It’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to training and self-care. It’s easy to fall into a trap of one methodology, meanwhile another may have the answers to your problems.
Name: Jeff Bott
Speciality: Kettlebells, Circuit training, Corrective exercise and bodywork.
Weight: 175 lbs / 79 kg
Height: 6 ft
Personal best: 24 kg’s Kettlebell Biathlon – 168 points
“Do absolutely everything you can, especially when you’d rather do nothing at all”.
I’ve been pretty active my entire life. I grew up in an active household along the foothills of Colorado. We would go camping, ride dirt bikes, and all the fun stuff you can do here. After leaving the military in 2010, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Stage I, then stage II, and finally they found that it was stage III. I moved up the ranks pretty quickly, haha! Fortunately, I have an amazingly supportive wife who was by my side the entire time. Seriously, she sat with me for 5-6 hours a day for chemo, and has been my strongest support system from the start of my journey, till this very day.
I had a lot of lymph nodes that needed to be removed. About 40 of them from my abdomen. To shed some light on what that’s like, I’ll say that it’s probably the most violating feeling I’ve experienced, but also the most hilarious and perspective altering experience I could have asked for.
It was one of those painful things that you just have to laugh at.. They also gave me 180 pain pills per month, so I was well managed in that regard! Getting off that stuff sucked, but it got me back to doing what I wanted to be doing that entire time. Fair trade!
Large abdominal surgery, chemotherapy, lack of energy, and a constant feeling of being “off” was tough to deal with.
When we feel well, we can take on challenges! We can be hungry, tired, too cold, or too hot, but as long as we can get into the moment and feel up to the challenge, we fare pretty well. That feeling wasn’t there anymore, but the memory of it was. So I had to rely purely on discipline.
Discipline in practice is what produces results, and results are ultimately what make us feel good. Discipline leads to motivation and inspiration.
If you’re someone who’s trying recover, or reach a goal that seems too difficult to tackle, or unattainable for you… all I can say is to push hard, take care of yourself, and be patient. If you scratch tooth and nail for long enough, you’ll find your way there.
How did it all start with Kettlebells?
I remember seeing the small ones around gyms for years, but never thought twice about them. They looked awkward, weren’t as heavy as the dumbbells. Truthfully, they seemed like something comparable to a group-dance class to me at the time. I just hadn’t met real kettlebells yet, haha!
I did a lot of re-evaluating in my “down time” during cancer treatment. I had time… why not try to find better ways to do things?
Like most, I came across “functional fitness” and CrossFit. So I took what I already knew, and applied it in my home. It was a pretty slow start after chemotherapy. At least compared to what I was used to. Going from sets of 20 pull-ups at 185 lbs, to 3 of them at 170 lbs before feeling sick was pretty frustrating.
It didn’t take long to realize that there was a benefit to this kind of training, as it was different from the strength and bodybuilding type of stuff I had been doing for a couple of years. I could only do one lift for so long, and with so much weight. I was limited to certain movements, with certain tools, and that would present different challenges in the way I wanted to rehab myself.
In 2014, I took the IKFF Level 1 CKT course, and my eyes were opened. That’s when a lot of my other tools began to collect more dust than usual. I just didn’t need them as much when I could get more done in less time, with just one tool and weight. Of course, I still use barbells and other tools, but I like to encourage continuous exploration of range of motion. Kettlebells encourage that more than any other tools I’ve used.
How long have you been training with kettlebells?
Kettle-centric training since 2014.
Craziest thing you’ve done with your KB’s?
Great question! It depends on what type of “crazy” we’re talking about.
The Biathlon in Girevoy Sport (GS) in itself feels like a pretty crazy feat. It includes a ten minutes set with doubles, followed by another 10 minute set for snatch.
Otherwise, I enjoy progressing movements with juggling a lot. That lead me down a road of some interesting moves… the craziest in terms of coordination is probably spinning the bell on my elbow, or bottoms up windmills due to the stability factor.
