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.
Its wider handle makes it easier to grip with two hands (for the classic swing move), and its smoother finish is less likely to injure your skin over time. Dragon Door was the first company to popularize kettle bells in America, which is why the most other brands simply copy that shape down to the millimeter.
The Matrix Elite looks the same at first glance, but it features a slightly wider handle that won’t pinch your pinkies in two-handed positions. It’s also designed so that kettle bells of different weights will rest on the same place on your forearm, regardless of their size—this is preferred by advanced users for one-handed work.
Finally, we like that Kettle bells USA often has the Matrix Elite on sale for just a few dollars more than our budget pick. It also has a slightly wider base that makes it more stable to hold in a plank position—something that advanced users will appreciate.
If the goal is to learn kettle bell basics and use two-handed techniques, all of these bells are quite suitable, and being budget conscious (finding sales/free shipping) isn’t a bad route. We (Keira and I) have trained more than 800 clients in kettle bell techniques since 2008, and we’ve taught multiple instructor certifications in the US and abroad.
Kettle bell exercises combine cardiovascular and resistance training in one exercise—which means you’re improving conditioning (and burning fat) while building muscle. While they’ve been around since the early 18th century (the word first appears in a Russian dictionary from 1704), kettle bells have experienced a huge resurgence in the fitness industry in the past 10 years.
(Most recently, as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to work out at home, significant stock shortages have become the norm.) Their unique shape and functionality give them many of the strength-building benefits of dumbbells while also providing users with the opportunity to do kettle bell -specific drills that involve a lot of movement, like the swing.
The closed-loop handle of a kettle bell offers users a secure grip for movements with both hands. Dumbbells are better suited to doing squats, curls, bench press, cleans, and other exercises that have less kinetic motion.
That means you can fulfill all your workout needs with one simple tool that stows easily in a closet. One important caveat to this endorsement of kettle bell training is that proper technique makes all the difference between effective and beneficial use and potential injury.
You can also consult credible online tutorials, and many trainers will set up a Skype arrangement where you can send videos to them for feedback and coaching. My wife, master ROC trainer Keira Newton, has an awesome YouTube page with all kinds of tutorials/workouts for kettle bells.
In terms of credible resources on kettle bell techniques and workout ideas, here are a few great sources available digitally and/or in print: Dragon Door has the most resources in terms of kettle bell books and DVDs (at least in the “hard style” approach that I use) available.
Finally, Steve Cotter is a master practitioner/teacher of competition kettle bell lifting techniques. While many people recommend women starting with an 8-kilogram bell (about 16 pounds), I think that the two-handed lifts like squats and swings aren’t very well-served by that low weight.
If you want to start modestly, my suggestion would be to get the 13-pound version of our budget pick and then order a larger, higher quality bell once you feel comfortable. With these three, all kinds of single and double kettle bell work is easily achievable and scalable.
Both of these linked pieces reiterate my earlier point about seeking credible instruction before beginning an at-home regimen. Then there is the question about which kind of kettle bell you should buy: cast iron, competition, or adjustable.
Cast-iron bells are more comfortable for two-handed grip positions, which beginners should master before moving onto the more challenging one-handed exercises. It’s not worth paying extra unless you actually plan on competing—a slim minority of home kettle bell users.
Photo: Mark BixbyUnlike with dumbbells, adjustable kettle bells aren’t a good buy. A kettle bell should be capable of being thrown, dropped, and even juggled, so I would opt for single-forged metal that can stand up to a beating—and stay together in the process.
Also, a major frustration with adjustable kettle bells is that they don’t offer a wide enough weight range to make them ideal for many. As it turns out, there’s not a huge amount of difference between these things because most of them borrow their design from the Dragon Door ROC.
Dragon Door was the first US company to run kettle bell instructor certifications (taught by famed instructor Pavel Tsatsouline) and have mass distribution in the US (Dragon Door started selling these bells in 2001). Dragon Door bells achieved great acclaim, but their high price point (roughly $120 each after shipping and handling, the highest in our test) invited lots of competition from other companies.
CAP is another popular fitness company that makes a good bell at a lower price point. For example, this Yes4All bell is one of the most popular models on Amazon, but its large, flat face is hard on the wrists in one-handed positions.
Although much more rare, some companies compete by distinguishing their offerings from Dragon Door’s with different designs. Perform Better at one point implemented a screw-on rubber skid plate on the bottom of their bells, but later on scrapped it due to negative customer feedback.
Vinyl-covered bells were created to protect floor spaces in commercial gyms and homes, but more often, the vinyl is there to smooth over the defects of a cheaply cast bell, and they often get criticized for very uneven handles that cause hand pain and tearing. They were extremely uneven in terms of metal handle quality, had limited weight options, and they weren’t significantly cheaper than the budget options we ended up testing—you don’t even save money on shipping.
