Rants and Raves About The Kettlebell Craze

Today I did a quick Kettlebell Practice session.  By "quick" I definitley don't imply easy.  It was only quick because I omitted the running to give my back and leg joints a rest from the pavement pounding.  The most important aspect of the workout was certainly there.  I'll mention what that was real quick and then I want to get into something else on the topic of kettlebells as well as switch modes briefly to little talk about nutrition and eating habits.

Workout 010309:
6 Min. Long Cycle @ 2 20kg and 5rpm

4 Min. Jerks @ 2 20kg and 8rpm

Ok now I just have to rant a bit about something that is just not agreeable with me.  There are some things that should be done and then some things that just should not be done where Kettlebell Practice/Training is concerned.  Over the past 10 years kettlebells have made their way over to the U.S., but have been used in some variation or another for the past 400 years in Europe.  Kettlebell Lifting is actually the national sport in Russia same as baseball is to the United States.  So the art of kettlebell lifting has since been studied, evolved, and pretty close to perfected by prodigy lifters and exercise scientists for a while now.  Somewhere along the line someone got the not so bright idea that the kettlebell is a great marketing tool and tossed it in the mix among some of the best gym or home based exercise tools.  It is even marketed as the "Palm-sized Gym", or "A Gym That Fits In Your Palm", and the list goes on.  Not only has it been marketed in this way, but in the past couple years more and more traditional dumbbell isolation exercises have crossed into the protocol of the kettlebell.  Recently certain folks have even gone as far to introduce some very nifty named "new kettlebell exercises" in order to promote their fitness dvd's and programs.

Ok now these exercises are all good for overall fitness and most likely will give you a workout if performed properly in a well designed program; however every single one of these so called "kettlebell exercises" can very easily be interchanged with a dumbbell, medicine ball, soup can, big rock, small tv set, or any other odd object the trainee so desired.  The kettlebells used in these exercises have all been downsized and the shape changed to allow for more of a flashy product.  Keep in mind these companies and these trainers have to make money and they seem to be doing a very good job about it, but in the end what is the fruits of their labor have to do with getting true genuine results of increased strength, greater overall endurance in both cardio as well as strength, fat reduction, increased energy, joint stability, and the list goes on and on and on.  Essentially these trainers have simply taken what has been going on in gyms via "Functional Training" up until a couple years ago and turned it around into what is now labelled as a "Workout With A Kettlebell".  What they don't tell you is the truth.

Here is a video clip of a recent Early Show news segment featuring one of these trainers I speak of and him demonstrating the exercises I mention.

KettleBells on The CBS Early Show
Video link(CBS has a little commercial prior to the segment):

I do have to say that he has a very good TV presence and is definitely doing a great job in promoting himself as well as his concept; however I don't believe the ancients, as well as the Russians, were the "dominators" as they were because of the "Pass, Pass, Shoot" and others in his training programs.

The true movements they used and still use are the 3 main Kettlebell Lifts (that we teach using the AKC methods): Snatch, Jerk, and Long Cycle(clean and jerk). Then you have progressions and variations of that such as the Swing(not to be squatting while swinging as in the TV demonstration), Clean, Press, Push Press, and so on.

Practicing these movements, their variations, and then supporting exercises which are complimentary to the main 3 is what's absolutely ideal. Sticking to the basics, mastering the basics, and then working the basics consistently will be what returns the best rewards.

I thank God every day for my opportunity to be mentored by Valery Fedorenko, Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, Marty Ferrell, Andrew Durnait, Catherine Imes, Scott Helsley and the list goes on. These folks are continually studying and teaching the best and true kettlebell training methods and every single one of them will produce the best results in anything fitness related as well as overall strength endurance.  There's a reason why most of the top athletes have been, and still are, Kettlebell practicioners who focus on the 3 main lifts.  Looking at these athletes they are in very impressive shape and very functional in their body movements.  Kettlebells can do this for anyone who puts in the time and effort.  Remember it is not easy to be healthy and in great shape.  If it was then a whole lot more people would be there.

It takes daily dedication and commitment to yourself and your lifestyle.  That's exactly what it is- a lifestyle.  It is part of your daily life to wake up and get dressed to go about your day.  Make it part of your day to pick up a Kettlebell and practice the 3 main lifts in some capacity.  I will be blogging soon about the essentials of basic program design in the near future.  If you cannot perform the 3 main lifts then practice the foundations that lead up to them such as the Two Arm Swing, One Arm Swing, High Pull, Standing Press, Push Press, etc.  Eventually you will be able to master the basics and in the mean time achieve a high level of fitness and strength.  Then apply good eating habits which are also a lifestyle daily choice and you will be well on your way to the best health you can get.  Decide every day when you wake up that you will do everything possible to be the absolute best 'you' that you can be.  It will not come easy and that is why you must consciouly and routinely decide this.  Once you do no one and nothing will stand in your way.  Get and stay determined.  There is no better gift you can give yourself and your loved ones than good health and longevity because of the choices and decisions you continually make.

Everything you do matters- no matter how big or small.  If you're going to eat or drink something think thoroughly what it is that you're about to put in your mouth.  You have two options.  It will either bring you closer to your goals or it will take you further away from them.  Yes that one cookie matters.  Fine!  Make the excuse that you just want to enjoy living your life and that is why you have the cheat meal or late night ice cream treat.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with that.  There is definitely a time and place for those treats, but when you are on your way to getting healthy and losing fat the time is not until you actually get where you want to be.  The goal is a plan you must strictly adhere to and in order to achieve it you must stay focused.  Once you get to your goal then it's a lot easier to stay there.  Have that snack and treat, but continue to eat healthy all the rest of the time.  Continue your Kettlebell practice and you will stay where you worked so hard to get to, but until you're actually there sacrifice nothing.