Through my school years, I was an athlete in various sports that worked hard off the field to improve my game in each sport. This ‘off the field’ work included weight training, running, and other skill work. However, I hardly noticed how much the traditional weight training had bulked me up and tightened me up, making me less functional over time. I was perhaps stronger, but my faulty training approach led to a less agile and deconditioned body. My career as an athlete ended with a slew of injuries due in large part to the dysfunctional body that my dysfunctional training had created. Although, at the time, I chalked it up to bad luck. As my disappointment and frustration persisted, I wondered, ‘What can I do to efficiently improve strength, conditioning, and mobility so that I can function better for sports and the real world?’
Eventually, I ran across an article by an interesting Russian fellow named Pavel Tsatouline. I remember being challenged in my thinking to the very principles that I had been using for years in my training. Could he be telling the truth? But everyone seemed to be training the same way I was….surely, we all couldn’t be using the wrong approach. Is there really a better way to train that would incorporate strength, conditioning, and mobility all in one package?
Seven years ago, I began lugging in this strange contraption to various gyms in Raleigh getting the strangest looks and comments from people like ‘you’re going to hurt yourself with that thing.’
What is a ‘kettlebell’?
‘A cannon ball with a handle’ is the often used description of the now popular Russian Kettlebell. They certainly are not so strange anym0re, as they are seemingly popping up in every gym in America. The kettlebell goes way back, it first appeared in a Russian dictionary in 1704 (Cherkikh, 1994). So popular were kettlebells in Tsarist Russia that any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or ‘a kettlebell man’. They are now considered by many professional trainers and coaches to be the ultimate tool for extreme all-round fitness. “Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics,” reported Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.
What makes a Russian Kettlebell so special? Some may say it is the kettlebell design that inherently makes it better than other free weight and machine training, but I say it is also the quality of the teacher and the training system that is equally as important and beneficial to the kettlebell trainees success.
Join me in my next blog as I discuss ‘the whos’ and ‘the whys’ of Russian Kettlebell training.