Overwhelm your opponents with unrelenting strength-endurance. Drive directly through their defense with a posterior chain that simply will not quit and easily shame your competition into submission with the agility and speed of a tiger.
Originally used by Russian wrestlers and turn of the century strongmen, the Russian kettlebell, is making an explosive reentry into the world of strength and conditioning.
Let's face it, when that buzzer sounds or that bell rings the last thing you want to worry about is your conditioning. As those last seconds tick away in the fourth quarter or it's the final seconds of a grueling match, the farthest thing from your mind should be fatigue. Everything should be in check well before your competition begins. Everything should be perfect, your endurance, your dynamic flexibility and your explosiveness.
Unfortunately, many training programs attempt to develop these qualities separately. Russian kettlebells offer superior conditioning in one simple but effective training tool. Drills performed with a kettlebell will add all new dimensions to the same drills performed with their barbell and dumbbell counterparts.
Range Of Benefits
Kettlebells are used mostly to train the Olympic lifts and their variations. These movements performed with kettlebells possess much greater ranges of motion, increasing your dynamic flexibility and extreme range strength. Due to their displaced center of gravity, kettlebells are much harder to control, placing increased demands on agility, proprioception and core stabilization.
Finally, during the lifts, the kettlebell will actually rotate around the wrist forcing the athlete to contend with the ballistic shock, a boon for athletes involved in combat or contact sports. Below are some comparisons between a kettlebell snatch and a barbell snatch as well as a kettlebell front squat and a barbell front squat.
Notice how the kettlebell starts slightly behind the feet. This beginning posture loads the hips and hamstrings especially well. Increasing the prestretch which provides for a much more powerful hip drive than its barbell counterpart.
Check out these two exercise comparisons. The range of motion and effectiveness of the lift is maximiaed with the use of the kettlebells instead of the standard barbell.
Beginning Phase of Snatch Comparison
Front Squat Comparison
In the barbell front squat notice how the arms are able to remain relaxed. Not so in the KB front squat. The entire shoulder complex is forced to stabilize the kettlebell during the movement. Due to the weights resting on the outside of the forearms, the athlete must strive to keep their elbows tight along their sides, making the kettlebell version much more than a leg drill.
Build A Strong Kettlebell Core
I don't care what sport you participate in - a strong core is absolutely essential. Think of the muscles that make up your core as the hinge that connects your upper and lower bodies. It doesn't matter how strong that door is, if the hinge is weak, then that door is weak. It is the same with your body.
If you cannot stabilize, transfer and generate appropriate force from your core, then you will be ineffective, regardless of how strong your other body parts may be.
Kettlebell Core Exercises
With this in mind, let us take a look at some forgotten exercises that will take your core conditioning to the next level.
This movement resembles the Triangle pose in Yoga. You may get the KB overhead however you like, (clean + jerk, press). Kick out the hip on the side that is supporting the KB, so your leg and your overhead arm form a straight line. Maintain most of your weight on this foot. Point this same foot slightly to the inside, about 30 percent.
Look up at the KB the entire time and fold at the hip until you reach the limits of your flexibility. Contract your glutes and come up following the same exact path that you took down. Do not twist at any time during this movement.
Lie on your back with a KB held directly over your shoulder. This arm should remain vertical throughout the entire movement. Bend the knee on the side that has the KB. Rise up onto the opposite elbow. Rise up onto your hand. Next, bring your straight leg back onto your knee, into a lunge position. Stand up. Come down by finding the ground with your knee, then your hip, hand, elbow and then finally lie down.
These movements should be introduced into your routine slowly. 1 set of 5 reps is a perfect starting point and progress from there. Always keep the volume low with these drills however. Quality of movement is much more important than quantity when dealing with the Windmill and the Turkish-Getup. One added benefit of these movements is the increase in dynamic shoulder stability developed by stabilizing the KB throughout the entire drill in many different positions.
Get ready to feel more athletic, more stable and more confident in all your endeavors. Develop a rock-solid, flexible and highly functional core musculature simply by introducing these long lost treasures into your routine.
Athletes are busy people. Their program must address all of their conditioning needs in one superb and highly affective format. Many programs claim to have the answers, but where others claim, kettlebells deliver.
Make Sure To Check The Bodybuilding.com Kettlebell Exercise Database!
About The Author
Jason C. Brown NSCA-CPT is SportSpecific.com's Kettlebell Expert and sports performance specialist located in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at Jason@kettlebellathletics.com