237 of 247 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2006
For a long time I have wanted to purchase Pavel's book on kettlebells, but honestly some of the reviews scared me away. I thought that I would purchase a 30 dollar book and have it end up being a commercial for other products, kettle bells etc., and figured that I could find out everything I wanted to know on the web.
However, as part of my new years resolution, I wanted to start using kettlebells. I purchased a pair of kettlestacks, and decided to get Pavel's book, and honestly, I feel silly resisting for so long.
Pavel's book is excellent. There are plenty of full color pictures to guide you along. His writing is punchy and entertaining. He does a great job of getting you excited about working out.
However, the real selling point are his exercise descriptions. These are textbook examples of the way you should explain an exercise. Clear, detailed, never confusing, from reading his descriptions I really learned how to perform new movements.
Is the book pricey, maybe. But I have scoured the web and read just about anything you can find on kettlebell exercises. This book has infomration in it that you cannot find anywhere else, good information, and information that is presented in an entertaining fashion, something rare in the exercise world.
Some reviewers have knocked Pavel's book because it is about kettlebells, and they seem to feel that the bells are not worth the time or trouble. I have now tried kettlebells and Pavel's program and attest that these are the real deal. You cannot duplicate the kettlebell movements with dumbells. The offset weight forces your shoulder and core to stablize every movement and the results are phenomenal.
All in all, I think this book was outstanding and recommend it to anyone interested in kettlebells, or exercise in general.
91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
I have trouble understanding why some reviews of this book criticize it on the basis of lack of content. I think the book is chock-full of content, so much so, in fact, that I seriously urge any reader to take Pavel's advice to re-read chapters. I have repeatedly gone back to the book to refine my technique, finding details and emphases I missed in the past.
Others, who criticize on the basis of advertising content are also off the mark. While there is some promotional material throughout, the bulk of it is in a handful of pages in the back of the book and is not intrusive.
Pavel does take the "hard core" this and "man's man" bit a little far. To be honest, though, I think it's more in fun, as some of humorous pictures in the book hint that Pavel himself doesn't take the attitude thing seriously.
Pavel is heavy on precise technique. This is for safety and also maximum gain from each exercise. It is precisely this detail that makes the book so valuable. Rather than simply describing a generic kettlebell swing technique, for example, Pavel lays the groundwork in preceeding chapters on hip flexibility and how to develop it, but ultimately covers grip, breathing, elbow and shoulder protection, callouses and hand maintenance, pull techniques, leg, hip, and back positioning, bracing, workout routines (e.g., ladders), and more. So also for the heavy use on pictures of both good and bad technique. Proper form is important in all weight training, but doubly so with the highly-leveraged dynamic movements used in kettlebell training. Kettlebells aren't just dumbbells with a handle.
This is the most worthwhile book on basic kettlebell I've seen to-date. If you're wondering whether to also purchase The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, the answer is no - Pavel makes it clear that this book supercedes the earlier volume and there have been some refinements in movement details. His other books are complimentary, however, including Power to the People, The Naked Warrior, Relax Into Stretch, From Russia with Tough Love, etc. (Each of which should be evaluated on their own, of course.)
On the topic of the few movements that are covered in this book, first, this is a beginner's book that hammers technique on a few things. Second, these movements cover a lot of muscle groups - a few genericized exercises like this are highly appropriate for beginners.
There's a quote in the book to the effect that kettlebell swings alone are better for strength and conditioning exercise than almost anything else you can do. Believe it, but you won't find out why unless you do them properly and with sufficient resistance. Couple swings with movements that work the shoulder girdle, arms and upper back and you have something powerful and simple. That's the basic premise of this book, again, targeted at beginners and non-elite athletes. Having gone through it myself, I think it has considerable merit.
Pavel does not discount specialized and sport-specific training. On the contrary, he says in the book that people involved at a certain level not only have to have specialized training, but need coaching from experts in their field. Some readers are apparently mistaking his emphasis on general strength and conditioning training for a disdain for other exercise, movements, and training. Nothing could be further from the truth.
My only problem with the book is that whoever edited it could have done a far better job organizing the material. I found that you really have to read the book cover-to-cover several times to put it all together. You can't take it a chapter at a time as you progress, except perhaps for the section covering preliminary work for flexibility. In a similar vein, some of the writing describing details of certain moves could be clearer. While the book describes 3 distinct workout programs (not routines), it's actually quite difficult to discern where they begin and end, and how to put together routines to implement each program. Pavel gives some general guidance in putting routines together, but it's not sufficient if you don't have the knowledge or confidence to do it - and a good portion of the audience for this book will have neither. In the case of Enter the Kettlebell, having a beginners video is helpful, as it helps in getting around some of the ambiguity. I prefer Art of Strength's "Clinic" DVD. AOS also publishes a progressive workout routines book based on Enter the Kettlebell. I have them but again, still find myself going back to Pavel's book for refinement.
