The Right Way To Hold A Kettlebell
Kettlebells are a powerful training tool, but there’s one major downside to them: the lack of understanding for how to use them correctly. But I guess that’s not really the bells’ fault.
Just the simple task of picking up and putting down the kettlebell properly takes practice. I know it sounds trivial, but it’s a mistake that a lot of people make, and it can quickly lead to injury if you’re not careful.
So I want to tackle how to handle your bells today. Literally – how to grip and hold them properly.
The Rack Position
A solid rack position is the essential foundation, and starting point, of a handful of fundamental kettlebell movements – cleans, presses, front squats and rack carries.
So it’s not hard to understand why it’s pretty imperative that you spend some time ensuring your rack position, and overall form, is strong, safe and effective so that you can reap ALL the amazing benefits of kettlebell work.
How To Grip:
Before even getting the bell into the rack position, we need to start with how to hold it in our hand. It’s easy to want to grab the kettlebell smack in the middle of the handle, just as with a dumbbell. Instead, grab it in the corner of the handle. This will put the bell on a diagonal angle across your hand, which makes it much easier to get into a very good rack position. It also makes for smoother transitions of the bell when doing cleans and snatches, which entail the bell moving in the palm before the “catch”.
How To Rack
First things first, in the rack position your entire body should be engaged from your shoulders down – glutes are squeezed, abs are tight with ribs pulled down, kneecaps are pulled up.
No wet noodles – get everything tight, tense and locked down.
- The top of your fist should be in line with your collarbone
- Keep your pinky facing away from you and your wrist straight
- Hug your elbow tightly into your ribs and pull down slightly to engage your lats
- Your forearm should be fairly vertical
The handle of the kettlebell should be sitting low in your palm and the bell should be resting between the “V” of your arm.
Sweet, you’re racked and ready!
Your wrist shouldn’t bend. You wouldn’t punch someone (er, something) with a bent wrist, right? Right. Because you lose power through that bend. Think of your arm as a solid pipe from your elbow to your fingertips that cannot bend.
If you struggle to keep your wrists straight, try performing push up position planks on your fists to build up the wrist strength:
No chicken wings allowed. Keep your elbow tightened to your side. This is going to engage your lat muscles which are going to help you get stronger and prevent injury (while building a pretty svelte upper back).
Think about squeezing a piece of paper in your arm pit. Get everything so tight that if someone were to try and pull your elbow away from your body, they wouldn’t be able to.
Make sure you are not resting the kettlebell on your chest – ladies especially! Besides being poor form, too much pressure on our lady lumps can cause tissue damage. Remember to keep your forearm as vertical as possible.
How To Exit The Rack Position
We have two options for getting the bell back to earth from our rack. If you only have a single kettlebell racked, you can grab it with your empty hand and carefully set it down using both hands.
Another option is to “spill” the kettlebell forward, letting it drop and hiking it back like you do in a swing, to absorb the weight with your hips before gently putting it down, like this:
How To Strengthen Your Rack
Rack carries are a fantastic tool to groove a good rack position. Simply get the bell into place and take a stroll with it. 20-40yds per side is pretty sufficient, or I suggest doing rack holds for time.
Remember to grip the bell tight and keep your core engaged.
If you’re looking for a quick and invigorating metabolic kettlebell workout to burn fat, get strong and have a blast try this one!
As an RKC instructor, teaching proper technique and form for safety is my first priority. Safe movements become strong movements, and learning proper technique (for any equipment) is a foolproof way to ensure you get the most out of your training program and remain injury free.
If you’re looking for more guidance with your exercise technique and workouts, reach out! Erika@HurstStrength.com