Kettlebell Sport Practice 101: The Money $$$et

Kettlebell Sport Practice 101: Practice in thy movement improves thy movement. Forget the misc crap that wastes ur time. I used to be a HUGE believer in keeping things as simple as simple may be. In fact Lisa and I just minimized a bit of our lives by going through all our clothes, kitchenware, office stuff, electronics, etc and got rid of everything we either did not use or didn't need. It has actually been a super empowering and liberating experience.

In my 4 years of Kettlebell fitness training and short couple years experience in Kettlebell Sport specific training I'm finding that the protocols in the exact methodology of training is and should be quite simple. Often times people get in the mindset that they need to change things up so often so that their body stays "confused". There seems to be this bandwagon of fitness professionals who believe by varying day to day workouts on the extreme side is beneficial to the body in that it won't be able to adapt and be forced to change. In reality, the only thing that's doing is confusing the body from adapting to the stress load placed upon it in the practiced movements and prohibiting it from growing through progressions of any specific skill practice.

Look at any group of elite athletes and the one thing that is consistent between all of them is the simplicity of their training. In fact many of them have a similar training regimen for years and years. Their goal is to get better at one or two particular main skills.

If Michael Jordan didn't go out and shoot hoops every day and instead decided to ride a bike or play some lacrosse(nothing wrong with either) then he would never have been the amazing athlete that he became. If Michael Phelps didn't jump in the pool every day shave every hair from his body (optional thought here) to make him the best swimmer in the world by swimming lap after lap after lap after lap then he wouldn't be as good as he is. You can only switch up swimming laps in so many ways. The focus here is their consistent practice of the relevant basics of their desired skill in order to become better.

Kettlebell Sport is the same way. Our goal, first and foremost, is to train for and last 10 minutes on the competition platform. Along the wayside people, I was one of them, got sidetracked with training for reps before they can last the time. First is the time and then fill in the gaps with reps long before jumping up in Kettlebell weight.

When you can perform the reps, with the appropriate weight, in a comfortable range to survive 10 minutes then increase your pace. When your pace gets to such that you are performing high level reps for 10 minutes then you can progress to the next size bells. If you prematurely jump bells you will suffer not only physically, but also the timing and possibly technique.

Trying to force your body to give you more reps when all you can do is 3 or 4 minutes is not a good game plan. 3-4 minutes sets with the heavier bells can be tossed in here and there as assistance sets after your main practice, but first master the bells you can go 10 minutes with before jumping up. Always remember that 10 minutes is our goal. No one cares if we can do 3, 4, 5, or even 8 minutes. 10 minutes is what everyone wants to see and see us survive. That is a sign of a well trained and conditioned girevik. Once you get to 10 minutes fill in the reps from there.

As Gordon Gecko, in the movie Wall Street, would say: "Greed Is Good", but this is certainly not the case in Kettlebell Sport training. Personally, I had to eat some humble pie myself for a while and drop bell weight so I can get my pace and conditioning up. Once I did I am now more solid in what I'm currently doing. What I'm currently doing is 1 main Money Set every day for 5 days and never shorter than 6 minutes unless I feel lousy one day then I'll toss around for 5 min, but that's not gonna be too often. Focus on the main set as your bread and butter, work your butt off to give everything you've got left when that one main set isover, and after you're done with that set all you have is only bounced checks to write cause you have nothing left to give. That's the Money Set Training and it just works. When it's all said and done your specific Kettlebell Sport work should only take you 20 min or less, and the money set is only 10 minutes or less, with most days being 5-7 min. Beyond that assistance work and your cooldown. In my cooldown I literally spend 2-3 times the time stretching, yoga postures, etc than I did with my Kettlebell work. That is it. There are no secrets... just attention to simplicity and hard work. Do that and your results will come. Stop over-thinking it.

Synergy Kettlebell Training presents Tammy Gerken

Tammy Gerken, who is a member of the Synergy Kettlebell competition team practicing Biathlon, began lifting Kettlebells a few months ago and took to it right away. As soon as she picked up her first Kettlebell and pressed it overhead, without much effort, I knew right away she's gonna be VERY good at this sport. So, unbeknown to Tammy, I pushed her to her potential. I love working people's potential. Sometimes they go along with it and work their hardest and other times they crumble. Tammy was the former. She rose to the challenge, accepted me as her teacher, and began practicing Kettlebell Sport. Tammy impressed me in several ways and it's truly been a sincere pleasure to begin this great journey alongside her. I could tell she was quite nervous in the beginning and rightly so... it was something new and she had this bald guy telling her to lift heavy weighted balls over her head. I'd be nervous too! LOL I'm glad Tammy has a GREAT sense of humor. :)

Most women begin with the 8kg(pink) Kettlebell, but I noticed Tammy's strength from the getgo so I encouraged her to work her potential for optimal results and reward by blasting right past the pink and goin for the the blue which was the next progression being 12kg. She didn't even hesitate or question my judgement. She trusted her coach and my programming. Shortly after her first month Tammy blasted past that blue Kettlebell and moved into the 16kg (yellow). Now unless someone has a long history of athletics and/or exercise this quick of progression is not very common. Back in high school sports Tammy played volleyball, basketball, track (shot-put, discus, and ran the 800m) so the base was there to build upon. When I made her transition to the 16kg she wasn't as receptive to choosing that Kettlebell as she was the blue one. I'd often see her sneak the blue 12kg back into the mix and have to both remind and encourage her to bring back the yellow. After a short time she said the blue Kettlebell was feeling too light and she was more comfortable with her yellow. So our plan was working. She was looking VERY solid in her technique and impressing me with her reps.

