Kettlebell Dead Clean and Press
by Sam Franklin
How to Master The Kettlebell Dead Clean & Press: The Fullbody Powerhouse
As explosive kettlebell exercises go, the kettlebell dead clean & press is one of the biggest and the best.
Offering all of the body-boosting benefits of the Olympic weightlifting clean & press but commanding less technical effort, mastering the kettlebell clean will supercharge your weekly workouts no end.
While it may not be quite as demanding as the classic weightlifting clean, getting the movement right is essential to your strength training progress—and your safety.
To help you get to grips with this most coveted of exercises, let’s take a look at the kettlebell clean in all of its dynamic body sculpting glory.
How to do a kettlebell dead clean and press: video tutorial
Before we dive into the benefits of kettlebell dead clean and press, 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.
The body-boosting benefits of the kettlebell clean & press
Without a shadow of a doubt, the kettlebell dead clean & press is a fierce all-rounder, boasting a wealth of strength and fitness perks to those willing to master the movement. Here are the main body-boosting benefits of the kettlebell clean & press:
- Conditioning: By conditioning your joints and muscles effectively, you will reach your strength or fitness goals quicker—you will also be more supple and less prone to injury. A kettlebell exercise that covers pulling, squatting, and pressing, performing cleans regularly will condition your body (from head to toe) to the max.
- Overhead stability & strength: By pressing upwards above the head, the kettlebell clean & press is one of the most effective exercises for overhead strength and stability. By performing this movement regularly, you will boost your upper body strength, tone, and stability significantly, optimising your overall fitness and performance in the process.
- Power: The lower section of the kettlebell clean & press process helps to stabilise the hips while drilling down deep into all of the key lower body muscle groups. As a result, the kettlebell clean will improve your ability to generate power from your hips while making your legs significantly stronger. Power and stability in one neat package.
What muscle groups does the kettlebell dead clean & press work?
As one of the world's most mighty kettlebell movements, the dead clean & press works every major muscle group in the body to some extent. Here are just some of the areas regular kettlebell cleans benefit:
- Quads: As pivotal extensors of the knee joints, the quads are essential to core leg strength, stamina, and durability. Giving this muscle group a regular workout will boost your performance in a host of other sports and activities while enhancing your general fitness levels.
- Hamstrings: A leg muscle group that boosts lower body health and suppleness, working on your hamstrings is vital if you want to become resilient and robust (and remain that way).
- Core: Your core is basically the beating heart of your overall strength and fitness. The kettlebell clean is excellent for your core and weaving it into your regular fitness regime will work wonders.
- Deltoids: As one of the most crucial shoulder muscles there is, boosting your deltoid health is essential if you want to improve your overall upper body form and strength.
- Rhomboids: Your rhomboids are responsible for supporting your back and promoting good posture. Looking after your rhomboids will reduce the possibility of back pain while significantly enhancing your posture, strength, and durability.
Kettlebell clean & press form tips
Mastering the kettlebell dead clean & press is no easy feat but these essential form tips will guide you in the right direction.
- Starting position: Kick things off with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing forward. Drive your feet into the floor and tense your lower body to provide yourself with plenty of leverage to perform the movement.
- The pull: Push your chest out, drive your hips forward, and pull the kettlebell up with one or both hands (depending on whether you’re doing a single or double-handed clean), keeping your arms and back straight as it rises in height.
- The push: Once you’ve pulled the kettlebell up above shoulder height, push it, with an extended arm, above your head using an uppercut movement, naturally getting into an upright position. As you push the kettlebell to full extension, rotate your head so the kettlebell is resting on the back of your hand.
- The reverse motion: Once you’ve reached full extension, rotate the kettlebell back round to the front of your hand as you come back down in a swift, smooth movement, bending your knees and keeping your arm, back, and pelvis straight. And, repeat!
What to avoid
The kettlebell dead clean & press is a big movement that you must approach with care. To avoid injuring yourself, here’s what not to do.
- Don’t overexert or bend your arms when performing a kettlebell clean & press. This isn’t an arm exercise, as such, so pulling or pushing from your biceps will only serve to dilute your cleans’ effectiveness or hurt yourself.
- Don’t throw yourself straight into a kettlebell clean & press. If you’re new to kettlebell exercises, make sure you master simpler exercises likes swings, deadlifts, and squats first.
- Don’t force it too much. If you’re straining to complete the movement, you should probably reconsider your kettlebell weight or come back to it once you’ve gained a little more kettlebell experience.
Related kettlebell dead clean & press exercises
To maximise your kettlebell workout sessions and complement the power of your kettlebell dead clean & press efforts, here are some related exercises you should weave into your routine:
- Kettlebell clean
- Kettlebell clean & jerk
- Kettlebell thruster