Our Synergy Turkeybell Sport Invitational was so much fun to run. I now have a whole new respect for Ken Blackburn(IKFF), Ashleigh Shooshanian(IKFF), Rebecca L. Cate(IKFF), Eric Liford(AKC), Valery Fedorenko(AKC), and everyone else who puts on regular Kettlebell Sport competitions. Thank you & BRAVO to all the competitors who got up on the platform! And thank you everyone who helped me put on the show.
For those who don't know about Kettlebell Sport competitors get up on the platform and perform their sets with a 10 minute time limit. In Kettlebell Sport there are 2 traditional events: Biathlon (Jerk & Snatch) and Long Cycle (clean & jerk). For more info & if you're in the Aurora, IL area go here: Get Skinny Strong With Kettlebell Sport Training
Here's the stats for Team Synergy... videos are coming in future posts...
Susan Lausier competed in Women's 12kg Biathlon and performed:
Jerk- 81R / 79L = 160 total
Snatch- 81R / 77L = 158 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 29 reps
Courtney Szorc competed in Women's 16kg Long Cycle and performed:
61R / 57L = 118 total
Lisa Garon competed in Women's 20kg Long Cycle and performed:
33R / 28L
Rocio Tena competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed:
48R / 49L = 97 total
Nadia Hernandez... What a warrior-goddess she is!!! She competed with a cast on due to a busted knee cap that slid out of place just 2 days ago.
Nadia competed in Women's Youth 8kg Long Cycle and performed:
63R / 53L = 116 total
Alma Pilz competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed:
48R / 50L = 98 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 8kg bells: 37 reps
Carol Larson competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed:
52R / 48L = 100 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 8kg bells: 32 reps
Tammy Gerken competed in Women's 16kg Biathlon and performed:
Jerk: 61R / 47L = 108 total
Snatch: 36R / 30L = 66 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 35 reps
Shaheen Mohammed competed in Women's 16kg Long Cycle and performed:
50R / 42L = 92 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 28 reps
Darlene Davis competed in Women's 12kg Biathlon and performed:
Jerk: 70R / 61L = 131
Snatch: 46R / 46L = 92 total
Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 20 reps
TEAM SYNERGY YOUNG GIREVIKS
Brayden Garon(age 6) competed in YOUNG GIREVIKS Boy's Long Cycle Clean & Jerk using two 4kg bells for 10 minutes and performed 74 reps total. This was a 20 rep increase from what he did 7 weeks ago at the IKFF Nationals.
Ava Larson(age 5) competed in YOUNG GIREVIKS Girl's Long Cycle Clean & Push Press using 5lb. bell for 10 minutes and performed 74 reps total.
Thanks again to everyone who competed, attended, and assisted me in running the Turkeybell. We're doing a very special event in January and all proceeds go to a charity. Then in June will be our Summerbell Sport Invitational and next November will be the 2nd annual Turkeybell Sport Invitational. Keep lifting your Kettlebells and I hope to see you on the platform soon. Wanna get started in Kettlebell Sport and be part of Team Synergy... let's make it happen. Call me: (630) 708-0055
With Kettlebell Training there are two main styles. Both Hard Style(brought to popularity by Pavel Tsatsouline's RKC program & Dragon Door) and Girevoy Sport have their place. There is no right or wrong method as many have argued in the past. One is the actual authentic methods used by Russians and one is well... another way of doing things. Denis Kanygin said "Hardstyle is a stripped down version of original kettlebell technique." I really like that and it certainly makes sense when visually and physically comparing the two technique styles.
If one would do things hard style for years and ongoing years they would not be able to maintain that practice due to the abuse on the body; however with G.S. a practitioner can maintain that from cradle to the grave. I have seen more and more of the former, and some still current, inner circle hardstyle folks employ the coaching of Girevoy Sport style practitioners so that they too can preserve themselves along their Kettlebell fitness journeys.
This weekend we had A LOT of fun as the Chicago Police Training Center was the venue for the American/ World Kettlebell Club World Kettlebell Championships 2010. Valery Fedorenko put on a great show and I'm VERY glad I had the opportunity, along with a few of my Team Synergy Kettlebell Sport Club students, to watch some of the best Kettlebell Sport athletes from within the U.S., and even a few from around the world, compete. We saw some great achievements alongside everyone getting some really good experience on the platform with heavier bells.
Just watching them is an experience all in itself. What I mean by that is because of all their hard work which brought them to the platform culminates right on it in that moment. Whatever happens is entirely due to how they prepared both physically AND mentally. Those feelings is exactly why I love to get up there on the platform and test myself each time. I aim to get better and better than my last every time I do.
Outside of that the friends that are gained, and existing relationships deepened, each time I attend Girevoy Sport events is well worth is in itself. Speaking of friends, here's a few pics and a slideshow of the AKC World event so you can see how well it was put together and how fun it was.
