new posts all posts post new thread

Kettlebell Questions regarding strength development as a teen martial artist

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
Hey! I'm M/17, and fairly new to kb's. I have read S&S a couple of times but don't have any bells yet. I have been attempting to build a home gym to do barbelling with, but I've come to realize that it would cost a little too much money for me and I'm not going to live in the house for more than 4 years, so I have contemplated another solution. That solution includes selling my present equipment (a barbell and 120kg of weights) to buy kettlebells (and clubbells in the future) with that money.
Now, my goals regarding strength are the following. Develop decent level, all-around strength (and speed/power) for martial arts(bjj, kickboxing and Hokutoryu Jujutsu) and physical performance in general, and develop good resilience against injury. My ultimate goal is to get in to a police counter terrorism unit, but that's in ~10 years. I'm not asking for programming advice, just my only concern is that can I develop good levels of strength with only things like heavy swings, weighted chins, dips n' kb presses, TGU's, pistols and weighted carries like sandbag stuff and perhaps farmers walk? That if I would spend the next 3-4 years on this type of training, and then later, as an adult man, take up barbelling also, would I miss anything, or does this sound like a good idea? All and any advice and recommendations are welcome, thanks in advance!
-Pave
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
that can I develop good levels of strength with only things like heavy swings, weighted chins, dips n' kb presses, TGU's, pistols and weighted carries like sandbag stuff and perhaps farmers walk?
Yes you can without a doubt.
(throw some running in there as well)

And welcome to SF
 

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
Yes you can without a doubt.
(throw some running in there as well)

And welcome to SF
Yeah, right now I only run once per week because I have 7+ hrs of martial arts, maybe when I'll take up bjj aswell, I'll drop the running altogether.
And thanks! Happy to be here.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
Can you get strong without the barbell? Of course.

I would speculate, though, that your youth is probably when you can wring the most benefit from a barbell - while your recovery rate is at its peak. Barbell is a great way to build max strength. When I was in high school / college, I could beat myself up constantly with heavy lifting, and be ready to do it again the next day - and my max strength shot up during that time. When you get older, and recovery slows down, building (or maintaining) max strength becomes a much slower - and sometimes painful - process.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I would speculate, though, that your youth is probably when you can wring the most benefit from a barbell - while your recovery rate is at its peak. Barbell is a great way to build max strength. When I was in high school / college, I could beat myself up constantly with heavy lifting, and be ready to do it again the next day - and my max strength shot up during that time. When you get older, and recovery slows down, building (or maintaining) max strength becomes a much slower - and sometimes painful - process.
I dunno; I feel like I'm doing OK. I will be the first to admit that I need to be smarter about my training than I used to be because the consequences now are worse than they used to be so, in that way, I agree with you, but progress is still possible.

-S-
 

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
I dunno; I feel like I'm doing OK. I will be the first to admit that I need to be smarter about my training than I used to be because the consequences now are worse than they used to be so, in that way, I agree with you, but progress is still possible.

-S-
Can you get strong without the barbell? Of course.

I would speculate, though, that your youth is probably when you can wring the most benefit from a barbell - while your recovery rate is at its peak. Barbell is a great way to build max strength. When I was in high school / college, I could beat myself up constantly with heavy lifting, and be ready to do it again the next day - and my max strength shot up during that time. When you get older, and recovery slows down, building (or maintaining) max strength becomes a much slower - and sometimes painful - process.
Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?
 

solarbear

Level 5 Valued Member
I felt like I got the most growth 18-22 and that for raw power, size and strength barbell was superior. So you might be missing your growth window.
 

Kev

Level 3 Valued Member
Hey! I'm M/17, and fairly new to kb's. I have read S&S a couple of times but don't have any bells yet. I have been attempting to build a home gym to do barbelling with, but I've come to realize that it would cost a little too much money for me and I'm not going to live in the house for more than 4 years, so I have contemplated another solution. That solution includes selling my present equipment (a barbell and 120kg of weights) to buy kettlebells (and clubbells in the future) with that money.
Now, my goals regarding strength are the following. Develop decent level, all-around strength (and speed/power) for martial arts(bjj, kickboxing and Hokutoryu Jujutsu) and physical performance in general, and develop good resilience against injury. My ultimate goal is to get in to a police counter terrorism unit, but that's in ~10 years. I'm not asking for programming advice, just my only concern is that can I develop good levels of strength with only things like heavy swings, weighted chins, dips n' kb presses, TGU's, pistols and weighted carries like sandbag stuff and perhaps farmers walk? That if I would spend the next 3-4 years on this type of training, and then later, as an adult man, take up barbelling also, would I miss anything, or does this sound like a good idea? All and any advice and recommendations are welcome, thanks in advance!
-Pave
Build a sandbag if you can’t afford weights
An old army duffel bag
Plastic rubble sacks
Sand
Duct tape
YouTube is full of construction tutorials and training ideas. In a nutshell sandbag training is a completely forgot bear maker. A person who gets to the stage they are manhandling a 200lbs bag will be monstrously strong.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I would speculate, though, that your youth is probably when you can wring the most benefit from a barbell - while your recovery rate is at its peak. Barbell is a great way to build max strength. When I was in high school / college, I could beat myself up constantly with heavy lifting, and be ready to do it again the next day - and my max strength shot up during that time. When you get older, and recovery slows down, building (or maintaining) max strength becomes a much slower - and sometimes painful - process.
I dunno; I feel like I'm doing OK. I will be the first to admit that I need to be smarter about my training than I used to be because the consequences now are worse than they used to be so, in that way, I agree with you, but progress is still possible.

Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?

Life is full of tough choices. Plenty of people, me included, haven't started strength training - at all - until later in life. In my case, it was my mid-40's. There's an up side and a down side to every decision you'll have to make.

In your place, I'd keep your barbell and weights, and I'd buy one kettlebell to get you started on that side of things. But let's also say that, for what you want to do, the kind of strength and strength-endurance you'll get from kettlebell work might work better at helping you achieve your goals.

-S-
 

Coyotl

Level 6 Valued Member
Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?
You can get strong with kettlebells. You can get stronger with barbells. At this age, you are most able to get strong and muscular. If your goal is barbell strength, then you need a barbell. If your goal is cost-efficient home equipment, then the kettlebell is an attractive option. Based on your stated goals (primarily performance around martial arts), a barbell is not necessary. A barbell is a lot easier to develop absolute strength on, in my opinion, and this can translate well to martial arts.

This does not need to be an either or - I do not know your situation, but I will tell you mine. I have kettlebells at home, but I have barbell goals. So I train at home with kettlebells and have a small gym membership that allows me to also train towards my barbell goals. As you said, a barbell set up is quite expensive.

Another thing though - you have a barbell and 120kg plates. Being able to perform cleans, presses, front squats, rows, and floor presses is very accessible to you. Buying extra 45s as you get stronger would be fairly cost efficient, and depending on your strength would then also open up deadlifting. You do not need to buy a power rack and a bench in order to lift with a barbell and reap gains.

So yes, kettlebells would allow you to meet your goals in martial arts. I would not focus on missing a window now. Even if you take 3-4 years to train with kettlebells and come to the barbell at the "old" age of 21, you will be primed to quickly develop barbell strength and have the ability to move well (assuming you learn how to perform the kettlebell lifts well). Do not overlook what you have currently and how you can train currently - there is a world of possibilities there.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?

The window of strength runs well into your early 30s and can be extended further with intelligent training and some luck. The biggest concern with gunning hard with real heavy weight at an early age is accumulation of injury that could effect you later in life. Prioritize your MA, make the resistance training secondary - there is only one way to learn MA skill, many ways to develop general strength.

To answer your first question, yes, these tools are sufficient for developing some pretty high levels of strength. Barbell would be more for mass building, nothing tops it for putting on weight, although sandbag comes very close.

Possibly the most important thing you will learn from kettlebell is solid movement mechanics that translate to just about every other modality out there. It greatly shrinks the learning curve, which enhances safety in progress.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?
Tactical Barbell might be right up your alley. It's written specifically for folks that have a physically-demanding job or hobby - like martial arts. A good StrongFirst mentality too.

Maybe just two days a week of overhead pressing, front squatting and weighted pullups. Leaves you with plenty of energy in the tank for your sport, and for exploring kettlebell training while you're at it.

Heck. at 17, you can afford to do ALL the training.
 

solarbear

Level 5 Valued Member
Another thing though - you have a barbell and 120kg plates. Being able to perform cleans, presses, front squats, rows, and floor presses is very accessible to you.
This is exactly what I was thinking. I also feel that Hang Clean or Power Clean with a barbell might be one of the most beneficial exercises for Judo or BJJ.

I can definitely see the endurance benefit for BJJ with kettlebell and, with it being such a staple of many BJJ athletes' training, why one would want to do it.

Tough choices.

If it was me, I'd keep the barbell and see if I can add a couple of kettlebells when I have a bit more cash. A single 16kg or 20kg kb could go far with a teenager. Sometimes you can get them really cheap off Marketplace or at pawn shops.
 

Philippe Geoffrion

Level 6 Valued Member
Yes, this is exactly what I'm concerned about. That if I do just kettlebells, I will miss a window of potential strength development that I could capitalise on with barbelling. If I really wanted, I would probably have barbell training available. Any recommendations?
My barbell lifts improved after a stint of bw and kB only training. If I can, so can you.

I found over COVID era, I had to train strength with whatever I had. This was my body, my apartment and a construction plate that weighed 26 kgs.

Not only does this training teach you tension but valuable benefits that the barbell alone does not. If you gain a base of strength with these, you will have an advantage when you return to the barbell.

Remember, training is as hard as you can make it. A push-up is easy, but a one leg one arm push-up with a pause on the bottom? You can press a heavy bell overhead but can you BU press it, snatch it and Sots press it?

