This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through. If you have any questions about this post or S & C in general as it relates to MMA and BJJ then please leave a comment below!
Are Kettlebells worth your time?
Kettlebells and combat sports: it is a relationship that I think is possibly too cosy. Kettlebells are everywhere at the moment, riding the “hardcore” puking on youtube train till you’re a mangled mess wave we are seeing right now. Many coaches drinking the kettlebell Kool-Aid seem to think this cannon ball-like device is some sort of cure-all and worse yet badge it misleadingly as a “functional” exercise. The marriage of kettlebells and strength and conditioning for MMA and grappling is a recent occurrence with coaches like Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Maxwell and Mike Mahler promoting their usage. All but dead back in the 1930’s, the kettlebell zombie is back and appears to be eating some coaches’ brains!
Kettlebell movements for the uninitiated come in a few flavours namely the swing, clean, snatch, turkish get-up and variations of these. The swing the is daddy of these movements and does some good things for glute and posterior chain work. It’s excellent for teaching beginners proper hip extension. The clean and snatch however are poor relations to their Olympic lifting counter parts. Get ups have their uses but can be done with a dumbbell just as effectively. The problem is when coaches become emotionally invested in a training approach it clouds their judgement; they say “when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.” So the kettlebell winds up getting used for everything. Steve Maxwell, a kettlebell proponent and BJJ blackbelt has written on his blog that “This is the paradigm of using the kettlebell like a Leatherman tool, i.e. pounding a nail with a screwdriver, i.e., you can do it, but it’s dumb.”