From left: Matrix Elite, CAP Cast Iron Competition, Rogue, Perform Better First Place, Dragon Door ROC. Photo: Anton BrkicOur testing group, which consisted of myself and five members of the high school varsity baseball team I coach, worked with all five bells at the beginner/intermediate level and did only two-handed moves (dead lifts, squats, presses, high pulls, and swings).
However, if a person is interested in exploring the full range of what kettle bell exercises have to offer (including the kettle bell snatch, which in lab testing has yielded a remarkable rate of burning 20.2 calories a minute over a 20-minute workout—the same rate of caloric burn as a 6-minute mile pace), a premium bell like the Matrix bell is definitely what they should opt for. A poorly produced handle can rip callouses off the hands during snatching, and this test is where the bells differentiated themselves.
In fact, I wouldn’t use the CAP or Rogue bells for high-rep snatching because they have coarse handles and some tackiness from the painted finish. If you order through the company’s website and have a problem, Kettle bells USA will “make it right, period!” by sending a replacement and taking care of return shipping fees.
Photo: Mark Blythe Matrix Elite kettle bell has a slightly different handle dimension and more distance from the ball part of the bell to the handle to create a larger opening for more comfortable two-handed positions. The Matrix bell clearly outclassed the competition for two-handed work, as the smooth, e-coated handle with a wider grip was consistently easy on the hands, even when doing high repetition sets of 20-plus kettle bell swings.
Even when the user advances to the one-handed moves, both two-handed swings and goblet squats should remain essential parts of a kettle bell program. Any flaws in a kettle bell will be exposed when you use just one hand, but the attention to detail in forging a smooth, seamless handle was clearly on display with this bell.
Besides the handle shape, the Matrix Elite (right) looks almost identical to the Dragon Door ROC, which costs anywhere from $30 to $50 more. Photo: Mark BixbyAnother thing that sets the Matrix Elite apart from other kettle bells (including Kettle bells USA's own “classic” line) is the fact that it’s designed to have the same “rack” position (where the round part rests on your forearm) regardless of weight and size.
Most companies use standard molds repeatedly, and inevitably, residue from previous castings creates uneven surface textures like edges or gaps. Finally, Kettle bells USA showed awesome customer service throughout my process of testing.
If you're used to standard Dragon Door ROC kettle bells (or any of its many clones), the Matrix Elite's rack position might feel strange at first, since the ball part sits higher up on the forearm by comparison. If you see the bell offered at full price (with no discounted shipping), wait seven to 10 days, and you should find it available more cheaply.
If the Matrix Elite is unavailable, or if you just want a standard-shaped bell without the wider handle, the Perform Better First Place Kettle bell feels the same in use as the high-end Dragon Door, but costs about 25 percent less. In fact, its dimensions are identical except for the extra half inch of flat base diameter on the bottom of the Perform Better bell.
This means it performs identically, but is easier to hold in a push-up position for the sometimes-precarious renegade row —typically done with two kettle bells of the same size. Like the Dragon Door and Matrix Elite, the First Place has a smooth, seamless handle, few surface defects, and a high-quality finish.
While Perform Better wouldn’t divulge what process it uses, I noticed that it’s somewhere between a matte powder coat and a glossy e-coat. Reading user reviews (see here and here) that slam performs Better for having noticeable seams on the underside of the handle or other defects isn’t helpful considering the construction specs on their bells currently.
The bell I received from them was really well-made, and it showed no signs of being defective in build or user experience. I contacted Perform Better about this discrepancy, and company reps explained that among other small changes, they’d since switched to a gravity casting process, which creates a more uniform surface, as you recall.
It’s also worth noting that Perform Better frequently has sales on its kettle bells, and while it’s usually cheaper to buy Perform Better bells directly from the company, it's worth checking Amazon and Strongest before buying to find the best deal. If budget is your bottom line, then we’d recommend the CAP Cast Iron Competition Bell.
But unless you really need to save a few bucks, it’s worth investing in our top pick, since these things last forever. In fact, none of the five baseball player panelists said they would pay extra for any of the other bells for the basic routines they were testing with.
The powder-coated CAP (left) and Rogue (center) bells are rougher than the e-coated Dragon Door (right). Photo: Mark Blythe CAP bell has a powder-coated matte finish and a slightly gritty (though it’s evenly dispersed grit) handle to provide a good grip (though a bit on the coarser end of those we tested) and a flat bottom so it doesn’t rock when used for push-ups or rowing moves.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Dragon Door RKCKettlebell should feel pretty good about itself. Unfortunately for Dragon Door, other companies have been able to duplicate its design at a comparable level of quality for a lot cheaper.
