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Is It Kettlebell Powerlifting

author
Carole Stephens
• Monday, 26 October, 2020
• 23 min read

Russian stamp with kettle bell lifting theme (snatch and jerk depicted). The sport consists of three main lifts: the snatch, jerk and the long cycle.

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Contents

Jerk and Long Cycle can be performed with one bell or two kettle bells of equal weight. Valery Fedorenko demonstrates a basic snatch maneuver.

The lifter is given ten minutes for each event to perform as many repetitions as possible. Biathlon involves the Greek (kettle bell lifter) performing a set of jerks for ten minutes, with at least 1-hour rest, followed by a set of snatches for ten minutes.

Biathlon score is the combined jerk and snatch points. Long cycle involves the Greek performing a set of clean and jerks for ten minutes.

The American Kettle bell Alliance is also a member of the International Union of Kettle bell Lifting and represents American athletes in international competitions including the world championships, which is the largest and most prestigious annual international kettle bell sport competition in the world. International Kettle bell Marathon Federation (IMF) hosts competitions using the traditional lifts (One arm--jerk, snatch, long cycle.

Whether you’re interested in busting through plateaus, strengthening underutilized muscles, or improving your conditioning so you can last longer in your heavy training sessions, kettle bells are the way to go. With the ballistic nature of so many kettle bell movements, combined with the odd shape that will fire your stabilizer muscles like little else, kettle bells will allow you to refine the kind of explosive strength you’ll need to lock out your dead lift and come out of the hole in your squat.

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The proper form for hip extension (and subsequent massive glute strength) is key for swings, which are a staple of most kettle bell workouts, including the ones below. The three choices below all emphasize a different goal, but all will also build powerful glutes that can help unstick your toughest dead lifting and squat plateaus.

You’ve only got thirty seconds per side here, but you want to focus on quality rather than rep quantity. Keep your shoulder packed at all times, and make eye contact with the bell, always.

So keeping your form super strict here will be wonderful for your glutes (and the rest of your body, too). They’re the same as a regular kettle bell swing, except you will finish each rep by letting the bell come to a full (“dead”) stop on the ground in front of you.

To be clear: set up with the bell a foot or two in front of you, hinge to grasp it, use your hips to swing it back behind you between your legs, use your hip snap to bring the bell up to chest level, let it swing back down between your legs, and then, instead of bringing it up again, let it go from between your legs to the ground in front of you. This dead stop will kill the momentum between each swing, requiring you to recruit even more energy to blast off each time.

To avoid the infamous forearm flop, make sure your motion is… well… clean. Keep your arm locked close to your rib cage throughout the motion, so that when you thread your hand up and through so that the bell transitions to resting on your forearm in rack position, it won’t leave you with bruises.

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If you want an extra challenge, move directly into your swings with the bells still in your hands. Rotate your wrists so your palms are facing each other, widen your stance, and get into your double bell swings.

Make sure you’re breathing and pressing down into your toes so that your feet stay stable and balanced throughout the movement. Working unilateral moves will help even those imbalances out (and give you stronger glutes overall, so really, everybody wins).

In fact, many people should probably avoid that with this move (unless you have absurdly flexible hamstrings, all the more power to you). Feel free to stop descending when the bell dips below your knee, and keep it slow and steady as you’re standing back up.

Your stabilizer muscles and glutes won’t like you very much, but they will definitely benefit from the extra time under tension and strict attention to form. Either way, hitting below parallel will challenge the heck out of your glutes (not to mention your core), which is exactly what you’re looking for.

And sit into the side lunge with your knee thigh comfortably hitting parallel (or below) to the ground. Experiment with finding your own personal sweet spot before racking your weight.

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(Source: barbend.com)

If you’re looking for to use a variety of kettle bell training styles, want to improve your work capacity while strength training, or just generally subscribe to the idea that “both is good,” you might want to try a hybrid workout that combines conditioning and lifting. Make sure your form stays excellent throughout, and that momentum from your swings don’t translate into your slower, steadier lifts.

Make sure you take the time to set up this lift, finding your proper footing before you dive in. Nina Take/Shutterstock Using kettle bells to make your glutes that much more powerful is a great way to add variety to your training.

Adding these kettle bell accessory movements to your regularly scheduled programming will add an element of power and instability (in the positive, muscle-building sense) that will translate into improved squat and dead numbers. A 16-kilogram (35 lb) “competition kettle bell Arthur Saxon with a kettle bell, cover of The Text Book of Weight-Lifting (1910)The Russian girl (, plural girl) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century.

