Last month I wrote of how I use he kettlebell…of how much I enjoy working with this, to most modern weight lifters, unfamiliar piece of apparatus.
In Germany many clubs have a Rundgewicbsriege – a “round weight” or kettle-bell section. This group practices the more intricate feats of Jonglieren – juggling. They hold meets and frequently work in groups, sometimes as many as fifty performing at the same time.
When “strong man” acts were popular there were athletes who accomplished some very unusual results with these weights. Germany had to her credit such famous jugglers as Paul Conchas, Sylvester Schafer, Spadoni, and innumerable others. No doubt there are many of you who would like to know of some of the stunts that can be accomplished with kettle-bells.
A very good beginning is to place a kettle-bell on your left shoulder. Reach over your head with the right arm, the forearm resting on the head. With the palm of the right hand up grasp the kettle-bell and slowly bring the weight off the shoulder, pushing the weight up until the right arm is vertical. If you can do this with a thirty-five pound kettle-bell…George Hackenschmidt has done it with a fifty-five pound kettle-bell.
In the “good old days” when it was possible to wager a stein of real beer on the outcome of a stunt there was one which was popular especially whenever a group fathered to quaff their Pilsner. It was done while sitting at the tables in this manner – sit on your chair your heels touching the front of the chair legs. The toes, pointing straight ahead, should touch the legs of the table (it will be necessary to have a small table with at least one side short enough to provide legs of about the same spacing as those of your chair). Place the kettle-bell between the feet, keep the disengaged hand outstrecthed to the side, and grasp the bell by using the overgrip. Slowly lift the weight and place it upon the table. Credit yourself with a good stunt if you can do this with a fifty pound weight. If fifty pound seems too easy place a stool or a chair upon the table and place the kettle-bell upon it without rising from your seat! Try this with about thirty-five pounds on some friend who thinks he is strong!
Another interesting feat and one which I find goes well at a gathering of any sort is to “muscle out” a kettle-bell to arms length. Hold the bell by the little finger and with a piece of chalk held between the thumb and forefinger write your name or draw something on a black-board held by an assistant. In my stage work I have done this with a 25 pound kettle-bell. With this same weight try this – grasp the handle (palm-up) and muscle it out to the side. Slowly carry the weight forward and as it comes around slowly turn the wrist so that the palm is down. If your wrist is weak you will find it impossible to hold the weight. This is also an effective stunt reversed, and may be done with a weight in each hand.
Among some of the record feats in which the kettle-bell has figured are those of George Lurich. In 1899 he did a deep knee bend while holding overhead a 100 pound kettle-bell in his left hand and one of 112 pounds in his right hand. Three years later he curled with one arm a kettle-bell weighing 154 pounds. This was done with the legs bent and the body leaning forward, the elbow resting against the body. One Johann Schneider, of Koln, Germany, pressed two 110 pounds kettle-bells alternately twelve times in succession, and on January 5th 1906, Ludwig Grammer of Munich, swung a 110 pound kettle-bell from the floor overhead thirty-seven times. Going back to 1898 we find that on September 20th of that year, Bruno Jost of Berlin, accomplished the almost unbelievable feat of swinging a 176 pound kettle-bell from the floor overhead with one hand. These men were all heavy-weights but stunts of this character were by no means confined to big men.