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Kettlebells And Back Hyperextension: Back Breaking

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The topic of hyperextension of the back during kettlebell training comes up frequently, especially with beginners.

It’s completely understandable.

 

 

Let’s clear something up right away, first of all, back hyperextensions when done right—and they’re done everyday on the GHD—are incredible good for you. Like with any exercise, it’s not something you do day one, you have to work on strength and flexibility first.

Now the other news, what you see in kettlebell sport or kettlebell training, is not back hyperextension, it’s hip extension with a crunch, or thoracic flexion if you want to get technical.

 

 

At 45 seconds in you can you see hip extension and thoracic flexion.

What is hip (hyper)extension?

Hip flexion is where you pull the top of the pelvis down towards the ground, extension is the opposite. Hip hyperextension is not something everyone can do right away, you need flexibility at the front, something you’ll need to work on over time.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can probably call it hip hyperextension, i.e. in neutral position you’d be in extension, and going further back, i.e. pulling the pelvis further back, is called hip hyperextension. But most people associate injury with the word hyperextension, and it’s definition is:

Hyperextension is an excessive joint movement in which the angle formed by the bones of a particular joint is opened, or straightened, beyond its normal, healthy, range of motion.

You create hip extension by squeezing the glutes, and letting the top of the femur come slightly forward, i.e. normally positioned above the ankles, now coming forward towards the toes. This action tilts the pelvis backwards. On top of the pelvis is the spine, this follows along naturally—looking like back hyperextension—if you keep it positioned neutrally.

The second step is to crunch, bring the shoulders and head forward, this is done via thoracic flexion, same action you make when performing crunches on the ground.

 

 

No, one does not need to wear a belt, it’s the same as for deadlifting, it’s mostly used to create more tension, firmness in the lower abdomen, around the lumbar area (intra-abdominal pressure). It’s not to protect against what most people think is a bad position for the back. Back hyperextension rather than hip extension would actually be a bad posture to use for training with heavy weights.

A belt should be used as an aid, not in conjunction with weak core muscles. A lifter should always start without a belt, as technique and weight progresses, the use of a belt can be introduced in training.

A belt is great for spinal integrity when dealing with previous injuries.

Together with the above info and our free racking PDF, you should be able to safely achieve a good rack soon.

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Why You Should Include Racked Deadlifts In WODs

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Improve squat mobility

Racked deadlifts might sound weird, maybe even impossible, especially when you’re thinking barbell. But, we’re talking kettlebells here. I’m going to tell you why including this exercise in your WODs, or training, is going to be so such a huge benefit to your athletes’ progression, squat technique, and squat mobility.

First, let me show you what a racked deadlift looks like:

Here’s what’s happening:

  • One side has the elbow extended and weight hanging
  • One side has the elbow flexed and weight supported
  • Two different forces pulling on the torso
  • The torso remains upright to stop the weight from pulling the athlete forward
  • The hips need to come low and the shoulders need to stay high

The main reason I like and use this exercise often, is because it requires the athlete to remain upright, promoting a good deep squat for the deadlift, hence, this exercise is a beauty to work on squat mobility.

The second exercise I used a lot when my athletes or clients are showing excessive forward flexion, is the goblet squat, this one is great as a progression to the racked deadlift, and also allows working with lighter weight. Use the goblet squat with light weight early, and see how quick the squat technique, and mobility improves.

Check out the Heavy Kettlebell WOD, DUO BRUTUS, it includes the racked deadlift.

PS. following is NOT a goblet squat, as the voice-over mentions “hold the kettlebell by the horns“, it’s a horn grip squat, a goblet grip is with the hand around the bell. Download the 25+ kettlebell grips PDF to learn these things.

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Heavy WOD: DUO BRUTUS—a brute of a workout

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Heavy kettlebell WOD

This is DUO BRUTUS, a heavy kettlebell WOD.

A brute of a workout that leaves you dead on the ground at the end.

 

Your first task is with a heavy kettlebell, unilateral work, you’ll be switching from side to side. Your second task is again unilateral work with a heavy kettlebell, bringing the weight from dead to overhead upon each rep, how you do it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s safe! The final task is a brute of a task, working in duo’s, one partner is performing deadlifts while the other performs farmer walks with one kettlebell. Either partner decides when to switch, but as soon as that bell is put down or switches hands during the walk, a partner switch is required.

