I have also successfully rehabilitated many injuries associated with strength training and competitive athletics, including shoulders, knees, and low backs. My athletic background includes being a Weightlifting competitor (New Jersey state champ and national qualifier), Powerlifting competitor and wrestler in college, and a varsity letter winner in Cross-Country and Wrestling in high school.
Three men have had a major influence in my strength training and professional life: my high school principal, Bob Calzoni, a world champion powerlifter; my second weightlifting coach, Alfonso Duran, a Cuban ?Mir?, member of the Cuban weightlifting team, and disciple of A.S. Medvedyev, Soviet Weightlifting Super Coach; and Pavel Tsatsouline who everybody reading this knows in some way. Alfonso Duran had been mentoring me for years and I owe most of my professional success to him.
But Pavel?ah, Pavel, he developed a usable system that has allowed me to step back and see much of what Alfonso taught that I had been unable to fully comprehend for many years. Strength training is very dualistic in nature, very similar to the Eastern Yin-Yang philosophy.
(I don't know about others, but I have found myself praying “Oh, God?just help me finish this snatch ladder”?so that addresses the spiritual.) The ROC system challenges the body, the mind, and even the will if you are agreeable.
They are presented here in their “purest” form, but understand that they are not always so clear-cut, so black and white. The grinds are slow and exacting, designed primarily for maximal strength gains.
The ballistics are primarily for metabolic conditioning, but because of their explosive nature, can increase force and power production. Again, with the appropriate loading, the upper body musculature receives more than its fair share of stimulation.
The grinds are typically performed for low reps of 1-5 with longer rest periods--3-5 minutes are the norm. Upon further explanation, the kettle bell ballistic drills are designed for high reps, for total body conditioning, unlike their cousins, the barbell Olympic lifts.
Admittedly, unless you're a fitness professional you probably don't know how to train for each one of those and couldn't care less about remembering the various loading parameters. The simplicity of the ROC system dictates the following whether you're a fitness professional or a stay-at-home mom: for strength, perform low reps for low sets with high frequency; for muscular size, perform more sets of your low rep grinds in each training session, but less frequently.
Tension v. Relaxation Up until meeting Pavel, if you asked me what made a great athlete, I would have answered “His athleticism of course! But Pavel, as he so often does, explained it simply and eloquently as the perfect blend of tension and relaxation.
And this concept is found in the ROC system: necessary tension to protect joint structures like the shoulder joint and the lumbar spine while performing grinds like the press and ballistics like the snatch and the swing. Tension is used for force production and reduction, relaxation for energy conservation.
The ROC hearkens back to a time when weight lifting was actually called “training” or “practice” and its practitioners treated the attainment of strength as a skill to be mastered, a feat to be attained. The idea of training to exhaustion was frowned upon and thought to make one weak.
Working out in the ROC system is reserved for metabolic conditioning, the attainment of stamina, specific for the trainee's end goal. It is not as some suppose, the exercising to exhaustion as the purpose or definition of the training session (That was intense?more HIT anyone?).
This type of training not only exhausts the trainee's adaptive abilities but also promotes injuries. The ROC system on the other hand, fortifies the trainee against injury, allowing him or her to continue to practice his or her skill more and more frequently, hardening the body and preparing it for whatever endeavor the trainee undertakes outside his or her own “courage corner.”
Because we have determined that you are incompetent at this exercise you've never performed before, we have a four-week beginner program with a fancy name that coincidently also has big fancy words in its name, (Integrated Proprioceptive Post-Synaptic Stabilization Facilitation Training?also known as Phase 1 of 37), that will allow you to be better at the exercises you are incompetent at that you've never performed. The ROC on the other hand approaches exercise as easy and asks the simple questions, “What can you do?”
The ROC also provides the answers to the questions: “Can't feel your lat while you press?here, perform this drill;” “Feel your low back while you're performing swings?no problem?let's correct it with this drill.” Strength v. Mobility It used to be believed in the sporting world, that lifting weights would make you muscle-bound.
