Hettlebells Fdr Gemibrt

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Thef graze in peace on grass. You hunt on cement.

-Irwin Shaw, Bread upon the Waters

You do not need to be a sports aficionado to know how awesome Russian wrestlers are. Who has not heard of Alexander Karelin? And what other country but Russia has a judo black belt for president?

Since before the days of undefeatable Ivan Poddubny, Russian wrestlers have done a lion's share of their conditioning with kettlebells—do not believe for a minute that bodyweight exercises are all the wrestlers of the former Soviet republics do for strength!

Ballistic kettlebell drills have some highly specific applications for wrestling. The snapping-action of the hips and back, plus the radical strengthening of hands and all pulling muscles, made kettlebells the Eastern bloc wrestlers' natural first choice.

Extreme cardio action is another reason. Go out and compare one arm snatches with the Hindu squats favored by Western and Oriental wrestlers for 'leg and lung work'. High rep bodyweight squats are often used to prescreen the candidates for the no-holds-barred fighting circuit. UFC champion Ken Shamrock had to knock off 500 to get in on the action. It may sound easy but you had better believe, it is a feat. Nevertheless, as one martial artist commented on the dragondoor.com discussion site, "[One arm snatches] are evil. I can do 500 straight Hindus, but 25 reps with each arm of the DB snatch using a 45 pound dumbbell leave me completely whipped."

Skeptical? Then why not go out and try it yourself? Take a moderate sized dumbbell (a kettlebell will add another evil dimension, so a dumbbell will do for starters) and snatch it for as many reps as you can, passing it from hand to hand after every ten.

When you are done throwing up, drop me a line on the discussion site. My U.S Navy SEAL friend John Faas puked with German punctuality every time I put him through the snatch ordeal when we were getting him ready for the frogmen

And I bet doughnuts against dollars that he is a better man than you are.

Another super reason to choose high-rep kettlebell ballistics for your cardio is the fact that giryas constrict your ribcage, as happens when grappling. You will strengthen your respiratory muscles against resistance and get more wind on the mat.

Consider including Prof. Anatoly Laputin's special breathing shrug into your regimen. Stand with two kettlebells hanging in your hands. Inhale and shrug your shoulders up. Lower the bells as you exhale through pursed lips or slightly groan through your mouth. The key to this special shrug is not to elevate the weights with your traps alone, but with maximal ribcage expansion. Do the drill at a slow pace, otherwise you are apt to hyperventilate. You will develop great grip endurance in the process. Very high reps are in order.

Bruce Lee once said, "There are no wrists in boxing. (Experiment with this statement.) The forearm and the fist should be used as one solid piece, like a club with a knot on the end of it. The fist should be kept on a straight line with the forearm and there should be no bending of the wrist in any direction." Ditto with kettlebell lifts. A striker will develop unyielding wrists, in the process of fighting the kettleweight's determination to wrench them

And if you add military presses with a light kettlebell hanging on the inside of your forearm, off your thumb, you will strengthen your thumbs for that unfortunate occasion when the punch goes wrong, your thumb gets jammed, and you cannot make a fist for months without wincing.

Any boxer or kickboxer who takes up kettlebell lifting will also quickly appreciate his newfound ability to keep on throwing a snappy punch for many rounds.

Prizefighters are traditionally fond of pushups; they believe this exercise improves their punching power. Indeed it does, although not in the manner they believe it does.

Relaxed shoulders are critical to fluid transmission of power from the hip into the fist. Anyone who has put on a pair of gloves and climbed into the ring knows that holding your guard up for a few rounds exhausts the shoulders. A fatigued muscle is a tight muscle. Punches deteriorate into pushes when the shoulders get tired; a friend who caught me watching the tenth round of a kickboxing bout on TV could not believe that the men wildly swinging their stiff arms were professionals.

High rep overhead kettlebell lifts develop unusual shoulder endurance and are not likely to give you the overuse injuries so common among pushup fanatics. Brutal encounters with kettlebells also teach an efficient transfer of force from the feet to the hands.

