Hard Learnt Kettlebell Lessons

Hard Learnt Kettlebell Lessons

I bought my first Kettlebells back in 2001; obviously I knew what to do as I’d read some articles and bought a couple of books by Pavel Tsatsouline.


Despite knowing it all I decided to go to a seminar put on by Mike Mahler, who at that time was one of Pavel’s main RKC trainers. His seminar was useful but there were a couple of things which still bothered me, along with my amazingly bruised forearms. Bill Kazmier had nothing on me, well for a day or two anyway.


Get to the point I hear you all cry – Well all the reminiscing got me thinking; what were those hard learnt lessons I suffered which means that you don’t have to suffer as I did


  • To avoid smashing the hell out of your forearms when performing a Snatch punch your hand through the ‘bell as it approaches the 11 o’clock position. Don’t let the ‘bell flip over and smash into your forearm on every rep.My bruised forearms were partly my fault as I refused to use less than a 25kg ‘bell unless I really had to; so don’t be a meathead and start light.
  • To avoid smashing the hell out of your forearms on the Clean spin the ‘bell around your arm as opposed to once again, as with the Snatch, going over the top. This is pretty obvious but just in case – if you’re using your right hand spin the Kb to the right.
  • Perform the Swing by projecting the Kb forward as opposed to up. I also prefer the “Pull Through” or hips back Swing as opposed to the Squatting Swing.The two hand Swing is great, especially for beginners but the one hand Swing is a superior movement because of the diagonal stress imposed on the body.
  • Be careful doing Catch Swings. Many years ago I saw a video of Steve Cotter performing these; he was using 2 Kettlebells and he was flipping the Kettlebells and re-catching them. I thought this looked really cool and I’m also always interested in something which could help my grip, so I thought I’d give these a go.With light loads (16kg) they were fine but then I jumped to 25kg, which was the smallest jump I could take with my ‘bells, when I tried it with the heavier weight I nearly snapped all my fingers! The lesson here and maybe this is an obvious lesson, when you learn a new exercise, or even as in this case a new variation, then start light and be very careful.
  • OK, now what you’ve all been waiting for; the Kettlebell Press. This is a great variation of the Press; I believe that it helps with shoulder stability as the rotator cuff muscles, those muscles which keep the head of the humerus tightly in place, have to work damn hard during Kb Presses.
  • The Author Pressing his 48kg 'bell @ Darkside Barbell

  • To Kb Press big weights one needs to create massive tension; take a big gulp of air into your abs, not your chest. Flex your upper back as hard as you can, this creates a ledge from which to Press. The ‘bell should be resting in the heel of the hand not in the fingers; if your wrist is bent back then you’re doing it wrong. Punch through the heel and outside edge of your hand, really try to explode the weight up; now is not the time for smooth control.
  • As you lock out you may let some air out (exhale), but keep your tension If you’re performing reps; re-breathe as you lower but do not let any air out during the lifting phase.I’m a big believer in Push Presses or leaning away Presses, a kind of half Bent Press. These variations allow one to use heavier loads which will eventually translate into a bigger Press.
  • One final Point regarding Kettlebell training; I contend that one cannot train their lower body hard enough with Kettlebells; and the same goes for Dumbbells too. Don’t get me wrong I like them as a tool but one needs the right tool to do the job; and for effective lower body training one needs barbells, and one needs to perform Squats and Deadlifts, and their many variations.
Be Mighty,