KB Death Row: Nothin' But Lats to Kill

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  • By Marc "Spud" Bartley
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Training as I see it is a hodgepodge of many ideas that often come together at the strangest times. I don’t sit around and dream up ways to train. I just stare at a piece of equipment and then start moving and see what happens. This is what I call a “go blank” moment, when you stop thinking and sort of let things happen. It is for me one of the most creative times that I ever have. I get the Forest Gump look where I tilt my head to the side and I am very quiet for a moment and then just move and try things.  Most exercises are truly new ideas, someone, somewhere has already had the idea but if it is new to you then it feels like a revelation.  These brand new moments are the most precious in life where doing something a different way or in a different pattern escalates to many other ideas. The discovery makes me feel like a little kid and it becomes play again.  It is a moment that belongs to me.


The KB Death Row is no different. It is not a stroke of genius or exercise to end all exercises. It is a simple way to blast the lats and biceps either in training groups or just by yourself. I like it in groups to challenge people to push their cardio up and push their comrades in training. I had four guys of varying strength, size and cardio levels who used to train with me. We had just gotten our first full set of kettlebells way back in 2005. Everyone had done their main upper work, triceps, shoulders, etc so this was the finish line. I used to plan sessions 10 years ago when I first started trainng people but a couple of years in I winged every session and still do today. This makes it fun and challenges me in the heat of the moment to think.


I started them out with regular rows using the kettlebells but it didn’t seem to be enough work load and they were recovering too fast. I hate for my clients to stand around during training, so I just started putting kettlebells in a circle increasing in weight from the 12 kg to the 48 Kg.  All four of my clients just stared at me as I laid out my evil plan.  The first set was five reps of one arm rows on with the right arm only with each weight of kettlebell.  When they got done with one round they started over and went through on their left arm and added a rep.  That day they did four rounds total adding a rep to each round and not taking any breaks between rounds unless they absolutely had to.   Their super set looked like this:


Right Arm 5 reps, all the way up to the 48 kg.


Left Arm 6 reps, all the way up to the 48 kg.


Right Arm 7 reps, all the way up to the 48 kg.


Left Arm 8 reps, all the way up to the 48 kg.


I have done as many as rounds up to 10 reps on the last arm with the higher endurance victims (I mean clients).  Towards the end there will be some sloppiness in form due to fatigue. If it is too awful take them out or let them rest longer between sets.  I equate this to running with the Prowler for 3 or 4 trips.  


Circuit type training is nothing new. But at the time, it was something fun and exhausting that the clients truly enjoyed after it was done. There has never been a special request for the Kettlebell Death Row from anyone after they have done it either. It will smash your back and your lungs and you will wish that you were put out of your misery.


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