How to Fight Training Monotony
“Lifting for 10 minutes… Isn’t that BORING?”
Without fail, when you explain to someone that you compete in Kettlebell Sport, they will be completely floored that you do the same movement over and over for 10 minutes. “Isn’t that boring?!” they will exclaim. At the same time they consider it totally normal to do the same thing over and over for much longer in endurance sports such as running, biking, or rowing… but I guess you do get to enjoy a bit more scenery since you’re not standing in the same spot the entire time. ;)
There are so many components within the technique of each Kettlebell Sport lift that it’s unlikely your training will be boring for at least the first year or two - you’ll be much too busy thinking of the 10 things you have to remember to do for each repetition. However, there is something to be said for training monotony once you’ve been competing in the sport for several years. Doing the same lift over and over again… OF COURSE it gets boring at some point. Especially if you’re focused on achieving a high-level rank with a particular weight kettlebell, you might begin to feel like you’re banging your head against the same proverbial ceiling.
So how do you fight training monotony in a sport where you succeed by making each repetition look exactly the same as the last, and by pushing yourself to do as many repetitions as you can across a time span of 10 minutes?
First of all, you have to play mind games.
Each training should have a focus, whether it’s to work on technique, increase pace, beat a previous record, breathe more rhythmically, or soften your grip. Focused practice is the hardest kind to do, and the most important. The most successful Kettlebell Sport lifters are those who are able to stay in the moment, focusing on each minute as it comes, instead of trying to get to the end result as quickly as possible. You have to be obsessed with mastering technique in order to stay engaged with your training. If all you’re doing is counting down the reps until you’re done, you’ve already lost.
Second, avoid overtraining, and instead find your minimum effective dosage.
One of the biggest factor that can lead to training monotony is training too much. In my observation, most people training for Kettlebell Sport do too much volume. The easiest way to get burnt out on training is to train yourself into oblivion. If your body is tired, your brain will do whatever it can to convince you not to expend more energy - meaning you’re not going to feel like training. Find the minimum effective dosage that helps you progress and allows you to look forward to your training. Everyone is an individual, with their own stress load and ability to recover, so do not base YOUR minimum effective dosage on someone else’s (for most of athletes, 2-3x per week is plenty).
Third of all, there are plenty of ways you can vary up your training routine.
One piece of advice is to alternate between different events during the year, i.e. do a 8-12 week training cycle of Long Cycle, then switch to Biathlon or Snatch only for 8-12 weeks, before coming back to Long Cycle (with 1-2 weeks of deload or rest between training cycles). If you’re working toward a 10 minute set with your competition weight kettlebells, you might think you need to put in a ton of work with that particular weight kettlebell. In my opinion, you’re better off starting each training cycle back down at the light weights, and working your way up to competition weight 3-4 weeks out from competition day. Working with light weight kettlebells allows you to increase technical efficiency, and keeps you from burning out before the competition. While you want to make sure to have a good balance between interval training (1-2 minute sets with work = rest or work > rest), repetition training (2-5 minute sets with work < rest), and long sets (4-10 minute sets), there are plenty of ways to vary up your training.
Here are a few ideas for workouts to incorporate into your next training cycle:
Every Minute on the Minute x 5-10 sets: Complete a particular amount of reps each minute, then rest until the top of the next minute. For example, 8-10 reps Long Cycle with light to medium weight (you want at least 10-15 seconds rest before the next set). This is a type of interval training with work >> rest.
Instead of doing multiple sets of the same lift, incorporate drills like Swing-Clean-First dip-Jerk, Static Jerk, or Swing-Snatch before doing your main lift. You’ll still be getting volume and working technique without doing the exact same thing for all of your sets.
Ladder up in weight with 10 rep or 1 minute sets. This is a super fun way to get your volume in without lifting the same weight over and over. Plus you can test how your technique holds up with heavier weights than you’d normally use.
Instead of doing multiple Snatch sets of the same length (i.e. 4 minutes x 3 sets), go for a repetition count instead, such as 30 + 30 or 40 + 40 x 2-4 sets.
Decrease your rest on interval trainings so work > rest, which will increase the intensity and therefore decrease the number of sets you need to do. For example, complete 1.5 minutes work, 1 minute rest x desired number of sets.
For extra grip work, add a swing or clean before your regular lift. Alternatively, you can train extra long sets (think 12-20 minutes with light weight), if they don’t bore you! ;)
Programming for Kettlebell Sport can be tricky because every individual requires something different. However, there are particular guidelines you can follow to make sure you get started on the right track. Check out my 4-week Beginner Kettlebell Sport training programs or schedule an online training session with me to discuss programming by emailing email@example.com.
I hope this helps you beat training monotony for Kettlebell Sport! Chime in with your ideas on fighting training monotony in the comments - I’d love to hear from you.