Most athletes report an increase in their overall weight training lifts when they improve their grip strength. Personally as a climber and martial artist I’ve seen first hand the importance of grip training.
If you are a frequent kettle bell lifter then you will have been training your grip strength without you even realizing it. Listed below are 7 kettlebellgrip strength exercises starting with the easiest and finishing with the most technical.
Keep your arms straight as you practice passing the kettle bell from one hand to the other around your body. You can wrap tape, a cloth or cardboard around the handle to really challenge your grip strength.
When you feel like you are going to drop the kettle bell set it down for a few seconds to allow recovery and then pick it up and continue. Start a grip workout : Select a specific distance and see how many times you have to put the kettle bell down before reaching your destination, then change hands and walk back again.
You will find that during high repetitions of swings your grip will work hard especially as your hands start to get slippy with sweat. Start a grip workout : Work up to 60 seconds of swings on each arm before setting the kettle bell back down on the floor.
The kettle bell clean is based on the dead lift movement pattern so you should be able to lift some nice heavy loads which is excellent for overloading the grip. Again, the thicker the kettle bell handle and heavier the load the more challenging the exercise will be.
Keep your elbow tucked in and see how long you can maintain the bottoms up position before you have to take the kettle bell back down to the floor again. Beginners will really work hard in the top position as they improve their body alignment in order to keep the kettle bell upside down.
Start a grip workout : Practice the bottoms up clean with various different weights, work up to 10 reps holding for as long as possible in the top position. Kettle bell High Pulls Exercise kettle bell high pulls exercise works the grip both in the bottom part of the swing and also in a more technical way at the top.
At the bottom part of the high pull the kettle bell swings in between your legs and will try to escape from your grip. During the top portion of the high pull your grip must stay strong to prevent the kettle bell handle from rotating through your hand.
Perform as many snatches as possible in 10 minutes changing hands as many times as you wish but never putting the kettle bell down. Strengthening your grip in a variety of ways with kettle bells can help you to: fix forearm and elbow issues, improve sports performance, and increase your overall lifting strength.
Kettle bell training has a huge amount of benefits and improving your grip strength is only one of them. Even if you’ve got a wide variety of lifts down but you’re looking to up your at-home exercise game, it’s probably time to get familiar with different kettle bell grips.
Some options (particularly the semi-conventional bottom-up grip with you holding the handle) work much better with a lighter bell, so make sure you’re lifting smart. Your fingertips might sweep the ground as you grasp the weight securely with your hands on either side of the bell.
Go through the same procedure as you did above, but this time you’ll need to start the bell off on its side (especially if it’s on the heavier end of the spectrum). To enhance safety, really make sure your grip is secure before you peel the weight off the ground, like you’re curling it.
You need to be able to establish balance while essentially flipping the bell over from the handle and stabilizing the already oddly-shaped contraption with the heavy part on top. While maintaining a stable grip, you should still be relaxed enough to be able to flutter your fingertips at the top of a swing.
If you’ve been dead lifting with a kettle bell in lieu of a bar, you might find your barbell instincts kicking in and trying to slide in with a hook grip. The set up is similar to a double-handed center grip, but you’ll curl your index and middle fingers around to grasp your thumb on the underside of the handle.
Experiment with a variety of unexpected kettle bell grips to jazz up your swings and make for much cleaner cleans. 4 particular starting positions to initiate your kettle bell lifts...
The following 4 starting positions I learned from my friend and mentor, Geoff Expert back in 2012 at my level II ROC. In the “V- grip you literally line the bells up to make a “V”.
This will take your shoulders into internal rotation with your thumbs pointing back between your legs. This set up will be challenging for an individual with tightness in the thoracic spine (upper back muscles) and can lead to rounding of the upper back.
This can also make it challenging to keep a good connection with the lats. This will allow plenty of room for the bells to pass through the legs without compromising your upper back position.
... the reduced amount of rotation the kettle bell has to go through from the floor to the rack position compared to the v- grip mentioned above. All the benefits are the same in regard to the upper back position.
The heavier the kettle bells are--the bigger the diameter of the bells. Heavier bells with this grip would require a wider stance.
