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Tag Archives: kettlebell

  • Check out Carmen's Gym

    carmen-caputos-york-kettlebells
    Carmen Caputo's Gym: Photo 1
    (Photo by Carmen Caputo with Permission)

    Check out what Carmen Caputo has put together! Seriously, put on your 7 year old kid attitude, with big excited eyes. We are going to take a walk back in time, to the days when afternoons were long and sunny. This is one of those days when opening this plain garage door seems somewhat slightly more interesting than kicking stones in an alley, then suddenly your whole life is changed.

    Carmen's gym really exists and he has been an Atomic Athlete since before I was born. He has been seriously weightlifting and collecting equipment since 1960, with most of it originally coming from Peary Rader and York Barbell. For the past several years, he has been adding in some Atomic Athletic pieces, supplemented by collectibles that have come from me, eBay and other random sources.

    The photo shows his “Kettlebell Rack”. Where he has put together classic kettlebells built with kettlebell handles and all York standard size plates, bars and collars. He has pairs of them in 10 pound increments from 20 – 60 pounds*, which he occasionally modifies for mid-range increments. You can also see his collection of Iron Boots. Not all of his pieces were acquired new, but you can see how everything is now in pristine shape and order, ready for the next workout. Carmen follows the rule he was taught in the Marines, “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you.”

    Kettlebell Handles: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-handles-pair.html

    Now, take a gander at the gym art. Those instructional wall charts are originals. He has framed classic posters and other art all over the gym. I have a bunch of great shots that I will be showing in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for it. Everything is solid, basic and high quality.

    To quote Carmen, “Only in America could the grandchild of immigrants be able to acquire something like this. We are truly blessed.” You may not remember when you were first introduced to weights, but it would be great if we could all be so fortunate as to find a place like this to start from.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    *Not all of Carmen's kettlebells are shown in this photo.

  • Black Friday Specials

    Throughout the month of November we will be adding various specials.  We are not doing anything

    SPECIAL: Kettlebell & Iron Boot Boxed Set SPECIAL: Kettlebell & Iron Boot Boxed Set

    just for Black Friday.  However, most of our Specials will be of limited supply, so when they sell out, they are gone and will be pulled from the site!

    Here are 2 great Specials:

    Iron Boot & Kettlebell Boxed Set: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-iron-boot-boxed-set.html

    Bob Hoffman & York Barbell Holiday Special: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/holiday-special-featuring-bob-hoffman-york-barbell.html

  • 1932 Atlanta Police Department Gym

    Caption: “Here we see the barbell section of the Atlanta Police Department gym, under the personal, efficient, directorship of Edward Rosendahl, standing on the extreme right.  No wonder the Atlanta police force are strongly erect and vigorously alert.  They are an example which the police departments of other cities could copy with pride.  Instructor Rosendahl is the enthusiastic, aggressive type that accomplishes great things in body building training.  He also conducts two other schools in the city of Atlanta, Ga.”

    Equipment List: Based on Close Examination of Photo

    Old Time Strongman Gym Atlanta Police Department Gym: Circa 1932

    Adjustable Barbells
    Adjustable Dumbbells
    Adjustable Kettlebell Handles (Milo Bar Bell 1908 Tri-Plex Type): York improved on this design about 10 years later and we sell that type now. They are extremely versatile and are the preferred type to use for the competition type crucifix hold, found here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-handles-pair.html

    Globe Kettlebells (Milo Bar Bell Duplex Type)
    “Pro-Style” Barbells: Various Weights
    “Olympic” Plates – In a Rack
    Block Weights (I have some antique Toledo brand for sale here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/antique-toledo-block-weight-50-pounds.html

    Parallel Bars
    Wooden Seats/Benches
    Spring Steel “Crushers”
    Strands (Spring Type Chest Expanders)
    Barbells Racks
    Dumbbell Racks
    Plate Racks
    Tons of Plates
    Photos of Boxers, Wrestlers & other Strength Athletes

    Keep checking back, as I am doing an analysis of the equipment with related links, with the actual caption.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Grandpa Jackson

    Have you ever been given a tremendous gift by a dead person? I was 5 or 6 years old when my Great Grandpa C. O. Jackson died. I don't really remember ever meeting him, but I feel like I know him. I know him through the 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set that sits in my dad's basement.

