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Archive for December, 2010

Sergey Rudnev Performs Several Feats of Strength

World Champion Kettlebell lifter and coach Sergey Rudnev demonstrate several amazing kettlebell feats of strength during the USA Elite Kettlebell Training Workshop. Check out the IKSFA website for more information about the event.

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 Kettlebell Training, Videos No Comments

USA Elite Kettlebell Workshop Day 2 Recap: The Snatch and Long Cycle

It is day number two of the kettlebell workshop and fatigue has set in.  After the 1-hour Long Cycle Charity Event and four hours of jerk training I did have trouble getting out of bed the next morning.  But that’s not to say that I was not excited to learn more from two great kettlebell lifters of our generation, Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy. With a little foam rolling and some mobility drills I tried to ignore my soreness and was ready to take on the Snatch and the Long Cycle.

Do I look tired?

The Snatch Start Position

As eluded to in the first article on the Jerks;  Girevoy (kettlebell) Sport (GS) style of kettlebell training focuses on relaxation and efficiency of movement all to get as many reps as possible over a period of time.

The body position of the snatch is similar to how you would start with any other kettlebell movement.  When grabbing the handle, the middle finger will be in the center of the handle. The handle should rest at the base of the fingers to minimize callus irritation at the palm where it meets the fingers.  For extra support the index finger can cross and lock over the thumb.

Starting Option for The Snatch

After the grip is set, the swing is initiated.  Keeping the forearm aligned with the center of the kettlebell mass, begin the backswing.  During the backswing, the arm is permanently connected to the trunk; the weight is carried with the body through the legs to form the backswing.  Keeping the kettlebell and arms close to the trunk during the backswing helps to initiates the fluid movement of the kettlebell into the upswing motion.  During the upswing the kettlebell and the arm are in-line.  At the end of the upswing the arm will begin to leave the trunk and the legs will be fully extended at this time.

The Pull

After the upswing and the arm begins to leave the trunk it is time for the initiation of the pull.  It is important that you wait for disconnection of the arm against the trunk, because a common mistake is initiating the pull too early.  To accelerate the kettlebell through the pull phase to get it overhead, the hips and trunk are allowed to rotate through the transverse plane (side-to-side).  As an example: if you are snatching the kettlebell with your right hand, as the kettlebell goes into the pull and up overhead the left hip will rotate forward and then snap back to get the kettlebell to the top.

Hand Insertion

To get the kettlebell to the top position you can insert the hand one of two ways; straight over the top or from the side.  For myself, when using the transverse hip shift it seemed really natural for me to insert my hand in the sideways manner because the hip movement causes the kettlebell to move in an inside-out manner.  If I did not perform the transverse hip movement (like in the RKC Style) the over the top manner seems more natural.

At the top of the snatch, much like in the jerk, the handle rests on the thumb while the wrist and hand are both relaxed.

Drop Phase

To bring the kettlebell back into the downswing, initiate the movement by turning your palm towards your head and then performing the drop one of two ways; the classic style, where the elbow comes straight down or the more modern style, where the elbow travels slightly sideways.  I found the classic style to be a little bit easier for myself.

One of the more vital component that distinguishes the GS style drop over from other styles (RKC) is that as you turn the hand towards your head and drop the elbow the upper body simultaneously moves away (backward) from the dropping kettlebell; this is much different than dropping forward with the falling kettlebell.  GS athletes push their body away from the kettlebell for efficiency purposes; this keeps the kettlebell close to the body and allows for easier arm to trunk connection.

Drop Phase of The Snatch

Check out this video compilation for visual demonstrations for the techniques mentioned above:

Long Cycle

The GS long cycle is taking either one (women) or two (men) kettlebells and performing the clean and jerk for repetitions.  It is basically the sum of two parts that we have already covered.  The jerk, that is described in the first article and the swing used during the snatch are very similar during the long cycle with only minor differences.

One difference is that during the long cycle, especially when using two kettlebells, your stance will be a bit wider to accommodate the swing of the kettlebells.  This wider stance also means that the jerks completed during the long cycle will be done with a slightly wider base then if you are just doing jerks alone.

The second difference is the two-motion descent from the top of the jerk to the backswing.  Like the jerks, you allow the kettlebells to drop into the racked position and to go into the backswing you push your body away from the kettlebells (do not fall forward).  The coaches said to visualize pushing yourself away from a wall.  After your body is leaning away and the kettlebells go into the backswing. To achieve this, wait for the arms to connect to the trunk and hips and then move the kettlebells with your body into the backswing.

Hand position on the backswing can be done either with the thumb up or thumb down; the Russian coaches said it was about 50/50 in terms or what the athletes use.

Here is an expert video to give you an idea of how to perform the long cycle properly.

Two days, eight hours, and a ton of information.  I hope these few tips give you a glimpse into the GS kettlebell world and help you out with your training.

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 Kettlebell Training 2 Comments

USA Elite Kettlebell Workshop Day 1 Recap: The Jerk

I had just finished the 1-hour Long Cycle Charity Event and was basking on the elation of accomplishing such a daunting task when reality set in; wait, now I have to complete day one of the kettlebell workshop.  The workshop was four hours and we were covering the jerk. Suddenly the 1-hour long cycle event and the 360+ long cycle clean and jerks I did seemed a little small in comparison.  Were my arms and shoulders going to reject me half-way through?  Whatever came next, I told myself, that I better mentally prepare for the hours ahead and hope that the Russian coaches don’t break me.