“This kettlebell WOD is extremely well designed, and loads of fun too”

This workout comes with basic details (this page), video explaining the workout, and a printable PDF with pages of information about scaling, the exercises, weight, etc. Enjoy!

 

Your first task:

Using one heavy kettlebell. Rx 24kg for men and 16kg for females.

  • 1 single arm kettlebell swing
  • Switch
  • 1 swing clean

Equals one round.
4 MIN AMRAP

This is also a great dynamic warm-up for what’s about to come. Try and rest in racking position rather than putting the kettlebell down. Not sure how to rack properly?

 

2 minutes rest

 

Your second task:

Using heavy kettlebells. Rx 24kg for men and 16kg for females.

  • Dead to overhead

Equals one rep, as many reps as possible.
6 MIN AMRAP

The weight can be brought overhead anyway possible, from press, push press, jerk, to snatch. The weight can be cleaned anyway possible, from assisted dead clean, swing dead clean, to dead clean.

 

3 minutes rest

 

Your third and final task:

  1. Racked deadlift with two kettlebells
  2. Farmer walks with one heavy kettlebell

20 MIN AMRAP

Don’t lose this awesome workout, save it to Facebook

 

This is the main task of the workout, it’s partner work, communication required. One athlete picks up the kettlebell and starts walking a pre-defined route (circle, squat, rectangle etc.), the moment the weight is picked up the other athlete starts deadlifting, counting each rep. When the walking athlete switches hands or puts the weight down, a switch is required. When switching, the athlete deadlifting will provide the number of reps performed to the other athlete, the athlete that starts deadlifting will start count at the next rep of the total thus far. For example, if the total was 43, then the he/she will start 44, 45, and so on, again passing the running total on the partner upon the switch.

The deadlifts are with one kettlebell racked and one kettlebell dead on the ground. Pick your weights wisely, it’s 20 minutes of work. Rx for males is 32kg farmer walks, 40kg deadlifts, this can be one 16kg and one 24kg, or any other combination that makes up 40kg. Rx for females is 24kg farmer walks, 32kg deadlifts.

 

Watch the video below with much more info on the workout. Download the PDF with many pages of info, on the exercises, scaling and workout.

 

Video

Watch on Youtube

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CrossFit Exercise Translation Tool

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CrossFit Exercise Translation Tool

Not sure what all these exercise names mean in CrossFit? Let me help you out:

 

CrossFit Exercise Translation
CrossFit The Real World
Air Squat Bodyweight Squat
Thruster Squat Thruster
Snatch Squat Snatch (with barbell)
Burpee Burpee with Tricep Push-up, Jump, and Clap
Push Jerk Conventional or Squat Jerk
Split Jerk Split Jerk (bonus point)
Push-up Tricep Push-up
Kettlebell Swing American Kettlebell Swing
High Swing American Kettlebell Swing

 

Of course I’m bloody bitching again. I love CrossFit. I love bitching. I love to take the mickey out of exercise naming. Read below, and perhaps one might agree, or not.

 

Air Squat

I walk into to the gym, I look at the wall, I see this wonderful poster which refers to bodyweight exercises. That’s what each and every exercise at its basic form is, a bodyweight exercise, and you know it! So, we can just call it a squat or bodyweight squat, and no that does not mean we’re squatting our added bodyweight, it just means we’re squatting with our bodyweight. Did Nike become a sponsor of CF?

 

Thruster

There is more than one thruster, just because you only use one variation of it, doesn’t make it THE thruster. We also have the lunge thruster for starters. And when it comes to thrusting things overhead, it means that the lower body should be doing the work, not a squat and press. Just an FYI to some.

 

Snatch

Don’t get me started!

 

Burpee

See here.

 

Push Jerk

I’m still confused about the word push in the jerk? Isn’t a jerk ALWAYS a push? I’ve tried to look this one up plenty of times, feel free to provide me with missing info here. Your feedback below. A jerk is a dip/quarter squat, you want to try and knee jerk to bring the weight up as high as possible with the first dip, then dip under. Yes a dip is a quarter squat, see here. There is no pressing, unless your Jerk failed. Again, just an FYI to some.

 

Push-up

Just because you always do tricep push-ups, doesn’t mean ‘a push-up’ is a ‘tricep push-up’! Just no! There are plenty of variations, there is the chest push-up, hybrid push-up, tricep push-up, close grip… well, you get the point.

 

Kettlebell Swing

You invented that ….. .. # exercise, so please, take responsibility for it, it’s called the American Swing, yes it goes high, but not as high as the high swing.

