“You wouldn’t want to go downhill mountain biking before you learned how to ride a bike…”
The above quote is from one of my teenage clients and the analogy in it absolutely applies to Kettlebell exercises. From time to time I’ve seen folks being led through high level Kettlebell training routines without being at all familiar with some very basic principles of Kettlebell training, both by personal trainers and in group classes.
I can’t blame the trainer for wanting to use Kettlebells with their clients, Kettlebells are awesome! When I first started lifting Kettlebells on my own I basically had no idea what I was doing, and I loved it. But even then, and certainly by the time that I did get certified to teach others, I was still only working within the scope of my understanding.
The main question that ruled my professional practice was “would I want a movement to look like that with a heavy Kettlebell?” If the answer was "no" then I would stop right there, make corrections, additions, and adjustments and then carry on with the progression. I wasn’t, metaphorically speaking, taking my beginner students, throwing them on a bike, and sending them flying down the “Stowe Flow” trail.
Because here’s the deal, there are some foundational principles that go into using Kettlebells! These principles are how we Kettlebell Swing without back pain, how we Kettlebell Clean or Kettlebell Snatch without wrist bruises or fear, Kettlebell Press without shoulder pain, and do heavy Kettlebell GetUps with full control. When these foundations are not taught at the beginning of a Kettlebell training practice it makes for most of the discomfort and lack of confidence that people find with using Kettlebells.
This is why it can be helpful that if you’re planning to work with Kettlebells you find a Kettlebell Instructor, or attend a Kettlebell Workshop or a Kettlebell Specific Group Class. These all can go a long way to keeping your progressions steady, safe, and confident!
Just remember what the young lifter said, “ You’d never go downhill mountain biking before you learned how to ride a bike”... believe me you!