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US Soldiers try Russian `Kettlebell’ sport
Capt. Mike Thompson, left, and Tech. Sgt. Eric Brandenberg lift kettlebells during a class at Fort Benning, Ga., Dec. 13. Spc. David Foley FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, Dec. 23, 2003) -- Kettlebell lifting, a sport dating back to the Dark Ages, has recently been added to the physical training regimens of elite military and police units all over the world. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nate Morrison, one of the top kettlebell instructors in the nation, visited Fort Benning recently to share his love of the sport. Morrison was invited by Tech. Sgt. Eric Brandenburg, enlisted terminal attack controller, who attended Jumpmaster School with Morrison and was intrigued by the benefits of working with kettlebells. As forward air controllers for the rangers, Brandenberg has a fairly intense physical training program, but after one day of working with kettlebells, he noticed the difference. “It’s a totally different type of training,” he said. “It worked places I hadn’t worked in a while.” The reason for the difference Brandenberg felt was the off-balance design of the kettlebell, Morrison said. A kettlebell is shaped like a cannonball with a handle, and its round design keeps it off center when it’s being held, forcing the lifter to use muscles not normally used when lifting standard weights. “Kettlebells put stress on ligaments and tendons, which makes them stronger, too,” Morrison said. Morrison said kettlebells have tremendous effects that can give anyone in the military a considerable advantage. They build strength, endurance, agility and coordination, all of which are vital for a Soldier. Before discovering kettlebells, Morrison lifted weights until he was big and slow, then ran it off until he was small and fast. But with kettlebells, he gets a moderate level of everything. Morrison isn’t the only one who’s seen the same effects from a kettlebell routine. Soviet sports scientist Vladlen Voropayev conducted an experiment with two groups of college students and documented the results of kettlebell training in 1983. Voropayev observed a group of students with similar scores on a standard military fitness test and let half of them continue the university’s training program (pull-ups, standing broad jump, 100-meter sprint and a 1-kilometer run), while the other half only lifted kettlebells. At the end of the experiment, the group that used the kettlebells scored higher in every area of the test than the other group. Morrison conducted an experiment similar to Voropayev’s. He challenged a friend — an avid dead lifter — to take one month away from the weights and train with kettlebells. Before the experiment, the subject could lift 315 pounds, and when he returned to the weights, one month later, he lifted 415 pounds. Kettlebells not only make a person stronger, Morrison said, they make them younger — in a manner of speaking. “Other PT programs have left a lot of us with herniated disks and other joint injuries,” Morrison said. “Kettlebells strengthen the areas around those injuries and make the pain go away. “I’ve seen people who said, ‘I was on my way out, but now I feel like a kid again,’” Morrison said. For more information on the sport, go to russiankettlebells.com. or kettlebells—circular—core-strength—training.com.
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