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Pavel Tsatsouline – The Russian Kettlebell Challenge
Both the Soviet Special Forces and numerous world-champion Soviet Olympic athletes used the ancient Russian Kettlebells as their secret weapon for xtreme fitness. Thanks to the kettlebell’s astonishing ability to turbocharge physical performance, these Soviet supermen creamed their opponents time-and-time-again, with inhuman displays of raw power and explosive strength.
Now, former Spetznaz trainer, international fitness author and nationally ranked kettlebell lifter, Pavel Tsatsouline, delivers this secret Soviet weapon into your own hands.
You NEVER have to be second best again! Here is the first-ever complete kettlebell training program for Western shock-attack athletes who refuse to be denied — and who’d rather be dead than number two.
- Get really, really nasty — with a commando’s wiry strength, the explosive agility of a tiger and the stamina of aworld-class ironman
- Own the single best conditioning tool for killer sports like kickboxing, wrestling, and football
- Watch in amazement as high-rep kettlebells let you hack the fat off your meat — without the dishonor of aerobics and dieting
- Kick your fighting system into warp speed with high-rep snatches and clean-and-jerks
- Develop steel tendons and ligaments — with a whiplash power to match
- Effortlessly absorb ballistic shocks — and laugh as you shrug off the hardest hits your opponent can muster
- Go ape on your enemies — with gorilla shoulders and tree-swinging traps
HEAVY DUTY RUSSIANS ARE LOBBING CANNONBALLS INTO THE HEALTH CLUBS OF NORTH AMERICA.
In training rooms across the land, from urban fitness centres to basement gyms, strength-training addicts are bulking up with the latest fitness toy: kettlebells. Best described as cannonballs with handles, these steel and epoxy spheres originated in Russia as the muscle-building tool of choice for Red Army soldiers and athletes. Today “KB” workouts, which produce particularly impressive gains in the legs, hips and shoulders, are all the rage in North America. The credit goes to Pavel Tsatsouline, who was a special forces trainer back in the USSR and is now a fitness guru. This Russian Mr. T. has come out with several kettlebell books, along with the requisite videos and Website (www.dragondoor.com) to promote the kettlebell program. As Pavel likes to say, if it’s good enough for comrade Ivan, it’s good enough for your average North American Joe (or Josephine – lighter versions of kettlebells are also available for women).
From Russia, With Tough Love
Tuesday, August 27, 2002; Page HE02
The kettlebell workout is one new fitness trend that has actually been around since the turn of the last century — in czarist Russia, to be exact. The cast-iron ball with an easy grip — think a cannonball with a handle — is a low-tech comer finding new popularity with hard-core lifters and other fitness enthusiasts.
Andrea Rippe, a trainer at the Sport and Health Club in Reston, uses kettlebells herself and with several clients. “I like them because they’re so old school; it’s a retro-style throwback that really gives you an efficient full-body workout.” A few other gyms have shown interest, but for now most individual enthusiasts have to buy the bells on their own through masters like Pavel Tsatsouline.
Tsatsouline — whose grueling Russian kettlebell workouts have earned him the nickname “The Evil Russian” — traces the girya, or kettlebell, to strongman competitions in pre-revolutionary Russia. “Kettlebells were used . . . to give that extra edge in strength and endurance training,” says Tsatsouline. “Back in czarist times, a strongman or weight lifter was called a girevik, or kettlebell man.” More recently, the bells were used in training by Soviet Olympians and members of the Spetznaz, the Soviet equivalent of U.S. Special Forces.
Tsatsouline, a former Spetznaz instructor who now trains SWAT and special police response teams in Texas, New Mexico and Washington state, is the author of “The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard-Living Comrades” and a one-man kettlebell industry. The Evil One’s kettlebell books, videos and kettlebells, as well as training tips and a list of certified trainers, are distributed through the Web site www.dragondoor.com.
Kettlebells come in a variety of “poods,” an old Russian measure of weight; one pood equals about 16 kilos, or about 35 pounds. Kettlebells designed for women come in quarter-pood and half-pood sizes and sell for $90 to $100. The next size is 1.5 poods, followed by 2- and 2.5-pood models, which cost up to $140.
Many of the exercises that Tsatsouline outlines in his kettlebell books and videos are familiar from conventional weight training: dead lifts (in which you lift a weight from the ground, keeping your back straight and head up), clean-and-jerks (in which you explode up from a squat position) and military presses (in which you press the weight overhead from a seated position). Others, such as the windmill, the one-arm swing and the Turkish “Get-Up!” — in which you start on your back, holding the bell above you, and slowly get up, still holding the ball above your head — are not.
“It’s the momentum,” explains Gunnery Sgt. James A. Coleman, chief instructor at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence at Quantico. “There are more muscles involved in balance and leverage with the kettlebell; you work every muscle just keeping them up.”
The 34-year-old career Marine, a powerlifter who has set four U.S. armed forces records, says he has seen a big difference since introducing kettlebells into his training: “Everything has jumped up: my power — I’ve increased my squats by 100 pounds — and my endurance has more than doubled. It’s easy to see why they’re popular here at the center.”
A caveat: Swinging a 53-pound cannonball-shaped weight over your head can be a hazardous proposition. Rippe, who advises novices to consult with a trainer before trying them, uses her own checklist to see if clients are kettlebell-worthy; to qualify, they must be able to perform basic pull-ups and dead lifts, have good core and lower back strength and possess good coordination.
Walt Thompson, a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta and a fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine, advises caution. “I can see the appeal,” says Thompson. “But ouch! These weights are clearly for those with a good sense of balance and coordination. Otherwise, I’d advise a helmet. This would take a high level of fitness at the start.”
— Wendi Kaufman
” 2002 The Washington Post Company
|Some thoughts on Kettlebell (KB) training and Infantry fitness.
“I just finished Annual Training (AT) with the National Guard Light Infantry unit to which I am assigned. We spent 6 days in the field doing Search and Attack missions. Not as long and grueling as most of the field problems we did when I was on active duty, but a pretty good test nonetheless.
Daily movements were dismounted and fairly long. I found I was as tired as usual during movement, but my recovery time was much shorter when we stopped for a break. I “caught my second wind” in about half the time I used to.
When we made contact and began rushing or crawling, my movements were faster than before I started with the KBs. As before, I was able to shorten the time between rushes because my recovery time was quicker. I attribute this to many sets of high rep, one arm snatches. I figured that short bursts of intense activity with short rest periods in between would closely mimic dismounted movement and 3-5 second rushes. Seems I was right.
This led to some problems, as I ran off and left the platoon.
Most interesting was the ability to absorb repeated impacts. The shock absorption effect of KB training was demonstrated when I hit the ground. There was none of the usual jarring and crunching associated with hitting, crawling and rolling. While I had the usual number of bruises, I had no soreness or stiffness, even after 5 nights of sleeping on the ground. (I’m too lazy to carry the sleeping mat.)
After we redeployed and I got home, I grabbed the KB’s and started in. I only lost one rep off each set (I usually do 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps) but had no trouble completing my workout. I lost nothing on the one arm snatches, but because we had been wet for so long, my hands had softened so much I couldn’t complete the cleans. I had no trouble pulling the weight; I was just shredding my hands. My muscle tone was undiminished, proving Pavel’s contention that this muscle is “real” not “virtual,” pumped up fluff.
Best of all was grinding a bunch of buffed 20-year-olds into the ground. At 37, I was the third oldest guy in the platoon and am in better shape that I was at 27, on active duty. We really need to keep doing this.”
—Randy Bartlett, former active duty Army Infantry Officer,
A select, lucky few (why am I saying lucky? I mean WISE-AS-ALL-GET-GO) have been secretly building a dramatic physical edge with the aid of Pavel’s Russian Kettlebell Challenge. Well, not so secret, because many Party Members were so startled by their gains and so sorry for those still mired in ignorance, they couldn’t but help spilling their guts all over Dragon Door’s Discussion Site.
On top of that, Pavel really let the cat out of the bag by agreeing to train the U.S. Marines in kettlebells. Next thing I know, there’s Pavel on national TV shows like Extra and Fox News with live-footage of him and his Marine buddies hefting KB’s at Quantico. And then, to cap it all, Muscle Media puts out a ridiculously fantastic 14-page spread of Pavel, again, terrorizing the Marines with KB’s (the kind of terror only a Marine and a Party Member could love).
So much for keeping this thing under wraps for the elite few…the word is terribly out there that Russian kettlebells are going to be the Next Big Thing in 2002. Who am I to try to stem a tidal wave and insist that only card-carrying Members get to be stronger, faster and leaner than all their friends (and enemies)?
But what I can do, is set the record straight and acknowledge those first pioneering Party Members who had the nerve to take the The Russian Kettlebell Challenge when first issued. And who survived and more-than-prospered.
So the Evil One himself, Pavel, has culled our Discussion Site for the first wave of KB stories. We’ve done our best to leave the stories as pristine-raw-authentic as the original posts. Just put them through spell-check, basically.
Here they are, for your enjoyment and inspiration.
Fantastic Fat Loss with Magical KB’s
“I have been training with the KB’s and DB’s for about 2 months or so. To date, I started at a bodyweight of 220. I stepped on the scale 2 days ago and was at 192. A net loss of 28 pounds. In reality, I have lost about 33 pounds of fat, and put on 5 pounds (at least) of muscle. Give it all you have comrade, the weight will fall off.”
ZenTrainer Date/Time 2001-06-20 13:06:13
I added forty pounds to my deadlift in one month
About a month ago I suspended my Westside Barbell method powerlifting workout and went for a month of straight KB workout. I just did the max effort on reg. deadlift and get this folks. I just added forty pounds to my PR on 1RM. My 1RM deadlift went up from 325lb to 365lb. My deadlift technique got a lot more snap in it and more explosive. I noticed the same thing on my squat technique.
