Dr Mel Siff Discusses Kettlebells

Published: 23rd February 2010
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This is an exchange between Dr Mel Siff and a member of the Supertraining Yahoogroup. A member wrote:

Dr Siff, the information on the kettlebell training was informative. Many of the studies and techniques can be found in Pavel Tsatsouline's 'The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.' I purchased a solid kettlebell (KB) from dragondoor.com after previously purchasing kettlebell handles from ironmind.com . The benefit of the handles is that weight can be added to any amount versus the fixed weight of the solid KBs (16 kg, 24 kg, and 32 kg).

The disadvantage, for myself, of the handles is that for cleans, presses, jerks, etc (overhead movements) the plates slide around and are not too stable. The handles are great for pulls, swings, extended pulls from blocks while the solid kbs are more stable for overhead movements.

Dr Mel Siff: Are there actual studies or references to Russian scientific journals in Pavel's book? If so, please cite some of them here for our interest.

A Member wrote: As one gentleman stated in a past post, it is easy to overtrain with the kbs as the tonnage mounts very rapidly especially in high rep swings, cleans, and snatches. A simple calculation for volume of reps x weight, i.e., 16kg x 25 swings= 400kg (880lb) so you can see that even though the intensity (% of 1RM) is low, the volume can mount rapidly.

KB training is fun and is a throwback to the early days of weight training before machines. I take my KB and a jump rope while I travel and get a great training session anywhere - last trip I trained in the hotel parking lot.

For anyone who has not tried them, they are fun, will definitely increase your work capacity

and there are an infinite variety of exercise for the whole body to be discovered.

Dr Mel Siff: Our Scots training instructor at my former university had some kettlebells in our early university gym about 40 years ago and we enjoyed using them for many exercises, and found that they can be useful in offering one form of general physical preparation (GPP), alongside various gymnastics and rope climbing drills. However, their novelty often means that one can spend far too much time with them, time that could produce greater competitive improvement if devoted to the competitive lifts and their variants. The solid variety also allows one to impose more stress on the wrist flexors and extensors (which also can be a negative feature for some people who overuse KBs).

A Member wrote: Exercises I currently do or am working toward with KBs (can be one or two arms)-cleans, clean and jerk, snatch, swings, high pulls, squat pulls, side press, bent press, Turkish get ups, leg circles and figure eights, tri extensions, curls, rowing motion, pullovers, floor press, pullups (with bells on feet and release to complete set), press, pistols. I am sure there are a lot more out there to be discovered.

Dr Mel Siff: Note that it very simple to devise exercises for KB training - just begin with the realisation that all you can do with dumbbells, you can do with KBs. Then, remember that the handles allow you to grip above the load and, if you are using solid KBs, you can add variations which involve wrist flexion and extension.

A Member wrote: Pavel quotes that in Prof Medvedev weightlifting book there are 24 exercise for arms and shoulders and 29 for legs and torso! Russian KB Challenge, p


Dr Mel Siff: I have Dr Medvedev's Weightlifting book (and a few others by him) and do not recall seeing any routines being given for kettlebell training - there were over 100 exercises based upon the Olympic lifts, but none on kettlebell training for weightlifters - did Pavel quote exactly which of Dr Medvedev's books featured those KB exercises?

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