The Kettlebell Five Commandments - Lessons Learned

The day-to-day of teaching kettlebells (more specifically, the Fedorenko Method of Kettlebell Lifting) has taught me almost as much as I've learned from AKC Head Coach Valery Fedorenko himself. That's not to undervalue Valery's profound influence on myself, my staff, as well as every member's training. And in no way would any of this been possible without Coach Fedorenko's continuously felt influence, but the flow of feedback from member after member, has also been an amazing learning experience.

What makes what we do at AKC Fitness LI so unique, and something we can all benefit from, is that we teach the VF-method to every member, and every member uses it as their main physical conditioning modality. This gives us a large field of middle aged adults (25 to 60 years old), many of who are stone-cold beginners, to observe and learn from.  Most of our new members have had little if any experience with kettlebells, while many never heard of them at all.  The majority of new members walking through the gym door, have no clue what a timed set even is. Bringing this individual through every detail of the kettlebell learning process, may at times be challenging, but with a sound system, a patient coach, and good record keeping, we're tweaking it on a daily basis.
But the question remains, why do they join?  For two reasons. First, because we're able to convey our belief about the VF-method (with honesty and enthusiasm), about the results that can be achieved by almost any healthy individual. And second, on a typical day or night, there's six or eight people in the gym and training with kettlebells.  Watching 125 pound Erin, Jerk the 20kg/44lb bell overhead for six straight minutes (3 minutes in each hand), gets their attention, quick. 
The system is sound, and at AKC Fitness LI, the proof is in the pudding. Anyone who joins and stays gets results. It's really that simple. The Russians have a saying, "Do the work"... let me just add to that. If you do the work, it works. Every time.

Below I'd like to leave you with 5 Commandments new kettlebell lifters should follow when attempting to learn the Fedorenko Method of Kettlebell lifting. All five are things I've learned directly from Valery that have been reinforced over the last six months of teaching kettlebells en masse. All five are general statements that at different times, may have slightly different meanings, but always worth listening to. At first glance, each phrase may seem simple, but realize that there are volumes of information behind every word. I'll touch briefly on each.

The Five Commandments of Kettlebells

1. Find the Rest
No matter what position you're in (lockout or rack), or even during the negative portion of each rep (the drop), find rest, allow the muscles to sink, relax, breathe. Proper technique, time and patience will always get you there. Work tirelessly at improving the rack, lockout, and general ability to find rest whenever you can. 

2. Use Your Legs
The Jerk, a VF-method mainstay, is 80 percent leg work. Just because the kettlebell is locked out overhead, doesn't mean the upper body is mostly responsible for getting it up there. The legs and hips are strong and last. Use them whenever possible. The greater percentage of the work the arms are doing, the faster the lifter will burn out. 

3. Never Perform Ugly Reps
I had an athlete in a competition one year, and between nerves and jet lag, her reps were getting sloppy. Valery whispered to me, make her stop. Bad reps are never good. Ugly, wobbly, sloppy reps are not reps. They're an injury waiting to happen. 

4. Up
If gravity is to be overcome, the kettlebell must go up. This simple logic rules all of kettlebells. When lifting a kettlebell, the lifter does everything in his or her power to make the bell go up, straight up - efficiently, without wasted effort. Anything that interferes with this process is wrong.

5. Don't Get Greedy
This might be the most important of the five. It boils down to being smart enough to not bite off more than you can chew. Learn to be your own best coach. Pay close attention to how you feel, and how your body is moving, adapting. There is tremendous value in repeating a difficult session without setting a new personal record every workout. Remember, injury from overtraining is probably the single biggest road block to success in any fitness or physical conditioning program. If you miss workouts, you can't possibly move forward. Train success, not to failure.

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