Kettlebell training for runners by Benoy Mathew

There are few people that have the depth of knowledge of research and diagnosis as today’s guest blogger Benoy Mathew. Ben is a big name in running rehab and I’m delighted he’s joining us today to talk kettlebell training for runners. Follow him on Twitter via @function2fitnes he shares some cracking content!..

It is well established that regular strength training is beneficial for runners and can improve running economy and performance in the endurance athlete (1, 2). One of the challenges faced by runners, interested in strength training, is access to fully equipped gyms . Bodyweight training might not be adequate to produce a sufficient training stimulus for performance gains and many runners might not have the necessary training equipment at home.

Kettlebell training can be an effective training option for runners to improve their strength and power. Their unique shape and size forces the individual to produce large amounts of force in a short period, through a large range of motion, building strength, power and co-ordination.

Kettlebell training has been around for hundreds of years and was considered the preserve of Russian soldiers and circus strongmen. There has been a recent increase in popularity and is a common training method in many athlete’s training regimes to improve explosive power

Is there much research to support Kettlebell training?

The evidence base to support kettlebell is limited and there was very little peer-reviewed research in kettlebell training, prior to 2010. A small number of studies support kettlebell training to improve explosive strength and power. I will be looking at two studies on the benefits of kettlebell training.

  • Study by Manocchia et al (3) investigated the effect of 10-week kettlebell programme in 37 subjects. When compared to a control group, the kettlebell group had significant improvements in the performance of clean and jerk and bench press. No significant differences were seen
 in vertical jump or back extension performance. However, this study did not compare the kettlebell training to a traditional weightlifting intervention.
  • A study by Lake and Lauder (4) tested whether kettlebell training could improve maximal and explosive strength . A kettlebell training group was compared to a jump squat training group over six weeks. Maximal and explosive strength were tested pre/post using a half-squat 1-repetition maximum (1RM) and vertical jump. It was found that both programmes improved maximum and explosive strength significantly and to the same extent.

How does Kettlebells compare to traditional weight-training?

To date, no study has shown that kettlebell training is superior to other modes of training for producing improvements in strength, power and atheltic performance. A study by Otto et al (5) compared the effects of 6 weeks of weight-training vs kettlebell training on strength and power in 30 healthy men. Both weight-lifiting and kettlebell training were effective in improving back squat, power clean and vertical jump ability. This finding supports the use of kettlebell exercises as an alternative form of training to improve strength and power.

Kettlebell Circuit:

An effective workout with a kettlbell can take just 15-20 minutes and can be done anywhere. I have teamed with Carl Frankland, personal trainer to design this circuit for runners. These five exercises can help you to run faster, while giving you an all-over body workout to help boost your metabolism.

  1. Kettlebell Swings
  2. Lateral Squat
  3. Dead-lift
  4. High Pulls
  5. Push-press in Split Squat

Conclusion:

The current evidence suggests that kettlebells may be an effective alternative tool to improve strength and performance. Kettlebell training works multiple groups simultaneously and is a great tool for building strength, while at the same time challenging your cardio-vascular system. For time-poor runners and those without access to gym, it is an efficient training tool to gain benefits of strength training and to improve performance.

References:

1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26694507
2 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532151
3 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22549084
4 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22207261
5 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22344061

Ben is a lower limb specialist physiotherapist and Extended Scope Practitioner in the NHS. He also works in private practice in central london (www.harleystphysio.co.uk). Ben has a special interest in Chronic Hip and Groin conditions and running injuries. He is passionate about application of research in clinical practice and is involved in regular teaching on multiple courses, both in the UK and overseas. He also provides injection therapy and shockwave therapy for suitable paients as part of their rehabiitation.

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