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Mike Kerce
03-05-2010, 01:12 PM
if you're not training for or participating in competition, is there any reason to buy competition KBs? i'm just trying to get into kb training and i want to buy quality equipment, but what should a newb be looking for when buying KBs? does it matter, or should i just pick up what i can find and give it a whirl? thanks to any that can provide some advice.

Bill Ripley
03-06-2010, 04:19 AM
No reason to buy comp bells. There are plenty of people making quality bells that are much cheaper. Start with Pavel's program minimum - swings and get ups - and move on from there. And for gods sake keep the swings shoulder height or lower.

Mike Kerce
03-06-2010, 11:23 AM
No reason to buy comp bells. There are plenty of people making quality bells that are much cheaper. Start with Pavel's program minimum - swings and get ups - and move on from there. And for gods sake keep the swings shoulder height or lower.

ha - i'm really glad you said that. the CF style of "American" KB swings always seemed somewhat pointless to me, and like a good way to get hurt. glad i won't ever have to do them again.

Derek Weaver
03-06-2010, 03:47 PM
I would actually spring for the competition KBs.

If you think you're going to be doing long sets and progressing to heavier bells, the uniform handle and uniform size of the 'bell itself will ensure proper and consistent technique as you progress.

Perform Better runs deals all the time. I think they are either having a sale or will be having one soon.

I wouldn't go through the AKC for the KBs. They were definitely more expensive last time I checked.

Muscle Driver is also a good place to check out for GS style KBs

Pat McElhone
03-07-2010, 07:05 PM
Where do you live? Many Fitness stores carry Body Solid KBs. I have paid between $1-$1.2/lb for these bells. In Chicago area, they are sold by Fitness Factory Outlet. Some of these bells are very, very good in quality (as good as Dragon Door's), other not so good (rough finish, handles too large for the bell). If you can avoid mail order, you will save a ton in shipping and ensure the bell is a good one before buying it.

I recommend you buy the book Enter the Kettlebell. It is a very good resource and a good starting point. Buy a 35lb bell and swing it, snatch it, clean and jerk it. If after that you really, really love it, the buy competition bells as you collection grows. But, you can get a lot of training out of 35lb bell. Good luck.

Mike Kerce
03-08-2010, 04:43 AM
thanks to all who gave feedback. i'm checking out all the sites you posted.

Gary Ohm
03-08-2010, 08:14 AM
Great advice so far. Check out http://thekettlebellking.myshopify.com/ as well. Bert is the owner and is great to deal with. His prices are less than $1 a pound with very reasonable shipping. I don't get a commission, but tell him hi for me anyway.

James Evans
03-08-2010, 09:12 AM
And for gods sake keep the swings shoulder height or lower.

Why the antipathy towards these? Seriously. Is it just the association with CrossFit? I've seen Dan John say why don't you just snatch? Why can't you do both?

I always did DB swings to overhead (and still do). I've never seen Ross Enamait challenged for promoting this. When I bought kettlebells I just carried on with this style. I read an article by Glassman wanking off about the increase power output of the American Swing and how it maximised the Tanqueray to Watts Metric and that almost put me off doing them but in 4 years I've never had any injuries or even suggestion of pain.

I'm curious, not playing devil's advocate.

Allen Yeh
03-08-2010, 09:38 AM
Nothing to do with CF but I don't like swings above head/shoulder height either. Especially for people that aren't even familiar with swings to begin with.

I can't look at videos here at work but from what I recall I thought Ross E. only goes up to shoulder height for swings as well?

James Evans
03-08-2010, 10:05 AM
Above head as far as I'm aware and he favours one hand swings. I lean towards DBs for one hand swings because of this.

If I'm teaching DB swings I just encourage the learner to swing as high as they find comfortable. Some people go to overhead naturally, some to chest height, some to eye level.

Pat McElhone
03-08-2010, 11:56 AM
Weighing in on the whole how high to swing the bell.

I think the best answer is to just lift the bell with a hip snap and let it travel however high it goes. It is all in the concentric and eccentric phases of the hip snap


CFish "American" Swing encourages people to use their arms. When people use their arms to pull a KB (or DB, plate, sandbag) whatever overhead, they are missing the entire point of training with a kettlebell.

