Goerner’s “the chain”

One of my interests has always been history. We seem to forget sometimes that we as weightlifters have our own unique history, and that sometimes going back into the record books and biographies, we can find many effective exercises and routines no longer seen in the gyms today.

Herman Goerner is one that has always interested me. Reading about him, his training, and his many records have motivated me time and time again.

From his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller comes “die kette”, or “the chain”.

In the gym Goerner attended, they had a row of 19 Kettle weights, with weights starting at 13kg, and ending with 52.5kgs. They were all set in pairs, with 5-10 pound increase per pair. There was only 1 52.5kg kettle bell though.

What Goerner would do, going from lightest to heaviest, was with one hand do a swing to over head, then lower it to the shoulder; then press the weight overhead, next he would lower the weight to the shoulder and then to the hang position, from there he would curl the weight to the shoulder and then press it over head, from there its lowered and set on the ground. He would then move to the next KB, and do the same with the other hand.

To clarify, that is a swing, shoulder press, curl and shoulder press with the right arm, then again with the left hand, before moving up in weight.

He was able to do this with all the weights including the 50kg bells. He did not curl the 52.5kg bell, which he would only swing and press. This would take about 40 minutes.

Finding a gym with a large selection of kettle bells might be difficult, but doing this dumbbells is just as effective.

I have done this with dumbbells off and on for the last several years, and it is awesome. Simple, effective, and is a warm up, or the whole workout. I usually start at the 20 pound db, and if I am warming up, go up 5 pound increments to about 75 pounds before form is shot on the curl. If this is the whole workout, then I continue on, the presses become push presses, and the curl becomes a cheat curl/ hang clean up to 115R, and 105L.

(The swing is another old school lift, and is a little different then what is done normally. To do the swing set the DB on end between your legs, behind the heels. Grasp the handle, squat down, and much like a DB snatch, but keeping the arm straight through out, swing it up in an arc to overhead. Ensure you have a good grip, or else the mirrors and fellow gym members might not appreciate your efforts.)

Put this one in your kit bag and give it a try. It is a great full body workout, really hits the shoulders, arms, and the breathing.

Take care and good lifting,

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