Friday was my first day back to Kettlebells Sport training, after a week or two break. I tried to make a comeback a few days before, but my hands hurt too bad.
It's important to remember that what you do to your hands today leads to the callus of tomorrow. ...or next week. You might make a blister today, but a callus is a delayed reaction.
My mistake was to assume that I didn't need to grind, scrape, cut, plane, or polish my calluses because I wasn't doing the work, but my lazy two weeks of no hand care led to calluses that were ready to erupt like a pent up volcano. Just ten warmup kettlebell cleans and the calluses immediately tugged and burned.
I'm trying to be less stupid, and more aware, so I stopped immediately and went on to my scheduled gym workout, and took the time to shave and polish my hands later that night. Between the rack pulls, cleans, and chinups, the calluses were a little tender, so even after I took care of them, they hurt. I had to take three more days off from cleans and snatches, and that broke my heart so badly that I took three more days off.
Finally, my hands were good again, and yesterday I was able to get in a good workout, BUT I could still feel it.
My Kettlebell Hand Care Tips
- Clean and/or Snatch regularly so your hands don't lose the 'armor' they've built up. When I do these exercises at least once or twice a week, I get fewer calluses and my hands feel great.
- If you need a break from serious kettlebell training, consider keeping some Snatching or Cleaning in your regular warmups, just for the sake of your hands and the training that you'll be back to in due time.
- If you've truly taken a break from it, get back into it slowly, and take care of any erupting calluses a few days before you plan to train again. Serious callus removal can leave your hands pretty tender.
- Sand, scrape, plane, polish, or grind your calluses regularly so they never build up. Don't wait until you see and feel them, but get on a schedule.
- If you feel burning hands or tugging calluses in training, stop immediately. You can still train, but use Swings, Jerks, and maybe the Half Snatch instead of the drop of a regular Snatch.
- Torn calluses and blood are to be saved for competitions, not training. If you tear, you lose a week or two of training, and there goes your competition.