Anecdotal use of Ballistic Kettlebell Exercises in the Power Training of Mixed Martial Arts Athlete

This article examines the kettlebell drills we have adopted to improve the conditioning and more particularly the power of some of the MMA athletes training at South West Vale Tudo (Bunbury, Western Australia). South West Vale Tudo has been operating for approximately 12 months. The club attracts amateur and professional combat athletes and general fitness enthusiasts. The age of the participants ranges from 14 to 40 and they all present with varying levels of fitness, skill and commitment. A brief history of kettlebells is provided and the sport of MMA is surmised. With the focus of the article being on kettlebells and associated power benefits a review of strength qualities and their importance to the MMA athlete is presented. Core kettlebell exercises from the ballistic set are reviewed in a textual and video format, enhancing the readers understanding of the drills described. The benefits of each of the lifts to the athlete are identified. Finally, some examples of how kettlebells have been incorporated within the strength and conditioning program have been included as have the results of the testing that has been conducted so far.

Kettlebells
A ‘kettlebell’ or girya (Russ.) is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. Traditionally the weight of kettlebells was standardised into units known as poods (1 pood = 16.3 kg). Kettlebell use has been recorded as far back as the early 1700s. A solid ball of cast iron was used as a weight/measure, primarily in the agricultural industry, to enable standardised commercial trading. Current day kettlebells are constructed of either steel or iron and are available in sizes ranging from 4kg through to 64 kg. They are also available in two styles; traditional (generally iron construction) & sports (steel construction). The sport style kettlebells, used for girevoy sport, in which kettlebell lifters (or gireviks as they are traditionally known) lift kettlebells for time; do not differ in size from lightest to heaviest. The size of the traditional style kettlebell increases as the kettlebell increases in weight.

Figure 1: Sport style (the two kettlebells on the outside) and traditional style kettlebells.

Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport where bouts, of between 2 to 5 rounds of 3 to 5 minutes, are held in either a mesh wire cage or a boxing ring. As the name suggests MMA is a mix of the many combat arts. Therefore the MMA athlete needs to be proficient in a wide variety of fighting techniques; categorised as striking (feet, hands, elbows and knees) and grappling (clinches, pinning, submissions, sweeps, takedowns and throws) which encompasses wrestling and submission fighting. The MMA combatant must be a physically well rounded individual. Maximum strength, power, endurance & flexibility are all critical physical attributes and no one area should be neglected. It is also essential that the athlete develops sound mental and technical skills in conjunction with strength & conditioning. Generally fights are ended by way of knockout, technical knock out, submission by physically tapping or verbally tapping out when a competitor does not wish to continue and unanimous, majority or split decisions via judge’s scorecard if a bout runs its scheduled distance.

Strength Needs Analysis for the MMA Athlete
Before going any further, as this article introduces kettlebell drills for the development of power it may be prudent to address the sub qualities of strength and how they relate to the MMA athlete. Maximal Strength is the total force one can exert under voluntary effort. In a competition the athlete may need to lift and throw, physically restrain & move or manipulate the joints of an

