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Kettlebell Challenge Workouts

Best Beginner Kettlebell Workout

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Section One

The History of the Russian Kettlebell— How and Why a Low-Tech Ball of Iron Became the National Choice for Super-Tech Results

Vodka, pickle juice, kettlebell lifting and other Russian pastimes page 13

The origins and nature of the girya.. ..the favorite toy of legendary Russian supermen—stories to get strong by.

'The working class sport' page 15

The first official kettlebell competition.. Poods—an old Russian weight measure.. ..standard weights for competition how Pavel earned his national ranking.

Finally: Xtreme all around fitness! page 17

Why Soviet science considers kettlebells to be one of the best tools for all around physical development Voropayev's study.. Lesgaft Physical Culture Institute validates KB's for general strength, strength endurance, general endurance, work capacity and balance.

Kettlebells in the Red Army page 19

The Red Army catches on.. every Russian military unit equipped with K-bells.. KB's a favorite for the Russian Navy.. ..the perfect physical conditioning for military personnel the vital combination of strength and endurance..Girevoy sport delivers unparalleled cardio benefits why Spetznaz personnel owe much of their wiry strength, explosive agility, and stamina to kettlebells..Soviet armed forces manual declares kettlebell exercises to be "one of the most effective means of strength development".

Section Two

Special Applications-How The Russian Kettlebell Can Dramatically Enhance Your Chosen Endeavor

Kettlebells for combat sports page 23

Russian wrestlers do lion's share of conditioning with kettlebells.. ballistic drills have highly specific applications for wrestling.. extreme cardio action is another reason..

Why KB one arm snatches work better than Hindu squats. ...KB's strengthen respiratory muscles.. Laputin's special breathing shrug. ...KB's for powerful wrists.. boxers appreciate newfound ability to keep on punching.. ..KB's reduce shoulder injuries..

develop the ability to absorb ballistic serious tendons and ligaments in wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back—with power to match.. ..why kettlebell drills are better than plyometrics as a tool for developing power.. KB's a better choice for most than barbell Olympic lifts KB throwing for better punching power KB's the tool of choice for rough sports.

Why Russian lifters train with kettlebells page 27

Famous Soviet weightlifters start Olympic careers with KB's Olympic weightlifters add KB's for spectacular gains in shoulder and hip flexibility.. ..excellent also for swings, laterals, rowing and throwing-related movements.. ..for developing quickness.. Rodionov's amazing drills for super leg-strength.. the one-legged kettlebell front squat.. KB's a fine tool for overloading.. working up to a kettlebell Sots press.. overhead kettlebell squats unmatchable in promoting hip and lower back flexibility for powerlifters.. incorporating KB's as complex training.. Dr. Fred Hatfield's recommendations.. plugging KB's into Steve Wilson's radical deadlift routine.

Get huge with kettlebells—if you wish page 33

Why the girya is superior to the dumbbell or barbell, for arm and chest training.. the secret behind Pyotr Kryloff's massive pecs why Giryas are superior for shoulder to gain muscle size doing KB J&J's.. repetition one arm snatches for bulking up your back, shoulders, and biceps.. incorporating KB's into drop sets—for greater mass and vascularity.. using KB's for extra pullup and dip resistance.

Kettlebells for arm-wrestlers page 37

World champion arm wrestler gives KB's two thumbs up..

why the kettlebell is one of the best grip and forearm developers in existence..

Rodionov's KB drills for wrist and finger strength.

Getting younger and healthier with kettlebells page 39

The amazing health benefits of KB training. ...Doctor Krayevskiy's 20-year age-reversal.. Vasiliy Kubanov's leap from disability to a national KB ranking.. successful rehabilitation of hopeless back injuries with kettlebells.. Valentin Dikul—from broken back to All Time Historic Deadlift of 460kg, thanks to KB's.. why KB's can be highly beneficial for your joints.

How kettlebells melt fat and build a powerful heart—

without the dishonor of dieting and aerobics page 41

Len Schwartz's research on the training benefits of Panaerobic® exercise spectacular fat loss..enhanced metabolism..increased growth hormone a remarkable decrease in heart rates. ...the safety of a slower-beating heart.

Section Three

Doing It—Kettlebell Techniques

Why Kettlebells? page 45

The many reasons to choose K-bells over mainstream equipment and methods.. KBs suitable for men and women young and old.. perfect for military, law enforcement and athletic teams.. Giryas—a 'working class'answer to weightlifting and plyometrics..a logical choice for any sport.. outstanding grip developers..

promoting shoulder and hip flexibility. bet for building best-at-show muscles.. highly effective for strengthening the connective tissues. ...fixing bad backs. and virtually indestructible.. ..promotes genuine 'all-around fitness'—strength, explosiveness, flexibility, endurance, and fat loss.

The program minimum page 49

The one arm snatch the bent press Bob Hoffman's recommendations.. ..get ready to wrestle a bear.