    Milo Barbell Tri-Plex Kettlebells
    Milo Tri-Plex Kettlebells circa 1909

    THE MILO Barbell Tri-Plex
    The Milo Triplex is a very unusual set, that included a long dumbbell handle, wooden shovel handle style kettlebell handles, a barbell bar and the weights. As a kid, I first thought of them as Dad's weights. As I grew older they became “The strongman barbell”, because of the cool circus strongman style globe heads. Then they became my secret weapon.

    I used that secret weapon to become a good high school athlete, even though I was usually the shortest kid on the field. I wanted to do curls, but the first exercise my Dad taught me was the first one Grandpa Jackson taught him, squats. He also taught me the deadlift, upright row, press (and the power clean for getting it to the shoulder), and most importantly, the Jefferson Lift. I later learned some exercises with kettlebells: the crucifix hold and the kettlebell snatch. Eventually, he taught me swings with the kettlebells and a variety of dumbbell lifts.

    Along the way I also learned about Grandpa Jackson. I learned about how he got his middle name, which is the same as mine. The details of his life were revealed to me like the fine carpentry that made up his profession. He became a colorful individual, instead of just a name listed on some genealogical chart.

    Grandpa Jackson's barbell still works today, thirty years after I started lifting it. It was a top of the line piece of equipment and meant to last.I am sure Grandpa Jackson used some disposable things, but that is not the way I think of him. He was never wealthy, just a working class guy. Yet, exercise was important enough to him that he bought a quality barbell set. Here are some examples of quality pieces that should last for generations.

    Some other classic pieces of equipment Grandpa Jackson might have used:

    Plate Loading Kettlebell Handles
    Plate Loading Kettlebell Handles
    Atomic Athletic Iron Boots: Loaded & Unloaded
    Atomic Athletic Iron Boots: Loaded & Unloaded

    While the Kettlebell Handles that Alan Calvert designed for the Milo Triplex were really just for that specific MILO set, the handles had that spark of ingenuity which Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider would later seize.  I have no idea who originally came up with the "current" design of plate loading kettlebell handles we sell, but I have seen ads for them going back into the 1940s.  I suspect that it was the Good Barbell Company.

    As for Iron Boots, the first instance of "iron boot type" training, that I have found, comes from an old photo of Sig Klein where he is holding a dumbbell with his feet.  However, I know that Bob Hoffman owned the original patent in the 1930s.  They were an immediate hit and every barbell company had their own design, as soon as the patent expired.

    I could end this blog in a cheesy fashion by saying that we are remembered by the possessions we leave behind, but it is really much more than that. The import stuff is intangible.

    Today, that circus strongman barbell and secret weapon is inspiration. If that 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set had not been sitting in our basement, you wouldn't be reading this blog right now.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Kettlebells: the Martial Artist’s Strength Tool of Choice by Steve Cotter

     Confusion often surrounds the topic of strength training for the martial arts. There are generally two schools of thought on the subject. One school states that weight training is detrimental to martial skill acquisition because the excessive tension held in the muscles will reduce the fluidity of movement, thus robbing one’s technique of speed and power. The other school says that strength training done correctly and as a compliment to the martial skill training will increase the contractile strength of the body without sacrificing flexibility, the end result being improved speed and power.

    Where do I weigh in on this long-standing debate? Some weight training practices will indeed create sluggishness and a loss of tensile strength but only if the martial artist uses a body-building or train-to-failure approach. Any weight training will also diminish martial skill if it becomes the primary focus rather than a supplement to the martial arts skill training. Strength training, when the appropriate method is selected, will compliment and contribute to enhanced martial art skill, in the form of greater speed, power, flexibility and endurance.