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BELL BASTARD: A Not So Nice Kettlebell Ladder

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A not so nice kettlebell ladder: clean, squat, and snatch

Kettlebell WOD: BELL BASTARD

 

This workout comes with basic details (this page), two videos explaining the workout, a printable PDF with 11 pages of information about scaling, the exercises, weight, etc. Enjoy!

 

Your first task:

Using one light to medium kettlebell.

  • 3 kettlebell high swings
  • 3 squat and frontal raise
  • 3 kettlebell high swings

Equals one round.
6 MIN AMRAP

The high swings are to progress to the snatch in the main task, the frontal raise is to tax the shoulders, hence, you’ll need to swing high enough in the main task to take the load of those by then taxed shoulders.

2 minutes rest

Your second task:

Using two medium weight kettlebells, picked carefully so you can complete the set. Rx 2 x 16kg for men, 2 x 12kg for females.

  • Swing Clean
  • Racked Squat
  • Full Snatch

Ladder 1, 2, 3, 4 equals one round.
30 MIN AMRAP

Used as a ladder, first you will do one of each, i.e. one clean, one squat, one snatch, don’t put the bells down! Then you do two of each, then three, and finally four. Then you put the kettlebells down. If you break the set, you do 10 crush grip push-ups.

This will be a mental challenge for anyone. Half way through the set you’re smiling, but that won’t last long.

3 minutes rest

And because we all love some additional work, next task is push-ups. you better hope you did not break too many sets!

Your third and final task:

  • Push-ups ‘Any’

6 MIN AMRAP

 

Watch the video below with much more info on the workout, lots of explaining and talking in this one. There is also the short version on Youtube here. Download the PDF with 11 pages of info, on the exercises and workout.

 

Crush grip push-ups are awesome if you’re not including them in your workouts yet, check it out below, adds a new level of stability, and pec work to your push-ups!.

Kettlebell Crush Push-up

 

Links:

Don’t forget to leave your vote below, whether you want to see more videos that are more detailed, or videos with less details (because you can find the details on our website anyway). Vote below, so you get more of what you want!

Don’t lose this crazy WOD, and save it to Facebook:

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WOD TACO44

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#wod #taco44 44 bodyweight squats 44 deadlift, dead clean, squat thruster combo with two bells, finish with 44 burpees. (y) Who's in? Share the pain and sweat

Posted by Taco Fleur on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I named this WOD very creatively: Taco44.

Because it’s my 44th birthday today, I hope you share my pain and sweat today. Share your results below or on Facebook.

  • 44 bodyweight squats
  • 44 kettlebell combo: deadlift, dead clean, squat thruster
  • 44 burpees

FOR TIME

My time: 14:45 with 2 x 16kg
Anna’s time 14:28 with 2 x 12kg

#wod #taco44 44 bodyweight squats 44 deadlift, dead clean, squat thruster combo with two bells, finish with 44 burpees. (y) Who’s in? Share the pain and sweat

Posted by Taco Fleur on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Warm-up:

Repeat 3 times

Training after the WOD

Submax weight overhead static hold, kettlebell or dumbbell.

  • 30 seconds each side
  • second round 25s each side
  • third round 20s each side
  • fourth round 15s each side
  • last round 10s each side

Choose weight carefully, so you can complete all sets without putting the weight down. Rest as much as needed between each rep.

Birthday!

Okay, so it’s my birthday. Everyone wants to know what presents I got. I’m not too worried about what presents I got today, I’m more interested in the wonderful people around me, my family, my dog, my training partners, the people I train, the awesome people on Facebook, that all is a present on it’s own, one I appreciate every day, and the only one I need.

Thank you all.

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Can You Guess The Exercise?

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I’m a programmer, analyst, and coach.

Hold your horses Mary, I didn’t say Kettlebell Sport Coach, I can be a coach instead of a trainer if I choose to. And I choose to.

