Kettlebell Kings Blog

Kettlebell Foundations: Hardstyle Kettlebell Snatch

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Apr 16, 2018 2:11:24 PM

Kettlebell Kings Hard Style Series: Kettlebell Snatch 

By Doug Fioranelli

On to another dynamic and fun kettlebell exercise: the Kettlebell Snatch.  Our Kettlebell Kings Hardstyle Series has built up nicely to this point starting with:  the deadlift, squat,  overhead press and all of the kettlebell swing variations.  In the last installment we learned a great dynamic movement called the clean where you bring the swing into the rack position and from there decide what movement you go to next.  Another great dynamic kettlebell exercise is the Snatch and we are going to cover that here in this article and video. 

Proper Set Up and Patterning:

The kettlebell snatch has the lifter transitioning from the swing directly into the overhead lockout position.  This is a great exercise for power development, grip strength and cardiovascular enhancement.  To perform a successful Hardstyle Kettlebell Snatch it is necessary to have a strong 1-arm kettlebell swingand good shoulder mobility and strength that come from training your overhead press.   

The Hardstyle version of the kettlebell snatch uses a powerful and rigid pattern, where the trajectory of the 1-arm swing and kettlebell  stays nearly straight up and down in the sagittal plane.  Like I mentioned earlier; to perform a proper kettlebell snatch it’s important to have a good 1-arm swing and overhead press along with these technical points below:

Set up for a 1-arm swing where the bell is in front of you in a triangle in reference to your feet

Hike the kettlebell into a backswing where the bell is close to your body and above the knees

As you begin the upward portion of the swing: squeeze your glutes to generate power so the kettlebell will travel upward beyond parallel to the floor

As the kettlebell travels upward, slightly retract your shoulder blade and elbow as if you wanted to pull the bell behind your head.  This will change the trajectory of the bell so it does not pull your arm backwards in an arc

It is important that you do not have a tight grip on the handle throughout the movement.  After the slight high pull, when the bell is near your head, punch through the handle with an open hand to bring the bell to the top position.  If you do it right the kettlebell will rest smoothly on the back of your forearm and you will be settled in the top of a press position

When bringing the bell back down to perform another snatch repetition: keep the kettlebell close to your body by dropping the wrist forward (like shooting a basketball free-throw) and letting the upper arm and elbow collapse into the backswing.  You to not want to cast the kettlebell forward and away from your body or else the kettlebell will be too low (below the knees) in the backswing which can potentially wrench your low back

Don’t get discouraged if the description sounds a bit too daunting.  Like all the other Hardstyle tutorials I have done, there are a few drills to help make you a kettlebell snatch expert in no time. 

Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Foundations

Kettlebell Foundations: Hardstyle Kettlebell Clean

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Feb 8, 2018 8:52:23 PM

We are excited to continue our popular Kettlebell Foundations series for those getting acquainted with kettlebells. Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training® where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury.  Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including: adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level. If this is your first reading one of our Kettlebell Foundations posts, we recommend starting at Part 1 here

Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at his website and receive two free eBooks and browse through numerous training articles and videos.

By Doug Fioranelli

Our Hardstyle Kettlebell Series is coming together nicely and, by now, you should have some good practice with your foundational strength lifts including:  the deadlift, squat, and overhead press.  Hopefully, too, you have also been practicing all the variations of the dynamic kettlebell swings because now it is time to get into the fun exercises starting first with one of my favorites; the clean. 

Proper Set Up and Patterning:

Technically speaking, the clean is a movement that brings the kettlebell dynamically from the swing into the rack position.  From this rack position you can do a number of different movement combinations like: squat, lunge, overhead press, do multiple cleans and even rest for a few breaths.   

The good news is you have all the prerequisites to complete a nice hardstyle clean; a swing and a rack position.  There is a bit of a learning curve to it, however.  We are used to performing the 1-arm swing where the upper arm moves away from the body and the arm and kettlebell are parallel to the floor.  For the clean we need to keep the upper arm close to the body as if the elbow was screwed into our side.  That way we keep the bell close and our clean will be smooth as butter.

To perform a proper clean, it’s important to have a good rack position and 1-arm swing:

Set up for a 1-arm swing where the bell is in front of you in a triangle in reference to your feet.

Hike the kettlebell into a backswing where the bell is close to your body and above the knees.

As you begin the upward portion of the swing: squeeze your glutes to generate power, keep your upper arm connected to your torso and slightly retract your shoulder to guide the kettlebell towards the racked position.

Make sure to receive the kettlebell in the racked position by sliding your hand through the handle and have your legs and hips locked out in a stable position.

