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How to Conquer the Two-Pood Kettlebell in Seven Days

September 20, 2006 10:27 AM

When my 32KG kettlebell arrived, before I opened the crate, I remembered what my Comrade Jim told me when I first announced that I'd ordered it: "Tom, snatch that bad boy right out of the box."

I knew he was right. I knew if I psyched myself out by testing the weight first, I'd already have defeated myself. Keeping in mind that my only obstacle to being the strongest I can be is me, I tore the heavy, corrugated cardboard from around the 'bell and smiled at the hulking mass of once-slag iron.

Ivan was born?and he would soon take up his place next to Boris and Igor.

Without hesitation, I bent at the waist, grabbed the handle in a solid squeeze, looked forward, and exploded upward throwing the beast over my head and dipping my knees to absorb the impact on my forearm as the 'bell flipped over my hand. I looked up in wonder feeling like a god as I grinned and yelled, "I snatched it!"

Not willing to slow my momentum, I brought it to the ground and grabbed the handle with my right hand. Again it flew up in the air, and I nearly laughed at how good I felt.

I calmly set it aside then and waited until the next morning when I would have a full workout with my 1- and 1.5-pood kettlebells.

That next morning, since I knew I'd be able to clean it because I'd snatched it the evening before, I decided to try a pair of military press singles. I took a deep breath and cleaned Ivan to my shoulder and a set solid feeling my abs, glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings were clenching tighter than I'd ever felt them clench before. Using that hyperirradiation to my advantage, I pushed hard and felt the weight move vertically until it was over my head. After using my opposite hand to aid it back to the floor, I repeated the process with my right arm.

I can't overemphasize the importance of that hyperirradiation in my pressing that 32KG beauty. I could really feel my girdle of power coiled tighter than a Cotter spring as I pressed the weight into the air. After that initial clean and jerk, I set him aside and went to work with my 1.5, performing two sets of five reps each of military press, side press, floor press, and pull-overs.

That evening I repeated the one set of singles and went to bed.

Every day thereafter I performed singles, conducted my normal workouts immediately after, and then performed a set of singles in the evening. My "normal workouts" by the way, run something like this.

  • 2x5 Military Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Side Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Floor Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Pull Over with the 1.5
  • 5x3 Military Press with the 1
  • 5x3 Floor Press with the 1
  • 5x3 Windmills with the 1
  • 1x5 Military Press with the 1.5
  • 1x5 Military Press with the 1
  • 1x5 Side Press with the 1.5
  • 1x5 Side Press with the 1
  • 1x5 Floor Press with the 1.5
  • 1x5 Floor Press with the 1
  • 3x10 two-handed swings with the 2

  • or
  • 20, 15, 10, 5 two-handed swings with the 2
  • 2x5 Military Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Side Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Floor Press with the 1.5
  • 2x5 Pull Over with the 1.5
  • Light mix of ballistics and light grinds
Every morning and every night in addition to my regular morning workouts I was greasing the groove with those military press singles. One set of one rep in the morning and one set of one rep in the evening. Within seven days of executing this system, I was able to perform one set of military press doubles on each arm. Four days after that, I was performing triples, and continuing on this path, within 10 days of receiving my 2-pood kettlebell, I was able to perform two sets of two reps.

The important thing to remember is to keep pushing, no matter what. Don't let yourself slip, and if you one morning or evening can only clean it, and you can't get it off your shoulder, don't worry about it. Come back that evening or the following morning and press it like nothing ever happened.

Even now that I'm performing multiple sets of multiple reps, I still have the occasional day when I'll wait just a second too long to try to launch off my shoulder, and it's all I can do to get one rep out of it. That's when I feel no shame about reaching across and giving myself a tiny assist with my off hand.

What matters, Comrades - as always - is to keep moving, keep pushing, keep working, and don't accept anything less than the best from yourself. If you don't think you can snatch, clean, or press that kettlebell, by God, you won't be able to. If, however, you know you can, and you keep on greasing the groove, you will increase your strength by leaps and bounds.