 

But to get back to the subject at hand, I’ve been analysing and breaking down movements  and exercises for a project I’m working on. I thought it would be fun to see who all can decipher this? Know your anatomical terms?

start: supine
LOWER LIMB SIDE 1 knee flexion (inactive)
UPPER LIMB SIDE 2 (removed, because it would to easy for some)
step 1: UPPER LIMB SIDE 1
– horizontal shoulder flexion
– elbow extension (concentric)
step 2: UPPER LIMB SIDE 1 isometric elbow extension, will be maintained till the end
step 3: UPPER LIMB SIDE 2 coming onto elbow, shoulder extension (concentric)
step 4: UPPER LIMB SIDE 2 elbow extension (concentric)
step 5: LOWER LIMB SIDE 2 knee extension, hip extension (concentric)
step 6: LOWER LIMB SIDE 1
– knee extension (isometric)
– hip extension (concentric)
– hip internal rotation (isometric)
step 7: UPPER LIMB SIDE 2 elbow extension (isometric)
step 8: UPPER LIMB SIDE 2 shoulder extension (isometric)
step 9: LOWER LIMB SIDE 2
– knee flexion (concentric)
– hip flexion (concentric)
– release hip internal rotation (isometric)
UPPER LIMB 1
– shoulder internal rotation
step 10: LOWER LIMB SIDE 2 hip extension (concentric)
step 11: LOWER LIMB SIDE 1 hip extension (concentric)

If you think you know the answer, post your guess below, or on Facebook. If you don’t have a clue, you need to give the page a like or share.

Note: Could be the description of a full or half exercise.

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Bent Press by Arthur Saxon, Eugen Sandow, …

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The Bent Press 19th Century

The bent press is an exercise made popular by strongmen and strongwomen such as Eugen Sandow, Arthur Saxon, and Louis Cyr in the 19th century.

Unfortunately the exercise is no longer popular, even though it has incredible benefits. But…

 

The exercise is making its come back due to people like Levi Markwardt, Oliver Quinn, James Fuller, and I’d like to think I can take some credit too, even though I’ve been against the naming of the exercise.

Eugen Sandow
Eugen Sandow

“The problem with the exercise is, many people don’t understand it, they press from an angle they’re not conditioned for; first off, it’s not a press, hence my resistance against the name, second, they’re not conditioned, lacking thoracic mobility, hip mobility, core strength, lat strength etc.” Taco Fleur

 

Following is an interview with John Flower who uses the bent press as one of his staple exercises..

 

What are your Bent Pressing accomplishments?

About a month ago I did 6.6 tonne Bent Press training session of 60 a side @ 55kg. I’ve done 65kg a few times at a bodyweight of 72kg (90% bodyweight). On a bad day, with little sleep, without a proper warmup, I can Clean & Bent Press 60kg for 30 reps. It is my primary lift.

Below a year old video showing the first time I lifted 65kg @ 72kg bodyweight. In other lifts I am a very mediocre lifter.

How do you program the lift?

I do the lift 6 times a week in varying volumes. I’ve been experimenting for the last year or so with a cycle based on starting with a weekly heavy day of 30 reps and adding 5 reps each week until 60 reps and then starting the cycle with 2.5kg added to the bar. I have a light day where I do 30x40kg and a medium day of 30x50kg. The other three days I do singles in between 10 sets of Front Squats (active rest).

For a beginner I would suggest doing between six and twelve attempts aside each time they’re at the gym. In addition doing a single in between sets of other lifts will help get more practice in.

 

Which muscles does the lift build?

When I first started Bent Pressing I noticed improved strength in awkward situations , e.g. reaching from my drivers seat to the back seat of the car and lifting something heavy. I suspect that I am a better fighter in hand to hand… but have had the good fortune to not have tested this. Overall I’d say my entire back, triceps, forearms, and shoulders are bigger because of it. The latisimuss dorsi being the greatest benefactor. Which isn’t to say much as I’m not large by most peoples standards, nor am I particularly strong… just relatively good at Bent Pressing.

The Bent Press is a slow movement and it is possible to get a greater volume of work done in the same amount of time with other lifts. The Bent Press doesn’t start showing benefits until a person is doing near 2.5 x their strict Press in the Bent Press. Some people pick it up quickly some take a long time.

 

Any thoughts on type of weight to lift?

A kettlebell is fine for beginners, or those that stay in the 32/36kg range. a barbell is preferred by advanced lifters. Heavier kettlebells cause stress on the forearm, and in the wrist joint at a certain point. This information came to me via Oliver Quinn of Westport Battlebells who was Bent Pressing 80kg kettlebells at the time. See conversation.

It matches my own limited experience of kettlebells. They stress the wrist joint because the weight is further from the distal heads of the radius and the ulna. That said if you prefer Kettlebells you will know when you need to switch because your body will tell you. Barbells are better because they are easier to balance and the weight rests more directly over the forearm. They are easier because peripheral vision enables the lifter to check that the bar is balanced and to correct rotation, or tilt, early. Also it is very helpful to be able to increase the weight in small increments. Kettlebells tend to jump in large increments. The world record and all near attempts were done with a barbell.