DB Swings overhead for high reps is a good way to get someone to breathe hard, but again, breathing hard is not the main point of KB lifting.

Derek Weaver
03-08-2010, 12:42 PM
Weighing in on the whole how high to swing the bell.

I think the best answer is to just lift the bell with a hip snap and let it travel however high it goes. It is all in the concentric and eccentric phases of the hip snap


CFish "American" Swing encourages people to use their arms. When people use their arms to pull a KB (or DB, plate, sandbag) whatever overhead, they are missing the entire point of training with a kettlebell.

DB Swings overhead for high reps is a good way to get someone to breathe hard, but again, breathing hard is not the main point of KB lifting.

This is it right here.

I spent some time working with a IKFF trainer drilling the swing along with the competition lifts and he pointed out that the swing should basically go as high as your hips will force it to go. It's not an arm exercise.

If you can legitimately snap your hips to get a KB overhead with no arm involvement other than to keep the 'bell from flying through the wall, you need a heavier bell.

I think the RKC makes a point that the bell should be actively pulled down when it gets to sternum height or so, by engaging the lats.

GS swings are different than RKC style swings on a couple fronts, but the basic premise is still the same.

James Evans
03-09-2010, 06:21 AM
Thoughtful answers and what I expected. I completely accept that the swing should be driven from the hips and not muscled up with the arms. Teaching people to db swing properly really helps them to understand db cleans and snatches (and to a point push presses). The idea of not using the arms for everything is quite alien to some trainees.

I wanted to check that this wasn't purely an anti-CF prejudice (accepting the appalling shortcuts that are employed to achieve a given task).

However, I still don't see the problem with swinging to above head and recruiting the upper body to complete the movement.

DB Swings overhead for high reps is a good way to get someone to breathe hard, but again, breathing hard is not the main point of KB lifting.

Why are DB swings an appropriate tool for conditioning (breathing hard) and not KB swings?

If I throw a DB for distance, am I missing the point of DB lifting?

If I put one end of a barbell in the corner of a gym and perform FCTs, am I missing the point of barbell training?

If I clean a medicine ball, am I .... oh, hang on, scratch that.

Who defined the main point of KB lifting? The RKC? The IKFF?

It's a tool. And a very old one at that. Damn, if you want to curl the thing, do so. I love kettlebells but I dislike the mystical significance invested in their form.

I am playing devil's advocate now so don't take anything I've said personally. Besides, the dawn of the vIpr makes this all obsolete anyway.

Pat McElhone
03-09-2010, 07:09 AM
[QUOTE=James Evans;72325]
Why are DB swings an appropriate tool for conditioning (breathing hard) and not KB swings?
QUOTE]

I do not do KB swing to just breathe hard. If the goal is to just breathe hard do burpees and or sprints.

I use KBs to work hip extension in a dynamic, ballistic way. I place value on training the muscles in this area and nothing works this area better then KB swings using KBs.

I use specific tools for specific goals.

Mike Kerce
03-09-2010, 07:12 AM
James - my reason, as a complete novice to the KB, is i just don't like it. i feel like i can FAR more effeciently swing "Russian" style and can keep up a pace and uniformity that way. I can't get a rhythm overhead nor keep uniformity if i'm using, say, a 24kg bell, yet i can do so with a Russian swing with the same weight. I basically don't see the point in my training of incorporating above the head swings. maybe i'm just missing it.

James Evans
03-09-2010, 07:29 AM
Mike, that sounds fair enough to me.

James Evans
03-09-2010, 07:59 AM
So Pat, we've established:

1. DB Swings overhead for high reps is a good way to get someone to breathe hard, but again, breathing hard is not the main point of KB lifting;

2. You not do KB swings to just breathe hard;

3. If the goal is to just breathe hard do burpees and or sprints;

4. You use KBs to work hip extension in a dynamic, ballistic way;

5. Nothing works better for promoting dynamic, ballistic hip extension than KB swings using KBs;

6. You use specific tools for specific goals.

Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing here. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr. Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal!
Dr. Peter Venkman: That's bad. Okay. All right, important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Allen Yeh
03-09-2010, 09:05 AM
I don't know about all that stuff...I like KB's for conditioning I just don't like using my arms for swings and I don't like teaching swings above shoulder height because it encourages arm use.

