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  1. #1
    Robokevin's Avatar
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    Can kettlebells be a drop-in replacement for Lift Heavy Things?

    Hello all,


    I'm new to primal, but a long time girevik. I see the kettlebells seem to be popular on the forum, which makes me happy.


    My question is regarding the "Lift Heavy Things" directive. Do kettlebells count as heavy things? I've always considered kettlebells being more for conditioning, and the phrase "Lift Heavy Things", I associate with power lifting and olympic lifting (Which are fine forms of exercise that I personally do not enjoy).

    Is a basic hardstyle routine enough? I'm talking turkish getups, swings, snatches, clean and press, military press, squats (goblet, overhead), renegade rows, etc. The max that I swing is a 106lb and the max that I military press (one arm, obviously) is 70lb. I am a big boy though.

    This is a 3-day a week thing and combined with lots of hiking with my dog and (soon to be) weekly sprinting workouts.

    I'm more than happy with this routine (I've been doing kettlebells for several years) for my strength and conditioning needs, but because the book is so focused on hormonal changes and gene expression, I was wondering if this would not cut the muster as far as lifting heavy things is concerned.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Robokevin; 02-09-2012 at 06:02 AM.

  2. #2
    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robokevin View Post
    Hello all,


    I'm new to primal, but a long time girevik. I see the kettlebells seem to be popular on the forum, which makes me happy.


    My question is regarding the "Lift Heavy Things" directive. Do kettlebells count as heavy things? I've always considered kettlebells being more for conditioning, and the phrase "Lift Heavy Things", I associate with power lifting and olympic lifting (Which are fine forms of exercise that I personally do not enjoy).

    Is a basic hardstyle routine enough? I'm talking turkish getups, swings, snatches, clean and press, military press, squats (goblet, overhead), renegade rows, etc. The max that I swing is a 106lb and the max that I military press (one arm, obviously) is 70lb. I am a big boy though.

    This is a 3-day a week thing and combined with lots of hiking with my dog and (soon to be) weekly sprinting workouts.

    I'm more than happy with this routine (I've been doing kettlebells for several years) for my strength and conditioning needs, but because the book is so focused on hormonal changes and gene expression, I was wondering if this would not cut the muster as far as lifting heavy things is concerned.

    Any thoughts?
    You're overthinking the matter. Are kettlebells heavy things or are they light things?

  3. #3
    Leida's Avatar
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    It depends how heavy your KB is & which lifts you are doing. KBs can be used for dynamic and explosive training as well as for heavy lifting. If you are pooped on 5th repetition, and fail by the 8th, well, it's heavy.

    However, always keep in mind the Primal Prime Directive: You shall enjoy your fitness
    My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
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    Um, dude if you're pressing 70lbs and snatching 100lbs... you're lifting heavy things. Props man.

    However, you need to actually lift external weight to lift heavy. You mention you don't enjoy conventional barbell lifting, have you ever considered bodyweight training? You're a big dude by your own admission and you get down with kettlbells, so automatically I thought of old time strongmen that were bigger, moved big weight and could also do impressive things with their bodies, most of them related to gymnastics.

    check out: Oldtime Strongman Strength Training Equipment Books and Courses

    You may want to see if you can train towards handstands for instance, also levers and other such things. If you're pretty big, progress slowly, as a lot of these require you lay a foundation for your joints and tendons. Doing a handstand push up is pretty intricate (even against a wall) and requires a good deal of strength, even if you're only moving your own bodyweight. If that is too easy, you're definitely strong, so get a weight vest and keep challenging yourself. Look into L-sits, single leg squats (aka "pistols") ... which reminds me, this article is pretty great: Muscles of Iron - Articles

    You may also enjoy sandbag training, cheap and effective way to move weight. Highly recommend: Sandbag Fitness

    other resources: Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out!, Beast Skills

    basically, expand your horizons on what lifting heavy means. I have absolutely nothing against bar bell training, and it's probably the most direct way to 'lift heavy things' but it's certainly not the only one.

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    iniQuity's Avatar
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    Um, dude if you're pressing 70lbs and snatching 100lbs... you're lifting heavy things. Props man.

