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Kettlebell Exercise: Clean

Master This Move: The One-Arm Kettlebell Clean Exercise

Written by
September 7, 2014
Updated August 23, 2023

What Is The One-Arm Kettlebell Clean?

The one-arm kettlebell clean delivers many of the same benefits of the Olympic weightlifting clean, but is less technically demanding. It builds full-body explosiveness and power by training simultaneous extension of the hips and knees, which is a common movement required in every power sport. As a result, the one-arm kettlebell clean can enhance vertical jumping ability.

Because you work one side at a time, the one-arm kettlebell clean trains you to resist rotation at the torso, which makes it an excellent core strength exercise. As with all kettlebell movements, it will build grip strength as well.

The one-arm clean can serve as a transition point after you’ve mastered a simpler move like the kettlebell swing and before you take on advanced lifts such as the kettlebell rotational clean and kettlebell rotational clean to bent press.

How To Do The One-Arm Kettlebell Clean

Step 1: Place a kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Stand with your feet straight and shoulder-width apart. Now actively screw them into the floor so you feel your hips and glutes fire up—imagine twisting up turf beneath your feet, or using them to spread a bunched-up carpet apart. Your feet shouldn’t move but your lower body should become tense.

Step 2: Draw your shoulder blades back together and down—think: “proud chest.” Push your hips back, as if trying to touch your butt to the wall behind you (hinge your hips). Keep bending until you can grasp the kettlebell in your right hand. Your head, spine, and pelvis should form a straight line as you descend. Allow your knees to bend as needed. Your shoulders should be square to the floor.

Step 3: Brace your core, and hike the bell like a football with one hand between your legs while maintaining core tension and a straight back. Squeeze your glutes and abs and reverse the hinging motion, keeping your right arm straight as you extend your hips and swing your free arm forward.

Step 4: As you transition back into an upright stance, harness the momentum of the swing and make an uppercut motion with your right arm while keeping the kettlebell close to your body.

Step 5: Allow the kettlebell to rotate to the outside of your wrist and halt its upward movement at collarbone height to finish in the front rack position (forearm close to vertical, kettlebell under your chin) as smoothly as possible. The kettlebell shouldn’t slam against your forearm.

Step 6:  Reverse the motion by unraveling the kettlebell around the forearm, straightening your arm, and hiking the bell between your legs quickly to begin the next rep. Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other.

Muscles Worked in the One-Arm Kettlebell Clean

– Quads


– Glutes

– Calves

– Shoulders

– Upper back

– Forearms

– Core

One-Arm Kettlebell Clean Benefits

– Improved total-body power

– Increased explosiveness

– Grip strength

– Enhanced vertical jump

– Core, shoulder, and posterior chain strength

How to Use the One-Arm Kettlebell Clean

– Due to the total-body nature of the one-arm kettlebell clean, it can suffice as a workout by itself. Go heavy for strength (say, five sets of five reps on each side), or test your conditioning by setting a timer for a few minutes and seeing how many reps you can do in that time.

– Use it to key up your central nervous system before a heavy workout. Two or three sets of 3–5 reps can help you better recruit musculature for a strength and power workout.

– The clean works as a jumping-off point for dozens of other kettlebell exercises. Bringing the weight from the floor to the rack position sets you up for overhead presses, squats, lunges, and so on. You may use the clean to begin a kettlebell flow, or as part of a total-body circuit.

One-Arm Kettlebell Clean Regression

If you have difficulty completing the clean without hurting your forearm, practice the half-kneeling, one-arm clean. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can progress to the half-kneeling dead start, and then move on to the standing dead start, followed by the assisted clean, and finally the full one-arm kettlebell clean. You can find this entire sequence HERE.

One-Arm Kettlebell Clean Progression

When you’ve got the one-arm kettlebell clean down, try advancing to the one-arm kettlebell clean and press, and the two-arm kettlebell clean. You can also increase the core stability demands by trying the kettlebell rotational clean and then the kettlebell rotational clean to bent press (see the video HERE for both exercises).

Sample Workouts

See how to combine the one-arm kettlebell clean with various other exercises in these workouts.

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