Yahont

Master Kettlebells and Dumbbells – Interview with Yahont (Part 1)

I’m proud to present you the first part of my exclusive interview with a strongman and my fellow countryman Yahont in my free translation. This man is inspirational. Now you are able to read his story and to know the principles that lie behind his training. And you know what? The main principles are the same: consistency, determination, perseverance etc. Are you interested? Then read on.

Hi, Yahont! How you doing? Tell us more about yourself.

Hi, Alex. I started training in 2005. At first it was swimming and stuff. The next two and a half years I trained with a dumbbell. There were basic exercises: curl and press. The dumbbell was 7,5 kg at first, then 16 kg. I did high reps. I always strove to lift a heavier dumbbell. I couldn’t go beyond 45 kg that time. With time I changed my training protocol to lower reps. From the beginning of 2007 my approach to training and physical culture became more serious. I started using 8 sets of 5 reps scheme. By the way, I started training with kettlebells in 2008. So there is an infinite struggle for me on what to choose for my training – kettlebell or dumbbell? Now I want to break new PRs with a dumbbell, for example. I still will be training with kettlebells. I will be doing Kettlebell Double Front Squat, Kettlebell Clean, maybe I will be doing Kettlebell Double Military Press and Kettlebell Double Push Press periodically. I probably would be doing Bench Press and One-Arm Push Press with a dumbbell. I would be striving for 6-8 reps.

What’s the difference between kettlebells and dumbbells in your opinion?

Dumbbell provides you with such skills that kettlebell cannot and vice versa. For example, to lift a stone you need strong wrists. Dumbbells are strengthening wrists. This is the advantage of dumbbell comparing to kettlebells. Dumbbells provide full range of motion. For example there is a difference between a kettlebell press and dumbbell press. Kettlebell is easier on start because it’s resting on a forearm. Slight motion, and it’s moving. With dumbbell it’s different. You hold a dumbbell just in your hand at start. That’s why working with dumbbell may be actually heavier.

However, if you don’t work with kettlebell it will be an opposite situation. Kettlebell lifting requires skills. That’s why by combining kettlebell and dumbbell training you can acquire quite well-rouded strength in your arms and shoulders. Here’s my observation. If you feel that you become weaker in dumbbell lifting, then you need to work with dumbbell. If you like to lift stones or sandbags, you would be better training with dumbbell. If you like to lift with your both arms, then it’s better to lift kettlebells rather than dumbbells. Because dumbbells weren’t purposed for this. I often see people take pair of dumbbells, take them to their shoulders and do half reps. It’s not a press, it’s lockout. Press is a press. Imagine that you press a barbell. You need to press from your chest. Your hands need to be under your chin when you press. The same is true for kettlebells. When you press kettlebells from the position when they are resting on your shoulders you need just to straighten your arm a little bit and that’s all. It’s not a press.

What is heavy press? Here’s Yahont pressing a pair of 50 kg kettlebells

What are your tips on pressing?

You can’t press a pair of kettlebells like a barbell. You need to take your arms to sides. If you don’t do this, then your elbows will hurt and you won’t be able to lockout the bells. Kettlebell Double Military Press is very interesting and hard exercise. I was very interested in Dumbbell One-Arm Press until 2010. Then I became very interested in Kettlebell Double Military Press for maximum. It’s interesting because maximum results in this exercise aren’t explored yet. Just look at powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting – you know the best results in different categories. But Kettlebell Double Military Press is not that explored. In the internet there’s only one video of Englishman Rob Russel who push presses 2 kettlebells of 60 and 48 kg. And his weight is 140 kg [Here’s his blog].

He probably could press a pair of 56 kg kettlebells for a single or double. I’m interested in developing pressing power for double press. I had a training session in double press in 2010 with a pair of 44 kg kettlebells. I wasn’t good in pressing 44’s that time. So I pressed them for doubles. After fifth-seventh set I felt an uplift in energy. And I pressed them 5 times in the last set!

To become good at pressing a pair of kettlebells you need to clean them more frequently. You can face a problem that you can press heavier bells, but can’t clean them yet. When total weight of the bells will be equal to your bodyweight, you will need decent power to clean them. You will need to train explosiveness to clean them. You can clean them either with pre-swing or through explosiveness. You need to train explosiveness of legs, and it is trained well with dumbbell push press. One more thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s good to do front squats with kettlebells after dumbbell or kettlebell push presses. You take heavy dumbbell or heavy kettlebell and push press it in schemes 5 sets of 5 or 8 sets of 5.

I’d like to do an experiment now. I haven’t trained for 1,5 month due to disease. I will take a 54 kg dumbbell with thick handle (5 cm (2 inch)). I will do sets of 6 reps. And I will strive for 6 sets of 6. Then I will add reps to 6×7, then 6×8. I tried such training. It felt in wrists. I weaned of dumbbell training. The next day I was sore in shoulders. But it was good, pleasant soreness. The next day I went to the beach and pressed an 80 kg stone overhead. And I couldn’t press it earlier because of its awkwardness. When I worked with kettlebells this stone was “unpressable” for me. When I reintroduced dumbbell work to my training, I was able to press it. It’s hard to push press a stone because it’s awkward and has a form of prism. But not ideal prism. When you clean it, one of its edges pushes right into your chin. Second thing is its center of gravity is off-axis. And when you press it, stone tries either to fall forward or on your head. It’s not a good idea to drop a stone on your head. It’s not good for your health also. So the only way is press it up. When you press kettlebell your arm goes either forward or sideways. It doesn’t straighten like if you take just your arm up. It’s because of the center of gravity. And when you press dumbbell your muscles work in slightly different manner. Next thing is that you need to lower down weights under control. It will prevent injuries.


That’s it for the first part. Second part of the interview will be out as soon as possible.

Stay tuned for more on rough training.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

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3 thoughts on “Master Kettlebells and Dumbbells – Interview with Yahont (Part 1)

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  2. Pingback: Master Kettlebells and Dumbbells – Interview with Yahont (Part 2) « Gain Strength, Build Muscle, Get Ripped Rough – Alex Zinchenko's RoughStrength.com

  3. Pingback: Master Kettlebells and Dumbbells – Interview with Yahont (Part 2) | Alex Zinchenko's Rough Strength

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