The kettlebell is a piece of exercise equipment that can be handled with a variety of different grips to target various muscle groups. The unique design of the handle, horn, bell, and base of the kettlebell is what allows the different variations.
There are many different types of kettlebell grips you will need to employ during kettlebell training, following are illustrations and basic explanations of what each different grip is used for.
Important: Grips might differ slightly across various kettlebell designs and differences in handle width, but a majority of exercise methods remain the same. Various associations and organizations will change the style of the grip as part of a trademark, but again, make no difference in execution.
For illustration purposes, a Competition Kettlebell is used, which changes weight but not size.
Note that these are not Barbell grips, as the names might be the same, the technique is not.
- 1 General Information
- 2 Why should you learn about grips?
- 3 Use of different grips
- 4 45 Degree Angle
- 5 Broken Wrist Grip—incorrect grip
- 6 Anatomy of the kettlebell
- 7 Grip Categories
- 8 Grips
- 9 External links
The following rules and tips apply in general to most kettlebell grips. A grip on the kettlebell handle or horns should almost never be tight. It should always be as loose as possible without losing grip of the kettlebell and conserving as much grip strength without burning out the muscles.
Blisters usually occur when the skin is folded within the grip, especially when using heavy weights or doing high volume reps. Another cause for blisters is friction.
Ripped calluses generally occur when there is friction within the palms, a common issue due to kettlebell bobbing.
The most common grip and transition is that from hook grip to loose grip, which occurs during the clean and rack. The hook grip is also used for single arm swings and snatches, the second most common grip is the double hand grip which is used for double arm swings.
The Loose Grip vs Tight Grip - Loose photo to the right displays a loose grip, but also what a hook grip on the handle looks like.
Why should you learn about grips?
It is important to know and understand kettlebell grips for efficiency and being able to work the muscles intended for the exercise in question. Employing an incorrect grip can lead to discomfort, pain, injury, and uneven muscle strength.
Use of different grips
During kettlebell training, you employ different grips to make certain exercises more efficient, but you also change grips to increase difficulty and challenge other muscle groups.
45 Degree Angle
In grips employed for racking or pressing, the handle should be positioned at a 45 degree angle within the palm, one corner positioned between the thumb and index finger, and the other corner being past the heel of the palm. The reason for this position is to keep the wrist straight and hand inline with the forearm, this will avoid pressure on the wrist. A bent wrist means there is a kink in the line through which power will be lost during pressing plus cause for potential injury.
When working with a light kettlebell this might not be so noticeable, but when working with heavier kettlebells the pressure can be enormous, cause damage to the wrist and/or prevent you from being able to press the kettlebell up.
When people first start training with a kettlebell, you'll find that they employ the broken wrist grip to relieve the pressure that the bell provides on the forearm, this is especially so for new people who are not used to this pressure. You should take the person aside and have them play with the grip, handle position and bell positioning till they feel ok with the pressure of the kettlebell being in the correct position. You should also explain that it's quite normal to experience some mild discomfort till the area is more conditioned.
Broken Wrist Grip—incorrect grip
As the name implies, this is not a grip you'll want to employ, it's named such because the straight line your arm and palm should be in is broken. A correct kettlebell grip is one of the main things to focus on when you start kettlebell training. You have to get it right, take some time away from everyone and take a light kettlebell, play with it, move it around till you find the two or three points in racking where the weight should rest. The resting points are; around the heel of the palm; on the forearm; and against the biceps when in cradle racking position.
When your wrist is not straight/neutral in racking or overhead position, all the weight is pulling down on your wrist. Most people employ this incorrect grip because they might feel less pressure on the forearm. However, one should take the time to find the right resting points to maintain a neutral wrist. The second cause for an incorrect grip/insert is a tight grip and not opening up during the clean for a proper hand insert.
Anatomy of the kettlebell
See article kettlebell. The following illustration breaks down the anatomy of the kettlebell. Knowing the exact names for parts of the kettlebell will help you understand given instructions better and/or increase clarity when teaching kettlebell training.
Grips can be categorized in the following categories:
- Pressing grips
- Racking grips
- Lifting grips
- Ballistic grips
- Juggling grips
- Broken Wrist Grip—incorrect grip
- Double Hand Grip
- Swan Grip
- OK Grip (AKA 2 or 3 Finger Grip)
- Double Hand Corkscrew Grip
- Closed Double Hand Grip
- Hook Grip (AKA Overhand Grip)
- Closed Hook Grip (AKA C grip)
- Racking Grip
- Racking Safety Grip
- Flat Hand Grip
- Pinch Grip
- Farmer Grip
- Bottoms Up Grip
- Horn Grip
- Horn Grip Upside Down
- Corner Grip
- Open Hand Horn Grip
- Loose Grip
- Interlocking Grip
- Stacking Grip
- Open Palm Grip
- Waiters Grip
- Goblet Grip
- Crush Grip
- Thumb Grip (AKA Noob Grip)
- Fireman's Grip
- Stacked Grip
This grip is used primarily in rowing drills and pulling or front holding movements.
Grasping with fingers mostly straight in a beak like hold over top of kettlebell with arm bent at wrist and elbow in "S" like position, as that of swan neck, with emphasis on squeeze of fingers and strong forearm engagement this grip works tremendous grip strength for massive finger and forearm recruitment.
OK Grip (AKA 2 or 3 Finger Grip)
With thumb and first finger (and middle for 3) in an 2 finger lock wrap around handle. Remaining 3 fingers are off or relaxed (2 off on the ok 3 hold) away from handle.
Useful for carries, swings, clean or row. The thumb and first finger are the most important to primary grip strength. Working with these variations puts attention on the longer lasting strength to hang on to the fullest extent especially digging out on final Snatches.
- Grip information specific for classic kettlebells
- Download a PDF with all 25+ grips described and illustrated
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