Book Review: Enter the Kettlebell!

Enter the Kettlebell!

About two years ago, I decided that I needed to learn how to train with kettlebells.  I didn’t necessarily feel like I had to drop a couple thousand dollars to go through the certification process, but I at least needed to know how to perform the basic movements without killing myself.  Having known a few RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) instructors already, I knew exactly where to go to learn: Pavel Tsatsouline, the godfather of kettlebell training in America.

Pavel has released probably close to a dozen books on various subjects, from abdominal training to bodyweight training to his idea of what bodybuilding programs should look like, but if there’s one thing he knows, it’s kettlebell training.  He developed the Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification for trainers and instructors and initiated the production of the first kettlebells made in America through Dragon Door.

Dragon Door kettlebells

Back in 2001 Pavel released The Russian Kettlebell Challenge in book form and with a companion DVD, and about the same time began offering his RKC certification courses.  Kettlebell training took off in America, and in the next few years they started popping up in every training studio and commercial gym you can think off.  Hell, even Wal-Mart sells them now, and you can thank (or blame) Pavel for that.

A few years later, Enter the Kettlebell! was released as essentially an updated version of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, and it too has a companion DVD to take you through all of the technical details that are hard to convey in print.  It’s noted in the book that Pavel has changed some things since the original text, and that the new book takes precedence over the old one.  So bear that in mind if you’re thinking of picking up both books.

Through the book, Pavel covers the basic kettlebell movements: the swing, the snatch, the clean and press, and the getup.  These four movements are the foundation of kettlebell training, and are most likely the biggest “bang for your buck” movements as well.  The technical details are covered quite well, with a ton of pictures on how to perform the various stages of the lifts, as well as some great pics of how NOT to do them as well.  Pavel also has a great sense of humor that is spread throughout the text and photos, which makes it a much easier read than some training books.

One caveat: I’ve heard complaints from beginners that the book is hard to comprehend without the DVD to go with it.  I picked up on the text descriptions just fine with help from the photos, but then again, I have several years of training under my belt so I probably pick up on the little stuff quicker than a newer lifter.  So you may want to dish out a few extra bucks and get the DVD to be safe.  It can’t hurt, it’s just as entertaining as the book, if not a bit more.

One last thing: the warmup movements that Pavel recommends before workouts are worth the price of the book alone.  They’re pretty simple, but amazingly effective.

Rating: 8.5/10
Price: $34.95 from Dragon Door Publications