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How to reduce the impact of the Kettlebell on your Forearm

In talking to various instructors, coaches and people training with kettlebells, one of the most common Kettlebell problems is the bell banging on the wrist/forearm and leaving bruising.

It’s something that puts clients off from learning the kettlebell lifts properly and deters coaches from implementing them more into peoples training.

And if I’m honest, it’s fair enough, not everyone needs to use kettlebells.

But if we are to reap the benefits of the very shoulder friendly kettlebell press, the windmill and the turkish get up, we need to be able to get the bell comfortable.

The key is getting the hand in and out out of the handle deeply enough. Finding that sweet spot where the bell is supported but your wrist is relatively unloaded and comfortable.

This is the position you want the bell handle:

Handle alignment detail

If you can see how it sits diagonally across the base of the palm, the fingers are naturally curled, not gripping.

This is very old photo shows the other side and how the bell is nestled in the V formed between the upper arm and forearm:

Sharing this photo today as according to my computer it’s exactly ten years old!

This is all well and good, but how do we get the bell into and out of that position?

Well, to begin with use two hands to roll the bell into position and get it snug and nestled.

But in time, to make the most of the kettlebell and speed up the training for conditioning purposes, you’ll want to learn the Clean the bell into place, and eventually learn to Snatch.

This is my client Aneta working on some high intensity conditioning ahead of an upcoming Karate tournament:

A post shared by Анета (@aneta.rudyte) on May 3, 2017 at 2:14am PDT

Ok, back to the post….

This video shows a drill I learned from Steve Cotter many years ago who learned it from one of the many many Russian kettlebell experts he’s travelled to and learned from.

This is one of the most effective drills for learning the timing of the hand insertion through the handle of the kettlebell and getting the bell to land smoothly onto the forearm without leaving bruising

Probably the best piece of advice I can offer on this whole topic is to be patient.

Cleans have a long learning curve, and the snatch can carry a high injury risk at the beginning. Plus it takes time for the hand and forearm themselves to simply become conditioned to the bell resting on them.

So if you or your clients at the stage of learning the clean, I highly recommend using a single clean to get the bell into position for a set of presses/windmills/squats.

In a workout that may consist of several sets of any exercise with the bell resting on the forearm, it gives you one practice clean on every set. Not enough to bruise or rip the skin on the hand, but enough to begin the skill building process.

And if you are a coach who’d has questions on using kettlebells with your clients, I’m teaching two workshops just for you, details can be found here:

No one NEEDS to do Kettlebell Cleans and Snatches. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

Just don’t be in a hurry.


Dave Hedges

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