Monday, March 12, 2012

Kettlebell Hand Position for Shoulder Stability

The kettlebell is a wonderful tool to help build shoulder stability.  Exercises such as: the kettlebell arm bars, turkish get-ups, presses, floor presses, side presses, and windmills require stability in multiple planes.  Because the kettlebell makes theses exercises more challenging, good coaching is imperative.  Hand, wrist, and kettlebell position is the first place to align (see picture below).

Once the kettlebell is located in the correct position in the hand, its center of mass should stay in alignment with the shoulder.  Also, when you have the correct hand position, you can more easily control movment of the kettlebell (and resist twisting of the kettlebell).  Lets take a closer look at the correct position of the kettlebell in your hand.

  • The first thing you notice is that the thumb/first finger are very close to the bend of the handle, centering the wrist in the middle of the handle.  This is similar to the position for pressing a barbell.  The center of the handle is positioned at center of your wrist, and, therefore, you can  "push through the heel of your hand."
  • Second, the angle of the handle is not straight across, but approximately 30-45 degrees with the wrist.   Again, this puts the handle in position to "push through the heel of your hand."
  • Third, the wrist stays straight, not bent back.  Similar to throwing a punch, it is important to keep the wrist in a neutral position. 
  • Fourth, the grip is very tight.  This help maintain the positioning and alignment of the first three points.
  • Fifth, and this is more evident in the first picture, keep the fist (smallest finger) rotated inward and the kettlebell outside of your body.  Again, this is consistent proper barbell pressing and the cues of "bending the bar," and "corkscrew the elbows in."
  • Lastly, chalk helps keep your hands dry and wrist bands help with the discomfort of the bell resting on the back of the wrist (which for most people, don't have much muscle mass or fat).  Plus, you look cooler with wrist bands and chalk!
When you follow these five guidelines, you feel much more stable and can more easily "steer" the kettlebell into position.  Your joints maintain proper alignment and experience significantly less stress.  Keep your joints happy, or they will get mad at you!