Adjust That Movement: The Kettlebell Pistol Grip

Gimmicky adjustments don’t do much, but the pistol grip isn’t a gimmick. It’s a transformation.

We have been adjusting certain kettlebell lifts/ lifters to the “pistol grip” hand position for quite some time, and have been pleased with our findings.

This semi-minor positioning adjustment allows us to keep the weight closer to our body, often making it feel much more manageable, as well as improving both efficiency and timing in transitions from lift-to-lift.

Additionally, for those that tend to internally rotate/ over-extend the arm when performing single-arm kettlebell lifts, the “pistol grip” is a great safety net and simple reminder to keep the upper body square and fully engaged!

Our process of adjusting or modifying a position always involves asking questions:

  • Are we improving the function of the lift/ movement without taking anything away?
  • Is it safer? Stronger?
  • Are we better able to manage the weight we’re lifting and/ or our bodies around it?

If the answer is no, or even just maybe, then the process continues and the adjustment is paused. Modifications for the sake of themselves are gimmicks, and willingness to pass off novelty as progress is a large part of why the fitness industry is so confusing to so many people.

If changing something previously proven to work doesn’t simply, observably, and explainably improve it, then don’t change it. Don’t stop evaluating, but don’t pull the trigger until you’re sure of your target; Misinformation is far worse than no information.

When making the adjustment from a horizontal to vertical hand position in single-arm kettlebell lifting, it is important to remember/ retain all the basics:

-Firm grip, not death grip.

-Hand in the top corner of the kettlebell (yes, it matters… ).

-Arm “short and straight”: Pull the shoulders back/ broaden the chest evenly without intentionally bending the elbow!

How we address/ handle the kettlebell goes a long, long way in determining us reaching our lifting – and therefore, our overall strength and conditioning – potential. Timing and fluidity of the transitions from lift-to-lift, impact on the body, and sustainability of chosen weights are all greatly impacted by how and where we hold the kettlebell and how we position our bodies.

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