Triathletes and Kettlebells – A Match Made in Heaven?
By Betsy Collie
Kettlebells are not new. In fact, they’ve been around for over 300 years and were a favored implement for the circus strongmen of yesteryear. They are making a huge impact in the West due to their ability, when used correctly, to produce rapid results. Kettlebells are unique from any other form of fitness equipment in a multitude of ways and have become a tool of choice for the “in-the-know” strength and power athletes.
As a triathlete you may be asking, but how can they benefit me?
Triathletes are a special population due to the fact they are training for three events simultaneously: swimming, biking, and running. Efficiency is of the utmost importance, especially for Ironman competitors - 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run, ALL IN ONE DAY! Thus, there are many problems some of these athletes run into throughout the course of their training programs. The most common issues are over-training, a weak core, tight hip flexors, a tight low back, and stress fractures, mainly in the lower leg and small bones of the feet.
The foundational movements in kettlebell training apply to triathletes as they do for any athlete. Five main kettlebell exercises that I will touch on specifically are swings, cleans, snatches, renegade rows, and windmills.
Swings teach hip and hamstring firing. Most programs neglect to teach athletes how to neurologically program their hamstrings for efficiency in biking and running.
Cleans re-teach the hips to fire while simultaneously relaxing the shoulders… crucial during a grueling multi-sport race.
Snatches are an extension of the swing ‘re-wiring’ the CNS to fire on demand and also adding to overall efficiency.
Renegade Rows are a full body core workout teaching the abdominals to stabilize in a ‘relaxed tension’ state instead of mindlessly rowing a weight. This movement transfers to more effective hip stabilization in triathletes while building a solid core.
Windmills work the core while at the same time stretch the glute/hamstring complex while maintaining mental awareness of the upper body, once again engaging the ENTIRE body to work as a unit instead of moving as a collection of body parts.
These five exercises revolve around everything that a triathlete is looking for: increasing core strength without increasing muscle mass and increasing work capacity while maintaining aerobic efficiency (relaxed tension).
Treating the body as a ‘unit’ versus a collection of body parts, which leads to increased efficiency, is crucial for triathletes. Kettlebells fill the void where traditional strength training lacks, effective strength workouts in minimal time.
Ask any triathlete: his/her last priority is strength training. However, every triathlete is interested and understands the benefits of ‘core’ training. When assessing your options, the kettlebell wins hands down! The MOST EFFECTIVE core-training tool is: the kettlebell.
But beware, kettlebell instruction requires an extensive background and training to be truly safe and effective. Don't risk injury or waste time with subpar instruction, seek a highly qualified RKC certified kettlebell instructor. RKC kettlebell instructors have undergone the world's most rigorous of kettlebell instructor certification courses and are fully qualified to help you meet and surpass your goals. The RKC methodology is based on sound body mechanics the way your body was designed to move. This leads to injury prevention, and major lasting results in performance enhancement and longevity of training.
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