They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century. The birth of competitive kettle bell lifting or Gregory sport ( ) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the “Circle for Amateur Athletics” ( ).

Russian girl are traditionally measured in weight by Food, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb). The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century.

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Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the halter, comparable to the modern kettle bell in terms of movements. Variants of the kettle bell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot.

By their nature, typical kettle bell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.

Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettle bell exercises involve large numbers of repetitions in the sport, and can also involve large reps in normal training. Kettle bell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks.

When training with high repetitions, kettle bell progression should start out slowly to build muscle endurance, support the joints and prevent injury. Like movements performed with any exercise tool, they can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core, when performed without proper education and progression.

They can offer improved mobility, range of motion, agility, cardio vascular endurance, mental toughness and increased strength. The following is a list of common exercises that are uniquely suited to the kettle bell for one reason or another.

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(Source: bretcontreras.com)

A kettle bell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank in a slow, controlled movement. Keeping the arm holding the bell extended vertically, the athlete transitions from lying supine on the floor to standing, and back again.

As with the other slow exercises (the windmill, get-up, and halo), this drill improves shoulder mobility and stabilization. It starts lying on the ground with the kettle bell over the shoulder in a straight arm position, as in the top of a floor press, but with the other arm along the floor straight overhead.

The trainee then gradually turns their body away from the kettle bell until they are lying partially on their front. The kettle bell is held hanging in one arm and moved smoothly around the body, switching hands in front and behind.

Also called a front leg pass, this is a backward lunge, circling the bell around the front leg, returning to the standing position, and repeating. Like the slingshot, but the bell is swung forward until the arms are parallel to the ground.

Starting with the bell in the rack, the bell is pushed away to the side slightly, the swung down to the other side in front of the body, and reversed back up into the rack. A variation of the press where the other arm assists by pushing open palm against the ball.

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Stand on one leg and hold the kettle bell with the opposite arm. By then lowering and raising the kettle bell you can work stabilization and power.

A press utilizing a bent-leg windmill position to lift heavier weight than is otherwise possible. One bell is rowed to the chest while maintaining the plank position, then returned to the ground and repeated with the other arm.

Alternatively performed with a single kettle bell, one arm at a time. This requires more control than an ordinary push up and results in a greater range of motion.

Feet may be elevated to increase the difficulty, until the trainee is performing a handstand push-up on the kettle bells. In any movement involving the rack or overhead position, the kettle bell can be held with the ball in an open palm (sometimes called the waiter hold) for a greater stabilization challenge, or for even more precise control and added grip challenge, the bottom-up hold, squeezing the kettle bell by the handle upside-down.

Holding a single kettle bell in the rack position bottom-up with two hands (“by the horns”) makes for goblet exercise variants. Conventional swing: The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.

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(Source: www.criticalbench.com)

Hang clean: The kettle bell is held in the rack position (resting on the forearm in the crook of the elbow, with the elbow against the chest), lowered to below the knees, and then thrust back up in to the rack. The kettle bell is held in one hand, lowered to behind the knees via hip hinge, swung to an overhead position and held stable, before repeating the movement.

Jerk: As a push press, but with two dips, for more leg assistance (as in the barbell clean and jerk) Thruster: A rack squat with a press at the top using momentum from the squat. Pistol squat: A single-leg squat with one leg held straight in front parallel to the ground, holding the bell in the goblet or rack position.

An easier variant for those with less hip mobility is to perform the squat parallel to a step or ledge, so that the foot of the free leg can dip beneath the pushing leg at the bottom. Carry: Walking with the kettle bell held in various positions, such as suitcase, rack, goblet, or overhead.

Row: While bent over anywhere from 45 degrees to parallel with the ground, the kettle bell is held hanging from a straight arm, pulled up to the hips or laterally, and lowered again. Keeping the bell arm vertical, the upper body is bent to one side and rotated until the other hand is touching the floor.

The single kettle bell version is called the suitcase walk. These build grip strength while challenging your core, hips, back and traps.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell. The key to a good kettle bell swing is effectively thrusting the hips, not bending too much at the knees, and sending the weight forwards, as opposed to squatting the weight up, or lifting with the arms.

The one-arm swing presents a significant anti-twisting challenge, and can be used with an alternating catch switching between arms. Within those variations there are plenty more variations, some are, but not limited to: pace, movement, speed, power, grip, the direction of thumb, elbow flexion, knee flexion.

