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The Best Kettlebell Exercise You Aren’t Using

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Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Co-creator DVRT Restoration, Pelvic Control, & Shoulder Courses)

The other day there was a comment on the good old gram regarding a kettlebell movement that I had shared. Getting odd comments is nothing new, people make comments all the time, especially on things that might be new or things one might not completely understand.

It seems to be a trend now, when people see something they don’t understand they default to, “that’s stupid” or “ that doesn’t do anything”. Seeing such an attitude by many is actually sad. I was able to grow up in a time when if you didn’t know something, or if something looked different or unfamiliar, you simply asked the question, “what does that do?” or “how does that work?” Asking questions is how one learns, it opens up dialogue, and its awful to see that lost.

So what was the comment?

“I can’t think of one single instance where this might be an appropriate, or even slightly effective exercise.” ~instagram commenter

Now you are probably asking what was the movement???

It was a series of drop step lunges to kettlebell cleans.

Sounds harmless right? Well, the last progression was a tactical lunge to clean…that was where this guy lost it. Now I always try and put myself in someones shoes or try and see what they see, but for me, I didn’t think in a million years someone would think a tactical lunge clean would so out of this world or “not effective” to put in his words.

This is what lead me to write this blog…maybe there are some that don’t really understand what is going on with these particular kettlebell movements or even why someone would want to perform them. Sure, there are plenty of kettlebell movements out there that I can’t figure out for the life of me, but I ask questions. Is there something there? Are they effective? What is the point of them? Well let’s break down why this kettlebell clean is actually really important.

We have talked a lot about lunges here at DVRT the importance, but lets review just a tiny bit.

It is important to note that we don’t base our love of lunges off our endearing enjoyment of them, but rather a lot of science!  Such as this research that examined female college volleyball players to see which lower body exercise stimulated the most muscles of the lower body. Probably not too shocking it came down to lunges and squats. What WAS surprising was how much more the lunges impacted muscles like the glutes so much more than squats. Especially when you realize It was a body weight lunge versus loaded squats!

“By training the athletes in the body weight lunge, they can obtain the same results of that of squat to 90 ̊ training. The lunge allows the athlete to be in a more sport functional position. From the basic lunge position of the knees flexed to 90 ̊ we can begin to train explosive recovery moves, which would transfer over to competition. Ideally, athletes should be training their kinetic chain fluidly and dynamically; the more dynamic the activity the more fluid the athlete’s movement and posture will be in competition. As a coach, personal trainer or athletic trainer, we should begin to worry when movement gets ridged because of the susceptibility to injury.”

Lunging is one of our primal movement patterns so we should be incorporating this movement into our regular fitness as well as rehab, heck we have an entire L.I.F.T. module just on lunging for this reason!

Now that I have you sold on the importance of lunging, maybe I don’t but lets say I do.

Lets add in the kettlebell clean to a drop step lunge…why? Why would I add that?

The clean is going to have me challenge the movement, the movement in this case being the drop step lunge the addition of the clean will teach properties of acceleration as well as deceleration of the weight.

And guess what?! There is actually an article that was published on this very exercise!

Josh and I were actually able to be apart of this article along with Craig Liebenson,  The Kettlebell Lunge Clean Exercise published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Pretty cool if I do say so myself.


So what did that article say? Well, from the abstract: “Functional movements are designed to look at how our body functions in different environments. Power is often performed in the vertical plane and very stable positions of the body. Both life and sport require a great deal more complexity of movement with direction and deceleration playing key roles. The Kettlebell Lunge Clean (KLC) exercise is a safe and powerful exercise to teach these qualities and progress the power development and force absorption capabilities of the individual.”

So basically we are just looking at a more functional movement and how to challenge that movement.

Hopefully by now you are seeing this is an effective exercise, so why would the instagrammer get so huffy puffy?

It’s when I added the tactical lunge part to the movement… so what does this add to the kettlebell lunge clean? It adds in more of that multiplanar movement, it challenges the movement even more. Passing the kettlebell through the legs it going to really challenge your lateral stability, now don’t get me wrong this is progression of the kettlebell lunge clean, its a much more dynamic movement patter but still has value. Check out how such a kettlebell series is much SAFER than some kettlebell drills people are promoting!

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