Ron Jones Logo

Contact RJ

Ron Jones Bio
Coach & Train
Exercise Library
Health & Fitness
Products by RJ
Site Map

RJ Foot Fitness Logo

TheLeanBerets.Com "Avengers of Health!"

Coach RJ Blog

Kettlebell Hand Care Tools & Tips

Coach RJ's KB Hand Care Tools
Iron Tamer Rule:  "Don't be stupid!" 
--David "Iron Tamer" Whitley, Senior RKC

Comrades!  After violating the above Iron Tamer Rule on two different occasions, I finally learned how to take care of my hands for kettlebells--the HARD WAY!  If you study my hand-care tips below, you'll more than likely not shred your hands open during normal training.  While we joke around about "Enjoying the Pain!" in the kettlebell world, all of my mentors have told me to NOT tear up my hands and to STOP before I do...over the course of a few months, I learned to listen and get smarter.  Torn hands will cost you about two weeks of "quality" training.  Can you still tape up and train?  Sure.  But you'll compensate for the hand pain, and compensations in kettlebell training decrease safety...and well...maybe at this point you should review the Iron Tamer Rule above again!

There are a number of tools and hand care items reviewed.  Many of them are designed for the "feet" and not the calluses of the hands.  My rating reflects their effectiveness for the "hands only."  If used for their original purpose of feet, they'd probably work great, but for hands, some do not work very well.  With a few simple tools used a few minutes per week, most if not all of your KB hand issues should be resolved.  Here's my bottom line...enjoy "less" hand pain!

    Clueless Groomed Hand    Well Groomed Hand
Look @ the difference Comrades!  For less than $20 and a few minutes a week,
you'll have great hands that can still throw combative KBs!

Print my Kettlebell Hand Care Handout!

 Hand Tools

 Review Ratings & Notes

Pumice Stone

Item: Pumice Stone
Rating: 5 of 5

Buy: YES!
This thing is incredible and an absolute MUST if you use KBs!  I only spend about 30-60 seconds following every shower buffing off the high spots of my calluses.  Within a few days, my hands were like new!  There are a couple of different types of skin pumice stones.  The one pictured works MUCH better because of the large course openings.  The other one I have works poorly because the holes are too small--even when grinding the heck out of my hands, the less porous stone hardly works.  Look for one like pictured--it works better in less time.  I got this one at Target.

Corn Huskers Lotion

Item: Corn Huskers Lotion
Rating:  5 of 5
Buy: YES!

Notes: Okay...I thought this whole hand lotion thing was "metro sexual" as Pavel would say, but I gotta tell y'all, this stuff is worth its weight in gold!  It's oil free, not messy, and quickly dries.  Many RKC people use this for hands.  It will build your skin while leaving it soft.  I think even the ladies would like it.  I apply in morning after shower and in evenings too--plus sometimes throughout the day.  You can often find it at local supermarket and drug stores...dig's probably on the bottom shelf.  It looks really nasty, but it has almost no scent at all and is easy to use.



Item: PedEgg
Rating:  5 of 5

Buy: YES!

Notes: I've tried a lot of skin "graters", files, shavers, etc., and to be honest, none of them worked that well for hand calluses because they are designed for feet.  The PedEgg is NOT one of them because it works great on hand calluses to knock off the high spots that can take too much grinding with a pumice stone.  I use my PedEgg about once a week to round off peaks that have built up on my calluses.  It's really gentle.  I had to open it up to make sure it was even working--sure enough, there were skin shavings inside.  It's got a sand paper base underneath too which is pretty good for finish work.  I think I got mine at Target.



Item: Bacitracin Antibiotic Ointment
Rating:  5 of 5

Buy: YES!
I'm going to say this over and over here--do NOT screw around with open wounds and bacterial infections!  If you do shred your hands, make sure to have what you need.  For details, refer to my MRSA Superbug Handout.  If you think you're tougher than MRSA--think again Comrade!  Get Bacitracin instead of something like Neosporin and alcohol because it is much easier on skin tissue. 

Callus Filers

Item: Callus Filer

Buy: Maybe
It does work very well, but it's too wide for the hand calluses.  I ended up filing off the skin in-between two calluses until my hand bled!  NOT the objective I had hoped to obtain!  If you use the pumice stone and PedEgg, you'll never need this one.

Item: Callus Shaver
Rating:  2 of 5

Buy: Maybe
I'll admit it--this thing freaks me out!  I tried to use it before I figured out that the pumice stone and PedEgg worked better.  I know the shaver works, but the thought of taking a "slice" off my hand was too much!  If you like it, be my guest, but I don't think you'll need it if you take my advice above.