If you think that KB workouts are the easiest way to raise your PR on your lifts, think again, KB workouts are tough! But you will get excellent results.
I like to thank Com. Pavel and the party for the results I am getting. I am 6 feet and weight 180 lbs. Lifting twice your body weight is pretty cool eh?”
Craig, Date/Time 2001-10-29 09:47:25
I lost 16 lbs in the last four weeks since I started the KB lifts
” I love KB’s! I have lost 16 lbs in the last four weeks since I started the KB lifts. Also, I haven’t jogged in 2 weeks and last night I went jogging after my KB workout. At the end of the course that I run there is a big hill. Before KB’s I was dying at the beginning of the hill, and a complete goner at the top. Last night I threw the hill aside like a little pink plastic dumbbell!!!”
Gediminai, Date/Time 2001-10-05 16:58:42
Kettlebell results report
“After about 2 weeks of kettlebell training, I’ve noticed some thickening of the musculature through my neck, traps, shoulders & upper back. My wife has also commented on it, so it’s not my imagination. My grip strength has also improved. I’ve also noticed that my pants feel a little looser in the waist. All this from only training 3 days per week!”
Ginko Date/Time 2001-06-02 14:03:05
Incredible gains in energy, strength, explosiveness, power, speed, overall coordination, balance, flexibility
“After 6 months, at age 68, I have experienced incredible gains in energy, strength, explosiveness, power, speed, overall coordination, balance, flexibility, joint mobility, restoration of all ranges of motion, ability to do difficult body weight exercises, dramatic increase in overall endurance, posture, correction of lower back weakness, completion of the repair of a very serious shoulder injury from 6 years ago and far better muscle definition than ever in my entire life. From a typical aging old codger to being able to keep up with some of the best young whipper snappers. All from a funny looking iron ball with a big fat handle introduced by some evil dude from Russia!
All I can say is that if you want a wild ride just put aside anything you know about training the human body, get one, and follow the directions.”
Pavel Tsatsouline, is the Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc., a fitness instructor who has introduced SPETSNAZ training techniques from the former Soviet Union to US Navy SEALs, Marines and Army Special Forces, and shortly thereafter to the American public.
Pavel Tsatsouline, (Belarusian: Павел Цацулін, romanized: Paveł Caculin; born 23 August 1969 in Minsk, USSR) is the Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc., a fitness instructor who has introduced SPETSNAZ training techniques from the former Soviet Union to US Navy SEALs, Marines and Army Special Forces, and shortly thereafter to the American public.
Tsatsouline is particularly notable for popularizing the kettlebell in the modern era in the West, most notably through his books and through a series of instructional videos, delivered with his trademark humor, comically exploiting Russian stereotypes with a thick accent, a dungeon-esque setting, and frequent use of the word “comrade”. Vic Sussman among others praised Tsatsouline’s videos because their power as training tools in part stemmed from the emphasis on kettlebells as fun. Pavel’s strength training exercises were solely focused on practical strength and mobility.For him bigger did not always mean stronger.
He holds a degree in Sports Science from the Physical Culture Institute in Minsk.He is involved with the evolving field of martial arts fitness and is a proponent of the kettlebell as an exercise and strengthening tool. In 1998, Tsatsouline became a kettlebell instructor in the United States.
Tsatsouline claims to have been a PT drill instructor for Spetsnaz, the elite Soviet special forces unit, during the late 1980s (when Tsatsouline was in his teenage years).
In 2001, Tsatsouline was voted a “Hot Trainer” by Rolling Stone, pictured with a kettlebell in hand. He was considered the father of the kettle bell and popularized the usage of kettle bell exercise to increase strength. He has published articles in Milo magazine and Performance Press, as well as being the author of several books on stretching and strength training (see Bibliography).
In 2012, Pavel left the RKC and formed a new company, StrongFirst.
- 1 Pavel Tsatsouline – The Russian Kettlebell Challenge
- 18.104.22.168 Party Members Share Amazing Success Stories
Of Stunning Fat Loss, Maximal Strength Gains
And Huge Strides in Conditioning
From Using-And Loving-Their Russian Kettlebells
- 22.214.171.124.1 Fantastic Fat Loss with Magical KB’s
- 126.96.36.199.2 I added forty pounds to my deadlift in one month
- 188.8.131.52.3 I lost 16 lbs in the last four weeks since I started the KB lifts
- 184.108.40.206.4 Kettlebell results report
- 220.127.116.11.5 Incredible gains in energy, strength, explosiveness, power, speed, overall coordination, balance, flexibility
- 18.104.22.168 Author
- 22.214.171.124 Party Members Share Amazing Success Stories Of Stunning Fat Loss, Maximal Strength Gains And Huge Strides in Conditioning From Using-And Loving-Their Russian Kettlebells
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