Sometimes you are not limited by your means, but your creativity. Strength can be trained anywhere with anything.
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
There is no way, under any circumstances, were I in your shoes, that I would get rid of your barbell and plates. The benefits of having them are substantial.

As others have said, you can do deadlifts, cleans, snatches, jerks, presses, front squats with the loadable barbell, and because it’s loadable, you can gradually increase weight lifted over time for absolute maximum strength gains. You can get by without the kettlebells for the time being, and maybe add one with birthday money or whatnot at a later time. Though I would add a pull-up bar ASAP, because most of your LEO/.mil PFT will have that as a test requirement so you should be getting familiar (if you get to 20 body weight pull-ups you’ll have a perfect score on the Marine PFT for instance)

The big thing at 17 is going to be your diet and recovery. If you smash a bunch of protein and calories (I bet you can put down 4000cal per day without a lot of fat gain), and don’t do anything dumb like getting wasted every weekend or pushing yourself to the point of physical injury, you’ll experience prodigious muscle and strength gains.

Specifically for BJJ: hip hinge and core strength are huge (you’ll get that with a heavy deadlift) as you learn guard passing and submission defense.
 

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
So, I have read all of your replies and done some thinking, here are the conclusions.
I vastly overestimated the time that it would take for me to get basic proficiency with kb's. It's definitely not 3-4 years, but more like 6-8 months, at least to reach a more or less effortless Timed Simple. I also realized that bells wouldn't cost me as much as I thought, and I'm not that tight on money anyways, so I can keep my old equipment. However, for me to do barbell moves like @Andi-in-BKK and @Coyotl suggested, I'd need to build a lifting platform from plywood and horse stall mats.
you’ll experience prodigious muscle and strength gains. - @Andi-in-BKK
Yes, that's right, but that's not really what I need or what is best for my goals, like @Steve Freides said, kettlebell work might suit better for what I want to do than building a lot of muscle and maximal strength with barbells.(might even hinder MA progress(?)) And to what Andi said about the deadlift giving a good hip hinge and core strength for bjj, swings and TGU's deliver that as well, right? And yes, I have a pull-up bar for LEO/mil tests.
I agree with @North Coast Miller on the fact that I should prioritize on MA training. Kettlebell training would fit this quite well, as the sessions are short and wouldn't take much out of me. I'm also intrigued by the idea that Miller said about learning good movement mechanics with kb's to then learn barbell lifts effectively and safely. I might also dabble with @Kev 's recommendation of training with sandbags.
There is also a possibility that I could train at my schools gym affordably, but it wouldn't be available on holidays and such, so I won't count on it.
Final conclusion. I will not sell my barbells(at least yet), I will take up S&S until I reach a solid Timed Simple. Then I'll maintain that with 2-3 sessions a week, and add one day of barbells. Later I'll maybe increase barbell time to get some strength from there, and then start chasing after Sinister. Obviously somewhere in there I need to do mobility/stretching as well. Any thoughts on all of this? And thanks to everyone who replied, amazing to have people help a young bloke in the beginning.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
So, I have read all of your replies and done some thinking, here are the conclusions.
I vastly overestimated the time that it would take for me to get basic proficiency with kb's. It's definitely not 3-4 years, but more like 6-8 months, at least to reach a more or less effortless Timed Simple. I also realized that bells wouldn't cost me as much as I thought, and I'm not that tight on money anyways, so I can keep my old equipment. However, for me to do barbell moves like @Andi-in-BKK and @Coyotl suggested, I'd need to build a lifting platform from plywood and horse stall mats.

Yes, that's right, but that's not really what I need or what is best for my goals, like @Steve Freides said, kettlebell work might suit better for what I want to do than building a lot of muscle and maximal strength with barbells.(might even hinder MA progress(?)) And to what Andi said about the deadlift giving a good hip hinge and core strength for bjj, swings and TGU's deliver that as well, right? And yes, I have a pull-up bar for LEO/mil tests.
I agree with @North Coast Miller on the fact that I should prioritize on MA training. Kettlebell training would fit this quite well, as the sessions are short and wouldn't take much out of me. I'm also intrigued by the idea that Miller said about learning good movement mechanics with kb's to then learn barbell lifts effectively and safely. I might also dabble with @Kev 's recommendation of training with sandbags.
There is also a possibility that I could train at my schools gym affordably, but it wouldn't be available on holidays and such, so I won't count on it.
Final conclusion. I will not sell my barbells(at least yet), I will take up S&S until I reach a solid Timed Simple. Then I'll maintain that with 2-3 sessions a week, and add one day of barbells. Later I'll maybe increase barbell time to get some strength from there, and then start chasing after Sinister. Obviously somewhere in there I need to do mobility/stretching as well. Any thoughts on all of this? And thanks to everyone who replied, amazing to have people help a young bloke in the beginning.


The plan(s) you have sound like a good path forward.

I'll second any recommendation for sandbag training esp combined with MA. I don't think any other mode (including KB) translates as well to applying/resisting movement from multiple directions. There is something about ballistic training with something heavy that is actually thumping into you, that improves balancing against external forces in motion.
 
Top Bottom