Emery Boards

Item: Emery Board
Rating:  3 of 5

Buy: Yes
If you use the darker side which is more abrasive, this tool is helpful for removing some of the scratching left by the Exfoliating Stone File below.  Because it's thin, it can also flex around the callus as you work the end between the fingers.  Forget the lighter side because it's got such a fine abrasive that it won't do any good.

Exfoliating Stone File-1

Exfoliating Stone File-2

Down Side?  This tool is VERY rough--maybe too much so for the ladies.  However, if you follow up with less abrasive tools and Corn Huskers Lotion like I suggest, you'll immediately remove the scratches this tool leaves.

Item: Exfoliating Stone File
Rating:  3 of 5

Buy: Maybe
I thought this was a waste of my six bucks just for the sake of more hand research, but much to my surprise, I think this tool has a place in my protocol.  Here's why--it's designed just like a spoon.  The rounded edges with slight tip allow the tool to access certain portions of the callus pad that other tools cannot.  Specifically, even though your callus can be "flat" on the top, it can still have a slight "lip" or sharpness to the outside borders, which under extreme training like high volume snatches, can end up pinching and tearing.  I was quickly able to "round off" the outer callus edge sharpness with this tool.  It's supposed to be used dry--not wet.  It literally leaves some gouges or deep scratches in your hands that need to be smoothed back out with some of the other tools with a finer abrasive.  I follow up with the pumice stone wet or the course side of the emery board and finish with Corn Huskers--then just like new Comrades!


Leather Gloves: These didn't work because the KB handle dug into the heavy seam and still tore into my hand I ruined a perfectly good pair of work gloves for nothing on this one!

Cotton Gloves-Smooth: These are the most commonly recommended.  They seem to work the best so far.  Cheap too.

Cotton Gloves-Open Weave: Probably not as good because many KB handles are sort of rough and will end up "snagging" the more open-weave designs.

Fingers: Cut off the finger tips so your fingers don't jam into the ends.

Item: Gloves
Rating:  4 of 5 

Buy: Yes (if cotton)
I've been around and around with this stupid glove glove with KBs or not to glove...that is the question Comrades!  Couple of thoughts...if you follow my tips here, I think you can have well-groomed hands without the gloves.  If you're going for RKC cert, you'll be forced to do some high volume sets in training.  My mentors say it is better to use gloves for high volume sets than to risk tearing your hands open causing lost training.  Here's the dilemma though--you can't use gloves during your RKC snatch test, so if you're hands are not ready because you used gloves all the time in your preparation, they'll completely shred, and then you still have three more days to go!  Your hands will probably end up shredding at some level at the RKC cert regardless of what you do, but the idea is to not have lost "preparation" in the months leading up to your certification.  Also, ergonomic studies prove that any kind of glove decreases applied hand grip force.  Another dilemma Comrades!  You use gloves to save your hands, but have to crush the grip more to compensate for the lost force of the gloves which can cause hands to fatigue sooner...just some things to think about.  Do the best you can to balance it all out.  I rarely use gloves unless I have pushed my hands too close to tearing.  I'm trying to toughen up my hands and build my calluses as much as possible as I prepare for my RKC.


Item: Hibiclens
Rating:  5 of 5

Details about Hibiclens are in my MRSA Section, but I use this immediately with open skin wounds to guard against bacterial infections like MRSA.  Hibiclens is a medical-grade solution used by hospitals and medical clinics.

Usage Tips:  I bought a very small container from Nalgene that can travel with me in my suitcase or gear bag.  Make sure the secondary container is leak proof if you go this route because Hibiclens is bright red.

Aveeno Lotion

Item: Lotion
Rating:  4 of 5

Buy: Yes
In general, you don't want your hands to dry out and crack because they can tear.  I like to keep this small container of lotion in my gear bag because sometimes my hands get really dry after the workout due to chalk usage (especially the 'non-marking' chalk that seems to suck every ounce of moisture out in seconds).  I don't put the Corn Huskers Lotion in my bag because it's bigger.  You don't have to use Aveeno.  I use this one because it is not greasy and comes in a small tube with strong cap that doesn't pop open or leak all over my gear bag. I think it is a quality lotion and really like it over other types that smell "foo foo" or get greasy...NO foo foo lotions allowed Comrades!

Large Nail File

Item: Nail File (Large)
Rating:  1 of 5

Buy: NO
Forget it.  This one is a complete waste of time.  It's too wide, and this particular model is way too fine of abrasive to do any good at all.

Small Nail File

Item: Nail File (Small)
Rating:  1 of 5

Buy: NO
Okay for nails but basically worthless for hand grooming and kettlebells Comrades.  File is much too fine--not enough bite to take any skin off.



