Sunday, December 7, 2008

The "Acheyball Challenge"

On Saturday, I "competed" in the "Acheyball Challenge" - an internet kettlebell competition organized and administrated by Catherine Imes and Randy Hauer. It was 20 minutes of kettlebell fun consisting of 10:00 of one-arm snatches, immediately followed by 10:00 of clean and jerks (one-arm long cycle clean and jerks, "LCCJ").
I used the 2 pood (70lb) bell and managed to get 100 snatches and 53 clean & jerks. I set the bell about every 10 reps on the snatches and every 6 reps on the LCCJs. I don't know if it was not being used to competition bells or if I was just going too fast with the reps, but I ended up ripping the hands early and they got worse and worse. Not making excuses though - I don't think it affected my numbers much.

A big thank you to Catherine and Randy, and also to Rich Sherrod, AKC coach, for hosting the event locally at Round Kick Gym.


Rocks said...

Sorry this question is not related to this post but still maybe relevant….

Is the "American" swing a term used by RKC or is it a crossfit only term?

I am trying to get an understanding of the different kettlebell camps and cherry pick what I think is best.

Thanks for your time and input.

Boris said...

Very relevant.

I think it's a CrossFit term. I'd say that RKCs (and AKCs) do the snatch if they are going to be bringing the bell beyond eye-level. Part of it, and I've had this conversation with CrossFit people, is a safety issue - there's just a lot more control overhead with a snatch than a high, high swing. If the bell flops over on a high swing, it's going to rock you (in a bad way). I realize it doesn't happen very often, but I don't want to be there when it does.

The Edge said...


Good on you for hitting the challenge mate, that's rough!

Hope things are going well for you! Will you be attending the AKC k-bell meet in Atlanta next Saturday?


Boris said...

Ross! How are you?

I won't be there. I'm playing with the idea of going to Columbus, but I just bought a house and probably won't have the $$ this time around.

If Ken has the meet again next summer, I'll do my best to go though.

matt said...

Hey Boris. It is Matt from Crossfit Iowa..Nice work on the Challenge!

I have a couple questions not related to this post. 1 kettlebell and 1 squat question.

1. The last few times I have done kettlebell swings in workouts I have had terrible lower back pain. It is the thing that keeps getting the reps done quicker. This is something that has only developed in the last month or so. Before then I never had problems with swings. Any ideas? It might be sort of hard to diagnose without seeing.

2. When I get to my heavy set of squats the absolute hardest part for me is keeping my torso upright. I feel like I have plenty of hip and leg drive to do more weight but I cant hold an upright torso. It almost feels like a good morning on the last rep or two. Any exercises to help in this area or any tips?

Thanks in advance for any help...I am going to try 100 2 pood snatches tonight.

Boris said...

Hi Matt - thanks for dropping in!

1. How's your hamstring flexibility? I'm guessing that hamstring flexibility and form might be things to look at. If the hamstrings aren't strong AND flexible, the lumbar is going to compensate (and take a pounding).

2. Do you squat with a high-bar or low-bar position? I made a post on the subject of squats and lower back pain and it might be of relevant to you:
I've actually been working on an article that probably deals more with your specific issue. I'll send a copy your way when I get it done. Shoot me an email at

Boris said...


1. I meant to add that keeping your weight on your heels and "pulling down" with the hip flexors as you drive the hips back during the eccentric portion of the swing should help you keep a straighter lower back.

My guess is that you're getting hung up on the hike portion of the swing. Too much hike coupled with hamstrings not flexible enough to handle it is a recipe for back pain. Now, understand that I'm not saying that you shouldn't be hiking the bell though - just that it might be something that will take time to develop.

matt said...

Hi Boris. Thanks for the response!

For the swings. It may be flexibility. I think I have OK strength in the hamstrings but flexibility may be the issue. That is my biggest issue in most exercises. There is a small chance that the back pain may come from box jumps(both times the pain showed up I was doing workouts with swings and jumps) but I really doubt the jumps are doing it. Next time I do swings in a workout I will take some video. I think I am pretty good at weight on the heels but I don't think I have ever really worked on "pulling down" with the hip flexors. I will try that next time.

For the squats right now I am doing high bar and trying to get as close to the ground as possible when I go down. I have also had this problem with low bar squats. I would get to the bottom then start up and it felt like I had plenty of hip drive but my torso did not want to stay upright.

But last night it seemed a little better. It did not seem like I was bent over near as much. It could have been a couple things. I really concentrated on keeping my chest up all the way through the reps. It could also be that I was only able to get 2 reps out of what was supposed to be 5. I was exhausted after 2 so I did not try to get the other 3.

I see in your post you had an issue with hand rips. You may already know about these things but I will share them just in cas you haven't. When I started crossfit I had a terrible time with rips. A few things really helped. I have not had a rip since I started doing them.

1. Keep calluses ground down. I have been using one of these:
I have used a razor but this has seemed to work just as good.

2. I keep my hands dry during the workouts. Wrist bands have worked great.

3. I have been using hand lotion about once a day.

I don't know if it is any one of those things or a combination but so far no rips.

Boris said...

Hi Matt,

The "pulling" with the hip flexors thing is difficult to get. It helps if you can practice a "reverse squat" of some kind, but if you can do Romanian deadlifts, then you probably get the basic idea. I'd love to look at it sometime and please remind me if we don't get to it.

With your high-bar squats, make sure that your hips aren't traveling back to far. A high-bar squat, by virtue of the bar placement, needs to be a more upright squat. You may have seen this already, but if you haven't:

matt said...

Boris, thanks for the link! I think I may be pushing my hips to far back. I made a video of some warm up squats last night:

This is the first time I have sen myself high bar squatting. It almost looks like I am doing a low bar squat.