Svetlana Krutchik achieved Master of Sport World Class with 57 on both arms in Long Cycle. Congrats!!!
Here's a Slideshow with lots of colorful pics from the event.
This past weekend I had the fun experience of Kettlebell Sport competing at the Mid Michigan Kettlebell Invitational in Livonia, MI. This was only my second official competition with my first being a month prior. I've learned quite a bit of technique in the past couple months of training. You see I've been training with kettlebells for about 3 years now; however moreover in a more fitness style and not sport style training. At the beginning of March, after this year's Arnold Sports Festival where I had a few athletes (my wife one of them), I decided it was time I through myself onto the platform. I've had a lingering lumbar spine disc protrusion for the past 3 years which I've allowed to limit me and I wasn't gonna let that happen any longer. So I jumped into the Girevoy Sport water and decided to swim.
It's been a fun past couple months and my technique and strength continue to improve. By exposing myself to these Kettlebell Sport competition experiences I rub shoulders with some of the best lifters the U.S. has to offer. Some of them have been privileged to have training opportunity with top level Russian lifters and coaches. That being said, they have passed some of their invaluable knowledge onto me and exposed both my weaknesses as well as gaps in my technique. By correcting my mistakes, from what I've learned in one weekend experience alone just being around these amazing athletes, it has made me a much better lifter and coach.
In hopes that you too will learn from my own technique mistakes I have included pics of what they look like and what to look/feel for when you are training.
Mistake 2. Have Proper Body Alignment: Always keep your elbows in front when resting in the rack. Never lean to one side or the other as you see me mistakenly do in the pictures below.
Mistake 3.Proper Lockout: When the bells are locked out overhead count "one one-thousand" before bringing them down. This will ensure a good lockout. My picture directly below is NOT a good lockout and was the last one I performed in my set before setting down my bells. I received a "No Count" for it and rightly so.
Definition of a proper overhead kettlebell lockout: By AKC Coach Mike StefanoThe feet are flat on the floor, knees, hips straight and strong. Back is arched, and gaze forward. The lockout arm extends straight up over the head with the bicep near the ear. The elbow is locked and shoulder is seated. The kettlebell hangs off the heal of the hand (hip of the palm) behind the head, wrist is relaxed. Ears, shoulders, hips, and knees line up vertically creating a skeletal stack to accept the majority of the resting load. The palm is angled slightly towards the face, not rotated out where the kettlebell spins out overhead. The kettlebell is completely still or fixated. From the side view the upper arm appears to be perpendicular to the floor as it rises up out of the shoulder joint. The elbow joint is fully extended (not hyperextended) and completely locked. This may result in a gentle backward curve in the arm. Don't confuse this with the elbow being bent. The arm should never be in front of the face from the side view, as this will require much greater muscle contraction to stabilize the shoulder joint. How far back the arm will go depends upon the flexibility of the shoulder joint. Many people have a tight anterior, rounding the shoulders, thus preventing the arm from getting to that parallel-to-ear position while overhead, preventing a stable rest position.
Mistake 4.Fixation: Fixation in a nutshell means being in control of the kettlebell. Fixate the bells overhead prior to lowering them back to the rack in the case of Jerks and Long Cycle or before tossing back into the swing in the case of the Snatch. Fixation means no overhead movement of any kind as well as no unstable footing. To have good fixation both your elbows will be locked, both your knees will be locked, and there will be full bodily control over the bell. You will not have any momentum or movement going anywhere. By ensuring fixation overhead you will have all the stabilizer muscles working and ultimately become stronger. Once you have fixation you are ready to return the bell whence it came whether that was the rack position or to re-snatch it.
These are the things I am working directly on and my encouragement to you is to do the same no matter if you're working with one bell or two in your own training sessions. Even if you have no desire to compete in Kettlebell Sport you are going to benefit from proper overhead lockout, fixation, and focusing on body stability in all of your movements. Valery Fedorenko told me that fixation in the lockout is the key to kettlebell lifting whether for sport or fitness so that your body becomes strong, stable, and ensures chance of injury is greatly diminished. Having fixation means having control over the kettlebells. If you have control then you are able to better focus and succeed in your kettlebell training goals.
The "style" of kettlebell training I practice is called Girevoy Sport or G.S. It is a fluid style where the body works as efficiently as it can to move the weight throughout the given range of the desired movement. Our goal is to primarily achieve an overall strength endurance so we only utilize the necessary muscles without purposely and needlessly over exerting as taught by other schools or styles.
G.S. has been the original and predominate kettlebell training style used by those who developed kettlebells in Russia and all other 'styles' of kettlebell training have derived from it. I do believe in the Bruce Lee method of training which suggests to use what works and leave that which does not. So this is naturally how I practice and teach my methods.