Otherwise, any combination of juggling doubles, and squatting.
- Double kettlebells: 1 minute work/ 1 minute rest x 7 minutes (4 sets x 1 minute)
- 1 Swing
- 1 Flip
- 1 Swing
- 1 Clean
- 1 Squat
What’s your favourite KB exercise, and why?
My favorite movements constantly change. I was in love with Two Arm Long-Cycle (TALC) for a while. Lately, it’s been a rotation of the Jerk, Bent pressing, heavy 1 & 2 handed swings, and the Snatch.
If I were to pick one movement to do for the rest of my life, I’d be torn between TALC, and the Get-up. As long as I get to do variations of them!
The first thing you teach someone completely new to kb’s?
Like a lot of kettlebell teachers, we work on the hip hinge movements quite a bit. I really like to work on a combination of bodyweight movements, and very basic kettlebell movements to get the feel for the rhythm of workouts. I find that this lays the foundation for things that often trip people up in the first few months of kettlebell training.
Some examples would be: breathing, timing, pacing, etc., but with various other movements, that may or may not involve using a kettlebell on a case-by-case basis.
What benefits have you had in your own training from KB’s?
Having had multiple surgeries at a young age, including 2 knee surgeries (same knee), and two abdominal surgeries linked to cancer. As any young man would, I wanted to get back up and get going again.
Kettlebells helped me work ranges of motion that barbells and dumbells just weren’t. I was able to use light weight, and work for long periods of time to re-gain strength in different ranges.
I did my own physical therapy/ rehab post cancer, and the kettlebell became my go-to tool due to it’s versatility. The way I see it, I’m just in an advanced phase of physical therapy.
Consider it therapy that helps heal injuries, and helps prevent them in the future as well. When done correctly!
The heaviest beast you own? What crazy stuff can you do with it?
The big guy around here is 56 kg. I like it for swings, deadlifts, and usual things like that…. Once in a while, I’ll get it out and do some two handed flips with it. It’s a lot of fun, and a great challenge! No spacing out or laziness allowed in that moment!
It’s also pretty beastly for goblet squats 🙂
Do you do any other type of training other than KB’s?
Mostly kettlebells, but nothing’s off limits! I’m focused on training for kettlebell performance, not just fitness. This means I’ll train with any tool that betters my lifts. This isn’t necessarily a requirement, even in sport. A lifter could do very well in sport with a few different bell weights, but if you have access to something that will aid you in what you enjoy, why not use it???
Besides kettlebells, I use barbells, heavy thick-handle dumbells, maces, and sandbags the most. Chains, bands, and bodyweight also make frequent appearances around here.
What mental advice can you give someone going into their first comp?
In short, don’t think about it. Nerves are there, and they are what they are. Let them help you, and embrace the feeling. Fighting the nerves just makes it worse. It’s like getting a shot as a kid, or giving a speech in high school. It never goes well when you’re tense and fumbling over your own body, haha!
Just admit you’re nervous, shake it off, and go about your routine. You’ve trained it for months, just smile and do it again!
What is a Biathlon Comp?
The Biathlon consists of two separate lifts, and is scored in one total at the end.
The lifts include the double-bell Jerk (Worth 1 point per rep), and the single-arm Snatch (Worth .5 point per rep). Each set is typically either 5 or 10 minutes, with about 30-45 minutes between lifts depending on flight schedule.
I compete in the 10 minute biathlon. Both times have their benefits, though. Imagine the increase in pace or bell weight when the set is half as long.
What goes on in your head when you’re in the middle of a 10 minute Jerk set?
Each set is like a book that reads slightly differently each time, but I personally try to get to somewhat of a meditative state before I start. .
I almost always have to remind myself to slow down in the first or second minute. Around minute five I have to start to really focus on technique, which then turns into an autopilot until about minute nine.
The last minute is a lot of, “go, go, go!”, and “not so fast you fail in the last 30 seconds”, haha! It’s a balancing act of mental toughness, and physical ability.
Have you ever not finished, and put the bells down?
