Kettlebell Sport – Life as a House

Today I'm bringing you a guest post from Master of Sport kettlebell lifter Renee Martynuik. If you've ever been to a competition with Renee, you definitely know who she is - she's the person who was cheering for you even if you had no idea who she was.Renee completely embodies the welcoming attitude and supportive environment that makes Kettlebell Sport so fun to compete in. Here are a few wise words from her four years of Kettlebell Sport lifting and coaching experience.

Kettlebell Sport – Life as a House

Kettlebell Sport is growing at an unprecedented rate in North America and as a result, all lifters – new and experienced – are looking for ways to grow and excel. As competitive human beings, we naturally want to go farther, push harder, and get better at what we do. We study videos, talk to others, take clinics, listen to our coaches, and put in endless hours of work. What happens, though, when all that work isn’t translating into an increase in performance? Have you taken stock of how your house is built? I am a huge fan of analogies and I analogize everything – I mean eh-va-ry-thing – so saddle up, partner! It’s time for Kettlebell Sport – Life as a House.

Much like any house, each event in Kettlebell Sport has its own blueprint – its own group of fundamental building blocks that must be mastered before moving forward. These fundamentals are the foundation of your house, and your house will only be as strong as the materials used to build it. Let’s start from the bottom up. A house can only stand strong on firm ground. Literally, this translates into the floor you are working on, the shoes on your feet, and the condition of your feet, toes, and ankles. Find a flat and stable floor, weightlifting shoes with a thick heel, and work everyday to produce strong yet flexible feet and ankles.

Once the space for the basement is roughed out, we start pouring the concrete with the most basic, absolutely necessary building block of Kettlebell Sport – the swing. How is your swing? Do you have it mastered? Do you practice it every day? If not, your basement will be constructed of weak material that allows the water to seep in and degrade the foundation of every single lift you attempt. Degraded foundation? Make no mistake – your house will collapse. Ergo – work that swing like a full-time job.

On the foundation, we build the rooms in our house – the clean, the jerk, and the snatch. Each of these rooms / disciplines may share similar characteristics, but each is constructed very differently. Each takes very different and specific mind-body paths to execute. When we get frustrated with the way the rooms look, maybe it’s time to take a look at how the walls were constructed. Are the angles right? Do the pieces fit? Is everything level? One little weak point in a wall – especially a load-bearing one – can cause an entire house to cave. Small deficits in technique accumulate over time to hinder progress or create one big giant ball of injury. If your house is caving, maybe it’s time to totally dismantle the walls and rebuild them from scratch. Step back from your current practice to absolutely solidify your fundamentals at lower weights before moving too far, too fast. Too often I see lifters pushing themselves beyond their limits in pursuit of rank or being ‘the best’ but take heed from my personal experience - building a house too quickly will surely see it crumble. That’s why we don’t buy houses during an economic boom, right?

A key takeaway piece here is that each person builds a different house – no two are identical. While we may have the same building blocks, and may even use the same materials in the same way, there is always going to be an “X” factor that separates the elite from the mainstream lifters (if this wasn’t the case, we’d all be Olympians). The sooner you make peace with that little nugget, the more heartache and frustration it will save you in the future.

The point is to build the best house you can with the best material you can find. Try to remember…Rome wasn’t built in a day, guys. Your house won’t be either. Keep trying.

Renee Martynuik is a member of Team Foundry from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has been competing in Kettlebell Sport for 4 years. She holds a Master of Sport in Long Cycle, and Candidate for Master of Sport in both Biathlon and Snatch under the American Kettlebell Alliance (AKA) ranking system.