The Russian Kettlebell Challenge workout: the program-maximum page 51

Trofim Lomakin's animal instinct for the load—one way to win.. ..Yuri Vlasov's mathematical modeling—another way to win.. ..Pavel's own free style program.. ..the top ten Russian Kettlebell Challenge training guidelines.. often and how long to train.. The secret key to successful frequent training.. THE most effective tool of strength development.. ..difficulty and intensity variation.. Hermann Goerner's kettlebell workout.. ..the power of the "laddef' how to add Power to the People! and other drills to your kettlebell regimen.. High motor density and fatigue specificity ..the spacing hypothesis ..why not to train to failure.. the 'rep ladder'—another Russian Special Forces favorite.. ..tempo variation.

The kettlebell drills...Explode! Swing/snatch pull page 60

"If you have time on your schedule for only one back exercise, make it this one." mastering the two-arm swing.. ..the one arm swing.. ..the importance of stretching.

Clean page 66

The importance of neutral wrist alignment for all the KB drills.. the key to efficient and painless shock absorption.. making the clean tougher.. ..the pure evil of the two K-bells clean.. seated hang cleans, for gorilla traps and shoulders.

Snatch page 74

The one-arm snatch—Tsar of kettlebell lifts.. how to add misery to your snatches.

Under the leg pass page 80

A favorite of the Russian military—and great for the midsection.

Jerk, Clean & Jerk page 81

George Hackenschmidt's advice on the one-arm jerk.. ..or try this for double brutality.

Jump shrug page 85

The kettlebell drills...Grind! Military press page 87

How to add and maximize tension for greater power tension..bracing..a lesson from Houdini.. to get the most out of your press, while putting the least amount of distress on your shoulder.. Starling's Law ..the extensor reflex ..why you do need to lock out.

One hundred ways to cook the military press page 93

The negative press. ...the 'powerlifter's secret weapon for maximal results in your lifts.. ..why to lift what you can't lift.. the graduated to get more out of a 'light'weight.. the two-kettlebells press..the 'two steps forward/one step back'technique for building strength and muscle mass the 'waiter press' for strict and perfect pressing skill.. the elbow raise to strengthen your shoulders for pressing.

Floor pullover and press page 102

Great for working your pecs.

Good morning stretch page 105

Favored by Russian weightlifters, for spectacular hamstring flexibility and hip strength.

Windmill page 107

An unreal drill for a powerful and flexible waist, back, and hips.

Side press page 110

A potent mix of the windmill and the military press—"one of the best builders of the shoulders and upper back." Hoffman's how-to.. ..a long lost secret that enables you to train the lats with a pressing movement—and increase your poundages on all presses.

Bent press page 114

A favorite lift of Eugene Sandow's—and The Evil One.. why the best-built men in history have been bent pressers.. ..leads to proficiency in all other lifts.. to simultaneously use every muscle in your body.. A superhuman stunt by old timer Batta the 'two hands anyhow'—not for the faint of heart.

A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion's personal kettlebell program page 119

Steve Maxwell, Senior World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion.. ..personal trainer extraordinaire.. ..master-maker of the super-powerful, combat fitness cocktail.. Workout #1.. Workout #2.

Section Four

Classic Kettlebell Programs from Mother Russia

The official Soviet weightlifting textbook girevoy sport system of training page 127

How to begin.. the importance of full range of motion and correct breathing.. preparing for competition-level.. Falameyev's unique method for teaching a greenhorn his way around a kettlebell.

The Weightlifting Yearbook girevoy sport programs page 131

Voropayev's unique routines and innovative changes in K-bell training methodology.. ..a new way of measuring training intensity.. easing the coach's job of charting out programs for sportsmen of different qualifications.. tempo variation into kettlebell lifting.. Pre-competition Weekly Training Plans for 80kg II and 80kg I Razryad Girevik.

Three official armed forces girevoy sport programs page 139

Three weekly practices.. Armed Forces Kettlebell Drill Complex #'s1, 2 & 3.. using the tonnage system favored by Russian weightlifters.. to increase difficulty. ...individualizing and monitoring for overtraining.

Group training with kettlebells—Red Army style page 143

Clear-cut recommendations on group kettlebell training.

Xtreme kettlebell training—Russian Navy SEAL style page 145

Performing snatches and other explosive kettlebell drills under water.. ..pseudo-isokinetic resistance. ...depth variation.. to make your muscle fibers blast into action faster than ever.. ..the release technique.

Appendix page 147

The official Girevov Sport ranking system... .the official armed forces kettlebell lifting rules... .the further evolution of kettlebell lifting.

Select Bibliography page 153





Vodka at night. Pickle juice in the morning (the best thing for a hangover). Throwing some kettlebells around between this hangover and the next one. A Russian's day well spent.

The 'kettlebell' or girya is a cast iron weight which looks like a basketball with a suitcase handle. It is an old Russian toy. As the 1986 Soviet Weightlifting Yearbook put it, "It is hard to find a sport that has deeper roots in the history of our people than the girevoy sport."

