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The Most Important Kettlebell Plank

It probably took many people by surprise when we released our “Progressive Kettlebell Movement: Unlocking the Clean” program yesterday (you can read about it HERE). Partly because I think the kettlebell clean is kinda a dirty secret in fitness.

What do I mean?

Most people don’t want to admit they have a hard time performing kettlebell cleans because how in the world can it be more sophisticated than the barbell? I mean, you could win a gold medal in the Olympic by cleaning a barbell well enough right?!

I’ve heard the very best coaches in the industry say that basically the kettlebell clean terrified them. Sad, because not only is the kettlebell clean highly accessible, but has so many incredible benefits as well.

For one, we have way more ways to manipulate the kettlebell clean than the barbell. Using two independent moving weights by itself gives the kettlebell clean very unique, that is one reason I love using it as a compliment with our Ultimate Sandbag cleans that offer instability in a different way.

Jessica shows how learning the kettlebell clean can give us an opportunity to really explore the full potential of kettlebells. 


The point really is that a kettlebell clean has variations that allows us to build the little talked about, but SUPER important, reactive strength. I want to talk about this in a context that most everyone should be able to relate to, the plank.

We often think of the plank as the pillar of core training exercises. First, is the plank good? Yes, it teaches us to brace our trunk and create tension. However, LIVING off the plank is limiting because in life we don’t have constant tension and bracing, but rather a balance of relaxation and tension.

Think about trying to walk down the street while planking. You are more likely to look like Frankenstein than anything we would consider “functional”. Walking and anything athletic (running, jumping, crawling, climbing, punching, kicking, etc.) requires us to brace and create tension at the RIGHT time.

That is why the kettlebell clean was a big part of my low back rehab after my surgeries. Okay, I wasn’t doing them day one, but they were a good indicator how my core stability and strength were doing, especially when it came to lowering the weight and catching it with a quick “relaxation and tension” combination.

Even renowned spinal expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, talks about true real world core strength and stability being about a “pulse” rather than just holding tension for minutes, or hours on end.

“For many the instruction to relax to obtain top speed seems counterintuitive. But this becomes instantly apparent hitting a golf ball. Try and hit hard using muscle and the ball never goes far. This is because muscle stiffness slows the motion down. The great long ball hitters relax through the swing gaining top speed but rapidly contract at ball contact to create a stiffness that is transferred to the club and ball. This is the “pulse”. Then the musculature instantly relaxed to maintain speed of follow through.”

One of the many benefits of the kettlebell clean is using this “pulse” in many different environments, not just up and down with a stable base. That is what we were showing in our new PKM Clean Program, wasn’t just “how to clean a kettlebell”, but rather teaching the foundations of good functional movement and how to progress them properly. Sadly, even many of the kettlebell organizations look at the kettlebell clean in a very finite way, but honestly, there is a BIG world in how to challenge our core stability, strength, power, and reactive ability.

Watch these videos and learn how the kettlebell clean is a much stronger tool than most ever believe. In fact, it might be the most important form of planking you can teach, learn, and benefit from!

Check out our NEW PKM: Unlocking The Kettlebell Clean course and FIVE of our top selling PKM kettlebell programs HERE and save 20% for a limited time with coupon code “power”

kettlebell clean