Update: I have since written a review of the followup to this book. Please check out my review of Return of The Kettlebell if you’re still interested when you get done with this one!
Kettlebells have changed my life. I know it sounds dramatic–it is dramatic–but it is also true.
First of all, Enter The Kettlebell! Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen is not just for Soviets. It is also not just a book about kettlebells. It is a set of strength-training rules that always produce results and just happen to have the kettlebell at their center.
You can’t get a feel for the book or the kettlebell without knowing the man behind it all: The wiry, incomparable Pavel Tsatsouline, trainer of the Russian Special Forces. Back in 2001 Pavel swam to the United States with a kettlebell in his mouth and a message for the flabby, weak, and narcissistic–I’m here to tell you how to get strong, like it or not. (As far as I know, Pavel did not actually swim to America, but he probably could). Love him or hate him, Pavel says what he wants and can back it up. And here’s my own personal plug to get you competing: Pavel is the creator of my beloved Tactical Strength Challenge. Get ready for Fall of 2009 now!!!
Kettlebells are at the core of Pavel’s Hardstyle system of strength, but Hardstyle is not merely about kettlebells. It is a set of profound strength principles that can be applied to any tool: barbells, bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, whatever you want.
But this is about the book itself, so enough kettlebell and Pavel talk for now.
Enter The Kettlebell! What You Will Find
- Two programs for kettlebells. The Program Minimum gives you a foundation to build on, then the “Rite Of Passage” takes you from there, as far as you want to go. When you’ve finished either program, you can switch to the other or go up to a heavier kettlebell.
- Descriptions of the required kettlebell exercises. Make no mistake: if you’ve never tried kettlebells, the moves are going to take some getting used to. The book is not a substitute for learning from a certified Kettlebell instructor (RKC), but it’s a great start.
- How kettlebells can take care of your conditioning needs without treadmills or exercise bikes.
- How to get really strong without getting any bigger (some people actually do want this)
- How to warm up before your kettlebell workouts.
- How to increase the flexibility required for kettlebell exercises
- An awesome sense of humor. Pavel is funny as hell.
What You Will Not Find
- Useless information
That’s about it. Pavel is my hero and I’ve read all of his books over and over. Kettlebells are not the only thing out there. And I am willing to admit that it is possible they are not even the “best” thing. It depends on your goals. But I am convinced that they are the best thing for me. I’m shelling out a pretty penny to go to the RKC certification in June, because I know I am in this for the long haul.
Hardstyle becomes a lifestyle. Kettlebells have taught me things about myself that I never would have learned. Maybe I’m just a sick puppy, but I spend most of my day looking forward to the next hellish kettlebell practice I’m going to put myself through. Here is a quote about kettlebells from another of Pavel’s books: The Naked Warrior:
Try it [kettlebells] if you’re so tough. You’ll wish you were dead.
Pavel often says that constant kettlebell practice makes you a better man (or woman). I agree with him 100%. If you have another source of self-improvement, go for it and Godspeed. I would ask only that you consider this:
I hope you are a happy person. I am, but that doesn’t mean I would turn down a chance to be even happier. I was very athletic before I got into kettlebells, but that doesn’t mean I would have turned down greater strength or fitness. I didn’t know how far I could go because I didn’t have all the tools in the toolbox. Now I am in better shape than I ever thought possible and I’m stronger every single day because of the Russian madman and these big pieces of metal that I’ll spend the rest of my life swinging around.
If you are even the slightest bit curious, try Enter The Kettlebell! If you have zero interest in owning it, at least go check it out at your library! You won’t be sorry.
PS: This is Part 3 in a series: read Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5
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