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What Is The Russian Kettlebell Challenge

The RussianKettlebellChallenge 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.

author
James Smith
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 16 min read
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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 KettlebellChallenge.

The RussianKettlebellChallenge, or ROC, is a program design using kettle bells to build strength, shed unwanted body fat and create a challenging cardiovascular workout. 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. Windows Phone

Windows Phone Back in the early days of the course it appeared students turned up just to take part in what were epic beat downs inflicted by the Evil Russian, Pavel Tsatsouline.

This isn’t to say he is all soft and cuddly these days, but you can clearly see the change in direction between two of his early books. For whatever reason, exercises and movements that are easy for a Russian to do, many in the West cannot execute due to poor posture and flexibility.

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Which leads me to the five vital lessons the ROC can teach anyone in fitness and the five reasons it's about far more than kettle bells: In fact, I’ve never seen anything in the fitness industry that as deliberately and as frequently ties safety and performance together.

It also needs to be kept in mind that safety and common sense are tied together — don’t try to attempt weights that are too big for you or set a new record every workout. Enter the Kettle bell details various exercises such as the face-the-wall-squat, halo, and pump stretch to help stiff and poorly moving rookies get ready to train for real.

Without adequate mobility to perform the essential movements the quick result will be injury. I love Olympic lifting, but many people simply lack the movement ability to perform a full snatch.

If you really want to cringe, video yourself performing any kind of kettle bell exercise and then watch an ROC. To me, the ROC instructor is as much a student of skill as a black belt martial artist.

This quiet devotion to the “Basic Six” (swing, get up, clean, squat, press, and snatch) is what sets RCS apart. That alone sets the ROC firmly apart in an industry where simply paying money usually guarantees you’ll walk away from an event certified as an instructor.

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RCS know kettle bell lifting inside and out because they have done thousands of repetitions themselves and made the exact same mistakes you will make. Pavel has a unique way of taking a skill that an elite performer does naturally and boiling them down into something you and I can do.

What is really significant about this is that I am now twelve years older than when I set those original records — and have had shoulder surgery, and my hamstring torn off the bone and reattached. Elite performers have an amazing ability to go from tense to relaxation and back again — up to 800% faster than normal people.

The swing is like a punch — fast and explosive but at the moment of impact time is applied to create focus and power, hardening the body into a rigid beam to deliver a knockout blow. There’s a very real reason why the ROC is at the forefront of functional strength training, with luminaries such as Gray Cook and Dr. Stuart McGill involved.

You can also see that Mike Boyle is heading more towards the kettle bell path and has a number of RCS working at his facility, as well as teaching seminars to his staff. Likewise, Dan John has said the only letters he places after his name these days are the ROC.

This is a fantastic book that offers a brief history, use of, and the exercises involved with the kettle bell. The engagement of the nervous system is incredible, it allows for the use of heavy resistance with PNF principles.

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Now, if you really want hard core training do the workouts in this book and you will have it, HARDCORE!!! ! I hear people complaining about the Windmill, Bentpress, and the other exercises in this book, WHY!!!

By Brett Jones, Master ROC / Pittsburgh, PA, USA I made the mistake of lending out my original copy of the ROC book and purchased it a second time.

After having great success using Power To The People to boost my strength, I thought I'd give the RussianKettlebellChallenge a try. I read where others had great results trimming fat while using this simple tool.

Kettle bells have changed how I train for endurance, stamina and fat loss. In 25 years of training, I've used free weights, Nautilus, Cyber and all the rest of the machines.

And I've studied all the books and tried all the protocols: high rep, low rep, multi-joint, isolation, circuit and interval. Simply put, kettle bells and Pavel's book demolish all the other hardware and protocols. Using only two drills that Pavel details in ROC, my body has been revolutionized: I'm stronger and leaner at 44 than I've ever been, and there's no end in sight.

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The book is smart, inspiring and fun, and most importantly it delivers on all its promises. I picked up this book as a beginning Kettle bell Lifter, so I could understand a greater variety of lifts, even though I didn't plan to use them yet.

It has a fantastic trove of lifts, from simple complex, and is invaluable when trying to understand what more advanced lifters are discussing. The section of Soviet workout programs is fascinating, and worth the price itself.

Rated 10/10 Amazing strength and athletic ability, all in a magic iron pill I love when pencil necks wince as their soft little palm gets crushed by my calloused vice grip.

I look em dead in the eye because I earned that shake, kettle bell style. If you are not using kettle bells you are wasting your training time and losing out on a still somewhat secret weapon.

I started training with kettles at the age of fourteen with a 12 kilo for about 6 months. Panels great techniques helped me to achieve muscle mass increase, my strength went through the roof, and my endurance is amazing.

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Everyone from my school wanted to know my secret, and I told them simply kettle bells. However, after a couple of months of training my strength increased by at least 70 percent and my muscle mass increased as well.

My new nickname has become Greek and the BEAST all thanks to Panels book and Kettle bells. I am currently training to become an elite in the sport of wrestling, and shot put in my school.

