Jun 012012

I just checked out the recent copy of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  While I do admit to “skimming” through these journals, whenever I come across a study that interests me, I will read it.

In this issue (Volume 26, Number 5, May 2012); I came across 2 studies that I was interested in.  I would say that I am probably not the best at writing research reviews as I am aware that there might be some specific protocols that need to be done.  I swear that I did pay attention during my research methods class while I was in graduate school.  However, I am now at the point where I basically take what I learn from a study and hopefully apply what I learn.  This is why I am posting my thoughts here.

The first one was Effects of Weightlifting vs. Kettlebell Training on Vertical Jump, Strength, and Body Composition by William H. Otto, III, Jared W. Coburn, Lee E. Brown, and Barry SA. Spiering.  Page 1199. In this study the researchers looked at 2 different groups.  One group performed kettlebell exercises 2 times per week for 6 weeks, while the other group performed barbell only weightlifting exercises.  Prior to the training, each student was assessed for height, body mass, body composition, back squat 1-rm, vertical jump, and power clean 1-rm.  At the end of the 6 weeks, each student was re-assessed.  What the authors concluded was that both groups increased strength and power.  However, the weightlifting group showed greater gains in strength than the kettlebell group.

I think this study is good in that it does show that kettlebell training can help improve strength and power.  For me, I like kettlebells as a tool in addition to the barbell and other methods.  So that it does show that I am not wasting anyone’s time by incorporating kettlebells.  However, it’s important to talk about the methods of training in the study.  The kettlebell group used a 16-k kettlebell for their exercises which included swings, accelerated swings, and the goblet squat.  The weightlifting group performed high pulls, power cleans, and back squats at a load of 80% of 1-rm.  What I think may be misleading (again, I am a Strength and Conditioning Coach, not a researcher or scientist) is that the students who are healthy men, performed the back squat for 6 weeks while the kettlebell group did not back squat.  The back squat post assessment is what the authors used to conclude that weightlifting was superior for gaining strength.  Also, a 16-k kettlebell can be pretty light for some people.  While I also don’t disagree with the fact that it could be heavy for some, I wish there was a way that they could have made the kettlebell load more comparable to the loads in terms of percentage of 1-rm in the weightlifting group.  All in all, I am very happy the kettlebells are being investigated in the training process.

The second study was Relationship of Off-Ice and On-Ice Performance Measures in High School Male Hockey Players by David A. Krause, Aynsley M. Smith, Laura C. Holmes, Corrine R. Klebe, Jennifer B. Lee, Kimberly M. Lundquist, Jospeph J. Eischen, and John H. Hollmen. Page 1423.  Obviously by being a Strength and Conditioning Coach in hockey, anytime there is a study on relationships between off-ice and on-ice performance, I am all ears.  This study consisted of 40 high school age players who were from the junior varsity and varsity levels.  What the authors did was measure horizontal hops (both single and double leg), vertical jumps (both single and double leg), lateral hops, dynamic balance through the Y-Balance test, and a 40-yard sprint.  Then they measured some on-ice tests including a course for short radius turns, crossover turns, and a sprint test (goal line through opposite blue line).  5 of the off-ice variables correlated with all on-ice measurements including  the 40-yard sprint, lateral bound right to left limb, broad jump, balance on right in posterolateral direction  and composite balance performance on the right.  However, the 40-yard sprint was most predictive of on-ice skating speed.  What was really interesting is that the authors said that “Based on our regression equation, for every 1-second difference in the 40-yard sprint time, there will be approximately a .6-second difference in the on-ice sprint.”

Although the authors did say “We cannot say that improving sprint time will result in a faster skater”, at the end of the study, I have to believe that improving sprint performance off-ice should be a priority anyone who trains hockey players.  The faster players have greater chances to be better players on the ice.

It is ok to train hockey players like a sprinter. Although I would probably never use the 40-yard dash in my athletes’ speed training, I do believe in trying to improve acceleration.

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  One Response to “Kettlebells and Hockey Studies”

  1. I read that study a few weeks back. I would have changed a few things.

    Instead of accelerated swing vs power clean, I would have chosen double kb clean. Instead of Goblet squat, I would have chosen double kb front squat. I do think the loads (16kg vs 80% of 1RM) were skewed as well. At the end of the day both the kettlebell and the barbell are tools to be used in building a better athlete.

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