The kettle bell has more than 25 grips that can be employed, to provide variety, challenge different muscles, increase or decrease complexity, and work on proprioception. Competitive lifter (Greek) performing jerk with 32 kg kettle bells (rack position). Contemporary kettle bell training is represented basically by five styles.

Hard style has its roots in powerlifting and Gj-rykarate training, particularly hobo undo concepts. With emphasis on the “hard” component and borrowing the concept of time, the Hard style focuses on strength and power and duality of relaxation and tension.

Gregory, sometimes referred to as the fluid style in comparison to the Hard style, represents the training regimen for the competitive sport of kettle bell lifting, focusing on strength endurance. Juggling is a training style where the practitioner releases and catches the kettle bell with all manner of spins and flips around the body.

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Kettle bell training is extremely broad and caters to many goals, some being, but not limited to: mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and power. The sport can be compared to what the CrossFit Games is to CrossFit, however, the sport has been much longer in existence, and is only recently gaining more popularity worldwide, with women participating as well.

One such example being Valerie Wazowski, who at age 52, was the first US female lifter in the veteran age category to achieve Master of Sport in 24 kg Kettle bell Long Cycle. ^ , «» .

« » “ ”, 22 August 2016 (with period photographs). 21 (1908), p. 505: “PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE USING SCHMIDT'S Celebrated 'MONARCH' DUMB-BELL, BAR BELL AND KETTLE BELL SYSTEM”; also spelled KETTLE-BELLS (with hyphen) in a 1910 advertisement for the “Automatic Exerciser”) ^ a b c Rathbone, Andy (2009-01-04).

Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 542-544 ^ a b Iv ill, Laura (2008-11-22). “Exclusive ACE research examines the fitness benefits of kettle bells” (PDF).

Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 125-127 ^ Kettle bell Swing Vs. High Pull”. ^ “The Kettle bell Clean, Stop Banging Your Wrists | The Complete Guide”.

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For the rest of us, we have to find ways to make up with assistance work and careful planning what we lack in talent and choice of parents. Kettle bells are not the sole answer to every weakness, but they are an absolute must-have in the average Powerlifter’s bag of assistance tricks.

They are amazingly effective for improving General Physical Preparedness, for Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation of Injuries, and for Dynamic/Explosive work. The Kettle bell swing or snatch can be done either for higher reps or in interval type workouts to increase overall conditioning.

Farmers walks are great for improving conditioning and about the best grip work for holding a Dead lift I know. The fatter and smoother handle makes the hand work harder to hold the Kettle bell.

For narrower squatters I like heavy one arm snatches in the squat stance. In the bench press Kettle bells are not direct assistance, but are best for change of pace on back off weeks, for the best shoulder rehab work I know, and great for single arm and Renegade Rows.

Doing double military presses will hit your chest if you lean back a bit. Floor pressing a KB is easier to get into position yourself but much harder to handle weight wise.

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Finally, the KB arm bar is not only a great low back adjustment but fantastic for rehabilitation of bench press shoulders. A word of caution on Turkish get ups;if you have shoulder issues and/or you have not done much overhead work, you could easily strain a rotator or rear deltoid.

The front squat with KB's is great for building the conventional pull start off the floor. The margin of error is narrow here because hitting yourself in the shin with a fast moving heavy KB will leave a mark.

After Squatting: Double KB Swing Heavy 3-4 sets of 7-12 reps. Conditioning/Extra Workouts: KB snatch 7-10 reps per hand x8-12 sets with 30-60 seconds rest.

CONCLUSION; I am not sponsored lifter, so every bit of gear or equipment I buy and then give a review of is measured in Return on Investment. Jack Reap is a Career Navy Pilot whose passion is his kids.

The lessons he has learned in a life of Military Aviation and high level athletics, and tested on himself and his kids, are available to anybody who needs some help or new ideas at jackreape@hotmail.com Just registered here since I finished reading Enter the kettle bell and Simple & Sinister and have some unanswered questions. I've been a competitive powerlifter for 10 years.

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Some back problems have made me a bench press specialist and nowadays I only compete in full meets (all three power lifts) for fun. I have always been curious about kettle bells, since I love all types of strength training but the barbell bench press always came first.

Some shoulder asymmetric has made me pause the barbell training and I've been doing a lot of unilateral dumbbell movements to fix that. Kettle bells seem like the ultimate unilateral strength trading, so I went and bought Etc and SAS because I like having some references to what I'm about to engage in.

The problem is I can't find a lot about combining KB's with other strength sports. I really want to hammer the basics, because that's how I teach the power lifts and other strength exercises.