Arthur Saxon, Physical Power Pg 26:-

“I will describe the barbell lift, as in a bar bell more may be raised than in any other way.”

 

 

How would you correct faults in a beginner?

Many can be fixed by increasing the weight. The Bent Press is the method that allows the greatest weight to be lifted overhead with one hand. If a person is side pressing, pressing the weight up and not getting the body under then additional weight will fix this!

 

Who inspired you to Bent Press?

I first read of the lift in Pavel Tsatsouline’s Beyond Bodybuilding. But it wasn’t until I learnt that Arthur Saxon set a record of 168kg (371lbs) that I decided to try the lift. I then found a copy of one of his books and made a study of his method.

James Fuller. Who coached me via his Facebook group Strongman Archaeology and has been very patient with me. Below shows him pressing from a one handed clean.

Paul Baillargeon. A later contender for breaking Arthur Saxon’s record but couldn’t recover after locking out the elbow in the Bent Position. This video shows him lifting a lighter weight – but probably 100kg+. Also check out pictures of him doing 146kg.

Paul Baillargeon Bent Press Paul Baillargeon Bent Press Paul Baillargeon Bent Press

www.facebook.com/groups/StroongmanArchaeology/permalink/275101305946921/

Double Kettlebell Bent Press at the first modern Olympics in 1896:-

 

Oliver Quinn of Westport Battlebells

Batraz Tibilov

W.A. Pullum

 

What are your thoughts on the safety of the lift?

The most important thing is to be able to drop the weights. If the lifter is afraid of damaging the floor or the equipment then they may try to persevere with a lift that should be dropped. I have found that by pushing against the weight it will move one way and the body the other no matter which way it falls.

 

Which Bent Pressing Method is best?

I think there are many viable methods. I step forwards. Other people step sideways. I collapse my nonlifting arm over my front leg. Other people grasp the opposite thigh. Some people change from bend to squat at the bottom, others side bend, to recover. Since the Bent Press is the method that allows the most weight to be lifted above the head with one hand it is impossible to cheat. Up is up.

 

Looking at the lifting hand is important. Arthur Saxon says so.

Arthur Saxon

 

Touching the ground is daft and I’d be most unwilling to try when lifting heavy (Arthur Saxon also disapproves of this). I press my nonlifting arm against my thigh to help recover. Other people pull against the opposite thigh to help screw themselves down into the bottom position, others still curl the hand out of the way near their chest.

I see a lot of people rocking the bar to the shoulder in YouTube videos. This was done historically, but it’ll chew up a lot of time. Cleaning the weight is faster and it has the benefit of combining an explosive movement with a slow one. I clean and spin the bar into position for the descent. But it’s faster to move the feet and hip into that position. Charles Rigoulot (holds World Record for One Arm Snatch) shows this faster method of cleaning the bar and stepping. In this case he Jerks rather than Bent Presses. But he’s worth watching as one handed lifts were part of Olympic Weightlifting in his time:-

Style?

I like holding the lockout for a couple of seconds before lowering gently to the ground. Getting the weight overhead brings a sensation of joy. Revel in it! Let no one watching doubt your mastery of the weight.

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Exercise / Movement Explained in 15+ Simple Dot Points

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Exercise slash movement explained in 15+ simple dots points, covering just the start and/or end position of the exercise.

  1. A press brings an object from chest proximity to overhead.
  2. A snatch brings an object from below hip level to overhead.
  3. A push (up) brings the torso away from the hands.
  4. A pull up brings the torso closer to the hands.
  5. A row brings the hands closer to the torso.
  6. A squat brings the hips closer to the ground.
  7. A hip hinge brings the shoulders closer to the ground.
  8. A lunge brings one knee closer to the ground.
  9. A curl brings the hand(s) closer to the shoulder(s)/heel(s) closer to the hips.
  10. An extension brings hand(s) further from the shoulder(s)/heel(s) further from the hips.
  11. A clean brings an object from below the hips to chest level (into racking position).
  12. A lift bring an object from lower to higher position.
  13. A step brings the body away from the starting position.
  14. A walk is the progression from stepping.
  15. A jog is the speed progression from walking.
  16. A run is the speed progression from jogging.
  17. A sprint is the speed progression from running.
  18. And finally, the one everyone loves to hate—burpee brings the torso parallel to the ground.