My ancestors played with kettlebells—when they weren't skirmishing with the Germans, Turks, and many other neighbors who wanted a piece of Mother Russia. Later, it was the key to forging the mighty power of dinosaurs like Ivan 'the Champion of Champions' Poddubny.

Poddubny, one of the strongest men of his time, trained with kettlebells in preparation for his undefeated wrestling career and six world champion belts. Thanks to K-bells, Poddubny would toy with much larger opponents, lift them over his head, and slam them into the ground! On one amusing occasion, in 1907, at London's Pavilion Theater, Poddubny destroyed the referees' table when he tossed another famous wrestler on top of it. Always the joker, Poddubny made himself a16kg cane—so he could amuse himself watching pencilnecks at coat checks drop it on their toes.

Pyotr Kryloff, another top gun during the early days of the iron game, was nicknamed 'the King of Kettlebells', in honor of his favorite strengthening tool. He was known for his stunt of jerking two beefy soldiers over his head, while they sat inside two hollow spheres on the ends of a specially made barbell.

Russian professional strongman, Moor Znamensky, would do a handstand on two 32kg kettlebells, after which he would jump back on his feet, lifting the bells over his head at the same time. Then he would drop back in a handstand, and repeat the drill ten times! So popular were kettlebells in Tsarist Russia that any strong man or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or 'a kettlebell man'.

A century ago, European and American iron-legends like Arthur Saxon favored kettlebells as much as their Russian colleagues. Then the West got prosperous and soft and the hardcore kettlebell faded into history—along with many other of our grandfathers' manly pursuits. That is, everywhere but in Russia, a rugged land that never knew easy living.


Every person can and ought to be strong.

-Hercules magazine, Russia, 1913

Although Russians have known kettlebells for as long as they have known vodka, the first official kettlebell competition did not take place until 1948. In the 1970s the sport became really popular, especially in Russia itself, the Ukraine, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Girevoy sport was declared 'an ethnic sport' by many Soviet republics in 1974.

Finally in the fall of 1985, in the heat of Perestroika and Glasnost, the first USSR National Girevoy Sport Championship took place. Of the many stunts practiced by the old timers, only the power C&J and the one arm power snatch, both done for reps, were chosen for official competition. There used to be a one-arm press as well, but these days it sleeps with the fish and the Olympic press.

Function and tradition explain the unusual fixed-weight/high-rep competition format. Russians have always enjoyed a good show of strength like the rail tied in a knot by Ivan Zayikin from the Volga. (Zayikin's rail is still displayed in a Paris museum). But country fairs packed up and left. Soldiers, blacksmiths, and farmers went back to their toils and battles where they needed rugged staying power more than one-repetition strength.

Kettlebells come in 'poods'. A pood is an old Russian measure of weight, which equals 16kg, or 36 pounds. There are one, one and a half, and two pood K-bells, 16, 24, and 32kg respectively. They no longer come in heavier weights because the sport has evolved into a strength endurance event. Standard weights are lifted for repetitions: 16kg for juniors, 24kg for men, and 32kg for advanced men. To earn a national ranking in girevoy sport I had to power snatch a 32kg kettlebell forty times with one arm, and forty with the other back to back—over 40,000 foot/pounds of work—and jerk two such bells forty five times. I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, it is a puker.


In the twentieth century, Soviet science discovered what pagans had known for generations: repetition kettlebell lifting is one of the best tools for all around physical development. Voropayev (1983) observed two groups of college students over a period of a few years. A standard battery of the armed forces PT tests was used: pullups, a standing broad jump, a 100m sprint, and a1k run. The control group followed the typical university physical training program which was military oriented and emphasized the above exercises. The experimental group just lifted kettlebells. In spite of the lack of practice on the tested drills, the KB group showed better scores in every one of them!

The above benefits alone could have easily justified kettlebells' existence. But they were only the beginning. Surprised researchers at the famous Lesgaft Physical Culture Institute in Leningrad (Vinogradov & Lukyanov, 1986) found a very high correlation between the KBL total and a great range of dissimilar tests: strength, measured with the three powerlifts and grip strength; strength endurance, measured with pullups and parallel bar dips; general endurance, determined by a 1000 meter run; work capacity and balance, measured with special tests! Prof. Medvedyev especially hails girevoy sport's power to develop strength-endurance and strength-coordination.

Needless to say, Soviet scientists—and the comrades in charge of purchasing exercise equipment for the military, schools, and government agencies—were delighted. Why waste iron—"We could make more Kalashnikovs!"—when you can get awesome results with the traditional moderate poundage? They could not explain the spectacular all around fitness gains from the standpoint of specificity, but were too practical to be phased by this mystery. "Understanding is a delaying tactic.," as one novelist put it. "Do you want to understand how to swim, or do you want to jump in and start swimming? Only people who are afraid of water want to understand. Other people jump in and get wet."

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The Bible of Body Building

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