That logic seems silly:

Since sledgehammers are used to drive big spikes in the ground...I guess I shouldn't be using that for conditioning?

James Evans
03-09-2010, 09:10 AM
It's certainly a conundrum Allen.

Pat McElhone
03-09-2010, 09:29 AM
James,

Do you think swinging a DB overhead, let's say 5 Rounds for time of 50lbs DB, 50 swings, then doing 50 sledgehammer provides any specific/unique training stimulus? Or is the training stimulus global (Cardio-Respiratory)

I would say the point of the above couplet is to provide a global training stimulus. Swinging a bell overhead, swinging a sledgehammer against a tire (not a spike) provides little specific stimulus, but creates enough of an oxygen need to work the CR system. But if the whole point is to just work the CR system, other then to prevent boredom, why not just do sprints and burpees?

Pat

Pat McElhone
03-09-2010, 09:35 AM
James,

Please add the following to the list of things I we have established:

We should strive to do a few things very well, not a lot of things mediocre (this is not an original thought) .

Thanks,

Pat

James Evans
03-09-2010, 09:55 AM
Pat, I do hope you realise that I'm pulling your chain. Mostly.

You mentioned the DB swing but seemed to imply that a similar action with a KB was a misuse of that particular tool. I found that interesting.

So we should just narrow our sonditioning options to sprints and burpees? I'll shoot Ross Enamait an email to that effect.

And please, don't make the assumption that I am nothing but the awesome at swinging a kettlebell above my head.

James Evans
03-09-2010, 10:02 AM
KETTLEBELLS - Dividing communities across the internetz since Pavel got his green card

Pat McElhone
03-09-2010, 04:24 PM
Pat, I do hope you realise that I'm pulling your chain. Mostly.

You mentioned the DB swing but seemed to imply that a similar action with a KB was a misuse of that particular tool. I found that interesting.

So we should just narrow our sonditioning options to sprints and burpees? I'll shoot Ross Enamait an email to that effect.

And please, don't make the assumption that I am nothing but the awesome at swinging a kettlebell above my head.

James,

I know you are mostly pulling my chain, no worries.

Let me clarify my point. Contrary opinions are valued. A DB swing is a decent exercise. A KB swing is a better exercise. Using the arm to pull a DB/KB Swing overhead is a good exercise. Allowing the bell to swing however high it will using only a hip snap is a better exercise.

I do not know what Ross Enamait has to do with this. If you want, shoot him an e-mail to get his opinion on this....that exercises done chosen to be used in conditioning circuits primary usefulness is in developing muscular endurance in that particular muscle group first, next depending on the exercises in the complete circuit global (aka cardio-respiratory) endurance may or may not be developed.

Said plainly using CF WODs as an example, I do not think going "Grace" as Rx'd has a training effect that is significantly different then doing 50 Burpees, "Fran" or just sprinting 800M all out. The training effect is nothing more then to place the body in a global oxygen debt for 2-3min. Again, if you think "Grace" offers other benefits, I would love to hear your opinion on what those benefits are.

Finally, I will assume nothing. Ross Enamait is no more (or less) an authority of training then Greg Everett, James Fitzgerald, Greg Glassman, Mark Twight, Dan John, Bruce Lee, John Jesse, or my favorite strength and conditioning coach Mike Gattone. None of these guys have the definitive right way. They all have a way that has worked for them and their athletes. Their way may or may not work for you and me.

Cheers,

Pat

James Evans
03-10-2010, 06:00 AM
My sips of the Koolaid have been furtive, brief and irregular. I'm not even certain what Grace is (30 snatches for time?). Not everyone on this board is a CF rebel.

You spent some time at the chalkboard, it helped your football but now you've decided to focus on other things. Good for you. But don't dismiss throwing light stuff around because it doesn't suit your goals. And the 'we should strive to do a few things very well, not a lot of things mediocre' line is somewhat patronising. How many months of CF did it take for you to come to that opinion? Might have saved yourself some time if you'd just defaulted to sprints and burpees.

