Kettle Time!


Can you go to get your fill of strong, sweaty ladies on skates chasing each other to punk music-complete with headlocks, cannonballs, clotheslines, and even a little arm wrestling? How about the thunderdome on a summer night for some Roller Derby-Texas style?

These tough women who live on the edge shouldn’t settle for exercises less than those worthy of a warrior. They need hardcore training that will deliver on the track. Training with kettlebells provides a greater challenge than dumbbells or barbells while honoring that competitive, warrior mentality.

A kettlebell, which looks like a cannonball with a handle, is an ancient Russian training tool that can be used to train for flexibility, endurance, strength, and power. Off track training for roller derby can be complemented and accelerated with just this one indestructible piece of iron.

Here are four full body exercises that can give any jammer or blocker the most bang for her buck. Each delivers on raw sustained strength, flexibility, endurance and explosiveness.

1. The first exercise is the kettlebell front squat to thruster. This can be done with 1 or 2 kettlebells.

Stand with you feet about hip width apart with the kettle bells in the crook of your elbows keeping your wrist straight, grip tight, and your elbows snug to your body. This is called the rack position. Take a belly breath and brace your stomach as if you were going to get a punch in the guts. Keep a tight arch in you lower back. Drop down into a deep squat position while keeping your chest up. As you hit the deep squat position, accelerate out of the bottom as if you were going to jump. Squeeze your glutes as you reach the top start position. Take another belly breath and brace and repeat-coming out of the deep squat position with speed. Start with 8 to 12 reps. this exercise will build superior explosive strength in your legs and also give you rock solid stabilizers – great ingredients for taking rails and quick get ups.

2. Next is the kettlebell one arm swing. Start with the kettlebell about a foot in front of you on the floor. With your feet a little wider than hip width, bend over and hook the handle with your fingers keeping your arm and shoulder relaxed and your back straight. Sitting back with your weight on your heels, pull and hike the kettlebell between your legs and behind you. Explosively drive your hips to throw the kettlebell by hinging at the hips like a jump movement. Snap your hips to make yourself tall at the top of the movement without leaning back. The kettlebell should float (through the power of your hips and legs) to about chest level. at this top position, squeeze your glutes, pull up your quads and don’t let the kettlebell pull you forward. Keep your arm and shoulder relaxed. The kettlebell should be in line with your arm. Then let the kettlebell drop down and back between your legs to the hike position for another explosive swing. Keep your abs tight, sit back on your heels, squat and reverse the movement explosively. Breathe out forcefully at the top of each swing. Practice timing your breath with the swings. Start with 10 to 20 swings on one side. Work up to 50 to 75 to 100 swings for killer core strength, a strong back and sick endurance!

3. The next exercise is the kettlebell cossack curl. Stand tall with your feet in a wide stance position. Grip the kettlebell with both hands by the horns and let it hang between your legs. Shift your weight to the right side and perform a side lunge with your hips back and your weight to your heel while keeping the left leg straight. As you drop into the side lunge, turn your left toe up and press down through the left heel, squeezing your inner thighs to keep your balance. As you drop into a deeper side lunge (almost a single leg squat) curl the kettlebell up, keeping your elbows in close to your body, so the base of the kettlebell is up. Squeeze with your inner thighs to come back up and reverse the movement to the left side curling the kettlebell as you drop into the side lunge. This is a very challenging exercise and can lead to ridiculous leg strength and flexibility, which is not bad preparation for take downs. Start with a lighter kettlebell and work within your own range of motion. Just 3 to 6 reps per leg will burn real good.

To get started, choose a kettlebell you can press overhead 8 to 10 times. Start light and learn the movements. Or team them up for a challenging circuit for 2 to 5 rounds. Much like any derby battle, a kettlebell workout can be a lovely but brutal affair. Enjoy!

Want to learn more about Ketttlebells?

Joyce Luke is a Master Fitness Specialist at Pure Austin Fitness, a USA Weightlifting Certified Sport Performance Coach and Crossfit Certified Kettlebell Instructor.