Kettlebell Training Does Get Easier

As interest in Kettlebells grows in Central VT, and more people take advantage of training opportunities, I have had the benefit of witnessing the community around me grow astonishingly strong. It’s not that Kettlebell Training is the only way that we have achieved astonishing strength amongst us. It’s really just that Kettlebells have been the easiest way to get stronger for a lot of people who have not had success with weight training, and it will most likely continue to be a valuable device and training program for centuries to come.

The greatest benefit in training with Kettlebells is that, once you’ve learned how to properly apply the technique, the movements become smooth and extremely efficient. The flow of movement created by a seasoned Kettlebell lifter appears to seamlessly power itself, which makes the lifting process even more graceful and enjoyable, and allows for a safer training experience every time. This seemingly effortless practice is the result of a lot of time spent focusing on movement specifics, and a whole lot of repetitions put in. Below is SF based Master of Sport Surya Voinar-Fowler…

When you’re getting beat up by incorrect technique how can you expect any training practice to produce healthy results? For me, Kettlebell Training is primarily seen as practice for when I’m stronger than I am right now, not as an exploitation of my current physical ability; that’s why I post videos of other people performing amazing things, and that is why I encourage you to find sources of inspiration in your own Kettlebell training practice. For instance, for the past few years I have been using videos of Ivan Denisov’s lifting to inspire me in my practice. If you want to see someone make it look easy, watch the first and last minute of the video below…

It was reading about Denisov that led me to look as deeply into Kettlebell Training as I have. In this depth, I have discovered a world of education and resource, and inspiration and wonder. If you wonder why go to 2:04 of the video below and watch Fedor Fuglev work…

The aspects of Kettlebell Training that work to increase overall lifting performance lie in our ability to use them correctly to train at phenomenal endurance levels and at high strength ratios. I trust that generations of Kettlebell Lifters will continue to reach high levels of agility, strength, fitness, and vitality at a low risk of complication, using the Kettlebell as a tool for centuries to come.

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Get Stronger Now

Throughout my time as a Kettlebell Trainer I have watched a lot of people get stronger, sometimes over long periods of time, sometimes seemingly in an instant.

Regardless of how long it has taken in my work, something that is always constant, no matter what, is that people do get stronger. To be honest, I have to say that this does not come with an easy task. Some bodies aren’t necessarily conditioned to being strong yet, therefore this creates a certain level of caution when working towards new found and uncharted limits.


This is akin to stumbling over a ledge, if you can catch yourself or are durable enough to take the fall then you get a learning experience from which to grow, i.e. watch your step.

But if you don’t catch yourself and you cant take the impact of the fall then let’s just say “that that’s the end of that chapter”.

In simple weightlifting terms, if you overdo something, whether the weight or the reps, you either have to be strong enough to recover from going too far or you have to be able to sustain the injury without catastrophic effect.

All of this is pointing to the fact that getting stronger, depending on who you are, is either a gradual progression of checks and balances, or your body is just ready to be strong.

My personal favorite to start with is the person who has been dabbling with Kettlebell training already on their own, these people when introduced to the true foundations of of the practice can seemingly double the amount of weight that they are able to work with in a single session. PREACH.

I’m actually not gonna keep you longer then to say this. When I say “Get Stronger Now”, it’s not an order it’s just what we offer, to anybody who wants to develop, build, maintain, or increase their personal ability through exercise. When I say “strength to last a lifetime” or “strong for life”, I don’t mean like for what life has in store for you, although that is true and implied, when I say “Strong For Life” I mean strong for the rest of your life!

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Special Endurance

Recently, I came across this video of a lifter who weighs about 140 pounds, doing 204 straight movements with two 53 pound Kettlebells. So naturally, I mentioned this to enough people to make me just want to repost it here. Enjoy!


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Kettlebell Juggling Progression

In Kettlebell training, it’s hard to progress far unless you are constantly pushing your strength edges and repeatedly pressure testing your ability to control heavier Kettlebells. This is truest with juggling Kettlebells.

By the time you can safely flip and catch a 50 pound Kettlebell you’ve most likely mastered the basic training fundamentals for your juggling progression. You’ve countlessly dropped 25 and 35 pound kettlebells in your efforts to figure out specific moves and transitions, and you’ve learned to stay focused in your training since the first time that a 20 pound Kettlebell grazed your calf. But, chances are, if you can do 10 simple flips with a 50 pound kettlebell then you can also perform more complex techniques with those same 25 and 35 pound Kettlebells you were dropping in the beginning.

Using lighter Kettlebells to learn more complicated movements will increase all of your toss and catch capabilities, so will applying your mastery of simple juggling movements to heavier kettlebells and getting them to work just the same.

That’s how I teach… and my students flip 100 pound kettlebells like I do!