Standing at 6 foot 2 inches weighing 200 pounds I have become already an elite in fitness within my family thanks to kettle bells and Panels ideas. I'm thinking of taking up Power to the People, and I already am using the Naked Warrior and Bullet Proof Abs.

As a Personal trainer, I have access to two “fully-equipped” fitness centers to for my own training, at no charge, and don't use either one anymore. Here's the point, I find kettle bells superior to anything I find in those gyms for what I want to accomplish. That is not to knock those facilities, I just want a more functionally-balanced program. I am 53 years old, and train six days a week with kettle bells. My wife, also a Personal Trainer, and a medical professional finds kettle bells superior for her training.

Rated 9/10 I like the enthusiasm and easy instructions to follow exercises. In preparing for the ROC, be aware that this is an extremely active and physically demanding course.

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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.

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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.

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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 ROC kettle bell 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.

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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.

Who has the time or patience to hold a Plank for that long and do it consistently? Created by former Soviet Smetana trainer and kettle bell guru Pavel Tsatouline, the ROC Plank transforms a traditional Plank into a completely different beast.

When most of you perform a Plank, you engage only the muscles you need to hold the position. The increased tension will torch your core in a matter of seconds, not minutes.

Bret Contreras, a strength and conditioning expert, demonstrates the ROC Plank in the video below. Assume a standard Plank position with your elbows under your shoulders, chin tucked and back straight.

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Squeeze your fists and lock in your shoulders by trying to rotate your arms outward. Imagine pulling your elbows to your toes as if moving into a Pike position.

Rather than performing this exercise for an extended duration, start with 3-5 sets of about 10 seconds. Check out additional challenging Plank variations in the video player above.

Who has the time or patience to hold a Plank for that long and do it consistently? Hi guys, I've recently watched the RussianKettlebellChallenge video and am curious as to why the movements looked so different back then.

I mean, if you were to perform a kettle bell swing the way it's shown in the beginning of the video, half the population of the internet would rain down a torrent of ridicule and correction upon your head. And when you compare the clean and the snatch to what's being taught today, the same corrective ridicule would apply.

So much of what we focus on today is about getting back to the strength training programs used by legendary strongmen of the past. This is how Pavel was using kettle bells back then, so it's safe to assume this is how he was trained (or taught himself), and his performance is absolutely beastly.

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It seems like so much more of the body was used back then, whereas today the primary focus is the hip hinge and very little else. If we look at the instructor manual and testing standards for swing, snatch and everything else, techniques are very detailed.

Focus may be leaned towards hinge movement because fixing this aspect leads to basis for other details. As someone who's been with Pavel for so many years, and a pillar with Strongest, you may tire of answering the same questions over and over whenever someone new shows up.

I'm that new someone, and I'm very passionate about kettle bells, so please bear with me I too suffered a bad back injury ten years ago, followed by severe bursitis in both shoulders. Eventually I developed a mild case of frozen shoulder in each, which has gotten much better since I started training with kettle bells.

That’s Victoria Fear, a sociocultural sports historian who’s completing a PhD at the University of British Columbia on historical perceptions of the muscular body. She also has a side project that seeks to answer the question that keeps her up at night: why did the kettle bell suddenly explode in popularity in 21st century America?

Pavel Tsatsouline is widely credited as the first man to popularize kettle bells in the United States after the former Soviet Special Forces trainer migrated from Belarus in the late 90s. And in her quest to uncover the secret history of the kettle bell, Fear, along with some of her colleagues, has journeyed to archive all over the world and traveled back in time (uh, metaphorically) to old-timey Scotland, Russia, China, Germany, and America itself — about a hundred years before Pavel even landed on its shores.

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The first roadblock to answering Fear’s question is that kettle bells are little more than a weight with a handle on top. That is, intuitively, a pretty useful strength tool, which means that a lot of societies, from Shaolin monks in China to Highland Game athletes in Scotland, have produced some variation on the model, sometimes under names like “ring-handled weight” and “stone padlock.”

“Suggestions have been made that in Western civilization, objects resembling kettle bells were used as far back as classical Greece,” she writes in her currently unpublished paper on the topic: The ancient Greeks had developed three different weighted implements, including an object called the ‘halter.’ Although Todd notes that there was vast variation in their appearance and composition, some described movements of this ‘singable’ weight are akin to today’s kettle bell.

“The kettle bell ’s a vastly unknown and unappreciated weightlifting object,” Fear tells Barbed. The story goes that Russian farmers used kettle bells as counterweights to measure out grain at the market.

As bored farmers learned the weights could be heaved and tossed in feats of strength and endurance, giros began enjoying a central role in farming festivals. Some time around the turn of the nineteenth century, a Russian doctor called Vladislav Chayefsky realized that the kettle bell deserved a place in sports medicine.

Chayefsky (also called on Korzybski, Kraevskogo, and Krajewski) happened to be the personal physician of the Russian czar, who popularized kettle bell training in the Russian army which eventually elevated it to a national sport. As historians unearth more and more documents, some of which can be found in archives like those at The Stark Center in Austin and The Open Source Physical Culture Library, it has become clear that kettle bells had a presence in more places than Russia.

