On paper, this program worked well, and I had results to prove it. I always scored at the top of my age group on our physical readiness test (PRT).
At the time, the SEAL PRT* was push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a three-mile run and a long swim. I’m not exactly sure, but I believe the swim distance was a half mile.
To score high for my age group, I needed to do 120 push-ups, 120 sit-ups, 25+ pull-ups, and take roughly 18 minutes on the run. It felt like my body wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.
Moving under load (wearing body armor and or carrying a heavy ruck) was even worse. Shooting and moving, jumping, and climbing were difficult — and forget about down-man-drills (buddy carries).
We were also always moving gear, guns, and ammo, and I always felt weak doing it. I didn’t know him well yet, but John Fans was in the corner of the gym with a funny looking implement (a kettle bell) doing an exercise I was certain would injure him (swings).
He told me all about the kettle bell, his friend Pavel, and the website I could visit to learn more. That night at home, I spent about five hours reading every article I could.
Was it really possible to get in sufficient shape using this simple little tool and these basic movements? The delivery man commented, “What the hell ?” as he dropped the package at my door step.
That night I read and re-read the The Russian Kettle bell Challenge. Like so many, I thought I could train myself by using the book, the website, and a little coaching now and then.
To me, this was “strength with a greater purpose” before I’d even heard the expression. I’d be following Pavel’s “Rite of Passage” program (Top).
Then, I started adding some practice with my 32, all at a body weight of 185lbs. The previous deployment had proven that the kettle bell could get me in better operational shape, but could it really improve my measurable?
Body weight pull-ups held steady around 25 reps (not bad). I could put two 24 kg bells on my homemade dip belt and still crank out a good rep. No one believed me.
I could jump on top of the highest box in the gym (nearly as high as my solar plexus). This wasn’t that bad, especially considering I have never been taught how to dead lift nor practiced it.
I loved the simplicity and the max results with minimum effort aspect. The PST is the physical screening test that candidates take in order to earn a chance to try out.
From Pavel:Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to introduce you to Strongest’s new CEO. Eric Froward is a former US Nav... Part 1: The Pros and Cons of Marine Corps Training Marine Corps is the most feared and respected fighting force on TH...
When Pavel asked me to make a contribution for an article, I was honored. His request was made in a forum post discussion...
I wrote an article some time ago about physically preparing for combat in mountainous terrain. Eric Froward, SFG, is the Director of Education and Training for the NRA, a veteran US Navy SEAL, and former CEO of Strongest.
He has been putting our training system to the test for over a decade—first in combat deployments and later in outdoor sports. Andy Bolton, the first person to dead lift 1,000 pounds, uses kettle bell swings to improve his “maximal hip drive, speed, and aggression.” The hip hinge in the swing looks similar to how the dead lift is locked out at the top.
In the video below, kettle bell expert Lauren Brooks demonstrates the swing next to a dead lift. The big difference is the kettle bell swing is a ballistic movement (one explosive pop of the hips), whereas the dead lift (at heavier weights) is a continuous grinding motion.
The explosiveness that comes from the swing builds the posterior chain muscles, which are important in the squat. Researchers Jason Lake and Mike Lauder found that kettle bell swings helped squat strength in collegiate level athletes by almost 10%.
As Andrew Read explained, the kettle bell swing has been shown to improve vertical jump by about 20% in collegiate level athletes. The kettle bell swing is certainly valuable for building explosive strength and it may substitute for plyometric movements.
Danny Camaro’ s description of the Olympic movements seemed to seal the final answer for me. One research group, led by Pasquale Pinocchio, found that a ten-week swing protocol significantly improved clean performance.
A 2013 study with a larger group still found significant increases at a more modest 13 kg (still great for a ten-week cycle). Thus, while the kettle bell swing may not be the exact same movement as the clean or snatch, it can still build strength.
The “What the HellEffect exists because people are surprised kettle bell movements transfer so well to increases in strength in other exercises. On the surface, the swing seems to translate to jumping and the dead lift, but research shows it also improves the squat and Olympic movements.
