Sunday, December 13, 2009

Return of the Kettlebell Swing. Awesome Endurance Strength, Full Body, Technique Rich Finisher via Running the Bells

What to do when your practice/training/work session is not quite as long as you'd like it to be but you just can't keep going with your main effort? For me, the hardstyle kettlebell Swing is the Answer, and in particular, running the bells with the swing is becoming a great finisher - at least for me. Here's an example scenario you may find useful.

Recently, in an effort to improve my endurance strength and get my overall workout volume up a bit, i've been adding in 15/15 Viking Warrior Conditioning (review) days as a complement to my Return of the Kettlebell work (some experiences with the RTK protocol documented here).

As folks who get into snatching a kb a lot know, this can be grief-ful for one's hands as technique and adaptation occur. Rather than going all out, therefore, i've been gating my sets by my hands: if a callus starts to get that dread gonna tear dry pully feeling, i quit. Yesterday, i likely should have rowed instead to give my hands a break, but taped one hand instead, and did the work. Quit when the hand actually got sore in the callus area. Pain is a signal for change. Ok. I'll change. But to what?

Stopping sooner than the rest of me might wish with the snatches, what to do to keep the heart rate up into that working level similar to the VWC and get in a full time work set? The approach i've come up with is one variant of running the bells.

Running the bells, described previously, is a thing i think i may have originated for simulating hills workouts: one lines up bells of different sizes and goes from lighter to heavier back and forth nonstop.

In this variant, drawing on Pavel's love of ladders, i thought i might try that with a Run.

TO that end, i lined up a 20, 12 and 16, and did a back and forth run with the 20 as the increment marker. The 12 in the middle became a nice recovery set where i could focus on technique and overspeed work. So the sets went like this

First Rung:

Second rung
12* 15swings
16* 15swings
12* 15swings
60 swings

Third Rung
80 swings

Fourth Rung
100 swings

280 swings, i'm guessing about 10-12 minutes work (100 swings takes me about 3-4 mins i think)

Obviously there are other ways to vary this - add in another bell; keep adding rungs, whatever.

Progress towards Owning my Swing.
What i find kinda nice with this short session/finisher is that it lets me focus on the swing. I've written before i think about how in order to keep my heart rate up between RTK sets, and DOMS down (more about cardio=reduced doms), i use a really light bell, and do 50 swings (about 2 mins) for active recovery between ladders. This has let me focus on technique with such a small load. It's been great to have this as the swing is otherwise not at this point a core part of my diet. But it is such a beautiful move.

So what i've found with a short session of running the bells this way is that each weight brings attention to a different technique aspect. The 20 seems to get focus on lower lats, keeping these open and hip drive. The 12, as said, is mainly speed and pelvic rotation (i'll come back to that latter point in another post), the 16 is general connected form. That's nice. It's really an interesting practice to do these small bursts of focused attention on the distinct challenges of particular loads. Likewise there's sufficient load effort overall with the ladders for real work to be done, if heart rate is an indicator.

Advantages, Heart rate stays up, it's a kind of interval work because of the recovery in the lighter load reps, pretty much all aspects of the double handed swing get worked, including strengthening my hands/grip which will help for the snatch.

I like it. If you give it a go as a finisher for one of your sets, please let me know.
Related Posts:

Tracy Reifkind Showing How the Hard Style Swing is Done, Cooked, and Served Up

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