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Old 10-29-2010, 09:41 AM   #1
James Evans
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Default Kettlebells and grip

Ok, I've always glazed over in the past when I've seen stuff about sanding KB handles so I'm going to be lazy and just ask for advice here...

I've owned and used KBs for over 4 years. Mine are handmade by a blacksmith and I love them. I have not had grip issues with them for a long time and they feel very fluid in movements like the snatch. I realise now this may be down to the gloss finish.

Recently a bought a load more from here to use with the rowers I coach. I have experience of these in the past and I was under the impression that they had identical dimensions to the those I already owned. What I have noticed while playing around with a little and the odd snatch demo to the guys is they don't seem as smooth to shift. I managed to yank myself a bit earlier in the week and then last night I was using a 20k in a finisher (20-15-5 reps each arm) and damn if I couldn't even manage 12 reps an arm on the first set – my grip was absolutely fried and my forearms completely blown up. I can normally blitz this in a couple of minutes without dropping the bells.

Couple of things:

1. I can snatch and press a 24kg for reps easily, I've snatched up to 40k no problem

2. My grip may have been hammered last night prior to the snatches but I was still taken aback by how hard this was.

When I mulled this over on the way home I thought about the matt finish of the new bells and the relative roughness of the handles. They don't have the smoothness or the fluidity that I'm used to. Does anyone know where I'm coming from with this? I had always assumed sanding was mostly for hand care but how much does it impact on performance? I haven't measured the diameter of the handles so don't know for certain if they are the same as my old ones.

So, sand them or suck it up and strengthen my hands?
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:52 AM   #2
James Evans
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No kettlegeeks out there? Or are you all painting your 2 poods?
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:00 AM   #3
Jarod Barker
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Well... I'm not kettlegeek, so this is not a definitive answer by any means, but I hate kettlebells with smooth handles. I find them hard to hold on to, and often times do the increased movement, they cause increased wear on my fingers and palms. I purposely rough up the handles on my kettlebells. Some course grit sandpaper does a nice job of creating a surface that is smooth enough to let then handle slide through your hand, but still course enough to hold some chalk and offer some grip.

That's just my 2 cents. I'm not sure if it's the solution to your problem, but personally, I like sanding kettlebells.
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #4
Grissim Connery
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i've had an issue with pullups that might be relevant. in the school gym, they have several OL platforms w/ racks w/ pullup bars on them. some of the pullup bar grips are so rough and gritty that it kills my hands to do much on them. others are pretty smooth and cozy and i don't feel any pain.

i've noticed that my reps and strength output seem to be better on the smoother ones. i think it's because i tend let my grip slacken more on the rough one since it hurts to squeeze too hard while repping something out. this open grip might tire out quicker which causes everything else to work hard to compensate.

dunno if that's exactly what's going on w/ my numbers on those pullup bars or your kb issue, but it's a possibility.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:58 PM   #5
Jarod Barker
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Grip definitely makes a big difference. For the Marine Corps PFT, they actually had the bar taped with the sticky side out (I kid you not!), and it was almost too easy. My hands were secure, I barely had to hang on at all. Banged out 20+1 for Chesty easier than ever. So, yes, I'd agree that a slackened grip definitely taxes the rest of your arm more.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:29 AM   #6
James Evans
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Thanks both of you, that's useful.

Gripping too hard during pull ups can definitely limit your performance. Tension in all the wrong places.

I trained in a place for a while that had a bar on top of the power rack with incredibly aggressive knurling. I found sets of 5 muscle ups relatively easy at the time but it would be bye bye hands afterwards and bye bye pretty much anything like deadlifts until they healed.

I was absolutely shattered this weekend so I'm leaning towards me being generally smashed last week.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:25 AM   #7
Darryl Shaw
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If the handles are so rough they're causing you problems you might as well sand them down then use chalk to improve your grip.

There's an article on how to go about preparing your kettlebell handles for high rep GS training here.
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:28 AM   #8
James Evans
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Thanks Darryl.
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