Warning! Russian Kettlebells are not for the uninitiated or those of weak minds and bodies. Russian Kettlebells are hardcore, hardwork training tools that will help to reshape your physique and rev up your metabolism.
A kettlebell is a cast iron weights that looks like a cannon ball with a handle. Known as a “girya,” kettlebells have been a traditional Russian tool for extreme all-around fitness since the beginning of the 1700’s.
In this century, Russian Master of Sport Pavel Tsatsouline has been the number one proponent of bringing this old school method of training back to the masses. Another great read is Pavel’s “purposely primitive” approach to strength training as detailed in his book “Power to the People: Russian Strength Secrets for Every American.”
Back to the kettlebells. The giryas come in all sizes big and small, starting with a 4kg (9 lb/.25 poods) cutie and going all the way up to a 40kg (88 lb/2.5 poods) behemoth.
Despite the abject failure of the United States Government to force the metric system down our throats during the 1970’s, everyone is pretty familiar with the measure of weight known as the “kilogram.” The “pood,” however, is a less-familiar unit of weight that relates to about 16 kgs/35 lbs per pood. This one pood girya is a good starting point for those men and women who have a serious base in strength and power training.
The benefits of kettlebell trainings are many. Training according to Pavel’s diktat can help push you to higher levels of all-around fitness and make you more capable; ramp up your metabolism without the bother of the time-wasting pursuits of diet and aerobics; increase endurance; and develop a killer combination of strength-with-flexibility. All this, plus train your body in a functional manner with the most portable heavy-duty equipment available.
My staff has been working with the 12 kg (26 lb/.75 poods) and the 16 kg (35lb/1 pood) kettlebells since August of 2004 and love them. The giryas offer a great change of pace and break up the monotony of a regular training regime. We have also sprung some kettlebell work on our unsuspecting clients, and they have given us a ton of positive feedback regarding the kettlebell sessions and their aftermath.
With kettlebell training you can do everything from swing the girya with two hands up over your head to performing hang cleans and snatches. You can squat with them, military press them, throw them and any thing else that you can think of. There’s no limit to what you can do with a girya. However, you must have an open mind and a commitment to hard work to get the most out of this style of training.
And if you are a golfer, I guarantee that if used properly, training with a kettlebell will add more distance to your drives than any other method of training.
Despite the assertion in the kettlebell advertising that people can just jump right in to this kind of training, I do not feel that the kettlebell techniques can be learned in one or two sessions, and/or that intense training can begin during the first or second week. Unless of course a person wants to experience an injury, that is.
So here’s what we recommend, especially for beginners.
Purchase a 2 lb Power Grip Ball (http://www.power-systems.com) and the 12 kg kettlebell along with Pavel’s instructional DVD/VHS “The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.
The Power Grip Ball - at 2 pounds or so – is a key purchase as it will allow you to perform the lifts demonstrated on Pavel’s DVD with a high degree of safety. And you will also be able to practice inside. Think about it, do you want to be swinging a 26-pound ball around your house or gym? When you drop the girya, and you will drop it when you are first learning how to swing, you want to make sure that you don’t break or kill anything or anyone.
From a production standpoint the instructional DVD is very bare bones, but then the atmosphere matches the very no-nonsense tone of this style of training. Pavel’s dead-panned, instructions are almost funny but this style doesn’t get in the way of the serious business of learning the kettlebell movements.
Pavel’s approach is a welcome relief from the usual hyperventilating that seems to accompany the selling of anything fitness related.
Just keep it simple and limit your purchase to one girya and the DVD/VHS.
Let me know how your kettlebell experience is!