Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume Two

Sarah Lurie
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Kettlebell

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I'm a high intermediate exerciser who works out daily, but I'm new to kettlebells. I practiced some basic kettlebell moves with a dumbbell for awhile, but this was one of the first workouts that I used with my new 8 kg (18 lb) kettlebell that I purchased on Amazon.

This DVD features RKC kettlebell instructor Sarah Lurie. It includes a short (1.5 minutes) introduction by Sarah, a 4.5 minute instructional segment (Foundation 2) in which Sarah breaks down some, but not all, of the kettlebell moves found in the workout, and then a 45 minute workout (Circuit 2). For those who have tried Iron Core Volume One, several new and more challenging moves are added here, included snatches, clean & press, and Turkish getups.

For the actual workout, Sarah is instructing live with two background exercisers, Robert and Sammy. The warm-up consists of swings, catches, squats, and three Turkish getups per side. (Note: Sarah does not break down the Turkish getup, a fairly tricky move.)

The Circuit is conducted in three rounds of individual exercises, with a 30 second break between exercises and a 1-2 minute break between rounds. Prior to each exercise, graphics appear on screen breaking down the move in detail and offering form tips; a countdown clock also keeps track of the breaks.

The exercises in each round are basically the same, with some slight variations as noted below:

Round 1:
*1-arm swings (10)
*snatches (8)
*clean & press (8)
*tactical lunges (10) + 2-arm swings (10)
*suitcase deadlift (5) + snatches (5)
*deck squats (10)
*alternating swings (10)

Round 2:
*1-arm swings (10)
*snatches (8)
*clean & press (8)
*tactical lunges (10) + 2-arm swings (10)
*suitcase deadlift (5) + snatches (5)
*deck squats (10)

Round 3:
*1-arm swings (10) + snatches (10)
*clean & press (8)
*tactical lunges (10)
*suitcase deadlift (5)
*snatches (5)
*deck squats (10)

*get-up situps (4 per side)
*twisting crunches, kettlebell between feet (10)

I didn't necessarily find this DVD more intense than Volume 1. However, as someone who is still quite new to kettlebells, I found several of the moves more difficult to execute, particularly the snatches and clean & press, both of which are used frequently here. Furthermore, I didn't think that Sarah's breakdowns of the moves provided quite enough information. Another issue was that during the workout itself, Sarah's pace is a bit too quick for a beginner; although I'm an experienced exerciser, I struggled to keep up with her at times. I do think that this is a good DVD, but those new to kettlebells will probably want to have at least some practice under their belts prior to using it.

Instructor Comments:
I thought Sarah was fine overall. However, it would have been helpful if she had mirror cued--with being new to kettlebells, it was kind of tricky trying to learn from her when I had to reverse her movements. Also, she makes some obviously scripted comments to her background exercisers at times; these just seemed a bit silly to me.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 46-min. DVD contains a short instructional segment followed by slightly more challenging kettlebell workout.
After an introduction (2 min.), Sarah discusses the new foundation exercises (4.5 min.): snatches, suitcase deadlifts, tactical lunges, and deck squats.
The warm-up (3.5 min.) runs through swing - catch - squat and Turkish getups, with 30 second rests in between, before launching right into the main workout portion (31.5 min.). The first and second circuits have one arm swings, snatches, clean & presses, tactical lunges followed by two arm swings, suitcase deadlifts followed by snatches, deck squats, and alternating swings (skipped in the second circuit), with 30 second breaks in between exercises and a slightly longer break (about 1 min.) between circuits. The third circuit has one arm swings followed by one arm snatches, clean & presses, tactical lunges, suitcase deadlifts, snatches, and deck squats. The workout ends with abs (3.5 min): get up sit ups and crunches with elbow to opposite knee. There is no cool-down or stretch.
Quality is stressed over quantity, with most exercises getting between 5 and 10 reps. I felt Sarahís pace was rather quick in places, so I just started as soon as the countdown clock went to 1 and worked at my own pace.

Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced exercisers who may be newish to kettlebells but have some kettlebell basics under their belt and are starting to get comfortable with more difficult moves like snatches. Iíd recommend supplementing with other videos (such Lisa Shafferís or online ones at Art of Strength), books (such as Pavelís or Lisa Shafferís), and/or if at all possible live classes, especially since as a relative beginner itís hard to self-diagnose form issues and problems and since Sarah doesnít spend a lot of time breaking down more complicated moves like the TGU or providing modifications for tricky moves like the deck squats.
You might want to work your way up to doing all three circuits, just doing one the first time through and then adding on as you feel ready. Those who have more kettlebell experience under their belt as well as a higher level of fitness can turn the rests into active rests, doing their choice of moves (lower impact, like marching in place or stepping side to side; higher impact, like jumping jacks or burpees; or perhaps doing 30 seconds of swings in between, if youíre really a glutton for punishment!).
Iím an experienced exerciser (I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, strength, and Pilates, while Iím more of a low intermediate when it comes to yoga), but Iím still new to kettlebells. When I tried this DVD this week, I had watched Lisa Shafferís instructional video, read her manual, and tried her 6-week beginnerís e-book program plus had been taking classes at my gym for just over 5 months; on average Iíve been working with kbs once a week as part of my usual program. I felt worked out but not wiped out, and I appreciated the rest breaks because my heart rate did get up fairly high at points.

Class: 1 man and 1 women join Sarah, who instructs live, although during demos Sarah is alone, with instruction via voiceover.
The background exercisers may not be exactly in time with Sarah at all moments, but thatís OK, as itís best to work at your own pace.

Music: instrumental with a beat (kind of rock-like). Itís not that bad but quiet in relation to Sarahís voice.

Set: interior space lined with kettlebells and photos of Sarah doing kettlebell exercises along the back wall.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful rather than distracting camera angles that show all of Sarah at all times. Itís rather no frills, except for the text that appears on the full screen before exercises and sometimes at the bottom during exercises with form basics and tips. There is a countdown clock during the 30-second rest periods.

Equipment: a kettlebell. Sarah and crew appear to use one for the entire workout, but because the exercises are done only one or two at a time itís easy to use more than one. 8 kg (17.6 lbs.) is the usual suggestion for women and 12 kg (26.4 lbs.) for men who exercise regularly but are new to kettlebells. As someone who still uses 8 kg for most exercises but 12 kg for double-handed swings, some squats, and deadlifts (although I should be getting close to the point where I can try this weight for cleans and other exercises), I used my 25 lb. kb for two arm swings, tactical lunges, and suitcase deadlifts and my 20 lb. kb for all other moves except the TGU and get up sit up; since the deck squat is a brand new to me exercise I did it without weight this time through and only went down to a step rather than on the floor.
Youíll want flat-soled shoes; if you have cushy cross-trainers like I do, youíre better off barefoot, which is how I do my kbs.
Oh, and if you sweat as profusely as I do, have a towel and a bottle of water handy.

Space Requirements: enough space to swing in front of you, step behind you, and lie down. This has a very small footprint and is perfect for those without much room.

DVD Notes: The main menu choices are Play, Foundation 2, and Circuit 2. The instruction, warm-up, each circuit, and abs portions are separate chapters, but you may have trouble if you try to start skipping exercises with in the circuits.

Comments: Iím not sure what the difference is between my version (the one with the white background on the cover, copyright 2007) and the other one available (the one with a yellow background on the cover, copyright 2005), other than the cover and date on the back; the 2007 edition still has the 2005 copyright date on the workout itself.

Iron Core Vol. 2 represents a very real step up from Vol 1. Definitely donít tackle Vol. 2 before you feel fully comfortable with the exercises in Vol. 1 Ė or even feel slightly comfortable with the new moves in Vol. 2. Vol. 2 seems to be low on swings, which seem to be replaced by snatches here, but if I really miss them I guess I can add some in myself.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah focuses on cueing and instructing, with constant form reminders, including some scripted comments to her background exercisers as you come back from break (yeah, thatíll get old the gazillionth time through). Sheís more natural when discussing the exercises; although she has a pleasant, encouraging, upbeat personality, her words of encouragement come out with almost a kindergarten teacher tone (itís a lot like Sara Ivanhoeís voice in her Crunch yoga videos). Sarah cues for her right and left, rather than the viewerís, so no mirror cuing.