All posts in “Kettlebells”

Kettlebell Swing for Fat Loss

Huge Fat Loss and the Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swings are huge for fat loss, period.  I can safely say that if you’re seriously into kettlebells and the swinging of them – it is usually difficult for one to keep weight on one’s body.

I really want you to note something.  This is not just an exercise that will help you in your journey.  It’s not just something that you can add in because it will probably work.  Swing a kettlebell 300x per day, twice per week and work your way up do doing this every day, and we completely remove that word – “probably”. Continue Reading…

rehab exercise posture

Using Kettlebells to Rehabilitate and Correct Posture

How Can Exercising With Kettlebells Correct Your Posture?

Our posture is an expression of every human movement we make. What we decide to lift and how we decide to lift it affects posture dramatically.  Lots is written on how to fix our posture once we’re hurt – it’s a big industry.  But this article will deal with how to avoid getting into poor posture in the first place. Many start exercising kind of believing that it will improve posture, which is true. But many are only worsening their already poor posture by refusing to ever change their protocols or not knowing enough about their routine as it interacts with their unique posture and biomechanics. As Coaches we see this more commonly than most anything else. Kettlebells…those things that everyone walks past in the gym as many don’t know how to use them, naturally force your body into good posture. We should just call them “Posture Bells”. It’s practically impossible for one  to exercise correctly with Kettlebells and not improve posture.  

“These principal Russian Kettlebell exercises, the Getup, Goblet Squat, and the Military Press among others incorporate dynamic stretching within the exercise itself, allowing one to perform corrective work and mobility training within the strength training routine, without changing the tool.”

The modern human shoulder, which when rolled forward all day, every day from desk work or just work period, cause the back to slump over (known as kyphosis). Kyphotic posture is what we get into closer to the end of our lives – they express old age, disfunction, immobility. Slumping earlier in life has implications to consider both now and later on down the line. When we’re leaned over a desk or anything else with our shoulders rolled forward for 10 hours per day, our shoulders tend to stay rolled forward all the time as they get frozen into this position.  Someone with shoulders that are rolled forward essentially has muscles and tendons that have been relengthened to accommodate this unhealthy posture, and it will take some work and determination by the individual working with a team of professionals (Physio/Chiro, Personal Trainer) to change this and to get back to correct posture. That being said, this is very doable, and the body is extremely elastic.  We can be put back into good posture the same exact way we got into bad posture – by changing the way we move, this time for the better. From kyphotic backs to lower back pain, to folks who have twisted shoulders or tweaked hips – these problems are 100% fixable in most cases – it’s a matter of whether or not one is willing to do the corrective work.

Kyphosis/rolled shoulders and slumped back, shifts our center of gravity forward in front of the spine increasing the load the spine must support, which increases its’ curvature. This places our upper spine in a position that it’s supporting muscular structure, the back and shoulder muscles, wasn’t designed to handle, and at great risk of herniating a disk or even worse. The upper back muscles along with the shoulder and neck muscles fatigue under the added stress, our body reacting to this fatigue and expressing it by slumping, or kyphotic posture. Even slight or partial kyphosis puts undue pressure on our heart, lungs and organs, sometimes referred to as “Total Peripherial Resistance”. Slumping over puts forward and downward pressure onto the rib cage, often pushing ribs out of alignment and stretching out the muscles in our upper back and at the rear of our shoulders and neck. Slumping over puts added downward pressure on every organ located inside of our chest cavity starting with the heart and lungs. It affects our breathing, the stroke volume of our heart (volume of  blood pumped per stroke), as well as our diastolic blood pressure and cardiac output.( 1) Imagine yourself constantly squeezing a Bagpipe bag against your gut, but instead, squeezing your very own organs.

                                “Don’t add strength to disfunction Grey Cook, World Renowned Physiotherapist

Not sure how good or bad your posture and movement is? With all of the time you (you who exercise) spend working on your bodies, you owe it to yourself to go through a ten minute movement screen administered by a professional.  A ten minute FMS screen, used widely in college and professional sports is what I recommend. This gives one a score for how well your body moves in each of its’ regions (shoulders, back, hips, spine etc.), and specific exercises to correct your issues. Armed with this knowledge, one can plan workouts with a focus on improved movement and postural correction. Once good function is back, strength goes back to the top of the priority list, but not until then.  Adding strength to disfunction will hurt you worse.  If you have a truck and the gears grind, you had better take care of that before installing a turbocharger or pay the hefty consequences. Your body’s the same. Besides avoiding injury and feeling your pain subside, once your machine is re-aligned and corrected, your goals become more easily reachable, be it strength, weight loss or athleticism. What I’m saying isn’t really that novel.  As with any machine that’s well oiled, aligned and it’s gears change smoothly and optimally, optimizing movement and posture leads to optimized performance.   

