The Kettlebell Rack Position

Rack It!

Kettlebell Rack Position
Kettlebell Static Rack Hold. Steve Cotter/IKFF

Before mastering such technical lifts as the Kettlebell Clean and Kettlebell Snatch, it is important to be familiar with the Hand Insertion technique and how to “Rack” the kettlebell.

The Rack Position is when the kettlebell is resting on your forearm and against your chest, where the handle is hanging diagonally from the crease between the thumb and forefinger, down to the opposite wrist, below the level of the palm.

This hand insertion first learned in the Clean, and later in other Kettlebell lifts such as Snatch, Press, Jerk and any of the overhead lifts, is a key distinguishing function of a kettlebell that makes it behave differently than a Dumbbell and why Kettlebells are so effective for the fitness that comes with high-repetition resistance training. By having most of the load sitting on the forearm, the muscles of the hand and grip are able to relax, thereby allowing you to do a greater volume (repetitions) of exercise before fatigue of the grip muscles sets in.

This Rack Position is the static portion of the lift, in which momentarily, the kettlebell stops moving. In this static position, since there is no movement, the lifter has the opportunity to fully control the kettlebell and to control the breathing. This breath control is important because an out-of-breath lifter is not going to be able to last much longer.

However, if you can control your breath, and thereby slow your Heart Rate, you will be able to prolong your working set and increase the repetitions lifted and thus increase your fitness. 

In order to properly “rest” and recover in the Rack Position, it is necessary to have the proper body positioning.

Here is a step-by-step guide for learning to properly Rack your kettlebell during the Clean exercise. 

-Your hand must be fully inserted deeply into the handle, so that the wrist is straight and there is no tension or discomfort in your forearm muscles

-Your legs/knees must be fully extended, so that the muscles of the legs can relax and recover, with the joint structure supporting the load. Bending the knees while in the Rack Position is a mistake because flexed (bent) knees cause the thigh muscles to contract, and will fatigue faster. Further, by bending your knees, the angle of the pelvis changes, putting stress in the lower back muscles. 

-The kettlebell must be vertically aligned over your base of support (feet). Bring the kettlebell towards the midline of your body (the imaginary line that divides your body into Right and Left halves). A mistake is to allow the kettlebell to drift laterally, such that the load of the kettlebell is outside of your base of support. This lateral drift puts a lot of stress on the arm and shoulder muscles, which will fatigue quickly.


-Relax the muscles of your neck and shoulders by dropping your elbow down, aiming to place the point of the elbow directly on top of pelvis at the the Iliac Crest. This portion of your pelvis forms a natural “shelf” for the elbow to rest upon. By placing your elbow on top of the pelvis, it allows the muscles of the upper body to relax under the load of the kettlebell. 

By adhering to these postural guidelines you will find a natural body position in which you can relax the working muscles in between repetitions of the Kettlebell Clean or overhead lifts such as the Jerk, Press and Push Press. This way, you can recover during your working sets, allowing you to work longer and achieve a greater level of conditioning. 

Practice the Kettlebell Rack Position with prolonged durations of static holds, using slow and relaxed deep breathing. Start with 1 minute per side, and work up to 3-5 minutes per side. From there, gradually increase the kettlebell weight. 

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