Kettlebell Training

Q: John Paul, what do you think of kettlebell training? I know that's it's been around awhile, but why aren't they as popular as dumbbells at gyms?

A: Well, kettlebell cleans and snatches are great for tearing elbows and shoulders respectively! I don't mean to scare you - any exercise can be dangerous if performed incorrectly and the kettlebell is no exception. The truth is that they are excellent as throwing implements for diagnostics as well as energy system training. They are also great to teach proper hip movement for the Olympic lifts. But here are a few more options that come in "handy" in the weight room.

The first involves kettlebell curls. One trick that is useful during barbell or dumbbell arm curls is to cock the wrist back when performing the movement. This serves two purposes: a) By stretching the wrist flexors, you reduce their involvement thereby increasing the activity of the elbow flexors, and b) at the top position, there is still tension on the elbow flexors (if the wrist was straight, the load would simply be transferred straight down into the elbow joint.) The problem with this technique is that many people experience wrist pain! There is a solution, though, and it involves the kettlebell. As you can see in the photo, the position of the kettlebell is away or outside the forearm - it always tries to pull your forearm down into extension so there is constant tension throughout the entire movement. There is no strain on the wrists since they are straight throughout.

Use a kettlebell for curls for constant tension without the wrist strain.

Couple the curls with a French press for the same effect.

Now, let's go back to curls for a second. Fat bar training has been gaining popularity over the past few years, and rightly so as it will increase grip and overall strength in short order. You can purchase one of my favorite training tools called the TYLERGRIP or EZ-Grips which are attachments that create a wider/open grip, or use kettlebells but not in the traditional manner. Instead of using the handles, grasp the cannon part of the 'bell and curl away. You can only perform supinated (palms up) curls with this method, but what a great feel! Try them standing, seated, in an incline position or on a preacher bench. Any way you go about it, I think you'll quickly agree that cannonbell curls are a great movement!

Superset cannonbell kickbacks (above) with cannonbell curls (below).

The one-arm preacher cannonbell curl.
To increase strength, position the opposite leg (to the working arm) forward.