I think the biggest thing that has impressed me with Tammy is her passion and her drive. I posted something about the IKFF Nationals Kettlebell Competition to all my clients and later that day she told me she had registered for it and will be competing in Biathlon (Kettlebell Snatch & Jerk) on the 25th of September. She actually registered before I did. Wow! And then last month when I announced our very own hosted Synergy Kettlebell Turkeybell Invitational, this November on the 13th, she was the first to jump and register for that too. She has decided to put her whole self into what she is doing because this is for her. She is an inspiration to me. Tammy came to me simply looking to lose weight, get in shape, and get healthy, but how Tammy affected me was- in my opinion- probably much more than I could ever affect her. Thank you Tammy!!!

My Kettlebell Sport Long Cycle Pre-Competition Practice

I just wanted to share part of my journey with you as I prepare for the Great Lakes Kettlebell Lifting Competition in Traverse City, Michigan on April 17th I thought I'd share one of my finisher sets with you. I've been fighting a protruding disc in the L4/L5 section of my spine for a few years.  I have an awesome chiropractor, Dr. Ken Olson of Olson Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, and he's been taking VERY good care of me enough where I can train again at a higher level.

I've been working with the 20kg bells in the Long Cycle event. It's been a longer road than I've liked, but alas I seem to be on an ongoing one of progress. Ultimately that's all that matters.

Currently I've been about 155 for a while and desire to make Rank in this upcomingmeet. If I stay at my current weight class I'll need 49 reps for Rank with the 20kg kettlebells. If I drop down to 149lb. then I'll only need 44 reps.  I'm trying to decide in my mind if doing 5 fewer reps is worth dropping the weight.  I probably will, but if not I'm still good with doing 49 no problem.

The other day I did a good couple sets and then felt great. So I decided to do just a quick 2 minutes of Long Cycle with two 24kg bells. Outside of my second to last rep, everything went well, felt strong, and looks like I'll be improving better than even expected.  Check out my Finisher Set below...


Kettlebell Training & Forearm Recovery Care

After my kettlebell training and Girevoy Sport practice my forearms are usually what bother me most depending on what I've done. Proper forearm, wrist, and hand care is vital for a girevik's (kettlebell lifter) ability to continue training. If your grip goes then you cannot complete your sets and your workout ends. Obviously that's not the goal and so preventive mobility drills and stretches for the forearm will allow it to continue recovery ongoing.

Here's what I do to help increase my forearm mobility and a great way to make sure your forearms are fully stretched and recovering after your kettlebell training.

The Anatomy of Kettlebell Training: The Snatch Part 2


By: Coach Denis Kanygin

This is part 2 of The Anatomy of Kettlebell Training Series (read Part 1: Undersquat). Today I’d like to address a very common question: how to bring kettlebell down from lockout.

If kettlebell is brought down improperly, it will remove much skin from your palm and cause much pain and discomfort.

On the other hand, if brought down properly, kettlebell will keep hands happy and in one piece.

So, how should you bring kettlebell down from lockout in snatch lift so that it does not rip skin off of your hand?

The key to happy hands during kettlebell snatches is proper transition of grip

  • In lockout, lifter’s hand is pushed all the way through kettlebell handle
  • As kettlebell is brought down, grip changes to hook grip (like during kettlebell swings)

So, how should we switch from having hand through kettlebell to hook grip?

  • As the bell is falling down, relax your grip so that as the bell rotates there is 0 (zero) friction between hand and handle
  • ‘Catch’ kettlebell roughly at chest level with hook grip

This way, you will avoid pinching skin by kettlebell handle and minimize friction between handle and hand.

Less friction between kettlebell handle and hand means less blistering and less pain (don’t worry, you will feel pain in other parts of your body).

Here is a demonstration of how this transition should be done:

Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Part 1 of our series The Anatomy of Kettlebell Training, by Bob Garon featuring The Swing, can be viewed HERE.

Part 2 of our series The Anatomy of Kettlebell Training, by Coach Denis Kanygin featuring The Snatch: Undersquat, can be viewed HERE.

About Coach Denis Kanygin: For the last 10 years, Coach Denis has been sharing his kettlebell training knowldege based in GS (Kettlebell Sport) with thousands of people.

Coach Denis is now a Technical and Kettlebell Sport Advisor to IKFF. He was responsible for creating new kettlebell sport rankings for IKFF (see Story of IKFF Sport Rankings). Coach Kanygin is now teaching his kettlebell training methodology based in pure Russian GS training methods coupled with his experience as postural therapist.

Coach Denis blogs here:


Feel free to leave your questions in comments below.