Where strikers' shoulders need great endurance, grapplers' shoulders need strength and flexibility. KB drills like the windmill, the bent press, the Turkish get-up, and the like, strengthen the shoulder through an awesome range of motion and make it much less prone to injuries on the mat.

The official kettlebell lifts develop the ability to absorb ballistic shocks, which is a necessity for soldiers, fighters, and the comrades who deny America's greenhouse reality and choose to play it rough. The repetitive ballistic shock of KBL builds some serious tendons and ligaments in your wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back—with power to match!

A couple of years ago I learned of an unusual training technique by champion arm-wrestler Johnny Walker. He would press a ninety-pound dumbbell overhead with such an explosion, that it would fly a foot or two up in the air. Then Walker would catch it with one arm 'to train for the shock of the start'. If you want to develop your ability to take impact and your dental plan is not as good as Johnny's, try the official K-bell lifts.

Unless you have an Eastern European trained coach on your payroll you should choose kettlebell drills over plyometrics as a tool of developing power. Sounds like a heresy from one born and bred in the Motherland of plyometrics? Stay with me.

The application of plyometrics is widely misunderstood on this side of what used to be the Iron Curtain. And the typical Western definition of plyos, as any rebound drills, would appall the shock method's creator Prof. Yuri Verkhoshansky. I do not care to dwell on the details, just remember that the Party

is always right. Or refer to Drs. Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky's pointed criticism of the Western textbooks on plyometrics in Supertraining. It is better to leave a power tool alone if you have no clue how to use it.

Kettlebell snatches and C&Js offer a "people's alternative" to plyos. And to the barbell Olympic lifts. Weightlifting is a wonderful sport, but let's get real—it's an elitist sport like polo or sailing. WL requires state of the art equipment—a quality OL barbell set can set you back more than a motorcycle—and constant expert coaching. A lifter like Clarence Bass—who can achieve success on the platform, without the above—is a rarity. Girevoy sport, on the other hand, is a working class sport. Kettlebells are cheap, no platform is required, and almost anyone can master the skills in a short period of time from a book or a video.

If you have access to a deserted patch of soft ground your kettlebell will help you perfect your kime or focus. Throw your girya in every imaginable fashion: up, down, and sideways, with one arm and two, etc. By the way, Russians have kettlebell throwing competitions. My old man Vladimir Tsatsouline, a retired army officer, took the first place in his age group in the prestigious White Russian Winter Nationals a couple of years ago (and even got paid five bucks for it, old pro).

Make a point of exhaling forcefully to 'match the breath with the force' when you throw. And keep in mind that if you throw the KB into anything harder than sand you could break the handle; cast iron is hard but brittle. A great boxer, famous boxing and kickboxing coach, and family friend Andrey Dolgov has his 'bone breakers'—the nickname his prizefighters received in the international arena for their notorious punches—throw light rocks instead. It is important to throw varying weights, from heavy to very light, for optimal nervous system adaptation to speed. Shadowboxing and relaxation exercises in between will not hurt either.

The next great outdoor drill would not work with a rock. Steve Maxwell, the wrestling champion whose routines you can read about in the next chapter, ties a towel to his kettlebell and starts swinging it like a T&F hammer. A terrific workout for every muscle of the waist, states Steve. Needless to say, you can think of many variations of the hammer drill: slam the KB into the ground after a couple of spins, lower or raise the bell as it goes around you, do the drill with one or two hands, pass the towel from hand to hand, draw number eight...

Steve Justa, an inventive strength trainer from the heartland—and the author of Rock, Iron, Steel—likes to toss a kettlebell in front of his hips, from left to right and back. He states that this drill "builds tremendous wrenching power in arms, shoulders, and side muscles from head to toe."

An athlete from a rough sport cannot find a better power tool than the kettlebell, why Russmn lifters trrin uiith hettlebells

In the old days, any Russian strongman or lifter was called a girevik, or 'a kettlebell man'. Many famous Soviet weightlifters, such as Vorobyev, Vlasov, Alexeyev, and Stogov, started their Olympic careers with old-fashioned kettlebells. Recalls two times Olympic champion and world record holder Leonid Zhabotinskiy: "We kids got into the habit of visiting the local blacksmith. Among the metal scrap in his shop we found a one-pood [16kg] kettlebell. So we tried real hard lifting it with one arm, then with the other, so we would hurt all over the day after! .. It was my first competition in lifting weights." No wonder one prestigious kettlebell tournament was named after Leonid Zhabotinskiy.