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Kettlebell Snatch Record

Here is a video that I came across a number of months ago and have shared around, although this is the first time that I’ve written about my thoughts on it. I find this to be very inspirational when training the Kettlebell Snatch. The man in the video, Ferdor Fuglev, is a world famous Kettlebell athlete as well as world renowned Ukrainian Kettlebell coach. He not only holds many titles and records of his own but has also been pivotal in the training of many Kettlebell sport champions across the world. This video acts as a demonstration of physical ability and endurance but also displays a high level of technical proficiency, in that this would not be possible if there were any flaws in form. Enjoy!

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Showcase: AX2 Kettlebells

For the past 3 months I have been training two teenagers, whom I’ve known since they were young, with Kettlebells through a mentoring program provided by their high school.  Our work is centered around learning and practicing movement specifics before introducing heavier Kettlebells. This way they can make, and learn from, their mistakes without the risk of injuries that would set their training back, this practice also helps them become familiar and comfortable with the device itself. Although they have only been training with me since late August, I believe the boys have already retained enough information to put them well on their ways to becoming very strong young men and I look forward to helping them through this process.








Over the years, I have had a lot of experience training youth in exercise, but it is something else to train two boys who have similar training goals as my adult students, and myself for that matter. For instance, when the boys watch me demonstrate a lift with a heavy Kettlebell and then I look at them and say “one day this will be your working weight” I see in them the passion that will drive their training, and in time enable them to posses an incredible strength and knowledge of lifting.

Like any other Kettlebell training program, before I introduced any movements to the boys I familiarized them with the tension techniques necessary for heavy lifting and stabilization. This way they would posses the knowledge for supporting larger weights through various ranges of motion, as well as how to generate force and direct it in to action. Using stability exercises such as Arm Bars and Turkish Get-Ups I taught the boys how to use the entire body to support resistance, with these exercises the boys discovered what it takes to secure a weight in it’s position while other movements are being performed.

I continued to use simple movements such as Around-the-Worlds, Goblet Cleans, Squat Holds, and One-Legged Deadlifts to teach them to engage their bodies as a whole during each movement, and to help them become comfortable with what the weights wanted to do and how to handle them once they began to move. These exercises also worked to teach the basic alignment principles that go into moving weight efficiently. Once the boys understood where they wanted their bodies to be and what they needed to do to maintain these positions I had them use heavier Kettlebells to make this more difficult. This caused them to apply more of their strength to each drill, solidifying their understanding for what is actually going on when applying resistance to the body; how the spine wants to yield to the weight, how the arm wants to twist to allow the Kettlebell to fall back to the ground, how the body wants to fold or fall under the weight of heavy squats, and most importantly what needs to be done to do to make sure that these things don’t happen.

Last month we were able to begin swinging, single arm cleaning, and pressing Kettlebells, as well as sustaining overhead holds for time. The boys had already been introduced to the momentum of Kettlebell swings through goblet cleans, making clear the weightless concept of this exercise, while arm bars and Turkish get-ups made them familiar with what lockout feels like, so pressing and overhead holds have taken no time for the boys to learn. These exercises have now become a focus of our training, as the boys understand the principles of each but have yet to be exposed to weights that are challenging enough to move to make proper technique difficult to maintain.








As time goes on, they are doing extremely well with the program, realizing that while the weight and resistance may increase it is the body’s work in maintaining technique that will lead to their increased physical ability. Now that they’ve gotten a handle on the movement patterns and are able to face more difficult tasks using more resistance, this is a concept that the boys have begun to express through the journal entries on their website. They’re beginning to see that there really is no limit to what they can achieve if the proper work is put in and the proper technique adhered to. I am excited for the boys to start pushing against the current limits of their strength and for them to find out how much more strength they have at hand. What an awesome opportunity for us all.

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Youth Kettlebell Lifter

First, I’d like to point out that there is no strength, size, or ability requirement to begin training with Kettlebells- we all have to start from somewhere. As you may or may not know, I am definitely a proponent of perfect Kettlebell Lifting form and would not post a video showcasing ability if it failed to demonstrate a solid technique. I’m pretty sure that this video will speak for itself.

Granted the Kettlebell weighs about 18lbs- and the girl is 11 years old- but she Snatches that piece of steel 212 times in 10 minutes. To me this is a healthy demonstration of youth weight lifting, as well as the capability and capacity derived from proper lifting technique. At no point does this girl’s form break down, nor does she ever make it look too difficult- also at no point is she in danger of injury.

Watch a bit of this next video for contrast. This is an adult, not the same girl years later, but she is snatching the same weight, for half the time. It is obvious that the 11 year old has had a more thorough training experience, and I won’t down play the adult’s ability gained through her training, but I will let these two videos demonstrate the difference between perfect and less than perfect form. Enjoy!

