Kettlebell How to proceed with weak left-handed TGU?

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Brahskolnikov

First Post
Hey everyone, first post here.

Some info about me, I'm a 29 year old male with no health problems, usually hovering around 155lbs. I don't know my body fat percentage, but I'm fairly skinny.

I'm a long distance runner and I just started S&S as a way to improve my overall functional strength and for injury prevention as I work to improve my half marathon and marathon times. So far, aside from some form issues I know I need to improve, I've been alright with 24kg swings, but I might bump down to my 16kg in order to improve my form.

Where I find myself struggling is doing TGU's with my left hand. I know Pavel says "there's only a strong and stronger arm", but I don't think he was thinking of me haha. I can get up and down with my right hand alright, but my left hand is much weaker and I find myself shaking like crazy with my 16kg pressed for the duration. I can get halfway through the TGU with my left hand a couple of times, but I'm scared of dropping it or hurting myself on the way down. What do I do here? Should I just keep doing half TGU's with my left hand until I'm strong enough to complete the full motion, or should I invest in a lighter bell even though my right side is strong enough?
 

Tobias Wissmueller

Level 6 Valued Member
Welcome, @Brahskolnikov!

Either get a lighter bell or do partial reps with the one that seems difficult for you. If you cannot do a full rep for now, go as far as you can until you feel you can go one step further and back.
 

NoILSteve

Level 3 Valued Member
Just keep at it and go lighter. I found my left side to be not as strong as my right side when I started too. Now, 1 year into it I actually think TGU's with the left are easier than the right!
 

Shawn90

Level 5 Valued Member
Does your left shoulder stabilize properly ?

Unstable shoulder = weak shoulder

Have you tried doing tgu from top-down. So start standing, get the bell overhead even use 2 hands for that when needed. then get down. either repeat this for reps OR try to get back up.
 

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
Build up the strong (vs. stronger) side GU with partials
Only do singles as far as you feel confident
then
practice going to just the elbow till you can do a couple of sets of 5
Then go back down in reps and go from the elbow to the hand and build up to a couple of sets of 5
repeat process till doing full reps with confidence

This assumes no injury or underlying issue etc...
 

Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
without having a look at your get up makes it hard to evaluate.

Some things that come to my mind:
- when you roll over to the bell and grab it, make sure your wrist does not bend back, not even slightly. You may want to play with how the handle sits in your palm. I personally have some bells I have to make sure, that the handle sits diagonally in my palm to have more space between handle and bell, wich only then allows for a straight wrist. When the wrist bends, elbow lockout gets harder too.
- grab the handle really hard. Irradiation makes stronger.
- is your elbow totally locked out?
- antishrug your shoulders down and back. Shoulder away from the ears - shoulder has to be packed
- get strong on your roll to elbow: push through your heels to roll to the side of your body while driving your free arm elbow hard into the ground
- maybe you want to power breath especially on the hardest steps to create more tension you can settle down a bit when you are confident with your bell
- try to get conscious, if you are doing anything differently on your right
- keep your gaze to the bell, until your free hand leaves the ground out of the windmill position, then look straight ahead
- when in doubt: go lighter, see an instructor - when not possible you could post a video to have a look from keen eyes from this forum

@Brahskolnikov welcome to SF.
 
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Brahskolnikov

First Post
without having a look at your get up makes it hard to evaluate.

Some things that come to my mind:
- antishrug your shoulders down and back. Shoulder away from the ears - shoulder has to be packed

@Brahskolnikov welcome to SF.

This is one that confuses me. I understand the shoulder packing mechanics, but I find it's easier to pack my opposite shoulder than the one actively raising a kb over my head. With a straight elbow and wrist with my arm upright, it's hard to pull my shoulder down and back, and doing so seems to compromise my elbow. Does that make sense?

I just ordered a 12kg bell. I'd rather take baby steps and not get hurt. I'll get to Simple eventually and I don't have to rush.
 

Patrick O'Keeffe

Level 4 Valued Member
My left arm is not as strong as my right too. I proceeded by using a weight that worked for my left arm, which obviously would also work for my right arm too.

