Crucifix – Part 1

by Roger LaPointe

Part 1 – Crucifix Holds

Crucifix using two kettlebells.

Strange lifts abound in the world of old school strongman feats, but the classic Crucifix Hold would seem to be pretty easy to understand.  Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  You simply have to start doing this movement to really grasp the coolness and easy application to a variety of training programs.

This first Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, covering the Crucifix Hold is going to highlight some of the many benefits, where to fit it into your routine and some initial tips for you to get started.  This will help you bypass a few of the stumbling blocks I hit along the way. 

1.  Shoulder Development:  The crucifix is just one of the exercises that Vic Boff recommends for use with kettlebell handles.  As Vic Boff says in his “Body Builder’s Bible”, “The exercises, when carefully followed through,will give excellent results when intelligently applied.” (Boff, p. 125)   I highly recommend that you actually work the various kettlebell handle exercises in Vic’s book.  They provide outstanding supplementary training for the competition lift, which is not just part of the USAWA, but frequently seen in strongman contests as well.

2.   Tools:  The old classic shots of strongmen, from fifty to one hundred years ago, almost always show the strongman doing the Crucifix Hold with some sort of globe kettlebell.  As I have a pretty good selection of equipment, including antique Milo Bar Bell globes, I figured this was the way to go.  Wrong.  Then I tried various dumbbells, which turned out to be varying degrees of “acceptable”.  The best was definitely NOT solid kettlebells, as the small solid heads and somewhat rounded handles had strange torque issues.  Maybe competition grade kettlebells would have been better, but I don’t have any of those here to try.  Certainly the best, and cheapest, were the kettlebell handles.  I would love to push sets of solid kettlebells, simply from a profit perspective, but I would be giving you my honest opinion.

3.   Timing:  I am finding that a solid warm-up with light Indian Clubs is essential, but I would be doing that for my Olympic weightlifting anyway.  Then do some of the light exercises Vic recommends, with no more than 15 pounds per kettlebell.  Then go right into progressively heavier poundages.

The USAWA Official Rulebook has the Crucifix in Section E8, which would correspond to the Top Exercise on Page 129 of Vic’s Book.


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