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!
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.
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!
When I opened my studio in 2007, I had only been certified for
one year and hadn’t trained many people.
A swing was a swing and I hadn’t developed the eye to tell the difference
between a good one, a bad one, or a down right unsafe one.
Over the last almost 10 years of kettlebell teaching and training, I
assisted at many certifications until I was promoted and allowed to
teach at them. I also took dozens of workshops from master trainers
from all over the world.
I wish I had this course (available next Friday) when I was just starting out training.
The Comprehensive Kettlebell Catalog is the culmination of what I have learned at these events and from
training more than a thousand students at my kettlebell gym over the next 8 years.
Are you ready to cut your learning curve by 10 years?
Are you ready to be a better instructor AND lifter?
Are you ready to help you and your students maximize the kettlebell experience?
The Comprehensive Kettlebell Catalog outlines how to break down the 6
fundamental exercises to teach general population and how to correct
the most common mistakes.
Even if you are certified, you will pick up on something learned from experience or
through workshops taught by my colleagues.
(Click the image below!)
Stayed tuned for the next email on Monday that covers how to teach the
snatch and keep from banging your wrists.
And to let you know, the course is a 3 part series that is laid out like this:
How to Teach the Swing
How to Fix the Most Common Swing Mistakes
How to Teach the Turkish Getup
How to Fix the Most Common Turkish GetUp Mistakes
How to Teach the Clean
How to Fix the Most Common Clean Mistakes
How to Teach the Military Press Mistakes
How to Fix the Most Common Military Press Mistakes and Press Heavier
How to Teach the Squat
How to Fix the Most Common Squat Mistakes and Squat Deeper
How to Teach the Snatch
How to Fix the Most Common Snatch Mistakes
How to Design General Population Programs
3 Single Bell Follow Along Workouts
3 Double Bell Follow Along Workouts
And here is the table of contents for Section 1, so you can check out the amount of content offered.
If you have any questions, please respond to this email or come over to the Facebook page.
I look forward to helping you become the best trainer and lifter you can be!
Train Hard, but Train Smart,
Get yours here:
Some people who sit all day don’t even know what it feels like to keep the shoulders packed and chest open. This is a drill for people who don’t have the body awareness to feel the difference. If you have them put a medium sized bell behind their back and hinge into the bell, it will pull the shoulders back and cause them to feel what it’s like to have an open chest and shoulders that are packed and not rounded.
Check out the video and if you like it, please share and leave a comment on how you fix this common issue!
I remember one of my first ever private training sessions I did at Condition Kettlebell Gym. I asked the student if he did Turkish Getups. He said, “No.” I was about to go on a rant about how good get-ups are for mobility, agility, and stability. He interrupted and said, “No. I live in the Caribbean. I have a concrete floor in my house and poisonous caterpillars in my backyard.”
I’ll give him the caterpillars but now I have a fix for the concrete floor.
If I could only do ONE kettlebell exercise for the rest of my life, it would be the Get-up. It’s just a matter of fact that we, as a Western society, just don’t roll and stand and kneel – especially under load. Even kids these days sit under trees at the park and play video games.
My favorite testimonial I have ever heard was not a fat loss story. It was a 67 year old grandmother who came back from Christmas and (with tears in her eyes) said, “For the first time in my grandchildren’s lives I was able to sit on the ground and open presents with them because since doing getups, I knew I would be able to get off the ground and wouldn’t be embarrassed.”
So, get rid of the hard surface get-up excuses and try this method.
This video shows how to modify getups so you don’t grind your knees on a hard surface.
Let me preface this with saying I’m not pushing a Whole30 on you in this post (although I do think everyone should do one in their lifetime as an education of how the food they eat affects their body composition, mood, and sleep and that’s all I’m going to say :)) But the lessons I learned written about in this post happened during my second Whole30.
I did my first Whole30 in 2012 and learned a ton about how the food I ate was affecting me. I looked better, felt better and figured out that grains make my face break out. There was definite validity in this way of eating and I was on board. I am a bit of a nerd, though, and wanted some real metrics on my second go ‘round. I needed tangible numbers if I really wanted to share the benefits with my friends and students.
August 2013 was my second Whole30. I am a strength educator who has to constantly tell my students that weight is just number and doesn’t necessarily reflect body composition. I also have to talk people down from the ledge and explain that more is not always better and overtraining is detrimental to progress. In our modern society, we glorify busy-ness and many people use their lack of sleep as a bragging right when, in actuality, good quality sleep – and enough of it – is key to both our body’s recovery and productivity.
Here is what happened on my second Whole30:
I did a hydrostatic body fat test on Day 1 and Day 28. At both “dunks” I weighed 130 pounds. Day 1 I was 16.3% body fat and Day 28 I was 13.8% body fat. I had lost 3 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of muscle. Do you think I looked or felt the same? No. But if I had been relying on a scale to tell me how I was doing, I would be extremely disappointed that I wasn’t losing weight while eating this clean. Throw the scale away. This also proves that you don’t always have to lose muscle when you lose fat.
You might be thinking that I trained hard 5-7 days a week to get these results. 3 pounds of muscle is a lot for 4 weeks. In the 4 weeks between dunks I only trained 9 times. And in those 9 training sessions I only did moderate exercise: 45 minutes of heavy kettlebell work but never training to failure. As my mentor Pavel Tsatsouline says, “Training to failure is training to fail.” I was treating my training sessions as practice, not “smokers.”
Also, this way of eating wasn’t a drastic change for me. As a Whole30 forum moderator, I was already not eating grains or legumes and barely eating dairy. This Whole30 made me realize that sugar and alcohol were the things affecting my sleep. I would have no problem falling asleep but would wake up at 3:30AM and toss and turn for a few hours before the alarm would go off. This adversely affected my workouts and my daily productivity. It was a terrible cascade making everything worse (including mood) because I wasn’t getting the right amount of quality sleep. Full disclosure: I do drink alcohol when not on a Whole30 but I know the consequences and can make an educated decision of when it’s worth it and when it’s not.
Before this Whole30 I thought my sleeping problem was because of caffeine so I gave up coffee for 30 days and nothing changed. But not having alcohol made all the difference. I would fall asleep right away and be dead to the world for 8 hours (and sometimes wake up without an alarm.) I’m sure sleep quality was the reason I was able to gain three pounds of muscle in one month only training an average of 2.25 times per week.
So throw away the scale, overtraining is not the best way to get to your goals, and don’t underestimate the importance of enough good quality sleep. These are the three things that were validated by my second Whole30.
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with my good friend and talented strength coach, Scott Shetler to discuss the fitness industry and why women should pick up heavy things.
5 Presses L
5 Presses R
Repeat for three rounds
When training people who are newer to kettlebells, often you will see them pick the bell up off the ground by standing up and THEN swing the bell behind them. That method is not optimal for a few reasons. In this photo posted by Prevention.com, you can see that the starting position of the bell is in front of the lifter, making a triangle with the feet. This allows her to tilt the bell toward her which gets her posterior chain loaded and to pack the lats and get fully engaged from the get-go. Her first movement is then an aggressive hike back and an aggressive stand up. Starting in this proper alignment allows for safe mechanics and muscle engagement. When someone picks the bell up off the ground first and then starts swinging it can be dangerous by facilitating rounding of the back and a disconnected body. A safe swing starts out just in front of the lifter, makes a triangle with the feet of the lifter and allows muscle engagement from the start.