Something that I find pretty interesting is that Arthur Saxon demonstrated this unique Kettlebell pressing exercise in The Textbook of Weightlifting back in 1910, yet with all the hubbub about kettlebells these days, I have never seen it listed or performed in any modern kettlebell training course. Saxon wrote that this exercise was good for building thumb strength and I agree.
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Here’s something you don’t see every day, an actual Russian Kettlebell contest. This one was held in Moscow, circa 1965. In these types of contests the object is to get the kettlebell (or bells, when a pair is used – look closely, there’s a pair on the platform here.) overhead as many times as possible in a 10:00 time period. Usually the one-arm snatch or two arm jerk is contested and, as you can see there is certainly no lack of willing participants.
Did the oldtime strongmen understand some things about training that we don’t today? I would say so, otherwise, we would see more feats like this one. Al Tauscher was one of America’s greatest lifters and strength athletes at the start of the 20th century. He was one of the first lifters of any bodyweight to lift 300 lbs. to the shoulders and jerk it overhead. At a bodyweight of 165 lbs, here’s Al in mid-lift of a “bottom up press” with a 122 lb kettlebell – now that’s strong!
The view from a Latvian Sport Club, circa 1970. Not that it’s any great revelation but kettlebells were (and are), very popular in eastern Europe countries.
John Grimek did every kind of barbell, dumbbell and kettlebell exercise known to man in his training. While his preference was always “weights,” he often augmented his workouts with chest expanders to fill in some of the gaps. It should also be noted that training with one of the chest expander handles “anchored,” like Mr. Grimek is demonstrating here, offers a tremendous number of possibilities which are not often covered in most chest expander training guides.
If you’re going to train with Russian Kettlebells, may as well go back to the source to see how to do it right. Pictures help, but you’ll get a little more out of this post if you can read Cyrillic. “Traditional” kettlebell exercises consist of the snatch (which is more like a “swing” since it travels in an arc) and the clean and jerk (mainly just the jerk) done for maximal high reps.