A lot of the great and most accomplished kettlebell lifters we have met since starting our business are former powerlifters. As power lifters a number of them have held records, but now mostly train kettlebells. We believe as workouts and strength building continue to evolve with each generation, people who identify as a certain thing, i:e 'power lifter', 'kettlebell lifter' will fade away and there will continue to be more blending of different modalities to create better overall lifters and athletes. Not only does it break up the monotony of working out, but there are practical applications as well. In this piece, Zack Henderson, SFG II, SFL, SFB, covers a number of kettlebell movements that will help strength and specifically strength needed for power lifting. Speaking from personal experience, these lifts have and will add really nice increases to your powerlift numbers.
By Zack Henderson:
Like any serious strength athletes, powerlifters can become myopic in their training. This is easy to do, as the entire sport is confined to the performance of only 3 lifts - the back squat, bench press, and deadlift.
What many fail to realize, however, is the amount of progress they leave on the table by neglecting training modalities and tools outside of the barbell for their programming. It’s easy to write off kettlebells as a novelty training device, but with smart application, the kettlebell might fill the gaps any powerlifter needs to to maintain a stronger, healthier body that can perform at peak levels for many years to come.
Specifically, we’re going to explore 3 ways the kettlebell can be best utilized in a powerlifting program - shoulder health, work capacity, and specialized accessory work.
Shoulder Mobility & Stability
The most common gym injury happens to the shoulders. It's no wonder considering that not only are our postures compromised by hours of sitting and phone use, but shoulder issues get compounded when we go to the gym and do lots of pressing exercises. Pushing big weight with stiff, rounded shoulders is a recipe for disaster.
The nature of the bench press presents two issues for shoulder health. One, lying on a bench effectively forces the movement to be done with as little scapular motion as possible. Two, the press requires a symmetrical movement from a (likely) asymmetrical base. Nearly everybody has a shoulder that is more mobile or stiff than the other.
Bench presses are perfectly safe in their own right, they simply present a risky environment for compromised shoulders. To simultaneously give the shoulders some extra mobility and stability work, we need look no further than the Turkish Get-Up. The TGU takes the shoulder joint through various ranges of motion with a locked out arm. Specifically, doing this exercise with a kettlebell presents a unique challenge to the rotator cuff and “opens” the shoulder without forcing a static stretch.
Like what you have read so far? Sign up to be notified about Part 2 in this series by entering your email address in the sign up form on in the right column.
A strong low bar back squat position is dependent upon thoracic spine mobility as well. A powerful drill for t-spine health is the kettlebell arm bar. Much like the TGU, the arm bar develops shoulder stability by moving around a locked arm, but really double-downs on t-spine mobility by the nature of the hip positioning.
We recommend you read more about receiving a quick, free, dynamic kettlebell workout every week you can click below.