Yuri Vlasov who defeated mighty Paul 'the Wonder of Nature'Anderson, once interrupted an interview he was giving to a Western journalist and proceeded to press a pair of 'doubles', ten times. "A wonderful exercise," commented world champion weightlifter. "... It is hard to find an exercise better suited for developing strength and flexibility simultaneously."

Indeed, the number one reason Olympic weightlifters should add kettlebells to their regimen, is the promise of spectacular gains in shoulder and hip flexibility. The drill of choice is the kettlebell overhead squat. The overhead squat is a staple exercise for a weightlifter, but not an easy one to master. It takes unusual shoulder and upper back range of motion to perform a rock bottom squat, while holding a barbell or a pair of dumbbells overhead—even with a very light poundage. Athletes usually fail to bring the weight far enough behind their head—and either lose it in front or fall on their butt.

By the nature of their shape, kettlebells hang behind the hands and make the balancing act much easier. Now, for the first time, you can do a legit overhead squat. The KBs will stretch out your shoulders in no time flat—just keep on overhead KB squatting!

Although KBs are worth getting for shoulder flexibility alone, there are plenty of drills—other than overhead squats—that you can do with them, to supplement your Olympic weightlifting training. Randall Strossen, Ph.D. is one of the top weightlifting experts in the US and the publisher of the classy magazine, MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes (subscribe on www.ironmind.com). Strossen comments: "It's no secret that kettlebells were standard equipment for Eastern Bloc strength athletes and old time strongmen—they are excellent for swings, laterals, rowing and a variety of throwing-related movements."

And much more. Prof. Arkady Vorobyev recommends kettlebell snatches to weightlifters as a means of developing quickness. Three to four times a week— and never to the point where you start slowing down. The former Olympic champion also favors snatching two 32kg kettlebells for sets of five, while standing on an elevation, as a special snatch exercise.

The authoritative weightlifting textbook by ex-world champion, Prof. Alexey Medvedev, lists twenty-four kettlebell exercises for the arms and shoulder girdle—and twenty-nine for the legs and torso! Another Russian weightlifting expert, V. I. Rodionov, recommends a great variety of kettlebell drills, including stiff-legged snatches with one or two KBs, one arm swings to chest level, hands switching every rep, split and squat snatches, and juggling one or two kettlebells, by yourself or with a partner. He prescribes kettlebell throws—overhead, forward, and to the side, as well as the techniques employed by discus and hammer throwers—for developing quickness. He recommends occasionally using high repetition kettlebell lifts, to develop special endurance.

Rodionov's kettlebell leg-work menu is very extensive: front and overhead squats, feet flat and on the balls of the feet, Hack lifts on the balls of the feet with a kettlebell held behind the lifter's hips, leg extensions with a kettlebell hanging off the lifter's instep, and lunges. The scientist insists on turning your front foot slightly in and keeping it flat when performing KB lunges. The rear heel is off the floor and is turned slightly out. The emphasis is on depth and stretching. Russian lifters also favor explosively switching the legs in the low position—which is sometimes referred to as 'the Russian lunge' on this side of the late Berlin Wall

The one-legged kettlebell front squat, or 'pistol', tops off Rodionov's leg list. I have successfully implemented this awesome drill into my S.W.A.T. team and U.S. federal agency trainings. You can watch the proper pistol technique in my Rapid Response videos. You may use one or two kettlebells.

High step-ups are popular among Russian weightlifters for glute development and flexibility. Kettlebells offer a fine tool for overloading. Clean a pair to your chest and go for it. Keep your shin vertical and push through your heel. Use a hard, elevated surface, not a soft bench.

A cruel and unusual drill is 'the Sots press', named after the world champion weightlifter of the early eighties, Russian Victor Sots. It rewards you with exceptional shoulder strength and active flexibility. Clean a pair of giryas and go into a full squat. Now military press the bells! Good luck, you'll need it.

