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Getting Bored With Kettlebell Swings? Try this.

kettlebell swing

Here's Jillian...Yawn...

I have to confess, much of what I do in my life, both here on World’s Strongest Librarian, and out in the real world, is motivated by the terror of boredom. Of stagnation and sameness. And recently I hit a wall with one of my most beloved pursuits: kettlebell workouts. In particular, the kettlebell swing. Bored bored bored, and no, RKCs who might be reading this, it’s not because it’s not heavy enough, as you’ll see.

Luckily, there is an antidote. It is called the Stronger Grip Plateau Buster, which I have been working with for about 9 days now. It is about as glorious as a donut with a Peep sitting on top of it. Yes, that is my idea of glorious.

Also, tis the seasons to be buyin’ gifts for your bodybuilder, weight lifter, iron-head, lunatic friends, so take heed if you’re in one of these esteemed categories.

Also, I’m going to introduce you to the world’s strongest barber. If you’re in New York any time soon, please let him cut your hair. He is so strong he can just chop your tresses away with the edge of his hand, just like Hendrix did with that mountain.

But let me explain what I mean by boredom. In terms of my workouts, I have never been less bored than since I started experimenting with biofeedback a year ago. I never know exactly what I’m going to do during a workout, and that keeps things fun. But I’m always working to hit a PR (personal record) every time I train. There are different types of PRs, as I talked about here, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my favorite types of progress.

You can probably guess what it is. I like to lift heavy. Putting more weight on the bar, or picking up the next size kettlebell, is always the most fun for me, once I have gotten strong enough to do it safely and painlessly. But kettlebells only get so heavy. At that point, if you’re a snob and you refuse to train with anything else, your options get limited. Your avenues for progress are simply to do more reps, or to do more in less time. Both valuable metrics of progress, but not as fun for me. If it works for you, go in peace.

But! If someone can swing more weight than you can, that person will eclipse you in strength gains. The most important thing that kettlebell exercise taught me is not that they are the best thing ever, but they helped me perform movement patterns that I was not used to performing, and that has been priceless. For instance, had I never heard about Russian kettlebells, I probably never would have done any swings. The swing movement pattern is a great strength developer and I never would have made as much progress as I have had I ignored it.

And now, I have gotten extremely bored swinging kettlebells. Even with a 48 kilo bell in each hand, it’s not enough. Not for someone who is not interested in shooting for zillions of reps just to know that progress was made. I value endurance, but I’d rather have endurance at a heavier weight than a lighter one, and it is definitely possible.

So, let me show you the Plateau Buster.

This bald (voluntarily bald), super-villain looking fellow is my friend David Dellanave, playing around out at The Movement Minneapolis, the gym owned by strongman and ogre Adam Glass.

As you can see, David is swinging 360 pounds without too much trouble. I’m not sure what his bodyweight was at the time, but I think it has always been between 175 and 195 in the year I have known him.

You might wonder if only swinging something for five reps is enough to feel like you’re working. My advice is to try it out. There is a distinction between something being easy and something feeling easy, at least in the beginning. What you see in this video is David making the movement look easy. You’ll have to ask him whether it felt easy, but in the time since the video was filmed, I know it has gotten easier, because that is the priority when we lift with Gym Movement. Making the movements look easy. If if looks effortless it will eventually feel effortless.

Also, if the endurance aspect is important to you, I can guarantee you that if David, or Adam, or myself, or Frank Berean (World’s Strongest Barber!) wanted to work up to 300 swings with 360 pounds, we could do it by testing movements and avoiding effort. But it’s not one of my goals. I would go heavier before I would go deeper into sets. Just a personal preference.

So, if you are bored with swinging a kettlebell, or you are putting a priority on swinging more weight, I highly recommend checking out the plateau buster. (also great for one-hand deadlifts).

stronger grip plateau busterI still use kbs for many of my other lifts, but once you are swinging 400 pounds (my first workout with this little gadget), even the biggest bells lose some of their charm, as far as swings go.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam t Glass November 17, 2010, 1:41 pm

    I love it, excellent piece of gear

  • Craig Brown November 17, 2010, 1:51 pm

    OK, that’s the next tool, no question. Thanks for posting it!

    • Josh Hanagarne November 17, 2010, 2:19 pm

      Craig, it is seriously one of the greatest pieces of equipment I have ever owned. When you’re ready, I’d be a happy librarian if you came back and bought it through one of these links:)

  • John Sifferman November 17, 2010, 2:22 pm

    That’s one way to do it 😉

    What you need, my friend, is some movement sophistication. I can hear it in your voice – your body is craving more complexity.

    Have you tried Kettlebell side swings?

  • frank November 17, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Thanks for the kind words josh. Your are so right about swings on the plateau buster, nothing like it.

  • Brett Cornwright November 17, 2010, 8:04 pm

    I will try one when I outgrow the bells I suppose. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne November 18, 2010, 9:14 am

      I suppose. Brett, if you ever wanted to write a guest post about GS for this or my other blog, I’d love that. Just sayin’.

      • Brett Cornwright November 18, 2010, 9:22 am

        Josh, I would love to! Let me know what you’re thinking as far as content. Let’s chat offline when you have a chance. Perhaps a FB/gmail/Skype chat would work between your sets. 🙂

  • Tomas November 17, 2010, 11:11 pm

    I Lol’d at 0:29-0:32. Awesome heavy swings! I’m getting myself a Plateau Buster after I finally receive all my custom items from Ryan.