Kettlebell Overhead Lock-out and Fixation

What is the kettlebell overhead lock-out and what is fixation?

The overhead lock-out is where the arm is straight and the kettlebell weight is resting on the skeleton system.

Fixation is where the kettlebell is in proper overhead lock-out and not moving for a split second. It’s a moment where you show total control over the weight.

Following are some of the kettlebell exercises where you use the overhead lock-out (but not limited to):

  • Turkish get-up
  • Snatch
  • Press
  • Jerk
  • Overhead squat
  • Windmill
  • Surrender

The requirements for a good overhead lock-out are:

  • Shoulder stability
  • Shoulder range of motion
  • Shoulder and triceps strength
  • A good handle position
  • The weight resting on the skeleton system

A good kettlebell lockout is where the:

  • Arm is straight
  • Elbow is locked out
  • Wrist is straight
  • Kettlebell is positioned right above the shoulder
  • Chest and shoulders are packed
  • Lats active to pull the shoulder down
  • Fingers are loosely closed or relaxed and open

How to lock out the elbow?

You lock your elbow out by contracting your triceps, which are the muscles at the back of your upper arm (opposite of the biceps).

Not having a good lockout could be cause for:

  • Shoulder injury
  • Fewer reps
  • Incomplete reps
  • Invalid reps

Muscles used for overhead lock-out and fixation:

  • Latissimus dorsi to pull the shoulder down into its socket
  • Triceps to lockout the elbow
  • Teres minor, to help hold the humeral head in the glenoid cavity of the scapula
  • Trapezius (inferior region) to depress the scapulae
  • Rhomboids to push the chest out
  • Pronator teres to pronate the forearm (when palm facing inwards)
  • Pronator quadratus to pronate the forearm (when palm facing inwards)[/signinlocker]

Other muscles used for body lock-out, fixation, and stability:

  • Quadriceps to lock the knees
  • Gluteus to lock the hips
  • Obliques to brace the abdomen
  • Abdominals to brace the abdomen

The direction of the palm

The palm can be facing outwards or inwards, I’m of the opinion that this is a personal preference and different based on body type. However, there is the fact that the palm facing inwards requires pronation of the forearm, whereas the palm facing forward is a natural position and requires no pronation nor supination, thus requiring less muscle engagement.

The rest of the body for the overhead lockout:

  • Looking ahead
  • Knees straight
  • Hips straight
  • Glutes squeezed
  • Core braced[/signinlocker]


The differences between the overhead lockout in kettlebell training and kettlebell sport, in kettlebell training the lockout is usually one straight line from the feet to the hands. Whereas in kettlebell sport there is an arch in the back, the chest pressed out and the hands are positioned more behind the head. Or the complete opposite and the arm is in front of the head when looking side-on. This saves on going full range with shoulder flexion.

Things preventing a good lock-out:

  • Computer shoulders/rounded shoulders
  • Lack of strength
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of mind-muscle connection
  • Lack of understanding what muscles to activate
  • Fatigue
  • Laziness

Why lock-out?

Why even bother to lockout, right? If you’re like me there has to be a reason to do something, and there are plenty of reasons to lockout, with the main one being safety and demonstrating control of the kettlebell. If you’re not taking the time to lock out you’re probably half arsing your reps, letting the kettlebell control you rather than the other way around.

If you’re doing competitions, whether it’s kettlebell sport, CrossFit, or something else, there has to be a standard for anything overhead, the lock-out is it.

If you’re not locking out, you’re not working on shoulder stability or flexibility, and who doesn’t want a stronger shoulder with a greater range of motion? If you’re not locking out, the weight is resting on the muscular system rather than the skeleton system, this would cause early fatigue.

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