Get superpower strength with Russian kettlebells

The might of the vast red army stood ready to fight the West during the Cold War, whilst Russian athletes drove fear in equal measures into the hearts of their ‘enemies’ as they contested the ‘sport’s war’. Soviet superpower was founded on many things, but few will have known what would become  of one humble piece of weight training equipment that was a big part of Soviet athletic training…the kettlebell.

Made from iron and looking like cannon balls with handles, these weights will go on to develop superpower strength.


The kettlebell ideology

Kettlebells originated around the turn of the century in old Russia.

The ‘giryas’ as they were known in Russian were originally forged from bits of old steam engines. They were apparently used by Russian peasants to build strength that is until the authorities got wind of them and confiscated them in fear that a race of supermen might emerge and literally throw their weight around.

However, Kettlebells were not forgotten and they found their way into the laboratories of later day Soviet sports scientists, who used them to condition super strength in their athletes and soldiers.

Girevoy Sport

There are three ‘classic’ kettlebell weights, based on a Russian measure called the ‘pood’. These weigh in at 16Kg (1 pood), 24Kg (1.5 poods) and 32Kg (2 poods). Competitions evolved using kettlebells known as ‘Girevoy Sport’.

These date back to 1948, but the first official National Girevoy Sport Championship was held in 1985.

Competing against the best

The sport requires prodigious amounts of strength endurance. Competitors have to perform as many single arm power snatches as they can with a 32kg kettlebell. It is astounding to hear how strong and tough previous and contemporary exponents of Girevoy Sport are.

In 2003 Oleg Neskromny set a world record in the 80kg class by snatching the 32Kg kettlebell 100 times with each arm, within the 10 minutes allowed for the event.

I just had to look at how this superpower strength endurance like this could be developed, so I enlisted the help of kettlebell expert Neil Rossiak to come up with the short circuit superpower kettlebell workout that follows.

It will have you pleading for mercy and cursing the Russians for developing such a training tool!


The superpower workout

The superpower circuit will pile on muscle, strengthen all body parts and turn you into a superpower in your own right.

For the superpower circuit perform each kettlebell exercise for 1 minute before moving onto the next.

If your arms, legs, abs ….. ears and nose start to burn from the pain (and they will, well maybe not your ears and nose) take a couple of minutes’ recovery between exercises. As your strength and endurance improves you will be able to move from one exercise to the next without the need for so much recovery. Go for two circuits to start with.

Wait! Before you start..

Practice the moves first over a couple of workouts to master their technique. It’s crucial that you learn the swing and the clean.

These moves, as well as being exercises in their own right, are needed to get the kettlebell/bells into the correct starting position for many other exercises, such as the front squat.

You also need to become proficient at supporting the kettlebells on the backs of your forearms without placing strain on your wrists. The key is to keep your wrist in alignment with your forearm as you hold the kettlebell, do not let it flex backward, forward or laterally.

This position is called the ‘racked’ position’.

Different kettlebell variations have been described for most of the exercises in the superpower circuit, these are more advanced and should only be progressed to once you have complete mastery of the basic exercise.

Discover the WORKOUT in tomorrow’s part 2!

Connect with Expert John Shepherd.

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