 

Press

Snatch

Push up

Row

Squat

Hip hinge

Bent-over = hip hinge.

Lunge

13 seconds in, reverse lunge.

Clean

Before the Jerk, a clean is performed.

Lift

Before the walk, the weight is lifted.

Burpee

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76 Years Of Age. Still Snatching 162 Reps. 32kg Chin-up…

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Cardiac Conan, our Caveman Athlete of the month December 2017!

Awesome year for Cavemantraining, lots of growth, happy to end this year with a very special nomination…

 

Jerry Gray, AKA Cardiac Conan, the 76 years of age kettlebell lifter that only really started living after his first heart attack.

 

“Exercise in all of its many forms is something that everyone needs to enjoy life. It’s not a stop and go process. It’s something you do everyday. It’s like building a house you’ll never finish, one brick at a time, everyday.”
J. Gray

 

 

Jerry Gray is married to Liberty Gray since 1999, has 5 children with his first wife, 3 boys and 2 girls, has 1 stepson, 22 grand children, 16 great grand children, and can chin-up more than most twenty year olds!

 

Jeff Bott said:

“Jerry had some not so healthy years when he was younger. I believe he had 4- 5 heart attacks heart attacks, and multiple stints.

He then changed his lifestyle, began lifting kettlebells, and is still training hard at 76. The first time I met him was at the IKFF Chicago classic in 2015. He was the ONLY lifter of the flight to finish his 10 minutes. He was snatching a 16kg.

Talking with him was one of the big wow moments for me when really getting to see the benefits kettlebells had for others as well.”

 

Age 63 Elevation 13000 ft

 

Without further ado, Jerry Gray’s story:

 

My story begins October 13, 1980 at the age of 39, that’s when I had my first heart attack.

At the time I was more interested in my career, was going through my second divorce and unfortunately was a heavy smoker. Smoking, stress, poor diet, no regular exercise.

All of a sudden my life was falling apart all around me, and I had to make some positive changes. I owed that to my children if not too myself. This is the point where I feel my life really started.

After my first heart attack, I quit smoking, watched my diet and started working out on a regular basis. My major sport at the time was racquetball. I joined a group that played every afternoon. Soon I was going to training camps, competing in tournaments and getting fairly good. During the later part of the 80’s I was competing in masters divisions on a national level.

Around 1984 I was asked if I would donate my time and coach a collegiate sport team at Ferris State University, which I agreed to. During the same time period I was appointed Vice Chairman of a collegiate group, American Collegiate Racquetball Assoc. I was in charge of the National Collegiate Championships for 5 years as well as the Midwest regionals. In 1990 my team Ferris State finished 2nd in the nation at UC Berkley in CA.

In 1989 I was invited to a week long coaches workshop at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. In 1992 I resigned from all of my racquetball responsibilities. Although I kept up with my personal training.

During the 80’s I also took up running as I thought it would help my racquetball game. Running a few miles a week turned into running races until I completed Chicago Marathon 1989, and New York Marathon 1990.

Jerry Gray Completes Marathon

 

 

Decade 1990-2000

This was an awesome decade with lots of new adventures. On the bright side, during my yearly weeklong backpacking adventures into the rocky mountains with my kids, I met my wife. Liberty and I dated for 7 years before we married in 1999. Most of our exercise together was running, and the beginnings of weight training. On the down side, the heart disease raised it’s ugly head.

“my change in lifestyle is why I’m still here”

 

 

 

In 1995 a week after running a 25k race I was hospitalised with a heart attack, which required 3 stents and a week in a cardiac care unit. One month later, I was in Glacier National Park with my kids backpacking for a week. A month later I bicycled 380 miles in a 4 day tour. Again in 1999, 3 months before we got married, I suffered another heart attack which required another stent. I was worried that Liberty might cancel the wedding on me. Fortunately she did not.

 

The decade of heavy lifting, body building and the introduction to kettlebell training

After Liberty and I got married, she worked at the Engineering Co. in accounting. When not working, she started hammering heavy weights. She trained with a group at a local gym, and I trained at home. It was Liberty’s goal to earn a pro card in female body building, which she did in the spring of 2007. She then went onto competing in a pro show in Washington DC. I forgot to mention she was also a 3rd Dan in Tae Kwon do, which she had practiced for 13 years.

Needless to say, she talked me into entering a few body building shows. On one hand I didn’t really get it. On the other hand, being in my early 60’s I built a good base for my training today at 76.