Get Kettlebell Blog Notifications

When bringing the bell back down to perform another clean: keep the upper arm connection to the torso and have the kettlebell remain close to your body during the backswing.  Because the swing arc is small, assist the kettlebell into the backswing using a little force so you have the elastic energy to perform multiple repetitions. 

Like I mentioned earlier, though the clean does utilize the 1-arm swing and rack position, the movement might be challenging at first and most likely will not be smooth until you have put your practice in.  Here are a few drills to achieve the perfect clean sooner rather than later. 

Read and watch more of the demonstration below!

Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Foundations, Kettlebell Clean

Kettlebell Foundations:  Overhead Press

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Dec 13, 2017 3:51:41 PM

By Doug Fioranelli

Let’s shift gears in our Hardstyle Kettlebell Series pivoting from our dynamic kettlebell swing back to a more traditional strength training movement; the Overhead or Military Press.  Much like we went over in the deadliftand squat, the overhead press is a great movement to build strength and it complements well with the kettlebell.    

Traditionally the overhead press is done with a barbell or dumbbells; however, the kettlebell can provide a different, and even advantageous, way to get the most benefit out of the exercise. 

Proper Set Up and Patterning:

Most overhead pressing variations with the kettlebell start from the rack position which we discussed in our hardstyle squat series.  Though the rack position does make the weight sit lower on the body, thus making the overhead pressing range of motion more than that with a barbell or dumbbell, it also makes for a safer starting platform where you can rest the weight if necessary.  Traditionally with the barbell or dumbbells, it is difficult to rest the weight at the bottom near the body because of the positioning of the weight itself.  The kettlebells can be supported neatly and close to the body making it much more comfortable to rest in the rack position.

Kettlebell overhead pressing may also be a potentially safer form of overhead pressing due to the nature of how the weight sits in-connection against the lifter’s forearm and the ability to make small, safer adjustments while pressing overhead.  With the barbell, where the hands and arms are fixed, it is nearly impossible to slightly adjust the path of the weight overhead to compensate for shoulder mobility limitations.  Although dumbbells allow for independent movement of the shoulders during the lifts, with weight distribution of bells being up high and on either side, the adjustments could send the weight in an unfavorable direction and cause an injury in an extreme case.

For pressing success it’s important to start with a good rack position and ground connection.  Both of which are essential for stability and strength production during this lift.  Here are the steps to perform a proper Hardstyle Overhead Kettlebell Press:

Read more below and watch the full demonstration below!

Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Foundations

Kettlebell Foundations: The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Oct 17, 2017 12:09:18 PM

Our previous posts with Doug Fioranelli have been building towards the Kettlebell Swing. Even though the swing is one of the movements most people are familiar with, you actually should build up to it with the deadlift and the squat in order to prepare your body for the kettlebell swing, rather then going right into it. 

By Doug Fioranelli

As we continue this Hardstyle Kettlebell Series for Kettlebell Kings we have built up our strength and proper movement patterns by learning the deadlift  and then the squat; which are foundational for what we are covering now: The Kettlebell Swing. 

The kettlebell swing is truly the unique movement primarily associated with the kettlebell itself which cannot be optimally performed using any other equipment.  From top athletes to the new trainee, the kettlebell swing has numerous training benefits which include strength enhancement, power production and endurance.    

Kettlebell Swing: Proper Set Up and Patterning

Like the Hardstyle Deadlift, the kettlebell swing is a hinge pattern which primarily utilizes the muscles of the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes).  It’s important to start with a good ground connection which is essential for stability and power production; a flat sole shoe or barefoot is preferred when performing swings.  After establishing a solid ground connection, here are the steps to take to perform a proper Hardstyle 2-Arm Kettlebell Swing:

  • Set up in an athletic stance with two hands on the kettlebell which is directly in front of your feet making a triangle position.
  • Tip the handle of the bell back towards you and lock your lats into place where the biceps are connected to the ribcage thus creating back tension; think shoulder blades in back pockets.
  • To start the backswing; hike the kettlebell through your legs by hinging your hips (not squatting).
  • When you feel your hamstrings stretch; squeeze your glutes and drive your feet into the ground to move the kettlebell upward through the legs.
  • Make sure the hips and knees always finish (get the hips fully underneath your body and lock your knees); this not only ensures proper technique but also saves your lower back from injury.  You want to properly propel the kettlebell upward (not forward) using your hips.
  • No leaning back; you want a tall body posture at the top of the movement with the arms extended and the kettlebell parallel to the floor.
  • When performing the backswing; wait for the kettlebell to almost hit you before you hinge.  The kettlebell should be above the knees and the biceps should connect to your sides just before you hinge.  Hinging too early will result in a lack of strength and may cause a sore lower back or an injury over time.