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Radiant Tension Part 1

When I was introduced to Kettlebell Exercises in 2003, the very first thing that I learned was a phrase that I now use throughout my daily life. That phrase is “Pinch The Nickel”, and refers to increasing glute activation when lifting weight by imagining that you are squeezing a nickel, or whatever denomination you like, between your buttocks in order to engage those muscles. In addition to engaging the glutes, this visualization allows you to contract the musculature of your entire lower body- from the crest of your hips to the soles of your feet- and apply the force created  to every lift you perform. Pavel Tsatsouline wrote about this concept, also known as radiant tension, in his popular book, Power to the People. The concept is also the basis for Tsatsouline’s Kettlebell Training Certifications, as well as the foundation for all elite level weightlifting.

Later in my Kettlebell lifting career I had the opportunity to attend a couple of Tsatsouline’s certifications and was blown away by how much more there was to the visualization of pinching a nickel with my butt. In fact, pinching the nickel was merely the beginning. I came back from those certs with many of the tools that I use today to create strength in myself, as well as all of the classes that I teach.

It really is simple once you get down to it. Since childhood we’ve been taught that the seemingly separate parts of our bodies are actually connected to each other, at multiple points, through bone and muscle. In weight lifting this means that if I am performing an action to target one muscle group, the lift will invariably effect and be effected by the contraction, or lack there of,  in corresponding muscle groups. The key then is to link the various muscle groups into every action, to support the primary muscles involved so that they aren’t being overstressed, but also so that the supporting muscles themselves are strengthened in the process.

In my time as a trainer I have learned and explored many effective ways to build on radiant tension as a strength skill. Like all other strength skills, the ability to engage more of the musculature is a feat to be practiced and improved upon. I find Kettlebell Exercises to be my favorite medium for training radiant tension because the design of the Kettlebell makes it so that the lifter acts as the counterbalance, and thus must maintain a level of tension in the body in order to avoid a constant struggle against gravity. With practice, this counterbalancing ability becomes second nature to the lifter and  is easily applied to heavier weight lifts, more difficult body weight exercises, and the physical demands of everyday life.

Below is a video of Benedikt Magnusson performing his World Record Deadlift of 1015lbs. If you would like to see the concept of radiant tension applied then take a moment and watch this video a few times.

It’s easy to see here that if any one part of Magnusson’s body was not engaged, the weight would have pulled him right back to the ground, most likely with a few serious repercussions. In other words, this lift would not have been possible if the lifter was not aware of how to make every part of his body activate in order to perform such a momentous feat of strength.

In part 2, I will go deeper into the concept of radiant tension and how you might apply these techniques to whatever exercise program you are currently involved in. Until then, stay safe in your workouts and remember, if nothing else, to pinch that nickel!


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Scout Fit

A few days ago I finished with 3 weeks of ROOTS School’s Scout Classes. These classes are designed to present participants with the knowledge of how to protect themselves, the people they care about, and the place where they live.

In these 3 weeks one of my roles was to teach students how to apply full body awareness and exercise regiments to a low tech, highly active environment. Students learned body work and simple resistance techniques to strengthen movements such as crawling over various terrain, moving slowly for extended periods of time, entering and exiting water silently, and carrying themselves through various situations that present high physical demands. At the end of it all we’re all exhausted.

I suggest these classes to anyone who would like to see just how far they can push themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and structurally. I know that each year we run Scout I end up with a deeper understanding for how durable I am and an increased trust in the abilities that I train everyday. I can’t help but credit this skill set with making me the person that I am today and am constantly grateful to have an avenue and platform  to practice such an integral part of my life. Thank you to everyone involved in making Scout Class possible, I can’t wait to do it again.

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Vermonster Kettlebell Challenge

On the weekend of August 25-26th, Green Mountain CrossFit, at The Confluence, is hosting their 1st CrossFit Competition/Obstacle Race and have invited NCK to host a Kettlebell Challenge on the second day of the event, August 26th.

The Kettlebell Challenge should yield more than a few competitors with a wide range of experience. Since it’s designed as an event to showcase Kettlebell lifters ability as well as be a lighthearted challenge for those interested in competition, participants will be judged strictly on safety of technique. The categories for the Kettlebell Challenge are meant to mimic an actual Sport competition and most likely won’t count towards official GS rankings.

Categories include:

  • Snatch- 1o min. 1 Hand Switch. Maximum Repetitions
  • Rack To Overhead- 10 min. 1 Hand Switch. Maximum Repetitions
  • Juggling Exhibition- 5 Min. 3 Drops Maximum

I am very much looking forward to this, I feel like it will be a wonderful opportunity for people to witness the abilities earned through proper training with Kettlebells. I hope to see you there!

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