Safety Tips for a Healthy Kettlebell Experience

As a newbie in working with kettlebells, be sure to work with a trainer who is certified with reputable organizations. The last thing you want is to YouTube a “well known” leader or take advice from a trainer who "thinks" he knows what to do based off being a trainer themselves. Kettlebells are a very technical tool and if not used properly, can be very dangerous. So always keep in mind, safety first.

  • Always listen to your body- Hopefully your coach will start you off with a sensible weighted bell. But if he or she doesn't, always begin with a light bell to perfect your form and technique. Once you feel comfortable, Increase weight to desired bell. Always keeping safety in the back of your mind. The goal is the have the ability to do it with perfect form for at least 20 straight reps for a few sets per exercise.
  • Mobility. Mobility. Mobility. - Kettlebell training/workouts require a lot of rounding of the back from constantly swinging the bell. The more you nurture your back in between your workouts, the less stiff and fatigue you will get post workout. Doing mobility drills and cobras/up dog down dogs will help hyper extend your back. This acts as a great active rest in between sets, all while feeling relief. Some mobility drills that I personally do are: neck, shoulders, elbows and wrist, spine, hips, and knees and ankles.
  • Check the ego at the door – Making sure you don't over train will help keep you motivated, refreshed and prevents injuries. Often times, if you're a newbie, you're excited and eager to get to the gym to work on your new skills. Give yourself a day in between to help your joints heal and for your muscles to rest and grow. This is vital for progress. Working out 7 days a week for a new athlete will only delay progress and leads to injuries. Perhaps your rest day can consist of some steady state cardio.
  • Watch that grip- Most often, your grip will be the first thing that gets weak while continuously swinging a bell. Most people have the tendency to “death grip” the bells handle while swinging, snatching, cleaning, and well….just about anything they do. Relaxing the grip will take you further in this sport then you’ve ever imagined. At the top of a clean, snatch, jerk, or just about any move where your arm is at a somewhat rested position (racked position) feel free to open up your hand to stretch the grip. When swinging a bell, if you’re doing a Russian kettlebell swing, your grip can be somewhat relaxed at the top of the swing once you’ve reached chest width apart. Death gripping (tight fist) the bell will only create tender calluses. If your hands begin to sweat, most people rub climbers chalk and go about their business.  You’re bound to get them anyway….and if you do, the best thing to do is immediately following a shower, shave them off with a nail buffer to smooth them out.

So remember, great students leave there ego at the door, are patient with learning a new move, and worry about the load later. Because kettlebells are very unique and require a lot of coordination, you will want to go with someone who is knowledgeable and had has credentials that supports there teaching method.  Some people are auditory learners and others visual, figure out which type you are and be sure to communicate that to your trainer. This way they can emphasis more on queuing verbally or demonstrating more moves.


Happy Swinging!

Anabell, the Kettlebell Chick