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Kettlebells and Olympic Weightlifting

October 20, 2004 01:10 PM

I have been involved in Olympic weightlifting since 1964 when I was a student and football athlete at the University of Notre Dame. Luckily for me, my coaches were Fr. BHB Lange, the strong man priest of fameat Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian, the legendary football coach that brought Notre Dame back to prominence in the 60s. I mention these two coaches because their influence and encouragement motivated me to become a strength coach after my athletic days were over. Today I am a strength coach at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, California and because of these two mentors I use the Olympic lifts in our training of athletes and students alike.

As a strength coach I have made it a policy to learn from others and to take what I like from what I learn and incorporate that information into my training philosophy. One of my athletes, Josh Everett, is the strength coach at the University of California at Riverside and a former graduate assistant under Ethan Reeve, the strength coach at Wake Forest. Josh suggested that I read an article by Ethan Reeve dealing with the use of kettlebells in training of athletes at Wake Forest. I read the article and then contacted Ethan about the use of kettlebells in training athletes and I must say I have not looked back. It's the best thing I have done since becoming a strength coach.

Today, I train my Olympic weightlifters during their strength cycle with kettlebells two days per week out of the five days per week that they normally train. Three of the days are based on the Olympic movements, the snatch, the clean and jerk, and either the back squat or the front squat. In addition, we may do some overhead squats, very heavy snatch and clean pulls, as well as core movement patterns. Two days per week then we use kettlebells to strengthen the functional as well as the foundational muscle groups. I have found that my athletes are much stronger in all areas when they use the kettlebell. In addition, I have found that when one uses kettlebells their unilateral strength patterns are greatly enhanced, as well as their rotational strength patterns. For example, I have a couple of athletes that had problems holding the jerk in the top position for the time it requires to be successful in the lift. Performing kettlebell presses and even kettlebell snatches strengthened each muscle group unilaterally giving the athlete the needed 'functional' strength to hold the weight in the correct position.

Individuals like Pavel, John Davies, Ethan Reeve, and their willingness to share information about training of athletes as well as individuals have made me a better strength coach. I have taken this information as well as opened my mind to additional applications of getting athletes trained on a functional basis.

I break down the kettlebell training cycle into what I call 'sequences' and a sequence is a series of lifts in the super-set or tri-set fashion without rest. Individual exercises such as snatches or clean and presses with the KBs follow the 'You go, I go' philosophy with the only rest between sets is the time that your partner requires to do his particular set.

I am sure you will see the benefit of using this kind of structure in training your athletes on a functional strength basis. The individuals that I have put on this program have made superior progress in their Olympic lifts records. In fact, two of our kids, Collin Ito and Gerry Hernandez, both 15-year-old 105+ Olympic weightlifters have qualified for the National Jr. Championships as well as the National School Age Championships both to be held later in 2003.

Here is their workout:

SEQUENCE ONE:

1. WALKING LUNGES WITH 40 KG X 10 STEPS EACH LEG
2. STEP UPS X 10 WITH 40 KG EACH LEG
3. LYING CHINS X 10

Lying chins are for the big boys; both of my kids weigh 270 or so. I put a bar on the power rack, in the bench position. I put either a physio-ball or a bench for their feet. They grab the bar, put their feet on the ball or bench, make their bodies parallel to the ground, and pull their chests up to the bar. They lower their bodies down while staying off the ground and repeat.

SEQUENCE TWO:

1. HURDLE SQUATS USING 2 POOD X 10
2. STEP UPS X 10
3. LYING CHINS X 10


SEQUENCE THREE:

1. HIP SQUATS ON BLOCKS + UPRIGHT ROW: 10+10 USING 2 POOD
2. STEP UPS X 10
3. LYING CHINS X 10


SEQUENCE FOUR:

1. 2 ARM SWING USING 2 POOD X 10 + 1 ARM SWING USING 1.5 X 10, 10 SETS. YOU GO/I GO DICTATES REST PERIOD. NORMALLY 2-3 KIDS ARE IN A GROUP.

SEQUENCE FIVE:

1. 1 ARM SNATCHES USING 1.5. 10 SETS X 3+3 ON THE MINUTE. I HAVE THREE 1.5 POODS AT MY SCHOOL AND AT MY HOME.

SEQUENCE SIX:

1. WOOD CHOPPERS USING A 5 KG MED BALL ON A ROPE. ATHLETES SWING THE BALL LIKE CHOPPING WOOD. BALL HITS PLYWOOD PLATFORM THAT I USE TO THE RIGHT AND THEN TO THE LEFT WORKING CORE, ROTATIONAL MUSCLE GROUPS. WE HIT FOR 60 SEC CONTINUOUS WANTING A MINIMUM OF 40 CONTACTS PER SET. REST DEPENDS ON NUMBER IN THE GROUP USUALLY NO MORE THAN 3 IN A GROUP. 3 SETS ARE PERFORMED. (SEE ATTACHED)


SEQUENCE SEVEN:

1. WHEELBARROW: "THE BEAST!!!!" HERE WE USE A 320 LB. FILLED WHEEL BARROW. THE ATHLETES START OUT AT THE TOP OF MY 90 MTR 15% GRADE DRIVEWAY. THEY PUSH THE "BEAST" DOWN THE DRIVE, REST 2 MINUTES AND THEN START TO THE TOP!! BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU THAT THEY ARE IN SEVERE OXYGEN DEPT WHEN THEY REACH THE TOP OF THE DRIVE!!! PAVEL WOULD BE ALL SMILES SEEING THIS ENDEVOR. I HAVE ATTATCHED A PIC OF MY 14 YR OLD SON, CODY WHO IS ONE OF MY OLYMPIC LIFTERS AS WELL AS A STUDLY BASEBALL PLAYER. THE "BEAST" IS ON THE RIGHT!!! 320 LBS!!


We do have other sequences we follow, for example we do bear crawls down hill and then back up the hill backwards. The athletes love that one! Another sequence is the torpedo carry. Carry 75 lb. torpedoes down and up the drive. They love that one as well!!!

In conclusion I must say that Pavel, John Davies, Ethan Reeve have done wonders in the building of athletes arena. It amazes me that they are so giving in their time as well as their knowledge. As a 56-year-old strength coach I have learned more from these coaches in the last five months that I have in years. Thanks, men!

If anyone desires information about the program I have submitted or help in the Olympic lifts, do not hesitate to contact me at olylfts1@aol.com.​
 

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