Five Kettlebell Tips from the OKC

Anytime John Wild Buckley of the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) is back in town and offering a kettlebell workshop I do my best to rearrange my schedule and attend.  His passion for kettlebell training is unmatched; he will travel to the ends of the earth to learn more about using the bells and when he gets back he wants to openly share what he learns with others.

I have written several OKC workshop review in the past one reviewing the deadlift and swing; another going over the details of the jerk and snatch.  For this article I don’t want to keep repeating the same format so I will keep it simple and have the top five tips I learned during this more recent workshop.  Let’s get going.

Tip 1: No Right or Wrong with the Swing

The OKC approach to the swing is to simply find a style that best suits your body type and what you are trying to achieve.  John states “being efficient and what’s right for our bodies are two different things.”  Some instructors may say that an individual must perform a movement a certain way to be more efficient; however that way may not be best for everyone.

For example the stance should be individually determined based on how much vertical power one can generate on the kettlebell.  One person may have a very narrow stance while others may have to go wider to get the same vertical power.  The bottom line; it’s up to the individual to play around with the positioning and determine what works best.

Tip 2: Move into the Clean

These next two tips focus around the clean.  The first tip is moving your chest towards the kettlebells as you pull them into the racked position. If you sit back and wait for the kettlebells to come towards you and land in the racked position, the bells will hit you in the chest and knock you backward and even knock the breath out of you.  By meeting the bells balance is maintained,  the rack is smooth and air is kept inside the body.

Tip 3: Go Up on the Toes when you Clean

This was one of those ah-ha moments for me; and this tip was worth the price of admission.  I have been doing my double kettlebell cleans with my feet rooted firmly into the ground.  I noticed that when I tried with heavier bells my technique began to deteriorate dramatically and I didn’t know why.  By going up on the toes you get that extra power from the ankle extension needed to move heavier bells and to get into the proper rack position which is essential for successful jerks.  By extending the ankles you are also able to move towards the bell much easier when getting into the racked position.  After the ankles extend the feet should stomp into the ground to create the strong rack position when the kettlebells land.

Tip 4: Insert the Hand Early During the Snatch

This was another great tip that smoothed out my kettlebell snatch technique.  Previously I would begin the snatch with a strong swing, back retraction and then spear my finger through the kettlebell handle at the top of the movement to complete the snatch.  John changed my way of thinking when he suggested that you insert your hand through the handle earlier and then simply let the kettlebell ride to the top.  When practiced, this is a much smoother transition of the kettlebell from the swing to the top of the snatch.

You can practice this movement by adding in hand insertions at different positions while training the swing.  After mastering the insertion, find the position that it right for you at a place where you can allow the momentum of the swing and insertion to float the kettlebell into the top position.  When done right there is minimal, if any, shoulder retraction needed to facilitate this movement.

Tip 5: Just Exhale

This tip is so easy to achieve and can completely change your kettlebell work capacity for the better.  When breathing during your kettlebell sets focus only on exhaling.  When you do this the inhalation simply happens naturally without thought or effort.  The opposite is not true however. If you solely concentrate on the inhalation there will be a tendency to hold the breath causing either an improperly timed exhalation or completely forgetting to exhale entirely.

Holding the breath is a great way to get tired fast.  When you concentrate on only exhaling you will establish a rhythm and be able to go much longer during your kettlebell sets.


I hope these tips helped you out as much as it helped me.  Check out more information on John Wild Buckley and the OKC at: