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Friday, November 6, 2015

One Hour Long Cycle exemplifies the best of Kettlebell Sport

October 17th was the official date of this 6th annual fundraiser, started by the Orange Kettlebell Club and centered in Costa Mesa, CA. This year the charity being supported was Kettlebells 4 Autism, which allocated all funds raised in the US to the Global Autism Project.

Group photo before lift off. Mostly normal looking folks, right?*
Jen Yao, Kettlebell Sport lifter and Active Release Technique specialist from Colorado Springs, organized the Denver satellite event at the Colorado Kettlebell Club in Denver.
The significance of our lift being at the home base of BOLT was not lost on me. One of the things I really admired was the opening instructions: "like BOLT" we can switch hands as many times as we wanted, but "not like BOLT" we can not put the weight down for the whole hour. Jen came with two CrossFit Decimate team members who traded out their 16kg and 8kg weights with her for the hour.

Denise Eccles, personal trainer at CKC, encouraged us to lift "cupcakes" (or the lightest thing we could work with) for the hour. She then proceeded to work a pair of 8kg cream puffs for the whole time!

Certified Kettlebell Trainer Jeff Bott  journeyed forth from Windsor, CO, to side out a 16kg bell with one teammate.

I was very proud of my team from Longmont for staying with their respective cupcakes for all 60 minutes.
Jeff Bott, his team mate and Longmont KB Club members.*
Back to the original statement, the reason I say the One Hour Long Cycle exemplifies the best of Kettlebell Sport because it is an opportunity for lifters to explore the lift however they want and at whatever stage of learning they are in. Some people form a relay team so they can pass a more formidable weight among themselves in 5-minute intervals. Many prefer a solo effort with one or two weights. Both of these options make it possible to split the total time into segments for specific focus (pacing, technique nuances, breathing, etc.). For beginners with a coach willing to trade off the weight it is a great training/coaching opportunity. The beginner can practice in short sets and then watch during rest phases.

This year I lifted double 10kg bell to make use of the "practice makes permanent" principle, and to explore variations of the lift. The following are some of the object lessons I gleaned.
  • Lifting doubles leaves me with nowhere to hide.  Technique problems can and will hunt me down. Life will suck.
    Slava Barsuk, me, Denise Eccles and Jen Yao.*
  • Rotating thumbs back in the clean with doubles does not work as well as with a single kettlebell. The tendency to bang the weights together between my sawed-off legs is high. This causes extra work to re-gain control during hand insertion.
  • Stepping out for the clean and back in for the jerk (the Rudnev Shuffle - video below) increases efficiency in a few ways. One, it puts more momentum behind the acceleration pull, making it faster. Two, it allows me to get my feet closer together for the jerk, which I find to be easier than keeping a wide stance. Three, I can get a wide enough stance to rotate my thumbs back without smacking the bells, but have to steer the extra power generated in the hand insertion.
  • The Shuffle does have the draw back that it requires a bit of mental agility. I have not practiced it with a competition load because I am still ingraining the movement to lean away from the weights on the drop down. For the One Hour Long Cycle I practiced it for two 10-minute sets.

The ultimate take away for me is this: people who play Kettlebell Sport are a special kind of weird.  I knew this about myself already, but there are hundreds of KB Sport lifters out there disguised as "normals." The fact that this lift was a fundraiser was completely secondary for everyone who attended the OHLC event in Denver. It was about putting the weight overhead.

When I mentioned it to other folks from my gym, intending to gain support for the Global Autism Project, I said it was similar to the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser from elementary school days. They looked at me like I was speaking Russian. (Didn't people do that outside of Wyoming?) 
"So, Goldberg, when is your One Hour of Hell?"

Best wishes for safe and powerful lifting,


*Thanks to Bob Shafer for these photos!

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