A Sprint vs. A Marathon: Girevoy Sport Workshop
By Aj Lee
A sprint vs. a marathon: That in a nutshell is the difference between Girevoy Sport (GS) and RKC. When Doug asked me last year if I wanted to do a charity event for the Children’s Hospital in L.A., I was curious until he told me it involved doing long cycle clean and jerks for an hour! For those who aren’t familiar with this, it is one of the most demanding kettlebell exercises besides snatches. It involves to different movements: a clean, then a jerk. My heart rate can easily skyrocket to 80 to 85% of my max after 8-10 reps.
Doug did this for an hour straight without putting the kettlebells down! When he told me about a workshop where this technique was being taught I was curious and nervous at the same time. Being an RKC II, we were taught “hard-style” which simply put means, maximum tension to move more weight. This “hard-style” sprint-like training is great for getting strong; sets are done in rep fashion or in ladders, and rarely for long periods. The GS workshop focused more on marathon-like training; how to preserve energy and move kettlebells constantly for long period of time. I was worried that GS or “soft-style” would not mesh with my RKC training.
In the end, I was mistaken. The instructors were quick to point out that I could benefit from “soft-syle” training. One of the biggest tips I took away from the workshop was how to breathe properly. Often during kettlebell workouts I use the valsalva maneuver which means holding your breath to keep maximum tension during the movement. At the workshop I was told to act like “water-stone-water” at the appropriate time. Unlike my RKC teaching of using maximum tension along with strong –single burst of breath to move the weight for a few sub-maximal repetitions. Girevoy Sport kettlebell lifting is the opposite, focusing on minimal tension and long, cyclical breathing to match the movement of the kettlebells. Most of the time your body will be in the water phase or relaxation and only at one particular moment (usually during the hip drive) you will turn to stone to accelerate the kettlebell toward the desired direction. This combination of relaxation-tension-relaxation coupled with the cyclical breathing allows for a longer, more sustainable pace needed for GS competition lifting.
Another simple yet great tip that I sometimes forget is, “take your time”. Instead of sprinting to the finish, it helps to pace yourself for the long haul. Just these two tips enabled me to up my snatches and long cycle count by several reps which is an accomplishment in itself. If I were to take one thing away from this workshop it would be, don’t get tunnel vision with your training, try different styles out, some will work, others may not but you’ll learn a lot along the way.
By the way, in October I’m planning on going to New Orleans for a charity event for Katrina victims, I’ll be doing long cycle for an hour, go figure.