Monday, June 28, 2010

Kettlebell Clean and Jerk tips....

I noticed that some people have problems with their long cycle. I don't consider myself an expert, but I do have an eye for detail. Here are some tips that will help you out. Keep mind, these are RKC/RTK style as opposed to GS-style. Not that the style are that different, and GS guys are awesome athletes.

1) Jerk Grip: Most people use the same grip for the press as for the jerk portion of the long cycle. This is not optimal. You need to get the diagonal grip so that you can really load the tricep while keeping the biceps whip-like. If the handle is going across your hand, you will be stiff in the jerks. Also, you don't want to wrap your fingers around the bells when you do this, this flexes your CP joints, which stiffens your forearms (the muscles that flex the CP joint are extrinisic muscles) and the biceps. Keep your fingers on the outside of the bells. This will also keep your from banging your fingers between the bells. This is displayed very well in RTK.

2) Straight Wrist: I see a lot of people do this that have good form, so this is not a directive, but rather a suggestion. When cleaning the bells, you want to get the "V" between your thumb and forefinger on the outside horn of the bell. What this allows you to do is get that diagonal grip while still keeping a straight wrist. This is especially true when using the bigger (32kg +) non-GS style bells.

3) Initial Grip Setup: In order to get the diagonal grip, when you are setting up, start with your hands on the inside part of the "V" formed by the kettlebells. This will translate into gripping the top half of the handles, enabling you to get a better diagonal grip. You will almost feel like the KBs are an extension of your hands. More importantly, this will move the bells outward and back, improving your leverage.

4) The Clean: When you do the clean in the long cycle, you have to be:
a) Powerful with the hips
b) Fast with the hands
If you are passive with the hips, then you are forced to grip the bells. If you grip the bells, you can't be fast with the hands and you will have a hard time getting to a diagonal grip, and the jerk will be more like a push press. You want to have a powerful hip drive, and tame the arc with loose and fast moving hands.

5) Eye position: This is a very common mistake because of the subtlety. In my coaching I find that wherever the eyes go, the body follows. In the jerk portion of the long-cycle, a lot of people mimic what they do in the press, and that is look slightly upward. That works great for the press, because it improve leverages through thoracic extension and creates tension in the lats/arms. It is bad for the jerk because is separates the arm from the torso (reducing leg drive) and stiffens the arm. You want to look down on the horizon (as it says in RTK) to keep the bells connected to the torso and your upper body looser.

6) Hip vs. Knee action: In the "first dip" and "second dip" portion of the jerk, many people tend to dip with the hips going straight down and the knees going forward. This worsens your leverage and disconnects you from the floor. Try to get your hips back. If you feet come up while you are dipping, you are taking your posterior chain out of the movement, putting stress on your back and knees. I have found that this is very much affected by the poor grip positioning and/or eye focus.

7) Rotate the bells laterally in the rack: This was a tip I got from GS competitor/RKC Matt Schinaback. If you rotate the shoulders laterally while the bells are racked, you don't have to do them while you are jerking. This will tension out of the arms, giving you whippier jerks.

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