It has been a week since I became Russian Kettlebell Certified so I am writing a bit about the RKC and why I like kettlebells so much. First of all, let me say that I chose the RKC for the same reason that I choose anything: it was really hard. The RKC is an expensive certification with very high standards for technique and conditioning. Only 1,200 people have the certification because the 3-day workshop has a 30% failure rate. You have to throw a 53 lb iron weight over your head 100 times in the first 5 minutes of the weekend. Can’t do it? No RKC for you. Most importantly, at the end of the weekend you have to teach a complete novice, right off the street, how to swing a kettlebell. It’s the only certification that I have ever seen where you actually are tested on teaching.

But why kettlebells? I obviously like them. I even use one as a logo. But to better answer that question, I thought I’d dedicate the next few blog posts to this piece of iron and what I like to do with it.

First of all, this is a kettlebell. Actually, it’s my kettlebell. His name is Daryl and he is 24 kilograms, or about 53 pounds. As you can tell, it’s pretty much just a cannonball with a handle on it. It’s a (relatively) cheap piece of iron with no moving parts that I have not only integrated into all my training, but into the way I think about strength and conditioning.

Kettlebells are a Russian creation that permeates the fitness culture in that country. Every child learns to use them and every special forces exam or combat sport uses them as a benchmark for personal fitness. Needless to say, it was a Russian who popularized them in America. Pavel Tsatsouline came to the US as a Soviet Master of Sport and competition kettlebell lifter (yeah, they have that) in 1998. In 2001 he wrote “Russian Kettlebell Challenge” and started the RKC, or Russian Kettlebell Certification, which uses Pavel’s traditional Russian or “Hard Style” of kettlebell exercise.

Ok, so what do you do with these damn things. Believe it or not, not that much. At the RKC we were tested on 6 exercises. That’s it. 36 hours of instruction on how to do and teach 6 exercises: the swing, the get-up, the clean, the press, the front squat, and the snatch. But trust me, you could go your whole life only doing the swing and the get-up and be in better shape than anyone you ran into. I will be doing entries about each of these exercises, so I won’t deluge you with why they are so effective now, but I will hit you with the RKC philosophy of strength and conditioning and why I like it so much.

Ask any Olympic Powerlifter what the secret to strength is and they will respond, “tension.” Ask gymnast what the secret to perfect form is and they will respond, “tension.” Ask any boxer where their power comes from and they will respond, “tension” and hit you in the stomach. The kettlebell exercises are the safest, most accessible way for anyone to develop tension and the resulting strength which they can use in their everyday lives. RKC or “Hard Style” kettlebells is all about delivering maximum tension at maximum speed over the full range of motion of your major joints. It engages all the major muscle groups in your body at maximum levels and anyone from a teenager to your 85-year-old grandmother can learn it.

But why would anyone want to develop “tension” and power? Maybe you think freeweights is perfectly fine and don’t understand what kettlebells will add to your workouts. Well in the next entry I will go into detail on why kettlebell training is great for everyone, but I can sum it up for you with a final thought. There is one sport that we all engage in and strive to be the best we can at which kettlebells are tailor made for improving: Sex.

Next time, Kettlebells for Sex