Thursday, April 19, 2018

So what's up with this new kettlebell program?

Dave just updated his content at Notice the strong and stable half kneel that Isabella has during the TGU. Do that!
This week we started a new 6-week kettlebell strength cycle. I tried this one out in January before we all did the TSC prep program. The combination of volume and strength work just resonated with me really well - so I figured you all should try it out.

When you read about kettlebell strength work on the internet, you get two camps of people: the kettlebell converts (like me) who insist that these strange cannon balls with handles can make you crazy strong (wiry strength, comrade). And those folks that say that you can't get strong without lifting heavy weights, and since you can load a barbell more than you can a kettlebell, that the kettlebells will never produce strong people - they're wrong.

Here's my personal results with the first time I ran through this program. I've been stalled (or really, just slowing) on my barbell lifts. Putting on about 5 lbs a year on my PRs on the squat and deadlift. It's understandable, I'm no longer a novice, the easy gains are gone, and I'm getting older, so staying the same is now considered a win.

On any day, after warming up, I can squat 315, and if all goes well I can get up near 350 depending on how I feel.  Likewise, on any given day I can deadlift about 425 and if all goes well (like it did at the TSC) I can get 460+.  The 315 and 425, however, are not easy. I can double or triple them on a good day, but it's a struggle and I grind them out.

After taking 6 weeks totally away from the barbell and just doing this kettlebell work (the same program you're doing now), I decided to do a squat and deadlift day, just to get back to the bar before I got into the TSC prep program. Since it was day 1 back to the barbell, I didn't want to hit any PRs, but I did want to go pretty heavy. All of a sudden, I easily did 315 for 5. I never lifted 315 for 5, and this time it wasn't even a grind. I stood up fast and the bar was bouncing off my shoulders at the top.

That was cool. I was still feeling pretty strong, so I put 425 on the bar and easily deadlifted it for 5, then I put another 30 on and did a single at 455 (99%) with no trouble.

Now, those aren't great numbers in the world of lifting - I know that, I'm not bragging - I'm just trying to give you some context as to where I was and what happened after 6 weeks of focused kettlebell work.

Mark also tested the program out with me and got similar results. And as we all know N=2 is enough for a study :)

I think the explosive movements, the precision, and most importantly, the tension you have create all work together in the kettlebell lifts to make you much stronger than you think you could get without a barbell.

The corollary to this is that you may be strong with the barbell lifts and think that you should be lifting heavy kettlebells and find out that your kettlebells are lighter than your ego wants them to be. Be patient and use the appropriate kettlebell for each lift. You will get stronger! And don't listen to those people who tell you that the only way to get strong it to lift heavy barbells every day.

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

deadlift 5-3-3-3x3
5 heavy swings between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

press 5x(2+2) heavy
double clean 3x5 light
half snatch 3x(5+5) light
double front squat 5x5 medium