    So what is the right method of strength training for the martial artist? Why should a martial artist practice strength training, and how does one begin? While there are many training tools available, kettlebells are the tools that offer the most to the martial artist’s strength training curriculum.

    How To Strength Train With Kettlebells
    Kettlebell

     Of all the physical variables that the well-rounded martial artist must address when designing the right strength training program, there are 4 in particular that kettlebells address better than other training modes: strength/endurance, mental toughness/body hardening, martial specificity, and efficiency (economy of motion).

    In a martial arts or fighting context, strength/endurance, or “enduring strength”, is the ability to fight with intensity for extended engagements. This is even more crucial than maximal strength, or the ability to deliver one very powerful blow. Maximal or limit strength is very important as well, as in knockout power, or a quick submission, but the well-rounded fighter must be prepared to deliver multiple strikes in combinations. This requires tremendous strength/endurance. Kettlebell high repetition snatches, for example, develop a strong work capacity and anaerobic threshold. This means that you learn to continue to apply power even while aerobically taxed. For the martial artist this is a very important skill. Often times it is not how strong you are when you are fresh but how strong you remain once you become winded and have expended a lot of energy that determines the outcome. Because kettlebell lifts require full-body integration, it is a much better tool for the martial artist than doing high repetition isolation movements with a barbell or dumbbell.

    Mental toughness and body hardening are listed together because they cannot be separated in the application of martial arts. One who is “mentally tough” will fold under an effective thai kick to the lower leg, if his body is not sufficiently hardened for the impact. Likewise, the fighter with a ruggedly conditioned body will eventually waiver if he is kept in an uncompromising position, such as a lock, unless his focus is perfectly sharpened and mentally tough. Kettlebell training helps to develop the necessary psycho-physical balance that is crucial to effective martial arts. In exercises like the kettlebell clean and snatch, wherein the kettlebell flips around the hand, and rests on the forearm, there is body hardening occurring due to the impact of the bell on the arm. In the early stages, the bell tends to come crashing down on the forearm, even causing pain. The perseverance to proceed is an early test of one’s mental resolve. As the techniques become more refined, there is less impact on the forearm, as one learns to move the hand fluidly inside of the kettlebell handle. Even still, the bell rests on the forearm, exerting pressure and over time increasing the density and hardness of the area. Such training as the high-repetition snatch and jerk as seen in traditional Girevoy Sport of Russia is a real test of both one’s mental resolve to persevere and physical ability to accept pain. These attributes need to be embraced by the martial artist as well.

    In sports science, the term ‘specificity’ refers to the adaptations to the physiological systems that occur as a result of the training program design. For the martial artist, the strength that is developed through supplementary weight training must be able to transfer into improved striking, kicking, grappling, trapping, and throwing skills. If your fighting techniques increase in speed, power, and focus as a result of your strength training program, then your program has a high degree of specificity to your martial art skill. If you become more sluggish and start getting hit by people that couldn’t hit you before then the strength training regimen is ill-designed and non-specific.

    Like in martial art technique, in kettlebell lifting the grip, the hips (and core), and the stance are involved in every motion. The highly ballistic nature of such exercises as swings, cleans, snatches and jerks very closely mimic the type of explosive full-body integration involved in executing effective strikes, kicks, and throws.