From that day forward, I wanted to get big, strong, and build bulky muscles. Additionally, I’ve found myself setting new PR’s in lifts I haven’t even trained for in months.
When done consistently, you’ll find yourself stumbling on life-changing strength in a matter of months. Create maximum internal tension to fight the external load you’re working with and you will stand a much better chance at hitting a successful lift.
You can’t expect to get very strong if you’re on a program that all but ensures you need rotator cuff surgery in 6-8 months. Most people I train have a hard time raising their arm over their head, let alone lifting any sort of appreciable weight.
A strong shoulder is one that can not only stabilize under significant load, but also one that functions well in a myriad of tasks such as hanging, crawling, hand balancing, reaching across, above, and behind your body. I’ve never met someone I considered “strong’ who didn’t look like they had some meat on their legs.
Sprinting and jumping are two great examples of what having strong, mobile hips can do for you — from a performance and aesthetics standpoint. Lack of patience is one of the biggest reasons I see people fail to achieve their goals.
Really, stop wasting your time and get on a sustainable, consistent program. Let’s dive into why these two lifts rule the world and how you can start using them today.
Keeping in mind our list above, the 1-arm kettle bell swing gives you everything you need to get seriously strong. In the one arm swing, the bell is trying to twist you and fly away from you at the same time.
Resisting that rotation while driving force into the floor is what will light up your core. Think “anti-rotation” core training (Pallor presses, suitcase carries) multiplied by the force of swinging a 106lb kettle bell.
The moment you start to swing a kettle bell the weight of the bell changes. Add force and velocity and you wind up needing a vice-like grip to hang onto a heavy bell.
When you swing heavy bells you need to hang on tight for the reasons mentioned above (anti-rotation, force, and velocity). Remember my mention of busting out a 40 kg pistol squat after not training it in months?
Aside from having to be patient with your training program as a whole, the swing itself also requires patience. The lockout is reached by driving force into the floor, which travels back up through your body.
Once your upper arms hit your rib cage you’ll quickly hinge back and fire up for another rep. Rushing the swing will lead to poor mechanics and possible injury. Proper execution leads to strong, quick, and powerful hips that will help you live a healthy life and/or perform better in your sport.
From rolling, to crawling, to kneeling, to standing, and back down again, the get-up is the one exercise that gives you everything you need from a movement perspective. Throw some heavy weight on top of that and you’re well on your way to building a bulletproof body.
Time under tension is a huge reason why the get-up builds strong shoulders and leads to mobile hips. One rep should take you roughly 30-45 seconds to complete, which makes it comparable in time under tension to a set of eight bench presses performed with a full second pause at the top and bottom of each rep.
Lightly grasping a heavy bell is no way to stabilize 100 pounds over your head. This voluntary trigger of tension will help develop a rock solid grip.
You need to focus on the weight above your head and move in a controlled manner around the bell. You could also just make sure you’re using a heavy bell, which demands your full and undivided attention.
By using these two exercises, you’ll find yourself stumbling on life-changing strength in a matter of months. I’ve just saved you a lot of time in helping you gain some serious strength.
Now, here stood my friend with a big smile, trying to convince me that these kettle bell things were the answer to my fitness woes. Reluctantly and hesitantly, I met with the new Strong first kettle bell coach, Shane, for a class.
Shane taught the Russian, hard style form of kettle bells that focused on safety and strength as a skill, and also longevity of the athlete. The Russian style of kettle bell was introduced to the West in 1998 by Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet special forces instructor.
Since then, thousands of athletes have made the kettle bell their primary modality of training or an adjunct to improve performance in amateur and professional sports. The theory behind this phenomenon is that the kettle bell conditions the entire body and is not a sport-specific tool for training.
The kettle bell swing and snatch offer ballistic movements that provide strength and cardio gains. The hips hinge back, like in a dead lift, and then powerfully thrust forward sending the kettle bell either chest height or overhead depending on the practiced skill.
