Like all strength training movements, mastery of training with kettlebells comes with time and quality practice.
Keeping the weights light while you learn proper technique, maintaining good positions, and working through a full range of motion will ensure steady progression toward your training goals.
The foundational kettlebell exercises such as the deadlift, squat, hinge, swing, clean, clean & press, and snatch – are no exception.
One of the most overlooked techniques of training with kettlebells is how to properly rack the kettlebell.
The rack is where the kettlebell ends up after the clean and serves as the transition between the clean and pressing the kettlebell overhead to a locked position (or bringing it back down from overhead).
This rack position needs to be strong and firmly imprinted in your head so you’ll be able to direct the kettlebell there during your work sets.
Incorrect Kettlebell Rack Form
A ‘bad’ or improper rack is where the handle of the kettlebell handle is directly across the lifter’s palm. In this position, due to the weight of the kettlebell, the wrist is bent backwards and there is a tremendous amount of pressure on the elbow and shoulder.
You can see in the picture below, how the kettlebell is pulling the forearm outward away from the midline of the body and creating torque at the elbow and shoulder. This pressure gets exponentially more intense the heavier the kettlebell you use and the more volume you do in the workout.
This inefficient rack happens when you grip the kettlebell too tight and you don’t allow it to rotate freely as you transition from the swing to the clean. The key is to keep your hand loose on the handle (simply just hooking it with your fingers) as you clean the kettlebell to allow your hand to ‘shoot’ through the handle – finishing with the handle diagonally crossing both your palm and the crease of your wrist.
Proper Kettlebell Rack Form
When you get the kettlebell handle in this position while in the rack, you’re able to maintain a more vertical alignment of your forearm, keep your wrist in a neutral position, and take the pressure off your elbow and shoulder. This will allow for a more efficient transition to the press and enable you to ‘hang out’ in this racked position for a longer period of time – which is critical for higher rep pressing sets.
Quick Tip for Proper Kettlebell Rack Form
One advanced tip to help you setup a better rack is to grab the kettlebell by the horn and not in the center of the handle. This simple switch will create an effortless transition to get the handle of the kettlebell diagonally across your palm and crease of your wrist.
Check out this video where I demonstrate how to create a more efficient racked position. This can completely change your kettlebell training and help you quickly improve your technique and transitions. Please leave a comment below and let me know if you have any suggestions for future articles / videos.