How I found the Kettlebell

Posted: October 27, 2012 in hardstyle, kettlebell, training


This is a note I put up on my facebook page a while back

My path to the kettlebell

I smoked for almost 20 years, more than half my life.
Four years ago I decided to quit, the night before St. Patrick’s day, 16th March 2007 at a friends wedding I smoked my last cigarette. Went cold turkey, I tried the gum( heartburn in tablet form) and I tried the patch(itchy rash).
What worked for me was my stubborn nature, no way was I giving in.
The next fortnight I was a nightmare to live with and work with but I eventually pushed the nicotine out.
The next three or four months I spent clearing my lungs of the best part of  twenty years of tar.

One of the perks  I have with my job is free access twice a week to what is arguably this country’s finest gym.
University of Limerick Arena gym, walk past the treadmills,recumbent bikes and the cable machines and you got to the free weights,squat racks and Olympic platforms. This is where I wanted to be, but what to do….?

Enter the Internet, behold, the information superhighway!!
I was going to find everything online, programs,routines,upper body split,lower body split, 5×5 programmes.
I would trawl the web seeking information and advice,some good,some not so good.
Settled on the simple 5×5. Squat,dead lift,press,barbell row and bench press, lifting three times a week.

This is where I hit problem #1, this routine required me to lift three days a week.
Anyone who has worked 12 hour night shift will tell you that hitting the gym for a heavy barbell session afterwards is not easy.

Problem #2 kicks in here,I learned that I have a poor range of motion in my shoulders that is aggravated by pressing a barbell over my head. What to do….?

Back to the Internet..stumbled into Iron On Line

Dave Draper(Mr Universe 1966) and his wife Laree run this site and it’s packed with information all provided freely by themselves and a realm of IOLers. A truly fantastic  crowd of common minded friends that stretch across the planet.
Here I found everything I needed to get me moving again.
Encouragement and advice, all gold.
I can honestly say that if I hadn’t found this site I would have most likely given up weight training.
So barbell pressing was out, dumbells were in. I kept going with this 5×5, substituting barbell pressing with dumbells but shift work and balancing family life made it difficult, if only I could find a way of training at home.
No room at home for a barbell, never mind a squat rack, bench and plate storage.

Back to the internet….back to IOL, searching through posts and conversations,barbells…nope, dumbbells…no good(no space for a bench), bodyweight….could do that, suspension training….nope(no room for the TRX),kettlebells…


Back to the internet and typed “kettlebell” into the search bar.
Wikipedia describes:
“The kettlebell or girya (Russian: гиря) is a cast iron weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.”

Intrigued I probed deeper into this whole kettlebell thing.
Names started popping up on the web, Mike Mahler, Steve Cotter, Steve Maxwell, Pavel Tsatsouline, David Whitley, Dan John, Dragondoor and more and more information coming all the time.
I had to get hold of a kettlebell.
Easier said than done. Couldn’t for the life of me get one in Ireland. This only made me more determined and I  found a 16kg bell on a physio supply site.
“That’ll do me!!” I thought. Ordered one and had it in my hands within the week.
So I began playing with my new toy.

New toy, new problems.

Problem 1  
How do I use this thing?
Solution to problem 1 was trial and error, lots of learning the hard way, lots of internet searches. Lots of sore forearms.
I made sure I was researching the above mentioned names and found them on youtube, spent hours sifting the gravel to find the gold. Again IOL was my fountain of knowledge.

Problem 2
Why is this kettlebell and it’s handle completely covered in rubber?
This was a bigger problem than learning how to use it. High rep snatches test the hands at the best of times, throw a rubber handle into the mix and not a happy outcome. I used chalk or soaped up the handle(that was interesting) to help this.
This went on for over a year. Trawling the web, learning all I could.

Right it was time for me to go up a weight, I found a site that was based in Ireland and ordered two 24kg kettlebells.
(In hindsight, I should have gotten one 20kg instead)
They were heavy and they were steel, massive green kettlebells, competition grade and I loved them.

This is when I discovered the brutal side of kettlebell training, get it wrong and you will really suffer.
I had no coach, no trainer, noone to correct my form.
The end result was a strained rotator cuff and a weakened  infraspinatus.
Too heavy too soon.(hindsight is 20/20)

So off to rehab the shoulders and go back to basics.
Nothing over head for months, all swings with the 24’s and Turkish Getups with no weight to help mobilize the cuffs.
Band work to strengthen the cuffs and the infraspinatus.
Slowly the strength came back into the shoulders and felt good again to hike a bell into the rack and press it.
I continued to train, I took up Brazilian JiuJitsu to help with flexibility.

I got word that Shane Nicoletti who is  RKC certified was  offering a kettlebell instructors course.
It was not going to be a “one day cash for cert” course but a respected certification with detailed instruction of how to train others safely, and to learn by doing, spread across 2 days.
I jumped at the chance and here I am.

I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.


Feedback is always appreciated, feel free to let me know what you think

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