Girevoy Sport. Long cycle. Kettlebell training. Kettlebells for fitness. Kettlebell types of training.

An Introduction to Kettlebell Long Cycles

Welcome to the world of Girevoy Sport and the dynamic, comprehensive workout that is the Kettlebell Long Cycle. In this post, we shall delve into the technique of this exercise and explore its myriad benefits in improving strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

Introduction

The kettlebell ‘long cycle’ is a cornerstone of Girevoy Sport (GS) or kettlebell sport, renowned for its ability to enhance strength, endurance, and overall functional fitness. Widely embraced by athletes across various disciplines, its integration into fitness routines has surged owing to its versatile nature and comprehensive benefits for physical conditioning.  In this post, we delve into the exercise, exploring its fundamentals and the profound impact it can have on your workout regimen. With a keen focus on understanding its core principles and advantages, we’ll unveil how this exercise can elevate your fitness journey.

Girevoy Sport. Long cycle Snatch. Types of kettlebell training. Kettlebells for fitness. Kettlebell training.

The mentality required for the Long cycle combines discipline, resilience, and a relentless drive to push through physical and mental barriers.

About the exercise:

The kettlebell long cycle entails a dynamic sequence.  It starts with swinging the kettlebell between the legs. This is followed by a smooth transition to cleaning it to the rack position. It culminates in a powerful jerk overhead. Targeting multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, legs, back, arms, core, and shoulders, it stands out as a full-body workout. Renowned for its ability to boost functional work capacity, strength, power, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness, it’s often executed for high repetitions or set durations. Mastering proper technique and form is paramount to harnessing its full potential while mitigating injury risks.

Unlike traditional clean and jerks, where each repetition starts from a stationary position, the KB LC requires fluid transitions between the clean and jerk phases without pause, demanding precise timing and control throughout the entire movement.

About Girevoy Sport (GS)

GS is a competitive discipline originating from Russia, emphasising strength and endurance. Athletes, known as gireviks, aim to complete as many repetitions as possible within a set time frame. They focus on lifts such as the snatch, jerk, and long cycle using one or two kettlebells. This demanding sport requires both physical and mental stamina, with participants prioritising technique, efficiency, and total body conditioning to excel. The sport has gained popularity in various other countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, European nations, and parts of Asia

Benefits

Kettlebell long cycles offer several benefits. Click on the links below for more details.

Long cycles engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the shoulders, arms, core, legs, and back, providing a comprehensive workout in a single exercise.

The dynamic movements involved in long cycles help to build muscular strength, particularly in the shoulders, legs, and core, due to the combination of lifting and stabilizing the kettlebell weight.

Performing long cycles for high repetitions or extended durations challenges cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and mental stamina, making it an effective conditioning exercise.

The explosive nature of the clean and jerk movements in long cycles helps to develop power, speed, and coordination, which are essential for athletic performance and functional fitness.

Long cycles can contribute to calorie expenditure and fat loss due to their high-intensity nature and the engagement of multiple muscle groups, making them an efficient option for those looking to burn calories and improve body composition.

Long cycles mimic real-life movements such as lifting, carrying, and overhead pressing, making them beneficial for improving overall functional fitness and enhancing daily activities.

Kettlebell long cycles can be adapted to different fitness levels by adjusting the weight of the kettlebell, the number of repetitions, and the duration of the workout, making them suitable for beginners to advanced athletes.

Overall, kettlebell long cycles offer a time-efficient and effective way to improve strength, endurance, power, and functional fitness, making them a valuable addition to any workout routine.

Technique

The kettlebell long cycle can be broken down into several distinct phases:

  1. Start.
  2. Clean to Rack.
  3. Jerk.
  4. Drop to Rack.
  5. Drop to Back Swing.

1.Start:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  2. Place the kettlebell on the floor between your feet.
  3. Hinge and Grip: Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to reach down and grab the handle of the kettlebell with both hands.
  4. Your back should be flat, chest up, and arms fully extended.

2. Clean to Rack:

  1. Swing: Initiate the movement by driving through your hips and legs to swing the kettlebell back between your legs.
  2. Keep your arms relaxed, and the kettlebell should swing freely, driven by the momentum generated from your hips.
  3. As the kettlebell swings back, explosively extend your hips and knees to propel the kettlebell forward.
  4. As it reaches hip height, pull the kettlebell towards your body by quickly bending your elbows and bringing your hands towards your shoulders.
  5. Rotate your wrists slightly so that your palms face inward at the top of the movement.
  6. Catch the kettlebell at shoulder height in the racked position, with your elbow tucked in close to your body and your wrist straight.