When beginning Kettlebell Training, or any exercise for that matter, one must learn to crawl before walking and running. All too often we get "runners" from day one and then they get hurt and confused.
Slow down and learn the basics so that the advanced, when and only when, you're ready will be much easier to learn and manage. Kettlebell training is, in my opinion, the best method for overall strength endurance, fat blasting, cardio endurance, toning, joint stabilizing, and so much more in the most efficient movement patterns inside each workout. One of those movements is the Swing.
The Swing is the foundational movement for everything standing up with the Kettlebell. The movement called the Clean and the Snatch all root directly to that of the Swing. So when beginning Kettlebell training it is vital to do hundreds and even thousands of swings so that you learn how the body is supposed to move and flow with momentum with the bell. To give you an idea, I'll go a bit further into the anatomy of the swing itself. This is what I call: "A Lesson In Kettlebell Crawling".
The swing is but a supporting movement in order to strengthen the posterior chain (everything in the back of your body or what you don't see in the mirror when looking into it) primarily as well as the anterior chain to give support to the posterior. In the movement the body and brain become stronger and more efficient in lifting in that motion so that a natural progression to either the clean or snatch can be made quite effortlessly. Again it is entirely about efficiency and moving efficiently in these movements from one to the next. As long as you progress when you are ready each movement will flow into the next in such a way that there will be very little effort applied by the Crawler so that when beginning to Walk you'll have a strong leg to stand upon.
The easiest way to picture the starting posture I would say to picture a football player who's about to hike the ball.
The legs do in fact bend- it may have been difficult to see in the baggier pants I was wearing. In the forward bending of the swing the spine remains nuetral in that my head follows the bell instead of looking up or straight. When that happens, as in other teachings, the cervical spine impedes. Instead of driving with the legs as in a push press, which recruits the quads a bit more than needed or desired, the hamstrings and glutes are actively recruited to move the bell throught the motion of the swing from between the legs to chest height. The hips are driven upward by these primary muscles as fast as needed in order to create momentum on the bell enough to get it to between chest and eye level height. The arms are used as little as possible and are only a support to the lower body in the entire movement.
Anatomy of the Swing
1. The Grip That Matters Most: When you start, have the bell about 1 foot in front of your feet. Grab the kettlebell in the opposite corner of the bell than the hand that is working with it. NEVER grab the middle of the bell- ever. So if your swinging with you're right hand you grab the left corner and if you're working with your left hand grab the right corner(as pictured) Make the "OK" sign with your hand and put the thumb over the top of the finger. Very, very lightly grip the Kettlebell with your forefinger and thumb- which is called the Lock Grip. The strongest part of your hand is between your forefinger and thumb so it's best to use that area. The other three fingers can be present on the handle, but just don't squeeze with them. By doing that the bell handle will not be aligned efficiently in your palm.
2. What Goes Up: To initiate the swing bring the bell between your legs touching your forearm to your inner thigh as high up on the groin as possible. As soon as your forearms touch your inner thigh move your legs and hips as you would to stand up straight. This will engage your hamstrings and if you do it fast enough the bell will move upward by the momentum of your legs. Imagine that you do not have arms, but only legs and the bell moves solely by the leg and hip generated momentum.
3. Must Come Down: When you go down allow gravity to bring the bell down without actively trying to get it there. Afterall it's going down on its own anyway so let it and simply use your arms to guide it where you want it to go. When it goes between your legs direct the bell so that your forearms again touch high on your inner thighs. This will look kinda like the stance football players get into when they hike the football. Then without blinking an eye begin your upward thrust of your hips again. Thrust your pelvis & hips upward, which will create the needed momentum to bring the bell up to just above chest height. When performing the swing never allow the bell to travel above eye level. So that being said, you will always have the bell travel between your chest and eye level on each and every Swing motion.
4. Idle Hands: You will do very little with your arms. In fact relax both arms and hands as much as possible. Don't have a death grip on it and when you move the weight up, from the thrust of your hips, ever so slightly pull the bell inward so your arms very slightly bend, but not too much. The bell should feel weightless in your arms and hands due to the momentum you generate from your hips.
5. Crack Walnuts With Your Butt Cheeks: When you thrust the bell up with your legs and hips be sure, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, that you squeeze your glutes(butt muscles) as hard as you possibly could. I mean squeeze those suckers so hard that you can crack a walnut between your cheeks. AND u can practice that with your friends for some weekend entertainment... SERIOUSLY though that's how hard you've gotta squeeze your glutes when you thrust the bell upward. That way your lower back turns off as much as possible and your core turns on. If you feel your back working that's okay. Remember we're primarily working the posterior chain and that's the back*. We just want it to work as little as possible compared to your hamstrings, glutes, anterior core, and upper back.
