Thursday, April 07, 2011

Kettlebell Chronicles - Pavel

Alright I read that book - Enter The Kettlebell - last week. Thankfully my library network had it, saving me some $$$$.

It's written by some Russian dude, Pavel, who's kind of credited with popularizing kettlebells outside of the former Soviet Union.

He preaches that *strength is a skill* not a genetic gift; that the key to building muscle lies in proper form and technique. Are you buying that?

Well I might be. I'm at least open to the hypothesis for the time being. To that end I've been reading up on lifting kettlebells with proper form and technique.

I've never felt so strong in my entire life as I do now - almost like I'm on steroids or something. And that's only from do a wee bit of kettlebell lifting.

Personally I don't think the exercises are that complicated. I don't think you really need to work with a certified kettlebell (RKC) instructor. Just borrow a book and pay attention to the YouTube clips. Heck you can watch someone on YouTube and learn from the critics in the comment thread!

While Tim Ferriss introduced me to them, there's a good amount of instruction out there on the web especially on YouTube. There are websites specializing in the subject; Pavel's site is Dragon Door. And there books like the one above.

Kettlebells are heavy (no $hit!) so you're better off NOT ORDERING them online. Your local Big Box sporting goods store will have them. Craigslist is probably fresh out these days but check anyway because you may get lucky. However the best bet may be to do in-store pickup at Walmart. You order from and they will deliver it for free to your local store or Fedex/Kinkos. That's what I did for my little one (30 lbs) - my first wife's Valentine's Day present.

Women should start at 15-25 lbs. Men should start at 25-45 lbs. Once you move up you can use the original one for one-handed exercises.

While Tim Ferris essentially just recommends *the two-handed swing*, there's also *the clean*, *the clean and press*, *the Turkish get-up*, and *the snatch*. Today was a pretty light day but I managed to do them all as it takes NEGLIGIBLE TIME to do so.

Here's a few clips for visual consumption:

I know most people want to go to yoga, join a fancy gym, hire a personal trainer, try a trendy diet, run, and just stick with the workouts they've done in the past.

It's just that none of that stuff really works - nothing targets the all-important midriff like dangling a heavy kettlebell between your legs does.

Furthermore, the kettlebell swing REALLY helps your posture. See my prior post for more on that. Essentially, perfect posture (i.e. standing TALL, not straight), perfect kinesthetic bending, sleeping, sitting, and walking will actually tone your stomach and hind-quarters. Ever notice that all the beautiful people have terrific posture? Consider that maybe beauty is a *function* proper spine stacking.

And it turns out that *pulling* exercises like the swing really, really help in that endeavor. That's not just my own hypothesis/intuition - Pavel discusses it in his book as well.


paul mitchell said...

It never ceases to amaze me that folks keep thinking they can improve upon eight thousand years of exercise to improve their bodies. Start herding goats instead.

CaptiousNut said...

Kettlebells were supposedly invented in Russia in the 1700s.

paul mitchell said...

Yeppers, and that is my point. Today, you have a bunch of sissies trying to sell the Ab-Roller Plus #3 and the Tamco 3000 to get a flat stomach. Do the work, get the body you want. Of course, the body sculpting thing is a relatively new phenomenon, even though we had Samson and Hercules in the past.

(Hercules was real, was he not?)

CaptiousNut said...

Of course he was. I watched him fight Skeletor on my Zenith all the time!

CaptiousNut said...

You know there's go to be a *high intensity/low rep* approach to perfecting the golf swing too.

I'm thinking it may have to do with hitting balls, a lot of them, left-handed.

paul mitchell said...

But, wouldn't hitting the ball from the wrong side start grooving your swing the wrong way? I have noticed that my flexibility turning to the right is much diminished from the rotation I can perform turning to the left. Know what I mean?

CaptiousNut said...

I meant hitting them *with just your left-hand*.

John Daly hits, chips, and putts with one-hand (left) all day long.

And he uses the time freed up to drink, gamble, and chase classy women.

paul mitchell said...

I thought you were talking about hitting them sissy style. Of course, I am not really big on playing the game like Daly, though.

Anne Galivan said...

I'm looking forward to getting kettlebells for me and my 17-year old son. Thanks for all the tips (previously and here).

My son has actually been doing Turkish get-ups without any weight and says he's noticing a difference. Apparently that exercise is challenging either way. (Good for balance too I would think.)

In any case, I find it bothersome at the least that the whole focus these days seems to be getting "six-pack abs." How many people really have them? If people would focus instead on strengthening their core (which is crucial for preventing back problems) and getting fit, maybe more people would actually achieve their goals. Just my take.

CaptiousNut said...


Tell your son to add a small dumbbell to the get-ups.

Is that the golfer?

Tell him the kettlebell swing with a heavy weight (45lbs+) does an unbelievable job targeting the core/golf muscles. Plus it will strengthen his grip.

Anne Galivan said...

I will pass along your tip.

Actually the one doing the get-ups is my 17-year old who is the baseball player.

I have informed my golfer (he's 23) about the kettlebells helping his swing. He seems interested.