Written by Matt D’Aquino, a multiple Australian and Oceania Champion and a 2008 Beijing Judo Olympian. He has been studying Judo for over 23 years. He is a 3rd Degree Black belt and a purple belt in BJJ. Matt has also come out with a great new kettlebell DVD set taylor made for grapplers: Kettlebells for Grapplers.
Over the years there have been hundreds and hundreds of fitness and strength training fads that have come and gone but the kettlebell stays strong. This is simply because Kettlebell training works. I am currently doing a few kettlebell sessions a week just to help keep my shoulders strong and mobile, to develop hip strength and increase my cardio.
For those that don’t know a Kettlebell is simply a round lump of cast iron with a flat base and a handle. Due to the handle being on the top of the weight the center of gravity is extended resulting in the participant being able to perform a variety of explosive movements such as a swing, snatch and over head press.
Kettlebells are a fantastic training tool for grapplers because they work pretty much every single muscle in the body – just like grappling. When fighters ask me why I train with Kettlebells I simply tell them the following:
1. They take up very little room
I leave my Kettlebell in the trunk of my car and if I don’t have enough time in my lunch break to go to the gym, I take out the Kettlebell and perform one of the workouts in this manual.
Kettlebells are effective because they don’t isolate one muscle group (like machine weights) but target various muscle groups at once.
3.Develops functional strength
Have you ever wrestled someone who can barely bench press 60lbs but when you have wrestled them they are as strong as an Ox? That’s functional strength. Put simply – it’s being strong when it matters most. Training with Kettlebells 2-3 days a week plus grappling classes will greatly improve your functional strength.
4.Targets stabilizer muscles
The Kettlebell targets your stabilizer muscles because the kettlebell is an uneven weight and so we have to work extra hard to push, pull and control it. This is great for grapplers as we need both strong and stable joints.
5.Your Heart rate will sky rocket
The kettlebell is great for increasing your cardio. Performing 5-10 Minutes of the Kettlebell swing will have you wishing you were doing the cross-country instead. Exercises such as the Swing and clean and press will really test your strength endurance and in doing so both your aerobic and anaerobic system will be stretched and increased.
6. Strengthens your glutes
The Kettlebells signature technique “the Swing” targets your glutes, which is an area of the body that is neglected by most athletes and trainers. the glutes are what some strength and conditioning coaches call ‘the power pack.’ This is because so much of our power comes from glute activation and glute development. The Kettlebell Swing not only strengthens the glutes which will develop a lot more power in the lower body and hips.
7.Full body movements
Each exercise targets more than half your body. Whether you are performing a swing, squat pull or overhead press you will always be using more than one muscle group. This is great for strikers and grapplers as we are constantly using more than one muscle when fighting.
Gripping the handle for 5 Minutes will have your forearms screaming and if you start implementing some bottoms up presses into your program you will soon get forearms of steel.
9. Unilateral training
Have one arm stronger than the other? Simply perform more reps on one side.
10.Increased fat loss
Whether you are using Kettlebells or not, working out a higher intensity will burn more calories during exercise. Great for people who want to lose weight and tone up.
Obviously there are many different types of training methods and techniques that will assist you in your grappling training but training with Kettlebells will definitely assist in increasing the strength, power and speed needed to compete in sorts such as Judo, BJJ, wrestling and submission grappling.
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