Potential for a lighter man?

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by John B, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. John B

    John B My Third Post

    Hello, I'm a 61 kg, 5'8" male who is discovering I'm not nearly as strong as I'd like to be (or thought I was). Briefly, I'm new to strength training, having been a swimmer and surfer for years, but now landlocked and 40 years old, with a young family, I have been only doing military style calisthenics in my backyard for some time. My stamina is decent: I did Murph slick in 31 minutes (subbing 2000 m ERGs for the mile runs) on my first try. But after a golfer's elbow injury incurred while trying to repeat that performance weighted, I started looking for something else to do. I started kettlebell, and weight training in general a few months ago. I am being humbled.

    My question regards my overall body weight and my potential for progression into heavier kettle bells. Yesterday I tried the simple 100 swings, 5 TGU at a gym: I didn't time myself. Embarrassingly, the 16 KG for TGUs tired me, and I could only do the one-arm swings with a 24. I am keen, and looking to get a few bells of my own, but I am wondering, quite frankly, if my body weight will hold me back. Most guys I see in the gym seem to snatch a 24 no problem, and on the forums I see that 32 is not necessarily a big deal. But for me that would be over half my weight.

    I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who is around my weight who can tell me how their progression is has gone into heavier weights, and where they are currently. It goes without saying that I also welcome advice/narratives from women, as I am perhaps closer to some of their weight categories in body and performance. I see there are some very strong women doing KB.
  2. Jake Steinmann

    Jake Steinmann Double-Digit Post Count

    Not your weight , but your age (roughly) with two kids.

    There’s no reason you can’t get stronger. You just started! Take your time.

    And remember that what “everyone else” appears to be able to do is, frankly, irrelevant. Especially on this forum—this is a forum full of people who are enthusiastic enough about strength training to want to talk about it online — most people here have experience. You, as yet, don’t.

    Imagine taking your post, crossing out the words “strength training” and replacing it with “surfing”. What would you tell me if I attempted to go surfing and was terrible at it that I had no hope of being able to surf?

    You can get stronger.
    DrFierce, WxHerk, Mark Kidd and 10 others like this.
  3. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    @John B
    First... welcome to SF

    There are plenty of Strong and Light folks out there.

    Strength has many contexts. (Surfing Mavericks or Teahupoo would be one in my books)

    It will help to define some clear goals as to what you want.
  4. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    A solid working weight is roughly 1/3 of your body weight. This being for pressing, swings, TGU. Some exercises allow for more, some less.

    As a beginner I'd expect you to be a bit below that, with a good bit of training you'll move more.

    Start in slow use good form, mind that elbow, and you'll come along fine.
    pet', Craig1971 and GeoffreyLevens like this.
  5. Mark Limbaga

    Mark Limbaga Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    You just need to build more strength and spend time practicing certain movements..

    Currently weighing 65kg same age as you, I've managed to lift some respectable weights just by being persistent and constantly learning how to better my technique
    WxHerk likes this.
  6. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    150 lbs soaking wet after thanksgiving dinner here.... It's possible my friend. At my peak level of strength-endurance, I could complete Simple (32 kg) with "moderate" ease, though due to other training goals I've lost a bit of this work capacity. I have yet to ever do a snatch test, but I'm comfortable doing the 24 on repeats of 3-4 for a good 10-15 minutes. Test would be tough right now, I'd need a couple months of solid training.

    It's easy to get discouraged watching the bigger guys lift more absolute weight, but remember it's all about your A ---> B, not your A or B to their A or B. Patience, consistency and focus will do the trick in due time my friend! Welcome to the forum. @Mark Limbaga and @Pavel Macek are 2 lightweight guys here off the top of my head that are a good source to look to

    EDIT: as I say that, he's posted help already!
    Bauer, WxHerk and Mark Kidd like this.
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    @John B, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

    Short answer #1: Buy our $6 ebook, Reload, and follow the instructions.

    Short answer #2: squat, and eat a lot.

    WxHerk, CraigW and Steve A like this.
  8. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Yes, that bodyweight will hold you back from training with heavier kettlebells. So it all depends on which variable you want to manipulate first. For fastest progress, I concur with @Steve Freides. a barbell lifting program, eat a caloric surplus, enjoy the rapid strength and muscle gains. Then do whatever you want with it, whether that's more "murph" or more kettlebell training or more barbell. But if you're not concerned with making fast progress, just keep training in whatever way you want while progressively asking more of your body strength-wise. It will comply and build you more muscle and capability if you do it intelligently -- don't ask too much too soon, provide adequate recovery resources, and attend to technique and form.
    WxHerk, Joe Fraser, CraigW and 2 others like this.
  9. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Dont worry much about it. When I started I also struggled with 24 kg for swings and 16 for TGU. Some years later I can 1HS with 40 and TGU a 48. Give yourself some time. I weighted 72 kg when I started, so not very heavy.
    Bauer and Molson like this.
  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    @John B, this troubles me.

    You must start where you are. Whatever currently tires you, tires you, and that's that. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. I'm 5'7" and also a small guy, competing at powerlifting at 66 kg. How about if you start with 2 getups and 25 swings instead of 10 and 100? Ease in, be patient with yourself, take breaks and back off periodically.

    I started with a 16 kg kettlebell in 2001 and haven't looked back. I've military pressed a 32 kg, snatched a 36 kg, can deadlift twice my bodyweight while standing on a 3" platform, and 2-1/2 times my bodyweight standing on the floor. My age is close to my weight - I'm 64.

    Don't apologize for yourself and don't feel sorry for yourself. Both are, provided you are in good health both physically and mentally, weak. Strength starts with your attitude, so be honest with yourself, pick up heavy things and put them down again in a sensible, not-all-out manner that can be repeated, eat like a king, sleep like a baby, and enjoy the results that will be yours.

