Monday, May 9, 2011

Kettlebell Training Versatility and Continuation of the Learning Process

One of the greatest benefits of Russian Kettlebell Training, besides blowtorching bodyfat and getting stronger, is its ability to physically prepare you for ANYTHING. I train with kettlebells, and I feel I can go into any bootcamp or jump into any sport and be able to not only hang, but excel. I typically train with people that are 10-18 years younger than I am, and I have no problem keeping up.

But even more important than the supposed differences in training methods, there are common threads that run through all sorts of training. I got the opportunity to join in a boot camp workout the other day. The workout of the day prescribed for me was:

3 Rounds of:
* 50 Double Unders
* 50 Kettlebell Swings (70lb)
* 50 Push Presses (95lb barbell)
==> I finished in 31:21, which is not elite or even good. The double unders slowed me down. This is not suprising, since over 90% of the double unders that I have done in my life were done in this workout. What was suprising was the things that I have learned in just this workout that transfer over to the snatch test:

1) Timing/Technique: When doing double unders, rope has to go under you twice. That does not mean that it has to make two full revolution around your body. It really only has to make 1.00001. You want to start your jump right as the rope is going under you. In my case, it takes 2 to 4 singles in between double under attempts. Those that are skilled at it are doing with 1 or no singles in between. In the snatch test, depending on the test, you want to either execute each snatch with at little effort as possible or execute each rep as fast as possible. Wasted motion/energy has not part in the equation. Here is a simple test. If you are doing max VO2 snatching, and you "can't" get 9 reps in 15 seconds with a light bell - YOU HAVE TIMING ISSUES. Usually they are:
* You start your "second pull" too late and the elbow separates from the body.
* You start the downward motion by pushing the bell forward rather than breaking the elbow.
* Your hips go back to early on the downstroke. This causes a wider arc.
* You lead the snatch with your arms instead of your hips.

2) Counsel: Since a lot of insights come from doing, learn from people who can do it and get their clients to do it, not just from people who have read about it, internet experts, or people who make excuses about not being able to do it. It is amazing to see how much bad advice there is on the snatch test FROM PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER PASSED IT. If you haven't passed it, your only answer should be "I don't know, but I know someone who does."

3) Learn to rest under load: In the double unders, learn to relax while doing single. In the push presses, learn to rest in the overhead position. Both of these let you eliminate time resetting the bar. In the snatch test, even though you can put the bell down, don't. Learn to rest at the top. By the way, learning to rest at the top is just that: Resting. Open your hand will force you to relax.

4) Breaking up sets: The key to passing the snatch test is to keep the bell moving. My strategy has always been simple. Get a big chunk out of the way with only one hand switch (for me that was 35L/35R) without the bell slowing down, then keep it in the air. In getting that "big chunk" out of the way, you don't want to do so many that the bell starts slowing down or your grip becomes the limiting factor. It is similar with the push presses. If your limit is 15, do 10-12. As you get closer to your limits, recovery time goes up don't want that. Let bar speed and speed between reps be your guide on both.

For the push presses, I did 10-12 reps at first, and had to finish with between 6 and 8. I know that if I did 10, I could rest for about 20s and be good to go. If I did 15, it would be closer to 1 minute.

So the general rule in the snatch test would be:
* Get your big chunk early (20-35L/20-35R), but the chunks shouldn't be so big that you get fatigued and need a lot of rest. For most people this will be between 60 and 75% of your max reps. In the snatch test, any time you lose early you can't get back.

* Chip away at the remaining reps between hand switches to keep from dropping the bell.

So in the workout my round split time were:

Round 1: 10:24
Round 2: 10:10 (my double unders were slightly faster, push presses slightly slower)
Round 3: 10:47 (double unders were slower/more misses)

Pretty consistent times. That is what general conditioning is going to do. You can walk into any boot camp or workout and have the conditioning, strength, and joint mobility to do what they do. You are ready for anything! But also keep in mind, you can learn from anything too!

No comments: