Hello, 2017!

More importantly, goodbye 2016...

This morning after teaching my Wednesday AM kettlebell class, a student brought up the fact that he was looking over his Facebook feed and decided he has never seen people hate on a year more than 2016 is being hated on. I had to agree with the 2016 shaming. We are at the time where a generation of super talents are dying – some untimely and some not so untimely, but it simply sucks when legends die no matter their age. The election, well I’ll leave it at I personally would not have been joyful and excited for either candidate to win (seriously, where is Kid President when you really need him?) I speak for myself (and too many friends and colleagues who share my disappointment) when I say that this year I did not advance personally or professionally at the rate I would have liked to and where I am at the end of 2016 is nowhere near where I had hoped I would be when planning how the year would play out. But you know what? Life happens in cycles. We have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs. And at the end of the day, we have so much to be grateful for. I’m happy to end 2016 and begin 2017 with a new outlook on life and determination that this too, shall pass. Where can we go but up?  Let’s not get discouraged at the state of the world but come together and make 2017 our best year yet. It takes a low like 2016 to make us realize how amazing life CAN be if we stick to it and wake up every day determined to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Gandhi. Thoreau is credited with, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” I’m taking these words to heart as we venture into the unknown that is 2017. Whether your goal is professional, financial, spiritual, physical, or some combination of 4, we can do this. Don’t stay discouraged. We’ve got this. And if 2016 was a great year for you, congratulations. Keep it up. Let’s map out this upcoming year and share our successes at the end of next December!

Host a Healthy (and Delicious) Trader Joe’s Holiday Party

Just because you are making the healthful decision to do a stick to a healthy eating plan during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in your room and not be social. Trader Joe’s has many options for you to throw a dinner party that anyone can enjoy!

Beverages: Trader Joe’s has a great selection of sparkling waters to serve in wine glasses. Garnish with lemons and limes.

Pre-Dinner Snacks:

Put out some bowls of Just Mango Slices and nuts of your choice. Trader Joe’s has a large selection and most are compliant. Double check the label for added sugars just to be sure. Get some of the Jicama sticks and make some easy guacamole by mashing up ripe avocadoes and mixing with Salsa Autentica.

First Course:

Make an Asian inspired “fried rice” bowl with cauliflower rice, broccoli florets from the frozen department, an egg, and and diced organic chicken breasts. Add a splash of coconut cream.

Main Course – On the Grill

Let the star of the show be some grilling! Trader Joe’s has a great assortment of organic meats to grill and vegetables you can roast. Drizzle your choice of veggies with olive oil and put them in the oven for 35-40 minutes.


Get the Very Berry Cherry Blend in the frozen section and some fresh limes. While still frozen, pour the berries in a cup and squeeze lime juice over them. Mash with a fork and serve. You’ll surprised how delicious this is!

These are not the only Trader Joe’s options for compliant menu items for a “fun for anyone” dinner party. They are all label compliant so you don’t have to think about it but if you veer off of this list, make sure you check the ingredient list for sneaky sugars and grains!






How Heavy Should I Go in a Turkish Get-up?

Here’s the thing. We teach get-ups very light. That’s because students are moving around for the very first time with a weight overhead. And so of course, there is a danger of dropping a very heavy weight onto your very vulnerable face.

But once a student owns the movement and learns to use his body as one unit — the way it is meant to work — a much heavier bell can (and should) be used. The get-up is not just a light warm-up mobility exercise (although there are definite benefits there). It should also be a serious strength exercise once the student owns the movement with confidence.

StrongFirst Certification Get-UpWhere Did We Get Confused About the Get-up?

“Naked” get-ups, shoe get-ups, and very light get-ups are all great teaching tools as well as good practice and mobility work. I think when the awesome book and DVD set Kalos Thenos came out people lost interest in heavy get-ups almost completely, replacing them with the light get-ups with neck/shoulder rotations and the high hip bridge — much like when people gave up heavy snatching altogether when Viking Warrior Conditioning came out.

I am not saying the Kalos Thenos get-up is bad — on the contrary, I think it is a great drill for both newbies and advanced lifters, as well as an instructor tool to screen movement problems, asymmetries, spot tight hip flexors, and the list goes on. But when a whole type of get-up is abandoned, then a crucial part of the picture is missing.

StrongFirst Get-Up DemonstrationStrongFirst’s Expectation About the Get-up

Kalos Thenos get-up yang is the heavy get-up. StrongFirst is first and foremost a “School of Strength” and we should get moving with some heavy weights overhead. As Master SFG Brett Jones said one weekend as we were getting ready for the SFG Level II Certification, you should have the ability to own different kinds of get-ups. You should be able to high hip bridge and low sweep — as well as many other kinds of get-ups. It’s all about body control and strength.

Note on Differences

The heavy get-up will look a little different. You will probably have to sit more into your hip to get under the weight for more leverage when coming up into the kneeling position. Your breathing will be more of a power breathing style. The high hip bridge is probably out of the question if you are maxing out. A max-weight get-up looks very different from the Kalos Thenos get-up — and that’s okay.