The reason GS lifters prefer this grip is there is less rotation of the bell around the wrist as you receive the bells in the rack. ... it can put a lot of stress on the bicep tendon leading to some hyper extension of the elbow.
As Chief SFG Brett Jones would say, “Show me the client.” I encourage you to give these starting positions some practice and let me know which you prefer and which works best for you by leaving a comment below.
If you have the hand strength of a 12-year-old, you aren’t picking up heavy things. Most of the world’s knowledge of the kettle bell is limited to the swing and perhaps the Turkish get up.
Many of the people I work with have tremendous grip strength, and much of that is due to how I program our kettle bell exercises. Following are some must-do exercises for those of you who have a similar fondness for kettle bell training and want to ramp up hand strength.
Maximal effort, cramp your glutes, grip -it-and-rip-it type of swings. The simple weight of the bell moving with that much momentum forces you to grip down hard.
With a similar line of thinking, high volume, heavy single arm swings are a fast track to developing strong paws. Over-rotation, shrugging up on the bell, letting the lat relax, and reaching at the top are all things that can create some really unsafe postures.
Keep your traps down, stay square, and lock the lat down the whole ride, and watch how fast your hand strength comes along. Heavy bells (48-60 kg) in pairs for distance will help you significantly speed the strength gains for your hands.
Also, if you want to make things interesting, carries the handles in the tips of your fingers from the beginning. The fingers are where your forearm muscles are attached, so setting them up for failure is a great way to increase the value of this insidious exercise.
Any athlete who needs the forearm to roll over for any reason (throwing, swinging a bat or club) can greatly benefit from this beauty. Similar to forearm flips, lay down on your belly and pick a moderately weighted bell (20 or 24 kg).
Set both hands on the horns and tip the bell from lying flat on the ground to the classic bottoms up position. More importantly, your forearm strength helps keep problems like elbow tendonitis from getting momentum during pull ups and such.
When you’re building up your home gym, it’s only natural to think about adding some kind of weights to the mix. And, while you could opt for classic dumbbells, kettle bells offer a little more versatility for your workouts.
With kettle bells, you can do your standard weight lifting, but you can also add swings, jerks, and a bunch of other HIIT moves to the mix. The kettle bell ’s large, easy-to- grip handle and teardrop design make it perfect to use for just about everything.
This $16 kettle bell, which offers up weights ranging from five to 50 pounds, is an Amazon bestseller. Not everyone feels comfortable gripping an iron kettle bell handle.
You can also ramp up your weight as you build strength with this $34 set, which features five, 10, and 15-pounders. A vinyl coating helps protect your floors and reduce noise.
Many kettle bells are crafted out of cast iron, which isn’t exactly cheap. A wide handle allows for easy grip, while a flat bottom keeps the whole thing from rolling away.
Kettle Grip allows you to take your existing dumbbells and turn them into kettle bells. Just clamp it around the dumbbell handle, close it, and start using your weight like a kettle bell.
This $120 adjustable kettle bell has a massive range, with weight options from five to 40 pounds. It’s all thanks to six drops cast iron plates that can easily be removed or added to change the weight of your kettle bell.
A 16-kilogram (35 lb) “competition kettle bell Arthur Saxon with a kettle bell, cover of The Text Book of Weight-Lifting (1910)The Russian girl (, plural girl) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century. They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century.
The birth of competitive kettle bell lifting or Gregory sport ( ) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the “Circle for Amateur Athletics” ( ). Russian girl are traditionally measured in weight by Food, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb).
The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century. Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the halter, comparable to the modern kettle bell in terms of movements.
Variants of the kettle bell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot. By their nature, typical kettle bell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.
The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work. Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettle bell exercises involve large numbers of repetitions in the sport, and can also involve large reps in normal training.
Kettle bell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting.
Like movements performed with any exercise tool, they can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core, when performed without proper education and progression. They can offer improved mobility, range of motion, agility, cardio vascular endurance, mental toughness and increased strength.
The following is a list of common exercises that are uniquely suited to the kettle bell for one reason or another. A kettle bell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank in a slow, controlled movement.
