Build Rotational Power With These 5 Clean Variations!


The kettlebell clean should be a staple in your training for a variety of reasons. From building strength and power through your entire body to being the link between lower to upper body exercises with a kettlebell there’s a lot that can be done with this movement. There are a couple of issues I see with the clean. The first is a lack of technique which puts the user and his or her client in potential danger. The second is a lack of variety. 

When it comes to general fitness there should be a blend of progress and variety. This keeps things fresh and enjoyable, but still offers results. If the variables you add assist in overall progress then it’s a win. If they distract you and keep you spinning your wheels then that’s no bueno. I’m not a minimalist where you should only do one or two things, but I am a proponent of getting less with more. 

With the kettlebell doing the same thing day in day out will build strength and power, but at what cost? If you’re the type of person that can do that and thrives on that then more power to you. If you’re in need of some fun then keep reading.


The clean is an incredible movement that builds power output, works your entire back side, shoulders, and grip. It’s a great exercise on its own, but truly thrives when it connects the dots between the ground, lower body exercises and overhead movements.  

Let’s address technique first. The two main issues that occur with the clean is the slamming on the forearm from too much juice on the pull and too much of an arm pump. Slamming of the forearm and excessive upper arm tension are a result of too tight a grip on the handle. As soon as you ease up on that and realize the kettlebell should move freely within the hand most issues seem to be resolved. 

The blend of hinging and pulling make for a complex movement that requires a powerful hip drive, tension, quick pull, and rotation to allow for the bell to sit nicely between the forearm and upper arm. Take a look at this side angle. Notice how tight the bell stays to my body on the way up? The quick movement of my arm allows me to find the position for the kettlebell rather than allowing the bell to slam on my arm all willy nilly.

Once the clean can be done properly adding in rotation is a great way to build full body strength and power. The reason cleans are my favorite movement to perform rotation with is because of the natural pause of the rack position. This allows you to stop, reset, and then perform another rep with full intention or when you’re capable you can make the pause short and bust out as many reps as you want for some endurance work. 

Here are 5 of my favorite rotational cleans that will build rotational power! 

  • Two Hand Rotational Clean 

This is the first progression that will allow you to understand the path of the bell. The mechanics remain the same as with a typical clean, but now we’re adding in a lower body component through a pivot. This creates even more power. With two hands you have a “training wheel” so to speak that will allow for a smooth transition without the forearm bruises



  • Deadstart Rotational Clean

With this progression you’ll be using one hand and adding in a bigger hinge. Combined with the pivot you can create a lot of power with this movement. This is my go to for beginners to kettlebells that already have a good base of strength and decent awareness. You want to maintain the same tension and position as you would with a deadstart clean, but now you’ll be changing the trajectory of the bell. 

  • Rotational Clean 

This progression is where things start to get a little more fluid. Starting in the rack position you’ll be letting the bell rotate while pivoting and rotating your entire body as smoothly as you can. The bell will land gently back in the rack position. The key here is to avoid any hitches on the drop or pendulum of the movement. As soon as you release the bell your elbow should straighten quickly while you rotate to allow for jerk-free descent and easy pull. 

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  • Low Rotational Clean

With the low rotational clean you’ll be performing a hinge between each rep. Because the bell will be crossing your body as you reach down there’s more of a margin for error so make sure you have the regressions down. The hinge and rotate will challenge your hips and knees as they'll want to move around a lot. Stay fairly rigid as you practice this and then loosen up slightly as you get better. You can catch the bell facing squarely again, but I prefer adding a full rotation to get the most from the movement. 

  • 360 Alternating Rotational  

This is one of my favorite progressions that came from a free flow. The transition between the pull from one arm that gets finished by the second arm creates an element of hand-eye coordination, balance and awareness. Linking both sides to each other becomes challenging to your overall structure as you need to blend fluidity and tension quickly. If you’re too tense you won’t move very fluidly. If you’re too loose you won’t be using any kind of weight.

Give these a try and see where they can fit into your current plan. These aren’t meant for maximal loads so if you’re working low rep clean and presses stick to traditional ones. If you’re on a free flow day or adding in some different variations and complexes they become a welcome addition. 


Want to get a library of movements like this plus daily kettlebell programs? View our memberships. Additionally, all media you see on our blog also comes with a longer 5-15 minute video discussion of the topic at hand and access to interviews we do!

View here: 



Marcus Martinez

Master Kettlebell Coach



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