Would you recommend a powerlifter to switch out everything to KB's if he wanted to learn the basics really well? If a bench press specialized powerlifter wanted a basic KB program that included swing, get up, clean and press (and maybe even snatch down the road) to combine with his “down-sized” powerlifting program.

5-10 reps x 4-6 sets *Pulling exercise (such as pull-ups or rows) 8-12 reps x 4-6 sets *Various other assistance work (flies, lat raises, dips, push downs, curls etc.) The volume and intensity are never the same two sessions in a row and the variations are planned to target a specific part of the lift on different days.

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I realize that I cannot just plan KB-training on top of all this, that's where I end up contemplating. I guess KB-swings will take its toll on my lower body and I have no problem with decreasing the lower body training in my “ordinary” powerlifting sessions, since I'm a bench presser primarily.

If a bench press specialized powerlifter wanted a basic KB program that included swing, get up, clean and press (and maybe even snatch down the road) to combine with his “down-sized” powerlifting program. Here are a couple examples to draw from: SFG 1 or 2 prep SFG 2 prep For both of those, you would probably have to dial back the volume and cut/paste a few movements.

A bastardized version of a well-designed program is still probably better than a completely self-made program. I think your planned 1:1 ratio of KB to BB stuff would work well. I wouldn't plan on getting much carryover from the KB stuff to your comp lifts for at least a few weeks, since the learning weights might not be enough to stimulate much adaptation.

I believe cal Camp has some experience with your chosen powerlifting pursuit... I don't think he did much with KB's during that period of his lifting career, but I'll tag him in case he has any opinions. Here are a couple examples to draw from: SFG 1 or 2 prep SFG 2 prep For both of those, you would probably have to dial back the volume and cut/paste a few movements.

I wouldn't plan on getting much carryover from the KB stuff to your comp lifts for at least a few weeks, since the learning weights might not be enough to stimulate much adaptation. I believe cal Camp has some experience with your chosen powerlifting pursuit... I don't think he did much with KB's during that period of his lifting career, but I'll tag him in case he has any opinions.

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But if I translate whatever program knowledge I have from powerlifting to KB's, the lower volume in SAS 3x/week (should be done almost every day, right?) I currently only have a 24 kg KB, but definitely considering getting at least a 32 kg soon (and more.). I've been pressing (both flat and over head) with a frequency of 4+ times / week for years now, that's why I think the additional KB-pressing won't rough me up too bad.

Would you recommend a powerlifter to switch out everything to KB's if he wanted to learn the basics really well? If a bench press specialized powerlifter wanted a basic KB program that included swing, get up, clean and press (and maybe even snatch down the road) to combine with his “down-sized” powerlifting program.

I'm not a powerlifter, but I am a weightlifter, which means competing in both the snatch and clean & jerk. I'm currently in an off-season prep cycle, but in a couple of months will transition to a pre-season and then competition prep cycle for the American Masters meet in November. I currently do barbell work 2x a week (Monday, Friday), each time doing a squat variant (back or front), pull / dead lift variant (clean grip / snatch grip), press or jerk variant (Blood press, Sots press, power jerk), and finish off with loaded carries.

Tuesday, Thursday is rehab / conditioning day for me, which means KB swings (following Marker hybrid conditioning protocol), KB Thus, then body weight work to balance out what the barbell and kettle bell are neglecting (pull ups, ring push-ups, L-sits, back bridges). Wed, Fri are mobility / active recovery day for me -- splits work, yoga -- because as I get older, increasing sheer explosiveness and raw strength comes slower, so I have to get under the bar lower, and faster.

However, the Marker protocols are quite a bit more time and volume -- it took several weeks of dragging performance, and increased food, before I got over the conditioning hump such that they didn't interfere with each other. I can't take my HP, divide it by 2, and say “that's a gimme” on TGU weight.

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I haven't noticed much shoulder fatigue issues with barbell work interfering with TGU. If my backside or legs are still fatigued a day after BB work, my TGU suuuuuuucks.

KB swings help my dead lift and 1st and 2nd Only pulls, lots of carryovers. Thus, BB font squats remain necessary for weightlifters mixing modalities.

TGU definitely helps with overhead lockout on the snatch and jerk. I tried training both KB and BB cleans / snatches at the same time -- I got fried.

However, I've been a power lifting and kettle bell hobbyist for many years. For me, the 2 best exercises that have helped me bullet-proof my shoulders is the 1 arm KB snatch and the TGU. After time, once your form is great and the 32 kg bell feels like a toy, consider replacing the swings with snatches.

