Road to the RKC – Week 5: A Minor Set Back

 So I experienced a minor setback while I was training last Saturday….



It was my own ignorance and stupidity that lead to me ripping 2 callouses – 1 on each hand – while doing my snatch test last week.

The good news is that I'm able to do the required 100 snatches in 5 minutes or less (4:47 to be exact).  

The bad news is that I have to take some time off the ballistic training until my hands heal.

I tried to do some "on the minute" snatches yesterday but could only get up to 8 minutes because some of the newly formed skin on my right hand hand started to rip.  I was using "the sock protection" method that I learned on the the Dragon Door RKC Requirement Page, but that didn't help.

So instead of the ballistic stuff (mainly snatches & cleans – swings don't seem to bother me as much), I ‘ll be focusing my efforts on mastering high rep squats, military presses (my weakest of all the kb lifts) and Turkish Get Ups.

In fact, yesterday's workout ended up being pretty good after I stopped doing snatches.  I kept it nice and simple and really enjoyed it.

Here's what went down yesterday….

Warm-Up – Full stretches for my psoas, 30s bridge series, 15 x inch-worm push-ups, 15 x hindu squats, 10 x reverse stretching lunges, 10 x burpees

1) "on the minute" snatches x 8 mins – brutal.  I stopped when I saw blood.

2) Turkish Get Up Ladder – 5/side @ 16kg, 4/side @ 20kg, 3/side @ 24kg, 3/side @ 24kg, 4/side @ 20kg, 5/side @ 16kg

3) Burpees x 50


The TGU ladder was actually fun.  I guess because I was constantly switching kettlebells, it made for a less monotonous workout and forced me to really challenge myself to get my reps done as quickly as possible.

The burpees were surprisingly manageable, so I think next time I'll really try to increase my numbers.

Today, I'll focus on the Military Press and heavy swings using my 36kg kettlebell.  And of course, I'll probably throw in some rows and/or chin-ups.

As far as treating my hands go…

I bought some emery boards at the grocery store last night (my kids called me "girly" when I put them in the cart – nice) to file down the callouses that haven't ripped.  I waiting patiently as the new skin forms on the ripped callouses and have cut off and filed down as much of the hard skin as I could.

I've been using coconut oil to moisturize my hands (and my body for that matter – thank you Dr. Mercola), so the skin on my hands are buttery soft – except for the callouses at the base of my fingers.

I'm hoping that with good care my hands will feel better by Friday when I have to do the snatch test again.  I'll probably test it out and if it doesn't feel all that good, I'll skip the ballistic stuff altogether for the week.

I guess the takeaway lessons from this experience would be:

1) Take care of every part of your body because it's the weak link in the chain that will set you back.

2) Don't make excuses. There are a myriad of exercises that you can still do if you're injured. Just assess the situation (get help from a professional if you must), determine what you ARE able to do, then keep working hard and don't lose momentum.

More updates next week.

Train Smart,



  • Reply September 1, 2010


    Torn up hands from snatches is from bad technique and can easily be prevented with proper hand position during the snatch. Email me if you need more info.

    Cornhuskers is the best thing for kettlebell hands.

  • Reply September 1, 2010


    Cut the torn callous caps off. Get some rubbing alcohol and treat the exposed skin underneath with it. It only burns the first couple of times. This will toughen the exposed skin.

    Try some gloves, or buy a product called “moleskin” and tape it over you palm. Moleskin may be called something different in Canada.

    All the best!

  • Reply September 1, 2010

    Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT


    If I’m getting torn callouses from bad technique then maybe it be best if you critique my technique over the blog so that all the other readers can learn from your expertise. I think there is enough video up on the blog for you to see how my snatches are performed. If not, then let me know what angle you’d prefer to see to better give you an optimal look.

    As far as hand position goes, I grab the bell more toward the inside and use a “thumbs down” grip on the down swing when I perform both cleans & snatches.

    Hope that helps.


  • Reply September 1, 2010

    Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

    Thanks, J!

    I did the alcohol thing when it first happened so I’ll continue to do that until the skin toughens up.


  • […] Road to the RKC – Week 5: A Minor Set Back […]

  • Reply September 1, 2010

    Rachel Macmanus

    Hi Chris,
    well done on achieving 100 snatches in 4.47!
    I am trying to achieve the same- however for me I need to be able to complete 90 snatches in 5 mins which is the requirement for the Kettle Bell training course I am attending in mid october and currently can manage 80 snatches but over a 10 minute period. Any advice to help me reach my goal would be greatly appreciated!



