The addition of kettlebell training to the runner's list of supplemental exercises has proven to be very beneficial. Kettlebells look like a cannonball with a handle attached and come in a variety of weights. They are easily transported, which makes them ideal for taking outdoors to wherever your team is training. They are great for circuit training, or incorporating as a stand alone exercise activity to assist in the development of core strength.

Kettlebells arrived in the US in the late 1990s. Pioneered here by Pavel Tsatsouline, nicknamed the Soviet Superman, who taught strength training to Russian KGB agents and special forces for the Russian military. Pavel proclaimed that kettlebell exercises allow for greater gains in muscle coordination and kinesthetic awareness. Using movements that incorporate lifting, pulling, pushing and reaching, he observed that more muscles and joints were involved in each kettlebell movement, including the "stabilizer" muscles in the core, hips and posterior chain. The dynamic and ballistic nature of the kettlebell exercises help build better balance, muscular endurance and general strength, and also help correct imbalances incurred during the repetitive movements in distance running.

Track and XC coaches started using kettlebell training about 10 years ago. Originally they introduced this new training method to break up the monotony and lack of weight training facilities, but they quickly discovered that there were significant gains being made by their athletes in both core and muscular strength. This new training also triggered responses to different parts of the central nervous system, which also resulted in performance improvements. Other benefits showed gains in foot strength, and reduced injuries by working the smaller muscles and tendons, as well as a greater range of motion in the metatarsals. This helped improve running efficiency, and also decreased days lost in training due to injury. Strengthening the feet also gives a more powerful toe off resulting in faster times.

We integrate kettlebell workouts at least two times each week. The Kettlebell Swing is the foundation of the workout, and stimulates a variety of muscle groups. The number os Kettlebell Swings is one unit we use in measuring our workouts. Typically we begin each season with a baseline of 30 Kettlebell Swings/workout, and we progress by 5-10 each workout depending on the athlete's strength and ability. The movement required in the swings really stimulates the muscles used in the rotation of the spine, and promotes better muscle and joint mobility. It is also the Go To exercise for fat burning and for building healthier, fitter and ultimately faster runners. Over the course of a training month we may try to incorporate 10 kettlebell sessions, and in the immortal words of Pavel Tsatsouline "Repeat until Strong."

Sample Kettlebell Exercises
► Swings
► Deadlift to Press
► Side Plank & Press
► Torso Rotations
► Lunge & Press
► Squats
► Upright Row
► Farmers Walk
► Russian Twists
► Windmill

XC Edge Supplemental Work

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Hurdle Mobility, Fred Doyle
Kettlebells, Fred Doyle
Medicine Balls, Fred Doyle
Mini-Bands, Fred Doyle
Plyometrics, Fred Doyle