Interestingly, the Rogue bell has a 4.9-star rating on its website, with more than 100 reviews at the time of this guide's publication. Chad Settler, John Forward, Carl Foster, and Mark Andes, Kettle bells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?, ACE Fitness Matters
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. Even though I’m writing this blog post during a global pandemic, I’m not trying to scare you into working out with kettle bells.
Once you’ve mastered the standard kettle bell dead lift, you can begin training with a number of exciting variations. Now we can unevenly load the body—for greater core engagement—by learning two different one-arm kettle bell dead lift techniques.
Make sure that you don’t lean or rotate toward the kettle bell as you move in and out of your hip hinge. Stay square all the way through the movement and don’t lean or rotate toward the kettle bell.
Again, grabbing the kettle bell with one hand will improve your grip strength and the offset load will really engage your core. The kettle bell staggered stance dead lift is a unique variation because you use one hand—and also load one leg more than the other.
The kettle bell single leg dead lift improves balance and is great for your feet and ankles. You can hold the kettle bell in the opposing hand, or on the same side as the working (standing) leg.
Watch this video for demonstrations of each kettle bell dead lift variation mentioned in this post. Ryan Monowitz, ROC II lives in Maryland with his wife and two dogs.
When he’s not telling his dogs to stop chasing squirrels, Ryan enjoys spreading the ROC message and teaching others how to train with kettle bells. He’s got a 90-day kettle bell transformation program that helps busy adults lose 10-15lbs., shed their spare tire and build lean muscle so that they look great naked and move like they did in their 20s.
The prized ROC certificate represents a “Black Belt” in kettle bell instruction that requires extensive pre-training to attain. While qualified RCS continue to graduate to ever-higher levels of expertise, through such groundbreaking graduate programs such as the CK-FMS and the ROC level II, it's clear that these individuals share a very special combination of drive, passion, skill, commitment and physical capability—without which the ROC would remain a distant dream.
To pay that kind of price in blood, sweat, tears and money—whatever the final prize and future benefits, be it enhanced financial opportunity or dramatic physical gains. But what about all of those otherwise-dedicated coaches, trainers and athletes who just can't commit to the full-bore ROC, but would still like to be certified in the most important essentials of kettle bell lifting?
Currently, there is no entry-level kettle bell certification program that addresses these folk with the kind of quality and standards Dragon Door has become famous for. Time to change all that and provide this larger group of fine individuals the chance to “Enter the Kettle bell “, as it were—and learn from the very best in the business.
Many fitness certifications have no physical test whatsoever, allowing that curious anomaly of an obviously out-of-shape trainer dispensing advice to clients who are clearly fitter than they are! To ensure that those who register for the HK have a reasonable level of fitness, Dragon Door settled on a standard plank, performed with straight alignment and held for 60 seconds.
A deep understanding of the true benefits of kettle bell training—for both yourself and your clients A solid knowledge of vital kettle bell training safety procedures A workmanlike grasp of the fundamentals of biomechanics—to ensure your clients move with perfect form and avoid injury A grasp of the key Hairstyle skills and principles of strength The ability to competently perform the three foundational kettle bell exercises (the Swing, the Get-Up, and the Goblet Squat) The confidence you can now correctly teach the three essential kettle bell exercises—and troubleshoot common technique problems The unique HK template for designing an unlimited number of effective kettle bell workouts. Understand why mastery of the kettle bell swing is fundamental to high-level Hairstyle practice How to develop power through compensatory acceleration and overspend eccentrics How to train hip extension for back and knee health and athletic performance How to employ bracing and neutral spine—for injury prevention, enhanced performance and optimal transmission of force How to recruit the lat as a “core muscle” to improve the spine safety and glute strength How to increase power with the biomechanical breathing match A safe, effective modality for developing different types of endurance Explosive training techniques for more effective fat-loss The dead lift: the most “functional” exercise of all The two-arm swing and corrective exercises The concept of rooting and two key drills for developing it The one-arm swing The hand-to-hand swing Russian relaxation exercises to enhance the acquisition of skillful movement, increase power and endurance The two hundred-year history of the get-up The get-up as an assessment tool The strength and health benefits of the get-up How to correctly perform the get-up and teach corrective drills How to move from mobility to stability, then from stability to strength—and why this progression is crucial for truly effective kettle bell work The get-up, shoulder mobility and stability exercises.
The role of the lat in shoulder stability and strength—and advanced lat facilitation techniques How to employ and teach steering strength The concepts of leakage and linkage —and their importance for effective kettle bell lifting How to perform the goblet squat and corrective drills “Strength stretching” for the hips How to overcome gluteal amnesia How to most effectively stretch the hip flexors to dramatically improve athletic performance, back health, and posture How to modify the squat stance for a client with back problems An alternative squat exercise for overweight clients Why “sport specific training” is inappropriate for 99% of the coaches and athletes—and a powerful alternative Kettle bell safety 101: ten key items The Swing: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills The Get-Up: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills The Goblet Squat: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills HK program design The three key principles of effective training identified by Russian sports scientists: continuity of the training process, waving the loads, and specialized variety, Ten program design tools for an unlimited variety of effective kettle bell workouts: Rep Ladders Weight Ladders Time Ladders Breathing Ladders Reverse Ladders Drop Sets Super Sets Timed Sets Series Active Recovery Exercises
If you fail to maintain proper alignment or you drop to your knees, the test is considered a failure. 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.