 


 

 Want to start your kettlebell training journey now? 
 For the price of a meal, you can get your hands on one of the best books to get started with kettlebell training. Click here to check it out.

 


 

Around 2002-3 I ran across kettlebells in an article by Pavel. Liberty bought me a couple of kettlebells for my 63rd birthday. Needless to say I didn’t know how to operate them, except for Pavel’s video. So I stuck with the barbells and dumbbells. After a year on the kettlebells, I told Liberty I wanted to go to Pavel’s 3 day RKC camp. So we both went in April 2006. Three days of hell, but we both survived with our first certification. Liberty then opened her first gym for Tae Kwon do and kettlebells in 2007.

“My cardiologist told me, based on end of life studies, my lifestyle is better than the drugs he prescribes.”

 

After we received our RKC, I did a search for others that might be kettlebell training. That was when I met Ken Blackburn. Ken invited us over for his classes as he had done some GS training. That opened a whole new world of training for me. During that period we also met up with Steve Cotter. In 2007, Ken originally had a couple of small competitions in kettlebell sport in the backroom of a gym in Fenton, MI. It was 2008 when he moved to a larger venue at a Holiday Inn. I believe anyone that knew about kettlebell sport at that time was at that meet. I give Ken a lot of credit for his foresight into the future of kettlebell sport. It was soon after that, that Ken and Steve started the IKFF. BTW, Liberty was the overall best female lifter at that initial meet in 2008.

 

Kick some butt with this Cardiac Conan shirt.

 

 

Again heart disease put me down for 2 more stents in 2006

In 2009 and 2010, Ken took the IKFF Kettlebell competition to The Arnold in Columbus, OH, which Liberty and I plus our team made the journey down to compete. I think in 2009 and 2010 we took down about 10 competitors.

Heart disease struck again, this time with a heart attack after completing the biathlon with 16kg bells in 2010. So I was rushed to the hospital for a 3 day vacation. One of my stents plugged and I needed another stent in a different artery. I was 68 at the time.

Liberty opened up another location in Grand Rapids, MI. It was during these early years of competing in Kettlebell Sport that I also taught fitness and kettlebell sport classes for Liberty’s gym, FITNESSXT. We also hosted competitions starting in 2009.

Jerry Gray Competes Kettlebell Sport

“The drug protocol after a heart attack is 5-6 drugs, beta blockers, statins, etc. I’ve read several books on the effects of these drugs. I came to the conclusion I should not take them based on all the side effects. I’m drug free.”

 

 

Decade 2010 to Present

In July of 2011, I went down to Texas for a 2 day Certification with Sergey Rudnev IKSFA group. Again, after working out in 104 degree heat, I suffered another a heart attack. I was rushed to the hospital Saturday, they stented me that afternoon and wanted to keep me there for 4 days. No way did I want to stay in Texas with a bunch of strangers. I got discharged and was home on Monday. Three weeks later I was with my kids backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming right where I wanted to be. I finished my certification later that year in MI with Sergey.

Liberty has moved away from competing with the kettlebells. She loves Olympic lifting with some bodyweight, and kettlebells.

So for about the past 10 years I have been training people with kettlebells. Seems strange now that I’m 76. What a great job!! I train mostly for competition, although most of my people don’t compete. I use a combination of barbells, kettlebells, hard style and sport. It’s a great job. I love to help people get fit or to step on the platform. I still do most of my own training at home in the garage by myself.

I like to compete 3 to 4 times a year. It gives me something to look forward to. I love training. It was a great adventure to make the USA Team and compete in the IUKL Worlds in Dublin in 2015 where I placed second in the Biathlon with 16kg kettlebells. I hired Ken Blackburn to be my coach and prepare for the team completion and IUKL. For the most part I do my own training, I like to mix things up. The kettlebell is a great tool. But when I’m getting ready for a comp, I call on Ken.

Jerry Gray IKFF Kettlebell Sport

 

Q&A

How does your age affect your training and recovery?
WOW ageing is huge!! It becomes a mental battle along with aches and pains. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to train.

How often do you train?
Too much 4-5 times a week. I try to back off on the weight a couple of days.

What does a typical training day look like for you?
I start off my day with a couple of cups of coffee and catch up on the news and FB. Then it’s out the door with my dog Frankie for a 1-2 mile walk. If I’m in competition mode, I’ll do one of Coach Blackburn’s workouts. If not in competition mode, I’ll play with different reps and sets of kettlebells in preparation for my evening class. I don’t workout with my class. I feel I am there for guidance. I like to get in one good barbell deadlift workout a week.