The original Sots press is performed with a barbell and will defy most humans, even with an empty bar. Because you don't have to worry about getting round your head—and thanks to their displaced centers of gravity— kettlebells enable you to work up to the barbell version.

When working up to a kettlebell Sots press, master this squat press from the shoulders first—and only then try to press from the rack on your chest. Keep your elbows as high as possible, or you are doomed.

Kettlebells are not new to all American weightlifters. "I used to use kettlebells years ago; at the University of Notre Dame in the sixties," Ken Durso wrote me from Tennessee. "There were all manner of training aids in Father Lange's gym including some old kettlebells. Although I never used them much, after graduation I lifted for the McBurney YMCA team in New York City, sort of a third stringer behind some really good Olympic lifters—Dick Rosen (148lbs, pressed 305); David Berger (165lb expatriate to Israel, was killed at the Olympics by the Arab terrorists); I was fourth in the Junior Nationals in 1969, best lifts of 280 press, 260 snatch, 340 C and J. There were kettlebells in that old gym on 23rd Street and I used to do one arm presses and various swings.

After many years, I bought one of IronMind's kettlebell handles late last year and began training again with them in my routine, nothing very regular at first. Just wanted to feel it again. Started doing light power cleans, up to the shoulder and then an overhead press, sets of six or eight, down and up, down and up. Got to over 100lbs with either arm and have the video tape to prove it... Unfortunately the heavier weight began to pulverize my upper arms as the plates swung round, crashing into my outer biceps. I got very black and blue. I switched to very high pulls, not actually racking the weight... I had adjusted my footing to straddle on some stacks of roof shingles. This provided clearance for the bell to swing down between the legs and lengthen the pull. Very important, this approximates the pull in the weight over bar event of the Highland Games, very similar."

Kent Durso finished third at Pleasanton US Championships Highland Games last year, Masters class. "Also, I am fiddling with a kind of shot put motion, for reps with a lighter weight, to get extension of the shoulder, very important for that last push on the stone. As you can see, I am still experimenting with the kettlebells. I believe they are directly beneficial for throwing events."

Although powerlifters have no need for above average shoulder flexibility—a PLer who can scratch the back of his head is off the charts—they will find overhead kettlebell squats unmatchable in promoting hip and lower back flexibility. For max power and safety, a powerlifter needs to keep a tight arch in the lower back all the way into the hole—a rounded back subtracts 15% from your pull according to Roman (1962) and does no good to your squat either. The overhead kettlebell squat done for a few sets of five, in lieu of your usual squat and deadlift warmup, is your ticket to achieving the perfect SQ and DL technique—and squat depth.

Alexey Vorotintsev, a prominent coach and a holder of many USSR kettlebell records, has been influential in getting PLers to train with kettlebells. And why not? Recall that there is a high correlation between the KBL total and the PL total (Vinogradov & Lukyanov, 1986).

Many Russian powerlifters start or wrap up their deadlift session with kettlebell pulls or swings. 32kgx12/3 is the typical format unless the intention is to build up the back and hammies with back-off sets. Another choice you have, when incorporating kettlebells into your power regimen, is complex training.

Dr. Fred Hatfield is one of the most competent sports scientists in the US. He was also the first man to officially squat over 1,000 pounds. Hatfield, AKA "Dr. Squat", recommends doing one or two explosive vertical jumps right before a deadlift attempt. He warns that the effect is lost if the lifter spends too much time adjusting his grip.

Dr. 'Squat's idea is to facilitate a more intense contraction of the musculature involved. Since the hips and back, rather than the thighs, do the most work in the deadlift, I believe that KB snatches or pulls are superior to jump squats, in the DL context. Make sure to focus on explosion and immediate reversal of the movement when the KB hits the low point below your knees. Imagine you have touched a hot stove.

You can also plug kettlebells into Steve Wilson's deadlift routine. Recently Texas powerlifter, Ben Phillip Workman contacted me. He told me about a radical DL routine by Steve Wilson who pulled 850 back in the eighties. Wilson deadlifted 225275 pounds, or 26-32% of his max, for two to three sets of twenty reps two to three times a week. Once a month he would deadlift heavy. This 'non-scientific' and counterintuitive

B.P. Workman pullling 655.

