Kettlebells for Beginners?

Hector G

Level 4 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
My brothers and sisters in iron.

A recent question was posed in the StrongFirst community group and is the inspiration for this post.

So I thought I'd share the gist of it here and my thoughts on it.

Q: Can anyone recommend a programme for complete beginners (me) to KB? I have watched videos by Pavel, RKC, Strongfirst and Mark Wildeman. I don’t want to bombard myself with lots of different, varying and contradictory approaches to training hence keeping the sources small.

The gentleman went on to share his current practice of swings, presses, cleans, and squats. At the end he disclosed this,

" Bearing in mind not to train to failure, can I increase the amount of sets I do? I have started with a 16kg KB and would not be capable to do a full TGU. My goal is cross training with martial arts being the focus."

There were many great responses.

Here were my thoughts:

"Great questions and answers here.

Since you can't complete full getup with 16kg...

I think there’s something going on a little deeper.

Is it a strength issue?
Lack of stability/control?
Poor flexibility and mobility?

I’d start with body weight first (I know, not sexy).

Here’s the hard truth...

... your body should dictate what the kettlebell does - not the other way around.

If you want to keep things “simple”...

... practice the getup *without a weight*.

Aim to get in the exact postures... without the bell.

I also recommend practice different variations of getting up off the floor for 10 minutes.
Progress to doing it without your hands.

After a few weeks... test your 16kg getup again... I think you’ll be amazed at what you find
🙂


While you’re doing that... you can practice your swings.
And to John Scott Patrick Stevens point... get Pavel’s books, Simple and Sinister and Enter the Kettlebell.

If you have further questions... keep bring them here to the group.

We’re happy to help my man.

Enjoy the journey and most importantly... enjoy the pain
😉
"

Final thoughts:

The kettlebell is GREAT... I think by now - we can all agree it's the most efficient tool to better strength, mobility, endurance, and over all better health.

But... your body should always dictate how an external weight (kettlebell, barbell, sandbag, whatever...) responds - and not the other way around.

Think about it... how many practitioners can only do a pistol with a kettlebell (because they need the counter weight) - but not body weight alone?

Years ago at a barbell workshop... I overheard a gentleman say, "yeah I can only squat below parallel - If I have 315 on my back."

Wait.

WHAT?!

Imagine how much better (and stronger) their pistol or back squat would be if they were able to build and own a pistol or squat with their BW alone?

And I get it... some people have mileage which includes orthopedic issues... and may never have the ankle or hip mobility required for pistols and back squats, that's understandable.

But it's still worth looking into - so you can choose the right program for your goals... and train for longevity.

What are your thoughts?

Hec G.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
Years ago at a barbell workshop... I overheard a gentleman say, "yeah I can only squat below parallel - If I have 315 on my back."

Wait.

WHAT?!

Imagine how much better (and stronger) their pistol or back squat would be if they were able to build and own a pistol or squat with their BW alone?

Well, as a competing weightlifter who squats daily, 3x a week with barbells, bodyweight the other days, and lunges...


He's just bad.


No USAW coach would agree with him.
 

JamesPTA

Level 5 Valued Member
My thoughts begin with my experiences in the physical therapy realm.

no body should progress unless they move well and move well with confidence. Whether it was pain that made them move the way they do, or the other way around, people feel better once they learn how to move efficiently.

Most of the time, people start practicing at step 30 when they should be starting at step 1 or even 5. Also, it’s been said many times on this forum: you do not want to add load to a dysfunction.

I remember my first go with kettlebells which comprises of swings and windmills. Bad idea, if you don’t know what you are doing. My form was horrible. Luckily I have friends that hold RKC and SFG certs that showed me the true way.

Now that I’ve gone through S&S and ROP, which are great at laying the foundations, I realized that if your not progressing, then there is something going on with the way you move and wedge and stabilize yourself with a load.
 
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Mark Limbaga

Level 6 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Nothing beats hands-on instruction since the real-time feedback makes the trainee adjust immediately
 
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