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Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes

TriBlogsby TriBlogsAug 26th 2013
Our latest guest blog is written by Pete Luffman, a SFG certified kettlebell instructor, personal trainer and owner of Bristol Kettlebell club ltd. In this article he puts forward the kettlebell as the best tool to work on all round strength and conditioning for triathletes and will tell you his reasons why.
Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes
To be a complete athlete and therefore to perform to the best of your ability you should spend some time working on ALL of your physical qualities. The amount of time you spend on each quality varies and is dependent on your sport. Triathletes are endurance athletes and so the biggest chunk of training time should be spent working on their skills i.e cycling, swimming and running. However for optimal performance they must also dedicate some time to working other physical qualities i.e mobility, flexibility and strength.

If you are not familiar with the kettlebell, it is a compact strength tool popular in Russia and now the world over thanks to leading strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline. It is an extreme hand held fitness tool that delivers all round strength and conditioning in minimal time and with rapid results.

So how much time should a triathlete spend in the gym? I would advocate 2 sessions per week at the most, and letÂ's be clear you are not in there to set a PR in your deadlift, you are in there to supplement what you are doing outside and to remain training outside injury free. Your strength training should be minimal and focused on the exercises that give you the most bang for your buck.

These are the main areas a triathlete will need to work on :-
  • Hip mobility
  • Thoracic mobility
  • Upper body strength focus
  • Lower body strength focus
  • Total body strength focus
Individual needs will dictate how much time you spend in each area. Luckily for you the kettlebell will give you all of the above anyway.
The Kettlebell Swing

ItÂ's generally agreed upon by world renowned strength coaches, the kettlebell swing is the best strength and conditioning exercise bar none. The kettlebell swing works the glutes, hamstrings, abs, quads, low back extensors, lats, traps and forearms all in one go. Everybody needs a strong posterior chain but no one more than a triathlete. The hip extension and tightening of the glutes will do wonders for your quad and hip flexor muscles. To find a comparable exercise that offers as much is not easy. The swing performed correctly is a fully integrated exercise meaning the whole body works together to perform the movement, just as it does in real life. If I were only to do one exercise for the rest of my life it would be the swing.
Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes
The Get Up

The get up is another fully integrated exercise which can be performed with almost any implement not just kettlebells, however you will gain more benefits using a kettlebell due to the offset nature of weight. The get up is probably the most functional exercise there is, and therefore much like the swing teaches your body to work as a unit and not a disassembled collection of body parts. During the transition from the ground to standing, each joint is mobilised and of course strengthened, Pavel would say it trains your Â"inbetween strengthÂ" what he means is that you are training your superficial muscles or stabilizers, which are the foundation of your overall strength. Further to that more hip extension and glute activation is available with the high bridge version. The shoulder stability and leg strength gained from this exercise will also be a huge benefit.
Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes
The Goblet Squat

The kettlebell goblet squat pioneered by Dan John teaches you how to perform a perfect squat. Due to tight hips and ankles most people struggle to squat well. This variation will open up the hips and allow you to sit deep into your squat using the kettlebell as a counterbalance. The leg strengthening will obviously help with all aspects of triathlon. With some prying at the bottom, very soon you will have fixed your tight hips and gained the confidence to move onto the double front squat. With this variant you will gain extra abdominal work making you a more efficient and stronger athlete.
Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes
With these three exercises alone you have taken care of business. With the addition of a few select body weight exercises you have the complete package.

Example Session

Here is how a sample training session might look:

Warm up and joint mobility then:
  • 1 get up each side
  • 5 goblet squats
  • 5 pull ups
  • 10 swings
  • Repeat 5 times.
This would take no more than 20 minutes, simple and effective.

There are many other kettlebell exercises that are of benefit to triathletes, single leg deadlifts and loaded carries would also be on my list. Kettlebells are inexpensive and compact. The exercises are fairly non-technical and with the right instruction can be mastered quickly. If you want to become a better athlete you should be using them.

The question is, why arenÂ't you?

Pete teaches hardstyle kettlebell training via workshops, classes and on a one to one basis. You can get in touch with Pete, find out more about the benefits of kettlebell training or purchase some of your own kettlbells by visiting his website.
Guest Blog: Kettlebells for Triathletes
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Aug 26th 2013 21:46
Personally I found kettlebell training really effective. It's well worth getting some instruction on how to execute the moves properly as well!
thinmanby member: thinman, Apr 6th 2014 18:46
similar experience with crossfit. The hip action is great for running as it really teaches you to keep your hips elevated and forward, preventing old man running style. Having better conditioning across the body really helps to prevent pain and strain across the back and gluts.
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