Kettle bell training is a perfect choice for a combat athlete’s general physical preparation (GPP). BJJ brown belt and 2017/2018 BJJ Masters World Champion Chris Jones performing the seated mil press.
I prefer timed sets for the clean, snatch, push press and long cycle exercises. Exercises that allow the lifter to rest with the bell in the rack position are preferred as we can manipulate the pace to develop the various energy systems.
BJJ purple belt and host of the Grappling Central Podcast Ryan Ford performing the kettle bell swing. BJJ purple belt and 2017 BJJ Yogi Worlds silver medalist Logan Santos performing the kettle bell snatch.
By improving muscular endurance, a combat athlete will reduce the likelihood of muscles “locking up” or “gassing out” during a competition. Scott Shelter is the owner of Extreme Performance Training Systems in Atlanta, GA with 20 years of experience as a trainer and strength and conditioning professional.
Master ROC Mark Ranking, a man who knows training and kettle bells inside out, says in the 2012 ROC Manual the swing is, “Better than one hundred percent of all the strength and conditioning exercises — at least for ninety-nine percent of the population.” As I wrote about previously, there is starting to be more and more research on the swing and why it’s such a great exercise. Like with most exercises, we can change the kettle bell swing’s effectiveness for our goals based on load.
Two recent studies have been done on strength training and it’s role in increasing efficiency in endurance athletes. Both of these studies tested experienced athletes — long distance runners and cyclists.
Many years ago you would never find endurance athletes using barbells or any form of resistance training. Then came along Percy Ce rutty and Herb Elliot, and more recently Lance Armstrong (who does swings for his training).
I’ve even seen a former world cross-country champion doing plyometrics in an effort to increase strength and power. Further, endurance guru Joe Frail states quite clearly in his book, The Cyclists Training Bible, that mature athletes (over thirty-five) need to keep strength training in their regimen, even in season, to maintain healthy bone mass and power output.
If you’re an endurance athlete there’s a big chance your biggest issue is strength, not fitness. As you get closer to your event it may make more sense to transition to a muscular endurance training style, but you’ll get more bang for the buck initially by focusing on something you’re lacking.
Plus, higher rep sets will exhaust you, leaving your legs too fried to run or ride effectively, in my experience. Having said that, there’s something odd that happens when you do ballistic exercises versus grinds like a press or squat — you can do double the reps. Pavel Tsatsouline wrote a fantastic workout years ago called Fast Tens.
Louie (Simmons) said to me: “Kettle bell lifts are slower than plyometrics—slow enough to work the muscles.” And you thought faster was always better! True ploys must be very ‘touch-and-go’ in order to teach you to recruit your muscles more explosively and make a better use of stored elastic energy.
They are not meant to build muscles for that reason and because at the intensities involved you could not put up a high enough volume safely. If you are interested in the complex science of plyometrics, read Super training by Mel Sight, Ph.D., available from elitefts.com.
As usual Pavel managed to find a way to make a good exercise better — his thoughts for quick lifts/ballistics was that they should be double the number of reps as for grinds. You can compound this effect by performing your swings one handed — a few sets of five to eight reps with a genuine RM load will test your entire body like you won’t believe.
This active negative allows massive forces to be generated on the downswing making it more similar in action to a plyometric than a lift. Recent studies by ROC Brandon Hitler have shown there is a “Goldilocks bell” (one that is just right) for everyone for force production.
The body must be locked up tight and the only action to begin is the drawback from the lat before firing the bell hard and fast. The purpose is to swing the bell as hard and explosively on every rep as possible and rushing between sets will only teach you to be slower and less forceful.
The one hand swing has been shown to allow for up to 180% of maximum voluntary muscle contraction through the waist and midsection when done properly — whole body strength in a single exercise. While this may not seem like much, for long term endurance athletes, with little history of strength training, these few sets will do amazing things to their running and riding.
AMAP CrossFit kettle bell workouts should be an important part of a cross fitters routine. They don’t only build strength but also develop your conditioning and stamina, further boosting your overall performance in CrossFit’s varied workouts.
Their constantly changing center of gravity replicates the forces that you’d encounter in day-to-day life. AMAP workouts are usually short and explosive; you could end up panting on the floor after just 10 minutes of exercise.
© Photos courtesy of CrossFit Inc There are many reasons why you should train with kettle bells ; they activate dozens of muscles and improve your ability to perform fast, powerful movements during an extended period of time. Up the game: perform the same number of burpees on the first and last rounds, otherwise the penalty is four times the difference.