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“There are photographs of strong women and men prior to the 1900s who used kettle bells in feats like the bent arm press and extended lateral isometric holds,” Fear explains, pointing to an old image of strong woman Elise Seraphic Bultmann as an example. “There are tons of German training manuals and diaries and stuff like that from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that feature the kettle bell, though often under different names,” says Fear.

Since much of the Turners System is akin to the exercise programs used in CrossFit, Fear jokes that these photographs of Greg Glassman’s ancestral father pioneering kettle bell training are “a Crossfire’s wet dream.” But Germany, with its rich history of physical cultists and bodybuilding, is the place that has the historical documentation.

The late 19th century was also the dawn of globalization in terms of international travel and cultural influence. There’s a good chance that it was at an 1898 gathering of strongmen in Vienna where Dr. Chayefsky became more familiar with the kettle bell as a strength and conditioning tool, after he met with the innovative German trainer, Theodore Sievert.

The czar’s physician may have then brought the idea back to his homeland, where he wrote his first book on the topic just two years later. It was also at this time that circus strongmen journeyed to and sometimes settled in America, opening gyms and giving the United States their first taste of kettle bell training.

Theories as to the kettle bell ’s disappearance range from war-born distaste for Russian artifacts to an expansive feud between two rival fitness moguls. (For history buffs, we’re talking about Joe Wader and Bob Hoffman — almost every gym had to pick a side, and neither of their training systems included kettle bells.)

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The czar’s taste for giros had long since spread from the Russian army to the nation at large, and it was here kettle bells became not just a conditioning tool, but a sport. German sociologist Norbert Elias more or less defined the point at which activity becomes sport, contending that sports are modern cultural creations, determined by urban space, configured as commercial spectacle, and subject to formal regulations and sanctioned by public institutions.

Kettle bell swinging and juggling was a popular “folk exercise” among Russian farming communities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it wasn’t until 1948 that it became an official sport. That was the year that Russia, then the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, declined to attend the Summer Olympics in London, declared kettle bell lifting as their national sport, and held the All-Soviet Union Competition of Strongman in Moscow.

“That was when the sport was shortened to ten minutes per exercise for as much reps as possible,” says Steve Cotter, founder of the International Kettle bell and Fitness Federation. At this point, kettle bells were a fully-fledged sport in the old USSR, but implementing them for fitness — not for performance, but for wellness, rehabilitation, a healthier heart, and so on — has an entirely different motivation and practice.

But then there’s the question of Fear’s research paper: why did Americans start using kettle bells as a tool for fitness? Usually, the credit goes to the Belarusian Pavel Tsatsouline, a former trainer of Soviet Special Forces soldiers.

And a subject-matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs. “The origin of kettle bells for fitness was about the year 2001, that was when Pavel started (the certification course) the RussianKettlebellChallenge,” says Cotter.

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Fear more or less agrees that Pavel’s marketing was extremely influential in spreading kettle bells as a fitness tool. She likens him to Eugen Sand ow: he wasn’t the first guy to excel at bodybuilding, but he was a marketing genius who lay a lot of the groundwork for today’s world.

But as an academic, she’s not completely satisfied that Pavel is patient zero for the 21st century’s kettle bell epidemic. She points out that scores of ex-Soviet kettle bell athletes fled to America and opened gyms after the Berlin Wall fell.

“The kettle bell has a long and complex history that ultimately parallels the embodied practices of weightlifting itself. There are so many factors that have influenced the rise of not only physical culture, but weightlifting, all the way down to the kettle bell itself.”

The kettle bell is at the center of an inconceivably vast network of international and intercultural influences and practices. But there are things we do know: the kettle bell came to America long before Pavel Tsatsouline, and its modern sport may have originated in Germany, not Russia.

History prepared from the Russian text “Gregory Sport” by V. Poyarkov and VI Voropaev, 1988. “Requiem for a strongman: Reassessing the career of Professor Louis Attila,” Iron Game History 7, no.

Sources
1 www.sportsrec.com - https://www.sportsrec.com/146572-what-is-the-russian-kettlebell-challenge.html
2 www.amazon.com - https://www.amazon.com/Russian-Kettlebell-Challenge-Fitness-Comrades/dp/0938045326
3 www.amazon.com - https://www.amazon.com/Russian-Kettlebell-Challenge-Fitness-Comrades-ebook/dp/B00JQJSRBU
4 breakingmuscle.com - https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/five-reasons-the-rkc-isnt-just-about-kettlebells
5 www.dragondoor.com - https://www.dragondoor.com/b15/
6 www.dragondoor.com - https://www.dragondoor.com/workshops/russian_kettlebell_challenge_certification_requirements/
7 www.stack.com - https://www.stack.com/a/hardest-plank
8 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/the-russian-kettlebell-challenge-video.10620/
9 barbend.com - https://barbend.com/kettlebell-history/