opponent, all of which require the ability to exert influence over a resistive opponent. For the MMA athlete max strength is essential. According to Enamait (2006) Max strength training will recruit fast twitch motor units leading to advantageous neural changes that increase the firing rate of said motor units, increase the recruitment of additional motor units and improve the overall coordination and synchronization of motor units. This ability to recruit powerful fast twitch fibres will enhance the power potential of the athlete. There are however concerns regarding the negative influence that excessive max strength training may have on speed. Enamait (2006) refers to a study conducted by Verkhoshansky that verifies ”…that excessive maximum strength training can hinder speed strength and technical skills in boxers (1977) ” and a reference by Mel Siff to a study by Filinov “…which established that excessively heavy strength training can diminish the force and speed of a boxers punches (Siff, 2003a)” Enamait himself states that “While max strength is an important pre-requisite to explosive training techniques it must not become the sole method of training” (Enamait,R.2006,p.29.) Max strength training must therefore be carefully manipulated within the overall training program by the strength and conditioning coach.. Reactive Strength is a concentric contraction following a rapid eccentric contraction. The MMA athlete will utilise this strength quality during striking combinations, throwing and in grappling situations. Reactive strength utilises the stretch shortening cycle (SSC). This cycle begins with the storage of kinetic energy during an eccentric contraction, as the muscle lengthens under tension. When a concentric contraction immediately follows the eccentric phase the ensuing contraction utilises the stored energy therefore producing a stronger concentric phase. Strength Endurance is the ability to sustain effective muscular contractions over an extended period of time. The vast majority of MMA contests are scheduled for 3 x 5 minute rounds, with championship bouts scheduled for 5 x 5 minute rounds, therefore strength endurance is a vital component within the overall strength & conditioning program. Power is the ability to exert force quickly and Baker (2007) suggests there are three types or zones of power; ballistic, maximal and explosive. In ascertaining the difference between the three qualities Baker explained further (D Baker personal communication, Feb 10, 2009). “Think of a curve. If max power is the top part of the curve, then ballistic power is on the left, on the way up and explosive power on the right, on the way down”

Power Zone Curve

Max Power

Force Production Ballistic Power Explosive Power

0%

50% Resistance

100%

Figure 2: Power zone curve highlighting the variants in resistance of the three power zones as suggested by Baker
Speed Strength or Ballistic Power is the ability to express significant tension in minimal time. Speed strength is essential for striking with the hands, feet, elbows and knees and for overall speed of movement when attempting to throw, submit & shoot in on and take down an opponent. To train this power quality speed needs to be high therefore the level of resistance needs to be low (20-40%). Max & Explosive Power are very similar sub-qualities. “Verkhoshansky, (1977) considered explosive strength to be the strength quality most characteristic of athletic activities” (Cited in Enamait,R.2006,p.23.) This is true for the MMA combatant predominantly when grappling and attempting takedowns and throws or to move an opponent when in the mount position (top) or from a defensive position on the back. In training, max power is the point at which the highest force output is achieved and typically occurs with resistance levels of approximately 50%. Explosive power is applied to heavy resistances anywhere between 60 & 80%. Power Endurance can be defined as the ability to sustain application of power over long time periods. From beginning to end, the MMA athlete must be able to generate sufficient power. Being faster and more explosive ensures the athlete can overpower and outwork their opponent for the duration of the event. Other Physical Needs Flexibility

Flexibility is the range of movement (ROM) at a joint and can be categorized as either dynamic, static, ballistic or passive. MMA athletes need good levels of flexibility as joints can be forced past their usual ROM at great speed by opponents when grappling and during submission attempts. Of the four categories dynamic and ballistic flexibility are probably the most important in a competition situation however static and passive stretching should be used regularly in training cool down and recovery. Energy Systems Leith Darkin covers appropriate energy system training for combat athletes extensively in his ASCA article “Fighting Fit” volume 12, 2004, No 3 Why we Chose to Focus on Power Development Locally, many local clubs and their respective coaches still follow traditional fight training methods. Their athletes complete long distance runs, they train twice a day, 6 days a week whilst working full time, and follow hypertrophy type training programs (if any strength training at all) all of this while trying to cut weight in the lead up to fights. We wanted to offer our athletes a strength and conditioning program that met the specific needs of the sport, giving them a distinct advantage over their opponents. Whilst it cannot be argued that all sub qualities of strength should be considered crucial attributes for the MMA athlete it was clear to us that power is of the utmost importance, Bompa, T (1995) states, “Maximum contraction, reaction time, and the ability to exert powerful movements at the highest frequency and in the shortest period of time are all dominant abilities for athletes in many sports, and as such are primary factors in enabling athletes to achieve high level performance” (p.5). This is definitely the case in MMA where the main objective should be to overpower, out strike, outwork and overwhelm the opponent, finishing the contest as quickly as possible. The athlete needs to be able to produce explosive movements from the opening second to the last second of a contest (which may be 25 minutes). Once the decision had been made to focus on the training of power we needed to determine what would be the most effective training stimulus. Much of the literature we reviewed suggested Olympic lifting as an effective training modality. The following table presents the results of a study conducted by Garhammer (1993) and it quite clearly states that the Olympic lifts illicit the greatest power outputs

Power Output Garhammer (1993)

Garhammer, J.J. A review of the power output studies of Olympic and powerlifting: Methodology, performance prediction and evaluation tests. Journal of Strength and conditioning Research 7:76-89, 1993. (Cited in Smith, J. 2006, p.14.)