143 of 159 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2006
Some people like to shake their fist from the sidelines and think they know it all because they read a lot. I am a personal trainer and have used kettlebells for a long time. This works. I have worked on everything from machines to Olympic weights, and find kettlebells more convenient and in some cases, the only product to do exercises you cannot do on machines or Olympic weights. The first reviewer is calling this a fad, but look at the history, this has been around for longer than Body by Jake. For some case history using my own personal history, I used the kettlebell exercise called the swing to help improve my endurance for running, just to try. And guess what, I improved my time for a two mile run without running. Also, the reviewer hints at swinging a kettlebell can be dangerous, but so is benching, squatting, rowing, and any other exercise, IF YOU DO IT WRONG. Plus I have found doing certain exercises, like the snatch and clean, are safer with a kettlebell than with a barbell.
To answer the 'monetary' subject, how much money is your health worth to you. I had a lot of clients refuse training saying it costs a lot of money, then they spends thousands of dollars for a quick fix. In addition, the certification course for kettlebell training is the same for any personal trainer courses where we pay money to sponsors, NASM, ACE and others to keep informed in new classes and techniques to build our knowledge in health and fitness. Plus I bought three kettlebells totalling $300, but before I knew about KBs, I paid 100 for Olympic weights, 200 for a power rack, 50 for a good pair of adj dumbbells, 100 for an adj bench, and even more on numerous books and tapes on lifting correctly. So don't call KBs expensive.
So before anyone takes the first reviewer into account, try it. Using the kettlebell and Pavel's principles has helped my clients and myself.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
It has taken me three and a half years to write this review, because I have spent that long practicing the methods employed in this book. First I will write about the book itself and then I will write about what it did for me and to me.
The book is excellent on many levels. As an inspirational it is effective. The writing is humorous and often forces the reader to guffaw. It makes you truly excited to workout. As a devotional, delving into the 'why' and 'meaning' of stength it is excellent, connecting fitness and strength training with life in general. It gives you a deep feeling of purpose in your workouts. Where it REALLY excels, however, is as a training manual. The books describes basic kettlebell lifts and organizes them into two different programs, each absolutely comprehensive, and then it additionally offers extra variety lifts to boot. The explanation of lifts and visual aids are great and they offer an excellent initiation into what kettlebell lifting is all about. If what you want is to sit down and read an easy-reading book that tells you exactly what to do, how to progress, when to move up and what your benchmarks for improvement should be, this book is the be-all, end-all. But does it work?
Well, after three and half years lifting kettlebells, the first two years spent lifting solely via the rite of pasasge and program minimum guidelines (which are the names of the programs given in the book) I can say that it does. Like many Americans, during high school, I was reasonably athletic and was involved in sports but ate the see-food diet. I didn't care. In college I maintained an active lifestyle but not quite as active as before and became slowly "softer." Then I began graduate school and a year in I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I looked like I had been stung by bees. The man looking back at me looked like how I thought I looked, except slightly inflamed in all dimensions. It was then, simultaneously with that dreadful realization that I was out of shape, that I was given this book and a loaner kettlebell from a devoted girevik who had overheard my complaining. My life began to change then. The fat MELTED off, as if made of butter. The muscle piled on, but it looked different from my meathead classmates who worked out for size. Their muscles were large, soft and round, but what I was developing, and what other gireviks I lift with exemplify, are sinewy muscles that look like bundles of steel cables wrapped in skin, muscles that are designed for "Go" instead of "Show." And best off, the workouts were FUN and EXCITING! I am not talking about fun and exciting in a red spandex, fake tan, Zumba kind of way, I am talking about fun and exciting in a fight-to-the-death kind of way! You really feel the kettlebell is trying to kill you and you are overcoming great and overwhelming odds to survive every workout. Gone are the days of grinding away inside the caged safety of a machine like a factory worker in inustrial revolution england and banished is the embarassment and demotivation of groaning on the ground like a beast of burden. Using this program you feel like you are working out like a MAN!
I am addicted to kettlebell lifting and while there are many programs and guides that attempt to force kettlebells into programs and lifts designed for conventional strength training, this book is better because it takes advantage of all of the ways that kettlebells are NOT conventional. If you read books by fitness gurus and coaches, you may have read Dan John write (paraphrased) 'Anything hard will work for six weeks' but after three and a half years and counting, I can testify that the methods demonstrated in this book will work for LIFE!