    Francisco, Bauer, WxHerk and 6 others like this.
  11. Mark Limbaga

    Mark Limbaga Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    To quote Pavel from Return Of The Kettlebell

    "when the American steak meets a Russian kettlebell, its a thing of beauty"
    Steve Freides and rickyw like this.
  12. John B

    John B My Third Post

    I really appreciate all the advice here, and the experience behind it. The encouragement is great, and the practical advice. And the sterner, deeper advice -- I appreciate that, too. Thank you. I'll get more educated, dedicate myself, and gradually get stronger. That's definitely an aim of mine now.

    I'm an academic by trade, and what's interesting is if a student posted something similar -- ie, feeling he/she is likely limited inherently -- I would have said the same as you all: Begin slow, learn, get better, stop focusing on your limits. But it's easy to forget those lessons and indeed to feel silly when starting something new, to feel like you've discovered that actually you're not so good, and that you can't change. Without oversharing, I've recently had some hard personal events. In such times, all we may see is weakness, which can seem insuperable or even pre-determined. What's interesting is that it can go the other way, too. I had forgotten that when I started bodyweight training that I thought of it not as a physical pursuit but as a mental one, like writing. And the strange thing is that when I went to write, my writing was more focused. I used to check my email, get distracted all the time, etc. But when I started bodyweight training seriously, I took the focus from the writing and applied it to the calisthenics, and then I turned around and remembered how I had pushed through a workout, and applied that seriousness to my writing. Both got stronger. Strength leads to strength.

    What I'm trying to say is that I think we project onto our pursuits what is deep within ourselves or what's going on with us in other areas of our lives. By that token, you see weakness everywhere if you feel weak in one area. All it can take is one area, even if the others are strong. But if you let that weakness define you, if you let it colour your thinking, then you run the risk of getting weaker in all areas, by focusing on the weakness, by saying, 'Yes, I'll always be weak there. It's just how it is. And what's more, in this other area of my life, I'm weak, too.' That's an excellent point from Steve Freides. It's good to hear that: Don't apologize, don't feel self-pity. Because weakness leads to weakness, too.
    Bauer, Joerg Herold, DrFierce and 3 others like this.
  13. Mark Limbaga

    Mark Limbaga Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    That's exactly why strength must not be limited to numerics..strong in thought, in being decisive, in execution of movement.. Strength is and always will be an attitude first and foremost
    WxHerk, Steve Freides, Oscar and 2 others like this.
  14. Joe Fraser

    Joe Fraser Triple-Digit Post Count

    I am 5'5", when I got out if high school I was about 120-125lbs (~55 kg). I trained for a bit from there up to 150lbs (68kg) then took years off. I am now training at 187lbs (85kg) and have blown past any of my previous numbers when I was much younger and in short time.

    At your current weight, backpain is common due to the lack of muscle in the area. That may be a limiting factor. Try adding 10kg and seeing how you feel although adding 20kg (slowly) would put you at a good spot and allow you top be stronger and healthier. From there, it's personal preference on if you want to keep going but you'd likely be able to be plenty strong and health enough.

    If you want to prioritize adding muscle mass, barbells would be my preference. As others have said: squats, deadlifts for the lower body and bench and overhead press for the upper body. Simple yet effective.
  15. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Instructor

    Potential for a lighter man? To get way stronger!
  16. John B

    John B My Third Post

    Just bought RELOAD and am enjoying the read. Thanks again for the encouragement. @Joe Fraser, yes, lower back pain surprised me as I've never had it, even with years of sitting at a desk. Looking forward to the journey now. I'll come back and post some results in time!

    In other news, in the last couple of days I saw the SFB standard for 1 arm 1 leg pushup and watched a SF YouTube vid with this being achieved ... incredible. Then I read The Naked Warrior. Yesterday, after multiple failed attempts which sent me crashing lopsidedly onto the floor, I managed a shaky 1 arm, 1 leg pushup, using Pavel's bracing techniques ... with each arm. The left was damn wonky (unsupported leg flopping up and down), but it surprised me. Feeling good about that, and will certainly try to polish that up while I'm getting under the iron seriously for the first time.

    Thank you!
    Glen and Joe Fraser like this.
  17. Molson

    Molson Double-Digit Post Count

    Give yourself a yeah with KBs, S&S and you will see that 32kg - 1/2 bw for you or me - tgu and swing are ‘easily achievable by most’ as Pavel said in the book about the Simple standard.

    Take your time. Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  18. fnds

    fnds Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    I'm 5'4", 145 lbs, male, on the "wrong side" of fifty. I can swing the 32 kg for 100 reps, no problem. I own the TGU with 24 kg but struggling with the 32 kg.

    Any suggestions for TGU progression to 32 kg? This week I started to train with it by pressing and holding at the start position for 30 secs at a time on each side. My first goal is to be comfortable holding it for 45 secs and then move to the sitting position. Rinse and repeat until standing. Does it make sense?

    Coyote likes this.
  19. Mark Limbaga

    Mark Limbaga Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    5 second pauses in each step works wonders..

    when you can strongly complete 5 sets per side with 24kg using this approach, add a set of 32kg getups (pause only a second per step) then stay with it for 2-3 sessions before considering adding another step
    fnds and WxHerk like this.
  20. Bunn

    Bunn Double-Digit Post Count

    Based on my own experience, and a few stronger folks I know, the advice given by @Mark Limbaga is spot on. Continue with the 24kg but do those reps nice and slow, the time under tension will help grow your strength and stability and make the transition to the 32kg easier.
    fnds likes this.

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