I’ll never forget about what a Physiotherapist said in an article I read years ago I wish I’d saved…..”Ten minutes with your arms overhead each day is what you need to improve shoulder health”. I like to work with many of my athletes with this approach…it’s simple and it works. In Kettlebell training, one simply does a lot of overhead work, more than with any other type of resistance training.  There are a number of ways in which doing overhead work improves posture. Between the Clean and Press, the Military Press, and the Waiters Walk, some of the most widely used exercises in the sport, ten minutes of overhead work is easily attained in an average session. Shoulder mechanics are improved dramatically by simply changing the tool.

These principal Russian Kettlebell exercises, the Getup, Goblet Squat, and the Military Press among others incorporate dynamic stretching within the exercise itself, allowing one to perform corrective work and mobility training within the strength training routine without changing the tool. Each of these exercises has it’s own corrective properties going up and down the kinetic chain.  Today we’ll cover the Military Press. When a single kettlebell is pressed overhead as in the Military Press, the glutes are squeezed to brace and strengthen the lower back, the knees are locked out, the entire body is braced and the chest is held down and not extended to encourage proper diaphragmatic breathing as well as proper core bracing. Athletes performing this lift must retrain the lats to activate and become a foundation for the prime movers/muscles pressing the load overhead. The kettlebell is brought from a slightly lower position than the barbell due to the difference in the way the triceps are positioned. The working arm is brought through it’s full range of motion in overhead extension, the elbow is locked out at the top as the kettlebell allows one to turn the arms freely to their arm’s specific and unique movement pattern. Neither side is permitted to transfer a strength discrepancy or imbalance from one side of the body to the other via a barbell. Rather, the body is forced to support and move the load with proper form regardless of existing muscular imbalances or synergistic dominance. At the top position the arm is locked out and the bicep should touch the head behind the ear. The bell is gripped in the hand and hangs behind the lifter, who is forced to create stability through the dynamic coordination of the back and shoulder muscles, buttocks, chest, neck, and entire kinetic chain. With each rep, the shoulder and upper back muscles are contracted with high intensity, further shortening the very muscles that have been lengthened/damaged more with each rep and with each workout. The pectoral muscles are both stretched and contracted at the same time with each rep which effectively lengthens them, allowing the shoulders to sit back behind the chest once again. When the previously shortened pectoralis minor is stretched, the shoulder blade where it attaches at the caracoid process, can relax from pulled forward position, finally letting the humerus (upper arm) sit back properly into the shoulder socket (glenoid fossa). This causes the shoulders to sink further back to their natural position with every rep. The entire body is braced, knees locked out and glutes are held firm as a rock. The main movement is with the shoulders, while proper full body tension and bracing are trained with each rep, stretching and retraining our human facia which connects every muscle in the human body.  

Shifting the imbalanced shoulder weight back over the spine again corrects one’s center of gravity and let’s the spine stand tall again. Retraining the spines’ supporting musculature will help make sure you stay this way (the step most “forget”). Many will have some corrective work to do before performing this lift effectively and properly, as many of us have been robbed of the ability to extend arms overhead straight without hyperextending the lumbar and thoracic spine to avoid shoulder pain. This exercise, when trained correctly and with proper mobility work will bring this ability back. The strength and athletic gains one receives from correcting spinal posture will be very apparent and long term.  

Reference:

(1) Frey MA1, Tomaselli CM, Hoffler WG. Cardiovascular responses to postural changes: differences with age for women and men. Biomedical Operations and Research Office, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. 1994 May;34(5):394-402.

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS

Rehab and Sports Medicine at Dan’s Kettlebell & Barbell Club, Alameda, California

Dan Piper grew up in San Diego, CA playing every sport imaginable including Surfing and Soccer, and loves climbing very high mountains in other countries.  As a Coach, his primary focus is on bringing high quality Corrective and Strength work to the masses.  Based on Alameda Island near Oakland, Dan’s Kettlebell Club is like nothing else offered in the Bay Area, fusing FMS with workouts he sometimes borrows from his fellow RKCs, Olympic Coach Dan John, and Taylor Lewis, CK-FMS.  He can be reached by emailing him at dan@workout4results.com .  

Confessions From a Recovering Bodybuilder

Reblogged Confessions From a Recovering Bodybuilder

Hey Awesome Athletes! I’m re-blogging this article from Strongfirst.com Scott Iardella, Physio, whose training protocols I’ve studied and used, so please enjoy. Note the CK-FMS designation below, which combines Russian Kettlbell Training with FMS.  To look like Scott does, we’ll still need to bench press –  this is a type of usable strength that can not be ignored in sports such as Football, Disc Throwing, and Wrestling, among many others What one coach says is not the have all to end all – but it’s great to take in the opinions and experiences of people who are quite smart, and who dedicate their lives to improving your health.

Dan

____________________________________________________________

Article by Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS, CISSN, SFGII, CK-FMS, USAW. Scott is an SFG Level II Instructor, former Orthopedic/Sports Medicine Physical Therapist.

This is a little embarrassing, but I admit I was an obsessed bodybuilder for about six years of my life.  My training was completely different about twenty years ago.  One of the key things I learned through all these years is that functional strength training and bodybuilding training are radically different.  Yes, the way I used to train was outstanding for hypertrophy, but not much else.  Let me explain exactly what I mean.

