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My WTH Story

April 29, 2009 09:29 AM

When asked, "why do you train?" how do you answer? I've been asked this question numerous times, albeit the word "train" is usually substituted for, "work out, lift weights, body build, get fit" or whatever else the fad or PC term of the day is. I've come to a point, where I just say, "because I like to." Most times it's not worth the effort for an explanation, but I feel there might be a different type of audience reading this right now, so I'll take the opportunity to explain.

I train because I have a passion for the human body and testing its limits. I train because I've been told "I can't" by countless doubters. I train because it reinforces the hard working ethic I learned as a young boy growing up on a cotton farm. I train because I want to improve myself, not because I think I can be perfect, but because I think there's always room for improvement. I train because I want to live a quality, healthy, pain free life. I train because I like to.

Since I became a student of strength, I've always made an effort to train with a purpose. Have a goal in mind and work towards that end with everything I've got. Whether it be an upcoming power lifting meet or setting a long-awaited PR on my box squat, pin pull or board press, I put a lot of weight (no pun intended) in achieving a physical or quantifiable goal when it comes to training.

The thing I like most about training with kettlebells and the Hard Style methods taught by the RKC are all the residual effects that magically begin to appear, also known as WTH (What The Hell) effects. The crazy thing about my most recent WTH effect is that I didn't do anything out of the ordinary in my training. I stuck to the basics taught to me at my Level I RKC certification and stayed consistent, methodical and purposeful.

My WTH effect came on a day while I was in my training facility and was planning on a normal day of the basics. Cleans and Presses and maybe some Swings. Pretty much the ROP (Right Of Passage) program from ETK (Enter The Kettlebell!). Pavel's ETK, is by far the best book for those just starting out with kettlebell training. The ROP will teach you so much about your physical abilities and will transform you into the hardened warrior it promises to.

So the day was planned to be normal, but the tractor tires I have sitting in my gym were out of place (we use them for flipping, box jumping and sledge work). They were stacked one on top of the other against the wall and in the center of the room. When I asked what was going on, I was told another class was trying box jumps. My testosterone got the best of me and I just HAD to give this a try. I gave myself a good 3-step run up to the tires. With very little effort my body was propelled far above the height of the tires – approximately 48 inches. I thought I would try a little bit higher so we stacked another tire on and again, with little effort, I made it on top of Tire Mountain – this one was about 57 inches. We increased the height twice more and I jumped to a final height of 61 inches which is 5 feet, 1 inch. I'm 5'9" and weighed 194 pounds the day I tried this.

All I can do is tell you what I did to achieve this feat. I trained simply. I stuck to the basics. I trained within my own parameters and tried to improve on a weekly basis. I Cleaned and Pressed as heavy as I could go with perfect form according to the ladders prescribed in ETK. I used Double Swings, Cleans and Front Squats on my Fast Tens days. I used bodyweight (filler) exercises like Pullups, Pushups, and Burpees. I used Snatches fairly sparingly, about once a week, due to the stress on my shoulders (this works very well for me). I also enjoy the occasional heavy barbell deadlift, so I incorporate that as a main course exercise every month or two.

All in all, kettlebell training combined with the RKC Hard Style system has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I'm 30 years old, still try to compete occasionally on some level, and I feel better than I've ever felt, I'm stronger than I've ever been and I'm able to do things physically that I haven't tried since high school when I was 60 pounds lighter. My WTH effect may not be that big of a deal to most people, but a young athlete looking to dunk a basketball or a track athlete looking to improve his/her long jump/high jump or a volleyball player looking to dominate the net might want to apply the simple Hard Style methods and a kettlebell as a viable and worthwhile option to achieve that goal.

The perfect formula for athletic development is not a magic one. It lies simply within the basics. In my case, the six basics taught at the RKC Level I certification. Between the Swing, Clean and Snatch you are forced into learning the explosive power that comes from the hip complex and core. The Press, TGU and Front Squat teach tension like most have never felt before. The combination of proper body mechanics, explosive power and tension under force yield an unstoppable combination for developing a base-line in performance and skill. In other words, the RKC and Hard Style methods, when used properly, can create functional strength that can permeate into many sporting applications.

I don't play basketball that often even though I really enjoy playing. I guess my next goal is to see if a 5'9" guy who's just shy of 200 can dunk a basketball….in a game! "Cause that's really the only place it counts!

I would like to thank Pavel, Dragon Door and the family of RKC's that make this way of life such an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. This journey has truly been life-changing and I can't wait to see what lies around the next bend!

Jason Marshall, RKC completed his Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification in October of 2007. He has been training a host of clients from all walks of life at his training facility in Lubbock, TX (Lone Star Kettlebell). His most recent accomplishment includes attending the Certified Kettlebell - Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS) workshop in St Paul, MN in August of 2008 and attending the October 2008 RKC as an Assistant Instructor. You can email Jason at: and be sure to check out his website