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How a Young Wrestler Got Phenomenal Results from a 20-Minute Russian Kettlebell Workout

September 21, 2005 10:32 AM

I was training a young athlete who was dedicated enough to stick to his strength & conditioning program during his wrestling season. Most young athletes cannot (perhaps 'will not' is better said) do extra training in season because of their lack of GPP. The practices alone exhaust them physically and mentally that they are left with no reserve for anything extra.

This young athlete was 15 and wrestled in the 125 l.b weight class. This was his first time doing any in season training in addition to wrestling. We only trained once a week though, making sure he did get time to recover and also taking into account that wrestling practices are in essence strength training. All the lifting, throwing and takedown drills easily equate to doing hundreds of reps of rowing, squatting, lunging and deadlifting.

These workouts were very short in duration and used mostly Russian Kettlebells, sometimes only Russian Kettlebells. The basic template was to begin our workout with some light calisthenics and abdominal training to get primed physically and mentally. This portion took no more than 5 minutes. Following the warm up we went ahead and got into the meat & potatoes of our program. We started with a heavy max effort exercise, which was either a free weight exercise, a heavy Kettlebell exercise, or a sand bag exercise.

The free weight movement was chosen from one of the following
  • flat or incline press (barbell or dumbbells)
  • dead lift variation (trap bar, straight bar, sumo or RDL)
  • bent over rowing movement (t bar, barbell or dumbbell


The Sand Bag Movement was chosen from one of the following:
  • clean and press
  • thrusters
  • clean and squat combo
  • clean, squat, press combo
  • squat holding the bag with arms underneath in a curl type position (this helped activate the posterior chain more, especially the upper, mid and low back)
  • deadlift (bent or RDL) ? we did this by holding the sand bag with arms held straight


The Kettlebell Exercise done for max effort was chosen from the following:
  • single kettlebell squat (held at chin level)
  • double kettlebell squat
  • double or single military push press
  • clean and press
  • clean, squat and press


Once we performed a max effort exercise in the set ? rep range of about 5 sets of 5 reps we moved on to a circuit style of training mixing in calisthenics and Kettlebells (keep in mind 5 x 5 in an average, sometimes we did 7 sets of 3, etc.). Rest periods on max effort exercises were very short, often times only 30 seconds. Sometimes the circuit is called a matrix of complex. Either way, it produced awesome results! We would perform each matrix / circuit 2 ? 4 times depending on his energy levels which varied from time to time. Rest time between matrix was approximately 1 minute.


Let's check out how a matrix of Kettlebell training would look after hitting a max effort movement. Here are a few samples:

Workout 1:
  1. 1 arm swings x 10 L / R
  2. 1 arm clean and press x 5 L / R
  3. 1 arm snatch x 5 L / R
  4. 2 handed squat x 10
  5. 1 arm row x 10 L / R
Workout 2:
  1. double swings x 8
  2. double clean and press x 5
  3. double squat x 5
  4. alternating snatches x 5 L / R
  5. double bent over rowing x 8

Workout 3:
  1. 1 arm snatches for 5 minutes, alternating every 5 reps (absolute killer!)

Following this 5 minute snatch training we would do pullups, squats, leg raises on the dip bar and dips back to back for 5 or 6 minutes. The idea of training for time rather than sets & reps came from seeing work outs posted on the forum from guys like Steve Maxwell and Coach Reeve. High School wrestling matches last 6 minutes in duration so we used exercises for 2 minutes at a time as well, simulating the efforts of a match. This worked extremely well because it also pushed the mental toughness up to a greater level than ever before. A sand bag exercises such as Deadlifts might be performed for 2 minutes non stop, followed by various Kettlebell movements for 2 minutes and then for our last period we might perform 3 minutes of body weight calisthenic movements to simulate the last period plus over time.


The ultimate answer to the effectiveness of this training was how he performed when he wrestled. I watched a few of his matches and his conditioning was truly second to none. He would tell me things like, "I feel so powerful out there and so fluid" ? this power and free flowing feeling was a side effect of the snatches (power training & power endurance) and the fluid movement certainly came from all his practices, but the Kettlebell matrix was a great way to increase this fluidness as well. Going from one exercise to another help him fee comfortable with change in level, movement, and exerting himself for extended periods of time.

Compared to his freshman year (he was a sophomore when we trained) I watched him constantly lifting his opponents off the mat to finish his takedowns. He lifted them with ease when they would try to escape from bottom as well, and he lifted them regularly throughout the entire match which was a great exhibition of power endurance!

He ended the season with 30 wins and 2 losses and a slew of titles. It was not odd for the coaches to bump him up one or two weight classes because they wanted him to wrestle against these stronger opponents.

In conclusion, I found that with the in season training it would be in my best interest to not over do the training with regards to time or intensity so we tailored them both. The results were phenomenal and I certainly love the infinite ways I am able to incorporate Kettlebells in the workouts of my clients. This is just one example of how Kettlebells have helped someone achieve their goals and accelerate their potential!


Zach Even ? Esh is a Strength & Performance coach located in Central NJ. You can obtain more information on Zach's training methods by visiting his web site ZachEven-Esh.com

 

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