Item: SandBlaster Flexible Sanding Pad (#180)
Rating:  5 of 5

Buy: YES!
This has been one of my BEST hand care finds!  What I love about the flexible sanding pad is that it gets into the small contours of the hand webbing.  The "flat" sanders cannot get between the fingers effectively.  The #180 grit is medium course and just about right.  They make one more course, but I think this might be too much.  The #180 is great for finishing after getting the major work done with a PedEgg or Pumice Stone.  After the SandBlaster, coat hands with CornHuskers, and you'll be good to go.  I absolutely recommend this hand care product!  You can find Sandblasters in the paint section of Lowe's or other hardware stores.

Usage Tip:  Get some heavy scissors.  Cut the sheets into smaller strips about 1" wide.  Throw a couple into your gear bag, car, or desk at work for quick hand care breaks. Each strip will last a long time.  A pack of Sandblasters costs around $5-6 dollars.

Smoothing Block

Item: Smoothing Block
Rating:  4 of 5

Buy: Yes
I like this tool because it has the ability to compress and conform in tiny spots like at the top of calluses near the fold of the bottom fingers and upper palms.  There always seems to be some edges in these spots that the other tools can't quite get efficiently.  The smoothing block has a different level of abrasive on each side--from really smooth to a little course.  I'm not sure how long the abrasive will stay on the hard foam block, but it works pretty good so far.

Athletic Tape

Item: Tape
Rating: 2 of 5

Buy: Maybe
If you do shred your hands and still have to train, you'll need the tape.  Be sure to see Comrade Cronk's excellent article below for details.  I tried to use tape for high volume days over my calluses to protect them.  All this did is make the hand stress WORSE because as the KB handle rolled in my hand, it also rolled up the edges of the tape which got the tape glue on my KB handle.  With glue on the handle, the handle twisted the skin on my hand even more!  It was also a pain in the butt to get the glue off the handle after the workout.  I don't use the tape anymore--I just keep my hands groomed so I don't need it, but it's probably worth having a roll in the bag just in case someone wants it.

Enjoy the Pain?  NOT!

Item: Knife!!!
Rating: 0 of 5

Buy: NO!!!
Well...if all else fails from above I guess...but here's a true story about Ronnie Lott--the NFL Hall of Fame legend who had a finger injury.  The end of his pinky finger was so bad he could not play.  He had the tip whacked off so he could get on with it.  Ronnie Lott I am NOT!  More pain than I want to enjoy Comrades!  Use this one at YOUR OWN discretion!

Other Important References!

  • MRSA Super Bugs (Ron Jones, MS) I've done an incredible amount of research and presenting on the emerging problem of MRSA Superbugs.  DO NOT disregard open wounds on your hands!  ANY wound is a portal of entry for dangerous bacteria like MRSA.  In the worst case scenario, MRSA can take your whole hand and arm off in just a few days--so read my MRSA info if you plan to train seriously and possibly put your hands in open wound danger Comrades!  Losing your hand or arm to MRSA is not conducive to quality kettlebell training!

  • Hand Care: After the Fact (Dave Cronk, RKC) Comrade Cronk has published an excellent and very thorough paper at DragonDoor.Com on what to do "after" you shred your hands so you can keep training.  If you're going for your RKC, you'll probably need this one too at some point.  I will join you again in "Enjoying the Pain" as I am going for my RKC as well.  The RKC cert is brutal no matter how well you groom your hands...we'll have to get over it!

  • Enter the Kettlebell Book (Pavel Tsatsouline) A MUST for anyone serious about Russian Kettlebell written by Pavel.  This book also has some helpful hand tips plus other valuable information on using the KB properly which will DECREASE the amount of strain you put on your hands in the first place. *(Find Under 'Strength' Button on weblink above)

RJ Hand Injury #1    RJ Hand Injury #2
If you fail to learn from my "stupid" mistakes, and refuse my helpful hand tips--then
"Enjoy the Pain"
  because this is what you're going to get!

Summary!  I hope this helps y'all.  Kettlebells are great tools--but learning to figure out the hand care when you begin can be one of the hardest challenges.  *My big three hand grooming tools are the: Pumice Stone, Corn Husker Lotion, and PedEgg.  At the very LEAST, use these effective tools to groom your hands for consistent whole body power at the end of your Russian Kettlebell! 
*(These are "my" favorites, but you might prefer others.  Experiment.  Find what works for you to keep your hands healthy.)

Enjoy "LESS" hand pain Comrades!
Coach RJ Signature

Move Better! Perform my Dynamic Warm-Up exercises at “beginning” of workout
for maximum benefit and improvement.
Pick a safe level; never be unsafe or exceed your capacity to “control” your body!

 RonJones.Org | Back to BodyXercise Library | Site Map

(Updated 8.30.11)

                      Get Fit.  Be Strong.
Corporate Wellness · Consulting · Health Promotion