Furthermore Baker, D (2007) states “True Power training exercises are exercises that entail acceleration throughout the entire range of movement (eg.olympic lifts, jump throws, squats, etc)” (p.25) Considering those references and the contention by Bompa, T (1995) that “High intensity training, like power exercises, results in the quick mobile[s]ation of greater innervation activities, the recruitment of most of the motor units and their corresponding muscle fibres, and in an increase in the firing rate of the motor neurons (Schmidtbleicher, 1984; Gollhofer et al., 1987. Cited in Bompa T. 1995). This increased innervation produces considerable improvement in the development of power” (Bompa,T.1995,p.5) we chose to use the Olympic lifts and secondary assistance exercises to improve the power production of our athletes. Due to our regional location (Bunbury, Western Australia) suitably equipped training facilities were non existent so we had to set up our own facility from scratch. A lifting platform was built, accreditation was sought and the essential lifting equipment (Olympic barbell, collars, bumper plates and racks) was purchased. Not long after we began Olympic lifting we recognised some logistical issues and a few of those follow • Cleans, snatches and jerks are certainly effective in stimulating the triple extension, beneficial to many movement patterns associated with MMA, however they are very complex and require excessive time to teach their intricacies. We noted the following difficulties with our athletes

! The Olympic lifts are very complex & technical lifts that require instruction from an experienced coach, someone who can give the correct cues at the appropriate time and can recognize and address deficiencies in movement patterns. ! To ensure optimum power development, bar trajectory, muscle recruitment and to reduce the risk of injury the positioning of the body over the bar in the set up is crucial. This requires many hours of practice and again coaching from an experienced coach is a must. ! Despite many of the athletes being outstanding athletes in their chosen sport some have presented with poor basic motor skills and proprioreception making the instruction of lifts such as squats difficult, let alone the highly technical Olympic lifts ! Due to the fighting stance many of our athletes have an exaggerated kyphotic curve through the thoracic region. The upper back needs to be mobile to successfully complete Olympic lifts. ! Many of our athletes are managing injuries at the shoulder joint (as a result of submission attempts) and have poor shoulder mobility. Shoulder mobility is essential in completing the Olympic lifts, particularly the snatch. ! Many of our athletes are managing injuries at the elbow & wrist joints (as a result of submission attempts) and the positioning of the wrists and elbows during the catch/front squat phase of the jerk was proving to be too stressful on those joints. ! Olympic lifting can lead to fatigue of the central nervous system and we couldn’t afford to create any more fatigue than was already being experienced by the athletes due to regular fight training ! Our athletes are already trying to master many of the technical skills associated with MMA and the attention to detail with Olympic lifting lead to information overload ! With limited time and space (we only have room for 1 lifting platform) we were only able to train a couple of athletes at a time • • • • • MMA requires power production for up to 25 minutes and Olympic lifting sets are generally 1- 6 reps A high percentage of our athletes, both amateur and professional, work full time in the local mining industry, working 5 - 6 x 12 hour shifts a week. Most athletes have family commitments. With MMA requiring proficiency in numerous disciplines our athletes are completing between 3 & 6, 1 – 2 hour sport specific training sessions per week. Athletes may be required to take a fight at 2 – 4 weeks notice so they need to be fight ready at all times. It was therefore very difficult to include Olympic lifting in the overall program

It was just too difficult to effectively incorporate and master the technicalities of Olympic lifting so we decided to use alternative methods and equipment, eventually settling on kettlebells and sandbags.