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2010
I started the ETK program in June 2010. I finished the first phase, the Program Minimum in October 2010 and as of writing this review I am still working on the Right of Passage. Note: I'm an average 48 year old male.
The program as written is very effective, time efficient, space efficient and cost effective over time. It just plain works. Starting with the Program Minimum (PM) you will concentrate on only two exercises, the swing and turkish getup. The swing will really improve your overall conditioning as well as core, glute, hamstring, and back strength. The turkish getup will really hit your core and greatly improve shoulder stability. The catch? You must perform the exercises correctly. Having a session with a RKC is highly recommended. Yes the book, kettlebell(s) and a session or two with a RKC is hefty up front cost but a one time cost. Spread out over time it will be one of the best investments you can make in your health. The Right of Passage (RoP) adds the clean & press and kettlebell snatch and pullups to your exercise plan. Workouts will increase in length under the RoP but can still be completed in under one hour, under a half hour for the light day. Your strength and conditioning really get a serious bump up on this RoP.
Both the PM and RoP have very sensible progressions that do not leave you feeling wiped out, super sore, or discouraged. Instead they set you up for success and allow you to keep building on that success workout after workout. Before you know it you'll look in the mirror and go, "Whoa, when did that happen?".
Like all Dragon Door books there is too much cross marketing. It's a turn off to me. I can mostly ignore it but I think it diminishes the overall reading experience. Many of Pavel's books, the ETK included, goof around just a little too much. It comes of a little to cute and wears thin after a few pages. It's a shame because there is some really great info in the book and the DVD. I'm sure this turns some off and makes them take the book less seriously. Do yourself a favor and just work the program, you'll become a believer.
The book lays out both programs, the PM and RoP, but doesn't present them in an easy to follow format. I think this is a mistake. Many people, especially beginners, want to follow a step by step program. The Art of Strength site has created an easy to follow ETK workbook that fills this gap but I think the workout progression should have been laid out better in the book and some sort of workbook should have been included on the DVD.
All things considered, I'm very happy I purchased and started the ETK program. If you can overlook the minor annoyances listed above and set aside 30-60 minutes several times a week to transform your strength and conditioning without setting foot in a gym I believe you'll be very happy with the results.
56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
Kettlebells have certain advantages in training, namely, their ability to combine weight training with aerobics in the same workout. And you can still do most of the usual weight training stuff. Kettlebells also give so called "what the hell" effect: by doing only kettlebell training you accidentally discover that you are actually getting better in other, not related activities, such as weightlifting or running. Kettlebell training is generally safe and technically not difficult, if you take it step by step.
In this book Pavel sets standards against which you can gauge your progress. Rite of Passage, performing 200 snatches in ten minutes is the landmark all kettlebellers are striving for. You won't understand why until you try. This book presents training principles for the long term. There is also a discussion safety and trauma.
It is futile to try and convince skeptics that kettlebells are good. If you think of it, all sports are ultimately meaningless, and doing something more intensive than a brisk walk does not significantly add to your health. Why do we do snatches for numbers then? Same reason as trying to run one kilometer under three minutes or deadlift tripple the bodyweight, or trying to win a sparring: for fun and the sense of achievement. You can get a feel of kettlebell training on the forum on the publisher's site, [...].
The only way to understand kettlebells is to try them. And if you decide to do it - this is the book to have.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2008
I agree with the other posters...there is definitely a lot of fluff in the book. But, frankly, that's Pavel's style. "Russian Kettlebell Challenge" was the same way but definitely unorganized. Enough about that.
"Enter the Kettlebell" is the perfect primer to get into Kettlebell lifting. Once you get past the saleman fluff and to the core, you will not be dissapointed. The "RKC Rite of Passage" Workout is spectacular and it does give you results. How often do you hear that I know but it definitely works!
I have been on this program since September 2007 and I have already progressed from a 35 lb (16kg) kettlebell to what I am currently nearing the ability to make the 70 lb (32kg) kettlebell my standard kettlebell.
Pavel's method of taking each of the crucial exercises in steps is a smart idea. The RKC Workout itself is very progressive unlike the mainstream philosophy of training of doing a million reps a day to get results. With "Enter the Kettlebell" the most reps you will do for an exercise is 75 (5 ladders of 1+2+3+4+5) with rest periods in between ladders. That is until you reach the point where you can perform the "Man amongst men" workout.
Bottom line, this is definitely worth the money and worth your attention at the bare minimum.
