The One Arm Rack - a Closer Look

The rack position is a big part of kettlebell lifting, whether working with one or two arms. The focus of this article will be on mastering the one arm rack.

From the Rack Position, all Press, Push Press and Jerk Work is done, as well as Long Cycle. Without mastering this position, it will be difficult to realize your full potential. The Rack provides the perfect elbow / hip connection that is the launching pad behind the Push Press and Jerk. It also provides rest in the Clean, Half Snatch, Press, Push Press, Jerk, and Long Cycle.

The Six Points of the Single Rack Position
  1. Bell handle lies diagonally across palm, weight on Hip of Palm
  2. Fingers are tucked behind handle, except index finger
  3. Elbow is on hip ready to "launch" bell
  4. Arm is rotated to create perfect nest for bell
  5. Knees are straight with hips forward
  6. Wrist is not flexed
Once in the rack, the kettlebell lifter should seek to relax the entire body as much as possible. The bell sitting diagonally across the palm is putting all of its pressure on the quarter-sized (on men, nickel-sized on women) spot of the heel of the hand on the pinky side (Hip of the Palm). This spot is capable of withstanding incredible pressure, transmitting its load directly to the bones of the forearm. In turn the forearm rests on the hip, allowing the lower body to assume most of the work. The image at right shows the bell held in lockout, but clearly illustrates the diagonal handle placement which remains consistent from rack to lockout. Notice the bell sits directly on the Palm's Hip, adding no pressure or strain to the wrist.

When working with a single kettlebell, the body doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical. Although, there is a definite limit to how much twist or lean to one side is acceptable, and not so much that it compromises the legs' ability to dip and launch the bell with full force.

The elbow hip connection should be as tight as possible, but the reality is not everybody can reach the hip with the elbow. If you've got some extra belly fat, have short arms and a long torso, are barrel chested, have tight hips, or overly muscular in the upper body, you may not get there initially.

The one arm rack is more forgiving than working with two arms, as a slight jut of the hip to one side assists in bringing the elbow and hip closer. This is a luxury two arm Jerks does not afford the lifter.

Some fixes for the short rack are simply built into the progression of typical training. In other words, performing timed kettlebell sets on a regular basis will begin to open you up, especially in the hip flexors and shoulders, bringing elbow and hip closer. Some basic yoga hip stretches such as the Cobra and Bridge also work well.

One of the best ways to improve your rack position is by performing slow assist kettlebell sets (4 or 6 minutes) of Push Press or Jerk, where the bell is held in the rack for a longer period of time than if working at 12 or 14 reps per minute. Sets at 8 or even 6 reps per minute that focus on rest in the rack will accelerate your acclimation here.

The video below will help illustrate all Six Points of Rack, and clarify some of the more common misconceptions. When learning technique, it's best to work with a light, fitness level kettlebell.



Once you've gained proficiency in the Rack Position, you're well on your road to longer, more productive kettlebell sets. Be patient with your progress, as these static positions (Rack and Lockout) sometimes prove to be more challenging to master than actually moving the bell.
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