Enter The Kettlebell
Book Review: Enter the
Kettlebell, Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen
Brian Stramel, CPT
I purchased the
"Enter the Kettlebell" book in August of 2006 while serving in
Afghanistan. I got it quickly with typically great service
Immediately after ordering, I got an email with a number of bonus
items. The bonuses were videos and .pdf files of tips and
alternate exercises as well as the kettlebell
video on how kettlebells are made, very cool.
Since I brought my 24kg (52lb) kettlebell
with me to Afghanistan, I was able to go through the “Enter
the Kettlebell” program over the course of the next 8 months.
The book is very well written with
typical Pavel humor. The main standouts are the detailed
photos showing the exercises including what not to do, as well as some
easier progressions. I also really enjoyed the extra
historical detail provided about kettlebells
and kettlebell lifting. It isn’t too much that it detracts
from the utility of the subject.
Basically, the core of the Enter the
Kettlebell book is two different exercise programs known as “The
Program Minimum” and the “Rite Of Passage” with the stated goal to make
you a “Man Among Men” by achieving 200 snatches in 10 minutes as well
as being able to one arm press a kettlebell
closest to ½ your body weight (for men) and ¼ your weight for women.
The Enter the Kettlebell “Program
Minimum” is simply 5 minutes of Turkish Get-ups alternating sides (one
each) followed by 12 minutes of kettlebell swings alternated with a
light aerobic activity such as jogging. This is the beginner
While this routine is simple and
effective, I do have one problem with it that became glaringly obvious
when I returned home and watched my wife do it. That problem
is with the Turkish Get-up.
While it is a great exercise, it is hard
to do well and I think Pavel takes this for granted. The
first time I watched my wife do them I noticed her feet externally
rotating and her knees bending inward. This is indicates
overly tight adductor muscles (inner thighs) as well as weak gluteus
medius/maximus among other things.
Anyway, these are common postural
problems for a large percentage of the American population (especially
the knees bending inward during squatting movements) and need to be
corrected. Doing the exercise improperly will only make the
So, the Turkish Get-Ups are great if you
do them right. Get the DVD and study it along with the book
and have someone else watch you paying attention to your feet and knees.
Moving on, the Enter the Kettlebell
“Rite Of Passage” involves lots of presses in a ladder fashion which
allows for a high volume workout with plenty of rest between
reps. After the press ladders you do either swings or
snatches (depending on the day) for a number of minutes as determined
by rolling a pair of dice. The days are broken up into easy,
medium and hard. I really like this as it allows for complete
recovery and found no problem following the program as
written. Over the course of 2-3 months I progressed up to 5
sets of 1-5 rep ladders with my 24kg (52lb) kettlebell.
After a break of about a month I did it again working up to
the full 5 sets of 1-5 reps with a 28kg (61lb) kettlebell.
The Enter the Kettlebell workouts
definitely work and have enough variety in the easy-medium-hard layout
as well as the rolling dice to determine length.
So, was it effective? Well, in
June of 2007, I was able to do 202 snatches with my 24kg kettlebell
in Kabul Afghanistan at an altitude of 6000 feet! I was very
stoked to have completed that goal. My conditioning has never
been better in terms of anaerobic capacity and recovery time.
I also dropped 20 lbs over the course of the year due to both my
kettlebell workouts as well as some small dietary changes (I cut out
most sugar and fried food).
As far as the pressing goal, I don’t
have an 88lb kettlebell (yet) but I have pressed an 85 lb barbell so I
got close to that goal…but I’m still working on that one. I
am able to press 2 70lb bells for multiple reps which I never could do
In conclusion, “Enter
The Kettlebell, Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen” is a
great book. I really enjoyed the writing and humor (favorite
section title; “It’s Your Fault: Kettlebell Safety 101”.) as well as
the detailed instruction. It also has a neat FAQ at the
end. Approach the Turkish Get-Up with caution and make sure
your form is good. This book is easy to follow and gives very
specific guidance and workouts that will greatly improve your strength
and conditioning. I got the book by itself, but if you are
new to kettlebells, you should also get the Enter the Kettlebell DVD or
better yet a quick
Good luck in your training
Check out other products for men and
women, including my review on Kettlebell
Solutions for Speed and Explosive Strength, Mike Mahler.
the Enter the Kettlebell book and DVD here!