B.P. Workman pullling 655.

routine worked not only for superhuman Wilson. "Pavel, the Steve Wilson DL [program] worked out surprisingly well!" wrote B. Phillip Workman. "I made my own modifications along the way but I was able to pull 675 with nothing but a belt (no roids either). I was quite surprised that lifting submaximal weights often really juiced my dead. My best DL before that was normally 605 on a great day.it also had a positive effect on my squat, I feel. I squatted 625 with just a belt (of course I was squatting on a regular basis once a week). You know, when I think about it, the deadlift jumped when I went from pulling 1-2 times a month to pulling 2-3 times a week with probably between 80-100+ reps a week! Makes me put that much more faith in PTP [my book Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American]!"

I believe that centralpattern generators, the neural circuits in charge of rhythmical movements are to thank for Messrs. Wilson and Workman's success. One of the CPGs' jobs is to disinhibit the antagonistic muscles, that is 'remove the brakes' your body always puts on. In essence the CPGs 'lubricate' your movement—make it more efficient. Now when you try harder—for example at your monthly heavy deadlift session—you will go further. That is the theory.

But whatever the theory is, obviously the program delivered. I suspect that the Wilson routine will work even better if you do one arm kettlebell snatches or snatch pulls instead of deadlifts. The KB drills are at least as good in building up the spinal erectors and hamstrings as repetition deadlifts. Then they are safer (I am not a big fan of more than five reps in the dead; I gave my reasons in Power to the People!). Plus they enforce a clean, efficient groove that will carry over to deadlifts. Strength coach extraordinaire, Bill Starr, stated on many occasions that quick lifts teach a powerlifter a very precise pulling groove. No one in his right mind would do high-rep barbell quick lifts (too dangerous, among other reasons) but with kettlebells you have a green light.

Please give the Wilson routine a try with kettlebells: two to three times a week, two to three sets of ten reps per arm (twenty total). Pick a kettlebell that works you without killing you. Once a month try a conservative max. Let me know how you do on the dragondoor.com discussion site.

And one more good reason for a powerlifter to train with kettlebells: KBL's repetitive ballistic shock will build some serious tendons and ligaments—with power to match! Although heavy supports in the tradition of Jowett, Anderson, and Grimek are a must for a man or woman of power, they are only half the connective tissue training equation. Eastern European specialists, such as Prof. Verkhoshansky, recommend full-amplitude, high-rep work to stimulate tendon and ligament development. So go get 'em, tiger!

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"Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics," wrote Ludvig Chaplinskiy in the Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.

Indeed. Pyotr Kryloffs pipes measured 49cm, or 19+ inches, at his prime, exactly one hundred years ago.

Kettlebell master, Ivan Poddubny sported a pair of 52cm, or almost 21 inch arms!

Before steroids, protein shakes, and easy living.

All old-time Russian physique men trained with kettlebells. Konstantin Stepanov from St. Petersburg, the winner of many physique shows held between 1912 and 1917, enjoyed training with a pair of 'doubles' and could juggle a three pood or 48kg kettlebell!

Bodybuilders love training variety but a kettlebell will give them much more than a welcome distraction from the grind of conventional weights and machines.

For arm and chest training, the girya is superior to the dumbbell or barbell.

When you curl a DB or BB the resistance quickly drops off near the top of the movement; the forearm bones are supporting the weight.

When you curl a DB or BB the resistance quickly drops off near the top of the movement; the forearm bones are supporting the weight.

The kettlebell's center of gravity, however, is removed by a good foot from the body at the completion of the curl. That means that your biceps will have to work hard through a longer range of motion and consequently get a better growth stimulation than with a BB or DB.

Ditto for the pecs. Bodybuilders love chest training—dumbbell presses and flies are on the top of the list of their favorite exercises. Muscle magazines reasonably advise that you 'squeeze' your pecs as you complete each rep because the resistance falls off near the top.

With kettlebells, your pectorals get overloaded even at the lockout, because the KBs hang off to the sides, rather than rest atop your vertical and locked arms.

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