Kettlebell pentathlon

In case you hadn’t noticed, I quite enjoy kettlebell lifting.  I’m also interested in kettlebell sport, so I have a lot of respect for a man called Valery Fedorenko – he’s a so-called Master of Sport, and has been winning competitions since he was a teenager.  Now in his 40s he is the founder of the World Kettlebell Club and an authority on kettlebell sport, which is the discipline of lifting really heavy things for a really long time (10 minute sets with the bell changing hands only once).

So imagine my delight when Fedorenko posted a video explaining something called kettlebell pentathlon.  He describes it as a game, and challenges the viewer to see what they can achieve.  Hell yeah!

The rules are as follows: perform each exercise for 6 minutes, changing hands as many times as you like.  Rest for 5 minutes in between exercises.  Choose whichever bell you like for each exercise, or pick one and use it all the way through – it’s up to you.  These are 1-arm exercises – there are no doubles.  The maximum rep range is indicated below in brackets – if you can exceed this number, you need to lift heavier.  The exercises are:

  • Clean (x120)
  • Longcycle press (x60) – this is a military press; no knee involvement.
  • Jerk (x120)
  • Half snatch (x108)
  • Push press (x120) – heels must not leave the floor during this exercise.
Make sure to either count your reps (or have someone with you to count them), because this isn’t just about doing the movements, it’s about keeping score too.  At the end the running total of all the exercises is added up to give you your total, and then multiplied by a number that depends on the kettlebell you used:
  • 8kg – multiply by 1.0
  • 12kg – x1.5
  • 16kg – x2.0
  • 20kg – x2.5
  • 24kg – x3.0
  • 28kg – x3.5
  • 32kg – x4.0
And so on.  Fedorenko kindly says that you may use up to a 72kg kettlebell, although the very thought makes me feel…woozy.
I attempted all of this for the first time this evening, and to be honest I’m just kind of glad to have made it to the end without having to stop or ripping my hand open!  My reps were as follows:
  • Clean – 110 (very happy with this)
  • Longcycle press – 60 (and this)
  • Jerk – 84 (reasonably happy with this, but could do better)
  • Half snatch – 82 (fatigue really kicking in now)
  • Push press – 88 (just happy to get these done without falling over or swearing)
So that’s a total of 424 reps, with a 12kg bell throughout for a multiplier of 1.5 = 636 points.  I’m rather happy with that for a first time, but will definitely be aiming to improve it.
And soon, too 🙂
Note: Click here for more about kettlebell pentathlon!

Kettlebells and calories

I posted yesterday about my usual warm up, and wondered aloud what effect it had on my workout length and calorie burn.  So during yesterday’s session I made a note of time and calorie count for the warm-up/cool-down, as well as keeping track of reps & sets.  It went like this:

  • Warm-up (as posted yesterday)
  • 5 dead cleans x 1 set
  • 3 clean & press, 3 L snatches, 3 R snatches with 16kg bell.  3 sets
  • 5 clean & press, 5 L snatches, 5 R snatches with 12kg bell.  3 sets
  • TGU-windmill combo, 2 L & 2R, 12kg bell. 2 sets.
  • Cool-down (as posted yesterday, plus some static glute & hamstring stretches)

All of that took 43 minutes and burned 428 calores; the warm up accounted for 5 mins, the cooldown for 8 and the warm up and cooldown accounted for around 50 calories each.  Which means I was actually working for exactly 30 mins, and burned around 328 calories in that time; not too shabby.

All this was pretty much just for my own curiosity, but I read a great article on the subject today that’s worth sharing; “Kettlebells, Calories, Heart-rate Monitors and the Disgrace of Aerobics” (with thanks to @KettlebellWall, where I first saw the article).  The article echoes my own experience, in that many of my friends think they need to do cardio to burn body fat, and their idea of cardio is inevitably a spinning class, a run on the treadmill, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, those things are great if you enjoy them (I spin a couple of times a week, and do the occasional body combat class – they’re fun!), but they’re not the be-all and end-all.  When I tell people that my heart rate goes higher doing swings (or many other kettlebell exercises for that matter) than in spinning, and that I burn at least as many calories, they are usually gobsmacked; the idea that you can get a great cardio workout using nothing but a ball of iron is totally alien.

And that’s without considering the benefits of increased strength, stability and the myriad other things that KB training (and other kinds of weight training) improve.  These endurance cardio sessions that people subject themselves to so often are catabolic, and they often don’t realise that a fair portion of any weight they lose is likely to be muscle.

Just to re-iterate, I don’t want to put a downer on forms of exercise that people enjoy – it’s far better to be active than totally inactive after all.  But there’s such a profusion of myths surrounding fitness, and I think for me the most annoying is weight loss = cardio = mindless tedium.  Fitness should be fun!

Shapely prose

I found this blog today throught the wonderful world of Twitter. Anyone out there who doesn’t conform to society’s ideas about what’s sexy, or attractive, or healthy, or whatever should click on through and have a read. Especially the list of 10 reasons why being fat isn’t the crime of the effing century.

Take a look: is the home of Shapely Prose, which argues that “fat” is not a dirty word.