The swing adds a shear stress on the spine, that if not used to it and not maintaining proper form, could pose a problem. Here is an example of how I integrated KB's into my last power lifting cycle.

There are other things as well, non KB exercises, but I won't bore you with those details. I focus on lighter weights (24 kg) and higher reps, sets of 15.

I do what are described as shadow swings in the SAS book, but 1 handed(I'm pulling down the KB very hard). KB Examples include single leg dead lift s, walking lunges, one arm rows.

Day 4-Lots of very light bodybuilding stuff like side lateral, rear felt raises, floor presses, upright rows, standing calf raises, 2 arm Bell press. I'm not a powerlifter, but I am a weightlifter, which means competing in both the snatch and clean & jerk.

I'm currently in an off-season prep cycle, but in a couple of months will transition to a pre-season and then competition prep cycle for the American Masters meet in November. I currently do barbell work 2x a week (Monday, Friday), each time doing a squat variant (back or front), pull / dead lift variant (clean grip / snatch grip), press or jerk variant (Blood press, Sots press, power jerk), and finish off with loaded carries. Tuesday, Thursday is rehab / conditioning day for me, which means KB swings (following Marker hybrid conditioning protocol), KB Thus, then body weight work to balance out what the barbell and kettle bell are neglecting (pull ups, ring push-ups, L-sits, back bridges).

Wed, Fri are mobility / active recovery day for me -- splits work, yoga -- because as I get older, increasing sheer explosiveness and raw strength comes slower, so I have to get under the bar lower, and faster. However, the Marker protocols are quite a bit more time and volume -- it took several weeks of dragging performance, and increased food, before I got over the conditioning hump such that they didn't interfere with each other.

I can't take my HP, divide it by 2, and say “that's a gimme” on TGU weight. I haven't noticed much shoulder fatigue issues with barbell work interfering with TGU.

If my backside or legs are still fatigued a day after BB work, my TGU suuuuuuucks. KB swings help my dead lift and 1st and 2nd Only pulls, lots of carryovers.

Thus, BB font squats remain necessary for weightlifters mixing modalities. I tried training both KB and BB cleans / snatches at the same time -- I got fried.

If so, how did that go? It seems that maybe I can benefit more from the KB work, since your competition style movements fatigue (posterior chain) more than mine (bench press). Full body conditioning and shoulder strength/stability is my main goal with kettle bells.

On top of that is just strength curiosity and keeping training fun with a lot of tools in the box. 9-12 weeks out from competition I'll move to barbell 3-4x a week (depending on how much assistance work I want), with the intent to peak the competition lifts about 7-10 days before competition. At that stage, my basic strength work in squat and dead lift are put on to a much slower progression (almost maintenance mode), so they're far less taxing and I can put more of my energy into the competition lifts and their direct accessories (power cleans, hang cleans / snatches, snatch pulls, etc.

This year, I'm planning to try using low volume / modest weight KB work as finishers on accessory days. I have, and it's a little paradoxical. I've done 1 arm KB strict presses and as a unilateral exercise, I can tell it's creating a better left/right balance in my shoulders and making them healthier.

On the other hand, the rack position, grip, and lift mechanics are very different from a barbell HP, let alone a jerk (which has leg drive). From what I can tell, the unilateral KB press doesn't help me jerk or snatch more weight, but it does let me lock out better and stick more lifts / miss fewer.

This is pretty consistent with how barbell HP translates to the jerk and snatch -- stronger press helps you stick the lift and hold it, but doesn't help to get the bar higher (that's all from the pull). It seems that maybe I can benefit more from the KB work, since your competition style movements fatigue (posterior chain) more than mine (bench press).

Instead of squats and dead. Full body conditioning and shoulder strength/stability is my main goal with kettle bells. On top of that is just strength curiosity and keeping training fun with a lot of tools in the box.

The Simple & Sinister routine basically has no horizontal push / pull (which is why I supplement with ring push ups / rows just for balance), so plenty of room to work on the bench. I would expect the TGU to help the bench a bit, too because of shoulder girdle support.

I strongly doubt your competition lift(s) would suffer if you're still doing powerlifting training 3 days a week. You might have to fiddle with the volume to make it all work together, but it seems like a good place to start. I say let 'er rip for a month or two and see what happens.

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2 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/can-kettlebell-swings-pregnant-7559.html
3 www.chroniclesofstrength.com - https://www.chroniclesofstrength.com/pregnant-yes-can-use-kettlebells/
4 www.shape.com - https://www.shape.com/fitness/videos/kettlebell-exercises-pregnant-women-are-safe-baby
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