  • Reply September 1, 2010


    Hi Chris,

    Sorry about your hands. Every athlete will have set backs when they push the envelope. Exploring new frontiers within ourselves is what makes life worth living and fun.

    Having said that based on my own experience as I learned you probably are holding the kettlebell handle too hard especially as you shift direction during the punch through and do not release it which causes pinching and tearing of your callous.

    I believe what Dale is referring to is a technique involves shifting the kettlebell weight from the third digit of your fingers (base of your fingers) to the base of your hand as you punch through.

    This essentially allows the handle to move over the callous areas in a suspended form. I hope this helps. Next time I am in front of the camera, I’ll get a video for you.

    Best of luck.


  • Reply September 1, 2010

    Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT


    That’s awesome advice. Thank you, I know exactly what you’re talking about and will pay more attention to it now. True though, that I was pushing the envelope as I wanted to get my 100 done in under 4:50 and wasn’t paying much attention to form than I was to getting the work done.

    Thanks, Vishy. I appreciate it.

  • Reply September 1, 2010

    jason K

    DUDE!–so sorry ..but you are still on track–the one thing GS/RKC/AKC
    KB training has taught me is to be patient,never “greedy”-
    I am currently cutting back my training due to sore forearms on both sides–
    loose”fixation”@ the lock-out,and going too far too soon(adductors=sore to the touch)
    Re: calluses–all comments above echo my advice-once healed-try”newskin-the bowler’s best friend”,….until 100%.
    One question-please explain”on the min. snatches”?–how many reps/min.?X8..
    thanks and good recovery to us BOTH!!
    Jason Koronakos MS CPT CES

  • Reply September 1, 2010


    hi chris,
    to speed up the healing process try calendule balm, several times a day.
    it is a natural product and i hope you can get it in canada.
    kind regards
    personal trainer
    bowen practitioner
    the netherlands

  • […] Road t&#959 th&#1077 RKC – Week 5: A Minor Set Back […]

  • Reply September 1, 2010


    Wow funny that I jst did the same thing 2day…cut bak the loose skin clean it up and let it BREATHE wile ur doing day to day stuff then wen you train tape it up a bit (because uve been letting it breathe otherwise theyll harden up a bit and wont b so sore training with tape over them)

  • Reply September 1, 2010


    Hey Chris,

    Question…what suggestions would you give or would you do for clients who have been told they have bulging discs (L4-5). Ive been an athlete all of my life, I am in the fitness field…and it is just killing me to not be able to train right now.

    Any thoughts??? Help??? Encouragement??? Things to try???


  • Reply September 1, 2010

    Body Workout 101

    Road to the RKC ? Week 5: A Minor Set Back…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  • Reply September 2, 2010


    Hey Chris, sorry about your set back. Have you ever heard of Compeed blister patches?…………not sure if they’re called the same over your way, but worth the try if you can find some.

    Cheers Vicki

  • Reply September 3, 2010

    TJ Carrell

    I work for the USPS, so I use some of these rubberized gripping gloves we have at work when I am doing a lot of lifting. They not only protect your hands, they help you grip without worrying about sweating and blisters. They are heavy duty and work like a charm.

  • Reply September 8, 2010



    Here is what you need to learn. There is no grip in snatches, make no difference where you grab the bell. The technique is to “not” grip the bell. Let me explain.

    When you are swinging the bell in the hick pass or “drop” the bell is simply hooked on your fingers. It’s all in the strength of the fingers as thy hook the bell. Next, as the bell goes up towards the lockout, it does NOT pass over calluses it bypasses the calluses and lands on the palm in an open hand with a straight licked wrist.

    the same happens when you drop from the lock out. the bell will be suspended with nothing at all touching it until it gets about neck level where your fingers will grab the bell handle and go into the hike pass. Again, There is no contact of the bell on the calluses.

    I will have to make a video of this to show you.

    • Reply September 8, 2010

      Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

      Hey Dale

      That’s great stuff and really explains things for me. I actually learned that on my own after I had torn the calluses because I ripped them during the “drop” phase. I have no pain when I’m punching and locking out because, as you say, the bell doesn’t pass over the calluses. That was never the issue, it was always the drop where things started to get painful.

      Your verbal explanation helped a lot. no need to film unless you’d like to .


  • Reply September 8, 2010


    The drop is where things get really messed up so keep working on that. I might make a video anyhow, it may help a few peeps and only takes a minute

  • Reply September 8, 2010


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