Kettlebell training and the things you don’t want to hear! Let’s talk about the things kettlebell beginners don’t want to hear about. This is hard to say and hard to listen to but they are the things everyone should hear and understand to truly make progress with the kettlebell and staying safe. This is not an “I am holier than thou article/video“, this is an “I made the same mistakes and want to help you avoid those“.
Kettlebell Training Has A High Learning Curve
The learning curve for kettlebell training is a lot higher than most other types of training. Conquering that learning curve will provide you with a versatile tool that will allow you to train for many different goals, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength, proprioception, coordination, power, and so much more. If you don’t invest the time into that learning curve then you will more than likely keep training while being uncomfortable and/or masking issues by wearing gloves, wrist bands, belts, and so on. Doing so means that you will stay at the same level of technique and make no progress when it comes to form and technique but also very little, if any at all, with any of the goals you’re working toward.
If you get injured while training with the kettlebell, don’t blame the kettlebell or exercise! The fault lies entirely with you for not investing time into research, progression, technique, and/or correct programming.
Kettlebell training can and should be 100% painless if you employ the correct technique. But time or time and money have to be invested into learning the correct technique rather than into protection for masking kettlebell training issues. If you learn the most fundamental things in kettlebell training, grips and racking, then you’re already one huge step ahead.
If you do things right and invest the time into learning kettlebell training correctly then it will be a lifelong thing, the kettlebell will become your new family member, and training will no longer be a chore but a normal part of your life. That is if you invest in the kettlebell if you explore all there is to explore, and there are a lot of kettlebell exercises and variations.
The Main Issue With Beginners
You are going to love the kettlebell so much that you will find it hard to slow down and give your body the rest it needs for the conditioning progress that is about to happen. You will ignore the aches and pains that are not going away and getting worse and worse. You think that it will go away by itself if you just ignore it or train harder. You think that there really is no difference between bending that elbow half a second earlier, there is no need to look into something as basic as grips, as a grip is just a grip. You are focused on just ramming out more reps and upping that weight.
How do I know all this? I know because I’ve seen it first hand in the gyms I’ve owned, I see it in the groups we run, I’ve seen it with people I trained in person, but most importantly, I can see it through sales statistics. On Cavemantraining we have several kettlebell workout books and they are very popular, not only on our website but also on Amazon. The kb workout books sell like pancakes but the most important book of all, the one that can mean a difference between being out of action for 3 to 12 months and training safely, that book is sold the least of all, meaning that hardly anyone is interested in learning how to prevent the most common kettlebell training injuries.
You should know that working out is not the same as training. Training is where you invest time into learning kettlebell technique, slow down, focus, film yourself and assess yourself. Working out is where you put your training to the test. Working out is usually where you speed things up, focus on pumping out as many rounds as possible or get your time down as much as possible to pump out X amount of reps. All that is great but should never be your sole focus and certainly not when you’re just starting out.
As a beginner in kettlebell training, you should focus on building yourself up by sticking to the most fundamentals exercises and building upon those. Own the movements, master the movements, when you have mastered a movement slowly, only then do you know that you’re ready for the next step. Fast is easy. Slow is difficult. A good example is the following progression:
- Bodyweight squat
- Squat deadlift
- Hang clean
- Dead clean
- Dead snatch
First, you own the movement with ROM, strength, and form and technique with the squat deadlift. Then you add explosive power at a reduced range, the hang clean. Then you increase the range with the dead clean. And finally, you add full-range, the dead snatch. All these exercises are based on exactly the same movement but different ranges and speeds.
Back to the harsh things people don’t want to hear. It’s clear that people don’t want to invest a measly $29.95, 2 to 5 hours of reading, to avoid something that could put them out of action for a long time or any of the following:
- Back pain
But rather invest in wrist bands, lifting belts, and gloves. Dive straight into the workouts rather than spending time on getting things right.
Develop a discipline where you don’t focus on reps. Yes, you should focus on pushing yourself and getting out as many reps as possible (when the workout calls for it) but it should be at a pace where you can maintain good form and technique, at a pace where you can be proud of each rep, and at a pace where you know you are not cheating yourself. If you don’t, you’ll develop a downhill battle with injuries. When you do, that’s when you start making gains and stay injury-free.
The majority of beginners do not set goals. You have to set goals. That doesn’t necessarily mean more weight or more reps, at least not at first. Set goals of mastering an exercise in a progression, a progression to the dead snatch for example.