Nutrition?
Typically a mini-fast. I start eating around mid-day, maybe 1-2 protein shakes per day. I try keep my eating choices basic, no processed foods. Living with Liberty keeps me in line. I have some supplements that I use along with the diet. It’s been a real trip. After the first heart attack, I went on the American Heart Association diet which is low fat, high carb. That is an inflammatory diet. Which just made my condition worse.

During my 50s, I put on 30# over my marathon weight, which didn’t help either. Liberty and I were working out a lot, but not making any progress. So she made an appointment to see an MD that was also a body builder. She wanted to pursue bodybuilding, I was lifting and playing racquetball. This was 2001 just after my 60th birthday.

The doctor liked our workouts, but didn’t like our diet. So he schooled us on diet. After 3 consultations we never looked back. It was but a few years till we found the kettlebells. But for me, the die was set. My arteries were trash.

It was around 2005 that I went to a alternative health clinic. They suggested chelation to rehab my arteries. So went through about 35 -1 hour chelation treatments. Not sure if it helped.

I’ve moved my diet off all the fast carbs, added more fat and protein and slow carbs.
I feel really good about my health now. I think I’ve had all the diseased areas stented. 😀

Since I started the kettlebells, I’ve been back at my marathon weight weight for 8 years, 175, down from 205# in 2001. There was a time, when I got on the platform, I’d get paranoid about having another heart attack. But I’m over that now. 😀

My current doctor likes the kettlebell work that I do. He tells me to push my limits. This type of training will add more collateral arteries to the heart muscle.

I credit my kettlebell training for the excellent condition I’m in now, along with diet and Liberty.

What advice can you give the “special populations”, who are sitting at home and wishing they could do what you’re doing today?
WOW good question. My friends like what I do, but they don’t want any part of it. My advice would be to start your day with a brisk walk of a couple of miles, rain, sunshine, heat or cold. I’ve been walking dogs for over 20 years. I firmly believe I need it more than they do.

What is your favourite lift in KB sport and why?
Snatch. I feel that it touches all the bases, strength, posture, flexibility, and cardio.

What are your future goals?
Stay the course. I want to keep on doing what I like doing, kettlebell training and teaching, backpacking, golfing, skiing, biking, travelling, wife and family. Life is meant to be lived, but not on a couch.

The one thing you would say to someone who needs to make a change but struggles to get going, struggles to find the motivation, struggles to put in the effort …
WOW another great question. This is a tough one. I would have to say, “Start Slow” in whatever part of your life you want to change. Change causes chaos, which needs to be worked through before moving forward.

The health system?
Although people are living longer, the current health state of elderly people is tragic. The medical and insurance companies are profit motivated. End of life studies show that people with the highest cholesterol live the longest. End of life studies show that drug side effects negate any drug benefit. People with the lowest cholesterol levels have the highest dementia. It’s been a real trip. I’m glad of where I’m at in life, and firmly believe that I have more to achieve and enjoy.

Jerry Gray 76 Hiking Maroon Bells

 

My goal is to be able to do next week what I did last week.

 

Favourite lift: Snatch
Non favourite lift: Jerk

Personal best:

  • 3 months before my 70th
    Snatch 16kg 168reps
    Jerk 2-16kg 65 reps
  • 5 min Snatch 16kg 99 reps age 75
  • 5 min Snatch 24kg 66reps age 73
  • 3 months before my 70th
    5 min Biathlon
    Snatch 20kg 78reps
    Jerk 2-20kg 30reps
  • My most recent competition Nov. 18
    12kg Snatch 162 reps
    16kg Snatch 75 reps

 

If Jerry Gray’s story tells us anything, it is:

  • It’s never too late
  • Never give up
  • Don’t let anything bring you down

Jerry Gray

Semi-retired Professional Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor
Owner: Mid-MI Engineering & Surveying Co. since 1971
Graduate: BS Civil Engineering Mich. Tech. Univ.
AAS Highway Tech. Ferris State Univ.
Instructor Ferris State Univ. Surveying 4 years
Instructor Part-Time Ferris State Univ. 6 years

 

 

Don’t forget to like and share. Show Jerry your support, and help others see that there is a way, there is a solution, it just takes persistence, and effort. Peace.

Jerry Gray Lifting Two 24 Kilo Kettlebells
Jerry Gray Lifting Two 24 Kilo Kettlebells

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