Leaning Back in Kettlebell Jerk

Q: I’ve sometimes seen people bend back as they do their jerks. Should you ever bend backwards as you do these movements? (Finney Raju)

A: Hi Finney,

Great question!

The thoracic extension can indeed happen when you drive the Kettlebell off the rack, it’s more commonly used in Girevoy sport because Girevoy athletes develop great thoracic mobility as part of their extensive training (thoracic mobility is necessary both for Girevoy rack position, the overhead lockout and for the drive). When we extend through the thoracic spine, we do not lose the abdominal tension necessary to keep lumbar spine stable.

However, in people who lack thoracic mobility and lumbar stability (which is many sedentary people), such an extension will instead occur at the lumbar spine. It is often paired with a relaxation of the abdominals, which puts a lot of pressure on the lumbar disks.


That’s why excessive spinal extension is not encouraged in HardStyle, which is the style of training of an average person wanting to get fit. Most regular people simply don’t have the mobility or the muscular control to execute thoracic extension under load without compromising their lower back.


However, if one has good thoracic mobility and core control, then some extension can be helpful in KB jerk and Push Press.

So the answer is:


It depends:
1. Do you have the thoracic mobility?
2. Do you have the abdominal control to maintain tension through the arch?
If ‘yes’ on both counts, a slight lean back in the jerk and push press is okay.

Watch me answer this question live HERE

Published by Kat's Kettlebell Dojo

Kettlebell Dojo is a philosophy that is about making your training time-efficient and maximally effective by consistently performing high-quality functional movements. Kat is a certified Movement & Performance Therapy Specialist, StrongFirst SFG Level 2 Kettlebell Instructor, Level 4 Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, IKSFA Kettlebell Sport coach, Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, Jump Rope instructor, and Certified Crossfit Gymnastics trainer.

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