How to Prevent Kettlebell Calluses

Flash back to late 2008. I am in training for my first Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification.

One of the things you have to do to get certified is the infamous 100 rep snatch test – 100 snatches with a 24 kilo kettlebell in 5 minutes or less.

So after a month or two of training for the test – still maybe three or four months out from the actual certification weekend – I decide to do my first trial run.

It goes fairly well. I get it done, but just in time – with maybe 10  or 15 seconds to spare, if I remember correctly.

Funny thing was though, my hands were feeling really “hot” during the last minute or two of the test.

So I look down, and am surprised to see that there is a streak of blood running down my right arm.  I had ripped a callus straight off and just powered through (with all the fatigue and willingness to get it done, I did not even realize it when it happened)!

This was a good lesson though – because my training was affected for the next week or so, and I did not want that to happen again.  So I have had to learn to take better care of my hands in my KB training.

I thought you might have similar problems?  So I shot a quick video with some tips to help.  Here is how to prevent kettlebell calluses:


** We have been talking a lot this week about complex training … and so this video is actually great timing … because when you are doing complexes, the KB is in your hand for a long period of time and is doing a lot of rotating around.  And this is exactly when your hands tend to get torn up the most.

SO if you picked up a copy of Challenge Complexes – or are just planning on doing more complexes in your programming in general – you’ll want to pay special attention to this one.

How to Prevent Kettlebell Calluses

(video recap)

I’ve got a new video for you today to show you three tips on how to save your hands when training with kettlebells.

This is a really common problem.  Almost everyday it seems, I get questions like

“How do I save my hands when training with kettlebells?”


“My calluses are getting ripped off during hard kettlebell training.  After my high rep snatch workout I look down and blood is running down my forearm!”

Well I’ve got three simple tips to help solve this one.

Number one is to stop gripping the kettlebell so hard. What’s probably happening is when you are doing something like a snatch or clean you are gripping the bell really hard to try and slow it down. So maybe for one single repetition I do a snatch and I grip it hard and it slows down the impact but that’s an artificial way to keep that from happening. What needs to happen is you actually grip the kettlebell less and improve your technique on the snatch. Or on the clean, you need to be able to punch your hand around and not grip it hard to keep it from smacking you in the wrist. With the snatch it is just about snapping the hips hard, doing a little bit of a high pull, getting the weight to float up there and spearing the hand through.

Check out some of my other videos on my Youtube channel. I’ve got a lot more tips and specifics on there on how to do the kettlebell snatch.

The same thing with the clean, you are just punching that hand around like you are drawing a six-shooter. Elbow stays close to the body and your hand just comes around the ‘bell. No impact, no need to crush the grip.

Number two, and this comes from practice and lots of repetitions, is you want to be able to transfer that kettlebell back and forth from (demonstrating) this part of your hand to this part of your hand to skip over the calluses.

So if I’m doing a snatch, I’m going back and the kettlebell is going to be more in the hook of my fingers. Then as it comes over the top I skip to this part of my hand and as I gooseneck it to the top it’ll flip back over to the other part. So really, my calluses aren’t getting a huge beating while I’m doing that.

Number three would be if your hands tend to sweat and you are going to lose your grip (this happens a lot with any kind of high rep single arm kettlebell work in particular) just use some lifting chalk. You can get it at your local sporting goods store. Really all this is going to do is dry your hands off and improve your grip. It definitely helps to improve your grip if your hands tend to get sweaty. You may like it or you may not…as you can see it is a little bit messy but its worth it if that is a problem that you’re having.

So there are three tips for you to save your hands when training with kettlebells. Start using those right away and see some improved results.

Keep training hard, and talk soon –


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