Powerlifting and Kettlebells

September 26, 2003 09:26 AM

Years ago I started bodybuilding with the goal of increasing my strength. Then in 1997 I made a switch to Powerlifting and started competing that same year. I hope the lessons I have learned will help you in your training.

I have tried many different Pl programs with mixed results. My weakest lift has been the Bench Press since I tore my right pec years ago while overtraining. Then last year in a PL competition held in Bavaria I dislocated my shoulder. I needed a way to rehabilitate my shoulder. I had been reading all of Pavel's books and his information on the web and thought that after I rested my shoulder for a few weeks that this is where I would start my rehab.

I started with kettlebell swings and slowly went up in weight and reps. I had a hard time even doing a military press with 16 KG. I kept my routine light and easy: only KB swings. A couple of months later I gave the snatches a whirl and it was "love at first snatch". My shoulder was responding well and I was in need of heavier KB's. I followed Comrade Rumi's style and slowly progressed up until I was doing 10 sets of 8 reps with a 32kg KB. I was happy. Then I thought I was ready for the MP. And, to my surprise, the 16 kg was pretty easy. I popped off 8 reps to start with. Protecting the injured shoulder, I started with the KB overhead. Two weeks later I was able to press it from the shoulder. At the same time I had begun a Power to the People! cycle with my SQ and BP. My starting squat weight was 100kg for the 1st set; over the next couple of weeks I built it up to 160kg or the 1st set. My bench press started with 50 kg and went up to 85 kg in the same time frame. I felt good. I ended my workouts in this cycle with KB snatches and MPs. And always remembered to watch out for signs of fatigue.

Then it was time to start my 2nd PTP SQ cycle and ladders for the BP. For my Deadlift training I used Comrade Garm's DL program. For Squats I started to use a belt and wraps to get into the groove for the meet. I started with 130kg in the 1st set, always without a belt or wraps. 150kg for the 2nd set, always with my belt and wraps. This worked out great and I then went up to 170kg for 5 reps and then finished with 190kg for 5 reps. I was also performing the DL standing on blocks with 170kg for 5 reps.

In the BP I was doing Ladders - 92,5kg -1,2,3 times 4 sets. Two times a week. My KB training was going great and I was doing twice per week. Snatches with 25kg, 40reps each arm, and then MP 6 sets of 5 reps with the 16 kg kb. I was now ready for my big squat (so I thought). I had a pretty easy time with 160 kg for 3 sets of 3 reps. And then it happened. I believe I tore my groin muscle. Whoa! Talk about pain!! I think the reason for this was a combination of heavy squats with deadlifts off the blocks. Translated -I overtrained.

The next few days were quite painful. Then I thought I would "try" a few swings with the 16 kg. To my amazement the stiffness began to dissipate. I started to squat again but only with 60 kg and added 20 kg every other day over a period of time while healing. I was able to get back to 190 kg at 3 sets of 2 reps and then up to 200 kg for 2 sets of 2 reps (with a belt and wraps). For DL I did a few sets of doubles and singles waving the weights every workout. And with the BP I only did 2 sets of 2 reps. In the weeks preceding my last competition I waved the weights as recommended by great strength coach Bill Starr. His advice: work up to an all-out set for the specified reps on Monday, 80% of that weight for the same reps on Wednesday, and then a medium workout with 90% of your heavy day. On heavy days I began to wear a squat suit. One or two days a week I did some snatches just for a few sets. 3 weeks before my competition I only did one set of snatches once a week up to 25 reps each arm with a 32kg KB.

Meet results:

1st attempt -215 kg.
2nd attempt -225 kg.
3d attempt ?missed 230 kg. I missed the groove and failed.

Bench Press

1st attempt -100kg
2nd attempt ?missed 105 kg
3d attempt ?missed 105 kg


1st attempt -220 kg
2nd attempt -235 kg
3d attempt -240 kg (530 lbs.)

Bodyweight 91.9 kg
Age 39

New Personal Goals: To reduce my bodyweight to 83 kg and yet maintain the same strength in a new weight class. I hope to reach my goal by the end of June. I believe the KB's will be a big help in burning off the fat.

My Training Philosophy:

2. Watch out for signs of overtraining and fatigue at the end of your cycle.
3. Use only 3 - 5 exercises.
4. Tension is the key to strength.

I like KB training, as well as my powerlifting. So I have found a way to incorporate both into my training. Thanks to Pavel and the dragondoor.com forum for all your help.