    However, you need NOT actually lift external weight to lift heavy. You mention you don't enjoy conventional barbell lifting, have you ever considered bodyweight training? You're a big dude by your own admission and you get down with kettlbells, so automatically I thought of old time strongmen that were bigger, moved big weight and could also do impressive things with their bodies, most of them related to gymnastics.

    check out: Oldtime Strongman Strength Training Equipment Books and Courses

    You may want to see if you can train towards handstands for instance, also levers and other such things. If you're pretty big, progress slowly, as a lot of these require you lay a foundation for your joints and tendons. Doing a handstand push up is pretty intricate (even against a wall) and requires a good deal of strength, even if you're only moving your own bodyweight. If that is too easy, you're definitely strong, so get a weight vest and keep challenging yourself. Look into L-sits, single leg squats (aka "pistols") ... which reminds me, this article is pretty great: Muscles of Iron - Articles

    You may also enjoy sandbag training, cheap and effective way to move weight. Highly recommend: Sandbag Fitness

    other resources: Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out!, Beast Skills

    basically, expand your horizons on what lifting heavy means. I have absolutely nothing against bar bell training, and it's probably the most direct way to 'lift heavy things' but it's certainly not the only one.

    (for some reason I can't delete my other comment. I meant to say you DON'T have to lift external loads all the time for it to be considered lifting heavy)

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    You're overthinking the matter. Are kettlebells heavy things or are they light things?
    I don't know. I don't feel like it was really a stupid question. No I would not consider a 106lb kettlebell a "heavy thing", considering that an average guy my size can deadlift at least a 400 lb barbell. But kettlebell training is a lot different than traditional weight training.

    Kettlebells -- at least the way I train them, and at my current level of training, do not build mass or strength as much as conditioning. However I am at a point in my life where I am happy with my strength level, and only train for fun and to maintain conditioning.

    I just was wondering if these heavy-ish 'metcon' (to borrow a word from CF...I am not a crossfitter BTW) circuits would serve the gene expressive and hormonal response properties that are so important in the primal blueprint.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leida
    f you are pooped on 5th repetition, and fail by the 8th, well, it's heavy.
    No, this isn't really how I train at all. I'll clean and press for 5 ladders building from 1 rep to 5 reps...ie set of 1, set of 2, set of 3, set of 4, set of 5....and then repeat that sequence 5 times.

    Then it's sets of swings or snatches with little rest in-between, usually 10-15 sets of 20 reps. That's a standard ETK RoP (yeah kettlebellers like acronyms just as much as Mark) workout.


    iniQuity you seem like a real sharp guy. I didn't mean to indicate that I used those weights for reps. Maybe I can get one ladder of C&P with the 70lb bell. And I'll swing the beast for a set or two but that's it. I can snatch it once, but not for reps.

    I love old time strongman. I used to shy away from bodyweight stuff just because I was so bad at it, being such a large framed guy. But maybe I'm thinking about it the wrong way, maybe being 'bad' is in fact 'good' because I will be able to get more training out of the exercises. It will certainly be tough, at least for now -- im about 260 (205 lbm).

    Are you familiar with ross enamait's stuff? I used to love those books, maybe I need to get out Never Gymless, I never really gave it a chance (though I used Infinite Intensity so much that it fell apart).
    Last edited by Robokevin; 02-09-2012 at 05:18 PM.

  7. #7
    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
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    I think they qualify just fine - as long as they are challenging. The only thing I'd say is to keep some distinction between the conditioning workouts and the strength workouts - but your approach to ladders and complexes will probably achieve this anyway.

    And I'd agree that a little bodyweight work should also be added - Ross or Al Kavadlo do some good stuff

  8. #8
    JeffC's Avatar
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    Long time KB advocated too, if you are fine with where you are, who cares. Given your conditioning level though, I would have thought that something along the lines of Power to the People emphasizing a few high quality, heavy reps was more along the lines of lift heavy things. Why not try different programs for a few months at a time and see what pleases you? I would not let yourself get paralysis by analysis because of a few words in the Primal Blueprint, you obviously are advanced to work through it yourself

  9. #9
    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robokevin View Post
    I don't know. I don't feel like it was really a stupid question. No I would not consider a 106lb kettlebell a "heavy thing", considering that an average guy my size can deadlift at least a 400 lb barbell. But kettlebell training is a lot different than traditional weight training.
    I didn't say it was a stupid question. I said you're overthinking it. The rule is "Lift Heavy Things," not "Do a powerlifting workout on a pre-determined schedule that consists of specific lifts as defined by Mark Sisson."

    Your question was whether kettlebells meet the definition of heavy things in the context of the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws. The answer is a glaringly obvious yes. (See, I still didn't say the question was stupid )

    If your question is whether kettlebells are the absolute optimal workout for attaining your specific goals, then ask it. My point is that it's not the same question. (Also, it seems like they're a perfectly fine option for your specific, personal goals, which again leads to the same conclusion on my part).

  10. #10
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    I downloaded the ebook last week and learned that lift heavy things includes doing exercises without any weights at all, such as squats, push-ups, planks etc. That made me feel pretty good since that's all I do and I've seen great results just doing such simple things, even doing them fairly "wimpy", like on my knees.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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