High Intensity Kettlebells, Sport or Fitness

I was driving on a local highway, when I spotted a billboard slogan that read "The Sport of Fitness". Pretty catch slogan, but it got me thinking. What are the differences between a hard core fitness approach and a sport approach to any athletic endeavor?

A sport, first of all, is competitive, requiring high level skill. On the other hand, fitness training isn't necessarily about winning, but rather staying healthy, maybe dropping some weight, or toning sagging muscles, not nearly as much skill required.

Why Does All of This Matter? 
When you take any discipline to a competitive level, that is, pushing yourself to the extreme limit, with the proper guidance, the best technique evolves - out of necessity (think survival of the fittest). If you push yourself to the limit without proficiency, frequent (and sometimes permanent) set backs are more likely to occur. These will take the form of reoccurring injury, sabotaging the long term master plan.

Fitness is Not a Sport.
Nor should it be, (although it can be competitive). Many sports serve well as fitness tools - running, basketball, kickboxing, kettlebells, or just about anything that gets you up and moving with a capacity for moderate to high intensity. With fitness, the only competition should be with yourself, to gradually, logically, AND safely, push yourself further and further. You earn the right to train hard by gradually building your body, gaining strength and endurance, as well as fine tuning your central nervous system (skill - the ultimate safety net).  All out, all the time is a recipe for ultimate disaster, especially for the totally de-conditioned unskilled exerciser.

It's All About Proficiency
When it comes to kettlebells, the programming for competitive Kettlebell Sport can quite different than the approach to pure fitness, although high level Kettlebell Sport athletes are some of the most conditioned individuals on the planet. The specific technique developed over decades by these very same athletes, champions like Valery Fedorenko, founder of the American Kettlebell Club (AKC) and World Kettlebell Club (WKC) should be identical to any kettlebell fitness approach, the protocols and progressions may be vary,  based on the goals of the lifter (IE: performance, weight loss, endurance, strength, etc.), but proper technique is a constant.

High Level Kettlebell Fitness©
When I developed the High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness Course (HIKF), I identified seven variables that could be manipulated to deliver an almost endless variety of fitness objectives - without messing with the way the bell is lifted - that works already been done. From weight loss, to muscle toning, to improved performance on the football field, the HIKF protocols are infinitely customizable. For example, I train a few high school wrestlers, who wrestle in six minute rounds with one minute rest. That element of an actual wrestling match can be easily replicated on the kettlebell mat, and is found in a few of our featured protocols.

Cross Performance
HIKF integrates well with other function fitness modalities - battling ropes, step ups, push up ladderrs, and row tabatas (just to name a few) can synergisticly explode results when properly worked with HIKF timed sets. It ultimately depends on client 's needs, goals, strengths, and weaknesses, as far as program creation, but infinite customization is possible. This is not a one-size fits all workout.

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