Since returning from LA I have been using my kettlebells in long timed sets. It is devastating work and let me tell you why.
In kettlebell competitions there are two main lifts. You must do the Jerk for 10 minutes straight. The other event is the Snatch for 10 minutes straight.
In case you don’t know what these moves are I will fill you in. If you have ever watched or done Olympic lifting then you will probably get it.
The Jerk is done with two kettlebells resting by your shoulders. Also known as the rack position. With an explosive leg movement you lift the bells upwards then drop down with a second leg dip and lock out the kettlebells overhead. Straighten your knees and you have 1 rep. The goal is as many reps as you can get without setting the kettlebell down.
The snatch is another explosive movement where the kettlebell is swung from between your legs to overhead. Again locked out overhead constitutes a single rep and the goal is as many as possible. You only use one kettlebell here and in competition a single hand switch is allowed. Usually this means five minutes with one hand then five with the other.
There is no magic in the 10 minute number. Five, six, or 20 minutes all work. Competitions are in ten minutes so it is commonly used.
In my eyes the greatest benefit of this training is mental toughness. When you have two kettlebells resting on you and you can feel the pain, where every rep burns, everything in you wants to put those bells down but the only thing stopping you is your decision to keep on going. You may be feeling like this at 6 minutes and still have 4 more to go, each more excruciating then the last.
The sad thing is that sometimes you will lose to this desire of comfort and set the bells down when you could have gone on. But more often than not you push through until the end.
Do you get this benefit from other kinds of training? Absolutely. But some more than others. High rep bodyweight exercises like Hindu squats or hill sprints are good examples. You can always push yourself a little faster, a little longer, or a little harder.
Low rep exercises don’t really build this. Sure you need the mind set to work hard and heavy, but there is a difference when your body is screaming at you to stop but you won’t let it.
The more uncomfortable you are, the more mental toughness you have the chance of building.
The next time you are training keep pushing until you can’t push anymore. Once you’re there reach down deep, use your will power, and keep going.