Also, I did a bit of work on my left arm to increase its strength and to try and catch up with the right arm. At the end of an S&S session, I would add a few minutes to my training and do one minute overhead carries (walking around for one minute with the kettlebell overhead) with more focus on the left arm. I would also do one minute cleans as well....again, mainly targeting my less strong left arm. Eventually, my left side has caught up and has become pretty close to the strength of my right side. Also, this drill didnt really impact my S&S rountine. I wouldn't be long in the game as others, but thats my experience anyway for what its worth.

Patrick
 

Papa Georgio

Level 6 Valued Member
Old karate trick was to practice twice as many left hand reverse punches than right. I'd increase reps on left tgu even if they are lighter.
 

Patrick O'Keeffe

Level 4 Valued Member
.....just like to add to my last post that although my non dominant left hand is weaker for pushing and pulling things......it was my good stronger right hand that caused me my real trouble in the beginning with the TGU.

What happens to me is that my stronger right side is sometimes compromised by a badly injured wrist from a motorcycle crash that I was in a few years ago.....especially when it is put into the position that mimics my crash (bent backwards when trying to protect myself in the fall). Unfortunately, the wrist is bent back in that position on the floor for about half of the TGU movement and not alone that, it is also meant to support my whole body weight and any load that I add onto it......hence why I thought that this was going to be impossible for me.

I tried using my knuckles as a platform instead of a bent palm, but while it works and can also be a good workaround in a push up situation, it was too damn awkward for me in the TGU and didn't make the move fun at all.

In the end instead of just giving up.....I just persevered daily through the pain barrier in a very slow and cautious manner. I just used a very light weight for a long time (8kgs) and the amount reps was determined by the amount of discomfort on any given day. Sometimes I was good for 1 rep.....other days I got through the whole 4 or 5 reps.

After a few weeks of daily practice like this, I was lucky to experience more tolerance rather than more damage. If I was experiencing more pain or suspected I was doing more harm than good, I would have stopped. But the pain subsided to become very tolerable and stable as time went on. I have since climbed up to 20kg going up through baby steps of 10kg, 12kg and 16kg. Things progressed so good, that it eventually showed up the other strength issue on the non dominant arm!

My wrist will never be cured I'd say, but I found that after getting into weight training 2 years ago after having a heart bypass and other injuries.......a lot of things can be worked around safely with a bit of caution, patience and determination. I'm doing TGU now for fun at 20kgs and once upon a time I couldn't do a get up using my body weight.

Finally, Harald Motz mentioned in his post when rolling over after taking hold of the weight to not to let the wrist bend back. This is solid advice and should be adhered to throughout the whole movement. It might not be noticable to you healthy guys, but even having the wrist slightly off a tiny bit is not good. My wrist injury gives me some wisdom too. It tells me that guys like Harald are not saying it for the sake of saying it.....the wrist positioned in a straight position as if you are going to punch someone is the most solid position that the wrist can be in. Having it off a slight bit with a dodgy wrist causes pain, so it can't be good for a good wrist either in the long term.
 
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offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
@Brahskolnikov
Welcome to the forum.
You have received a load of good advice thus far.
The only other thing I might suggest is to do some OS work in the form of rocking and crawling. It can work wonders for wrists and shoulders.

You appear to have the proper mindset of taking your time with this. Simple isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It will be waiting for you patiently when you are ready...
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Brahskolnikov, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

A wrinkle you might consider here is time in support. You'd do this by: getup to your elbow or hand and spend a bit of time there before returning to the ground. Each time I return to the getup after time away from it, that's what I do - light bell, getup to elbow, hang out for time, return to ground, switch sides, repeat, for a few reps each side. Then the same but getup to the hand. (With a light bell, one you can trust yourself to support without having to have your gaze glued on it all the time, it's great to move your head and neck a little to make sure they're not tight while you're supporting the bell.)

Another supporting move is to hold the bell overhead while standing, and eventually while walking. As with the top position of the getup, you would look straight ahead and not up at the bell for this.

-S-
 

StanStan

Level 4 Valued Member
This is one that confuses me. I understand the shoulder packing mechanics, but I find it's easier to pack my opposite shoulder than the one actively raising a kb over my head. With a straight elbow and wrist with my arm upright, it's hard to pull my shoulder down and back, and doing so seems to compromise my elbow. Does that make sense?
Not sure how this would compromise your elbow.

The aim is not to hold the kettlebell as high as possible, but to have your arm as straight as possible without unpacking the shoulder.
 
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