Before I delve into a review of this book, I should discuss my own bias. I’ll admit that I’m a bit wary of kettlebells. Although I own one, and have trained in two great gyms with a wide selection of various shapes and sizes, I’ve become aware of how nutty (and often scary) so many kettlebell fanatics are. (Notable exceptions include rock star coach Troy Anderson, who is one of the coolest people on the planet, and Jason Brown, who I’ve never met–but he has great videos and articles online.) Incidentally, Greg Everett has a great article (yours for $2.75) on kettlebells: great tools, but not the answer to everything, he opines.
But even though I approached Kettlebell RX: The Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches by Jeff Martone with a bit of hesitation, I was pleased by what I found. First, there’s Jeff Martone. He is incredibly qualified and, unlike so many self-proclaimed kettlebell gurus, he does not try to pretend to be someone he’s not. And so many potential issues for students of kettlebells, from learning styles to physical injuries and more, are thoroughly covered in this 320-page book.
The book is divided into three parts: kettlebells for Crossfitters, rotational power development, and kettlebell sport technique. Kettlebells for Crossfitters begins with close to 30 pages of joint mobility drills and pre and post-training stretches. This is desperately needed in large swaths of the Crossfit community. It is followed with section on swings, Turkish get-ups, cleans, and overhead exercises. Every movement has multiple variations–each of which include common errors, corrective actions and the RX, or recommended workout. Kettlebells for Crossfitters makes up the majority of the book, and it ends with some great program design variations. I was pleased to see that the book emphasizes mobility and flexibility as well as strength, and was presented in a clearly laid out way.
The second part of the book is rotational power development, again with common errors and corrective actions–as well as program design for various levels of fitness. The book concludes with a short intro on the Russian sport of competitive kettlebell lifting. It is refreshing to read a little bit about kettlebell history (as opposed to propaganda), so it’s interesting and useful. Kettlebell RX is distinct from other popular kettlebell books: it has a nice feel to it; crisp layout and useful information. The book retails for $34.95, but I believe that is a decent price–not solely for the exercises listed, but for the potential errors and the extensive mobility drills.
Would I recommend this book? I believe it is incredibly useful for personal trainers and coaches who want to include kettlebells in their own workouts and those of their clients. The information is clearly laid out and common errors to look for are clearly explained, so it’s a very valuable resource. I particularly appreciated “reality checks” for weaker and older athletes, and symptoms of overtraining. If you’re a coach and aren’t interested in spending hundreds of dollars for a kettlebell certification which your clients may or may not care about, this would be a very good resource. And even if you did complete a certification, it may not have covered the safety information included herein.
I also believe the book would be useful for those who regularly use kettlebells and are unclear how to use them correctly, or would like more variations. If you want to put together a dedicated program, Kettlebell RX seems like a good resource. If you’re just a hobbyist, though, there is plenty of free information available online. Bonus points to Jeff Martone for putting together a book that is accessible and safe for people of all fitness levels–and propaganda-free.