Kettlebell Confusion

Kettlebells have grown in popularity in recent years and with this growth in popularity, there has been an increase in so called kettlebell experts.  Unfortunately, not all of these so called experts are truly competent in proper technique. With the internet, just about anyone can post a video or make an app.  Not only are these trainers performing the exercises wrong, which could cause someone to get injured, but they also try and sell this garbage for money.   That is why it’s important to find someone who is knowledgeable and certified in KB training.  Some of the certifications to look for are IKFF, RKC, and SFG.  There are different styles of KB training which include sport style (aka fluid style) or Hard Style and you’ll have to decide which one interests you most.  As far as learning the essential exercises and techniques, a certified coach in either style will be able to help.

Here are a few things I commonly see performed wrong in the gym and on the internet.

1) Keep your wrist neutral when holding the KB above your waist.  It’s going to be hard on your wrist if you try to grip it like a dumbell. Hold the KB diagonally across your palm so you can keep the wrist neutral instead of allowing the KB to bend it back.  The bell should be behind your hand, resting against the back of your forearm.  In a recent KB workout I came across on the internet, the trainer was holding the KB with the bell in front of their hand.  This is not a secure grip, especially when they are waving it above their head with atrocious form.  A good starting point is learning how to hold it right.  It will not only keep you safe but you will actually look like you know what you’re doing.

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2) KB Swings should be performed using a hip hinge instead of a squatting pattern.  It’s important to learn to how to do a good KB swing because it’s a starting movement to a lot of other exercises.  Think of it as your base.

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3) Keep the elbow close to the body when performing a KB clean.  If you create a big swing and let the elbow get away from your body, you will have less control over the KB.  This could be one of two reasons why the KB slams into your forearm.

4) Rotate the hand during the KB clean so the KB moves around your forearm instead of rotating over the top and smashing into it. One way to prevent the KB from slamming your wrist is to have the thumb pointing back during the starting position of the exercise and pointing towards your shoulder at the end. There is also another way to limit the force in which the KB comes in contact with forearm.  Steve Cotter, President of the International Kettlebell  and Fitness Federation (IKFF), recommends reaching your hand inside the KB as it rotates during the exercise as if you were sliding your hand into a glove.

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5) The final one I see a lot of are poorly performed turkish get-ups.  The turkish get-up is not a crunch or sit-up followed by a disorganized scramble to a standing position.  It’s a series of distinct positions that flow from one to the other.  I have seen so many poor demonstrations of this exercise on the internet.  It’s unfortunate because it’s a great exercise to build whole body strength. If you follow some of the internet demonstrations, about the only thing you’ll gain from the exercise is a sore back.

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Contact an expert in Kettlebells so you can learn proper form from the start.  I have confidence in teaching the basic KB movements but for those that want more advanced instruction, Nic Goebeler IKFF Certified, is a good resource in Southern Oregon.  It is worth your time and money to get good instruction. KB’s can be complicated but proper instruction will eliminate the common mistakes and I think you will find it to be a great addition to your training.