Explosive lifts such as the barbell power clean and the kettlebell swing should happen fast. Why else would they be called “explosive?” Creeping slowly through the lift, muscling the weight, and being overly cautious won’t work. You must create great momentum to swing and clean correctly. Cleans and swings SHOULD NOT be rushed though. Both lifts require sound technique which means moving the right way at the right time. If you’re impatient and you rush these lifts then the results will be less than optimal. You must be patient.
the barbell clean
A successful barbell power clean requires moving upward explosively then moving quickly underneath the bar to catch it. Recently a client was impatient to get under the bar. Her technique wasn’t terrible but clearly something was off. We went through the lift in super-slow motion without a bar. I coached her to be patient at the apex of the lift and spend an exaggerated amount of time up there before dropping under the bar. It instantly improved her clean. I saw it and she felt it.
the kettlebell swing
With the kettlebell swing, I see people rushing at both at the top and the bottom of the lift. They cut off the arc of the swing and try to force the bell up or down. My coaching strategy is this:
- On the upswing: Be patient. Stand tall. Allow the bell to rise and float at the top.
- On the downswing: Be patient. Relax and go with the momentum of the bell, allowing it to swing where it wants to go.
In both examples, the client’s technique is wrong but it feels normal. Thus, the correct technique should actually strange. It should actually feel exaggerated. The client should feel like he or she is spending too much time at the top of the clean or at the top and bottom of the swing.
Getting fit, strong, and healthy takes time. It never happens as fast as you want. Patience and persistence aren’t exciting words. Those concepts don’t spark fads or sell books. Brad Stulberg offers this pertinent take:
Lasting change almost always happens incrementally and over time—the result of repeated bouts of consistent effort. Don’t get fooled by radical, overnight success stories. Most people who go for broke end up broke. It’s just that those stories don’t get told.— Brad Stulberg (@BStulberg) January 8, 2020