Keeping the arm holding the bell extended vertically, the athlete transitions from lying supine on the floor to standing, and back again. As with the other slow exercises (the windmill, get-up, and halo), this drill improves shoulder mobility and stabilization.
It starts lying on the ground with the kettle bell over the shoulder in a straight arm position, as in the top of a floor press, but with the other arm along the floor straight overhead. The trainee then gradually turns their body away from the kettle bell until they are lying partially on their front.
The kettle bell is held hanging in one arm and moved smoothly around the body, switching hands in front and behind. Also called a front leg pass, this is a backward lunge, circling the bell around the front leg, returning to the standing position, and repeating.
Like the slingshot, but the bell is swung forward until the arms are parallel to the ground. Starting with the bell in the rack, the bell is pushed away to the side slightly, the swung down to the other side in front of the body, and reversed back up into the rack.
A variation of the press where the other arm assists by pushing open palm against the ball. Stand on one leg and hold the kettle bell with the opposite arm.
By then lowering and raising the kettle bell you can work stabilization and power. A press utilizing a bent-leg windmill position to lift heavier weight than is otherwise possible.
One bell is rowed to the chest while maintaining the plank position, then returned to the ground and repeated with the other arm. Alternatively performed with a single kettle bell, one arm at a time.
This requires more control than an ordinary push up and results in a greater range of motion. Feet may be elevated to increase the difficulty, until the trainee is performing a handstand push-up on the kettle bells.
In any movement involving the rack or overhead position, the kettle bell can be held with the ball in an open palm (sometimes called the waiter hold) for a greater stabilization challenge, or for even more precise control and added grip challenge, the bottom-up hold, squeezing the kettle bell by the handle upside-down. Holding a single kettle bell in the rack position bottom-up with two hands (“by the horns”) makes for goblet exercise variants.
Conventional swing: The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell. Hang clean: The kettle bell is held in the rack position (resting on the forearm in the crook of the elbow, with the elbow against the chest), lowered to below the knees, and then thrust back up in to the rack.
The kettle bell is held in one hand, lowered to behind the knees via hip hinge, swung to an overhead position and held stable, before repeating the movement. Jerk: As a push press, but with two dips, for more leg assistance (as in the barbell clean and jerk) Thruster: A rack squat with a press at the top using momentum from the squat.
Pistol squat: A single-leg squat with one leg held straight in front parallel to the ground, holding the bell in the goblet or rack position. An easier variant for those with less hip mobility is to perform the squat parallel to a step or ledge, so that the foot of the free leg can dip beneath the pushing leg at the bottom.
Carry: Walking with the kettle bell held in various positions, such as suitcase, rack, goblet, or overhead. Row: While bent over anywhere from 45 degrees to parallel with the ground, the kettle bell is held hanging from a straight arm, pulled up to the hips or laterally, and lowered again.
Keeping the bell arm vertical, the upper body is bent to one side and rotated until the other hand is touching the floor. The single kettle bell version is called the suitcase walk.
These build grip strength while challenging your core, hips, back and traps. The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.
The key to a good kettle bell swing is effectively thrusting the hips, not bending too much at the knees, and sending the weight forwards, as opposed to squatting the weight up, or lifting with the arms. The one-arm swing presents a significant anti-twisting challenge, and can be used with an alternating catch switching between arms.
Within those variations there are plenty more variations, some are, but not limited to: pace, movement, speed, power, grip, the direction of thumb, elbow flexion, knee flexion. The kettle bell has more than 25 grips that can be employed, to provide variety, challenge different muscles, increase or decrease complexity, and work on proprioception.
Competitive lifter (Greek) performing jerk with 32 kg kettle bells (rack position). Contemporary kettle bell training is represented basically by five styles. Hard style has its roots in powerlifting and Gj-rykarate training, particularly hobo undo concepts.
With emphasis on the “hard” component and borrowing the concept of time, the Hard style focuses on strength and power and duality of relaxation and tension. Gregory, sometimes referred to as the fluid style in comparison to the Hard style, represents the training regimen for the competitive sport of kettle bell lifting, focusing on strength endurance.
