So I joined a Wednesday night dodgeball league and have come to learn something peculiar about my arm, which is this:
Rarely do I hit what I mean to hit, but almost always will my ball go out and fetch something else.
This means that so long as you are standing very perfectly still and I am aiming straight at your face, you are safe, but as soon as you become a bystander or start to duck, dive, and roll around, you will very soon come to grief.
Last wednesday, I launched my projectile at a gentleman in red shorts standing no more than seven feet in front of me. I missed, of course, but only the man I was aiming for, as my ball veered off and hit another fellow five feet or so to the left, and squished his genitals.
Naturally, this was a cause for celebration, but no sooner had I finished my giddy applause did the law of Karma elect to prove itself and were my own genitals squished.
My teammate, a blonde lady dressed as Robin Hood (it was theme night) and who, for whatever unknown reason, cared for my immediate genital welfare, asked if I was ok. With pursed lips, I nodded my head yes, then shook my head no and sat down.
We battle it out on Wednesday nights at six thirty. My team, which I did NOT name, is The Fighting Mongooses, and on it are all very good people.
I wrote a piece recently on how kettlebell training might increase your sexual performance, and though it was a piece on “sex,” and though it was about as soft and harmless as a marshmallow, some fellows were wholly offended by it—so let me just say, right here and now, that really and truly, deeply and honestly, and from the very bottom of my heart, I don’t care.
I consider this a follow- up piece and one of some relevancy, because if you can’t have sex, you can always and at least play some dodgeball.
Dodgeball is a sport, you must understand (or at the very least a game), so for me to say that kettlebells make you better at dodgeball is to say loosely that kettlebells make you a better athlete. I say loosely because the effect is both miniscule but significant.
What I mean is this: The person who is best at dodgeball is the person who is best at dodgeball and not the person who is best at kettlebells. This is to say, the person who comes away at the end of the night with a prize is the person who throws in straight channels and doesn’t eat too many balls (perhaps a better choice of words next time), and not the person who can swing or press the fattest weights.
The way kettlebell training, or any “athletic enhancement” endeavor of your fancy, works to make you better at sport is not by granting you anything in the ways of sport-specific skill (you actually have to practice your sport for that, if you can believe it) but by giving you something in the ways of tenacity, strength, power, and capacity, and resilience.
I won our team a few matches, not because I am good at dodgeball, God forbid—I freely admit my skill is this department is scarcely describable as a handsome endowment, but still I work it and have done some lovely things with it—but because my work capacity on the battleground is enormous.
Kettlebell swings have not helped me to throw any straighter, Lord knows, but they have enabled me to move in a hurry and not get too tired from it all. Heavy lifting and good mobility, it seems, has also made me quite impervious to damage.
This brings me back to my original sport, Tae Kwon Do, where my coach, very wise, once told me, “Sometimes you’ll get beat because somebody is better than you. That just happens. But never should you get beat because somebody is better conditioned than you.”
And here we have this exact circumstance. In my league, I may not be accurate, but dammit if I’m not everything else. I actually APPEAR to be a very dangerous weapon and armed to the teeth—I am fast, limber, and very nearly indefatigable. There is only one problem, which is my aim—I can’t hit anything, not even a cow. I’m like a chain gun, but loaded with only one bullet, which is not adequate. Now, if you could feed me an extended roll of ammo, then I would makes shreds of the enemy, no doubt. But there are just twenty balls on the court at any given time, two of them mine, and only six dodgeballs.
So I must train my precision. Thus, I’m making the purchase of a few dodgeballs later today and intend after that to walk down the road and to “the patch” where I will practice a while on a cow. I do not want the cow, but if I land the shot, which I think I might, and send the beast off to Bliss Eternal, where he can lay in green pastures and chew cud forever, I’ll likely be persuaded by the scraggly farmer dude to make the purchase anyways and have my freezer rapidly filled with hamburger meat.
How to Get Better at Dodgeball, and Other Things Too, with Kettlebells
(A Sample Tasting of a Minimalist Strength Program)
If your object is to get better at your sport specifically with kettlebell training, or any weightlifting for that matter, then I hope you are not expecting too much.
A good friend of mine, Jim Ferris, was in his former position the strength and conditioning coach of the NBA 76ers. Now, he will be quick to learn you, should you ever meet him, that his job, both past and present, is to maybe get his athletes 1-2% better (which is a gracious margin when working with “the best in the world,”), and to keep his peoples out of injury.
At your sport, assuming you’re not world class, but maybe you are, you could expect a slightly higher return from your training into your sport than 1-2%, but I would caution you not to want too much more than that, as being a good athlete is largely 1) congenital and 2) earned through the practice of the sport itself.
The utility of general physical preparedness training outside of your sport is to 1) increase capacity (the ability to “outwork” your opponent), 2) boost strength (the ability to “outmuscle” your opponent), and 3) amplify resilience (through enhanced mobility, stability, and joint conditioning), and a few other things here and there. And no doubt when “all else is equal” in sport, the stronger, better conditioned person gets the prize, but when, I ask, ever, is “all else equal” in sport?
The answer is not ever.
I put together for you a little routine, however, and a minimalistic one, to help give you, as they call it, the slight of edge.
The premise is very plain:
Frequent, low rep, high-quality strength work + Less frequent, high-intensity metabolic conditioning + As much joint mobility and low-intensity cardiovascular activity as possible.
Pick five lifts, or six, I don’t care, but be sure the full spectrum of fundamental human movements is covered. For this, you might wish to use Dan John’s blueprint: Push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carry.
Military Press (push)
Pull Up (pull)
Goblet Squat (squat)
Get Up (loaded carry).
Work each lift five days a week, and in the manner of 1,2,3,1,2,3. Because the frequency is high, the volume is low, and so is the density, too. The intensity, in my book, is unwaveable—meaning, you start your cycle off with a “heavy” load, say your 5 rep max, work that for three months, in the manner just mentioned, or until it starts to feel “light.” Then, reassess, bump the weight back up to your new 5 rep max, and repeat the operation. In effect, the load has been waved by not waving it at all—no calculating percentages or any of that hogwash. You just get strong instead, which to me, is far more appealing than having to deal with the inconvenience of math.
Two to three days a week, perhaps a bit less or a bit more, depending upon your sport, recovery, and other such etceteras, add in some high-intensity metabolic conditioning. I fancy sprints and kettlebell complexes, but you already know that. It needn’t be complicated, it shouldn’t be complicated. Now, if I might make a shameless gesture, then I recommend purchasing The 9-Minute Workout (or join the Inner Circle and wait for the special edition coming out to all members next week), where all of the proceeds, I assure you, go to my direct financial benefit.
If this does not suit you, you can always work any of the KWOWs.
The last component is important and enormous: Joint mobility and low-intensity cardiovascular efforts. To me, this means brisk walking and as much light, auxiliary movement as possible throughout the waking hours. I have not time to go into it all now, I’ve grown tired of writing for the day and want to get on to something else, so I will save it for another post.
In the meantime, we can continue this discussion in the comment section. If you’d like any clarification, let me know there and I’d be happy to help you out—or if you just have something to add, please do, as I’d like to give away a few stuffed beavers, if I can help it.
If you want a fully flushed out program, then I invite you to join my Inner Circle, where I feature this sort of thing all the time. Actually, when you join this week (cancel anytime) and I’ll even give you a back issue with four full programs around this design, just email me at PatFlynn@ChroniclesOfStrength.com after you’ve signed up with the subject line of “Inner Circle” and I’ll get that right out to you, and maybe a few other surprises too.