As any triathlon enthusiast will appreciate, competing successfully takes a significant amount of time. In fact, many participants find that they neglect other important aspects of their lives, such as work and time for family and friends, to schedule these important training sessions. Personally, I toiled up to 14 hours a week just to be competitive in the Olympic distance sprint and tris, and had to sacrifice other enjoyable aspects of my life to do so. Additionally, injuries that are synonymous with vigorous triathlon training regimens, such as chondromalacia patella (runner’s knee, also common in cyclists), Achilles tendonitis and swimmer’s shoulder, pose a constant threat to avid triathletes who follow a traditional training routine.
It’s not surprising, then, that more and more endurance athletes are looking for an alternative method to achieve optimal fitness without the time-consuming, tedious and life-defining qualities of traditional endurance training; A method that allows them not only to reduce exercise time, but also to strengthen, condition and injury-proof them in ways that swimming, cycling and running cannot; Maybe even a training method that is anything but monotonous and therefore keeps motivation and stamina high.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the kettlebell!
There is no other training method that develops strength, endurance and cardiovascular capacity like the kettlebell. Its ability to provide unparalleled stamina and turbocharged fitness has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with world-class athletes and celebrities such as Lance Armstrong, Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz swinging, snapping and pushing into incredible form.
The kettlebell resembles a cannonball with a handle, and the workout is built around five compound exercises, each with the ability to increase performance in the three phases of the triathlon simultaneously. The drills are all multi-lever movements that rely on large muscle groups, providing an intense and challenging strength and cardiovascular workout rolled into one. The swing, a dynamic full-body movement, teaches the hips, glutes and hamstrings to fire powerfully and effectively, which translates directly into running and cycling efficiency. Cleans also encourage power generation through hip propulsion while relaxing the shoulders; critical during a grueling multisport race. Snatches help rewire the central nervous system, strengthening the mind-body connection and increasing overall efficiency at each stage. Military presses, on the other hand, stabilize the inherently unstable shoulder joint, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and negate the continual internal rotation of the freestyle pull that so often causes the cluster of troublesome symptoms that fall under the umbrella of “swimmer’s shoulder.” Each individual kettlebell drill has the benefit of stimulating the body to work as a synergistic unit, resulting in optimal efficiency and offering an extremely beneficial carryover to triathlon and any other sport.
To give you an idea of the incredible cardiovascular condition you can achieve with just a single kettlebell, as an example, allow me to briefly tell you about my preparation for my first half marathon in Windsor in 2008. Due to my busy schedule as a personal trainer, the time I had to train on my own was limited and certainly not sufficient to follow a traditional half-marathon training program. So rather than give up and give up on one of my personal goals for the year, I decided to do a little experiment and primarily use kettlebells to prepare for my run. While I wouldn’t recommend building up significant race distance without at least some running preparation, I was interested to see how well the fitness developed primarily through kettlebell training translates to running endurance. My run-up to the half marathon consisted of five workouts of 60 minutes or less per week for eight weeks. Instead of a traditional running setup, I developed a varied kettlebell-based training program that consisted of high-rep snatches (around 500 in 45 minutes), total-body strength training with heavier kettlebells to increase my strength and injury resistance, and multiple sets of 5 or 6 exercises like deadlifts, Russian twists, squats and presses to develop muscular endurance and conditioning. I ran the treadmill once or twice a week for the duration of my build up, gradually increasing to a maximum distance of 8 miles over the week before last before tapering off.
As I queued up at the start line, I was admittedly a bit apprehensive at the prospect of running 13 miles with very little actual mileage, but once I got used to the run, I felt surprisingly comfortable. I finished the race in two dead hours, which was respectable for a first attempt at a ‘natural sprinter’ given the heat and challenging hills on the track. More importantly, I pushed myself to the max and although by the end of the race I had quite a bit of lactic acid build up as expected, my recovery was exceptionally quick and two days later I was feeling completely recovered apart from a few blisters.
Considering I also had a severe herniated disc in my back and was barely able to move just five months earlier, my half marathon attempt was a testament to the kettlebell’s incredible conditioning capacity. Every lifting or dynamic movement you can perform with this versatile and small piece of kit requires exceptional core muscle strength, which is essential for maximum performance. The core provides a solid foundation through which power can be transferred from one area of the body to another. As such, developing a strong core is essential for any athlete looking to improve race day results and prevent injury, and is an aspect of training that simply cannot be overlooked.
So there you have it. If you’re looking to reduce the time you spend preparing for race days while increasing your resilience to common endurance-related injuries AND improving your overall efficiency and therefore speed, then find a well-qualified kettlebell trainer and discover the challenge, fun and results that come with this remarkable piece of exercise equipment. Kettlebell training can be done almost anywhere and takes up little space, so even when you’re pressed for time, you can still get a massive cardiovascular workout without leaving home.
Thanks to Charlotte Ord | #Kettlebell #training #triathletes #marathon #experiment