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RIPT: Hand-in-hand with sport - Kettlebell Athletes

Posted by Devin Glage on


Although gymnasts and CrossFit athletes and rowers all deal with the inevitable evils of ripped hands from time to time, Kettlebell athletes just might get the worst dose of it.

Ben Poss still remembers the horrors of his hands when he completed his Russian KB certification RKC (Russian Kettebell Challenge). It was a three-day course, meaning his hands didn’t get a break for three entire days.

One of the things he had to do on the first day was 100 KB snatches with a 24 kg KB in less than five minutes without putting the KB down.

“Those three days of high volume KB training was the most punishment my hand have ever suffered,” said Poss.

He added: “Both hands had torn calluses by the third day, and my hands were absolutely raw by the end of the graduation workout – The Deep Six.”

Here is a link to the workout if you would like to try it yourself: http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/kettlebells-strength-conditioning-forum/138876-rkc-deep-six.html

After years of experience, and tearing up his hands numerous times, Poss can be considered an expert in the field of hand care for kettlebell athletes. 

Ben’s Tips

Condition your calluses

Poss swears he wouldn’t have survived without his callous cutter.  “I have a callous cutter and when I was doing a lot of volume training prep for the course, I shaved my hands down each night before I got in the shower and moisturized a ton after,” he said.

A note from RIPT on callus cutters: While callus cutters or shavers (or razor blades), can be effective tools for removing your thick calluses, a common mistake many athletes make is removing way too much callus. The trick is to thin your calluses down to the living layer so they remain naturally hydrated by your body and thus flexible. This leaves you with tough, stretchy calluses less prone to ripping. Taking off too much callus can leave you with over-sensitive skin and deep gouges on your hands where your calluses used to be. This causes your body to react and attempt to aggressively thicken the sensitive skin, leaving you with even thicker calluses that are more likely to rip.

Moral of the story... don't cut the calluses off your hands, just shave them down and contour them with a fine grit pumice stone. 

Relax your grip

His other advice has to do with grip. “Don’t over grip the handle of the bell,” he said. What he means is to keep as loose of a grip as possible to eliminate some of the worst friction between your hands and the kettlebell. Proper kettlebell handle positioning will also help to prevent rips. The handle should lay through your hand and over your thumb to form a 45 degree angle. A tip to achieving this is to start by setting your thumb and index finger at the inside corner of the kettlebell handle when you pick it up. 

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