long cycle

Going Past 10: It's Been A Year In The Making

Here is a guest blog from my Kettlebell Sport student, Laura Machuca. I think she did a fabulous job expressing her experience with Kettlebells as her love for lifting the bells have taken her cross-country. Share in her experience and read what she has to say. I think you will gain a new perspective on this rewarding form of fitness. -Bob Garon

Going Past 10: It's Been A Year In The Making


“Kettle-balls? What are those?”

“I didn't know that kettlebell was a sport.”

“Wow! You have to do that for 10 minutes without stopping?”

“That judge was really mean. He should be more understanding of the people who compete with the 8 kg and 12 kg bells.”

These are things people say when they learn that I am a kettlebell athlete. I’ve competed four times now, and at the age of 50 I am getting ready for my fifth competition, all in a little less than a year. Some of what I’ve learned:

1. There’s a lot more to it than simply lasting 10 minutes.

Let’s not kid ourselves; kettlebell or girevoy sport (GS), as it’s sometimes called, is pretty darn tough. Many GS athletes say it’s the toughest sport in the world. In my first three competitions, I worried about lasting the entire 10 minutes, common for beginners. Yet, I now think that worrying about finishing means I doubt my abilities, which just undercuts all the time I spend training. I’m also disrespecting the work my coach and I do to improve my technique. Technique is so important—I can’t just get up on the platform and simply swing the kettlebells around for 10 minutes. I have to do the repetitions correctly, or they don’t count! Proper technique also helps me perform most efficiently, which also means less fatigue.

Laura Machuca

However, if you go to IKFF Nationals in Novi, MI to watch the competitions—and you should do this—you’ll see seasoned GS athletes lifting freaking heavy bells who don’t always finish their 10 minutes. But you know what? They get up there and do it anyway. When I competed in May 2012, a man only did one minute of the jerk with two bells that weighed 32 kg (~70 pounds) apiece. Did he look upset afterward? Not in the least. He wanted to prove to himself that he could get up there and do it for one minute, and he did. Next time, he plans to go for two minutes.

Laura Machuca

2. It’s not just about the numbers.

Depending on the event, your weight, the weight of the bell, and how many repetitions (reps) you do correctly, you can achieve a rank of 3, 2, 1, Candidate Master of Sport (CMS), Master of Sport (MS), and Master of Sport International Class (MSIC). When I began competing, I reached a rank of three, which is the lowest. I haven’t achieved a rank of two yet. However, rank isn’t the most important thing to me anymore. Why not? During the first few minutes of my last competition in May 2012, I saw I wasn’t going to make the number of reps I had as a goal. Instead of getting upset, I decided to relax—to experience the flow of doing the long cycle (clean & jerk) for 10 minutes while striving for my personal best technique. Afterward, I received compliments from the judges, with zero no-counts, which was quite opposite from my prior competition, I also won first place in my weight class in my event! If I had tensed up about making rank, I would have enjoyed myself far less—and shouldn’t I have fun while I’m lifting the bells? This is something I want to truly enjoy while I am doing it for as long as I can. It is about the experience of the moment.

Laura Machuca

3. The only competitor you should worry about is yourself.

It’s normal to want to be like the amazing GS athletes I see. However, if I compare myself to others, I limit things and miss out on so much more! That mindset also makes it easier for me to watch and learn ways to improve my technique. One example is Nathan. In May, Nathan performed the long cycle with astonishing precision. He reminded me of a clock, as his movements were very regular and accurate. When I told him this, he thanked me and revealed that he is a classically trained pianist. He thinks of Mozart playing in his head while he competes, and adjusts his rhythm to match. While I don’t know if I will adopt his method, he certainly helped me stretch my mind to consider new ways of practicing and competing. An analogy to the movie, “Field of Dreams” comes to mind—if I build and improve my technique, the rank will come!

Laura Machuca

4. The judges are there to help you get better at it.

Sometimes judges can intimidate, but only if you let them. Don’t let them! Judges often ask you to demonstrate a few reps so that they can see if you have any physical irregularities. Maybe you can’t bend your knees as far or straighten your arm. You want the judges to know ahead of time so they don’t count it against you while you compete. The first time I had to demonstrate, the judge made a comment about “not letting the bell spin around my hand” that rattled me. I now know that she was only trying to warn me so I wouldn’t get any no-counts. In my competition in March 2012, the judge at the IKSFA New York Open asked me not to make the same mistake as several other people that day. I started to worry about looking bad and not finishing. My focus was wrong and I violated a rule seven minutes into the set. The judge told me I had to stop and put the bell down. Later, two ladies approached me and said that they thought he was too strict, and that “he should be more understanding of the people who compete with the 8 kg and 12 kg bells.

I honestly did not feel the same way as they did. Instead, I saw myself at a fork in the road: I could point fingers, blame others, and complain about the judging; or I could work on improving my technique. Even though I felt a bit confused, did I want to be one who blames others when I don’t perform well? Was blaming the judge going to help me do better next time? I didn’t think so.

Kettlebell sport is a huge passion in my life, changing my life tremendously during the past year. My nutrition and my physique have improved because of my desire to be a better GS athlete. I’d love you to experience the joy of GS for yourself. Join me for my next competition at the “Bells Gone Wild” Kettlebell Sport competition on July 14 at Synergy Kettlebell Training in St. Charles!