This is the new Russian revolution...Gireviks (That's Russian for someone who uses kettlebells, you learn that in the book, too)of the World Unite!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2008
Overall this is a decent book. There are inconsistencies. The book starts w/a male teen who first uses a 53 lb. kettlebell. Pavel wants men today to start w/a 35 lb'er. Is it due to lifestyle differences of people from the past versus today? Another story about a kettlebeller pressing a 70 lb. KB 88 times. No one from the "Party" has mentioned they have done so. They continually mention the snatch test. Competitive Girevoy sport competitions include the jerk, snatch, and long cycle. They can use kettlebells other then the 53 lb. He talks of many studies being done. I've tried to search for many of these names and have found nothing. The citation at times is improper as well. He has done a great job of getting Americans converted to KB training. Go to their web page and you'll see. However, say something remotely critical against the "Party" principles and many will try to refute you or the post will be removed PROMPTLY. There are about ten pages of the book that were in various catalogs the company puts out. Why is that? Filler material? There are too many pictures, full of interesting poses however. Smaller print and a disk (or web link) w/proper technique vs. poor technique could have been used. He encourages the reader to buy the accompanying video as well. Money making idea-YES. Good one too. Another alternative to encourage people and not just take money would be a video link printed in the book that would link you to him demonstrating various lifts. The book is like Power to the People but using simply a KB, five total exercises mentioned (he mentions two to make one "a man." The "RKC Program Minimum" involves the Swing and Turkish Get Up. The "Rite of Passage" involves the clean and press, swing, and the snatch test (once a month or so). The body tension techniques are well worth it as well. The book does mention how to combine these techniques w/his other books Power to the People, Naked Warrior, and Bullet Proof Abs-another subtle marketing ploy. He also suggests going to RKC kettlebell instructor course. $2495 for three days w/a 20-30% failure rate? Houston what is the problem? Is it the teaching methods? Is it the student failing to prepare? Either way failing students is easy money for the organization. Again, if one wants be involved in competitive, sanctioned kettlebell events, take up girevoy sport. He continually refers to "Eastern" or "Russian" training secrets-clever marketing ploy. Why? Perhaps because of the Cold War an how the East owned lifting, Americans now want to know why. Just a thought. Only two out of the six chapters (33% YIKES) were useful. Great book for beginners, intermediate and advanced trainees its a waste of moolah. A CHEAPER alternative-search their website on Enter the Kettlebell (ETK) you can cobble together the major program points, search video websites of the exercises mentioned and you'll save yourself some money and trees. Lastly, it sounds like he's coming out w/a sequel to this book. If it's so great what is there to improve?!?!?!?!?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2008
Buy this book before buying a kettlebell or starting a kettlebell workout. I know there is some good information available free on the web, but Pavel's book really gets into the mechanics and why something is good or bad with these unique exercises. I wish I had this book before I got my kettlebell, as I may have bought a different size.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2008
I learned about kettlebells from a trainer at my gym, and bought this book to learn more about them. Pros are easy to read, good humor, and easy to follow instructions. Cons are the pain you'll feel after doing a simple workout consisting of swings and get-ups, and the money you'll part with to get his other books (he's a good pitch man, but I won't criticize him for that, because he's just living the good American capitalist dream).
You must be prepared, however, to find an RKC instructor and take some classes, because the instructors that are RKC qualified are all trained on the same standard Pavel covers in his book, and taking just a simple introductory class will definitely 'grease your groove'. If you try these swings and get ups on your own with just reading the book, it's a lot like learning golf without lessons. You may find yourself in bad habits that are very hard to break. I took a class that covered the swing and the get-up, and it was definitely the smartest thing I've ever done for my body. I found I was horribly restricted in my hip flexors and hamstrings, and therefore my form was lousy. once my form was fixed, I knew was it was like to really get a kettlebell swing workout, and my hamstrings are screaming the day after.
This book is much better when used as a companion and reference to you when taking some RKC classes and getting the movements down from someone in the know. Between the book and a three hour class, I've spent $100 but I can say that I've probably blown several times that over the years paying for gym memberships that I've never used. If you buy yourself a good starter kettlebell and have a track near your house, you can start the RKC minimum program without difficulty, and in two months your body will look (and feel) like never before.
One last thought....get yourself a good stretching book. Pavel has a couple, but I've not read them and therefore cannot recommend any particular title. You WILL become more flexible in doing these (you'll have to if you want to save your back). If you're tight in the hamstrings and hip flexors, you DEFINITELY 100% must take a class with some RKC instructors so you don't wind up doing permanent damage to your back.
RKC....better living through pain!!!