- Master the bodyweight squat (work on range and strength)
- Study the free PDF Master Kettlebell Grips
- Study the free PDF Master Kettlebell Racking
- Drill your assisted dead clean for hand insertion until it becomes second nature (work on grip)
- Master the squat deadlift (work on the movement and pulling)
- Master the assisted hang clean
- Master the hang clean
- Master the dead clean
- Master the dead snatch
- Complete workouts with these exercises
This is just one example of something that could take you weeks or months to work on. It’s a goal to work toward. It’s easy enough to put these goals together for yourself if you understand the progressions and once you start seeing patterns. The Kettlebell Exercise Encyclopedia is a great book to use for creating goals yourself. Get creative, enjoy yourself, and help others by sharing the progressions you’ve created.
What exactly does mastering something mean? To master something means to be skilled and knowledgeable about a subject, in our case, a kettlebell exercise. When you master a kettlebell exercise it means you understand the movement, why you are doing something a certain way, how and why to adjust, the finer little nuances of stance, position, grip, transition, etc. Understand why you’re squatting, the benefits, the muscles used, and so on. Understand why you are transitioning grip. Understand the benefits of power exercises and why you want to use them. Understand why your arm should be extended for as long as possible during an explosive movement powered by the legs. And the list goes on.
Know What You’re Doing Or Wanting To Do
Most beginners don’t know what they want to do or are doing. The “want” brings us back to goals (see above). The “knowing what you’re doing” means that you start by understanding that there are many different variations of something, a thing that even popular Men’s Magazines get wrong—then again, they get a lot wrong because it’s all about clicks and views with them.
Knowing what you want to do and why is important to be able to get the right feedback when you get your knowledge from free and public kettlebell groups. A good example is the kettlebell swing. A lot of people think that a kettlebell swing is just one type of swing, just like the men’s magazine article I linked above, but there are many different types of swings, all with different goals. So, let’s say you are looking for a swing that taxes your cardiovascular system quite quickly then you want to do a swing with a squat movement because it involves more joints and muscles. BUT, if you post a video of your kettlebell swing you will receive a lot of mixed feedback and most people telling you to change it to a hip hinge. If you knew what you were doing and why then you could have included that in your post, prevented a lot of useless chatter, and gotten more specific instructions.
The fact that most people are misled by Men’s Magazines in regards to what is wrong and right also isn’t going to help. A squat swing is correct if that’s what you intend to do and are executing it correctly. A pendulum swing is correct if you are wanting to work on endurance. A Hardstyle swing is correct if you are wanting to work on power. And so on. If you don’t know what you’re doing or why you’re supposed to be doing it, that’s the first step to take. Ask or buy information to expand your knowledge.
Stop Being Scared
Start progressing, start asking questions, and start posting in our groups. Stop being scared of what others think, stop comparing yourself to what someone else does. You will only learn and progress if you leave your ego at the door and stop being scared to post your videos and/or ask for feedback. There will always be someone better than you or me, there will always be someone better than the person you are comparing with, but this is about you, and you alone. Remember, that person you are comparing with was once at your level. Don’t be scared to show where you are at.
Be Open To Feedback
A lot of beginners aren’t open to feedback, and I have been there too, it’s sometimes hard to receive criticism. It can be very hard. I analyze myself a lot and pay attention to how I feel and react, I am now ashamed of some of the aggressive responses I provided in some cases. Of course, there is a difference between feedback from trolls, nasty people, and well-meaning people. It might take a while to suss that out. The great thing about our online communities is that our Cavemnatrainign team has been working hard for years to create one of the most positive environments when it comes to kettlebell training groups. We don’t have a hierarchy in the group of top dogs who think they are all that and can do what they want because they’ve been a member for an X amount of years. When you post, if you are respectful, you can be assured that you will receive respect in return.
Joining our online kettlebell communities is a must. It’s great to post and keep track of your progress, it’s great to post and ask for feedback, and sometimes it’s great to post to just get some motivation for yourself. Join our free communities here. There is also our famous Caveman Inner Circle which I highly recommend you join. It’s a private group with almost 100 members that are there for one thing and one thing only, to receive the most awesome kettlebell workouts each week, access our 150+ kettlebell workout library, and learn from some of the best kettlebell coaches in the world.