Were these coaches serious?  Four hours on one single movement?  About five minutes into the workshop you realized that world class kettlebell athletes Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy could have spoken for days about the nuances of the kettlebell jerk and maintained a captive audience.  Their insight was unselfish and priceless.  In this article I will share some of the many tips I have learned to help your kettlebell jerks become more efficient.

Start Position

The first thing we have to do is to get the kettlebells from the floor and into the racked position.  The kettlebells should be about 20-25cm in front of you on the floor and when you get ready for your backswing, your back should be properly aligned.

The racked position is different depending on what style you use.  For the Girevoy (kettlebell) sport (GS) style the kettlebells sit much closer to the midline of the body, the hips are forward and elbows are to get as close to the Iliac Crests of the hips as possible.

GS Rack Position

Stance is very important for a successful racking of the kettlebells leading to successful jerks.  Rudnev Rachinskiy expressed that the feet should not be too wide; there is no need for a back swing when solely performing the jerks so getting your legs underneath you in a narrower stance than in the long cycle (performing jerks after a full swing and clean) is optimal.  Unlike hardstyle kettlebell lifting (RKC)the GS lifters try to lift as many reps as they can over a long period of time; the whole sprint vs. a marathon analogy.  The GS lifter’s legs should be loose and relaxed to allow for maximal acceleration of the kettlebells and increased blood flow when going for those long sets.

I found that when practicing getting the kettlebells to the racked position I lacked consistency in the positioning of the kettlebells due to my limited knowledge in GS training techniques.  One of the ways the coaches explained to get the kettlebells into the proper position was to clean the kettlebells up high (by the shoulders) and literally pull the kettlebells down into the proper racked position.  The coaches also suggest that you incorporate simply keeping the kettlebells in the racked position for a time as part of your training.  They stress that the athlete must learn to rest in the rack position and not allow any energy to leak from your body.  They have been known to hold this position anywhere from 10-15 minutes and they are able to walk around while doing so.  I did it for 1-minute with 24kgs and that was difficult for me to accomplish.

Coach Rudnev Demonstrated the Rack Position

First and Second Dip

After the kettlebells are racked and you have found your comfortable racked position, it is time to get them overhead.  The initial phase is the knee dip, and it is a knee dip not a squat.  If you are like me and try to keep your shins vertical when squatting and doing other leg work, this is hard to clear your mechanical instincts.  With relaxed legs; you literally shoot the knees forward as if someone hit your knees from behind, and at the same time, your hips drop forward a bit while having the kettlebells maintain contact with your chest and hips.

This quick stretch in the quads and hip flexors creates a wave-like motion that resonates from your legs through the upper body and begins to send the kettlebells out of the rack position and overhead.  When this wave-like motion resonates through the hips and up through the kettlebells, the knees and ankles will extend (much like Olympic lifting) and the first dip has been completed.

The second dip commences when the kettlebells are sent out of the rack position and your knees and ankles are extended, you then dive under the kettlebells also known as the under squat.  The under squat is short and the jerk is complete when the heels drive back into the ground and the knees extend and you are in a complete standing position know as the fixation.

Fixation

The Fixation is the completed movement where the body is at the standing position and the weights are overhead.  The coaches continually stress the importance of keeping the arms very relaxed to allow for maximum bump after the first dip which leads to proper fixation.

Coach Rudnev Demonstrates the Fixation of the Jerk

When getting the kettlebells overhead, concentrating on thumb position helps aid in the proper trajectory of the kettlebells.  The thumb should be in a nearly neutral forearm position traveling directly upward in the sagittal plane.  One common mistake is overpronating the thumbs so the palms travel forward, this will overload the shoulders and triceps which will cause these muscles to fatigue which will result in lower number of repetitions.  The handle of the kettlebells should also be resting on the thumbs with the other fingers open and resting.

Relaxed Hand at the Top of the Jerk

Amortization (Drop)

After the jerk is complete it is time to return the kettlebells back down into the racked position, this is known as the amortization or drop phase.  To achieve a high number of jerk repetitions it is important to work on your consistency when returning the kettlebells into the rack position.  Ideally you want your elbows to drop back down toward the midline and glue directly to the side of the body.  Two common mistakes are controlling the kettlebells back into the racked position which causes too much muscle fatigue and allowing the elbows to slip away from the trunk which will need excessive adjustments to get the kettlebells back into the proper racked position.

Check out this video below of coach Sergey Rudnev performing three minutes of kettlbell jerks:

Equipment

Some equipment that help GS athletes complete high numbers of repetitions for the jerks include Olympic weight lifting shoes which have a raised heel which aides in the hip dip phases and also provide a strong base of support.  Many GS lifters also use a weight belt, not necessarily for increasing intra-abdominal pressure but to help aid the arms during the drop phase of the jerks.  The belt does not allow the elbows to slip outside the trunk.

There you have some of the finer details of the Kettlebell Jerks as taught to me by two of the greatest kettlebell lifters of our generation.  In the second article I will cover some points from Day 2 of the workshop covering The Snatch and the Long Cycle.

Check out the IKSFA website for more information about the event.

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 Kettlebell Training No Comments
 

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