How To Take Care Of Your Hands When You’re Kettlebell Training

 Remember this picture….

kettlebell training hand care 

 

That was the massacre that were my hands when I was preparing for my RKC snatch test last summer.

A few torn callouses.  Some torn blisters.  A little bit of blood.

The unfortunate thing about high-rep kettlebell training is that your hands WILL take a beating.  I don't care how "expert" you are or how perfect your technique is.  When you get to the point when you're pushing and you feel good, you'll sacrifice a little pain in the hands to get your snatch numbers.  

It's kind of similar to a runner's high….When you're at a point in your kettlebell training session where you're in a groove, you're dialed in with your technique, your heart and lungs feel like they can go forever and your muscles – despite the fact that you're on rep 94 – feel like they can do 100 reps more.

Why bother stopping just because you feel a callous starting to tear, right?

Right.

I've been there many a time, and thanks to the advice of many from the RKC world, I've gotten countless tips on how to keep my hands healthy so that it doesn't negatively affect my training – because having torn hands will usually mean lost training sessions for most.

I've seen RKC Tracy Reifkind's Sock Sleeve – where you cut the band of a crew sock to fit over your palm.  This didn't work for me as the sleeve kept on slipping out of place but I know many that swear by it.  So give it a shot.

Some people use chalk to limit the amount of moisture build-up and "stick" that the bell may have.  The problem with chalk, however, is that with smooth kettlebell handles with glossy paint (like the ones they have at the gym I sometimes train at), sticking is inevitable.  

If you are seriously considering doing high-rep snatch work, I suggest you look into getting Dragon Door Kettlebells because they have, by far, the best handles for high rep work that you can find.

=>Get Dragon Door Kettlebells HERE

And then there's the Blackburn Tape Pads (and I'm calling it that because I learned this trick from my buddy, RKC Ryan Blackburn, who was one of the RKC assistants on my team).  I think this taping concept is similar to what you'll see on the hands of gymnasts who use the uneven bars, parallel bars and rings.

It involves you taping around your middle & ring finger and then creating long strip pads that extend to cover your palm (adhesive side down) to cover the most vulnerable area of your hand.  

I've found these to be great because the bell slides nicely and doesn't "catch" at all.

Obviously that description didn't do the Blackburn Tape Pads any justice, so before my high-rep snatch workout – which I'm doing instead of stupid cardio – I filmed a quick video of how to make them below…

6 Comments

  • Reply July 29, 2011

    Alan K

    Chris;
    I’ve subscribed to your blog for a couple of years and generally like it. I appreciate your efforts and advice. However you completely missed the boat on the torn hands are inevitable issue with high rep snatch work. proper technique can and will elimnate torn hands. Refer people to Steve Cotter’s videos on snatch technique or Dennis Kinygen’s POV, or watch Ivan Desinov complete over 700 snatches of the 24 kg bell with one hand switch.
    Torn hands are nothing more than an indication that technique needs improvement, not an indication of high volume. As a coach you teach your student to focus on technique to maximize benefit. Snatch is no different. Don’t compromise and accept torn hands. You are better than that.

  • Reply July 29, 2011

    Debbie

    Thanks Chris, this is helpful. I’ll use them for pull-ups too! Calloused hands just don’t look good on a girl! They don’t feel good either, so this should help.

  • Reply July 29, 2011

    BillyBob

    Check out some of the “real” Russian lifter do snatches and how they protect their hands via proper technique. Most common issues with torn hands are poor technique, fix that and you won’t need gloves, tapes or socks.

  • Reply July 29, 2011

    Joe

    Sweet. Thanks Chris!

  • Reply July 31, 2011

    Mark Macknis

    Can’t wait to give it a try. I have had good success with your idea of using an Emory board and filing down the callouses. Thanks again Chris!

  • Reply July 31, 2011

    MikeB

    Good idea, I’ve done something similar when I first started and was having serious issues keeping my hands from tearing up. Sense then I’ve picked up training in Girya Sport style and found that the change in form has stopped my callouses from tearing and my numbers have gone up. Have you thought about or ever looking into GS as a way to improve on the snatch form?

    Mike

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