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FROM RUSSIA TO THE U.S; WELCOME TO KETTLEBELL TRAINING

By Saravana Sekar
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Welcome to the wonderful world of kettlebells; one of the most versatile tools in strength training. They have been a part of strongman training, the “secret” underground tool for elite athletes, CrossFit, and (unfortunately) even turned rubber for an at home 15 minute booty blast DVD. No matter which area you decide to use them, it remains clear they have an intimidating, mysterious demeanor waiting to be discovered. It is still quite possible you have never seen one at your gym before because many people don’t even know what to use them for. And if you have them nearby, then you are in luck! With one single bell you can have exciting and effective training for any type of skill levels. 3packkettlebellBut how do you use them? Dumbbells are widely used, so just by looking around the gym you can learn a a few handfuls of ways to use them. Machine and pulley systems only allow one type of movement and usually have instructions on them, so that’s a no brainer, and then we have our barbells, bands, med balls, ropes, so on and so forth. Each of these training modalities all have some purpose for the training population, but identifying what you use when is where the difficulty comes in. Today, we will focus on what the heck a kettlebell is(pictured left), what they are designed to do, and how to start using them to become a bonafide badass.

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THE ORIGIN

Developed in Russia during the 1700s, kettlebells (a.k.a. girya) were formed to look like a cannonball with a handle. They were originally used by farmers as tools to measure the weight of grain and crops, and in their downtime began showing great feats of strength between them (you know, doing manly stuff). Rather than kilograms or pounds, they were measured in POOD’s. What the hell is a pood you might ask? It is a Russian unit of measure equal to 36lb, or 16kg.. The most common sized bells are are; 1 pood = 36lb (16kg). 1.5 pood = 54lb (24kg). 2 pood = 72lb (32kg). So, what do you think happened when they started swinging around these heavy weights? THEY GOT STRONGER, HEALTHIER, AND WORKED MORE EFFICIENT! These farmers became even greater farmers and had a better quality of life from using these things as a form of exercise. So essentially…

Russian Farmer + Heavy Stuff = Start of Kettlebell Training

Fast forward past the farmers, we come into the emergence of the kettlebell into a competitve sport as well as a training tool for Russia. Vladislav Kraevky is credited with establishing its purpose, and brought Kettlebell Sport (Girevoy Sport) to the United States in the late 1990’s with a focus on three types of movements;

1.Jerk: After lifting the kettlebells to the chest, the competitor must ‘jerk’ press them overhead as many times as possible
2.Long Cycle: This is a clean and a jerkmoevment. The bells must be cleaned up to chest height before each performed overhead jerk; as many times as possible
3.Snatch: One kettlebell is used at a time here. The bell is swung between the legs then allowing it to an overhead position in one fluid motion.

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These are 3 powerful movements and take time to perfect, like any other complex lift. However, there are countless movements you can use to fit your training and life style, all you might need is a little guidance!

KETTLEBELL TRAINING BENEFITS

Either to be used on their own or as a supplement to other forms of training, the kettlebell is a great tool for anyone looking to improve their strength and conditioning levels. I have met avid triathletes, collegiate athletes, and training strongmen who include them in their training, some more than others. Nonetheless, they hold a place for each type of population to be effective in areas like

  • Improved Cardiovascular Health

  • Improved Force Production and Explosive Strength

  • Increased Strength and Functionality

  • Increased Muscle Mass and Grip Strength

  • Improved Vertical Jump

  • Improved Cognitive Processing

  • Increase Vo2 Max and Conditioning

  • Sexy Buns and Thighs

Trust me, all of those are real results to achieve, especially the last one. They are a powerful tool that helps develops a great deal of focus, strength and conditioning. I added them regularly into my training about 2 years ago and the excitement has only grown from there. Once the learning curve is established, you have no room but to keep developing a love for their complexity and ability to keep you humbled; because believe me, they WILL put you in check if you disrespect them (I learned the very, very hard way).

If you aren’t sure how to exactly add them into your training, don’t be concerned. Think about the types movement or exercises you do with dumbbells or certain machines…Now, think how many of those you could replace and enhance by using these fancy shmancy badass kettlebells hm? Rows, presses, pulls, squats, deadlifts,, farmers carry are a few to name, but let’s not forget the moevments you do with a kettlebell you usually CAN’T do with anything else; swings, cleans, snatch, windmill, get ups, bottoms up anything, and then the handfuls of specific training techniques they offer that are rarely seen in mainstream fitness!

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Each time a new piece of equipment catches my eye, it is like a magnetic attraction to see how and what I have to do in order to move it to my advantage. Always stay curious and excited when it comes to your training. It will help you avoid plateaus, but more importantly to not make it a burden to go to the gym and just “workout”. If you are unsure of how to using kettlebells, start simple! Below is a link to a beginner kettlebell workout I put together to introduce some key movements to get your gears going; give it a shot!!

Whenever we try a new ‘thing’, we become self conscious about how it may unfold. With training, don’t let your ego come between you and your potential success. Stay humble and take the time to move properly before thinking you are ready to toss big numbers around. Even more importantly, do not compare yourself to others around you! It is easy to want to be the biggest and baddest motha-effa in the gym. We all come from different life paths, length of commitment to training, past injuries, strengths and weaknesses mentally or physically. We are all unique and our output will be unique because of that. Here at Orca Empire Fitness, the ego is left at the door, the results are real, and our training has purpose and power. If you are looking to add real excitement, passion and intensity to your fitness and overall lifestyle, come try our 28 Day Trial to see what makes us different!

Link to the Orca 28 Day Challenge
https://orcaempirefitness.wufoo.com/forms/qv4q61x18miu0b/

Link to the Novice Kettlebell Routine Video!!

Total Body Beginner Kettlebell