If you do high reps with kettlebells then there is a possibility you’ll rip/blister your hands if you meet one or several of the following conditions:
- You don’t maintain your hands and remove calluses
- Technique needs work
- Incorrect programming
- Incorrect grip
- Incorrect transition
- Not using chalk
- Skipping proper progression
- Not conditioned
You will feel the hands become tender before they rip and you should stop before they rip unless you’re in a competition. If you let your hands rip, yes it can be seen as a “Look at me, I’ve gone past the pain and was tough enough to not stop”, I’ve been there too.
In general, it’s not worth it and will put you out of action for at least a week or more.
Hands can rip due to:
1) incorrect technique
2) too heavy
3) incorrect programming
Kettlebell hand injuries
The most common kettlebell exercises that can cause hand injuries (blisters and ripped skin) are:
- Drop from overhead in the full snatch
- Drop from the rack in the half snatch or clean
- Bobbing at the end of the backswing
All these issues can be avoided by learning the correct technique on kettlebell grips, how to drop the kettlebell, and how to swing a kettlebell.
Maintain your hands to prevent rips
No matter how good your kettlebell technique is, there will always be some kind of friction that causes the skin to thicken and create calluses, as this thickens over time it becomes hard and eventually tear. It’s important to maintain the calluses regularly and shave it off.
Check your kettlebell technique
Even if you’re maintaining your hands regularly but your technique is lacking, which means your hands will receive a lot of friction that could be prevented by understanding how to move the kettlebell and your body during the exercises, then you can still rip your hands.
It’s important to program for your current status/condition and goal, this means that if you program 200 unbroken snatches with a 24kg and your hands ripped, you programmed incorrectly. You would have been better off with a 16kg, or changing unbroken to an EMOM which would give you time to rest and maintain technique. It’s entirely possible to do high volume and not rip your hands by using the right weight, maintaining your hands, and have mastered the technique.
Incorrect grip and/or transition falls under technique. The most common causes are tight grip, not opening up at the right time, not transitioning into the right grip, etc.
Using chalk with kettlebells and high reps can help prevent friction, but it has to be the right amount of chalk used, and on long sessions, you will need to rechalk.
Lack of progression/conditioning
If you have everything right, you’re maintaining your hands, using good technique, and using chalk, but are lacking the right progression then you will not be conditioned and still rip your hands. As an example, you’ve been building up in sets of 10 and are conditioned for 100 unbroken snatches but if you add 150 and do 250, you would not be conditioned for this and can still rip your hands. This could be due to fatigue in the muscles that are responsible for correct technique, whether in the legs or arms.
Some kettlebell books that touch upon the above subjects are:
These books are also available on Amazon as hardcopies, Kindle, and as DVD. The same content can also be accessed as an online kettlebell course. If you’re part of our kettlebell training groups on Facebook you will be able to get a discount voucher from the announcements in the group pinned to the left of the group.
Kettlebell Exercise Encyclopedia