Get Specific With Your Cleans

In this article I like to bring up the ambiguity of exercise naming in general, not just that of the clean.

Kettlebell Clean

Kettlebell Clean


At the beginning of my Kettlebell journey I trained with several different trainers over time and often I’d find myself thinking “this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, that’s not a kettlebell clean”. But I’d soon find out that what they demonstrated was indeed a type of clean, the fact is that there are many different types of Kettlebell Cleans and they just were not specific with the TYPE of clean they were demonstrating. They would call a Hang Clean, Dead Clean, Swing Clean all “Clean”, leaving out the type of clean it actually was.

If you’re just starting out and are training with several trainers you might find yourself in the same position and thinking to yourself “but Trainer A taught me the Kettlebell clean this way and I trust trainer A more than Trainer B, Trainer B must not know what he’s doing”, but it’s not that they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s the fact they’re not specific with the naming.

Another great example is the confusion in the CrossFit community when it comes to pull-ups, there are different variations of them and they’re not referred to by their proper name (type), i.e. kipping pull-ups, strict/deadhang pull-ups, chin-ups, butterfly pull-ups etc. this leads to negative feedback and people given it a bad name. However, if everyone started referring to exercises more specific, there would be a lot less complaining and confusion all round.


And then there are probably some trainers out there who simply don’t know the different kettlebell cleans available and believe what they know is THE kettlebell clean. The fact is, there are many, to name a few;

  • assisted clean
  • swing clean (single arm)
  • swing clean (double arm)
  • dead swing clean (single arm)
  • dead swing clean (double arm)
  • dead clean (single arm)
  • hang clean (single arm)


Following are some videos I made about the Kettlebell Clean, please feel free to post your comments below, including any constructive feedback. I hope they help someone, if they do, I appreciate to hear about it.

Kettlebell Clean Variations


Kettlebell Clean in Details


Following is an example of a reference made to the clean as “Kettlebell Basics – One Arm Kettlebell Clean” in the title and “Hang clean” in the video. The clean is actually a Dead Clean, the bell is dead on the ground and not hanging. No disrespect intended to the author who has great form and donates his time to help people by posting videos, all I’m saying is that trainers would be better of getting to know the different types of cleans and refer to them accordingly.


An example of incorrect naming by a company most have high regard for

They refer to the Hang Clean as the Dead Clean, I left a comment to let them know but they deleted it. It’s a shame they don’t leave a note in the description or annotation in the video to let the users know that this is not a Dead Clean, as the Bell is hanging and never DEAD on the ground. The “Double Clean” in that same video I would have referred to as the “Double Bell Swing Clean”

Questions (your feedback below in the comments):

  • What are some other exercises you frequently see the same problem with?
  • What is your perspective on the above?
  • How do you think we can improve this area for everyone?
  • What do you do different when you teach a Clean?