Kettlebell Sport, known traditionally as Girevoy Sport (GS), is gaining popularity among athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike that want to try something new. Personal trainers should become familiar with the sport as it offers generous opportunities to enhance cardiorespiratory ability, endurance, power, stability, and confidence, all without impact to the joints… yes, it is a non-impact sport!
Similar to running, rowing, or swimming, GS involves movements of a cyclical nature, with a lifter’s success resulting from proper technique, flexibility, strength, power, breathing patterns, aerobic capacity, stability and mental focus. As opposed to Olympic or Power Lifting, Girevoy Sport requires the person to lift a sub-maximal load and complete as many repetitions as possible in ten minutes with one change of sides on single-weighted lifts such as Snatch.
However, training goals begin on a much smaller scale. The Russians can take credit for developing this unique form of competition, yet weights with handles have been used as early as 8th century BC, when the Greeks began creating their own versions of gymnasiums and were the first to develop organized approaches to weight training and sports.
GS is comprised of 3 competitive lifts: Snatch, Jerk and Long Cycle, or Biathlon (Jerk and then Snatch). Lifts are primarily powered through the forceful use of the legs, with the arms adding to the acceleration once the weights are in motion. At the top position, known as fixation, the shoulders act as stabilizers to hold the weight(s) overhead prior to bringing them down for the next rep. Training for GS takes time and patience, particularly when advancing to heavier weights. Beginner women typically compete with 12kg or 16kg to start, and progress to 24kg or more! Men usually begin with 16 or 20kg and may advance to 32kg.
Whether your clients are natural athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or simply want something different, GS will help them develop a high level of work capacity without creating a lot of muscle mass. This is due to its essence as an endurance sport. For clients who desire to lose weight, the movements burn tons of calories in a short amount of time, and stimulate EPOC for the rest of the day. As a result, few folks stay overweight while training in this method. For those who are not sure about using Kettlebells, gently introducing them to a few basic moves within a circuit session is an easy and fun way to implement the bells. If they enjoy it, you can take them further.
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There are no age restrictions in GS. I’ve seen ages 5 thru 75 on the platform, a beautiful and inspiring sight! GS is available to everyone, provided you don’t have any debilitating medical issues or acute joint problems. In the US, women of all ages are taking this sport by storm, especially middle-aged women who are tired of high-impact activities but still want to feel strong and bring out the best in themselves. The great news is that you don’t a need a wealth of experience with resistance training to prepare for competition; however, a solid foundation with Presses, Push Press, Dead Lift, Squats, and trunk stability will help you get started. It is highly advisable that you use a good coach throughout your competition process. A coach is necessary to guide you through the many aspects of the sport from breathing patterns, pacing, execution of lifts, footwear, hand positions, hand care, and specific assistance drills to overcome weaknesses, recovery, mental preparation, and much more. For novice lifters, a minimum of 6 months preparation is usually recommended before the first competition. For more experienced lifters, a minimum of 4 months is usually necessary, though everyone progresses at a different pace due to age, work and family life, motivation, and other factors. If your clients enjoy activities like running, cycling, rowing or swimming, you can utilize the principles of GS to help them further develop a physical and mental edge!
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