Friday, October 19, 2007

Competitive kettlebell lift instructions

I read Rolando's post on the DD forum, and he has asked here about the benefits/carryover to other sports such as martial arts, or other lifting. Since I don't actively participate in other sports (teaching police defensive tactics doesn't count, although, it is much easier to teach and demonstrate and well as be the uki- person being thrown- from kettlebell lifting period)I can't speak intelligently on such things. I am curious about the rest of you. Has kettlebell sport lifting helped in your sprinting, cycling, martial arts, etc?

Having met Rolando at the Sept. RKC, he is a motivated athlete, and an all-around fun guy. His heart is in the right place. Below is one of his videos.

This is taken from AKC coach/Fire Safety Advisor Mike Stefano's blog.

I think it is a good tutorial on the competitive lifts approach.



Not following the bell with your torso as it swings back between your legs, forcing a premature forward swing
POSSIBLE FIX: Follow the bell with your eyes and allow the back to round, as you let the bell to finish its rearward swing before reversing direction. This same fix applies to the clean and snatch. Once this problem is eliminated, you can stop watching the bell and keep eyes fixed on the floor a few feet in front of you.

Holding too much tension in the body, and using the arm to pull the bell forward

POSSIBLE FIX: Relax... this can't be over stated. Think of the arm as a rope tied to the bell handle and generate motion with the back and legs. Collapse forward as you empty of air, at the moment the bell starts to travel forward on its own, straighten up with the back and legs. Feel the pull through the arm and shoulder, but don't originate it from there.

Bell rocks or shakes between legs in backswing
POSSIBLE FIX: Proper grip, holding bell handle on the inside corner with a hook grip. Also, maintain the handle at a 45 degree angle. This will give you much control of the bell. Another possible reason the bell doesn't follow a straight line is found the the first problem, not following the bell. If the arc rearward is shortened prematurely (bells not done moving on its own), there's a forceful pull that rocks the bell (and kills your grip in Snatch and Clean).



Man or woman, when first learning sticking with one arm cleans, jerks, and long cycles provides plenty of challenge, and what I feel is a better way for the average person to safely progress. This article will strictly deal with one arm work.
No rest in the rack position. By far the most common problem, and one that contributes to early fatigue is the inability to achieve a good rack position. With AKC and Valery's training, we learned to find the hip with the elbow as your hips move forward, knees stay straight, and back is round. From here the arm forms a virtual V that cradles the bell with the handle resting on the hip of the palm.

POSSIBLE FIX: I've worked with some people that have no trouble finding the hip right away. But some of my bigger boys tend to be far away. The fix here isn't automatic, but needs to be ingrained over time. Again, relax into the position, searching for 100 percent gravity support of the bell with virtually no muscular effort to keep it in place. The bell is actually more balanced than held in the most ideal situation.

As another solution and if necessary I'll stick with more Long Cycle work to allow a break from the rack position. It's not uncommon to have a client do Long Cycle Push Press even before they've learned to Jerk. As the rack gradually improves, a return to Jerks is implemented.

Another aspect of resting is found in the wrist position which must be slightly bent back but totally relaxed. The bell still sits directly on the hip of the hand, but with a relaxed wrist a shelf forms with very little muscle effort. At all times the bell is supported structurally, over the ulna, almost eliminating the wrist from the equation. This also applies the the overhead lockout.

Tossing the bell when dropping is another common issue. Whether learning cleans or performing Long Cycle, it almost hurts me to watch a Tosser. I define a tosser as someone who pushes the bell as far away from there body as possible when lowering the bell from the rack position preparing for another rep. This problem can stem from working with a light bell, that's sometimes necessary to master other finer aspects of the movement and still do high rep sets. Even so, the time to correct this problem is early on, before making the switch to a heavier bell.
POSSIBLE FIX: Reinforce the concept of dropping the bell, nudging it out of the rack with the shoulder, keeping the grip as relaxed as possible, re-grabbing with a hook grip with perfect timing and no distinct pull on the arm and shoulder. Then, reverse the motion (with all the same technique as the swing above) when the bell begins to swing forward.