It does, if performed incorrectly, a-la-Joe Wader and Muscle and Fiction ?uh, fitness. Just go to your local health club and look at the number of guys with ILS? Imaginary Lat Spread.
I have met a number of individuals who are yoga practitioners or Pilates followers who have great hamstring flexibility, but major lower back issues. I can't count the number of times I have had clients with tight weak hamstrings.
A few weeks later after some hip extension exercises, they finally understand why the years of static stretching never paid off. The press is a great rotator cuff strengthening exercise allowing for greater stability of the highly mobile and often injured shoulder joint.
Not that that is necessarily bad, because bodybuilders want big muscles, and if you're into that--good for you, the ROC can help you. Now, as the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright noticed, form does follow function, so a little muscle gain is to be expected, but that just gives the trainee a pleasant shape to his or her body.
As mentioned previously, there is a place for both training and “working out” in the ROC system, and increasing the amount of work you can perform and recover from is not only the way to improve overall general conditioning, but also maximal strength. Intensity on the other hand, stirs heated arguments in the strength community.
People get locked out of internet forums, the opposition's grammar is viciously critiqued, and insults are hurled. Traditionally, it is generally accepted that volume and intensity are inversely related.
Integration v. Isolation Many training programs are still heavily influenced by the bizarre-o world of bodybuilding. Even as a college strength coach, I'd see programs that included specialized exercises for the soles?which could be argued as a necessity for the individual recovering from an Achilles tendon repair, but for the healthy athlete?
The body, in its intuitive wisdom, only responds to movements and thus there is no such thing as “isolating a muscle.” Upon landing from a jump, the body doesn't say, “I think I'll recruit only the soles to decelerate dorsiflexion of the foot and ankle complex?”
As the poet John Donne said, “No man is an island,” the same is true with your muscles. Next time you're tempted to isolate your biceps, use a crushing grip on your kettle bell and perform a slow negative with your press.
Not only will your biceps work overtime, you'll receive a nice bonus in the form of a cramping lat. And if that's not enough, perform ten reps of dead hang snatches with a 32 kg bell.
Quality v. Quantity Unlike most systems, the ROC is focused on the qualitative, or the “What kind” as opposed to the quantitative, or the “How much.” The ROC is concerned with perfecting the quality of movement first because therein lies safety and efficiency.
I think this is the reason many of the ROC recommendations are ranges, as opposed to narrow specifics. More efficient movement patterns (“what kind”) allow the trainee to perform more work (“how much”) in each training session, which in turn equals more work performed in the long run.
Just like the sound of a bell, the ROC system has to be experienced, felt?similar to standing under Big Ben in London at midday. There is much more to the ROC than I wrote about in this little article; more exercises, more nuances, more subtleties, and more fun than one trainee should be allowed to have.
I mean really, when was the last time you repeatedly threw your leg extension machine around in your backyard just for fun? Geoff Expert has been an exercise professional for 13 years and is currently the owner of Integrated Fitness Solutions in Durham, NC.
His background includes Division 1 Strength and Conditioning, Personal Training, and Post-Rehabilitation. He loves kettle bells because they remind him of his passion for the Olympic lifts, but they allow him to train anytime, anywhere without negatively affecting his current life responsibilities.
There are countless trends on the market these days helping people accomplish fitness goals. The Russian Kettle bell Challenge is a program consisting of a specific method of training and was made popular in the United States by Pavel Tsatsouline, a former fitness instructor for the Soviet Special Forces.
John Du Cane built the Dragon Door Company, the publishing and marketing end of this kettle bell regime. He began practicing tai chi in 1975 and since then has written several books and produced numerous DVDs about martial arts.
Tsatsouline, born in Belarus in 1969, applied his studies in physiology and coaching as a drill instructor in the Russian Smetana, or Special Forces to develop the Kettle bell Challenge. According to Tsatsouline, only 8 percent of Russian gireviks--“ kettle bell man”--have reported injuries during training or competition.
