The gorilla clean is a really powerful shoulder and posterior chain strengthener performed with 2 kettlebells. Your whole body will know it’s been worked hard the day after you complete a few sets. This exercise is great for building strength and conditioning. However, correct breathing is one aspect given little focus if any by many instructors and this is one of the most important skills to master.

Exercise Steps

1: Clean one kettlebell and pick up the other with a straight arm.

2: Dip slightly and clean the kettlebell whilst lowering the racked kettlebell simultaneously.

3: Dip again and repeat the motion for as long as you want

Safety: Keep a straight back and tight core and glutes throughout the exercise. Timing is key. Get into a rhythm with the exercise.

TIP: as with all kettlebell excercises, it is important to breath correctly and this may not come naturally to most people performing Kettlebell Gorillas for the first time. I find 80% of students get it wrong. It is easy to teach people to breath during the Kettlebell Swing, releasing breath to the end of the upswing and breathing in before the end of the down. Plenty of time, Up/Breathe Out… Down/Breathe IN. Simple.
With the gorilla clean this isn’t quite so easy. For a start while one kettlebell is on the Up, the other is on the Down so the breathing needs to be synchronised accordingly. There is a shorter time to exhale than inhale so the outbreath is more powerful. I used to waste time teaching the breathing this way but found it took too long for students to do correctly. Their mind struggled to get their breath to keep pace with the dynamic clean and concurrent drop of 2 hands. It was almost like the breath was a third element to think about. And, like juggling, most people didn’t pick it up straight away.

So how to learn the easy way.

1. Learn the moves first with lighter weights focusing purely on mechanics of movement and tension.

2. Introduce the breathing. Synchronise the breath solely with your leg movements. Breathe In when your legs dip down and breathe Out when they straighten up.

This simplifies the breath focus on the out breath, powering the legs straight – avoiding the need to confuse what each hand is doing.


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