Mike Stefano




Allowing your arm / elbow to move off the hip before popping it up with the legs

POSSIBLE FIX: Wait for the pressure of the hip against the elbow as you execute the first dip. Do not allow the elbow to drift away from the hip by "pressing" the bell with your arm. Keep the arm and elbow married to the body as much as you can, until it's driven up by the connection with the lower body. For some, resting the elbow on the hip isn't possible.

Unable to get the elbow(s) close the hip(s)

POSSIBLE FIX: Over time the body will adapt and somewhat mold itself around the movement. Relax into it, be sure the hips are forward, knees straight, and back round. The rounding of the back is what brings the elbow to the hip. If you can't make the hip, allow the upper arm and elbow to rest against your body where it lies. For some, it may be beneficial to emphasize a slightly longer lockout to catch some rest, but long and slow sets that feature an extensive hold in the rack is what will get you there. Resort to Long Cycle (rack isn't held as long) if necessary.

Excessive arm and shoulder fatigue due to controlling the bell on the down drop
POSSIBLE FIX: Before lifting kettlebells, we were all taught to control the weight on the negative portion of the rep - Not so here! After lockout is achieved, the weight is literally released from its position as it's dropped to the shoulder, directly back into the rack position in preparation for another rep. The weight is absorbed by the body in several ways.

Releasing a big exhalation as the kettlebell drops and lands
Employing a slight bending of the ankles, knees, hips, as the bell makes contact with the shoulder

Raising up on the toes as the bell drops and immediately reversing direction as it touches the body
Emphasis on a smooth landing where the bell slides into position versus crashes in



Not following the bell as it travels backward between the legs
POSSIBLE FIX: Keep your eyes on the bell as it travels back. Allow the back to round, and the bell to finish its rearward motion, before pulling back, and standing up. The same fix applies to both the clean and swing. Don't allow this to become a permanent practice. Eventually, get your gaze focused back on the floor or wall in front of you.

Not being able to get the bell to land on the "hip of the hand" in lockout

POSSIBLE FIX: Some aspect of your timing is off or you're using too much weight. When the bell repeatedly fails to land on that sweet spot, fatigue accelerates proportionally. Drop down in weight (or switch hands if necessary), and improve timing with more and more reps, and longer sets. Remember the basics:

Follow the bell as it swings between your legs
Pull back with power from back and legs
When bell is "weightless", reposition hand, rushing into bell
Lockout with bell handle diagonally across the hand, weight on hip of the palm

Dropping the bell over the top of the hand instead of around the side

POSSIBLE FIX: I feel the drop sets up the entire rep, and with a bad drop there's little chance of getting off a lot of really good reps. Catherine Imes described it very nicely when she said (and I'm paraphrasing), that you need to get the weight of the bell from the hip of the palm (pinky side) to the index finger side of the hand. This nudge, followed by elbow bend and an actual drop of the bell (where gravity does all the work) becomes a "rest". The bell is dropped in the saggital plane, or the groove directly in front of the body (imagine slicing the body in half from left to right), allowed its full back swing, then brought back up.


Pete said...

Please don't post on the above site. I do not know who this person is. If you know how to delete spamming comments, please advise.

Kettlebell Lady said...


When you are signed on, you should be able to come to comments and see a little garbage can under the post that you want to delete.

Pete said...

Thanks KBL, that did the trick! How's your training coming along? I am finally well and going to start back slowly so as not to open myself back to the poor immunity list!

Kettlebell Lady said...

Going well, thanks. My next step is to really get my nutrition in order...

Pete said...

Franz has a really good book which factors in nutrition with a kettlebell work out.

Personally speaking, nutrition makes a HUGE difference in performance and recovery.

Coming off this illness, my metabolism has slowed, and I have to ramp it back up. Turning 40 certainly didn't help, but that's no excuse.

Wildcard said...

Good stuff Pete, thanks for posting that!

Franz Snideman said...

thanks for the plug Pete!
Great post brother!

Pete said...

Wildcard- hows training?

Franz, anytime, bro. It is good stuff, and very informative.