The US Department of Energy Kettlebell Man Maker

June 14, 2002 08:07 AM

Okay, comrades, it's been eighteen months since I picked up my first kettlebell. I'm a retired Army Special Forces Master Sergeant and a certified kettlebell instructor. After twenty years in the Army, I thought PT had to be four to ten miles of running a day along with the daily dozen (pushups, sit-ups, you name it!) My lower back was shot. My knees and ankles ached from years of parachute landing falls and countless days under the pain bag (anyone who's been there knows).

As soon as I retired, I was hired by a government agency and became partners in pain with Jeff Martone, who is one of Pavel's excellent kettlebell instructors, a master of physical fitness and combat. Jeff designed a super physical training program for our agency using PTP concepts, bodyweight exercises and kettlebells. Within three months of working with Jeff, the KBs, and our PT program, my body started to recover. Then in February 2001, I went to Pavel's RKC instructor certification program in St. Paul, MN. It was fantastic, plus training under the "Evil One" was worth the price of admission. Now, eighteen months later, my back feels great and my legs are like tree trunks. What I would have paid for this fifteen years ago!

I keep my routines simple. I run thirty minutes twice a week and work KBs three days a week, consisting of presses, and snatches, in between KB sets I do one legged squats or Hindu squats for a duration of 20 to 45 minutes this will really keep your heart rate up. I finish with an ab drill. I feed a towel through the handle of a KB and swing it around as if doing a hammer throw. This really works the abs and the rib cage muscles along with the legs and forearms. It is also a very good balance exercise, perfect way to end a KB workout, but be sure you grip the ground with your toes. You can vary your swing and increase the difficulty by varying the height of your swing and the length of your towel. It feels great and it works.

A sample workout: 50 snatches each arm, 1 minute rest, then 3 to 5 one legged squats, or 50 Hindu squats, 1 minute rest. 40 snatches each arm, 1 minute rest, 3 to 5 one legged squats, or 50 Hindu squats. Continue down to 10 snatches with each arm, and keep up the squat sequence. You may break the number of snatches up as 50 snatches 25 reps right, 25 reps left and repeat to 50 reps; do not let KB's touch the ground. Once snatches are done I'll do 3 to 5 sets of either the simultaneous or the see-saw press for 10 to 15 reps. I prefer the simultaneous press you can get more leg action. Keep doing one legged squats or Hindu squats between sets. I finish with 3 sets of the ab routine mentioned.

When I'm feeling crazy I have a smoker of a workout seen in the June 2002 edition of Muscle Media, page 93. I do snatches for high repetitions; for those new to KB's or weak of heart swings can be used. Do 10 to 75 snatches with each arm depending on your ability level, be sure that you use good form, dig your toes in, and at the top of your snatch or swing hold for a second. Breathing is important, get a good rhythm going. Once done with your snatches jog -don't run! - quarter of a mile, jogging lets your heart and body recover, if you are running fast it means you didn't do enough repetitions with your KB.

Continue this routine for 2 miles or farther or till you leave a lung on the ground. This is a fat buster and a cardio gut check but the great thing is you can always make it harder or easier by tweaking the number of repetitions. Comrades, as the Evil One says, you'll be dead meat ? but much leaner dead meat. De Oppresso Liber.

A sample workout: This workout consists of the same snatch routine, high rep snatches, but no rest and no squats, just a quarter mile jog. 50 snatches, 40, 30, 20, 10 with each arm, and immediately into a quarter mile jog. If you need more time to get your heart rate down jog a little more. Also you can add or subtract reps, but this routine is guaranteed to please.

Lessons Learned:

1. Do not run prior to KB workout, the KB will win.
2. When possible train without shoes.
3. High repetition snatches are a beautiful thing.
4. People of all ages can benefit from KB training.
5. KB training will help your run times.
6. KB training in a park will get lots of looks and questions. Convert them.