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The Most Perfect of Lifts

There's no such thing as one perfect lift, but if there was it would be the Kettlebell Long Cycle 

Aka, Clean and Jerk

This lift covers pretty much all the elements we look for in a workout. 

The main elements being:

  • Upper Body Push - the jerk is driven off the legs, but your arms are definitely working 

  • Upper Body Pull - the clean is driven by the hips, but there's a genuine arm involvement

  • Hinge - the Clean

  • Squat  - the Jerk

  • Everything else - the pseudo plyometric effect, the rotation (single arm), the heart, the lungs……

Each element, gets hit, by how much depends on the manner you use in the lift.

Just as the lift can easily be adjusted to emphasise any of the three energy systems in the body.

Aerobic Fitness

A single Kettlebell clean and jerk can be done light for extended sets to target the aerobic system, single arm work has a strong element of rotation/counter rotation 

I personally enjoy 1 arm Long Cycle, changing hands every 1-2 minutes done for 20 or more minutes.

It's easy to throw in some body weight Squats or lunges every third minute.

Ok, so that's not the best video, it seems I haven't a video of light work, this is me with a 32 for 5 minutes, you want something you can go for 20+ minutes with

Anaerobic Fitness

Double heavy bells, assuming you have them and are technically proficient in using them can really give the anaerobic system something to think about.

2-5 reps, powerful, quick and controlled with 2-5 minute rests will change you.

Hopefully for the better!

Alactic Fitness

And the intermediary alactic system can and will be trained by moderate weight, single or double kettlebells moved very fast.

A session I love to hate that fits the alactic and cardiac power elements of fitness is this:

1A: Long Cycle x 40sec

1B: Jerk x 40sec

1C: Cleans x 40sec

That's 2 minutes working as hard as possible. Driving the heart rate high and keeping it there.

Rest 2 minutes and do it again 2 or 3 times.

Rest then up to 10 minutes and repeat the whole thing.

You could do this 3 times.

It sucks, it's not necessary to use that volume for anyone that isn't looking for elite levels of fitness.

Personally I'd run the 3 exercise, 2 minute set maybe 5 times with 2-5 minute rests. That's hard enough,  and I'm too long in the tooth to be worried about being elite!

The lift is technical. But less so than its Olympic big brother.

It's also slightly safer in terms of dropping the weight and the lack of a deep undersquat might be good hip longevity.

I'll assume that you're doing Squats anyhow.

A training week can be put together in several ways.

One way is to combine it with the barbell lifts.

Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 is perfect.

After deadlifts and Squats either emphasise the clean or use a single bell for time.

After the upper body lifts, use either one or two moderate to heavy bells for alactic type work, maybe not to the intensity described above.

Try minute drills, 5 reps EMOM x 10-15 rounds

Try minute on minute off, getting 8-12 reps per set for 8-12 sets.

Another method is to have one heavy barbell day, maybe a 5x5 day for Squats, Presses and Pulls.

On Day 2, alactic as described above 

On Day 3, aerobic as in one bell for time.

Long Cycle will change you for the better 

If you're brave enough to try…..


Dave Hedges 

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