Wednesday, January 30, 2008
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Monday, January 7, 2008
Kettlebell training purists (self included) like to point out the fact that many kettlebell exercises such as the Swing, Snatch and Clean extend the range of motion by allowing the kettlebell to float behind the hips during the lowering or eccentric portion of the drills.
Kettlebell purist are equally as fast to point out that the extended range of motion and the eccentric or yielding contraction simply doesn’t exist in barbell Olympic lifts, since the athlete usually drops the barbell under control once the lift has been performed successfully.
In fact, this one benefit of kettlebell training has been credited to improving deadlift numbers, increasing beneficial hormonal responses to exercise, and positive body composition changes.
Pavel Tsatouline, the man responsible for bringing the kettlebell back to life in America even has a program based around kettlebell quick-lifts such as the Snatch, Swing and Clean. Pavel calls his program “Fast Tens” and many athletes report dramatic changes in lean muscle mass and strength levels.
A similar phenomenon occurs with kipping pull-ups. Many athletes report that their strict pull-up numbers, weighted and nonweighted sky-rocket after a focusing on a program based around kipping pull-ups. What do kettlebell quick-lifts and kipping pull-ups have in common that illicit such positive training responses?
Before we get into details let’s cover some basics. There are 3 types of muscular action, concentric or overcoming, eccentric or yielding and isometric.
Concentric muscle actions are a shortening of the muscle to overcome an external resistance. Eccentric muscle action is a resisted lengthening of that muscle or simply a muscle exerting force while being lengthened. An isometric muscle action simply refers to a muscle exerting force without any actual movement or change in its length.
The focus of this article will be on the eccentric muscular action or to be precise a fast or over-speed eccentric action.
Below are several reasons why we’ll be focusing on fast eccentric contractions:
To increase Reactive Strength: Reactive Strength is a term used to describe how quickly you can shift from the eccentric portion of a lift to the concentric portion of the lift. Poor Reactive Strength will increase the amount of time it takes you to shift from eccentric to concentric actions. This all translates into less force production and less power output during the concentric contraction making you slower and less explosive.
To Alter Motor Unit Recruitment: Research shows that fast eccentric contractions recruit a greater amount of Type 2 (fast-twitch) motor units. The greater involvement of Type 2, higher threshold motor units translates into more explosive movement and greater power output.
To promote structural changes. Some researchers have also found a decrease in Type 1 (slow- twitch) muscle fibers after a period of training using fast eccentric contractions. Type 1 fibers are slow twitch, endurance fibers and the less you have of them the better if you’re interested in being a power/speed athlete.
We’ll be using standard kettlebell exercises such as the Swing but we’ll be adding one simple twist, an environment of hyper-gravity. Instead of allowing gravity to bring the kettlebell back down on its own, we’ll be actively lowering it either by our own force or through the use of a trusted training partner.
The Active American Swing: We use the term active to illustrate the fact that you are pulling the kettlebell back down and not gravity. You’ll be doing this through a powerful shoulder extension and hip flexion. As the kettlebell reaches its peak height above your head pull the kettlebell back down between your legs and hips using your upper back musculature and your hips flexors.
The Power-Bomb: For this variation you need a training partner that you trust 100%. Perform two standard kettlebell Swings to get set, on your 3rd repetition have your training partner throw the kettlebell down as fast as you’re able to handle. Change directions as fast as you can in the bottom position, touch and go!
The Power-Bomb Figure 8: Swing a kettlebell around your legs using a figure 8 pattern. Traditionally this is performed with a slight pause in the up position. For this variation however you’ll throw the kettlebell back down between your hips as fast as you can handle.
The Active American Swing can be used within any metabolic conditioning workout to improve your time and power output. Simply replace this variation with your standard Swing.
The Power-Bomb works best as a component of a power couplet. A power couplet is two explosive drills performed back-to-back for low repetitions. Power-Bombs work well with Clapping Push-ups and Clapping Pull-ups.
Power-Bombs also work well within a complex using a plyo-metric drill or box jumps, again for low repetitions.
The Power-Bomb Figure 8 is simply thrown in as an active recovery drill or alternated with other less intense activities such as agility ladders or rings.
If you’re not used to fast eccentrics break into them slowly as they cause more muscle damage, particularly to fast twitch fibers. You’ll be happy with the results regardless. Enjoy.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I just wanted to take a moment and say "Thank You !" to everyone that I've worked with and to everyone that has helped me along the way. I truely appreciate the testimonials that were sent in helping to make me the # 1 Ranked Kettlebell Instructor.
Stay tuned for some incredible content and information. 2008 will be our year !
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