A Tale of Two Exercises

I've been reading strength coaches Don John and Pavel's book, Easy Strength: How to Get a Lot Stronger than Your Competition. As a TOJ, I don't worry to much about my competition (what competition?), but books like this usually have some something relevant to fitness that's worth learning. John and Pavel (of Russian kettelbell fame) targeted this book towards strength training for performance-focused athletes and sometimes it really gets pedantic, like whether it's better to do weight lifting with laddering sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 or 4, 6, 8, 10. Answer: Who knows?

That said, it's a good read with some useful information. John and Pavel take turns offering their experienced advice and insights on various aspects of weight training. I found Pavel's especially interesting because he cites the work of several top Russian exercise physiologists whose work had been concealed for decades, like nuclear secrets, behind the Iron Curtain. For decades, the Russians dominated Olympic weight-lifting because they developed unique approaches to building strength and power, including plyometrics and the kettlebell.

Ironically, Pavel gives credit to a Danish researcher who recently discovered a different approach to kettlebell training called "overspeed eccentric kettlebell swings and snatches." Looking for an innovative way to use kettelbells in cardiovascular training, the researcher discovered that if you take a lighter kettlebell than you normally workout with and intentionally accelerate it during the descending part of the technique (sort of like you are hiking a football), generating a large momentum, then explosively pull it back up using your feet, arms, and lock out of the hips, with just 4 sets of 10 reps you get performance improvements in all kinds of other exercises like squats, jumps, lunges, and even agility and throwing. The point is, a lighter kettlebell (Russians pride themselves on heavy ones) swung at a higher speed produces benefits throughout your entire body (your kinetic chain) from head to toe.

Because the horn (loop) of the kettlebell will roll harder in your hand, Pavel even passes along a very simple suggestion by an American kettlebell coach to avoid wrecking your hands by ripping the calluses on your palm. Just take a sock and cut off a few inches of the elastic tube and pull it over your hand. The sock lets the kettlebell move as needed and provides both protection for, and adequate control with your fingers.

See what it looks like in the picture below. (I could still cut off another inch or so.) It works great! I expect some American entrepreneur to start selling Kettlebell Sleeves in neon colors any time.

And speaking of exercise, watch this video, posted by Facebook friend Don Andrew. It shows George Hood setting a Guinness World Record for holding an abdominal plank for OVER TWO HOURS!

Today the Super Bowl is on TV.  Some great athletes will perform. I'm not sure who to bet on. But I would bet that none of the players who set foot on the field could pull off  the feat of strength and endurance accomplished by this 54 year old. A true TOJ!

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