Safety Considerations
Before the kettlebell drills are introduced the issue of safety needs to be addressed. With any form of resistance training there are inherent risks, perhaps even more so when using kettlebells. The

dynamic nature of many of the kettlebell drills results in the kettlebell being moved through great ranges of motion at speed and the following guidelines should be followed. In the exercise descriptions to follow there are video clips of an athlete training in bare feet. We prefer our athletes to adopt no footwear as we believe it enhances the feel of force production from the ground through the heel and our athletes compete bare footed. There are however risks associated with this practice with the major consideration being the dropping of a kettlebell onto an unprotected foot. To reduce the risk of injury it is recommended that kettlebell lifters wear some form of protective footwear. Shoes with a hard flat sole are preferable as they still allow loading of the heels and a connection with the training surface. Many kettlebell drills require the user to lift the kettlebell above their head so the kettlebell should, where possible, be watched at all times. If a lift is executed incorrectly and control of the kettlebell is lost no attempt should be made to recover the lift and the lifter should just move out of the danger area as quickly as possible. Failure to do so may result in serious injury to the head Some kettlebell drills (one arm swing, high rep sets) require the user to throw the kettlebell from one hand to the other. There are obvious risks associated with this practice and a clear 360 degree training area should be established around a user. This is of particular importance when training a group. Every user must be in a position where they can see the other users in the event of a kettlebell going astray. If training outdoors the lifter should position themselves so that they do not look directly into the sun when they watch the kettlebell move overhead in case they lose sight of the moving kettlebell. The training surface should be stable, flat and non slip. When training outdoors a grassed training area is preferable so that in the event of a kettlebell being dropped property and the kettlebell are not damaged. For the same reasons a matted area is preferable when training indoors. The handle of the kettlebell should be constantly assessed for wetness or oiliness and a towel should be kept on hand to wipe the kettlebell at regular intervals.

The Kettlebell Exercises
Kettlebell drills are generally divided into two groups, ballistic and grind movements. Ballistic movements are high intensity movements requiring explosive & reactive strength, stability & coordination. Dependant on the exercise, the set & rep scheme and the weight of the kettlebell employed the ballistic set can assist to develop strength, strength endurance, power, power endurance, grip strength endurance, energy systems conditioning and dynamic flexibility. The ballistic movements “… demand force production, reduction and redirection, often all being trained in the same drill” (Ravensdale, Minos, Kourbatski 2008 p25). A fighter will apply this pattern constantly during a contest e.g. grappling and forcing an opponent backwards, reducing force as the opponent resists and then redirecting force to throw the opponent, all in maybe a split second.

Grinds require the application of maximum tension whilst performing whole body movements using strength, flexibility, stability and coordination whilst under tension. Exercises from the grind set include the Turkish get up (TGU), the windmill and pressing. Initially our athletes are introduced to the basic movements – double hand swing, one arm swing, cleaning & jerking. We include TGU and windmills to develop shoulder musculature in preparation for the snatch and split snatch. Then, as the athlete becomes proficient with those basic movements we progress to some of the more complex movements, high pulls, snatch, long cycle clean & jerk (LCC&J), split jerk and the split snatch.

