Deep, old rugby injuries left the undersides of my kneecaps tender. They don’t always, or even often, accept weight directly applied. Sensitive. So, oftentimes, kneeling or half-kneeling positions are out. If they’re in, there’s a fair bit of cushion.

I use a fair bit of cushion.

I once walked into a kettlebell seminar at one of the large fitness events I used to attend so regularly just in time to hear one of the instructors yell, “And if your lower back hurts, it’s your fault!”

It is not your fault.

Form is form for you, and exploration is the name of the game. The fun is in the options, and how you learn to travel with yourself.

How you learn to bend is important. As is understanding how you can bend, right now.

Reasons to kneel abound, if you are able, or able to figure out how you comfortably can. Do not do things that hurt.

Primarily, in this case, kneeling is useful because it automatically requires a more stringent hip hinge than a windmill performed from a standing position, simply because there’s less fudge room with the fix of your lower extremities.

The kettlebell half-kneeling windmill can be a real treat for the wild rumpus, the torso, and the stabilizing muscles of the upper back and shoulder (strength endurance, again).

Push your hips back, rotate through the ribcage, keep your eye on the prize.

As always, with movements that are new to you, start featherweight — using no weight, in fact, to find your movement groove, and go from there.

Kettlebell Half-Kneeling Windmill

  • Start in a kneeling position, one leg forward, heel sturdy on the ground in front of you, shin vertical, rear foot on the ball (if that’s comfy for you), kettlebell on the ground directly in front of you.
  • From this position, using a hip pop, clean-or-combo-clean-curl the kettlebell on the same side as your forward leg into the racked position, thumb near or against your chest, forearm near vertical also. (You may also wish to clean the kettlebell into position before you kneel; preferences.)
  • Press or push press (again with the hip pop) the kettlebell into an overhead position. Look up at the kettlebell. You’ll remain looking at it throughout the full working set.
  • With most of your weight in your kneeling leg, push your hips back and away, tracking in line with your back leg. Keep your other arm straight, kettlebell pointed toward the sky, and rotate through your rib cage, chest toward bell.
  • Depending on your mobility, you may be able to descend and spin only slightly—no big d, simply work where you’re at.
  • Reverse the movement and return to an upright position.
  • After completing all reps on that side, lower the bell down to the racked position at your shoulder, switch leg position, and repeat on the other side.
Unapologetically Strong’s founder, Jen Sinkler, is an award-winning writer, editor, publisher, and personal trainer who has been working in the fitness realm since 2003. Her goal is to foster a fitness space that allows people to explore a variety of fitness pursuits, connect in ways that honor all aspects of their identities, and generally flourish as their strongest selves.