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In Defense of Very Heavy Kettlebells... and Why I Love Having Them Around...

Beast Kettlebell next to 10lb kettlebell - Both from Dragon Door While very heavy swings are certainly not recommended for beginners, intermediate to advanced kettlebell maniacs might want to consider the challenge.  For one it can be both a serious ego check (at first) and a real ego builder (a little later).   And ladies, do NOT shy away from heavy when you're ready... short sets of heavy swings make for some glorious glutes, and bring power to all your other lifts, sports, and life in general.  The gluteus maximus is named that for a reason... might as well put it to work! :)


Keep Reading for a list of tips for very heavy swings......

While it isn't always ABSOLUTELY necessary to swing extremely heavy kettlebells... it sure is a fun challenge and will bring along some unexpected benefits -- apart from the obvious (automatic form check, if you aren't doing it right, that big evil kb will let you know immediately... years ago, the first time I attempted swinging a beast kb, I drove it super hard and it pulled me over onto the ground (I made it look like I meant to do a plank... yeah yeah that's it... this is a very advanced combo... right right, so advanced no one should ever do it again.... LOL). That was several years ago, and these days I swing the 48kg beast, 40kg, and 36kg for short sets of 5-10 (and sometimes more... depends on the day) and find that they provide not only very valuable feedback, they make all the other kbs in your arsenal seem wonderfully light by comparison... so the kbs you might have had some kind of mental hang up about before are now put in their place... interestingly enough, very heavy kettlebell swings ended up helping me on heavy presses where my conscious mind had vetoed the possibility... I credit that and human flag progressions with the 28kg singles that happen every now and then. Considering I weight about 59kg that's fairly significant.

Tips for starting to swing very heavy:

  1. Is your form on lighter kettlebell swings absolutely dialed in?  If you are using your back at all, do NOT attempt a heavy swing of any kind.   See an RKC instructor immediately and have them punch you in the stomach... (WHAT?! Ok now that I have your attention... what I mean is... make sure you're using your abdominal muscles... and request that your RKC or HKC instructor give you a gentle reminder--tap your belly at the top of a swing or two--to make sure you are really engaging those abdominals to protect your back... and to work on those righteous abs at the same time).  Still unsure?  Get to know the new huge kettlebell with some strict deadlifts.  Again, proper form is critical, if you're unsure, get an instructor ASAP.
  2. Before the kettlebell ever leaves the ground make sure that the area around you is safe (you should be doing this anyway, but I wanted to bring it up anyway...)  make sure the area BEHIND you is safe too...  one of my guys had his grip fail on a backswing of the Beast, and he did the right thing, maintained his correct body position and just let it go.  Then we marveled at the dint it left in the tarmac and high fives all around.   Today he swings it with ease, but is always sure to check behind him for anything that could be broken... feet, phones, etc.
  3. Make sure you are warmed up!  I like to do some lighter swings first, just to check that my mind is in the right place with the form.
  4. Remember, it doesn't have to be chest height....   first time swinging something mega-heavy? think of taking it "belt height" at first... see how it feels, and soon you'll find that kettlebell is at the chest in no time, or if not, no biggie -- the thing to do is really get some POWER through your hips and glutes and lock out very strong at the top of the swing, no matter where the top happens to be.   Also, really shouldn't have to say this, but don't go higher than the chest with a heavy kettlebell.. that's asking for big trouble.
  5. Have fun and don't get frustrated.   If it doesn't happen today, so what!  Have fun with it, do some deadlifts and come back to it later.  Victory will be sweet whenever it happens, and you'll no doubt break through some mental barriers just by picking it up at all.
  6. Celebrate with some farmer's walks, and make sure that you use proper form when putting the kettlebells away... in your shed, gym etc. I like to lift the big kettlebells with one hand and try to "act" like they're hollow or something. 
  7. Be humble with your new found strength and power (especially ladies... men will BOGGLE at your abilities, and even the untrained might see the ease you'll eventually have with very heavy swings and think they can do it right away... don't let them hurt themselves!).
  8. Have fun.   Very heavy kettlebells open up the mind for all kinds of interesting training combinations, and you can sometimes use them to anchor a battling rope if you're training outdoors.

Here's what I consider "very heavy" for most people: 48kg, 44kg, 40kg, 36kg
For ladies, 48kg, 44kg, 40kg, 36kg, 32kg    Adding just one of these monsters to your collection can be a ton of fun.   Let me know your heavy swing stories, and/or if you decide to go for it!!

Let's Train in Chicago!

SCC Strength Calisthenics CertificationLet's train together in Chicago! The Dragon Door SCC (Strength Calisthenics Certification) is coming to Chicago June 3rd, 2017. Register early to save $50. Hope to see you there. This powerful one-day workshop is great for trainers looking to upgrade their calisthenics toolkit, or for serious exercise enthusiasts who want to fine-tune their own training.
 

Rings of Power by Mike GIllette

Rings of Power by Mike Gillette Cool new book from Mike Gillette about Ring Training for all fitness levels. Being on this shoot with Mike was like working with a real live action hero! (And I got to put a cinderblock on him too!) Mike knows his stuff and shares everything you need to know for his versatile go-anywhere ring training.  Full progressions of every exercise, workout plans, and all the know-how to take the training as far as you wish. Good stuff, and yes, that's me on the left side of the cover  :)

 

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