Swings [Insert swing video here]
Swings form the basis of all kettlebell ballistics exercises and all of our athletes are required to master the double hand and more particularly the one arm (OA) swing before moving on to some of the more complex ballistic exercises such as the snatch and the split snatch. The kettlebell swing is a hip dominant pulling exercise requiring the use of the large muscles of the legs and back resulting in the development of powerful hip, knee and ankle extension and improving strength and power of the posterior chain as a whole. This movement pattern has also been a useful exercise to teach elastic loading (SSC) of the posterior chain, therefore improving reactive strength. The triple extension stimulates the movement patterns associated with some of the throws, take downs and wrestling moves seen in MMA and the loading of the posterior chain teaches and develops the athletes’ ability to effectively generate and transfer power from the ground through the legs, hips, torso and arms. When performed correctly the lifter will need to brace through the torso and this bracing should be taught as an integral part of the lift. Fighters brace repeatedly in competition so this is a valuable component of the drill. Additionally bracing will protect the lumbar spine during the eccentric phase of the ballistic skill set. We use the swing as a tool to target ballistic power and strength and power endurance, completing sets for time or for high repetition counts with a light kettlebell (12-24kg). To target max and explosive power a heavier kettlebell (up to 32kg) is used adopting lower rep schemes. The swing is used during the warm up, using kettlebells of 12 or 16kg in weight, for sets of 10-15 reps, and these are alternated with general mobility drills. We have found that this enhances the athletes focus on extension of the lower body joints whilst mobilizing the joints in preparation for striking and kicking drills. Bands are sometimes employed to provide an alternative training stimulus. Looped through the handle of the kettlebell and with the athlete standing on the band, swings or deadlifts are performed, creating greater resistance throughout the concentric phase of the movement. By using the bands more force is exerted later in the range of movement. “This enhances the rate of force development and increases the power training effect” (Baker,D.2007,p.29) [Insert Band Resisted video here]

Baker (2007) also suggests that this improves technique when applied to snatch pulls. We find it assists in improving the technique of athletes that struggle to complete triple extension, fully engaging the muscles of the lower posterior chain. Variants • • • • • OA swing Double kettlebell swings Walking kettlebell swings Jumping kettlebell swings Alternate arm kettlebell swings

Clean [Insert Clean Video Here]
It is essential that the athlete master the clean as it is used to move the kettlebell from the floor to the rack position, the platform from which many other dills are completed. It is primarily taught by us as a supplementary exercise with greatest application during the warm up. However it is also an effective conditioning tool, particularly for improving the conditioning of the novice lifter whilst the technicalities of some of the more complex lifts are being mastered. The clean improves the athlete’s ability to brace and absorb shock from external forces. As the kettlebell/s is pulled into the rack position the athlete should brace against the impact of the kettlebell on the upper body. This particular movement will also assist to develop the strength of the connective tissues of the arms and wrists, useful when considering the forces that may be applied by an opponent during a submission attempt. One of the often overlooked benefits of the kettlebell ballistic set is that when performed correctly they teach the athlete to relax whilst working against external loads. The clean is a useful drill in this regard. Once the kettlebell/s is cleaned into the rack position it can be held in position for time. The load of the kettlebell on the chest provides external resistance to the respiratory muscles. The athlete must then focus on maintaining a relaxed state whilst under load, a position they will often find themselves in during competition, with an opponent either lying on top of them when in the mount position or in side control or pushing them up against the cage. Variants • • • • • Single cleans Double kettlebell Hang clean (we use this drill with a heavy kettlebell to target max & explosive strength) Dead clean (we use this drill with a heavy kettlebell to target max & explosive strength) Alternate clean

Jerk
The kettlebell jerk targets the legs, arms and shoulders and, as per the clean, will test the respiratory muscles when the kettlebell is resting in the rack position between repetitions.

An effective jerk technique requires a rapid triple extension (ankle, knee, and hip) during the first drive phase immediately followed by a rapid triple flexion during the dip and catch. It is therefore effective for developing generation of power and the transference of force from the lower to the upper body in a coordinated manner. Of some difficulty is the mastering of the extension of the elbow joint coordinated with the rapid flexion of the lower body joints, during the dip and catch, this requires great coordination and proprioception. The jerk also has the additional benefits of developing power through the arms and shoulders whilst improving stability and flexibility at the shoulder joint. Variants • • • Single arm Double arm Split jerk - The split jerk provides all of the benefits of the jerk with the additional benefit of stimulating the nervous system to develop the explosive power necessary to drop and drive into the takedown position.

[Insert Split Jerk Video Here]
• Long Cycle Clean & Jerk - By combining the clean and the jerk (known as the Long Cycle Clean & Jerk) we can employ an exercise that recruits a vast number of motor units, effectively training the entire body. A heavy kettlebell lifted for low reps (4-6 reps or 30 secs) targets max power and a lighter kettlebell lifted for high reps (up to 3 minutes) targets ballistic power and strength and power endurance.

