• Kettlebell Fundamentals: Part 1 of 4

    I am a big fan of kettlebells. They are a super versatile tool in the gym, and great for working on the strength-endurance end of the fitness spectrum. Kettlebells also happen to be the focus of my next few articles, each one focusing on a different core kettlebell movement / position. We will be starting with the rack position, then advancing to  swings, cleans, and finishing with the snatch.

    When practicing new kettlebell techniques I always recommend starting light, until you feel confident enough with the movement to safely increase weight. Furthermore I always recommend training kettlebells with competition size bells (Primal movement has competition sized kettlebells ranging from 8 kg all the way up to 40 kg). Competition size kettlebells are manufactured to be the same size no matter the weight, each kettlebell will have the same handle diameter, and same bell dimensions. This means you are able to keep the same form and feel as you increase, or decrease the weight.

    The Rack position is something i regularly see people struggle with in the gym. It is a vital transitional position,where the kettlebell ends up after performing a clean, and the position from which the kettlebell is pressed overhead. When done properly it should be a fairly comfortable resting position. When done incorrectly though, it can be awkward, uncomfortable, maybe even painful and bordering on dangerous.

    A proper rack position should allow you to maintain a near vertical alignment of the forearm, with the thumb of your hand coming close to the sternum. The wrist should be kept in a neutral position while the kettlebell is resting evenly on the chest, bicep and forearm. Keeping the grip closer to the horn of the kettlebell, as opposed to the middle of the handle will help keep the kettlebell sitting across the palm properly. 

    Lateral view of Rack position – upright posture, thumb to chest

    Front View Rack Position – wrist in neutral position

    There are a few common mistakes I see made with the rack position. One of the biggest ones is hand and wrist position. As mentioned before, grip by the horn, and keep the wrist in a neutral position, do not let the kettlebell pull the wrist back. When the wrist rolls back it will pull the forearm away from the mid line, which creates torque at the elbow and shoulder. That extra torque will start to be a real problem if you ever hope to increase the weight.

    Incorrect position – Wrist rolled back, forearm too vertical

    Incorrect Position lateral view – wrist rolled out, kettlebell held away from body

    Once you have mastered the rack position, check back in for my next article, which will be all about the two handed kettlebell swing!

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