    Specificity - How To Integrate Kettlebells Into A Martial Arts Program

    The concept of training specificity ties in very closely with the concept of training efficiency; you won’t have one without the other. With a strength training program that is specific to enhancing martial skills, we also develop efficiency. All martial art styles pursue an economy of motion. The prevailing quality in the movement of gifted martial artists is efficiency. This is irrespective of the style and is independent of the speed of execution. Efficient movement will remain efficient whether practiced at full speed or in slow motion. Efficiency relates to using only the energy necessary to achieve the result, nothing more. It also relates to spending only the time necessary to achieve the objective, no more. In a martial analogy, this means not using 1000 pounds of force, when 4 ounces will do. If you can unbalance the opponent with only slight movement, it is more efficient than using every last bit of energy to send him off balance. When cultivating martial skill, most of one’s time should be spent on mastering the particular techniques of one’s style, not on cross-training. The strength training protocol selected should be one that allows for specific strength gains without demanding too much time away from the martial skill practice. This means relatively short, intense workouts that allow the body to remain fresh for skill practice. The specific time guidelines are relative to the experience and physical attributes of the trainee, but as a rule of thumb, the strength training curriculum should not exceed 30% of the martial artist’s total training. In other words, to be efficient with his use of time, the martial artist should spend at least 70% of the total practice time on the martial art skill training and not on lifting weights.

    To develop an efficient strength training regime, kettlebells are the ideal choice because the types of movements are similar in nature to many of the basic martial art techniques. This contributes to the economy of motion—you are not being asked to learn radically different motor patterns. Take the 2 Kettlebell “rack position’, in which 2 kettlebells are resting on your arms and body. This position is attained by taking a kettlebell in each hand and cleaning them to the top position. The kettlebells stay in the top position for a period of time. This 2 kettlebell rack position is mechanically very similar to a basic guard position, as in boxing. In a fighting stance, there of course will not be kettlebells in your hands, and one or both hands may be extended slightly in front of the body, with one foot forward. The action of the body, however, is virtually identical: the lats are “full”, in a very strong compressed position, the shoulders are relaxed and sunken, the chest is hollow and the back is rounded, the knees have a gentle bend (springy), and the tailbone is tucked slightly under. Try this: take a fighting stance of your liking and bring the hands up in a guard position. Notice how it feels in the back/lat, abdominals and ribcage. It should feel very full, alive, and powerful, like a tiger ready to pounce. Now do the 2 kettlebell clean and hold them in the rack position. The same sensation of fullness in the torso should be present.

    The similarities in mechanics required for the martial technique and the kettlebell technique make the 2 kettlebell clean/rack a highly efficient choice of exercise, due to its specificity. Because you do not have to alter the body mechanics for the two movements, there is no wasted time in your strength practice. There are numerous other examples of kettlebell drills that have a high degree of specificity, and are mechanically efficient for martial artists.

    Some of the most significant characteristics of a well-rounded martial artist are strength/endurance, mental toughness/body hardening, martial specificity, and efficiency. These 4 attributes need to be addressed when supplementing martial arts practice with weight training. Kettlebells are the tool of choice for accomplishing these objectives, and when properly integrated will increase the speed, power, endurance and movement skill of the martial artist.

    Since this article was written several years ago, Atomic Athletic has greatly expanded its offerings of strength training equipment for martial artists. Check out the following products:

     

    Tai Chi Ball Tai Chi balls have quickly become an Atomic Athletic best seller for martial artists

    Tai Chi Balls - this has rocketed to the top of the Atomic Athletic top sellers list. These are handcrafted by master woodworkers and made in the USA.

    Stone Balls are perinial favorite among martial artists.

    The Tendon and Ligament DVD is our most popular instructional video.

     Iron boots are much like the Tetsu Geta

    Kettlebell Handles are a great way to get a work out in a small space because they are so versitile.

  • East Meets West in Strength Training

    Shaolin Monks
    Roger and Shi Guolin discuss stone padlock training during a recent visit.

    I have been lifting weights for over 20 years and have been involved in one way or another with a number of sports: Olympic weighttlifting, Powerlifting, All-Round Weightlifting, Highland Games, Strongman and a variety of other sports, and I am still finding more new and exciting training methods each time I work out.

