3 Deadly Sins of the One-Armed Kettlebell Swing:
1) You don’t have enough weight on your back.
2) Your grip isn’t strong enough.
The reason why you don’t have enough weight on your back is because you are not using all the muscles in your body. If you use all these muscles properly, then it will make it easier for you to lift heavier weights without getting tired or hurting yourself.
The reason why your grip isn’t strong enough is because you aren’t gripping the kettlebell with the right amount of force. You need to train your grip strength so that when you hold a kettlebell, it doesn’t slip out from under you.
When you are holding a kettlebell, if your hand slips off the handle, then it’s game over for you!
So how do we get stronger hands?
Well there are many ways to strengthen our hands. Here are some suggestions:
Kettlebell Grip Training – This is a great way to strengthen your grip. You can either do this with kettlebells or dumbbells.
The key here is that you must keep the weight on the ball of your thumb (not the knuckles). For example, if you want to increase your grip strength, you could start doing this with kettlebells. Then after practicing for a while, try it with dumbbells. This way, you can build up your grip strength and then transfer it over to the heavy one-armed swing.
Plate Pinching – You can also try using two 25-lb plates (or more if you are strong enough). Hold them together in between your thumbs and first finger.
Try to pinch them together as hard as you can for at least 60 seconds. Rest for a few minutes and then repeat. You can do this 2-3 times per day. As your grip strength improves, you can increase the weight.
Towel Pull-Ups – This grip exercise is easy to do and works very well for building your grip strength. All you need is a sturdy towel (such as a “beach” towel).
Fold it over once lengthwise so that it creates a long strap. Now hang from the towel with your hands about shoulder width apart. Using only your hands, pull yourself up until your arms are straight. Slowly lower yourself back down. After doing several of these, your palms may be a bit sweaty and your hands might start to hurt. That’s normal and to be expected. Just wipe your hands off on your shirt and keep going. Try to do at least 1 minute per set.
Grip Deck of Cards – You can also build up the strength in your fingers and hands with a deck of cards. Start by choosing a deck of cards that is easy for you to rip.
For example, a cribbage deck might be easier to rip than a poker deck. Another way to make it easier is to put a rubber band around the deck and then rip it off. Make sure that you rip the cards in the direction as shown in the picture below.
As with any training program, you want to start off slow and easy and then gradually work your way up. The same is true with grip training.
If you start off too hard, you can actually do some damage to your hands and wrists. This will not only cause you to have to take a break from grip training, but you may also experience hand pain and soreness for several days afterward.
Here are a few tips that may help:
1) Always start off your grip routine by warming up your hands and forearms first.
You can do this with easy wrist curls, easy plate pinch repetitions, and easy towel pull-ups.
2) Always end your grip routine with a forearm and hand exercise that is focused on stretching the muscles (instead of focusing on squeezing the muscles as is common with most grip training exercises).
An example of this would be the “bow and arrow” exercise.
3) Take frequent breaks and never do more than a couple of sessions per day.
Your hands need time to recover in between training sessions if you don’t want to experience sore and swollen fingers and hands.
4) Don’t do grip training on the same days that you are doing heavy pressing or pulling exercises.
For example, if you are planning on doing heavy bench presses on Monday, don’t do grip training on Monday because your forearms will be pre-fatigued. Wait at least 1 day before doing any grip training.
5) Apply chalk to your hands and wrists.
Chalk helps to reduce the moisture in your hands which can ultimately reduce the likelihood of you injuring yourself.
6) Drink plenty of water during your training session as well as the day before and day after.
If you are seriously targeting your grip muscles with heavy duty exercises, you are going to sweat a lot and dehydration can easily set in if you don’t drink enough water.
7) As with any training program, you are going to have days when you feel great and everything you do is strong.
These are the days that you should focus on challenging yourself with more difficult variations of the exercises. For example, if you can comfortably do a towel pull-up with one towel, try using two towels.
If you can do a plate pinch with two 25’s, see if you can do it with two 50’s. If you can do a “mono lift” with 100 pounds, try to lift 110 or 115.
8) Just because an exercise is found in this book, doesn’t mean you need to do it or that you even need to do it the way it is demonstrated.
For example, the plate pinch exercise shows you how to use two 25 pound weight plates. You might find, however, that a different thickness plate is easier or harder for you to pinch.
Experiment! Try different things!
9) Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do some of these exercises at first.
Everyone, no matter how strong they are, starts off not being able to do some of these exercises. With persistence and hard work you’ll soon find that you can do them all.
Chapter 2: The Wrist Roller
Many people have weak forearms that don’t seem to “feed” strength to the rest of their arms and hands properly. An easy way to strengthen the forearms is to perform wrist roller exercises.
These are simple to perform and require no equipment at all!
The first method is to sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place your forearm on your thigh so that your palm is facing up.
Now, grab your wrist with your other hand and pull your forearm toward you while keeping your fingers straight. Hold for a second and then relax. Next, rotate your hand so that your pinky finger is pointing at the ceiling, and then repeat the process of pulling your arm toward you while keeping your fingers straight. Do this until you’ve completed a full set. Continue until you’ve done as many sets as you need to.
A second way is to sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Rest your forearms on your thighs so that your palms are facing each other.
Interlock your fingers and extend your arms out in front of you so that they form a “T”. Now, rotate your hands so that your palms are facing the floor. After a second or two, rotate them back to where they started from. That constitutes one repetition. Continue this for the desired amount of time.
These are just two of many different exercises that you can do for your forearms using this method. Be creative!
Chapter 3: The Fingertip Push-up
The next exercise is the ” fingertip push-up”.
This exercise is fairly easy to do. All you need is a wall and your fingers.
Stand with your back to a wall and slowly move forward until your fingers are just barely touching it. Extend your arms so that they are fully extended and place your fingers against the wall (with the fingertips just barely touching). Now extend and retract your arms so that your fingers slide down the wall. Make sure to keep your wrists straight—don’t let them bend!
You can use this exercise to strengthen any fingertip grip you may need for different things. If you’re playing a sport that requires you to grip something (like a baseball) then doing fingertip push-ups will help you out a lot.
I can assure you that if you do this exercise, your baseball game will improve!
You can also place different items (such as paper cups or cans) under your fingertips to vary the difficulty of the exercise.
Chapter 4: The Wrist Roller Part II—Thumb Raises
For this exercise you’ll need a weight (I find that a one or five-pound barbell weight works best). Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and grasp the barbell so that your hands are about two fist widths apart.
Now lift the weight straight up until your arms are extended straight above your head. That is one repetition.
Do these little by little and make sure to rest in between each repetition. These really work the muscles in your forearms.
Your muscles will be screaming at you, but just keep at it and they’ll get stronger!
Chapter 5: The Forearm Forklift
This exercise is great for strengthening the muscles in the base of your thumb. For this you will need a weight (barbell is best).
You don’t need much weight, even five pounds will work.
Grasp the bar in an overhand grip (palm facing you) with your arms extended in front of you. Now slowly extend your arms out to each side until they are at a 90 degree angle from your body—that is one repetition.
This exercise may seem easy, but it isn’t! Do as many as you can and add weight whenever you can.
Chapter 6: Forearm isometrics
For this, you’ll need a partner. First, you need to know which muscles you’re going to work.
You work the muscles on the topside of your forearm with one exercise and the muscles on the underside of your forearm with another exercise. Here are the exercises:
Muscles on top of forearm:
Sources & references used in this article: