Kettlebell Form Tips for People with Large Chests

If you have a larger chest, performing kettlebell exercises like snatches and cleans can be quite uncomfortable. The standard advice of keeping the weight close to your body may not work for everyone and can lead to pain and collisions. Damali Fraiser, a certified kettlebell instructor and size-inclusive coach, recognized this issue and developed form adjustments to make these movements more accessible for individuals with larger chests. Fraiser noticed a lack of guidance for people with different body types on how to modify their technique to prevent discomfort while using kettlebells. She realized that there needed to be specific adjustments for individuals with larger chests who experience compression, pinching, and collisions during exercises. By working with clients of various body types, Fraiser devised modifications that took into account the nuances of different chest sizes and shapes. These adjustments aim to provide comfort and confidence without compromising the effectiveness of the exercises. Fraiser encourages coaches and instructors to incorporate these modifications into their training and share them with others. The goal is for these adjustments to become well-known variations, just like modifications for squats, so that more people can enjoy kettlebell workouts without discomfort. If you've previously experienced chest pain or concerns about breast irritation while performing kettlebell exercises, give these adjustments a try. They are designed to alleviate discomfort and allow you to fully enjoy the benefits of kettlebell training.

What Can Go Wrong

For individuals with larger chests, sticking with the standard form for kettlebell exercises can cause the weight to rub against or hit the body, as Fraiser demonstrates above.

How to Adjust Kettlebell Exercises If You Have a Larger Chest

Setting Up Your Stance

When it comes to establishing your stance for exercises like kettlebell deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches, the traditional method is to position your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart. By jumping straight up into the air, you can determine a comfortable foot placement. However, individuals with larger chests may find that this stance leads to the kettlebell coming in direct contact with their breast tissue. In such cases, widening the positioning of your feet can help align the outside of your shoulder joint with the inside of your knee, minimizing the risk of collision. Feel free to experiment with different stances until you find what works best for your body.

Positioning Your Arms

During the kettlebell clean or snatch exercise, it is crucial to maintain proper form to minimize the risk of the weight hitting your body. One technique to achieve this is by positioning your arms in a diamond shape throughout the movement. By doing so, you create space between your body and the kettlebell, reducing the chances of any contact. To execute this technique, use the momentum generated by the kettlebell to guide the weight slightly out to the side halfway through the movement, then bring it back to the center. By incorporating elements of a bent-over row and the deadlift position, you can effectively clear your chest and ensure a safer and more efficient exercise.

Repositioning Your Body and the Kettlebell

You should feel completely at ease when adjusting the weight and positioning of your body during kettlebell exercises, according to Fraiser. Feel free to use your hands to verify if your knees are aligned with your shoulders or to slightly move the kettlebell off-center, rather than keeping it in the middle of your feet. Fraiser also advises that it's alright to physically reposition your breast tissue if necessary, as this can help you find a more comfortable and effective position.

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