Kettlebell Cleans - Training for rock climbing

 Cameron Apple, Smith Rock. Photo by Nicole Wasko, @nicole_wasko

Cameron Apple, Smith Rock. Photo by Nicole Wasko, @nicole_wasko

Hello Portland rock climbing community! Did you have a chance to check out our last post on kettlebell swings? If you haven't had a chance you should give it a quick once over and then come back to this post. This week I'm hanging out with my friend and training partner Cameron again and we're adding another kettlebell exercise that you might be interested in adding to your post climbing workout routine.

I spend a lot of time training and climbing with my friends Missy, Steven, and Cameron. We mostly train at Stoneworks but occasionally visit other gyms in the Portland metro area and when it comes time to climb outside, we're all over the place from Smith Rock to Mexico and everything in between. Because we're all pretty busy, we spend a lot of time training to be in general good shape so we can climb our best whenever spare time is available or when the season is best for climbing at our favorite spots.

Whenever we train, we walk a fine line between progress and injury prevention. All physical activity has the potential for injury and no method out there can prevent injuries 100% but through persistence, modifications, trial and error, we've come to develop some pretty awesome training programs for ourselves. A crucial part of the training is what we do off the wall, where we take care to exercise the rest of our body in a way that will keep us healthy, balanced, and more resistant to injury. One of the ways we've kept the cross-training fun and effective is with kettlebell exercises. Cameron puts together our post climbing and core workouts and often includes a few kettlebell exercises or adds them into exercises we are already doing to increase the intensity.

Kettlebells are widely known to help build raw strength and power but did you know that they can also help you prevent climbing injuries? Connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia, and cartilage) can be strengthened through lifting exercises like the ones we practice with kettlebells. Strong connective tissue allows for more flexibility and easier transmission of force making our movements stronger and our bodies more resistant to injury!

 Cannon balls ready to fire. We often workout right next to the retail shop after our climbing workouts.

Cannon balls ready to fire. We often workout right next to the retail shop after our climbing workouts.

This week we are covering the kettlebell clean. This exercise builds on the swing technique from last week and works as a great segue for other exercises to build a continuous butt-kicking routine. The end-position of the clean is what is known as the "racked" position. By combining the beginning part of the swing with the transition to the racked position, you can potentially lift a heavier weight than if you just tried to curl it like a standard dumbbell. From the racked position, you can then perform a variety of other exercises like weighted squats, presses, or carries just to name a few. The clean also requires you to coordinate and balance several parts of your body simultaneously to correctly complete the technique. Check out some of Cameron's other exercises on the AntiGravity Equipment YouTube channel for more ideas on combinations. 

Below is a video of Cam and I hanging out at the shop trying our hand yet again at filming a tutorial video. It's way more difficult than I had anticipated but we had a fun time putting this thing together. We'll have a follow up video with all our outtakes for you to laugh at later in the month. Without further delay check out our video on the kettlebell clean. If you live and climb in the Portland area, drop by AntiGravity Equipment and say hello!

  • Start with the same motion as the swing. Make your movement hip driven.
  • About Half way through, use the upward momentum to let the handle of the kettlebell swing back into the racked position.
  • With practice, the kettlebell should land softly in the outside of the crook of your elbow.
  • Take care to keep your wrist straight. The closed part of your first should be more or less touching/facing your chest.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave us feedback in the comments section. Music for this episode was produced by Joey Ramz from Cold Lampin.