Book Review – Kettlebells for Sport, Strength and Fitness

Over the last ten years or so, kettlebells have taken the strength training world by surprise, and are back on their way to becoming a regular part of the physical enthusiast’s tool box alongside barbells and dumbbells. I say back, because as Atlanta, Georgia Strength coach, Scott Shetler points out, kettlebells have been part of the old time strongman’s arsenal of muscle building weapons since the turn of the century. And no, not 1999 to 2000, but 1899 to 1900.

Of course, in today’s world, kettlebells aren’t used merely as a strongman implement. Kettlebells are used by everyone from strongmen and women, professional athletes, weekend warriors and kids, to that peculiar breed of people interested in building their strength and endurance by using the techniques practiced by Girevoy Sport (GS) athletes.

With the recent resurrection of kettlebells, the need for quality instruction has spawned several Federations/Organizations, all offering instruction in the proper lifting of kettlebells for sport, strength and fitness.

Furthermore, the kettlebell “culture” has divided itself into two main camps; the “Hardstyle” methods as taught by Pavel Tsatsouline, and the Girevoy Sport methods as taught by the World Kettlebell Club, the United States Girevoy Sport Federation, the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation and several others around the world.

However, until recently, the printed offerings for Girevoy Sport instruction have been sparse and mostly limited to the Russian language. With Kettlebells for Sport, Strength and Fitness, Coach Shetler has written one of the easiest to understand guides for the novice to experienced kettlebell lifter.

Scott breaks down his guide into four chapters. The first two cover the history of kettlebells and the “basics”, which describes kettlebell equipment, set and rep schemes, sport ranks, and traditional vs. non-traditional exercises.

It’s the third and fourth chapters which will probably interest most readers of this book, as this is where Coach Shetler gets to the meat and potatoes of Girevoy Sport instruction, by covering the kettlebell exercises themselves as well as training templates for strength, sport and fitness work.

Coach Shetler begins by illustrating how to properly chalk the kettlebell’s handle and moves from there to showing the proper grip. Scott then illustrates the basic kettlebell movements through clear descriptions accompanied by color photographs. Scott does a good job in showing the bottom and top of each movement and his explanations help the lifter get from A to B.

His section on proper breathing is priceless as well, as most novice lifters will assume that their usual weightlifting style will suffice, when in fact proper breathing during extended sets often makes it easier to generate more reps. And in Girevoy Sport competition, higher numbers is the name of the game.

Finally, Coach Shetler shows how Girevoy Sport methods can be used not only GS workouts, but for strength and power athletes as well. Scott describes how his methods have helped powerlifters attain higher totals, and football players improve their combine numbers.

For those interested primarily in Girevoy Sport, Scott has broken down training for kettlebell sport beginners, amateurs, professionals, and finally, for those desiring superior fitness training using GS methods.

It’s important to keep in mind that a written manual can’t replace the results you’ll get from a coach’s tutelage. However, if the cost of one-on one or even group coaching is prohibitive, Kettlebells for Sport, Strength and Fitness will provide a solid base of instruction for the novice Girevik. There’s only one thing lacking – your own hard work. With this combination, success is sure to follow.

You can read more about Scott Shetler at his website: Extreme Fitness

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