Most people who use the kettlebell, or even who teach people how to use the kettlebell use it with the best of intentions. They want to lose weight, get strong, and improve their athleticism, and more often than not they’ve heard about how impressive the kettlebell is as a tool to achieve all of those things. They might have heard of the studies by McGill that talk about how good the kettlebell swing is for your lower back, they might have heard of Tracy Reifkind and her amazing transformation from someone who didn’t like her body to someone who wouldn’t swap it for anyone elses, or perhaps they heard of Donnie Thompson and how the kettlebell improved his already world-class deadlift: unfortunately, what they probably didn’t hear was the specific way that these people were using the kettlebell.
There are two main ways of using the kettlebell: fluid-style, and hard-style. The fluid style is the style that is utilised by people who are performing kettlebell sport, and it is focussed upon efficiency. Those who do this particular style of lifting perform amazing feats of strength and endurance over the course of a 10-minute event, and it is absolutely the best way of training for these events. Some notable people who train using this style are Steve Cotter, Ksenia Du…ova, and Valery Fedorenko. If you are interested in competing I’d encourage you to track down these people or their agents.
The other style is hard-style. Hard-style is focussed upon inefficiency. Developed and refined by Pavel Tsatsouline and various others who have become a part of the StrongFirst system, the goal of hard-style kettlebell training is to make things as inefficient as possible while producing maximal power so that when you perform in the sport that you are training for, even if it’s just living your daily life and picking up your children, it is as easy as possible. I love hard-style kettlebells as taught by StrongFirst because of the changes that I’ve seen it produce, both in myself, my clients, and in people all around the world. It is this style of lifting that was utilised in all the stories mentioned above.
It is this style of kettlebell training that I have seen strip kilos and kilos off bodies in incredibly short spaces of time (in the last StrongBody Challenge we ran we had one student drop 15kg, another student drop 7kg, and numerous others drop at least 4% body fat in eight weeks), and it is this style of training that I have seen stop people from experiencing lower back complaints. I love this style of training because of the athletes who I have seen gain significantly on their vertical leap, break sprint records for their age group, and show improved balance and control in their sports (including regional, state and national level athletes across a range of fields). Finally, I love this style of training because of the community that I have gotten to interact with around it. I’ve met great people from all over the world, from the middle east to the UK, the USA and here in Australia through this group, and I’ve been able to learn valuable lessons about strength and life from many of them.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because over the next period, I’m going to try and release some information on the different movements, some information on resources related to the different movements, and some fixes for common errors that people might be struggling with. I’m not re-inventing the wheel with this stuff. Many of the cues that I discuss will be from the StrongFirst curricula and from resources that I discuss, and nothing can replace visiting your local StrongFirst Instructor and attending an SF course or certification: but for those who can’t afford to, or for whom a course or a cert. isn’t yet an option, the goal of this guide is to equip you to perform the movements safely until you can. We’re going to start with the swing, the TGU and the squat, and then depending upon the response, we’ll head on from there. Thanks for your time, hopefully, you’ll be back again soon to learn some fixes for common errors in the swing.