The swing is tested using two hands with an appropriate size kettle bell, for 10 reps or more at your instructors’ discretion. You will use both hands to roll and lift the kettle bell into the starting position as well as pulling it down to your chest at the finish.
The goblet squat will be tested holding one kettle bell by the horns in front of your chest, you will be asked to perform 5 reps or more at your instructors’ discretion Their inclusion reinforces the student’s understanding of HK/ ROC principles and should be included in any well-rounded kettle bell program.
In addition, proper performance of the Hard style Push up is the Entrance Requirement for the ROC Instructor course. At the end of the course you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to teach one kettle bell exercise that you learned during the workshop to a fellow student.
Excellent Early-Bird Registration Discount: Register and pay by July 19th, fee is only $499.00 (Save $100.00) If cancellation is required, Dragon Door is not responsible for any expenses (travel or lodging) incurred beyond the registration fees.
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. 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.
It would be virtually impossible for anyone to attend the ROC with zero kettle bell experience and pass. 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.
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. Tim Peterson, Chief Instructor for Titrant, has created a great post for us about selecting your kettle bell.
Kettle bells are a great tool, that can be used for strength work, hypertrophy, conditioning, power, and endurance. Cast iron, competition/sport, steel, rubber coated, soft-sand filled, adjustable, medicine ball-like, and more.
All kettle bells are cast in a mold, what happens after can be different depending on the company. After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE.
Depending on whom you ask, you will get different folk stories of what they originally were made from, and what they were used for, as well as which countries claim ownership. The competition kettle bell is the same size and dimension across the weight range, and is made out of steel.
The handle is flat across on top, and joins the body of the kettle bell vertically. Some brands are an 8 kilogram shell filled with fillers like sawdust and ball bearings to achieve the desired weights, this potentially can become loose and rattle over time or lose balance.
More durable competition bells are made from a single piece of steel, cast precisely to the specific weight. There are ballistics such as Swings, Cleans and Snatches, and grinds, such as Goblet and Double Front Squats, Presses, and Get-Ups.
Once beyond the learning phase, the curved handle of the cast-iron kettle bell is the clear winner for swings. As a result, if the kettle bell ’s contact each other on the way up or down they will have a tendency to bounce off of each other like basketballs.
The last thing you want is for the kettle bells to bounce away from each other on the way down and hit the user on the legs. Another item to consider is that when hiking two large kettle bell ’s through the legs, regardless of weight, the stance used needs to be wide enough to allow room for them to pass.
After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE. More importantly, and again something that affects beginners more than experienced lifters, is that the larger size body rests on the meat of the forearm rather than the bone protrusion of the wrist, which is right where the smaller body of a lighter kettle bell will sit.
I can hear the naysayers now — “No pain, no gain,” or “Suck it up buttercup!” Well, I have personal experience here. I broke one of my wrists mountain biking years ago, and now have a plate and 8 screws holding the end of my ulna together.
Both of these surgeries led me to experiment with competition style kettle bells, which contacted my arm below these sensitive areas. After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE.
If you are a gym, I would strongly recommend a full set of both cast-iron and competition style kettle bells. After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE.
We recommend you read more about receiving a quick, free, dynamic kettle bell workout every week you can click below. Tim Peterson is the Chief Instructor and Director of Content and Curriculum for Titrant, a revolutionary fitness ranking system based on standardized strength and conditioning tests utilized currently in over 1,000 gyms worldwide in more than 25 countries.
Tim has a MS and BA in Kinesiology, and has taught High School Weightlifting for over a decade. He uses his experiences in and observations of the fitness industry as inspiration for his writing, which appears on the Titrant website, as well as guest posts for Dan John, Kettle bell Kings, and others.
For more of Tim’s writing as well as more information about Titrant, a unique challenge that is both standardized yet personal due to tests based upon gender, age, and body weight, visit www.fitranx.com. Kettle bell Kings creates new workout each week which you can receive in your email inbox.
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. 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. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting.
In a 2010 study, kettle bell enthusiasts performing a 20-minute snatch workout were measured to burn, on average, 13.6 calories/minute aerobically and 6.6 calories/minute anaerobically during the entire workout — “equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace”. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). “The kettle bell way: Focused workouts mimic the movements of everyday activities”.
Blast Fat & Build Strength With Innovative Equipment!” 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”.