Abs & Core Kettlebells Strength

Master The Kettlebell Clean With This “Armpit” Trick

Written by Chris Lopez

by: Chris Lopez, SFG Level 2 Kettlebell Instructor

In the kettlebell world there are 2 styles of training.

Hardstyle and Softstyle.

Hardstyle involves the use of maximum tension within your body to generate force to lift your kettlebells.  It’s focus is primarily on strength and power because you are incorporating as much energy and nerve force as possible to practice and master you lifts.


Conversely, Softstyle is a style used to conserve as much energy as possible so as to work for longer periods of time.  This is done by relaxing within the non-effort phases of the given exercise. It won’t be uncommon for Softstyle practitioners to do 200-300 reps of a given lift in a single workout.

But does it really matter which style you choose?

In my eyes, it’s simple. The more people we can get training with kettlebells and using kettlebells as their strength tool of choice, the better. It really doesn’t matter which style they choose, as long as they’re training.

Coming from an athletic and team sport background that required me to be powerful in spurts, I chose Hardstyle.

Because my goals were to remain strong and powerful, Hardstyle was the style that fit.

There’s no mystery to hardstyle kettlebell training. Just as in any other martial art, we rely on tension and harmonious body movement. The only difference here is that we use a kettlebell as our weapon.

In this video I’ll show you how Hardstyle kettlebell training uses tension — and a very unique mindset and approach to the kettlebell press — to get the weight overhead.

Check it out:

About the author

Chris Lopez


  • Great advice. Like you say, it’s just the same implement used in different way to produce different results. Same can be said for 20 reps vs 2 reps of bench press, or any other exercise.
    Well demonstrated as well, your first right hand lift looked as though you had lost tension around your core while your left hand lift clearly maintained tension through the movement. Pavel talks about using the idea of concentrating on pushing yourself through the ground to help maintain tension.
    Another nice idea to keep tension is to actively pull the kettlebell down rather than letting it drop from the top.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Alex

      Thanks for the comment. The point you made about “actively pulling the kettlebell down rather than letting it drop” is HUGE! Doing your presses that way allow you to engage and fire your lat even harder to create that “shelf” for the next press. Great tip!

      Good stuff,

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