Prior to Krank, I used kettlebells about two or three times. When I started interning, once again I was introduced to them. To make it more interesting, I had to learn how to use them immediately if I wanted to teach any kettlebell exercises.
Through some trial-and-error, advice from the coaches, and research, I finally reached a level of being okay. No more forearm bruising and losing the kettlebells out of my hands (which did happen once). I realized they're not all that tricky - knowing a few subtleties helps make adjustments that lead to big improvements.
Enter the rack position.
It's a very common posture in the carries, cleans, squats, and push presses that we program. However, it can be glanced over when the focus is on the dynamic parts of those exercises. This became apparent when one person mentioned their forearm was hurting during single-sided rack carries.
A good kettlebell rack is actually simple to understand.
First and foremost, it begins with the grip. The intuitive thing to do is grab the middle of the handle like a dumbbell. Surprisingly enough, this won't lend itself to the most comfortable grip when cleaning it. Instead, take a hold of it with your thumb near the end of the handle as shown below.
Left: How it's commonly grabbed in the middle
Right: This offset grip will set us up to comfortably clean & rack it
A proper rack will:
- Have your grip in the upper corner of the handle.
- Have the hand inside the shoulder with the thumb close against the chest.
- Be in the bottom of your hand with a straight wrist:
Take note of where the handle rests in the hand
- It allows your body to support the weight compared to only your arm. In the latter case, the arm alone has to support the weight against gravity. This unnecessarily strains your arm.
- Since your entire body is giving support, you're able to handle more weight with ease.
Even with the hand open, there's little change in how the kettlebell sits
The adjustments described here can lead to a better rack position to reduce discomfort on the working arm as well as move around more weight in your exercises. Play around with the set-up to get a feel for it.
Next time you're using a kettlebell, remember Ice Cube's words of wisdom, "You better rack yourself before you wreck yourself, cause poor movement is bad for your health."