When I was a young lad in my early 20s, I was still under the
mistaken impression that to get strong you had to train specifically.
In other words, if you wanted to get a stronger bench press,
(which every 20-something-year-old who lifts weights is
concerned about) you had to bench… A lot.
I remember one of my many conversations over Cuban
expresso (espresso so strong a spoon could stand up in
it) with my weightlifting coach Alfonso, about a delegation of
American strength experts who went to the former Soviet Union
to study their strength training practices.
One member, a powerlifting champ, asked about their weightlifters’
bench pressing ability (because we all know the ultimate expression
of upper body strength is the bench ;-] ) and he was told that
their weightlifter’s rarely bench pressed.
They did mostly what most weightlifters do – snatches, cleans,
presses, push presses, jerks, pulls, variations of the snatches
and cleans, and of course a healthy variety of squats.
Not much else.
The American doubted the Russian’s strength.
That is (and I could be wrong here, this is how I remember the
Until the Russian heavyweight repped out the American’s
bench press max with no warm up.
Of course, the American delegation’s jaws just hit the floor.
When pressed for a “how” – how was this possible – the Soviet
coach simply stated that all the other training his weightlifters
did made them –
“Strong… like bull.”
That’s one of the things I love so much about training with a
pair of kettlebells.
It makes you strong all over.
You don’t necessarily have to specialize.
You press, your bench will go up.
You clean and press, and your squat will go up.
You squat, and, well… EVERYTHING goes up.
It’s like getting strong for free.
For example, I’ve been emailing back and forth with my friend
Elliot, a former powerlifter who’s been using “Kettlebell STRONG!”.
Here’s part of a conversation we’ve been having:
Today I did session 6 of KB Strong…
C&P x 7 doubles with 28’s
Didn’t feel great because I ate badly yesterday. But got the work
Then I did FSQ for 3 sets of 4 reps. Rested 90 seconds between
Here’s what’s interesting:
Those squats felt so easy it was unreal and I felt pretty naff by
my standards today.
[** Translation: “pretty naff” = “not so good”]
Plus, since starting KB Strong all I’ve done ‘squat wise’ is 3 x 3
with the 24’s on the 10 singles day
So I feel way stronger on squats. I didn’t realise how strong
cleans make you!
It has to be the double cleans, right? Plus original strength…”
Then 6 days later he sent me this email:
“Did 9 doubles today with the 28’s on C+P
Then an easy double on the FSQ with the 32’s. when I tried
32’s a few weeks ago the clean felt abysmal and I lost the squat
at the top! So much stronger!
The C+P with doubles is really great. With singles the clean
always felt like no big deal.”
So he did 3 easy squat workouts over the course of 3 weeks
without focusing on them and because he was focused on the
Double Clean + Press – his squats became amazingly easier.
Think about that – the double KB front squat – the one KB exercise
that really no one likes to do because it’s so hard – but needs to do
because it’s so beneficial – becomes no big deal.
Would you like to surprise yourself with some “free” strength like
Then make sure you get yourself a copy of “Kettlebell STRONG!”
like he did and you too may get “Strong… like bull.”