What Do Waffles, Guinness, and Kettlebells Have in Common?

Interview with Jason Sanchez AKA Candidate for Master of Sport, 73kg Weight Class Best result: 125 points in 28kg Biathlon (Jerk 65, Snatch 120) at New Jersey Ironbell Challenge in June 2014

One of the ways I want to use KB Fit Britt is to promote Kettlebell Sport - providing education, information, and entertainment to both those who are just starting out in the sport, and those who have been competing for years. Interviewing fellow Kettlebell Sport athletes is a fun way to bring faces and names to the sport, as well as provide insight and advice on training - especially since many lifters in the United States train on their own.

A big challenge when training beginners in Kettlebell Sport, especially men, is getting them to accept that they have to work with the light bells for a long time before they can get to anything remotely heavy (those 16kg bells will feel pretty heavy after about three minutes, don't you worry!).

I asked my good friend and fellow Kettlebell Sport lifter Jason Sanchez to help me with some content for my blog. He is a strong and fit guy, and probably was before ever picking up a kettlebell. Thus he can provide some great insight on his own experience of moving up in weight too fast - and how "regressing" from 32kg back to 24kg really improved his lifting.

1. When and how did you discover Kettlebell Sport? I did an RKC certification in 2008 that introduced me to kettlebells. Afterward, I came across competition bells online and started doing research on the sport. In the summer of 2009 I completed a World Kettlebell Club certification. My first competition was the Ironworks Long Cycle Championship in October 2009 where I lifted 2x20kg Long Cycle.

2. When did you decide to get a coach? Chris Duffey reached out to me in 2011. He challenged me to try his coaching for one month and see if my numbers improved. They did, and he coached me to Rank 1 with the 24kg bells. He was a wealth of knowledge and experience at a point where my education in Kettlebell Sport was very limited.

3. Why is it important to get a coach for Kettlebell Sport? In every sport, a coach is necessary. With their experience, they can teach you what you need to know much more quickly than you taking the long way around to discover it on your own. By watching you lift, a coach will notice small things you don’t notice yourself. Especially in Kettlebell Sport, where both strength and endurance is required, a coach is essential to learn how to practice and program your training.

4. How do you decide when to move up in kettlebell weight? I waited three years to compete with the 32kg bells, but even that was earlier than I should have. I moved up too fast and injured myself in Snatch. One good measure that indicates you are ready to increase kettlebell weight in Biathlon (for men): hit 100 jerks and 200 snatches with the bell you are on. Another test would be to attempt Master of Sport International Class (MSIC) numbers with the bell you are working on. For Long Cycle, make sure you can go 10 minutes and hit 60-80 repetitions before increasing kettlebell weight.

5. Do you have any kettlebell role models? I don’t really have role models, but I definitely look up to lifters like Ivan Denisov and Anton Anasenko who are running the show in Russia. There is lots of inspiration here in the United States as well, but no one person in particular.

6. What is the biggest challenge for you in Kettlebell Sport? Being consistent with training and not letting life get in the way of lifting. This isn’t a sport where you can train only 1-2 times per week and do well. I recently made a career move for the better so I will have more time to train.

7. How do you protect your back under the heavy loads that you lift? Flexibility and leg strength.* You need to be flexible in the rack position so that your elbows rest on your hips, as well as hamstring and hip flexibility so you can relax your quadriceps. You need to be able to move fast to get under the bells and use your legs in jerk. If your upper and lower back are not flexible, you will have a miserable time trying to hold the rack position for ten minutes.

*To learn more about improving flexibility and mobility specific to Kettlebell Sport, check out Jason's advice on the subject.

8. Kettlebell Sport uses many repetitive movements and trainingprograms often include a lot of volume. Any advice on preventing overuse injuries? Switch up your training and make sure you have a day for recovery. Don’t skip recovery days and include workouts for restoration like yoga, mobility, and general conditioning.

9. Do you have any advice for novice kettlebell lifters? This sport is tough in the beginning - don’t dwell on the bad because it takes time to get good at the technique.

10. What do you envision for the future of Kettlebell Sport? There were new IUKL protocols released recently allowing women to lift OALC, which I think is great - we need to open up weight classes and add more events. Once we get more countries involved and get all the organizations to merge together, the sport will hopefully become a household name like CrossFit and get broadcast on T.V.

11. Do you coach Kettlebell Sport? No, I am too busy especially with my own training. I have coached Kettlebell Sport athletes before and would like to again down the road.

12. How do you recover after a hard kettlebell workout? Sometimes I will do a hot-cold recovery like sauna and swim, followed by lots of stretching. Alternatively, I will take an epsom salt bath. At the end of the week, I have a Guinness.

13. What is your favorite post-workout meal? Post-competition meal? Post-workout I like to eat rice, chicken, and avocado. If I do a heavy legs day, I’ll have steak. Post-competition I like to celebrate with pizza or waffles.

14. Anything else you would like to add? The sport is growing, which is great, but I think we need to align all of the organizations and bring the great ideas together. That way we can shift the focus to improving the sport instead of making money.

If you want to hear more from Jason Sanchez, check out his post on Kettlebell Sport mobility!