KP’s Korner: History with Kettlebells (and why you should be doing this movement right)

Categories: COCF

Before I found Crossfit, I used to do a lot of Power lifting, Weightlifting and Kettlebell training in our condo gym. My “Morpheous”-ish trainer/coach would integrate these disciplines into my training for 4 years. Out of the 3, he would put a certain emphasis on kettlebell training and advised me that by doing it right would help movement patterns and translate into the other lifts – power and weightlifting. Of course, being the Neo-phyte that I was, I downed the red pill and followed suit.

We’d work on my swing – drill down on mechanics, do a lot of EMOMs, interval work, hit complexes, and do a lot of KB snatching and cleaning. I said to myself” Ok, been doing this for some time now and I’m actually dying. Hope this is worth something.”

On lift days – whether power or weightlifting, we’d vary loads, do waves and so on and so forth. And gee whiz, lo and behold, my movement patterns would actually be better than I started. Technique improved, and in effect, lifting and moving loads would be easier. Throughout the entire process, the effect of kettlebell training was promoting body awareness throughout the lifts. All the disciplines worked hand in hand – the value of squatting properly, hip hinging, “triple extension” (“Whoa, wait KP, you mean its also done in Kettlebell training? Yes sir/ma’am, better believe it”), and other terminologies/semantics that we hear during any type of lift. It’s also worth noting that we even used Kettlebells as a form of warm up/mobility/flexibility drills such as Halos, Windmills, Arm Bar, Turkish Get Ups — all these are very beneficial to functional fitness. I fully appreciated when the geek in me reconciled with the meathead part I had, and from thereon, KBs would be here to stay in my fitness regimen.

Now, even with Crossfit, I always return to my roots with the Kettlebell. I did a seminar with RKC (different from IKFF) to hone my skills and earned a certification while at it. When training around an injury or scaling a movement like a snatch or clean, the kettlebell is one of the best training modifications and tools you’ll have around. Can’t Front or Back Squat heavy? Then KB Goblet Squat it is. Can’t deadlift heavy? Easy, a KB deadlift should do the trick. Scared of the barbell? Let’s scale with 1 arm snatches or clean & jerks. Want to increase grip strength or endurance? Say hello to farmer’s carries, waiter’s walks and bottom’s ups. Or just swing the KB for reps or intervals as a metcon or “density” workout.

A good portion of fitness coaches and practitioners agree that kettlebell training will establish a good base of strength, power and endurance. But ask yourself “Do I really know how to swing the Kettlebell? Am I firing/recruiting the right muscles for the exercise? Am I meeting the points of performance which/when my coach instructs me to do? Do I have perfect mechanics”. So ask yourself, do you? By doing KB movements right, your actual movement patterns for major lifts – Power and Weightlifting AKA Oly Lifting – will improve as well. No, I’m not guessing, scientific data and evidence proves so.

So when KBs are programmed whether as a skill or metcon, put some commitment and enthusiasm into the movement. Give it a try, there is much more to gain to lose. Get after it!

For more information about Kettlebell Swings influencing lifts, please refer to links below. Happy reading!

http://breakingmuscle.com/kettlebells/kettlebell-programming-transfers-necessary-skills-for-olympic-weightlifting

http://integratedstrength.com/2011/03/blending-kettlebells-and-weightlifting/