3. Jerk:

  1. From the racked position, dip your knees slightly and then forcefully extend your legs and drive through your heels to propel the kettlebell overhead.
  2. Simultaneously, press the kettlebell overhead by fully extending your arms.
  3. Lock your elbows at the top of the movement, with your biceps close to your ear and your wrist stacked over your shoulder.
  4. Your torso should remain upright, and your core engaged to stabilise the weight overhead.
  5. As you lock out the kettlebell overhead, your legs should be straight, but avoid hyperextending your lower back.

4. Drop to Rack:

  1. Lower the kettlebell back to the racked position by bending your elbows and allowing the weight to descend under control.
  2. Keep your core engaged and maintain stability as you guide the kettlebell back to the racked position.

5. Drop to Back Swing

  1. After returning to the racked position, allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs to initiate the next repetition.
  2. Maintain a smooth and fluid motion, linking the clean and jerk movements together seamlessly.

By following these steps and focusing on proper technique, you can perform kettlebell long cycles safely and effectively to reap the full benefits of this dynamic full-body exercise.

Starting Out

Personal Notes

Personally, I enjoy mixing up various types of KB training. I have always looked at the benefits of what both Giveroy Sport and Hardstyle kettlebell training can bring.  There is no right or wrong with mixing and matching the training as you see fit.  Generally, I stick with Hardstyle, but every now and then I like to shake things up with a GS marathon of sorts.  I have always found Long cycles great for when I am short on time but want to throw a gruelling workout in. I believe I have benefitted from these sessions in terms of endurance and strength building.

Getting to Grips with the Exercise

Getting into the long cycle can be tough for persons not used to this type of training.  The technique used varies much from the KB clean and jerk you might see in your local gym.  Indeed, the mechanics of the move are more complex than the demonstration offered in this post.  I will be covering the mechanics of the LC in greater detail in an upcoming workshop.  For now its recommended to start light and concentrate on getting the movement patterns correct before you consider moving up to the heavier weighted endurance sessions.  I have included a section below for beginners not used to KB moves to help them get used to the exercise more gradually.  More experienced KB users may want to skip that part and proceed to undertake the 10 minute real thing.

Self-Observation

Below I have included a video of legendary GS athlete Denis Vasilev undertaking a Long Cycle session.  Study the LC breakdown demonstrations above and then watch the video to observe these movements in practice.  Then using a partner undertake the exercise yourself correcting your errors as you go. If a partner isn’t available I recommend recording yourself or using a mirror to observe your own technique. Take your time and get it right, in time good technique will pay dividends and help avoid injury. Start with light (or no weights), getting the technique correct is key here, learn to walk before you run.

The KB Long Cycle entails intricate movements and biomechanics, demanding precise coordination and technique to execute efficiently and safely.

Tips and Safety

  • Focus on maintaining proper form throughout each exercise to prevent injury and maximize effectiveness. Study the movement patterns, (re)watch the video (below) and observe your own technique. Practice makes perfect.
  • Adjust the repetitions and rest periods based on your fitness level and goals. Beginners may start with fewer repetitions and longer rest periods, while advanced individuals can increase intensity by decreasing rest time and using heavier weights.
  • Listen to your body and modify exercises as needed to accommodate any limitations or discomfort.
  • Stay hydrated and refuel with a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein after completing the workout to support recovery and muscle growth.
  • Start with a lighter kettlebell(s) to master the technique before progressing to heavier weights.
  • If you experience any discomfort or pain, stop the exercise and consult a fitness professional for guidance.
  • If you are interested in taking this training further, consider training under a master trainer in the discipline.

Playlist

1 Videos

Who better to go to than renowned Girevoy Sport (GS) athlete Denis Vasilev to observe for tips on technique. Denis has won multiple world championships and holds numerous records in the sport.

Absolute Beginners

Enduring 10 minutes without setting the kettlebell down is incredibly demanding.  When starting kettlebell LC training it’s best to start slowly.  There are a number of variables you can manipulate whilst getting used to the exercise, these are time, weight(s) and pace. Starting out use a test LC format to let you get into the swing of things (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Weight:

Firstly I would say getting the weight right is perhaps the most important. Doesn’t matter what you can lift or press for several reps normally.  For the long cycle you have to be able to move the weight for 10 whole minutes. So you have to be realistic and decide on a weight that will allow you to do this. Many advocate to begin with a single kettlebell, gradually working up to 10 minutes at a steady pace with a moderate weight (see weight suggestions below) before attempting double kettlebells. 

