A Year Without Barbells

Sounds kind of sad: "a year without barbells…” 

It was actually fun, as I finished up the Spring TSC last year I got in the mood to really focus on my kettlebell work. I was intrigued by the Easy Reg Park program and a bunch of the AGT/A+A stuff that was getting hot this time last year so I wanted to give it an honest effort and see how well I'd do. 

I got a few followers (I've always wanted to be a cult leader...) to join me in the great kettlebell experiment. We tested the predecessors to many of the kettlebell programs you did in the last year, so in addition to just being a fun experiment to see if kettlebells alone would keep you strong, it also helped me to hone the S&C programming.

The results: I'm still strong, and everyone moves even better!

On the whole, I'd say my top-end on the barbell lifts went down maybe 10% (that's a lot when you have a big deadlift). But my guess is that's just motor patterning, and by the end of summer I'll be back to where I should be. Or maybe I'm just getting old and weak. We'll see...

Seriously, it's kind of cool that in the last year I did maybe 20 deadlifts (which was just the warm-ups and comp lifts for the two TSCs) and last week I did 1x135, 1x225, 1x315, 7x1x405 with no problem at all. Though, 405 is technically my 85% but it felt - and looked, ask Blake - more like 90%. So my top end probably did drop a little. But that's with ZERO barbell training!

My disciples in the year-of-the-kettlebell also have transitioned back to the barbell with me. What I notice with them is that they move so much better. (Barbell) cleans are crisp, snappy, and everyone is landing with a tall chest and high elbows. Jerks are fast and symmetric. All of that double kettlebell work means that you don't get to cheat and you get strength, coordination, and mobility all together. Squats are strong and great - a 2x32kg front squat makes the bar on your back not feel so heavy!

So why am I back to barbells if the kettlebell is so great? You do need to mix things up and keep them fresh. I was getting a little beat down with the same repetitive movements. Additionally, I started an LSD program () and with that much low-power work I needed a high intensity tail event to keep me strong and fast. I noticed that I was losing mass with only the kettelbell loading. And with the new Advanced S&C class I get to workout with everyone and that helps my mental state!

Michael Deskevich