For the past week I have been in Belarus doing a job for a client (Belarus is a great country located between Poland and Russia). While here I have been fortunate enough to meet some really great Girevik's (Kettlebell lifters in Russian). They are all strong looking guys, some small some tall, they are highly muscular people who have a very low body fat percentage.
I was fascinated with their skill and strength, they were also surprised with my strength as they thought an Australian wouldn't know much about being a Girevik. Anyway I felt compelled to ask many questions as I know all of these guys could reach a master of sports ranking if they wanted to, they say that they lift kettlebells for health and for something to do, it really takes iron will to get high rep sets with the 24 or 32 kilogram bells.
I asked what their secret was for getting as lean as they do and a big guy came over, he was massive and his body fat looked like it was made of rice paper, it was almost non-existent the following is an interview with him that he has allowed me to re-produce, he was able to speak very good English which helped as my Russian, it wasn't near as good.
[ Simon: ] Vladimir thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me.
Vladimir: Your welcome comrade.
[ Simon: ] Vlad can you tell me a little about yourself?
Vladimir: I was born in the Ukraine but moved at an early age to Russia with my family as my father was an officer in the soviet army. I spent many years travelling around the Soviet Union and after I had served in the army I moved to Belarus which was a Soviet state back then.
[ Simon: ] How old were you when you first started to use kettlebells and why?
Vlad: I started to use kettlebells when I was about 13 years old, I became a girevik because I was a small child at the time and hadn't had what you might call a "growth spurt". I wanted to get stronger because Russia is a tough place to grow up and it is better to be strong, both
mentally and physically. I used to fight a lot and my father actually gave me his old Giryas (Kettlebells in Russian) that he had managed to get the Army to pay for.
My father was always very big on me looking after myself and he was a strong man himself, he would always tell me that in the great patriotic war (WWII) it was his mental and physical strength that saved his life many times and he would always tell me that he got both of these qualities from being a girevik.
[ Simon: ] That's amazing, many Girevik's that I know are very strong in the mind, would you say that it is an important aspect to being strong?
Vlad: Without a doubt, you cannot be strong if you have a weak mind, its like a weapon, if you have a gun that is going to fall apart then the bullet will not be as straight and it will be a waste of time. One better example of this is a commando, they have to march and run for a long time carrying everything that they need, if they think they can't do it then they will never do it and will die.
I think the term "only the strongest survive" is absolutely correct.
[ Simon: ] I agree, I was just thinking that if your dad served in WWII how old would that make you?
Vlad: Take a guess comrade.
[ Simon: ] Don't be offended but I would have to say at least 67. (Right now I'm looking at this man thinking that he is about to kick my arse until he starts laughing).
Vlad: You are very close, lets just say that I have grandchildren and they are expecting kids.
[ Simon: ] That's amazing how do you maintain the look of youth about you?
Vlad: I am a Girevik, I swim in cold water every day and I don't eat junk. I
sleep well every night, I still have a good sex life. However, I enjoy the occasional smoke and I always have vokda. One thing that I noticed when I was in America was that everything was convenient but you needed a credit card over there and if you try to buy a coffee you can't get a normal coffee.
No one in Russia has died because they didn't have a credit card. Russia is a very tough place and I wouldn't be surprised if in 20 years a lot of America is overweight and they have robots doing their every day jobs for them.
[ Simon: ] I found that America is very convenient as is Australia but I am definitely enjoying the different pace over here in Belarus. Do you have any advice on people staying lean?
Vlad: I actually made a routine for my overweight uncle that he just loves, it is simple but it gets the job done. You will do the following routine for 4 weeks and at the end of those four weeks you will wake up skinny. You start out by finding some kettle bells [can use dumbbells] that are of a medium difficulty on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You will do as many reps as you can do. With the how do you say… long cycle
clean and jerk.
Now when you have done that, do lots of abdominal exercises. I like to do hanging leg raises, they are the best abdominal drill any Girevik could choose to do. On Tuesday and Thursday you will do an exercise that I saw you doing, but I don't know how many people out there would know it. It's called a press with a side lean (side press), you will do high volume as many lots of five reps as possible then rest for 10 minutes and do pull-ups as many sets as you did for the side press. For rest between your exercise you should just wait no more than two minutes.