Time:

Starting out, aim for 5 instead of 10 minutes. This will give you an idea of what to expect with the real thing and give you something to build towards.

Pace:

After that comes pace. Keep it low on the test cycle, let us say 4RPM. So aim to undertake a full LC every 15 seconds.

Evaluation:

After finishing this test set, we can use this as a baseline. Firstly, evaluate your technique. How was your form? Was it compromised or sloppy? Technique is key. If your form is poor, keep things light until you are confident you are performing the move correctly.  Secondly, how was the weight? Too light? Too challenging? Next, pace. Can you throw in more RPM?

Progression:

After you have grasped the basics and are happy with technique you can look to progress. Look at gradually increasing one (or a number) of the factors to make the exercises more challenging. Weight (heavier KB’s?); Time (from 5-7 minutes?) or Pace (increasing RPM).

The Real Deal - 10 mins of Hell

So you are happy with your ability/progression and wish to experience the full 10 minutes? Ok, based on your knowledge of the weight you have used in previous sessions, select a weight you feel you can use safely for 10 mins.  Next select a pace, how many reps are you aiming to do each minute? Don’t be overly optimistic on your first attempt.  Better to start lower reps and weight and get it right. Don’t compromise yourself.  Next, set the clock for 10 mins. Get some music blasting to help you get into the right mindset. It might help if you have someone with you to train with, or simply count the reps for you or shout encouragement. If not you will have to count the reps in your head.

kettlebell workouts. Kettlebell grip strength.

From here the rules are simple, no putting the bells down till 10 minutes is up!

FAQs

How heavy of a kettlebell should I use for long cycles?

The weight of the kettlebell will depend on your strength, skill level, and fitness goals. It’s recommended to start with a lighter weight to master the technique and gradually increase as you become more proficient.

How many repetitions should I aim for in a set of kettlebell long cycles?

The number of repetitions can vary depending on your fitness level and training goals. Granted as a beginner you will start with fewer repetitions per minute until you build up endurance. More advanced individuals may aim for higher repetitions with heavier weight. The example workouts will allow you to find your maximum Reps Per Minute (RPM) with the Long Cycle.  After establishing this baseline, you can add, time, weight and reps as needed to progress.

How often should I incorporate kettlebell long cycles into my workout routine?

The frequency of training will depend on your overall fitness program and recovery capacity. It’s generally recommended to include kettlebell long cycles 1-3 times per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions.

Are kettlebell long cycles suitable for beginners?

Kettlebell long cycles can be modified to accommodate beginners by starting with lighter weights, focusing on proper technique, and gradually increasing intensity over time as strength and proficiency improve.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when performing kettlebell long cycles?

Common mistakes include using excessive momentum, arching the back, allowing the kettlebell to swing too far away from the body, and not fully extending the hips and knees during the clean and jerk movements. Like any resistance exercise, it’s important to focus on maintaining good form and control throughout the exercise.

Can kettlebell long cycles help with weight loss?

Long cycles can contribute to weight loss and fat burning due to their high-intensity nature and the engagement of multiple muscle groups. When combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, kettlebell long cycles can be an effective component of a weight loss program.

Are there any alternatives to kettlebell long cycles for similar benefits?

Yes, other exercises such as barbell clean and jerks, dumbbell thrusters, and medicine ball cleans can provide similar benefits to kettlebell long cycles by targeting multiple muscle groups and enhancing strength, power, and endurance. However, kettlebell long cycles offer unique advantages due to the nature of the kettlebell and its grip design.

Conclusion

Kettlebell long cycles offer a dynamic and effective way to improve strength, endurance, and overall fitness. Deeply rooted in Eastern European training methods, this exercise has stood the test of time for its versatility and effectiveness. By incorporating kettlebell long cycles into your fitness routine, you can experience a comprehensive workout that targets multiple muscle groups while enhancing power, coordination, and cardiovascular health. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, give kettlebell long cycles a try and unlock the potential benefits they offer for your fitness journey.

If you are interested in this type of training/workouts, keep an eye out for our workshop on KB Long Cycles. Where we break down the complexities and nuances of the exercise in greater detail.

Girevoy Sport/Kettlebell Sport International Organisations.

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