4 Benefits of the Kettlebell Clean and Jerk

While many athletes and coaches are familiar with the barbell clean and jerk, only a select few train the kettlebell clean and jerk variation. The kettlebell variation offers us many unique benefits that the barbell cannot (however, the barbell will reign supreme maximal power production is the key).

Therefore, in this article we will discuss the kettlebell clean and jerk, and the unique benefits you can expect by performing them.

Why Do Clean and Jerks?

Clean and jerks are a compound movement that involves the entire body moving through an explosive and dynamic environment. The clean itself is a powerful posterior chain exercise that can promote powerful hip extension which is essential for most athletic movements (sprinting, jumping, tackling, and even rotation work). The jerk itself also has a higher correlation to power production, specifically relating to sprinting and vertical jumping abilities. The clean and jerk also is a premier movement to train the human body to be powerful, strong, and move with great coordination.

Why Use Kettlebells?

While the barbell is often the chosen modality to perform the clean and jerk, athletes and coaches can train with other equipment, such as kettlebell to bring about some more specific adaptations. Below are a few additional benefits of the clean and Jerk when done with Kettlebells (as opposed to the barbell).

1. Increased Unilateral Coordination

Kettlebell training by default is a great way to train the body unilaterally, even when using both hands (one per each bell). The kettlebells themselves are independent from one another, and can promote neurological adaptation and coordination due to the increased demands placed upon two independent moving objects.

2. Conditioning and Work Capacity Training

While the barbell can also be used for conditioning purposes, kettlebells can offer an athlete some unique benefits that can improve work capacity and endurance. Due the the bells being supported in the hand and rack on the shoulders, the bells themselves can be cycled and re-gripped (I personally feel easier than a barbell). The ability to cycle the loaded kettlebells, rack them, and reload them can result in some very long sets and time under tension, perfect for endurance and work capacity training.

3. Upper Back and Core Stabilization

Kettlebell racking positioning requires a strong and stable upper back and scapulae. The necessity to pack the shoulder blades, brace the abdominals, and prepare for receiving cleans is even more so than a fixed barbell.

4. Increased Overhead Stabilization

Overhead kettlebell movements require a high degree of shoulder stabilization, external rotation and control, and awareness. The increased unilateral demand placed upon the shoulders and the upper back can have a higher transfer over to fixed barbell movements and lifts.

Want More Kettlebell?

Check out our top kettlebell training articles and tips below!

Featured Image: @moisesriffo on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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