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My Philosophy of Kettlebell Training

November 29, 2005 08:39 AM

My philosophy of kettle bell training is quite simple ? to have as much fun as possible while getting yourself into the best shape of your life! I believe that kettlebell training is the most fun aspect of weight training that I have ever encountered, and I have participated in many of them. I have been a competitive powerlifter, putting up a 765 lb. squat, 520 lb. bench and a 705 lb. deadlift in the super heavyweight division back in the 1970's before the days of squat suits and bench shirts. In track and field I threw the 161 lb. shot put over 58 feet, and participated in many N.C.A.A. meets at the University of South Carolina. I have trained with competitive bodybuilders who won state titles and went on to compete at the national level. As you can see from this, I have worked with many different styles of weight training, and I will say, without a doubt, that kettlebell training is the most fun of all.

I believe that there are several reasons for this. One, kettlebell training is very challenging both physically and mentally and is fairly easy to learn with persistence and practice. And two, in kettlebell training it is possible to improve rapidly once you learn what to do and how to do it. For example, once you learn to do one-arm snatches, improvement comes rapidly in both repetitions and weight. I believe that this combination of reasons is what makes kettlebell training fun to do.

Having something that is very challenging, but yet easy to learn and improve upon, makes it fun. For example, one may have to spend several years in the weight room and on the practice field just to add a couple of feet to your shot put toss, but in kettlebell training it is possible to improve greatly in both weight and repetitions in a matter of weeks. Also, in kettlebell training there are so many different ways to lift the kettlebells, that there is always something new to learn and improve upon and this leads to having fun.

When I teach kettlebell training to someone I always try to make it fun and competitive. For example, for newcomers to the sport it is difficult to have snatch competitions very soon after starting, but it is possible to have a swing competition. As a matter of fact, we have had swing competitions at several bench press contests and the crowd really gets into counting the repetitions for the competitors. I believe that most people are competitive by nature, so competition makes the training fun. Teaching people simple lifts that are easy to master makes the fun start sooner.

A challenging lift that the competitive powerlifters that I coach enjoy is one we call 'the bottoms-up swing and press'. You take two kettlebells and swing them overhead in the bottom-up position, then bring them down to the shoulder level and press them back up into the bottoms-up position. Understand the risks involved. Let the kettlebells down and repeat the process. I have seen lifters in one workout go from kettlebells that they could not even hold up on the first try, to getting five reps with the same kettlebells one hour later. Like I said, persistence and practice make it happen.

In closing I would like to thank Pavel and all of the senior RKC instructors who were very helpful to me at they RKC certification in April. Also, my powerlifting comrades Marc Bartley and Donnie Thompson for accepting the challenge from me, to train with Kettlebells. Look for some amazing lifts from them in the year to come. Now grab those kettle bells and start having FUN. Until next time,

Mr. Haney

Mr. Haney's Workout

Monday and Thursday

I start with a major muscle movement for the upper body and do one of the following exercises for several sets of 3-8 reps depending on how heavy I go:
  • Floor press with kettlebells or a barbell
  • Incline press with either kettlebells or dumbbells
  • Close grip bench press
  • One-arm Clean and Press with Kettlebells working either with a light weight for sets of ten or a heavier weight for a lower number of reps (3 -5)
  • Kettlebell Curl and Press using the 16 kg kettlebell, 1-3 sets of 8 - 20 reps per arm. To do this exercise, curl the kettle bell up to the shoulder, turn it, and press straight up.
  • Triceps work with bands using different tensions and working in different directions. 3-4 sets of 8-20 reps.
  • Hand-to-Hand toss for high reps, 50 - 100 combined. Hold the kettlebell in one hand and swinging your arm in front of you toss the kettlebell into the other hand. You do not want to just hand it back and forth, really swing and toss each time. This will work your grip, forearms, traps and biceps extremely well
Tuesday and Friday

Warm up with Windmills and Arm Bars. Use the following drills starting with 16 kg, 20, and 24kg kettlebells. I usually work for sets of 6-10 reps of each drill:
  • Two-Arm Swing
  • Two-Arm Snatch
  • Two-Arm Snatch and Press
  • Two-Arm Swing and Bottoms-up Press
  • One-Arm Snatch
This is my basic workout, although I tend to vary a little bit from week to week, adding new skills I have learned or harder skills that I are not appropriate for using every week. This is my meat and potatoes workout and it has given me good size and strength for a man of my age (52) and it keeps me in good condition.

Contact Mr. Haney at