There are variations to both the swing and snatch and when practiced with volume and speed, offer superb cardio gains. The strength endurance acquired translates to improvement in a variety of sports and physical activities due to increasing efficiency at lower intensities.
The size (or load) of the kettle bell is dependent on your weight, current strength, skills being performed, and goals. One of the beautiful things about the kettle bell is that it is compact and someone could get maximum training results with just a few sizes on hand.
Also, in the hard style kettle bell world, it is important to not feel completely spent after a training session. The saying goes, “the workout should put more into you than it takes from you.” It would be a contradiction for a marathon athlete to deplete him or herself in a kettle bell session and not be able to get the next day’s mileage completed.
This means fewer reps for more sets are generally performed to allow for sufficient rest and proper form. If reading this sparks your desire to check out this cannonball with a handle, I would first and foremost encourage you to seek out a reputable coach.
A good place to start is finding a local SFG (Stongfirst.com) or ROC (Dragondoor.com) certified coach. Both of these organizations graduate quality instructors that engage in safe practices and training.
I continue to set strength and distance goals and stand in awe of what I am able to accomplish. With your feet shoulder width apart, bend down, keeping your back straight and your core tight.
Candice has trained with kettle bells for over 7 years to improve strength and distance running. Greetings, I'm on active military service (US Army) and when I went home for three weeks to visit my family I elected to stick with an entirely kettle bell based strength training routine (basically the 'Total Package' article formed the guidelines for it).
I flew back to Hawaii after three weeks and did the obligate 5/3/1 Training Max test (per the latest edition of Jim's work, 5/3/1 Forever). I had expected strength losses across my four main lifts (bench, press, squat, dead lift) of at least 5%-10% and was rather pleasantly surprised.
I was also on the tail end of recovering from a nasty upper respiratory tract infection sustained early in the vacation, so I didn't get much roadwork in, but some pool work for aerobic conditioning. ... well, we all make mistakes... (Coming from a former Navy and Air Force guy...) But a nice WTH Effect indeed.
... well, we all make mistakes... (Coming from a former Navy and Air Force guy...) But a nice WTH Effect indeed. Nick Schokkenbroek I did expect big setbacks as the heaviest bells I have been two dvukhpudoviks.
I was able to tackle a 302 lbs dead lift for five reps and a 248 lbs squat for five reps (both of them are my 85% training max) with no problems for dead lift and a slight hard effort on the squat. I worked the jerk, long cycle, press, getup, swing, goblet squat, two kettle bell front squat, and snatch extensively in that three week time and am presently digesting the data to design a post October 2020 (Pearl Harbor Powerlifting meet) kettle bell only training plan where I won't touch a barbell again until January 2021.
Once we’re settled back in Europe again, I’d like to see to get a rack and barbell. I would think the barbell and kettle bells can compliment each other, but it would be interesting to see how you’ll do with the barbell lifts after training with only kettle bells for such a long time. I've come back stronger after such a break, proven by meet conditions.
But the kettle bell training is a great choice in such conditions, if you have the chance, and must do a good job retaining the strength. Between that and the AK-47 of fitness equipment article and the original books by Pavel I was brought onboard about the kettlebell's effects on one's strength.
The kettle bells for two and a half months should mean when I go back to the January 5/3/1 I'll be in decent shape. Each and every time I have had to move both my teenagers junk and mine from a three bedroom location to another.
Both times I easily threw a giant two piece sectional couch on my shoulders and walk up and or down two flights of stairs. Simply being strong with sustainable programming for several years is my main objective.
This came about after I watched my grandfather physically weaken over the past decade and a half after suffering from an illness, a fall (and being wheelchair bound), and dementia in succession. Those sad circumstances forced me to rethink my goals for strength training and the means of being strong and healthy.
Mostly barbell based training is done this year or the majority of it because I am aiming for a 1000 lbs total at a local powerlifting meet.