Snatch [Insert Snatch Video Here]
The kettlebell snatch is a progression of the one arm swing whereby the kettlebell is moved from between the legs to an overhead lockout position. Due to the increased range of motion and the overhead lockout there are additional benefits in utilizing the snatch • • • • • • • Greater motor unit recruitment Greater development of power to move the kettlebell to the overhead lockout position Strengthens and stretches the shoulders Teaches the ability to absorb ballistic shock Requires relaxation whilst resisting external loads Improves grip strength & endurance Trains the lower body and stimulates the muscular and joint actions associated with striking, kicking, throwing and taking down an opponent.

Due to the impact on the shoulder musculature no athlete progresses to the snatch until competency has been achieved in one arm swings, high pulls, Turkish get ups & windmills. When the athlete is proficient in the afore-mentioned exercises with a 20 kg kettlebell they are progressed to the snatch. Variants

Dead snatch Hang snatch Split snatch (reviewed below) Double kettlebell snatch Alternate kettlebell snatch

Split Snatch [Insert Split Snatch Video Here]
The split snatch stimulates the movement patterns associated with the take down, teaching the athlete to accelerate, be fleet of foot, rapidly change level of attack, move under a weight and then contract hard to brace against the impact of external forces. As in many combat situations one leg is behind the other and stability is required to remain upright. Reversing the movement, jumping from the split position and “catching” the weight can also be effective in the development of bracing. Only after competency is achieved with the snatch does the athlete begin to use this drill. It requires great athleticism, coordination and proprioreception and because of this we are very selective with the athletes we select to use the drill. Those that have progressed to this exercise have reported fatiguing quickly and this is to be expected with a drill that maximizes neuromuscular facilitation, therefore the rep scheme employed should be carefully managed. Generally our set and rep scheme has been per the following Sets 3-5 3-5 Reps 3-6 per arm 6-8 per arm Resistance 32kg kettlebell 16kg kettlebell Power quality Max/explosive Max/explosive/ballistic – dependant on athlete ability Rest 2-4 min between sets 1-2 min between sets

This exercise is programmed as a stand alone drill and is performed before any conditioning or circuit style training is undertaken. The focus with this lift is maximum acceleration with minimal pause between reps to ensure minimal loss of power. Variants • • Split snatch from the dead position Double kettlebell split snatch

Incorporating the Kettlebell Exercises
We use swings, snatches, jerks and cleans for timed sets of between 15 seconds and 3 minutes. Using varying work to rest ratios and appropriate loads we can target strength endurance, power endurance and max and explosive power whilst also targeting the anaerobic energy systems. Rest

periods are determined by the existing fitness level of the athlete and the goal of the training session. Strength Quality Strength endurance Power endurance Max Power Explosive power Duration 30 secs to 3 minutes 30 secs to 3 minutes 10 – 30 secs 10 – 30 secs Energy Systems Lactic →Aerobic Lactic →Aerobic ATP-CP → Lactic ATP-CP → Lactic Load 12 – 20 kg (24kg with advanced athletes) 12 – 20 kg (24kg with advanced athletes) 20 – 32 kg 20 – 32 kg

OA variants can also be used with the athlete alternating from left to right hand after each rep or after a designated number of swings (i.e. 5 swings left (L) hand switch to right then 5 swings right (R) hand). This movement of the kettlebell from hand to hand requires hand eye coordination and sound focus. We have also adopted circuit style sets where floor based and standing exercises are mixed up to condition the athlete for the physical demands imposed by moving from the floor to the feet as this is generally the way a fight will pan out. Example 1 “Gunslinger” – 45 seconds work 15 seconds rest with any combination of exercises 2–3x DH swings Push ups KB clean & jerk L Band side outs KB clean & jerk R Sprawl Rest 1 – 3 minutes dependant on athlete level of conditioning & programming considerations (i.e.: in fight training, current cycle) Example 2 OA swing L 30 secs * Swiss ball wall get up 30 secs OA swing R 30 secs Jacknife push ups 30 secs DH swing 30 secs Hover 30 secs Rest 1 minute

