My kettlebell session by Paul Eaton
Lucy is a 26-year-old full-time business professional who exercises regularly, preferring to train outside. She follows a good, clean diet that complements her programme, which weekly includes two Action Boot Camp sessions, one technique- based one-to-one Titanium Project Heavy Kettlebell session and two home training sessions with her own kettlebells using a pre-determined session plan.
She has learned to measure her results by how she feels and performs in her training and daily life, and has built up amazing self-confidence through becoming the stand-out cadet at Action Boot Camp – the woman who is half the size of the guys and yet who can out-lift them with a kettlebell.
Lucy wants to maintain her lean physique while increasing her muscle definition and improving her core strength. While she loves cardio endurance training, she hates running; therefore, the Titanium Heavy Kettlebell training is ideal for her. Lucy has found that through effective kettlebell training she can get her training done in less than 40 minutes and still achieve the results she wants.
Her fitness ambitions are to increase the weight that she presently lifts and to compete in her first World Kettlebell Club (WKC) Pentathlon lifting event – the WKC Pentathlon UK Autumn Open – alongside me in September.
As Lucy is office based, she’s prone to postural weakness in her back and shoulders, creating a rounding of the back and shoulders (kyphosis). Through her training Lucy has counteracted this issue, as kettlebell lifting (in common with much weightlifting) develops, strengthens and realigns the back without impacting on the lower joints – ankles, knees and hips – to strengthen and improve her posterior chain, back and core.
Lucy initially had tight hamstrings; this restricted her range of motion slightly but through regular soft-style kettlebell swings she has improved her hamstring flexibility considerably and is able to straighten her legs out more, releasing the tension through her glutes and lower back.
Paul Eaton is an elite personal coach and outdoor heavy kettlebells specialist with over 20 years’ fitness experience. He runs Action Boot Camp with partner Yvonne Radley.
Lucy’s key lifts are single arm swings, cleans, long cycle presses, jerks, the half snatch and the push press. Each exercise works compound muscle groups.
Our sessions vary: we do short set lengths of one to two minutes or longer set lengths of up to 12 minutes. We also vary the RPM and weight depending on RPM and set length to create the desired effect. We’ll go lighter in weight and increase RPM to around 16-18 RPM to work on agility, co- ordination, control and endurance strength. Other sessions focus on heavier kettlebell lifts and lower RPM – around 6-8 RPM to increase her strength and power, which improves Lucy’s muscle tone and definition.
Whether we go light or heavy, we always create a massive cardio burn during the session and for up to 72 hours1 after; this is because we train to the max in every set and recover well between them.
Every session starts with a warm-up of single arm swings to get the mind and body switched on. We use a lighter kettlebell and gradually increase the range of the swing as Lucy’s muscles warm up – we never do pre-workout static stretches as they weaken the muscles. It is not fully understood why pre-stretching hampers performance, although recent studies 2 suggest the problem is in part because stretching does exactly what we expect it to do: it loosens muscles and their accompanying tendons. This process makes them less able to store energy and spring into action. We actively stretch to maintain the elasticity and power within the muscles being used – it’s a gradual process of three to five minutes that increases the range of movement as the muscles warm up and the energy systems fire up using the single swing for maximum training performance.
Lucy always trains with a pre-set timer and a node, which is a sensor device specific to WKC and attached to the handle of the kettlebell. The node indicates when Lucy has achieved precise fixation in a lift via my iPhone before she does another rep. Each session is recorded to monitor Lucy’s physical progression.
When we first started training together 18 months ago Lucy was lifting an 8kg kettlebell. Now she can clean an 18kg, jerk a 16kg overhead single-handed and quite frequently bent over rows a 24kg. Most importantly, she’s developed a great kettlebell-lifting technique.
Session in brief
- Alternate lunges 12/12
- Light single swings – 30/30 reps, 20/20 reps, 10/10 reps
- 5/5 cleans
- Round 1: 12 cleans per arm (18kg) and 12 abdominal pullovers (12kg).
- Round 2: 8 long cycle presses per arm (10kg) and 8 kettlebell sit-ups.
- Round 3: 12 jerks per arm (14kg) and 24 Russian twists (14kg).
- Round 4: 12 half snatches per arm (12kg) and 12 kettlebell push-ups.
- Round 5: 12 push presses per arm (10kg) and 12 bent over rows per arm (20kg).
Two sets of each exercise
- Assisted stretch hamstrings
- Maintenance stretches for all other main muscle groups
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