6. Final Thoughts: If you feel your lower back work a lot, first don't be alarmed cause it will be working, but just consciously squeeze your glutes harder. If you're a beginner in your Kettlebell practice don't be surprised if you feel your lower back working a lot and getting stiff after the first couple workouts. That's normal and I encourage you to remember that feeling and focus on cracking your walnuts so that the stiffness doesn't continue to happen. We don't want your lower back to be working predominately over your hamstrings, glutes, and mid-back/shoulders. Keep in mind that the bell should feel weightless in your arms and hands due to the momentum you generate from your hips.
To help you picture it better here's a couple videos by 2 men I very highly respect in Kettlebell technique.
1. AKC Master Coach Mike Stefano teaches the G.S. Swing
2. Honored Master of Sport Valery Fedorenko(who is what Tiger Woods is to golf and what Michael Jordan was to basketball, Valery is to Kettlebell Lifting Sport) performing the Snatch and you can clearly see the blend of the Swing and the Snatch flow together.
7. Suggested Perfect Practice: To get started with kettlebells, and build the proper mind/body connection as well as propell your strength onto new levels, my suggestion is to perform a routine of 100 swings each day for 30 days above and beyond your everyday activity. When you're done that will be 3,000 swings total. The weight does not need to be a lot. Kettlebell training is about ongoing practice and movement efficiency.
What's Coming Next: In the next segment on the "Anatomy of Kettlebell Training" we will be breaking down the Snatch as well as the Clean and Overhead Lockout aka Long Cycle. This is my all time favorite Kettlebell movement and targets every single muscle in the body by incorporating 2 pulls and 2 pushes inside of the one movement. If there is one movement that you can do for the rest of your life that will give you the absolute best overall strength and fitness results Long Cycle would be it.
Thousands of Gireviks can't be wrong. If you have never performed Long Cycle or performed it with proper form or you would not think it would be the best overall full-body functional movement period. Just by looking at it performed non-practitioners would probably think it is bad on the back. In the rack position(bells held at shoulder level with the elbows on the hips) the weight load is not on the back really much at all. It is, however, being "bone stacked" to support everything. Bone Stacking means that the joints are locked in succession in order to allow the bones to take the load. This is phenomenal for building bone density. The muscles are, of course, still impacted; however not nearly as much since the bones are able to support incredible amounts of weight.
Additionally the glutes are activated and when that happens the lumbar spine turns off as much as possible. The abs are definitely, definitely, definitely firing not only since the back is turned off, but because of the movement itself. No matter how you move, with or without weight, the core muscles(all 26 of them) are the first to fire.
The movement of Long Cycle(kettlebell clean and jerk) is doing many things at once. From the very first movement, the clean, you pull the bell(s) up to rack position using the posterior chain. Next it is driven overhead in an explosive manner using many pressing muscles and pulling muscles on the ascend and descend of the bell(s). Then conditioning is effected cardiovascularly as well. So both anaerobic and aerobic thresholds are pushed in a the direction very few other movements, exercises, and lift can match. A top strength and conditioning coach once was asked if there was one exercise that he would ever do and/or recommend doing for the rest of his life which would it be. He said the single arm(dumbbell, kettlebell, etc.) clean and jerk. That would be Long Cycle.
But don't take it from me. View it with those who are much more experienced in GS than I am.
Valery Fedorenko, who is an Honored Master of Sport(which basically means he's the Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan of Girevoy[Kettlebell] Sport), displays the absolute perfect form for the rack position in his various sets displayed in the following videos. Featured in the last video is the current best in the world, Ivan Denisov, as well as Andrew Durniat, Ken Blackburn, Ginko Vasilis, and Roberts Innus.
1. Valery Fedorenko performs a 10 min. Jerks Set Using Two 70lb. Kettlebells and achieving 130 reps to earn Master of Sport:
4. A video analysis of GS champ Valery Fedorenko performing a GS Jerk with two 24 kg bells. The curves on the right are "force to the vertical direction" and "momentum of the weights". The maximum force applied is 1200 N.
Girevoy Sport is about efficiency. You want to focus on every detail- small or large- when looking to be efficient. No matter if you are performing a Jerk, Clean, Press, Long Cycle, etc. you will want to have the same grip and it should be a very efficient one. When you have your grip squeezed tight, fingers straightened out, or fingers fully wrapped around the bell you are essentially using more energy than you want. The Hooked False Grip is what is recommended. First is to be sure to use the "false grip" where your fingers are bent and touching between the handle and your palm. Then you will need to have the "hook grip" around the bell as well with the forefinger and your thumb. Conserve it. False Grip it. The pic is of Valery Fedorenko with the 40kg bell and his perfect false grip. Notice how relaxed the rest of his body is. That is efficiency. That is true Girevoy Sport. More to come on this later...