Yoga with a Cannonball

Starting Saturday, October 18, we will be holding a five week strength and conditioning training class using kettlebells.

The class will have a dual focus: for beginners, the class will focus on teaching proper form for doing the kettlebell exercises safely and effectively. The class will also teach you how to design workout programs to meet your goals for strength, weight loss, aerobic conditioning, and explosive power.

For those of you who are familiar with kettlebells and other forms of weight training, the class will show you how to safely and effectively train others to use kettlebells. This could be a path for you toward a career as a trainer.

The class will meet Saturdays 10/ 18, 25 and 11/8, 15, 22 from 2-3:30pm at Powerful Fitness Gym, 4210 St. Claude Avenue.  The class will not meet November 1– that is the day of our Halloween Festival.

This 5-week, 7.5 hour class costs $150. Contact me if you have any questions or would like to arrange a work-trade discount.

What is a kettlebell?
A lump of cast iron resembling a cannonball with a thick handle, the kettlebell is an old-time strongman implement that has been enjoying a new wave of popularity since Pavel Tsatsouline, a former physical training instructor for the Soviet Special Forces, first published an article on kettlebell training in MILO, a journal for strength training professionals, in 1998.

Why train with kettlebells as opposed to free weights or machines?
Kettlebell drills, unlike bodybuilding exercises, work across multiple muscle groups to develop integrated strength. The result is a strength training that builds athleticism by teaching coordinated movement, not muscle isolation.

Kettlebells develop lower back endurance, strengthen the glutes, stretch the hip flexors, and train proper core alignment for better back support.

Strength and Conditioning
Kettlebell exercises fall into two basic categories. “Grind” exercises are performed slowly, under high tension and for low reps to develop maximal strength. Like yoga or pilates, these exercises often incorporate holding the body balanced in difficult postures to develop stability and strength at odd angles. The “Turkish Get-Up,” for example, has the practitioner lying on his back with the kettlebell pressed overhead, and moving from there up to a lunge, then to a standing position, then back down again without bending the arm.

The grind exercises are designed to recruit type IIb muscle fibers, the kind of muscle used in short bursts of all-out exertion.

The “ballistic drills” such as the swing, clean, and snatch, develop explosive strength from the toes to the fingertips, making them perfect for athletes who punch, kick, or who need to sprint, stop, and change directions quickly.

Intervals of intense, explosive movements punctuated by short periods of rest are the hallmark of most athletic endeavors. Elite athletes, whether by instinct or through training, develop the ability to recover quickly in the intervals between intense bursts of movement. I call this skill ‘managing tension’, the ability to go from all-out effort to deep relaxation. The more efficient a competitor in any sport is at doing this, the more ‘athletically gifted’ they appear.

Unlike long slow aerobic work on machines, kettlebell training is an integrated mind-body discipline. “There is no chance to drift off mentally when working out with these things,” says brown belt Mark Wilson. “You must be aware of your entire body at all times. This aspect of kettlebell training has increased my awareness of where my body is and what it is doing at all times and which has led to more proper distancing and increased power when striking and being able to more effectively evade attacks.”

Purchasing kettlebells

Most men will probably start with a 16kg/ 35lb kettlebell. Most women will start with an 8kg/ 18lb kettlebell or possibly a 12kg/ 26lb. It’s probably a good idea to try some of the exercises before purchasing a kettlebell. Below are the two best sources for kettlebells that I’ve found.

If you use the links below to purchase, you will help support the school. We get a small commission on the sale which does not effect the price you pay.

Perform Better also offers good kettlebells at the best prices I’ve found.
The Grinds
“Grind” exercises are done slowly, with low reps and high tension and an awareness of proper body alignment.

Grinds are for building strength, often at unusual angles not trained with in other weightlifting methods.

“The Turkish Get-Up”

“The Wrestler’s Bridge Press”

This is an advanced exercise, just to give you an idea of what a versitle and ever-challenging tool a kettlebell can be.

“Renegade Row”

Ballistic Drills

These exercises train explosive movements from the toes to the fingertips.
They condition through periods of intense effort puncutated with short intervals of rest.

“The Swing ”

Contact me to enroll in the class, or if you have any questions.


~ by nolashaolin on October 8, 2008.

2 Responses to “Yoga with a Cannonball”

  1. Superb!

    Great photos and demonstrations. Nice to see professionals teaching clients valuable exercises such as the turkish get up, wrestlers bridge and renegade row… brilliant total body functional training which is a world away from the ‘stay away from that you’ll get injured’ speech many trainers drift towards. Much respect and keep up the great work

  2. […] strength training such as the kind I advocate for martial artists focuses on developing strength across multiple muscle groups.  When you are doing Turkish Get Ups […]

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