Strength and Power!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honestly, I have to admit, there have been times in my life when I felt like I knew it all.

This became extremely difficult when raising teenagers, because all of a sudden there were too many people in our household that knew it all....and the only thing we agreed on was that the others knew absolutely nothing at all.

I have since gained a certain amount of humility, enjoying the process and wonder of learning new things.

So these past few years, I've gained a lot of hard earned knowledge on health, fitness, and diet. I've spent a lot of time in the gym, doing hard cardio to burn calories and lifting heavy weights to get stronger.

But I never really knew about.....POWER!

When I started lifting weights 3 years ago, I wanted to do a full body workout to get stronger and build muscle. A great side benefit has been a total re-shaping of my body, losing inches in the waist and gaining inches in chest, shoulders, legs and back. And so I embarked on a journey to continuously improve my lifts and recently became very interested in competing in Powerlifting meets a couple of times a year. (See blog )

In Powerlifting you do 3 main lifts (squats, deadlift, and bench press) to see how much weight you can do on each. I've been diligent in my training and have made great strides. But all this time I was focused on getting stronger (hence the SP name), not more powerful.

To be honest, I thought strength and power were synonymous and didn't really pay any attention to the nuanced difference.

But there's a big difference! Stay with me.....

A few weeks ago, I became interested in kettlebells.

I'd always thought they were a geeky fad...something that nutty crossfitters did when they ran out of ideas on how to hurt themselves

In any case, I decided to start using them to help aid me in some recovery that would take a couple of weeks.....and I am now hooked!

I watched a couple of youtube videos, read a bunch of on-line articles, grabbed a 35 lb kettlebell at my gym....and started swinging. I'm thinking, "35 lbs, should be pretty easy, let me start with that, then I'll grab those 54 lbers"

WOW, was I wrong.

The difference was between strength.....and power.

I'm pretty strong. I can deadlift and squat almost twice my bodyweight. What the hell can be so hard about swinging a 35 lb cannonball?

But swinging a weight requires's about using your body (mostly hips, back and hamstrings....the Posterior Chain) to generate force to get that 35 lb kettlebell moving....and to keep it moving.

It's about moving heavy weights FAST....and that's a whole different level of conditioning.

I've been amazed that this never occurred to me before (remember when I said there have been times in my life when I felt like I knew it all). I always thought the choice was between strength training and one or the other.

But kettlebells combine the have to have strength to generate the power to swing that ball....and your whole body is working incredibly hard to keep it moving for a set period of time.

So far I've been doing a variety of swing intervals....swing for 30 seconds & take a 60 sec break. My heart rate gets up to the 80% range during the swings and down to the 60% range on the break. I started doing alternating hand swings and have to admit....they're pretty darn cool. It adds a focused thinking element to the out for a second and that cannonball is smashing into the wall, the floor, or your foot!

I asked around our gym to see if there was anybody that had any training on kettlebells and the manager told me that he had a couple of guys on staff that would show me how to safely do a workout and would correct my form....SCORE!

So we'll see how this goes. I've been wanting to find something new anyway. This has been a great adjunct to my weight lifting. I do 20-30 minutes of kettlebell work after lifting and have found that it really loosens me up and it has really helped my posture, endurance, and flexibility.

Thanks for reading Spark friends...have a great night!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love, love kettle bells!


    It's always fun to find something new.

    2662 days ago
    hope you are well, and yes we all had a brilliant time
    2662 days ago
    2668 days ago
    Wow great blog, I am still trying to master how to use them, do you think it is better that I remain using light dumbbells for now?

    Anyway it is hard for you to answer, I think I will wait a little longer until I build up my strength since I lack in this area

    have a great week
    2671 days ago
    I don't think I'm allowed to use kettle balls, being somewhat clutzy at times. Mine would definitely do some damage to someone, something, myself or any combination of these. I think I will just stick to my sais. They are not as likely to break a foot or any other part of me /someone else when I make contact. Plus they are just cooler emoticon

    2675 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4876431
    Awesome!!! I love trying new things and kettlebells are really fun:) You can do a lot with them and they are a hard workout in little time. We did both swings and get ups this week as part of our workout. Last week we did cleans and I got a compliment on my form. That rarely happens:) I am usually the one who the trainer has to work with repeatedly til I get it:)
    Happy swinging:)

    2679 days ago
    emoticon The Kettlebells are deceptively addictive, but that is OK because they are also very Effective!
    2686 days ago
    Love it! I really never thought about strength vs power either until your blog. Learn something new everyday! I had used kettlebells before in the one bootcamp I used to attend. I called it 'the hardest bootcamp I've ever been to'. Kettlebells definitely had something to do with that ;) Way to go on finding a new way to challenge yourself. Keep it up!

    2686 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    I'd LOVE to have someone show me how to use them the right way! emoticon
    2687 days ago
    I'll admit that I think the same way (a geeky fad). But your explanation has added some allure to the workout. Might just have to try it.
    2687 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3494791
    Here is two Kettlebell Workouts by Paul Katami

    Ultimate Kettlebell Workout for Beginners

    Kettlebell Kombos
    2687 days ago
    Fantastic, that you keep trying new things! If you go on that way, soon you will really know it all! ;-)
    emoticon emoticon
    2687 days ago
  • NEPTUNE1939
    You have me interested. I'll have to look into it. emoticon
    2687 days ago
    Ha! I have a know-it-all preteen too. You're a good writer, I always like your blogs. I've been wanting to try kettlebells too. Maybe I'll ask at the gym tonight if they can help me figure them out.
    2687 days ago
    Great insights!

    I think that in terms of overall physical fitness dancers and martial artists have the rest beat. Strength, endurance, flexibility, power, balance, and grace, all in one discipline.
    2687 days ago
    I'm always up for a two for one! emoticon
    2687 days ago
    Very interesting, thanks so much for sharing this info!
    2687 days ago
    So awesome! I have two Bob Harper DVD workouts that use Kettlebells and I love them! :) Good for you!
    2688 days ago
    I am so glad you wrote this blog! I never thought of combining strength training and cardio or that I could do both with kettle bells. I am actually excited about this and about getting back into the gym again. And you mention posture, which is a major item that I need to work on. On a conscious level, I am trying to correct my bad habit of slouching - kinda went with the role of care-giver, but correcting it on a physical level has to be a critical element to lasting good posture.

    Pointing out the difference between power and strength - again something I, too, wudda never thought of - has now qualified you in my book as someone who knows it all. OK, retraction. You know more than your teenagers ever THOUGHT they knew.

    Awesome blog!
    2688 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/28/2014 12:14:13 PM
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