Kettlebell Squat Clean
by Sam Franklin
How to Master the Kettlebell Squat Clean: The Iconic of Leg Exercises
The classic kettlebell squat clean is accessible, easy to master, and despite some of the newer, more flamboyant lower-body kettlebell exercises on the block, is still one of the best workouts for overall stability and leg strength.
While it’s certainly easy to get going and reap the rewards of kettlebell squats, to enjoy real results, getting it just right is essential.
This quickfire guide will show you how.
How to do a kettlebell squat clean: video tutorial
Before we dive into the benefits of kettlebell squat clean, 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 Squat Clean
Step 1: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Make sure you have learnt the Kettlebell Deadlift and Sumo Deadlift High Pull before attempting this exercise. The set up is the same. Start by lining up the malleolus, the ankle bones, with the horns of the bell.
Step 2: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Push the little fingers into the hip creases to chop and drop the hips and find the hip hinge position.
Step 3: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Now you are ready to put the hands on the bell. Roll the shoulder blades back and down.
Step 4: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Forcefully drive the floor away and stand up, bringing the kettlebell up towards the chest. As the kettlebell travels up the body it will become weightless. At this point move the hands down the side of the bell.
Step 5: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
As the kettlebell is weightless and you move your hands, immediately drop into a low squat.
Step 6: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Drive back up and stand tall. Bring the kettlebell back to the chest.
Step 7: The Kettlebell Squat Clean
Reset, moving the hands back to the top of the horns. Guide the kettlebell back down to the floor. Repeat. Pack the shoulders, High Pull. As the kettlebell is weightless drop into a low squat. Drive up and reset, guiding the kettlebell back down.
The body-boosting benefits of kettlebell squat cleans
A good kettlebell squat clean targets the legs, hips, and lower back for maximum lower body health. Here are the biggest body-boosting benefits of this most iconic of kettlebell exercises:
- Stability: As kettlebell squats are an excellent lower body allrounder, doing them regularly will strengthen your major leg muscles, pelvis, and back, making your body more stable in the process. Not only is this essential for your physical wellbeing but it will optimise your performance in other activities or sports.
- Strength training: As kettlebell squats drill down into the lower body and performing large sets (with practice) is more than possible, they will make an integral part of your strength training regime.
- Posture & conditioning: The classic squat is known to enhance general posture and muscle resilience. Fortifying the hips and lower back while conditioning the joints, and encouraging good posture, working the kettlebell squat into your workout is certainly advisable.
What muscle groups do kettlebell squat cleans work?
A powerful lower body strength booster, the kettlebell squat clean works a solid mix of essential muscle groups, including:
- Quads: A series of muscles responsible for much of your leg strength, function, and protection, looking after your quads will significantly enhance your leg strength while making you more resistant to injury.
- Calves: Located at the back of your lower legs, calves are essential for supporting the upper body while stabilising the ankles. Regular kettlebell squatting will help keep your calves strong and supple.
- Hips and pelvis: A pivotal part of your body’s core, your hips and pelvis provide all-important stability. Squatting will enhance your hip and pelvis strength while giving your abs a decent workout.
- Hamstrings: The leg muscles responsible for boosting your lower body’s robustness resilience, flexibility, and knee strength, working on your hamstrings will work wonders for you.
- Glutes: The buttock area muscles that if fit and strong, will make your body more extra agile.
Kettlebell squat cleans form tips
While it’s a relatively simple movement, getting your kettlebell squat clean form just right is important if you want to reap any real rewards. Here’s how.
- Foot placement: Place your feet roughly shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
- Kettlebell position: With bent knees and a straight back, pick up your kettlebell and grip it at the handle with both hands, standing back into position. Hold your kettlebell level to your chest.
- The drop: Squat or drop smoothly and with care, dipping down until your thighs are more or less parallel to the floor. Doing so will ensure you get the most value from every kettlebell squat you perform.
- The push: Push back up to your initial standing position with a straight back and your kettlebell still held up to your chest—and repeat.
What to avoid
Yes, the squat clean is amazing and it’s one of the more accessible kettlebell exercises out there—but, if you get it wrong, you will suffer the consequences. For maximum success and safety, here’s what to avoid:
- Don’t pick up or put down your kettlebell carelessly. Make sure that you handle your equipment with care, with bent knees and a straight back.
- Don’t bend so far into your squat that your knees protrude too far past your toes. Doing so will place unnecessary strain on your knees and won’t provide you with any additional benefits.
- Don’t arch your back or move kettlebell position during your squats. Ensure your movements are smooth, solid, and consistent.
- Don’t use poor equipment. Invest in the right kettlebells for the job and choose your size wisely, depending on your strength and experience.
Related kettlebell squat clean exercises
If you want to maximise your kettlebell workouts and complement your squatting efforts, these related exercises are a must-try:
Kettlebell Squat Clean video transcript
This is a video tutorial for kettlebell squat clean.
It already assumes that you’ve learnt the kettlebell deadlift and the sumo deadlift high pull. If you haven’t, go back and learn those.
Set up is the same and we start the same.
Malleolus lined up, that’s the ankle bone, lined up with the horn of the bell.
Little fingers chopping and dropping, finding that hip hinge position.
Ready to put hands on bell, squeezing shoulder blades back and down.
We’re going to forcefully drive the floor away.
Kettlebell becomes weightless, like the high pull, it’s travelling up the body.
As it’s weightless, and I’ve got the hips up, I’m going to drop into a low squat.
Stand tall to finish the rep.
Reset, find your hinge, guide kettlebell back to start position.
So, whole thing. Lining up ankle bones. Chop and drop the hips. Hands on bell, pack shoulder.
Explode up, drop underneath. Stand tall. Reset. Guide kettlebell back to start position.
Pack shoulder, High Pull. As it is weightless, dropping into a low squat. Driving up and standing tall.
Reset, guiding kettlebell.
Prime movers again are going to be hamstrings, glutes, erectors and abs. In the squat, we’re also going to be using the quadriceps more and also the chest and shoulders to hold that kettlebell up.
That is the video tutorial for Kettlebell Squat Clean.