Teaching Get-UpGet-up to Heavy

So how do you work on getting up with a heavier weight? You do some drills to make sure you know how to use your body as a single unit.

Kneeling and half-kneeling press drills take out some “cheating” and force you to lock into place. You may feel your abs working extra hard on the opposite side (the body is set up like an “X” but that is a whole different story that I will let Tim Andersen tell here.)

After you do these drills, try something heavy. In the four classes I observed today at my gym, we set eleven personal records after doing various half kneeling press drills. Some of those records were set by newbies (who are expected to move up relatively quickly), but others of those were from students who had been with us for years. One student who has been coming for three years did her first get-up with a 16kg — and made it look easy!

Heavy Get-UpThe Bottom Line

The Kalos Thenos get-up is a fantastic way to perform the exercise, but it’s not the only way to train get-ups. Just like you can use Master SFG Dan John’s Easy Strength program to pattern movements with lighter weights in order to train for a personal record, you can increase your mobility and stability with the Kalos Thenos get-up in order to get-up with some substantial weight above head, and it will help increase your other lifts as well.

Your Get-Up Homework

If you are trying to press a certain weight, get-up with that weight or even one bell heavier. Getting used to moving around with that weight overhead and using your whole body to connect to support it will get you your gains faster.

Throwback Thursday to 2010!

Throwback Thursday to a follow-along training session where you learn why you shouldn’t practice Turkish get-ups while watching a screen. You’ll also learn to use a squat, press combination to help bridge the gap to a heavier military press and includes a bracing exercise called the “Hot potato” that is often left out in kettlebell training.

Training #9 from Delaine Ross on Vimeo.

Two Drills for Packing the Down Shoulder in the Get-Up

Hey guys – this is a clip from the Comprehensive Kettlebell Course I launched last Fall. It includes two drills for packing the shoulders in the kettlebell swing.

Not packing the shoulder is one of the most common mistakes – especially for people who sit all down and/or have little body awareness.

Saying “Pack your shoulder” is Greek to most people in the fitness industry and they need to be shown how it feels not just told in words they don’t understand.

This is one of many teaching and coaching drills in the Comprehensive Kettlebell Catalog meant to make people better kettlebell users and lifters.

If you would take a look at a (silent) scrolling video of content you can check it out here.

Also, until Friday, as a thank you to the blog readers and subscribers I’m offering the introductory pricing again. Just use coupon code “BLOG” at the checkout page.

Train Hard, but Train Smart!



Follow Along Training Session

The organization Whole Life Challenge (check them out – they are doing some cool stuff!) asked me to submit some videos for their site. I sent them a “beginner’s” training session. The reason “beginner’s” is in quotation marks is that this is the training session I use at the end of an introductory class. It’s not “beginner’s” because it’s easy but it’s beginner’s because it puts together all the basics. This is VERY appropriate for advanced lifters as well (just go heavier!) Enjoy!

Utilizing Partial Get-Ups When You Can’t Do Full Get-Up

Partial TGU

Back in May, I got a little daring (maybe a little cocky) and attempted an aerial (a no hands cartwheel) for the first time in about… oh… 18 years. The result was a bone bruise, avulsion fracture and double sprained ankle. Not the smartest decision I have ever made to say the least. I got back into the gym as soon as I was in a boot and was back to swinging, deadlifting, and pressing. The problem was, I couldn’t push off of my left foot or stabilize with it to perform a full get-up on either side. Instead of sticking with half get-ups, I stopped doing get-ups altogether. At the time of my injury, a 24kg get-up was a regular training weight and the 28kg not terribly difficult. At the next StrongFirst Kettlebell User Course I taught a couple of months later, I expected demonstrating with the 16kg to be a piece of cake. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. I should have kept training to the level I was capable of. I should have been doing half kneeling get-ups the whole time. It took me until this morning to regain the strength, mobility and stability to get the 24kg get-up back. Even if your student can only roll to the elbow, rolling to the elbow under load will help with mobility and shoulder stability. If your student has to stay weightless for weeks or months, that’s ok. A partial get-up is by far better than no get-up at all and you’ll be surprised at the gains that will come from working what can be worked.

Train Hard, but Train Smart!
PS – If this was valuable, leave a comment on the blog and share on FB!

The Swing and the Deadlift Have the Same Movement Pattern

Swing is a Deadlift

The kettlebell swing is fundamentally a dynamic deadlift. They are both exercises that employ the hinge pattern. Contrary to what you may see in many gyms, the swing is not a squat. The angle at the hip is much more acute than the angle at the knee, whereas in the squat the angle of the knee and the angle of the hip are relatively the same. In the back of a swing and a deadlift, you’re sitting back as if someone pulled a chair out from under you and you can’t quite reach it. One way to dial in a kettlebell swing with yourself or a student is to start with a deadlift – hinge and slowly “squeeze” the bell off of the ground. Then immediately do some powerful swings mimicking that same pattern only this time quickly and explosively. (Hint: make sure in your deadlift, you start with the handles lined up with your ankles underneath you and in the swing start the bell a little bit in front of you with the handle tilted back towards you.)

What are your favorite swing tips for beginners? Leave a comment below and please share on FB if you think your friends and colleagues could benefit!