Strength Is A Skill: How To Grip The Kettlebell – Part II
Strength is a skill, and that skill must be practiced
– Pavel Tsatsouline, Founder of StrongFirst®
Many people confuse this statement. I've heard people say, "No, the particular exercises are a skill in themselves, but strength itself is not a skill."
To that I say... HUH?! Here is what they don't understand.
... Lets first define strength.
Strength = The quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
Next, lets define a skill set. A skill is something that can in fact, "be practiced".
- Playing a musical instrument
- Learning Jiu-Jitsu
- Public speaking and
- Strength training
How do you get stronger?
You must master tension! And the only way to master it is, the practice it.
For example, learning how to create tension in the glutes, abs, lats and your grip, helps increase your military press, deadlift and pull-up.
Now creating the tension is the "easy part".
But mastering that tension, knowing how to get comfortable with that tension and knowing how to turn it on and off...
NOW THATS SKILL!
So you see... STRENGTH IS A SKILL!
Today's post is focused on...
the 3 particular grips when lifting kettlebells
And when to use one over the other. Did you know each lift has it's own particular grip?
And knowing how to switch from one grip to the next on the fly is an essential skill to master in order to make your training session more effective.
One grip is universal whether you're swinging, snatching or cleaning a kettlebell.
The other two serve a specific purpose.
One will help improve your grinds (i.e., strict presses, getups, and front squats). The other will improve your ballistics (i.e., cleans, snatches, push-press, and jerks).
Grip #1–The Hook Grip
This is the first grip to master for your swings, cleans and snatches.
I see too many hands with tears and calluses in the center of the palms which is unacceptable.
You can't avoid calluses and sometimes even tears. But, the calluses should be on the fingers and not the center of the palm.
One of the main causes of lifters over gripping the kettlebell (which leads to calluses on the palm) is a lack of both confidence and finger strength with the hook grip.
You will see this primarily with the kettlebell snatch.
In my experience the best (and safest) way to train the hook grip is a steady dose of farmer carries.
I'm more of an advocate of single arm carries than double bell carries. Simply for the purpose of symmetry. Plus, this will build a sold base of reflexive strength.
With single bell carries you get the best of both worlds, static and dynamic stability.
Grip #2–The Crush Grip
The crush grip is the next grip you MUST master. This grip is crucial if you want to have a strong military press, front squat and getup.
With the crush grip you're able to get a full grip on the bell. The more surface of the hand that can make contact with the handle (specific to grinds only) the stronger the lift will be.
The strength of your body, abs and shoulders are directly connected to the strength of your grip.
Improving your grip = GETTING STRONGER over all!
Not only that...
... during the crush grip, you're able to get a good squeeze with the thumb.
Pressure from your thumb travels to the long head of the bicep, which is responsible for shoulder flexion (getting the bell over-head for presses, snatches, etc...).
Grip #3–The False Grip
This grip is very common amongst elite gymnast. We can apply the same grip for kettlebell lifting.
This grip is a complete contrast to the crush grip.
Your hand should be completely relaxed. The bottom corner of the palm and wrist are what locks this grip into place.
This grip is for high volume ballistics e.g., push-presses, jerks, and snatches. Where the goal is as many reps possible.
Or a certain amount of reps in a given time like the snatch test.
This is very common in the sport of kettlebell lifting (i.e., Girevoy Sport aka: GS).
Mastering this grip is pretty tricky, as your goal is to be able to hit this grip (skill) on the fly with each clean.
A couple of reasons this grip is SO powerful for your ballistic lifts is...
- It uses less energy and preserves your grip.
- The nature of the placement on the corner of the palm and wrist. There is a nerve (I like to think of it as a power switch) that innervates (triggers) the tricep muscle to fire aiding in a quicker and stronger lockout.
Master these 3 particular grips when using your kettlebells and watch you strength soar!
The better and stronger your grip is, the better and stronger your technique will be.
The stronger your technique, the more weight you can lift, the more weight you can lift, the stronger and leaner you will be come.
Now you see why we say... strength is a skill
strength is a skill!?