Some other details of the kettlebell swing include:

  • Have a good grip on the handle during the swing so the bell does not flop at the top or during the end of the backswing.  This excessive movement will make it difficult to keep your body stable.
  • A slight elbow bend in the arms is allowed during the swing, however do not actively bend your elbows and pull the bell in towards you to assist the bell up to the top of the swing.
  • Traditional hardstyle breathing is one breathing cycle per swing where you inhale through the nose or mouth during the backswing and then a tight exhale (don’t let all your air out) during the upward motion of the swing.

Once you feel comfortable with the 2-arm swing you can start practicing with some of the swing variations that will then help you build the foundation for other kettlebell movements like cleans and snatches.


Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Movements, Kettlebell Foundations

Kettlebell Foundations: Kettlebell Squats

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Sep 10, 2017 5:34:16 PM

By Doug Fioranelli

In the first article and video of the Hardstyle Series for Kettlebell Kings I broke down all the essential kettlebell deadlift movement nuances and their progressions.  The deadlift is the foundation where the hip hinge pattern is established.  This hip hinge pattern is essential to build a strong posterior chain and to learn how to move the body properly when we get to the hardstyle swing.

However, before we get to the swing, which will come in the next instalment, let’s strengthen up those legs and core a bit more by learning how to properly squat with the kettlebell. We have published the full post on our main site at


Read the full post HERE


Make sure to subscribe to our blog through the form on the right side or at the bottom on mobile devices. Get updates when more content like this is published!
Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Movements, Hardstyle Training, Kettlebell Squats, Kettlebell Foundations

Kettlebell Foundations: Kettlebell Deadlift Progressions

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on Aug 16, 2017 4:36:38 PM

We are excited to work with Dough Fioranelli, owner of Rise Above Performance Training on a super informative series about hardstyle kettlebell movements. There are essentially two different schools of thought in kettlebell training and both are great, we have covered a number of Kettlebell Sport type movements and will be working to bring you more of the hardstyle movements which most people are familiar with. In the first part of the series, Doug goes through an awesome progression of Kettlebell Deadlifts and variations designed to improve your overall lift and performance. Doug created and awesome video demonstration and explanation of all the movements which you can watch below!

By Doug Fioranelli

There are two prominent types of kettlebell training that serve the trainee with two completely different purposes.  The first type of training you have seen all over Facebook; athletes moving those different colored bells overhead for five to ten minutes sets often having the look of pain on their face.  The other type reflects a much more common training setting where moving an iron ball with a handle might seem a bit foreign to the new trainee from traditional weights and machines. 

The latter reflects a more hardstyle or foundational form of kettlebell training and, in my opinion, is the most suited for new trainees, athletes, coaches and trainers looking to learn and teach others.

In this Hardstyle Series for Kettlebell Kings I will completely breakdown all of the essential kettlebell exercises in article and video format so you can add this tool, with confidence, to your training arsenal and achieve the results you are looking for.

For this first installment, we are going over the foundational kettlebell deadlift.

Proper Set Up and Patterning:

The hardstyle deadlift is one of my favorite exercises for many reasons.  First, I believe the set-up is much easier to achieve than a traditional barbell deadlift because the kettlebell can sit easily between your feet whereas the barbell deadlift is in front of the body and maintaining proper back alignment during the set- up is much more difficult, especially for the new trainee.

Secondly, it is a great way to teach someone how to hinge at their hips which has many benefits including: increased glute and hamstring activation for muscle building and proper hip drive which is important for proper execution of other kettlebell movement as well as enhanced sports performance.

  • Set the kettlebell on the floor in-between your knees and ankles with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width stance.
  • Grab the handle firmly and connect your biceps to the side of your body to set your back so it is straight with your chest up, shoulder blades together and lower back arched (not rounded) and head neutral with the chin slightly retracted.  If you visualize a clock you want your head positioned at 10 o’clock and your hips at the 4 o’clock position.
  • Anchor your feet firmly into the ground, tighten your core, squeeze your glutes and drive the body up by pushing the floor away with your feet until you are standing up straight with your hips underneath you at the top.

Read More Below! Make sure to subscribe to our blog through the form on the right side or at the bottom on mobile devices. Get updates when more content like this is published!

Read More

Topics: Kettlebell Movements, Deadlifts, Hardstyle Training, Kettlebell Foundations