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.