Yes. Not very often, but I’ve definitely reached a point where I put the bells down. I actually lost my grip, and sent a 20kg kettlebell flying toward the judges table in my first GS competition.
If you put the bells down after the five minute mark, you’ll find that you feel much more accomplished even if you just hold the bell until the time is up. If time is the main goal, and you only hit the reps, did you accomplish your goal?
It’s always better to stay uninjured, though. So it can be a fine line between pushing the limits, and doing damage.
How do you build upon your mental toughness for these competitions?
Find discomfort. Identify what I don’t like to do, or what I’m terrible at, and practice. I do things to harden my body, and the mental aspect of that is pretty tough. It seems necessary to harden the mind and body in general.
For competition, practice the worst case scenario, at the least convenient time, with distractions.
Meditation and visualization has also been a large part of my recovery from cancer, and has carried over to my training as well. The brain is what will generate the action, so it’s important to learn to use that to your advantage. Visualize, strategize, prepare, and execute.
For someone wanting to go in a GS competition, what suggestions do you have in regards to training for it?
Be patient, and find your own rhythm. Working for time is what messes a lot of people up. We often think in terms of repetitions and weight, so the focus has shifted. It takes time to make things “click”, but it will happen.
Also, take care of your body! You’re going to be asking a lot of it. Race car drivers have mechanics, athletes have bodyworkers, trainers, or therapists. The vehicle needs to be cared for, or it’ll fall apart in the worst of ways. At the very least, invest in a few SMR tools, and educate yourself on how to use them. Then actually do it!
What food do you eat before a competition?
Carbs early in the morning. I like to keep things simple, and prefer not to eat too close to my set. I like to feel energized, but also light and focused. So I don’t let myself eat too much. That little bit of stress can be a good thing if you use it right.
Do you take any pre workout?
Yes and no. I’ve tried a lot of the products out there, but these days I’d prefer to make it myself, haha! And I did… Much less expensive, caffeine free, and properly dosed beta-alanine, creatine, etc. Minimal… Not a mystery blend.
You have to be careful with that stuff, though. Not only are there shady companies and products out there, but it can become a harmful habit/addiction. Some people feel like they need to take something in order to workout, but that’s like building a pyramid from the top down. If good habits aren’t in place, there’s no need to have be supercharging yourself for the bad ones. Just a thought!
I used to be a lot more into the pre workout thing, but when you actually look at the ingredients, and do some research, your supplement menu will decrease drastically, haha!
What is your current daily nutrition to help you with your performance and recovery?
Short answer is a paleo-keto-Intermittent Fasting-esque type of eating. I don’t follow any specific “diet” or plans anymore. I used to be much more into the 5-6 meals per day, sticking to strict macro measurements, etc. What I eventually found was that I didn’t really want many crappy foods after really physically challenging myself.
I say that it’s a mixture of paleo, ketogenic, and intermittent fasting because I’ve personally found the most benefit in following these diets. I have some pretty intense seasonal allergies, and I found that just cutting out dairy milk and bread helped calm all of that down. Breads and dairy aren’t evil foods, though. It’s a case-by-case scenario, and this is what makes me feel the best in training, and throughout the day.
Then I found that I actually feel great eating a lot, once or twice a day, with snacks as needed. It’s far from what would probably be seen as optimal for performance, but it’s also a lot easier to perform well when you feel good in general…
I like to mix everything into a bowl whenever possible. It’s convenient, and I’m no chef!
One of my favorite meals is:
- 2-4 scrambled eggs
- ½ cup of shredded cheese
- 2-4 strips of bacon
- ½ avacado
Mix in a bowl, and you’re done! I’ll have 1-2 slices of bread or a bagel depending on how I’m feeling.
I’ll make this at any time of day…I’m a breakfast for dinner kinda guy. Yummy, haha!
Favorite Cavemantraining Video
I like that it’s explained why there should be no divide in the kettlebell community over “styles” of swings, because there’s a time and a place for all of them.