Pavel then writes in Return of the Kettlebell that, "the double kettlebell clean and jerk leaves no muscle untrashed and pushes your heart and lings to the limit. There is an opinion in the Russian spec ops community that if you work it hard there is not much else you will need to do."
And just to really drive the point home, from Enter the Kettlebell we read that there is a "high correlation between the results posted in a kettlebell lifting competition and in a great range of dissimilar tests: strength, measured with the three power lifts and grip strength; strength endurance, measured with pull ups and parallel bar dips; general endurance, determined by a 1km run; and work capacity and balance, measured with special tests".
While we're looking at reasons why we'd choose to do exercises let's just look at the clean for a moment too. If you've been around any kind of speed or power sport at any decent level you'll see how highly regarded the clean is an an exercise. In particular, the power clean, which is easier to learn and due to it's lighter weights better for acceleration training, is used extensively. It's ease of teaching, the ability to use large loads, teach the body to accelerate and multiple muscle group interactions are all great reasons to include the clean in your training.
Somewhere along the line I can't help but scratch my head and wonder why we've lost sight of this. It often seems to me that within the RKC community we use the clean solely as a way to get the bell into the rack prior to pressing it or squatting it. For all the reasons above we should be doing kettlebell cleans more not less. They are easier on the wrists than a barbell clean as we can maintain our typical "no wrists" position which will keep the stress off them, we develop the same hip drive and power we would from kettlebell swings or barbell power cleans and, if we pause in the rack, will also get a tremendous core workout from maintaining our braced position.
As I wrote in this article here on the use of the swing and jerk for maximising power using kettlebells, the jerk is a tremendous exercise that is largely ignored. Well, you simply won't be able to anymore with the new guidelines that have just come out for RKCII. With the men's standard now set at five reps of double jerks with 32kg bells and the women's at the same five reps but with 20kg bells, if you're serious about chasing the RKCII, or developing the same kind of benefits that I spoke of above, then you'll need to get moving on these two great lifts.
The RKC is more and more like special forces. While the entry test are demanding they are far short of what the expectation is once you are in. In the SAS as you get badged and they flip your new sandy beret at you the OC will say, "This will be harder to keep than it was to get" and so it is becoming with the RKC. What this means is that if you plan to be an RKCII you wil now need to really address your shoulder mobility issues as the majority of people I see fail at level II are failing because of two things - they don't get their press (the 1/2 body weight strength test) or they lack adequate shoulder mobility to get a strong lockout position with two bells overhead. Right now in Australia there's three who have passed RKCII and two who have failed. The two who failed both did so because they didn't have a strong enough overhead position and hadn't worked enough at their lockout and mobility issues prior to attending.
One of the simplest ways to get results immediately is with a couple of stretches from Relax into Stretch. The Relaxed Cobra and Overhead Reach (stretch 3 and 11 respectively) are both ideal for increaing the amount of thoracic extension you've got and stretching out the shoulders. I'm always amazed at the proliferation of low level coaches and trainers who advise people not to stretch because it will "lower their force output". So will being stiff and tight. The bottom line is that EVERY advanced lifter I've ever watched train performed static stretching before and after their workouts. If you're a middle aged guy who has a lifetime habit of sitting at a desk hunched over do you really think that a few minutes of a corrective drill before each session will counter act decades of poor posture? The only way to get real and permanent effects is to spend ample time on static stretching.
Once you've actually spent some time making sure you can safely get into the catch position of the jerk the best way to train for it is like we always recommend - practice. One of the best workouts for that, in my opinion, is the Modified De Lorme approach from Beyond Bodybuilding. With easy, moderate and harder sets this simple approach allows you to feel the movement with a lighter weight before stepping up to a heavier one. As a training method for RKCII - to build your jerks or presses - it is also ideal.
If looking for a bare bones, tough as nails workout plan I'm hard pressed to find anything that would surpass something along the lines of successively heavier get ups x 3-5, say going from 24kg for one each side, to 28kg, 32kg, 36kg and finally 40kg. Then the De Lorme clean and jerks and finishing with barbell squats for 4 x 4. (The magic of 4 x 4 will have to wait for another time). But for all round strength with a limited time expense this would be a great plan. It's actually almost exactly the plan I'm using at the moment and my strength is going through the roof currently.
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