Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Tracy Rif Roundabout, it's origin and concept

I started my kettlebell training by combining the different swing variations in sets of patterns for a couple of reasons:

I wanted to swing for longer sets, and I only knew a few KB moves. If a little was good, then more must be better! And I wanted to get as much work done in as little time possible, and the only way I knew how to do that was to swing more, rest less! I also saw endurance/ cardio training as my strength, not the high tension exercises. And my goal was to burn calories, not to get strong, but skinny, lol!

To swing longer I needed to make it fun. There it is the "F" word! I know, I know, training is not supposed to be fun! But by combining the different swing movements and creating patterns, I had to focus more on the pattern of movements, than the actual work being done. And being one that likes repitition and perfecting patterns I found it to be challenging to repeat a pattern over and over until I got it right!

Without going into my complete training philosophy....you'll have to wait for the book to be published.....enter the Roundabout.

I was in the gym wanting to work up to swinging a heavier bell one handed, the weight increments of bells available (at the time) jumped considerably, making it hard, being a woman, to go from a 16kg, to a 20kg. So, what to do?

Well, it made sense to work progressively, first starting with 2 hands, transferring the heavier bell to one hand, back to using 2 hands, and then repeating it on the other side, ending with two hands again. Once the strength was built, swinging more one handed reps at a time on each side....2,3,4,5 reps etc.....with the 2 hand swings breaking up the work inbetween, until I could swing consistently, only one handed, the heavier bell.

I named it the Roundabout because I think Mark's gymnastic background had some influence! The "round off" is a gymnastics move, and in gymnastics alot of moves are named. That combined with the fact that the bell starts at one point, in the middle, travels to one side, and then back to the middle before traveling ot the other side, making a complete circle....a complete "round"! Personally, I thought the name Roundabout, was kind of silly, lol, but how could I keep track of such a long combination of swings, train it, and teach it without naming it?

If you think getting this combination right was easy, it wasn't. I wanted to use all of the swing movements in addition to fitting it into a pattern that would evenly take 1 minutes time. I didn't have anyone showing or telling me the correct pattern, it's hard enough when you do have someone taking you through the combination. I had to do it many, many, many times, incorrectly before memorizing the pattern in the correct order, consistently. (When the Roundabout combination gets easy for you, try the Fast Roundabout, lol!) And that was the other really cool thing about it, and why I use it often with clients, is because you get a ton of work done, but are distracted by training the swings in the correct order. The Roundabout combination alone is a great training tool, regardless of whether or not you are working up to using a heavier bell (see my latest workout video)....although it is my main technique for building most beginners up to swinging, one handed, the 12kg, from the 8kg (mostly women, obviously).

The breakdown:

2 hand swing (rep 1)
transfer to R, (rep 2)
one hand swing R, (rep 3)
transfer back to 2 hand swing, (rep 4)
2 hand swing, (rep 5)
transfer to L, (rep 6)
1 hand swing L, (rep 7)
transfer to 2 hand swing, repeat (rep 8)

Each complete Roundabout has 8 reps, 5 complete Roundabouts = 1 min.

I've added tons of variations of the Roundabout using multiple one hand swing reps, snatches, cleans, clean/press, and a combination of all of these moves. I've done 1/2 Roundabouts, that's when you go back and forth to one hand swings only on one side before moving on to the other side, breaking up sets, all R one hand swings, rest, then all L, one hand swings. Fast Roundabouts, that's when you drop the 2 hand and 1 hand swings, using only 2 hand and 1 hand transfers, alternating clockwise and counter clockwise "rounds"(see last video) Roundabout ladders, etc. I could write a whole book on Roundabout combinations, and more benefits to using it....if only I had the energy, lol!

Yesterday, as I was downloading the videos of my workout, I came across another You Tube video titled Russian Kettlebell Roundabout with a Snatch, and I was shocked to see someone else demonstrating "my combination" and calling it by the name I gave it! I didn't invent the kettlebell, I didn't invent the kettlebell swing or every single kettlebell swing combination ever done. But I have been publishing this style of combination swing training for a couple of years, and first published the Roundabout combination demonstrating and explaining the pattern on video, so I decided, to now, document how I developed it for my own training purposes. I've never been one to whine or be petty, and if someone else wants to claim it, then so be it. But until that happens, imitation is the best form of flattery and the fact that the "Roundabout" is a recognized swing combination, then I can only be grateful for my addition to kettlebell training.

explanation of Roundabout published 09/07

Fast Roundabouts published 02/07

2 hand transfer to R,
transfer L,
transfer 2 hands,
transfer L,
transfer R,
transfer 2 hands,


sheryl said...

Yay to the roundabout! Brilliant. I like the idea of the "F" word in my wo's otherwise it would get too boring. Without your combos I don't know what I would have done....;-]

sztheomo said...

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for sharing your workout. I found it very usefull to improve my swing skills. I built it into my every day workouts.
Tamás from Hungary

Tracy Reifkind said...


I hate to compare my KB combos to something like "step aerobics", but that's what I think it resembles...I was queen of step aerobics in the 80's, lol!

Tracy Reifkind said...


It's easy to get lazy with swing form, especially high volume. Swings, done with any weight, done with precision form will always kick ass in the gym!

dkbfitness.com said...


I love your roundabouts. Thank you for sharing them. It takes the swing to a new level. (it also keeps people going longer I noticed).
I think that I also need to go down to the 12, I am in the same situation. It is nice to read about it from someone else! Hope you are well.

Dave said...

Thanks for explaining the roundabout. I think it will also be useful in learning hand to hand transfers, because with the roundabout there is always one hand on the KB during the transfer. When I practice transfers, I usually go outside so I don't hurt anyone or anything !

Tracy Reifkind said...


I do find I get students to swing longer, and they want to keep trying until they get it right!

As far as "going down" to the 12kg, that's exactly why I titled my blog post "There's no Shame in the 12kg" Why do we women have to feel as if somehow the 12kg is not a challenge?

Tracy Reifkind said...


Hmmnn...I never saw that point

"because with the roundabout there is always one hand on the KB during the transfer."

I call those swing movements "2 hand transfers", which can be dificult to explain, but you did it perfectly....

dkbfitness.com said...


Good point!!! I am not "going down" I am using a different weight. Funny(or not funny) how I said that even after the title of your post, weird.

I thought of you yesterday when I had a shopping breakdown and called lululemon for a sweatshirt. I am an addict.

Tracy Reifkind said...


OMG, I just spent a ton of cash-ola at the brand new, just opened today, Lululemon store in downtown Palo Alto! I'm a Platinum Customer!

Let's see....I got 2 new pairs of pants (the denim Wonder Under tights, to wear with my new boots this winter)...3 t-shirts, 2 tanks, and a jacket....good Lord I love their jackets!

dkbfitness.com said...

Lucky you to have a new store!! I love the jackets too. Thanks for turning me on to them:) I am getting ready to teach a class. Maybe I will incorporate your "roundabouts" although I also refer to them as "nasty swings". I heard that from someone or other, and thought it fit. Have a great day strut'in yo stuff:)

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