A lot of training forearms comes from gripping items with intent, doing exercises such as, say, farmer's carries and dead lifts, and really squeezing the bars and handles during those moves. But sometimes it helps to get a bit more focused forearm work, too, and that's where the bottoms-up clean to rotation from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., comes in.
It's easy enough to hold a kettle bell with the weight resting on your forearm. But holding a kettle bell upside-down, the bell overhead, requires fine balance and control from your smaller forearm muscles.
“If your forearms aren't fully perpendicular to the ground, the bells will tip,” says Samuel. “And we finish with forearm rotation,” says Samuel, “forcing that much more control during the motion.”
All of this gives your forearms little chance to rest, pumping them up and keeping your mind in the game, too. Hinge forward, keeping your core tight, then explode through your hips, driving the kettle bells upwards.
The bottoms-up clean to twist is a perfect way to finish out an arm workout. “You can also use this as a warm up,” says Samuel, “ramping your heart rate and exciting your muscles for the challenges to come.”
Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article. 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. 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. It is not easy even with a light weight; you have to attack the motion to get the mass started.
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. But you have visceral memories of forearm pain from the dread kettle bell flop: that awkward moment where a lift is feeling really great until… ow.
You’ve tried and tried, but you can’t seem to make the forearm flop not happen when you’re kettle bell cleaning or snatching. If you want to keep reaping all the awesome benefits of these powerful movements but don’t want to cause your forearms or wrists any more agony, these tips are going to help you out.
Via mrbigphoto/Shutterstock Any time you’re transitioning the kettle bell from hanging down from your fingers (the beginning of a clean) or facing straight out in front of you (the swing into a high pull that starts a kettle bell snatch), you’re going to have to worry about the bell slamming down onto the back of your forearm. But it’s not just in those dynamic movements that forearm and wrist pain happen with kettle bells — especially once you start moving heavier weights, resting the bell improperly on your forearm during more static movements can be painful just from the pressure.
Moves like Turkish get-ups, kettle bell overhead presses, and front-racked squats and front-racked carries can all put a lot of sheer pressure on your forearms as the weight rests there. These movements require you to keep the bell in relatively the same position throughout the lift, which means — again, especially as you move up — that your wrists also might get tired.
It might give temporary relief to your forearm, sure, but at the cost of your wrist being essentially yanked back by the weight instead of maintaining a neutral (and safe) position. It might give temporary relief to your forearm, sure, but at the cost of your wrist being essentially yanked back by the weight instead of maintaining a neutral (and safe) position.
For moves that involve contact with your forearm — from Turkish get-up and overhead presses to kettle bell cleans and snatches — the centered swing grip is just going to… hurt. Instead, offset your grip : snuggle the web between your thumb and index finger into the curve of the handle.
To make sure your offset grip is working at peak effectiveness, hold up your palm and check it out in the mirror. Baranq/Shutterstock Especially because the first kettle bell move you probably learned is the swing, you’ve probably imagined the nightmare of the bell flying out of your hand and smashing your unsuspecting training partner’s toes.
It’s also a wonderful feeling, to be honest, when you develop enough confidence in yourself to loosen that grip and even be able to “butterfly” your fingers a little during the lift — flutter your fingers out, just for fun, to remind yourself that your grip is athletic, strong, confident, and forearm-friendly. To generate more momentum-based force, it’s tempting to shoot the bell out with your hips in a wide arc, similar to that which you create in a kettle bell swing.
Whereas if it’s coming from a big swooping arc away from your body, it’ll be harder to control the transition into rack position. Instead, focus on locking your elbow toward your rib cage while simultaneously pushing your hand through the handle.
That way, you’re relying on your body to complete the position change, rather than flipping (and therefore, forearm flopping) the bell. Especially for less explosive movements (think: Turkish get-up, kettle bell overhead press, and front-racked squats) that require the bell to rest on your forearm, and especially as you start using heavier and heavier weights, the bell will start pulling on your wrist.
The bell will team up with gravity to try and pull your wrist out of neutral position and back toward the weight (forcing your palm to tilt toward the ceiling). Temporarily kiss your ego goodbye and drop the weight slightly, teaching yourself to “motorcycle” your hands forward.
Is it easier for you to bring your elbow in as the bell is whizzing up past your hips, or when it’s closer to your rib cage? It’s a magical feeling when you get it right, but try not to get frustrated with yourself if it still takes a long time to figure out how to re-create that beautiful lift consistently.
I’ve literally spent days analyzing the kettle bell grip and how it can produce forearm pressure, bruising, tenderness, and pain. Flexed wrist weak wrist fingers gripping tight around the handle hand inserted in the middle of the handle cleaning and banging letting the bell rest on the forearm
If you really need to, get yourself some wrist guards or sweatbands, but personally, I find it best to get conditioned and focus on correct technique. If you get to a stage where the weights you’re lifting are very heavy and you’re doing high reps, go and get those wrist guards!
A proper hand insert is where the top corner of the handle is positioned on the webbing between your thumb and index finger, from there the handle is resting on the ball of the thumb, the thumb is pushing up through a slight but natural lateral wrist rotation, the bottom corner of the handle is past the heel of your palm, the bottom horn is resting against the side of your forearm without causing pressure, the weight is distributed across the ball of your thumb and heel of your palm, and your forearm is free from pressure as the bell is only providing slight pressure. The majority of weight from the kettle bell should be carried by the palm/wrist/forearm not the forearm (where the bell rests).
With that in mind, it should be noted that due to the design of the kettle bell it’s not possible to completely remove the weight from the forearm. A good hand insert at the corner of the handle (between the horn and handle) will change the angle of the bell in relation to your forearm, the round bit of the bell that normally provides the pressure is now positioned differently.
Tighter grip with the tips of the fingers while all other techniques are perfect might also assist in relieving pressure. Don’t keep pressing with an incorrect grip on the kettle bell, stop, reset and/or adjust with the other hand.
The more you bring your forearm laterally inwards and away from being vertical, the more pressure will be created. Process the above information, play with it, analyze it, create your own perfect environment.
Incorporating kettle bell swings in your workout routine will help you build strength and incinerate body fat. The center of mass on a kettle bell extends beyond your hands, which is ideal for a swinging motion.
The heavy impact of the weight striking your forearm causes soreness, bruising and pain on your wrist. You can focus on improving your technique and avoid hitting your lower arm by wearing a forearm shield.
Performing the kettle bell swing with two arms gives you a higher degree of control. With an overhand grip, grab hold of a kettle bell with both hands and position your feet slight wider than shoulder-width apart.
Drive your hips backward, squat down and extend your arms so that your shoulders are positioned over the kettle bell. Drive your hips forward and extend your legs and upper body to raise the kettle bell upward.
Stop the exercise by allowing the kettle bell to swing forward without extending your hips and knees. A warm up, such as a five-minute moderate jog can improve your forearm muscle endurance and flexibility.