Keep the motion fluid as you swing it to the front of you and grab it with your left hand. Looking cool requires flawless technique, accounting for all safety points, and training with intention.
However, since strength is a function of mobility and stability, we must pay homage to the details of healthy movement. No other tools in modern history have offered more for dynamic strength gains than kettle bells.
Certainly there are trade-offs in training which must be considered when setting goals, and more strength should always be a top priority. How we look communicates our work ethic, discipline, overall health, confidence, and other aspects of our character.
Male or female it is important to maintain our muscle mass as we age and the kettle bell gets results. That’s why we train with kettle bells for massive shoulders, thick arms, solid legs, ripped abs and athletic skills for any task.
Two key variables in the strength and hypertrophy equation are X (the speed of the work) and “Y” (time under tension). We don’t want to isolate the targeted muscles, because that approach doesn’t yield as much mass.
Compound exercises are universally accepted as the most effective way to build muscle and strength. Compound movements involve more than one muscle group, and usually use two or more joint systems.
With double servings from a simple menu of exercises, we will stimulate the growth environment. The concept of irradiation is important for creating tension and linking tensing muscles together.
One must force neuromuscular activity to call as much of the muscle fibers into the workload through a full range of motion. By making light training weights feel heavier during your reps, you force more supporting muscle tissue into activation.
We demand results, and that’s why we crush the handles tightly for the entire set. That’s why we flex our glutes, quads and abs as we stand through the top of our squats.
When we make our training more difficult by adding tension, we will force more hypertrophic adaptation with 85% resistance for sets of eight to twelve reps. The tempo of the lift and instructions for maintaining tension throughout the set are the missing pieces from most mass building plans.
Add tension and stay active as the resistance is loaded through the eccentric or “negative” phase. Pause and hold at the fully loaded position for at least one full second, sometimes up to five.
Exploiting this isometric position under great resistance yields significant results. To make the muscles grow, place great emphasis on the negative phase.
A lifting tempo of 5-2-2 is a five-second negative, a two-second isometric pause, and a two second focused contraction until there is a full squeeze of the working muscle groups. Your breathing may need to change with the longer duration lifts, but never lose your structure.
“Breathing behind the shield” is an important cue to remember, especially when briefly holding those isometric positions. The get-up is a great drill to set up a strong and stable body.
It will get your shoulders fully functional, fortify strength, and build coordination throughout the entire kinetic chain. The snatch does a great job of eccentrically loading the posterior, but it happens so quickly that barely any time is spent under that tension.
This is why it is not the greatest “muscle building” exercise even though what it does for the glutes, legs and abs is incredible. To achieve this most effectively, training weights should be in the calculated ranges of 80%, 90-95% and even beyond 100-105% efforts.
It’s great that Dragon Door manufactures the “in between” weights in increments of two kilograms. Having these options will help smooth out the growth curve so the jump up to a bigger kettle bell won’t take nearly as long as before.
Sets of double military presses will make your upper body, shoulders and arms more massive than single kettle bell work of the same volume. The beauty of training with kettle bells is that asymmetries are attacked since each weight must be unilaterally stabilized.
Perfect technique doesn’t just make you look cool, it is also the only way to achieve your strength or size goal. Your strength will build as you slowly increase the resistance, but be smart, if there is pain then stop.
Training with a coach is the surest way to get rock solid technique in the shortest time possible. Other ways to check your technique are training with a partner or taking video of your lifts.
To force the muscles grow, this program will call for “heavy” lifts. Finding the right work / life balance in a lifting program is important for continued progress.
I like to split the year up in four periods and let my fitness goals change with the seasons. It is a harmonious to try to gain size in the fall, strength in the winter, hypertrophy in the spring, and then get ripped for the summer.
For mass gaining programs, I would recommend lifting four days a week. This template demonstrates the simplicity of working opposite modalities to push and pull your way to a bigger, stronger body.
After making progress with very rigorous training days, it’s necessary to bounce back. Here are a few simple tips to help shorten recovery time between training days: set a bedtime, eat for recovery not flavor, drink a gallon of water every day, stretch twice a day, nap daily, limit inflammatory foods like sugar and alcohol.
The only thing missing from this mass building plan is eating, abs and arms. I just stick to a few simple principles to fuel muscle growth while keeping me lean in the process.
The heavy squats, weighted pull ups and other such drills require so much abdominal recruitment that accessory work is not necessary. Even though it is difficult to balance gaining mass and strength while keeping a lean physique, it can be done masterfully.
Similar to the abdomen, the arms are always working, so making them grow is as easy as adding a few extra sets and reps before or after your workout finishers. The two drills below do a great job of isolating and adding volume to the biceps and triceps.
Rome wasn’t built in a week, so take time building your physique. While there are many muscle building techniques and strategies out there to sort through, every expert I have asked for help has employed the principles in this post on some level.
If you have the wall space for a gun rack, I strongly suggest just buying one. I can’t really upgrade mine to a six bar holder because of where it is installed, and I don’t have any other convenient places on my wall wide enough to put a second gun rack.
I also didn’t really want one of those 9-bar vertical bar storage boxes that most equipment dealers sell. I just don’t like the idea of dropping nice bars into those metal sleeves.
I went with cabinet-grade pine because it looked nice and wasn’t overly expensive. Also, because it’s not load bearing, you can mount the rack to the wall using wood screws; you don’t need to go crazy with wedge anchors or giant lag screws or anything like that.
You’ll need one mending plate and two screws per PVC cup. The mending plate packaging suggested ¾” #6 screws, but I went with 1 #6 for a more secure hold.
That makes them as tall as the 3 piece of pine (as a reminder, 1 x 3 board is actually ¾” x 2½”, which is why I cut the PVC to 2½”). I cut out the mouth of my first PVC piece by guessing how big I wanted the opening to be.
I got lucky, it worked well; small enough that it held the bar, but wide enough that it doesn’t take three guys to pull it back out. I also sanded down the pieces when I was done, and gave the mouth a rounded edge since the bar needs to slip in and out of this gap.
They are small pieces to cut with power tools, so whatever you do, be safe. I left extra space on both sides of the center holder because I knew that would be a permanent location for my Swiss Bar.
After you mark the board, figure out exactly where you’d actually hang it. Once you found the spot and the height, level it, mark it, and drill pilot holes into the board and into the studs, but don’t actually hang it yet.
This allowed me to get each cup on straight and centered without drilling any holes. Once everything was to my liking, I placed and visually centered the mending plates into the cup (above image) and then drilled pilot holes through the tape, pipe, and board.
Closer look of the PVC cups once mounted to the board. I was getting a very small amount of rattling when I slammed the garage door (this rack is mounted on the same wall), and I not only didn’t want to listen to that, but I also didn’t want the bars hitting that zinc plate.
I added a 3 strip of rubber foam weather seal self-stick tape to the inside of each cup. I also no longer need to worry about scratching the bars on that mending plate.
3 strip of Rubber Foam Weather seal self-sticking tape stops any rattling and risk of the bar scratching against the mending plate. There is exactly 1 distance between the wall and where the actual bar sits in the top section of the rack, so I left exactly 1 of distance between the wall and where the bar sits in the base.
This way, the bar is standing straight up and down, and not leaning in any direction and putting any strain on the cups. My DIY guides probably leave much to be desired, and no doubt I’ve left something out.
This is a simple project, but if you don’t take your time, you’re bound to screw something up, and no one likes to start over.