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Swinging Your Way to Strength

Swinging Your Way to Strength

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03/18/2014

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Swinging Your Way To Strength
Tom Barrett

I was pretty excited about the arrival of my 24 kg kettlebell. When I got home
from work, there it was still in its cardboard wrapper waiting for me to start
playing with it. Shredding the carton, I freed the iron and dusted it off. \u201cI
shall call you \u2018Boris\u2019,\u201d I told it and stood up to look down on it for the first
time. I figured a little grip and heft test was in order just to check the
difference between it and the 16 kg version.

What better way to check that is there than a single dead\u00adhang snatch?

I bent at the waist keeping my eyes on the ceiling and squeezed my hand
around the handle. It felt really good in my grip, larger than the 16 kg, nice
and solid. I took a few deep breaths, squeezed hard with my hand, glutes, and
abs and exploded upward with a powerful thrust of the hips.

The kettlebell gliding up and up reached the top and rotated in my hand. It
impacted on the back of my forearm about twice as more solidly as anything
I\u2019d ever felt with its smaller brother, but I didn\u2019t care. I had snatched the 1.5
pood with beautiful form, and that\u2019s all I cared about. I lowered the weight
and repeated the exercise on my right side.

Yes!

It was a good time to take a breather, so I stepped back, put my hands on my
hips, and relaxed for a few minutes. My mind raced over the techniques of the
knee dip and hand scoop that I\u2019d have to develop if I wanted not to have
bruises and knots on my forearms. No big deal. I knew in a couple of days I\u2019d
have the technique down pat.

OK, Tom, how about a grind exercise now? Ah, the good ol\u2019 clean and jerk
with several military presses to round out the exercise. Since I had just a
moment earlier snatched the sucker with no problem I knew the clean would

be even easier.
Once I got the kettlebell to my shoulder, I sucked in a deep breath and pushed
skyward.

Nothing happened.
I relaxed, took another breath, and pushed again.
Nothing happened.

I switched hands and tried with the right, but no matter how hard I pushed,
how hard a strained, how loud I grunted\u2026nothing was getting that iron off
my shoulder. I wasn\u2019t even going to try a side\u00adpress at all. I knew if the
military press wasn\u2019t working for me, there was no way I\u2019d be able to perform
a clean side press.

Resting the \u2018bell on the ground, I sat down and stared at it for a while
wondering what I could do to fix this situation.

I then remembered reading about the recommendation that Pavel made about swinging the kettlebell until you can get it nice and high for a high number of reps. That was going to be my plan of attack. I would continue my swinging until my back and shoulders got strong enough to lift in a solid grind exercise.

Over the following weeks I performed high\u00advolume two\u00adhanded swings with
the 24 kg and continued my snatching and cleaning. To check my progress I
tried singles every couple of days, and while I could feel I was getting
stronger, the full press still eluded me.

It was in the third week that the muscles in my shoulders and upper back had
finally strengthened to point that I was able to fully press the kettlebell. I was
elated, so I switched hands and tried the same movement on the right side
and met with success again. I immediately extended my right leg, bent that
knee, leaned sideways and tried for a side\u00adpress, but I was still sadly denied

that move.

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