Breathing To Become A More Efficient Kettlebell Lifter

This is Coach Sergey Rudnev, my own coach and Honored Master of Sport in Russia. It may take you 3 or 4 times watching this mini clip to really get it, but if you breath like this you will actually keep your heart rate lower so you can lift longer without the issue of a racing heart. The reason why this occurs is because you will be getting more oxygen into the blood and that alone will assist to keep you more relaxed.



When performing Kettlebell Long Cycle, or any other Kettlebell exercise for Kettlebell sport or fitness, you want to stay as relaxed and efficient as you possibly can. By focusing most all of your thoughts and energy on your breath timing (when to breath exactly in the movement cycle) you will become a much better Kettlebell lifter. That means your results will be much better as well.

Lisa Garon Is An Outlaw Kettlebell Lifter

Lisa Garon was highlighted as a top U.S. Kettlebell sportsman, sportsperson, sportswoman (not sure which is appropriate LOL). Check out the featured article Ken Whetham put up on his North American Outlaw Kettlebell Club blog and show Lisa some love & support with a nice comment: Lisa Garon Outlaw Article HERE. Lisa really inspires me with how far she's come in such a short dedicated time. Her commitment to herself and her weekly routine is how this is all possible. When I first met her she didn't even go to the gym and to think about her eating anything healthy was like asking a horse to moo. LOL

She smoked, drank and partied here and there, but one day just decided it was time to get away from that life wrecking habit and create better ones. So she dropped over 30lbs and hasn't look back since. Who would have thought this little bowling ball with a handle on it would change her, and the lives of others, so much.

Watch the video below of her 20kg (44lb) One Arm Long Cycle set at the IKFF Kettlebell Lifting Invitational 2011. VERY solid set!

Great write up honey! You're lookin more amazing every day and every day you amaze me more.

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Kettlebell Workout 4

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" workout 4

Warmup: Synergy Dynamics

The Good: 5 Min set consisting of 2 Min Double Jerks, 2 Min Long Cycle and 1 Min Double Snatch

The Bad: Another set of "The Good".

The Ugly: 4 Rounds, 32 sec, 32 sec btwn rds Iguana Pushups Double Alternating Cleans Phoenix Crunchers Heavy Lazy Swings

The Anti-Batwing Campaign Kettlebell Workout 5

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one. -Elbert Hubbard

"The Anti- Batwing Campaign" workout 5

Warmup: Synergy Dynamics

Your Fat Blaster: R2, Work 15 seconds R/L, active rest 15 seconds. Work 30 seconds R/L, active rest 30 seconds. Work 45 seconds R/L, active rest 45 seconds. Work M1R/ M1L x 6.

Jerk/ Push Press- R/L 15/15 Swings- R/L 30/30 Cleans- R/L 45/45 One Arm Long Cycle (switch arms every min) M1/M1 x 6

Ride The Chariot Finisher: S17 and sub in a new Charioteer every S17. If you are not the Charioteer then pick one of the following:

Russian Twists Moving Side Planks Goblet Squat Slingshots Iron Cross Hand 2 Hand Swings

My First 2x28kg Kettlebell Long Cycle Set

Ok so, after achieving Long Cycle IKFF Rank III and American Kettlebell Club Rank II with the 20kg Kettlebells in the April 2010, I've been working with the 24kg bells since then in my attempt to tame them. So far so good and I've been very happy with my results thus far. I've been consistently practicing with them and feeling more and more comfortable every day. That's the thing right there... if you want to be good at something you've gotta practice it and don't stop till you get there. Well in practicing something 4-5 days a week, every week, one can get burnt out so I decided to give myself a break from exclusively the 24's during the month of December. In doing so, and of course considering my love to lift heavy weights over my head, I decided that the orange and red bells had my name all over them.

Here's my inaugural Long Cycle set with the 28kg Kettlebells. Now also keep in mind that my bodyweight is currently about 145lbs too so this is A LOT of fun. It actually went much better than I had expected. My goal is to get comfortable with them so the Green Machines (24kg Kettlebells) will be much easier to tame when I start my next training cycle in January. Ultimately I want IKFF Rank CMS (candidate master of sport) in March at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Team Synergy has big goals for the upcoming event and I have high confidence we'll all achieve them. Keep watching us...

This was one of my low volume days and felt great. Here's my full Long Cycle practice that I did:

Warmup: Synergy Dynamics 2x16kg Jerks x 10 2x24kg Long Cycle x 6

Long Cycle Practice: 2 min rest between sets 2 Minutes 2x28kg @ 6rpm 1 Min. 2x28kg @ 6rpm x 4 sets

Finisher: 3 Min. 2x16kg @ 10rpm


Synergy Dynamics floor series and foam roll

Synergy Kettlebell Training Features 2 Skinny Strong Girls

Tammy Gerken & Courtney Szorc have a little fun doing some VERY impressive stuff. This totally inspires me to keep pushing myself so I don't feel weak when the girls lift the heavy weights. LOL

Thank you for your motivation ladies!