Recently a short article appeared on the AKC blog, “The Five Recent Misapplications of Kettlebell Lifting” written by Scott Sonnon, founder of Circular Strength Training.

I have never trained with, met, emailed or spoken with Mr. Sonnon. My comments are in no way an attack on him.

I would however, like to counter some of the points he makes in his post.

My comments appear in red, his appear normally.

“..some are still resisting the urge to improve their technique.”
I can only assume he refers to those of us invloved in the RKC Hardstyle approach to kettlebell training. From other comments in his post, he claims that GS is the only “proper” way to ift kettlebells. By definition that means that non-GS kettlebll lifting is improper.

Since I have achieved CMS in the sport and teach the RKC principals, I feel qualified to speak on this. And rest assured, I lift my KBs properly.

1. These newer methods can be used for bodybuilding. Now, I’m not speaking of competitive bodybuilding, but rather the approach to building XYZ muscle: Z exercise will build X muscle.

There are inherent problems with the bodybuilding “parts” model of the human body, since the whole synergy of our human movement is greater than the sum of the parts (muscles.)

The RKC teaches maximization of tension in slow lifts and maximum acceleration in quick lifts. We neither teach nor practice body-part training. Full body tension and spreading the load across the body are prescribed in “muscle building”. In fact, there is quite a lot of emphasis on being as strong as possible while being as light as possible. Hardly typical of bodybuilding.

2. These newer methods can be used for sports-specific training. Some trainers feel that they can take a kettlebell and load a specific sport skill to increase its resistance.

At the Danish certification, Sr RKC Kenneth Jay did a 45 minute presentation on how sport-specific conditioning is different from overall conditioning that improves a sport. We leave technique to sport coaches and teach kettlebells as a means of conditioning. Performance improves as conditioning and strength levels increase, as well as when the athlete improves the abitlity to rapidly move from tense to relaxed. This is how kettlebells are applied to specific sports.

3.These newer methods can be used for powerlifting.

Absolutely. When a guy like Donnie Thompson goes from 766 to 832 on his deadlift and adds 100lbs to an already elite level bench press in nine months, I’d call that validation of the method and principal.

4. These newer methods are being used for physical therapy: corrective exercise.

This works as a by-product of smart technique. There are many RKCs who were physical therapists long before touching a kettlbell, and in my own experience I have had many, many clients report improved range of motion and elimination of pain when training RKC style, often after one session. The reasons understanding of body alignment and tension principals, which are universal, not some special “corrective exercise”.

5.These newer methods can be used for the novelty of having fun. This is probably the only logical reason for not lifting kettlebells properly, because if it gets someone off the couch, then it’s a good thing.

There is NO reason to advocate lifting kettlebells improperly. The problem with this tatement lies in understanding that “proper” defined as safe and specific to the goal.

Unfortunately, anything works for the first two months in getting you fit. What happens after those two months is the true test of your methods. If you don’t have long decades of experience you may be setting up those people for injury, burnout or worse.

Decades? Really? It takes Decades to become a qualified coach? What coaching program in the world requires that you spend 20+ years training before being an effective teacher? Medical school doesn’t last decades.

Not competing does not mean it’s not a sport. If you run, but don’t race in marathons, running is still a sport.

So, the kids on the playground that are chasing each other around the tree for no reason are doing a sport? Have they been coached to do this properly? Does their coach have decades of experience training children in the “proper” way to run around a tree?

If you do martial arts, but don’t fight competitively, fighting is still a sport.

If a woman defends herself successfully fighting off a rapist is that a sport too? What about our soldiers in Iraq?

Saying that the only way to “properly” lift a kettlebell is with GS is tantamount to saying that the only proper way to lift a barbell is Olympic lifting. It simply isn’t true. Ask Louie Simmons or Ronnie Coleman.

Is there a “proper” way to train for GS? Absolutely, and Valery Fedorenko is tha man to seek in the states for that.

Is there a “proper” way to lift kettlebells in a NON GS fashion. Absolutely. RKC.