I totally accept the reasoning behind the purely hip driven KB swing but I think you can gain appreciable benefits out of the swing to above head and it doesn't just have to have conditioning applications.

I believe many people favour the KB swing over the DB swing because of the comfort of grip. And many people find the overhead swing awkward or uncomfortable full stop.

Finally I believe that many people will dismiss an exercise by association with CF. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I am interested whether people's preference was:

a) that's what felt good;
b) they read about it or were taught that way;
c) CrossFit does it so it must be bad.

As I said, curiosity on my part.

Now I've shown extreme discourtesy to Mike who posted an innocent question about KBs by crashing it with an inane argument so I think we should shake hands and bow out.

Pat McElhone
03-10-2010, 08:32 AM
James,

Cheers, for me this was a fruitful discussion. In no way am I trying to get in a pi$$ing contest with anyone. I agree with everything you said last 100%.

Pat

James Evans
03-10-2010, 08:57 AM
Pat,

s'all cool with me.

Ganine Vanalst
03-11-2010, 06:19 PM
if you're not training for or participating in competition, is there any reason to buy competition KBs? i'm just trying to get into kb training and i want to buy quality equipment, but what should a newb be looking for when buying KBs? does it matter, or should i just pick up what i can find and give it a whirl? thanks to any that can provide some advice.

Mike:

Perhaps someone can chime in on any quality issues with these, but I recently purchased some cap barbell kettlebells from Walmart.com that I am happy with. Obviously not competition bells, but the price was really good and you can have them shipped to a local Walmart store to save on shipping. Since shipping can amount to much of the cost of the bell, you can save a lot of $$$.

I also purchased Steve Cotter's Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting and have been finding it a good source of info.

Derek Weaver
03-11-2010, 08:27 PM
Steve's stuff is largely legit. No experience with the Cap KB's.

For intro KB stuff I'd go with Enter the Kettlebel!. He's into some odd stuff with the variations on the swing that have come about in the last couple years.

Not sure where he's at with some of that.

I worked with a IKFF, AKC and (I think) former RKC guy to help refine some of the movements and he basically had me doing Hardstyle movements, but with a few twists to help increase the potential for long sets. Helped with the breathing etc.

Grissim Connery
03-15-2010, 12:58 PM
maybe this discussion is done, but here's my 2 cents on the Russian vs. American swing.

whenever i did american swings, i would feel my shoulders rubbing in very bad ways while overhead. in general, if you have both hands on a KB, then the grip is going to be very close. combining that with the effort needed to throw the KB back down from the max height, this would aggravate my shoulders greatly. because the grip is so close, my shoulder would squeeze against my face when the bell went overhead. my shoulders would naturally get pushed by my jaw into bad positions.

when i perform russian swings, i feel that my shoulders are doing no work. when doing snatches, i feel none of this either (except for when the catch finishes obviously). on the other hand when doing the american swing, i have to use my shoulders more just to stop them from hurting.

i guess the last issue that arises is whether you could just do your american swings with 1 arm or with 2 kb/dbs. once you take it to the single arm domain, i feel that the snatch would just feel more natural to begin with.

from an argument of power output, there's other ways to increase it without resorting to american swings.

Derek Weaver
03-15-2010, 01:24 PM
The issue with using 2 KB's or DB's for overhead "American" swings is an issue in stability if you ask me. Since there is no catch I can see something very bad happening when fatigue sets in and a loss of control happens.

This is different from a double KB snatch where there is a catch and a clear end to the movement. The overhead swing is a bit too open ended.

James Evans
03-16-2010, 03:22 AM
For a one arm swing to overhead I would opt for a db, too much to go wrong with a kettlebell and you don't have that final punch through control that you get with the snatch.

Grissim, I understand the shoulder issues. It doesn't cause me any problems (4-5 years of doing them a lot) but I've always been a bit shy of benching because that does cause stress on my shoulders. It's the fine line between avoiding something because your rubbish at it or because it's no good for you. If you think it's bad then it probably is bad.