlebell swing.
- The big swing: Keeping your knees flexed, swing the kettlebell between your legs to gain momentum before pushing up into a standing position with your legs. Pull the kettlebell upwards and as you reach chest height, jerk it towards your shoulder, turning your wrist slightly so that your kettlebell rests on the side of your shoulder with your palm facing forward.
- The overhead press: With your kettlebell resting on your shoulder, keep the momentum going by bending into a half-squatting position, keeping your torso straight, before pushing up and pressing the kettlebell above your head with a fully extended arm.
- The reverse: Hold the kettlebell in position for a moment before dropping back down into the starting position in one controlled, fluid reverse movement. Repeat and alternate hands at your leisure.
What to avoid
If you want to prevent injury and reap the full body-boosting rewards of the kettlebell clean & jerk, here’s what to avoid:
- Don’t forget to turn the kettlebell so it rests in the side of your shoulder after the jerk. If you do forget, the kettlebell will bounce off the top of your shoulder or collar bone.
- Don’t jump straight into a kettlebell clean & jerk with little or no experience. If you’re new to kettlebells, make sure you master the basic kettlebell swing, squat, and overhead press first.
- Don’t force it. If you’re straining too much during the movement, you should reconsider your kettlebell weight, starting small and working your way up over time.
Related kettlebell clean & jerk exercises
Once you’ve mastered the kettlebell clean & jerk, here are three other exercises that you should try to maximise your kettlebell workout sessions:
Kettlebell Clean and Jerk video transcript
This is a video tutorial for the kettlebell clean and jerk.
In this instance it’s going to be a dead clean.
We’re going to dead clean the kettlebell up to the front rack position.
Once we’re here we’re going to do a push press: so, it’s a shallow dip, drive your body into the bell.
As the bell is moving, you’re going to drop into a low squat before you fix the bell overhead.
Once here, stand tall, reset to chest, reset to deadlift position.
Drive up, shallow dip, drive then drop, stand tall, and then back to chest.
Whole movement looks like.
Here, packing the shoulder.
Driving in, finding the front rack.
Now, shallow dip and drive and drop underneath the bell.
Shallow dip, drive, drop.
Make sure you stand tall before you bring the kettlebell down.
Here, reset, pack shoulder, drive up.
Dip, drive, drop.
Come to standing. Reset. Go again.
Pack the shoulder, drive up.
Dip, drive, drop.
Then fix overhead.
That is the video tutorial for the Kettlebell Dead Clean to Push Jerk