Kettlebell Hand Insertion

Hand Insertion drill. Steve Cotter/IKFF

You have arrived at a point in your journey where you are ready for instruction on a very precise Kettlebell-specific technique, the mastery of which will carry over into the practice of many, if not most of the various kettlebell exercises that you will learn and practice.

This technique is called the Kettlebell Hand Insertion.

But before reading further with this article, go directly to the article How to Float a Kettlebell, which will serve as a precursor technique to what you learn here.

You will need to learn and Practice Kettlebell Tossing and Catching and feel somewhat comfortable and confident with it before you can get the full benefits of the drill taught here.

Let’s pick up here where the Float a Kettlebell article leaves off.

You have learned how to Toss and Catch a kettlebell with one hand. You understand the idea of the kettlebell “floating” in the air, no longer moving upwards, but not yet falling downwards. It is in this moment of float that the next skill, Hand Insertion occurs.

Timing is of the essence and it is at that brief moment of float that your hand should be inserted into the handle. Of the specialized skills involved in kettlebell training, mastering the timing of the release and hand insertion is chief among them. Without learning how to properly insert your hand, you will not achieve good results in some of the most important kettlebell exercises.

After you have pulled the Kettlebell to chest level and released the grip, at the moment of float when it no longer is moving up and is not yet falling down, open your fingers and slide them as deeply in the handle as you can at a curved angle, until the medial portion of your forearm, the ulna (pinky side), blocks you from inserting the hand any further.

The hand is inserted deep into the handle so that wrist is in a relaxed, neutral position (not bent) and one side of the handle is sitting in the webbing between the thumb and index finger, and the other side of the handle is braced against the forearm bone. The handle is hanging downward so that the side of the handle sitting on the webbing of the thumb is above the other side of the handle.

which resting against the bony part of the forearm on the pinkie side.

From this Hand Insertion position, let the kettlebell fall, and catch with your fingers. Let it swing back at the bottom and repeat the swing-vertical pull-release-insert-drop-catch-backswing in a rhythmic, continuous pattern. 

As discussed in The Kettlebell Hook Grip, the goal is not to use a crushing death grip on the kettlebell which will create trauma to the skin of the hand and prematurely fatigue your grip, causing you to stop sooner. You want to get proficient at opening and closing the hand easily around the handle during repetitions of ballistic kettlebell exercises. The better you are at the technique of Hand Insertion the more volume you will be able to handle and that much more fitness you can develop. 

Clean and Snatch both use the hand insertion and can benefit from both the Kettlebell Toss and Catch and the Hand Insertion techniques. The difference is that in Clean, the hand inserts when the kettlebell is at chest level, and in Snatch, the hand inserts when the kettlebell is slightly above head level. Therefore, practice both Toss and Catch drill and the Hand Insertion drill at different heights, different release points.

The ultimate goal is to get very comfortable tossing, catching and inserting and own those movement in any range of motion.