The AKC One True Way at the Arnold Classic
As the old saying goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat, but there's only one way to lift kettlebells." -- and that's the One True Way.
At first listen this seems like quite an arrogant statement, until you know, until you experience it from the inside out like I have. This past weekend, spent at the Arnold Classic, proved it in rapid succession, and beyond the shadow of a doubt. PHOTO AT RIGHT: Kettlebell Lifting Champion and AKC Head Coach, Valery Fedorenko sharing his One True Way.
While working the ever-impressive Arnold Fitness Expo in Columbus Ohio, I saw first hand, over and over again, real evidence of the superiority of the One True Way. The American Kettlebell Club and head coach Valery Fedorenko were holding a simple contest -- most reps performed in either the one-arm Jerk, Push Press or Press (for both men and women) were awarded a free Coach's Certification and set of kettlebells (valued over $6000).
One big, muscle bound guy after the next stepped up on the platform and got pushed around by a single 32 kilogram kettlebell. Whether he got ten reps or 50, all were a struggle. Stiff movement patterns block a true connection from legs to core to arms -- and it showed. Lack of endurance made high reps painful to watch.
Valery's first line coaches, his best students, demonstrated a completely different story, moving the bells gracefully in hundreds of demonstrations for hours on end. All of the the male coaches, as well as some of the female coaches showed their mastery with 32kg, never working with more than 16kg or 24kg in training.
What AKC-Perfect Training Can Offer You
Without going into details on specific kettlebell lifting technique, the following is a brief summary of some of the most important things I've have learned directly from Valery Fedorenko.
TIME UNDER THE BELL
It's the time with the bell in your hand that makes the all difference, provides the benefit --not how much weight lifted or even how many reps performed. So much else comes with time under the bell that all efforts should be directed toward this goal. Good technique enables long sets. PHOTO AT LEFT: AKC Coach Ashley Hughes demonstrating the one-arm Jerk with a 32kg kettlebell this weekend at the Arnold Classic, while Valery looks on.
This is where AKC-perfect technique comes in. Making a typical kettlebell set easier, to enable it to last longer, only makes it harder in the end, but with less intensity per rep and with many, many more reps. This also necessitates a more stoic demeanor, exactly opposite of a typical power lifter's approach. Conserve every drop of energy for when you need it. No screaming or yelling, but rather reaching inside for real strength. This is the professionalism Valery speaks of.
RELAXING UNDER LOAD
Learning to completely relax under load allows you to react far more explosively, generating much greater force with far less effort, wear and tear. Why is this important? A firefighter battling a blaze, an athlete running down the field, a police officer grappling with a perpetrator, all need explosive power that lasts. I remember always telling rookie firefighters to slow down and pace themselves. This process also builds mental fortitude that's an absolute job requisite of firefighting.
EXTREME CONNECTIVE TISSUE STRENGTH
Tendons and other connective tissue seem to be the weak link on most people. Over developed muscles without adequate tendon strength can lead to overload and injury. Long, paced, high rep sets have a dramatic effect on tendon and ligament strength, and are simultaneously therapeutic and healing in nature. If you came by the AKC booth, you'd have witnessed some extreme examples of this in action. It's interesting to note that none of the AKC coaches complained of sore shoulders, while many of the powerlifters and bodybuilders complained of shoulder pain.
HIGH REP TIMED SETS
There's no way around it. Evenly paced high rep timed sets are what build extreme endurance AND extreme strength. Yes, one rep max strength grows even while losing weight (IE: Joe loses 50 pounds can now work with double kg). I've seen people who never locked out more than 32kg one time, work with only 16kg for a few months and discover they can press 40kg for a few reps without any problem. And, of course, endurance levels skyrocket when doing ten to twenty minute sets while never putting the bell down.
This approach to kettlebell training, passed down to Valery and his coach, and then further perfected by Valery, spills over to every other athletic endeavor. Athletics, firefighting, grappling, all see a marked improvement with this type of training. As many kettlebell lifters have said, "Everything else just gets easy." All my firefighter trainees pass every test, and see vast improvement in their general physical preparedness (GPP) as well as overall work capacity.
We boast about our AKC-perfect system and one true way because it works so well, but never brag about an individual's accomplishments, although we easily could (IE: Ashley wins Master of Sport within ten months of every seeing a kettlebell). Valery, in my opinion, is the most accomplished kettlebell lifter and coach in the world, and he's too humble. His knowledge of the sport is almost beyond comprehension, and I've witnessed Valery out lift people almost twice his size, with ease of effort - and without ego. PHOTO AT RIGHT: AKC Coach Andrew Durniat wowing the crowd by one-arm Jerking three, 16kg kettlebells, one of several feats of strength he performed over the weekend.
An AKC coach's enthusiasm for kettlebells comes from wanting everyone to share in this amazing system that shatters what most Americans accept as bible, and not for the sake of his or her personal accomplishments or bragging rights.
To learn more about the AKC perfect method, Valery Fedorenko, or my kettlebell programs, please click the following link: >>More About Kettlebell Training
Posted by Mike Stefano at March 03, 2008