Maybe the best lesson we can take from Kettlebell practice is learning to finish what we start. This might be an easier process for some, but it has always been a significant challenge for me and maybe even for a few of you. Whether our goal is 100 hand-to-hand Swings, a full 10 minute set of Long Cycle, or any other variety of goals, learning to finish what we start is essential in Kettlebells and in life.
There is a popular training theory floating around Kettlebell gyms, CrossFit boxes, and the interwebs in general that establishing proficiency & competency at a lower weight or rep-range is the key to progressing onward & upward. Some people call this “Scaled” training, and there is certainly significant validity to the theory.
Say you are training to compete in a Kettlebell Sport competition and are focusing on 16kg as an entry-point for the Long Cycle event. (There is a very honest & authentic reason for choosing this particular example.) Can you make it the entire round of 10 minutes with a pair of 16kg Kettlebells? Unless you’ve put in a lot of time under load & movement, probably not. Despite 16kg (35lbs, approximately) being sub-maximal weight, not putting those bells down for 10 minutes is much tougher than we might think. Not impossible, but tough.
We can try it. Set a timer for ten minutes, and get to Cleaning & Jerking the Kettlebells. Don’t stop until the alarm tells you it’s okay. How many reps did you get? How do you feel? Can you breathe well?
With a fair amount of conditioning & practice, yes, we probably can go the distance. We can probably even maintain a 10+ rpm cadence . . . giving us 100+ reps. Once we do, we’ve been cleared to move up in weight and compete at the 20kg or 24kg level, depending on how mighty we feel, and how much more training we’re willing to put in.
What if we didn’t make it? What if ten minutes were too many? What if our reps barely broke the double-digit mark? Is there any shame in scaling back to a lower weight, even if the weight isn’t competition standard? Yes, and it is actively encouraged by some of the best Trainers & Coaches in the business.
Start with a pair of 12kg, start with a pair of 8kg, start out Cleaning & Jerking a pair of shoes, if you must. Our goal might be a particular weight, a certain rep count, or even a time cap of 10 minutes or beyond . . . whatever we have to do to work towards our goal is encouraged. Start out with a 4 rpm pace, or 6 or 8 rpm, whatever it takes. The point is to finish what we start. It doesn’t matter if we don’t hit our goal right out of the gate. In fact, it is preferred by Nature & circumstances that we don’t. We learn more about ourselves in the process than we do in the goal. Work on the process and the goal will come to you. Rush straight for the goal, and we will come up short & uneducated almost every single time.
Training is where we learn the most about ourselves. Training is where we condition ourselves to reach our goals. Without training we are just relying on luck . . . and luck is not a consistent comrade, by any stretch. If we take our training deep enough, no height is unreachable. What we learn about ourselves in training can & should be applied to any & every other aspect of our lives. Once we learn how to be successful in one area, other areas are a matter of degree.