The humble kettlebell is quite possibly one of the most underrated pieces of equipment in your local gym. Truth is, these little suckers are so versatile that you could have a damn good workout without picking up another weight. From Russian circus performers to the military and now your local gym, the ability to combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training all in one is why the kettlebell has risen to prominence in the last couple of years.
In fact, it’s so popular that we now have a World Champion for Kettlebells. His name is Dave POW Tabain and he sure knows how to swing a kettle. Born in a small country town, Dave POW Tabain is a three-time World Kettle Bell Champion with both national and international records. What’s more, Dave has a passion for motivational speaking and writing. With the release of his second book, POWMAN–Discover The Strength Within, Dave and his co-author Nadia are looking to help kids who have to adjust to a new environment.
We got in contact with the POWMAN himself to see if he could offer any tips to improve our own Kettlebell training. He did not disappoint. Here are the 3 x Kettlebell World Champs’ top 5 training tips.
5 Kettlebell Training Tips from 3 x World Champion Dave POW Tabain
1. Hinge vs. Squat
The biggest technique flop I see in gyms with people using kettlebells is that they do not know that most of the Kettlebell Signature lifts like the swing, snatch and cleans are predominantly done with a hinge movement rather than a squatting movement. Obviously you can complete all lifts with either depending on your desired training goal but many fail to accurately utilise the hip hinge to generate power, force and momentum whilst training with kettlebells which hinders both their endurance, efficiency and load-bearing capabilities and because this is done unknowingly they are increasing the risk of injury and generally missing the point of the movements.
2. Momentum vs. Tension
Being fast and strong is the goal of many but sadly being strong and dumb is the case for more. Kettlebell lifting is an art form that teaches you to use adequate amounts of strength for anyone lift and also teaches (tires) you out if you do not use momentum and adequate tension during your lifts. There is no hero award for grunting and puffing more than needed whilst lifting kettlebells in its traditional form which is for power endurance. The more you can learn to become one with the kettlebell, move with it not against it the more you’ll learn to master the strength you do have and develop that with efficiency on top.
3. Hand Positioning
Just like mentioned above, excess tension in the body will tire you out prematurely and anyone who ever arrives prematurely knows that that isn’t always the best to boast about. Whilst lifting Kettlebells your hand position is key, the Handle rarely rests in your hand like a dumbbell and more rests from the thumb/first finger diagonal to the bottom corner of your palm. This position is utilised in the pressing movements which assist in keeping your hand/wrist aligned and not bent over. Having your wrist bent over whilst doing your pressing movements prematurely tires your wrist and I’ve even seen lifters break their wrists/arms when lifting decent weight for time.
4. No Chicken Wing-Ding
Do you like chicken wings? Sweet, that’s good to know but I tell you that whilst lifting Kettlebells Chicken Winging your elbows out will cost you more than it’s worth. By chicken winging I mean whilst in the rack position, you are holding your arm out in front of you or to the side and not resting it on your body. Imagine your elbow being in contact with your body in the rack position. This is key for preparing for any overhead press position. My original Teacher Mark Elliott always taught me that my pressing capabilities were only as good as my ability to set myself up in the rack position with the weight/arm rested on my body and not held out wasting strength/energy. Having your arm pulled in sign also allows for you to transfer power from your trunk to bounce/drive the kettlebell from the rack position to overhead.
5. Training vs. Practice
For me learning the artform of Kettlebell lifting made it more than a training tool. It was both a skill and a mindset in learning to move efficiently, effectively and to best utilise my energy which carries over to all other types of training for me. I treated each training session as ‘practice’ and saw strength more as a ‘skill’ to acquire through technique, efficiency and upgrading my nervous system. I sought every opportunity to hone my craft through daily repetition and with that in mind, daily practice advanced my craft and ability to master the kettlebell than anyone training program along.
POWMAN – Discover the Strength Within
Make sure you take a peek at Dave’s book. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for girls and boys.
Photos credited to Pete Charlesworth.