Hold on to it… but not too tight!

I don’t know about you but I love kettlebells. They’re simple and versatile. And since I hate running, I use kettlebells for metabolic conditioning or “metcons.” Just two simple exercises: the one-arm swing and the double-arm swing.

That’s it!

Purists may discard these are “not-so-effective” compared to their fancy exercises… but then they’ve never really swung a 24-kilo kettlebell a 100 times in 5 minutes. Have they? I guess not.

I attended a seminar last month to brush up on the kettlebell swing basics and learn other movements like presses, snatches, and goblet squats. Thankfully, I was swinging the bells all right. At least most of the time. I tweaked my overall technique, tamed my aggression a little (as advised by my instructor) and continued to train as usual.

A few weeks back, however, I experienced a painful twitch in my forearm. Couldn’t figure out what exactly might have gone wrong since I was such a stickler for “the right technique.” I videotaped myself and compared my swings with the professionals. It was almost comparable! (Almost — since there’s no such thing called the perfect swing.)

I was confused. And in considerable pain. I could barely lift a tumbler or a mug with my right hand without feeling any pain.

So, last week… I decided to do just one thing: loosen my grip a little so that I’m holding the bell securely and not too tightly.

And after a 100 swings, I noticed a drastic change. No pain! My forearms were pumped with all that volume I’d put it through but I didn’t feel any pain. Heck, even the slight pain I’d experience was gone. For good!

Next day, I did the one-arm swings (I alternate between one-arm and two-arm swings) using the relaxed but secure grip. And voila! Same result!

It was profound! Never did I realize that my own grip could get in the way of my progress. I’d been pushing myself to do more swings hoping that the pain would go away gradually (a stupid assumption, it doesn’t work that way at all)! And in the end, all I needed to do was relax a little.

And how beautifully does it relate to our lives! Just like I held the bell, we hold on to our possessions/people/memories a little too tight! So much so that it’s hurting us… but we don’t want to let it go. We hold on to it! And keep pushing. Just the same… never realizing that all this holding on will break us down eventually.

I’m not encouraging you to let it go. As much as it sounds good (and has a “wisdom” ring to it… right?) I’m not sure how practical that is.

But it might be worth our while to consider relaxing a little and taking it easy.

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