Zedat From Riga

Again, greater overload through a longer range of motion equals greater muscle mass. Pyotr Kryloffs pecs never failed to inspire admiration—and not just because they were tattooed with a double headed Russian imperial eagle. 'The King of Kettlebells' boasted spectacular chest development, unparalleled in his pre-bench press era. Predictably, Kryloffs training centered on a pair of 'doubles', or 32kg giryas.

Giryas are every bit as superior for shoulder development. Try the Scott press that helped Mr. Olympia Larry Scott in his quest for cannonball delts. Start with your elbows tucked against your ribs and your palms facing each other. The bells are hanging outside your shoulders. Now raise the bells overhead in an arc similar to the groove of a chest fly. Keep your elbows bent throughout and keep your arms and the weights in the same plane as your shoulders throughout the set. If you have rotator cuff problems do not go all the way up or your are apt to lose control and drop the bells on your head.

If you do this drill with a pair of kettlebells, rather than dumbbells, you will deliver greater overload through a longer range of motion, due to the KBs' displaced center of gravity. Ditto for the parallel grip press that was once popular among bodybuilders. Start the press in the same fashion as the Scott press, but press the bells almost straight up rather than in a wide arc.

Back in the days when steroids did not exist and bodybuilders were made out of tougher stuff, repetition clean and jerks were a popular bulking up drill for the whole body. In 1952 highly respected Ironman founder and editor, Peary Rader reported in his magazine about a muscle builder who:

Ironman Peary Rader
Zedat from Riga

"used the clean and jerk as an exercise in a weight gaining experiment. Jim has always been a "hard gainer" and found it almost impossible to make progress. He went on this program of cleans and jerks... with all the poundage he could use correctly for the required number of reps (about 15 to 20). He immediately began gaining weight very rapidly and was amazed that the practice of this one lift or exercise could have such a profound effect on his body. Subsequently others of us have made similar experiments with this lift and found that it not only was a good weight gaining medium but also developed strength, endurance, speed, and timing that nothing else could give us. We also found it to be the toughest workout we have ever had."

You will make even better gains if you opt for K-bells instead of a barbell. Controlling two independent weights adds another cruel dimension to the C&J. And upgrading from dumbbells to kettlebells makes things even harder, because of the way in which the kettlebells are balanced.

Georg Lurich
Georg Lurich

Repetition one arm snatches are not shabby either when it comes to bulking up your back, shoulders, and even biceps. Comrade Lawrence Kochert posted this on the dragondoor.com forum: "I have been doing one arm snatches(shown in kettlebell video) with a 35lb. dumbbell. I have noticed distinctive hypertrophy of my biceps since doing them. I usually perform 7-9 sets of 15-10 reps. and rest 1-2 min. in between."

Bodybuilders love drop sets because they are great for building mass and vascularity. If you are new to this racket, a 'drop set' is performing an exercise for a prescribed number of reps, usually almost to the point of failure, then reducing the load and immediately going on.

The technique works great for curls and such—you can just work your way down the dumbbell rack. But when it comes to such superior mass builders as chin-ups and parallel bar dips, the drop sets run into a snag. Both exercises require extra weight to be hung on the bodybuilder's waist, at the end of a special belt. The belt is no parachute harness and takes awhile to undo. By the time you have finally ditched the hanging iron, you have lost the back-to-back double whammy effect.

In Russia, bodybuilders, soldiers, and athletes of every persuasion routinely use kettlebells for extra pullup and dip resistance. Just hang them on your feet and you are in business. When the going gets ugly do the 'quick release' by pointing your toes down and carry on. Naturally, do the drill outside or stick some mats under your pullup and dip bars.

It goes without saying that if you don't want huge pecs and arms, do not get carried away with kettlebell curls, flies, and supine presses. Concentrate on the classic kettlebell training that de-emphasizes the above and focuses instead on ballistic drills and various standing presses. And fight the urge to eat more when your metabolism kicks up into overdrive. The result will be a physique built more along the lines of Laurent Delvaux's statue Hercules: broad shoulders with just a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, wiry arms, rugged forearms, a cut-up midsection, and strong legs, without a hint of squat-induced chafing.


We introduced kettlebells to XXI century America at the last Arnold's Fitness Expo. The number one fitness industry convention in the world, Schwarzenegger's super trade show features bodybuilding, martial arts, and arm-wrestling events. The Arnold Classic invitational arm-wrestling tournament is one of the most prestigious in the world.

Top arm-wrestlers flocked to our booth to check out the kettlebells. World champion Mary McConnaughy had seen them at an AW gym in St. Petersburg, Russia and now got a chance to give them a ride. She gave them two thumbs up; so did many other top arm-benders.

The kettlebell is one of the best grip and forearm developers in existence. It has been hailed by such grip greats as John Brookfield. Dr. Fred Hatfield, a powerlifting legend and strength training expert, once quipped, "The best grip exercises are always going to be pulling at heavy weights ballistically." High-rep snatches forge steel trap fingers and painfully pump the forearms to new growth. Their action is similar to the ballistic repetitive loading of rock climbing.

The forearm's largest muscles—the wrist flexors—which bend your wrist towards you, also get an awesome workout. They constantly fight the heavy kettlebell's determination to bend your wrist backward. A girevik is taught to counter this action by forceful flexion of the wrist.

This contraction, in addition to building up the forearm, stimulates the bis. Try this test: make a fist and then flex your wrist as much as possible. You should feel your biceps tensing up. This is a manifestation of the neurological phenomenon of irradiation, which I explain in Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American. New forearm development also boosts the biceps measurement by literally pushing on the biceps from underneath.

"Surprisingly, I also gained almost an inch on my biceps, which now measured nearly 18 inches for the first time in my life," reported British Dr. Alan Radley in MILO after an intense stretch of specialization on grip feats. "My shoulders and back also grew considerably during this period, despite the fact that I was only really concentrating on strengthening my forearms. Please note as well that this progress is in a guy with nearly twenty years of heavy weightlifting experience."

A kettlebell is easily tied to a string, for the popular forearm exercise of rolling a rope on a stick. Russian strength training expert V. I. Rodionov recommends the following novel kettlebell drill for wrist strength. Lay your kettlebell on its side, the handle perpendicular to the floor. Rest your forearm on the floor, grab the top of the handle, and roll the kettlebell upside down so it rests on its handle. Take your hand off the handle and quickly place it on the kettlebell's bottom to prevent it from falling. For finger strength Rodionov suggests flexing your fingers with a girya hanging on your finger tips.

A fine wrist strengthener, specific to arm bending, is to repeatedly throw and catch a kettlebell with its handle vertical in front of you. The aforementioned grip, wrist, and biceps developing powers of kettlebells make them a logical training choice for arm-wrestlers.

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