    My recent meeting with the Shaolin Monks really got me fired up for stone padlock training. The Monks showed me complex methods of strength training that blew my mind. They even showed me basic, foundation exercises that were super cool. Since then, I have been getting outstanding results in my training with stone locks. Most notably, my upper body and shoulders have never felt stronger and my forearms are reaching new levels of strength and definition with each new workout.

    After working on several of the movements the Monks showed me, suddenly I had an epiphany; something I had always wanted to try but could not previously understand. Several years ago, I read about a special training method of German Strongman Herman Goerner called “Die Kette” (the chain).

    goerner Meet Goerner

    Before I get into exactly what "The Chain" is, here is some background information on Herman Goerner for those of you who may not be familiar with him.

    He was born in Haenichen, Germany and lived from 1891-1956. He stood around 6’ tall and his weight varied from 220 in 1920 all the way up to 260 lbs during the 1930's. Goerner was one of the last great professional strongmen of the 20th century. He was particularly well known for his phenomenal hand strength and his deadlifting ability. Goerner could do a one-arm barbell clean with 297.62 lbs, a strict barbell curl with 220.46 pounds, a one hand snatch with 264.55 lbs. and a two-arm snatch with his arms crossed with 231 lbs. Also among his many outstanding lifts was a one arm deadlift of 727 ½ pounds.

    Goerner was a true physical culturalist and he employed many different training techniques to build and maintain his tremendous power. His gym in South Africa was stocked with all types of weights including globe barbells, block weights, dumbbells and kettlebells. He also had an area to practice boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.

    In his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller there was a section on how he trained.

    As I mentioned earlier, one of Goerner's favorite techniques was called “Die Kette”(the chain) and he loved to do it using kettlebells. He could do this since his gym had many different sizes of each. He began with lighter kettlebells. and did a variety of movements then moved onto the next size and performed many of the same movements. As he moved down the rack the exercises changed and adapted as the weights got heavier. Sometimes he only did one circuit, sometimes he did several.

    I thought since I have three different sizes of stone locks to use, that this would be a perfect opportunity to give “Die Kette” a try, but I would modify it with complexes, in the manner of the Shaolin Monks.

    I began with the 10 pound stone padlocks. First, I started out with some callisthenic exercises to warm up a bit. I held the locks and did some arm circles and various types of swings. I varied the speed of these movements and my shoulders were already fried. Then I did a variety of lateral raises. My shoulders were screaming by this time as were my forearms. I finished up with some wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

    justin10pl_d See a real Kung Fu master at work

    Then I immediately grabbed the pair of the 25 lb. stone locks and began overhead pressing. First as strictly as possible then as many push presses as I could. Keep in mind that I had to “stay tight” and grip the padlock tightly the whole time to be able to complete the presses. I then started what you might call curling. Due to the unique shape and leverages of the stone padlocks, all the
    stress was on my fingers and wrists and forearms. I did horizontal curls and then hammer curls and my forearms felt like they were about to explode, since
    they were so gorged with blood.

    I was huffing like a boiler at this point, but now it was time for the big
    boys. The 45 lb. padlocks were up next. I did cheat hammer curls until I
    couldn’t feel my arms. I ended the workout with a farmers walk with these up
    and down a hill near my house.

    The whole workout took maybe 30 minutes and my body was utterly destroyed. The
    next day I was so sore that I could hardly move but I was happy knowing that my
    training was working.

    Atomic Athletic will be coming out with more detailed stone lock training
    programs in the future, including traditional movements as well as many we have
    come up with on our own. Check back often and don’t miss our workout reports
    and periodic updates in the Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Here are some other tools to help in getting strong from the East and the West:
    Shaolin Muscle Tendon Change Classic DVD

    The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training

    Stone Padlock Training DVD - the tools aren't any good if you don't know how to use 'em. This is an Atomic Athletic Exclusive

    30 Pound Stone Ball - East collides with West in this Atomic Athletic exclusive granite ball. Use for strongman training or kung fu... the choice is yours. We include the instructional wall charts for FREE.

    Live Strong!

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