Juggling is a training style where the practitioner releases and catches the kettle bell with all manner of spins and flips around the body. Kettle bell training is extremely broad and caters to many goals, some being, but not limited to: mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and power.
The sport can be compared to what the CrossFit Games is to CrossFit, however, the sport has been much longer in existence, and is only recently gaining more popularity worldwide, with women participating as well. One such example being Valerie Wazowski, who at age 52, was the first US female lifter in the veteran age category to achieve Master of Sport in 24 kg Kettle bell Long Cycle.
21 (1908), p. 505: “PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE USING SCHMIDT'S Celebrated 'MONARCH' DUMB-BELL, BAR BELL AND KETTLE BELL SYSTEM”; also spelled KETTLE-BELLS (with hyphen) in a 1910 advertisement for the “Automatic Exerciser”) ^ a b c Rathbone, Andy (2009-01-04). “The kettle bell way: Focused workouts mimic the movements of everyday activities”.
Blast Fat & Build Strength With Innovative Equipment!” Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 542-544 ^ a b Iv ill, Laura (2008-11-22).
“Exclusive ACE research examines the fitness benefits of kettle bells” (PDF). Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 125-127 ^ Kettle bell Swing Vs. High Pull”.
You need to pay attention to where you place your hand on the kettle bell handle, and this too is determined by which exercise you are planning to practice. The handle will generally lie across your callus pads with a slight downward angle toward the pinky side of the hand.
1) The center grip keeps the kettle bell balanced so it won’t roll in either direction around the forearm. This in turn, makes the landing less stable, the kettle bell is harder to control, and the shoulder can move around and become unpacked.
Remember our snatches are Hard style, we use the force and speed of the hips to outrun the arm, and the fist punches through the handle fast. Once mastered, the kettle bell snatch using a center grip is both powerful and smooth, with no unnecessary movement at the lock out.
If we hold the kettle bell at an angle during heavy presses, it puts the emphasis on the pinkie side of the palm which turns on mostly the triceps and lats. The corner grip turns off the part of the hand (thumb side) that facilitates the neurological connection with the pecs, biceps and anterior Delta.
The corner grip turns off the part of the hand (thumb side) that facilitates the neurological connection with the pecs, biceps and anterior Delta. If you’ve ever seen the picture of the Cortical Homunculus you can easily see how important the hands are.
By grabbing the kettle bell in the center with the handle flat across the line of the calluses, we are able to activate both buttons. Slowly lower yourself down while only contacting the ground on the outsides of your hands (pinkie), and then come back up.
There are certain populations of kettle bell lifters who will benefit from opening the fingers at the top of the snatch. When the fingers open at the top of a snatch, it allows the hand and grip to relax at the lockout.
This is especially good for people with tight shoulders who need more mobility at the lockout and for high volume of snatching where the grip fatigues. Opening the hand at the top of a snatch rep can also help to slow people down if they are rushing through the lock-out.
However, if someone is running out of time during a snatch test, make sure they keep their hands closed, as it will give back a second more for each rep. As a side note, those who tend to over grip the kettle bell handle are often not using their hips and glutes to drive the movement, instead they are pulling with their arms and back.
So fix the hips first, and that may alleviate the need to open the hand at the top of the snatch. Secondly, the open grip should only be used during high volume snatches, never for grinds like presses or get-ups, windmills or carries.
The corner grip is also encouraged for clean & jerks, since the triceps and lats are doing most of the overhead work to finish the lock out. For jerks and push presses, the lower body initiates the movement and drives the kettle bell overhead.
Also, because beginners are typically using smaller, lighter kettle bells which sit higher on the forearm where it is more sensitive. But, the bigger kettle bells really do sit lower on the forearm and are more comfortable to hold in the rack and overhead.
Until the mobility issues are addressed, they will continue to feel the pressure from the kettle bell on their arm. Big-chested men and women, powerlifters or bodybuilder physiques, might find it hard to hold a kettle bell in the rack position.
In all these examples, using a wrist guard can help protect the forearm and make the kettle bell position safer and more comfortable. In some instances, adjusting the grip slightly to angle it off a sensitive point can help.