Learning new techniques. Out with the old, in with the new….

Whenever a trainer I have been working with goes on a training course, I view the next PT session with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation. In the past the trainer has come back, thrown out all that went before and started again, so I wasn’t too surprised when my PT session last week went that way…

My current trainer went away last weekend to work with Eddie Sheenan and Mark Stapleton on Russian style Kettlebell Sport techniques. I was tempted to go to the course but decided to wait and hear some feedback from him before signing up myself. The feedback he gave was very positive so I’m now considering booking myself onto their course in Newcastle in December despite the fact that my bank account is looking rather sad at the moment. This kettlebell sport thing is not cheap! I’ve not quite forgiven Mark for Kilkenny but I think I need to take learning new technique seriously if I am going to continue to compete.

The changes are quite fundamental. I’ve been swinging hardstyle for around six years now but have made some changes over the last year to improve efficiency. I’ve already reversed the breathing and changed the downward movement when snatching. However my press technique is still very much hardstyle when not doing the jerk and my hip thrust is still based on hardstyle technique.

Russian GS style swings are very different, the legs straighten as you swing back and there seems to be more of a bounce than a hip thrust. This affects the snatch as swings are really just half snatches in GS. I’m also going to need to lean further back on my heels during both jerk and snatch and change my rack position.

However the most fundamental change is about relaxation as this increases efficiency and speed. For me that’s hard because I’m such a tense person, however, health wise, learning to relax is good. Relaxing my legs but keeping them straight at lockout will take some learning. Breathing will have to change too, but I can only take so much change at once.

My partner has been laughing at me as I’ve been practicing the new swing move in the kitchen without kettlebells. As one friend said – air kettlebells! I am beginning to apply this move now, but tend to revert back to hardstyle when I’m tired at the moment.I’m not expecting to have implemented all this by the time I compete in Wales, we’ll make the real changes when this competition is over.

Stretching and flexibility are also important so I’m also following a twenty minute stretch routine most mornings. I’m stretching out my back, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and heels. I’m not yet performing the splits (not sure I ever will)but not far off being able to push myself into a crab position –  the last time I did that I was 14! The benefits of this will go beyond GS sport as I move into my 50s and my body starts to stiffen up, the stretch work will keep me moving, which is a good thing.


About kettlebellqueen

Tiny middle aged kettlebell enthusiast from Nottingham England. I've just passed my RKC and am still learning.
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4 Responses to Learning new techniques. Out with the old, in with the new….

  1. It’s fascinating to observe and read about the differences between the different schools of Kettlebell training, and I appreciate very much your comparison here. I always learn something when I read your blog!

    I occasionally see folks from one particular approach denigrate others. This frustrates and saddens me, as it seems that each has been developed thoughtfully and with an eye towards fulfilling a particular purpose–and that kind of ‘my way or the highway’ thinking shuts down dialogue and any opportunity to learn from each other.

    Good luck to you as you transition from one style to another! That seems to be as much a mental challenge as it is physical! Tls

    • kettlebellqueen says:

      The key to my love of working with kettlebells is the mental challenge. There is a skill to learn and improve along side doing the exercise.

      Like you I find the polarisation between different disciplines difficult to swallow and I’ve always avoided getting involved in those debates. If people are being active and looking after their bodies that’s what is important. You are right that both GS and hardstyle have been developed with different aims and end points. A skilled and open minded trainer can work with them both depending on what both the trainer and the client is aiming to achieve.

      Personally, I’m just moving forward all the time and having fun! Hope your training is going well and that you are beginning to find the direction which suits you. Not that there is any hurry, sometimes it’s enough to be just exploring and consolidating new skills.

  2. I have always wanted to try out kettlebells but have never had a chance. I wonder if it would be bad for the herniation in my back.

    • kettlebellqueen says:

      Hi Wayne, I’ll be straightforward here and say that I am not a physio or a personal trainer and I don’t know how serious your herniation is, so the comments I make are from personal experience. If you are interested in using kettlebells find an experienced RKC to work with you and speak with a medical practitioner. Having said that, when I hurt my back doing boxfit 5 years ago, my medical practitioners did not know what a kettlebell was. My RKC was an experienced trainer and worked with me slowly and carefully until I recovered. At the time there was a big debate around using kettlebells to support people with bad backs and the evidence seemed positive. This is because the core work involved in working with kettlebells supports your back.

      I think Hardstyle will be safer initially, I found 2 hand hardstyle swings with a lighter weight really helped me, but that is personal to me and my situation. I found GS was harder on my back when I was initially learning the skill. Again, find an experienced trainer to show you how, there is a skill to learning how to swing kettlebells safely, with or without a bad back. I have seen some terrible form from people who are just picking them up and having a go, that is when backs are hurt.

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