"How to Protect Wrists and Forearms When Kettlebell Lifting"
By Amanda Perkins of Kettlebell Kings
A common misgiving many people have when they consider lifting with kettlebells is the damage they may cause to their wrists and forearms. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid injuries if you know the proper techniques and grips, which Kettlebell Kings are happy to provide. We work with professional athletes and exercise experts to show you the best way to work out with your kettlebell.
The three main factors to take into account when lifting with a kettlebell are grip, size of the arc, and timing. We'll go into these factors in more detail below.
The grip is important to keep in mind when using all kinds of kettlebells. Below, you can watch athlete Brittany Van Schravendijk, demonstrate the grip she using a competition kettlebell. One of the most common errors novices make is holding their bell in a "death grip" or grasping their whole hand around the handle of the bell. Instead, it's much more productive to use what's known as a "hook grip." A hook grip is a more relaxed grip where you hold the kettlebell between your first knuckle and your fingers with your thumb locked over, as Brittany demonstrates. This lets your wrist remain straight while offering enough give to let you move between different positions without losing control of the bell.
Size of Arc
Keeping control of your arc is another critical factor to control when lifting if you want to prevent injuries. If you have an overly broad arc, you won't be able to control your kettlebell during exercises and risk injuring yourself. A large arc also generates more force, which will cause the bell to slam into your arm when you move into the rack or overhead position. In the video, Brittany shows the downfalls of a large arch and how a small and controlled arc is more effective for bringing your kettlebell into these positions. Even Brittany struggles to control her kettlebell when she swings it far away from her body. The best technique is to use the shorter, more conservative swing in conjunction with the hook grip demonstrated earlier. These techniques combined make transitioning into the rack position simple. A death grip and a large arc are a sure way to put yourself at risk for injury and should be avoided at all costs.
The final factor to take into account to make sure you have a successful and safe kettlebell lift is to sync up your body's movements to the right timing. This means that when you lift the bell, you should be propelled by momentum from your hips, rather than your arms. The bell should reach the apex of its climb without any excessive force from your arms. If you time the movement of your legs and hips correctly, you won't have to worry about injuries from overexerting your arm.
Brittany shows the correct form for this motion in the video, quickly pulling with her arm to get her elbow and bell into place, with minimal arch movement.