The secret is out – adding kettlebells to your exercise routine produces unparalleled results in terms of improving your strength, power, flexibility, and body composition. However, when things become popular the subtle nuances are often overlooked. Here are 5 common mistakes often seen when someone has not received instruction from a qualified RKC or HKC certified professional.
1. Wearing Shoes w/ An Elevated Heel
Training barefoot allows for proper body mechanics and increased stability though enhanced sensory perception through receptors on the bottom of your feet. An elevated heel throws your weight forward onto the toes, exponentially increasing shearing forces on the knee as well as causing Mistake #2 – lack of hip-hinge. Nike Shox, Reebok ZigTechs, and Sketchers Tone-ups are some of the worst offenders. Save your money and don’t be fooled by the marketing hype!
2. No Hip-hinge
Hip-hinging is a basic human movement which allows you to properly load and use the glutes(butt) and hamstrings as opposed to your lower back and knees. Learning to effectively produce movement and power at the hips is also the foundation of athletic movement and performance. The lack of a hip-hinge results in the trainee ‘squatting’ their swings and deadlifts, further feeding the quad dominance so common today. Push with your tush!
3. Using Too Light A Weight
Heavy is a relative term, and the number on the bell should not be the only thing that denotes progress – but these ridiculously small 5lb. and 10lb. kettlebells are all but useless and a waste of time. After quality instruction and consistent training even an 18lb. bell becomes not much more than a paperweight for most. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, using too light a bell is just as dangerous as using one that is too heavy. Seek out a professional to help decide on the appropriate weight to start for your skill level.
4. Poor Shoulder and Wrist Position
In addition to being major causes of rotator cuff injuries and other common shoulder ailments, these technical errors are also a major source of energy leakage and therefore a drain on power, strength, and performance. Proper wrist positioning when training with kettlebells requires a locked and neutral wrist – think ‘knuckles up’. Failure to do so makes it almost impossible to maintain a ‘packed’ or connected shoulder – resulting in them rounding forward or shrugging up towards the ears. Think of tucking your shoulder blades in your back pocket - down & back.
5. Breathing Incorrectly
Yes. There is actually a wrong way to breathe. Most people do so by breathing into their chest as opposed to using their diaphragm. Proper breathing when using kettlebells should be audible to those around you. The intra-abdominal pressure created by forcefully ‘sniffing’ IN during the bottom or ‘catch’ of the movement combined with the forceful exhale through the exertion portion of each rep is essential for lower back safety. It also helps establish a rhythm or pace to the set. ‘Brace’ your abdominals in a similar fashion as you would to receive a punch.
The common theme with the above mistakes is a reduction in safety, exponentially increasing your risk of injury. If you are injured you can’t train, if you can’t train you can’t accomplish your goals. Have an RKC or HKC instructor show you how to correct these common mistakes and take your training to the next level.