In the April 2012 issue of Black Belt, Dr. Mark Cheng, Senior RKC, one of the magazine's contributing editors, offered advice on how and why martial artists should start training with kettlebell weights. Here's some bonus interview content that didn't make it into the magazine!
When a person is starting out with kettlebell weights, should there be no pain other than normal delayed onset muscle soreness? Or is it normal to experience minor pain like, “Oh, my spine felt strange after my first few workouts”?DOMS is fine; where the DOMS exists should be of interest. For example, you’re doing Swings and feeling a lot of DOMS in your lower back. If you’re spending the majority of your day sitting and your hips don’t flex as much as your spine does, then that makes sense. The soreness means those stabilizing muscles are learning to play better, learning to get stronger. But after a couple of workouts, the DOMS should shift. Say you’re doing Swings. The soreness should shift from your lower back to your glutes and maybe a little in your thighs. The Swing actually engages a lot of muscles: Your heels dig in, your knees lock out, your glutes clench, your abs shorten and your lats engage — it’s pretty much your whole body.
How does a beginner know how heavy their kettlebell weights should be?In general, a guy of average size and strength can start with a kettlebell that weighs 16 kilograms, or about 35 pounds. For ladies, it’s usually the 8-kilogram bell, which is about 18 pounds. Of course, if you’re coming back from an injury, that will be lower. In any case, you should go with a weight you can control. On the other hand, you don’t want one that’s so light you feel like you can do everything with it.
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