* the athlete crouches with their back against a wall and attempts to rise while a swiss ball is forced down onto their torso Example 3 Snatch L 30 secs Band resisted bear walk up and down mats 30 secs Snatch R 30 secs Sledge on tyre 30 secs OA Jerk L 30 secs Band resisted bear walk up and down mats 30 secs OA jerk R 30 secs Sledge on tyre 30 secs Example 4 As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes Forward Sled drags 20 metres OA Swing L x 10 reps Backward sled drag 20 metres OA swing R x 10 reps Example 5 5x *Rotational sled drag with band x 4 reps L/R TGU x 4 L/R Rotational sled drag with band x 4 reps L/R Kettlebell shot put x 4 L/R 1 minute rest * A band is attached to the rope that is fixed to the sled. The athlete starts facing the sled. The athlete, holding the band in both hands, pulls the sled toward them while rotating, similar to the movements associated with a judo throw Example 6 Tyre on Sledge x 10 L/R Plate push x length of mat (plate on floor forces the athlete to adopt a very low hip position) DH swings x 20 Crocodile walk length of mats Rest 30 secs -1 min Example 7 Wearing MMA gloves 30 secs kettlebell rack and strike pads (L) 30 secs crocodile walk

30 secs kettlebell rack and strike pads (R) 30 secs swiss ball wall get up 30 secs all out pad strikes 30 secs band outs Rest as required Example 8 Combination drills OA swing → Clean → Squat → Jerk → Snatch → switch hands → repeat for reps or time These workouts target strength & power endurance and the athlete works the 3 energy systems. Lactic acid will build up and the athlete needs to learn to cope with this. Where possible the workouts meet the up down demands of the sport. Training Considerations We have taken great care to ensure that the load is such that the athlete can perform reps with sound technique. For most of our athletes that has meant a kettlebell of either 16, 20 or 24kg. We have been very careful with the number of ballistic exercises we prescribe as some of our athletes have reported feeling more fatigued than usual following regular loading of the posterior chain, (particularly when their focus in the past has been purely hypertrophy, anterior training). From a conditioning perspective we limit the use of posterior chain drills to 2 sessions per week, however we do use them regularly at low to moderate volume and intensity in warm ups. In future we intend to introduce more double kettlebell work (double kettlebell swings, snatches and jerks), kettlebell squat jumps and throws with some of our advanced athletes.

Testing
We have used the following tests on a monthly basis. Testing has been regular since June 2008. A summary of the results is provided here 5 minute snatch test to assess strength & power endurance Test protocol • As many hand changes as the athlete requires • 1 rep = lockout overhead • Record total reps • Although not encouraged the athlete is allowed to put the kettlebell down Max rep double hand swing test to assess strength & power endurance Test protocol • As many double hand reps as possible – no time limit • 1 rep = swing to chest height • Record total reps • The test ceases when the athlete puts the kettlebell down

5 minute OA Jerk Test to assess strength & power endurance Test protocol • As many hand changes as the athlete requires • 1 rep = lockout overhead • Record total reps • Although not encouraged the athlete is allowed to put the kettlebell down Broad Jump Test to assess power

Test protocol
• • • • The measurement is taken from take-off line to the nearest point of contact on the landing (back of the heels) Athlete completes 3 jumps Longest jump in centimetres is recorded Test is conducted indoors on mats

Vertical Jump Test to assess power Test protocol • Double foot take off • Athlete extends arm and marks wall to indicate starting point • Athlete jumps and marks wall with chalk at highest point of jump • Distance between starting point and highest chalk mark are recorded • 3 attempts are made • Test is conducted indoors on concrete floor 4 or 8kg Kettlebell Shot Put Test assess power (Darkin, L http://www.martialartsandsportscience.com.au/) Test protocol • • • • Athlete completes 3 shots/tosses per arm The athlete assumes an orthodox fighting stance with the kettlebell held in the right hand and against the cheek then switch to left hander stance Athlete is encouraged to put the kettlebell in a manner similar to punching Feet remain stationary

This test is a recent addition and to this point it has only been tested on 2 occasions with minimal improvements recorded. Future testing – Kettlebell Power test Some alternative testing options have recently been suggested (D Baker personal communication, Feb 10, 2009) “You can do the whole swing, just attach a line/string running off a drum (a tape measure will do) to the bell. Whatever is pulled off the drum, will give the distance.

