The Best Kettlebell Exercise You Aren’t Using

by Josh Henkin on March 22, 2013

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I typically have a different view on kettlebell training than most. Very few times (on an occasion) did I have clients coming to me with the specific goal of learning kettlebells. Rather, I saw kettlebells as a means to help clients achieve their various goals not only faster than they would ever expect, but safely as well.

One of the biggest traps in any training system though is to get caught into believing you have to teach people EVERY exercise and that you have to teach even specific exercises. The truth is you have to teach people the RIGHT exercises.

This relates to a specific problem I would find with many people when it came not only to kettlebells, but more dynamic strength training. That is the idea of how to move quickly with weights. Not just accelerating weights either, but the ability to decelerate.

You see deceleration is the same as eccentric strength, which basically is the ability to stop! If we look at when most athletes get injured during competition it is during deceleration. When they suddenly have to stop and change direction or are absorbing high eccentric loads. In fact, in Dr. Michael Yessis’ book, “Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training,” he cites eccentric loading as one of the two main ways athletes become injured.

One of the unique benefits of kettlebells is to deliver high eccentric forces to the body without the same impact of training methods such as plyos. However, what makes kettlebells a positive can also make them a challenge, especially for beginners. Learning how to decelerate the kettlebell during drills such as swings, cleans, snatches, etc. is where people are MOST likely to get injured because of the higher forces being acted upon the body.

As many of you already using kettlebells know, the challenge becomes that you can’t slow down the speed of these exercises and in fact trying to do so increases the chance of injury. So, what do you do? The solution is right in front of us with how kettlebells have been used for centuries—change the leverage. Remember, because kettlebells aren’t as adjustable in increments like a barbell, we often use leverage to create progression.

The best example is simply using the drill called the High Pull. The High Pull is a great problem solving drill for many kettlebell exercises. It helps teach the correct path of the kettlebell during the snatch, how to create force with the hips and not the arms, as well as reducing the lever arm so we can safely introduce faster movements to our clients.

Because the High Pull possesses a shorter lever arm than the swing, it also allows us to introduce more complex movements in more subtle and safer means. In the training video below we break down the essentials of the kettlebell High Pull and how you can get more out of your kettlebell training with this powerful drill.

 

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Josh Henkin, Senior RKC, CSCS has been a RKC instructor since 2003 and has implemented kettlebell programs for major Division I programs, SWAT teams, and many different general fitness programs. Josh is also the creator of the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system where he is a highly sought after presenter worldwide. He can be reached at info@ultimatesandbagtraining.com or http://DVRTFitness.com

 

 

 

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  • Jill

    Really good article. Another example of elegance in simplicity. I have new respect for the high pull.

  • BeholdersEye

    I have seen others do the one arm high pull as bringing the bell straight up the body then pulling the bell with the elbow up and behind the head, or is that called something else? By doing it this way I say start with a smaller bell, as the twice I tried it, I was extremely sore in the back and arm, maybe causing injury.

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