Results from kettle bell training include increased strength, stamina, flexibility, cardiovascular function and reduced body fat. In preparing for the ROC, be aware that this is an extremely active and physically demanding course.
The current failure rate at ROC certifications can be as high 30% of all who attend. Pass the Hard style Push up test Pass the Snatch test that will be administered at the end of the second day and/or the last day of the certification Demonstrate a mastery of the techniques that make up the foundation of kettle bell training Demonstrate an understanding of kettle bell safety and situational awareness Demonstrate your ability to teach Follow the ROC Code of Conduct
Second is to communicate with your Team Leader to arrange to be tested in person by him/her or an ROC Master or Senior Instructor. ROC candidates must pass a strength assessment test that utilizes the Hard style Push up taught in the HK.
This test demonstrates an instructor candidate’s ability to maintain tension and core stability, necessary for safe kettle bell technique and completion of this course. Your instructor will have you wait on the ground on your hands and knees until the test is to begin.
When instructed, raise up into a tall plank position, elbows and knees locked. Lower yourself down, body straight and knees locked until your elbows reach 90 degrees OR your chest touches the floor.
Pause noticeably and press up to fully locked elbows in the finish or tall plank position. ROC candidates must also pass a conditioning assessment test that utilizes the kettle bell snatch.
This test demonstrates the instructor candidate’s ability to apply ROC ballistic technique while under a time limit, emphasizing strength endurance and cardiovascular conditioning. The instructor must have a clear view of the elbows and knees, t-shirts and gym shorts are encouraged.
Please inform your instructor if you suffer from a medical condition that prevents you from locking your elbows out. Note that being generally stiff or having poor flexibility does not count as a medical condition.
Hike-pass the kettle bell back and snatch it overhead in one movement, ending with a straight-arm lockout. The instructor will call the rep number upon the proper lockout of both the elbow and the knees.
You may not use belts, thick or padded-gloves, wrist wraps or any other equipment designed to support your body. Lowering the kettle bell without the instructor's count Not locking out the elbows Rebinding the knees on the way up Failure to stop all movement at the lockout Pressing out the kettle bell to finish your lockout Touching the chest with the working arm or passing through the rack position on the way down Placing a hand on the knee or thigh
Has three no counts Touches the kettle bell with the non-working arm, unless the student is switching hands Dropping the kettle bell rather than setting it down with control Runs out of time before completing the required number of reps You must be able to demonstrate safe and effective technique as part of being an ROC instructor.
Your course instructor will test you on the following exercises in the latter part of the course to ensure that you can perform what you have been taught during the course. Swing Clean Getup Press Snatch Front Squat
These techniques are tested with a single-arm and performed on both sides: Swing, Clean, Snatch, Getup, Press. Their inclusion reinforces the student’s understanding of HK/ ROC principles and should be included in any well-rounded kettle bell program.
Double Kettle bell Dead lifts Suitcase Dead lifts Single-Leg Dead lifts Variety Kettle bell Carries Suitcase Carry Rack Walk Overhead Walk Bottom’s Up Variety Lunges Dragon Walk Tactical Lunge (pass-under) Step-Back Lunges Various hold pairings (suitcase, rack, overhead) At the end of the course you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to teach RKCkettlebell exercises that you learned during the workshop to a volunteer from the public.
Within that hour you will instruct two or more kettle bell exercises utilizing regressions and progressions learned throughout the course. During the final 10 minutes you will put your volunteer through a workout relevant to the ROC and what you have been teaching them so far.
Your performance will be evaluated based on your ability to follow the progressions (the step-by-step process to teach an exercise) that you learned as well as on how well you implement the corrections associated with that exercise. Your adherence to safety and professionalism are of the utmost importance and will be taken into account by your instructor when evaluating your teaching performance.
It is a principle-based physical training system, but it also operates by a second set of principles, those of professionalism. Once certified, you are joining the ranks of top professionals in the fitness industry, and as such you are required to follow the ROC Code of Conduct.
Be an ambassador of ROC kettle bell training, exhibiting professional conduct throughout my life. Behave as a professional in all public places, including social media.
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