Measure the lift distance x weight of bell x 5 reps and then divide by time for the reps, you can get a comparable measure. e.g. 1.5 m x 320 (32 kg converted to Newtons) x 5 reps = 2400 J / 7 secs = 342 watts” We plan to incorporate this test immediately. Note on test results: Prior to the development of the current strength & conditioning program most of our athletes have never been involved in a structured strength and conditioning program. 2 athletes have been involved in a structured program since January 2008 with the remaining 6 involved since June 2008. There will be obvious improvements due to the fact the athletes were previously untrained in this area, however the benefits of kettlebell drills can not be overlooked. Overview It is clear to coaching staff and athletes alike that kettlebell drills have improved the power of striking, kicking, takedowns & throws. Not only has power production improved so to has strength and power endurance, range of motion, grip and torso strength and overall athleticism. The technicalities of the kettlebell lifts have been easier to grasp than true Olympic lifting and this has made it possible for us to facilitate the appropriate training stimulus and maximize gains from the time available. The equipment is mobile and it requires little space to use, allowing us to train and monitor more athletes at any one time. We can cater to the specific needs of the individual by tailoring exercise prescription to suit i.e.: an advanced athlete may perform snatches for 1 minutes each hand whilst an intermediate athlete is performing high pulls for the same time and the novice cleans The mobility also means we can schedule outdoor training sessions, taking the athlete out of the atmosphere of the gym training environment. This has kept the athlete fresh and motivated during periods when training volume & intensity in the gym is high and monotonous. The physical and mental demands of combat sports are high, high rep kettlebell drills and complexes mentally and physically challenge the athlete. Many of our competitive athletes have commented on the improvement in confidence leading into fights as a direct result of the conditioning undertaken. Whilst they are not the be all and end all that some would have us believe, kettlebells have certainly become a valuable and versatile tool in our MMA equipment chest.

References
Baker, D. (2007). ASK Dr Dan; Using Bands and Chains to Increase Explosive Strength and Power. Strength & Conditioning Coach, 15(3): 25-30 Bompa, T. (1995). Power Training for Sport. Plyometrics for maximum Power Development Coaching Association of Canada: Ontario, Canada Mosaic Press: Ontario, Canada Darkin, L. (2004) Fighting Fit. Strength & Conditioning Coach 12(3):

Darkin, L. Increase Your Punching Power. [Online]. 2006. Available from URL: http://www.martialartsandsportscience.com.au/ Enamait, R. (2006). Never Gymless. An Excuse Free System For Total Fitness. Ross Enamait: Connecticut. Garhammer, J.J. A review of the power output studies of Olympic and powerlifting: Methodology, performance prediction and evaluation tests. Journal of Strength and conditioning Research 7:76-89, 1993. Ravensdale, R., Minos, B., Kourbatski, P. (2008). Australian Kettlebells Certification Manual 2008 Australian Kettlebells: Melbourne Smith, J. (2006). Advanced Kettlebell Training – The Final Chapter The Diesel Crew About the Author Jamie Douse is the volunteer strength & conditioning coach at South West Vale Tudo, a mixed martial arts/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club. The club attracts both professional and amateur competitors. He is a very poor competitor himself. He is an accredited Australian Kettlebell Instructor and regular presenter of kettlebell workshops in Western Australia. His full time employment is as a lecturer, delivering Certificates III & IV in Fitness at TAFE. He also holds accreditation • Level 2 ASCA • Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Power Sports Coach • Certificate IV Fitness