1. Check with doctors before starting training.
Especially an orthopedist and a cardiologist.
2. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Train in a place where there are no concerns about property damage or injury to anyone- including yourself. Make sure to train on a flat surface; facing downhill invites back and knee problems. As with basic range safety, make sure there is proper spacing between you and another comrade. The line of fire of your swings and snatches is HOT!
3. Train barefoot or wear shoes with a flat, thin sole.
Wrestling shoes and Converse Chuck Taylors are the best. Not only do cushy tennis shoe compromise your performance; they make it easy to toll forward on your toes during swings and snatches and injure your back.
4. Don’t fight the Kettlebell if a rep goes wrong.
If the bell wants to twist your elbow, shoulder or any other joint in a way that it is not suppose to, or pull you forward on your toes, don’t fight it. Abort! Let it fall and move out of the way if necessary.
5. Practice all safety measures at all times.
Because “practice becomes permanent,” and “under stress we revert to training.” How can you expect to do the right thing during the stressful last rep with a heavy ketlebell if you grooved wrong habits with the easy reps?
A typical mistake is setting the kettlebell down sloppily, with a rounded back and/ or the weight on the toes, following a hard (and often perfect) set of swings or snatches. Don’t! Mentally stay with the set until the Kettlebell is safely parked. Lower the kettlebell in a way you would if you were planning to do another rep. Brace the bell with your body. Then let go, and only then relax.
6. Focus on quality, not quantity.
In the hard style of kettlebell training, like in weightlifting and powerlifting, reps do not reflect one’s ability (if you swing the kettlebell with more power you will not get as many reps, ditto with the total tension in presses) and should not be the end goal.
Focusing on doing more reps will only encourage your body’s innate tendency toward energy conservation and unsafe technique. Emphasize maximum explosion in your quick lifts and maximum tension in your “grinds” and don’t worry about reps too much.
7. Keep moving once your heart rate is high.
Standing still or sitting after completing a hard set can put undo stress on your heart. Continue to walk around, shake out the legs and forearms while your heart comes down and breathing is back to normal.
8. Build up the training load gradually using common sense, and listen to your body.
This does not only refer to weight, sets, and reps, but also to the flexibility requirements. Don’t force yourself into positions you are not ready for; develop your flexibility gradually.
If you bang your forearms during cleans, don’t go clean crazy until you have bruised and swollen forearms. Be patient, continue with proper instruction, and perfect your technique. Same applies for snatches. Although if your cleans are not ‘clean’ then snatches are out of the question.
Practice Hard, Practice Often, Be Patient, & Smart!