Pentathlon Fever

Kettlebell Sport has grown by leaps and bounds in the USA, since the first competition in Miami 2007, thanks largely to the efforts of Valery Fedorenko and the World Kettlebell Club. Four years after the first event, the 2011 WKC World Championship in Chicago drew over 100 athletes from around the world, and the New York Long Cycle Competition of March 2011 put 80 lifters on the platform.

The newly introduced Kettlebell Pentathlon has opened the sport up to many new lifters. The Pentathlon features five of the core lifts that includes the Clean, LongCycle Press, Jerk, Half Snatch, and Push Press. Sets are performed in that order at six minutes, allowing hand switches to occur at any time. There is a five minute timed rest period in between each set. Each exercise has a goal rep range that must be hit to achieve maximum score. For example, the goal reps for Clean are 20 reps per minute (rpm), for six minutes, that's 120 reps. Once the lifter hits 120, the high score for that set has been reached.

Clean 20
LongCycle Press 10
Jerk 20
Half Snatch 18
Push Press 20

Kettlebell Selection
Lifters must also decide on what kettlebell to use, as this dramatically effects scoring as well. Each 8kg factors in at 1 point. For example, a 24kg kettlebell would have a factor of 3, while a 12kg bell would come in at 1.5, and a 32kg bell would factor in at 4. For every set there is a magic formula of bell selection and pace that will allow each lifter to reach their potential.

Hand Switches
Once last strategic element that must be considered is when to switch hands. While the traditional minute per hand, hand-switch is a great place to start, better results might be achieved by experimenting with a few different ideas. For instance, would you possibly benefit from switching at a certain rep number, or at a certain rating of perceived exertion, gauged by muscle weakness, heart and breathing rate, as well as lactic acid burn?

Pentathlon Training
While the full blown Pentathlon is a 50 minute start to finish effort, there are numerous ways to approach training. One option we use at AKC Fitness LI is the Mini-Quotient, where we work all five moves at 2 minutes (one minute per hand), in a non-stop set. Another highly effective approach we've developed is to perform five sets at four minutes each with three minutes rest. Both have their place in a long-term Pentathlon training protocol.  Below is a brief video clip of a just that set.


At our next LongCycle Championship we will include the Pentathlon as an add-on event. Stay tuned for details on the entire competition which is tentatively scheduled for April 2012 on Long Island, NY. Official announcement with date and venue is coming soon.