As a former competitive bodybuilder, bodybuilding was a very life changing and rewarding experience for me.  The six years I competed were an amazing time of what I thought was “hard core” training.  You know what, it was “hard core” training, just in a very different way.  At the peak of my bodybuilding career I would spend four hours in the gym, six days a week.  That’s right, 24 hours out of every week were dedicated to high volume lifting with my training partner who was, at the time, training for the Teenage Mr. America.  You can probably guess, we did a lot of sets, reps, and isolation exercises.

I can still remember an example of a chest workout we used to do twice a week:

*    Four sets of flat barbell bench

*    Four sets of incline barbell bench

*    Four sets of dumbbell flat bench

*    Four sets of incline dumbbell bench

*    Finish off with four sets of either a cable fly or dumbbell fly

What you may notice is that all the exercises were done while lying down on a bench.  This is not very functional, obviously.

After our chest training, we’d then proceed on to our back program, usually 20 to 24 sets, and then abs or calves to finish. Slightly crazy as that was 24 work sets, not including warmups.  Rep ranges were in the 8 to 12 range for everything.  You can see why the workouts were four hours in duration.  The word “overtraining” should be coming to mind here.  There were many problems with this type of training, but it served the purpose, at the time.  This was typical bodybuilding training.  This was not strength training.

I still train for muscular hypertrophy, but it’s totally different for me these days. I absolutely want to increase lean muscle mass as much as I possibly can (once a bodybuilder, always a bodybuilder), but the training protocols have completely transformed.  A major contributor to this transformation was the simple discovery of the kettlebell.  It was that tool that helped to change my entire training philosophy, as soon as I learned how to use it properly.

Instead of 24 hours a week, I’m down to four hours a week and usually less than that.  That’s four days a week of one-hour training sessions, where the actual training ranges from 30-45 minutes, with the other time being spent on joint mobility and technique work.  That’s an 83% reduction in my weekly training time.  I’ve also become a “technique fanatic” for the primary benefit of training with maximum safety, efficiency, and results.

If you remember one thing from this article, remember this.  Proper technique combined with smart programming equals optimal results, period.

For me, long gone are the days of hours of training, and double digit sets and reps.  Today, it comes down to just three simple modalities, for the most part.  The kettlebell, the barbell, and bodyweight applications.  It’s a training session that has five fundamental movements and usually includes such movements as a hinge, squat, push, pull, and a carry.  (Thanks Dan John!)

“Fundamental movement is fundamental.” ~Dan John

A typical training session today usually looks something like this:

(By the way, I like to use the term training session as opposed to workout.  Anyone can “work out.”  A “training session” means you are working to improve and build your skills.  Keep this in mind.)

*    Barbell Deadlift, two warmups then 3×5 (pull)

*    Double Kettlebell Military Press, 2×5 (push)

*    Barbell or Double Kettlebell Front Squat, 2-3×5 (squat)

*    Kettlebell Swing, 3×50 (hinge)

*    Kettlebell Turkish Get Up, 2-5 reps (plus one)

*    Racked Walk (or other loaded carry) for distance. (carry)

*    Done…

Take notice of the differences from my previous bodybuilding workouts.  All of these exercises are total body movements, nothing lying down or even seated.  All exercises are a total body integration with no isolation exercises.  This is how the body is designed to be used, as a system.

The big benefits?  Less time, total body integration, functional movement, and skill development, just to name a few.  All are major exercises that work the big muscle groups, stimulate the maximal hormonal effects, and have the greatest systemic benefits.  This is important.  We get stronger, we move better, we feel better, all with the added bonus of gaining muscular hypertrophy.

I change my protocols, rotate different periodization approaches, and sometimes perform more volume to match my training objectives.  But, my primary goals now are improving strength and skill mastery.  All the other goals come after that.  Training the way I used to for bodybuilding did one thing really well.  It was excellent for increasing muscular hypertrophy, but it lacked so many other things.

Now, in addition to increasing muscle mass, I have countless other benefits and I understand what it is to truly train for strength and performance. Pure strength training is king and all goals can be accomplished by being stronger. In my early years, I didn’t realize what I know today, that you must be strong first.

Eastbay’s Russian Kettlebell Club

By Dan Piper,CPT,HKC,FMS, Alameda Athletic Club, Dan’s Kettlebell Club

There are 3 Aspects to this Club that you really should know about.

1. Learn Kettlebells from the ground up, with a Certified Instructor, learning solid fundamentals.  We are building kettlebell bodies here – the type that look great, move well, and are indestructible.  You body will need to change in order to master this sport – Whether you have experience with weight training or not,  and there is plenty to learn for all!  (Kettlebell Training usually costs $90 per hour – this will cost $200/mo. and will be much more fun)

2. FMS….what’s that?  It’s mobility training, designed by Gray Cook, world renowned Physiotherapist.  FMS is used to train MOST professional sports athletes and teams – from the Olympics to Wimbeldon.  I incorporate FMS training with Kettlebells, so that your body can move well, pain free, and achieve maximum performance .

3. It’s SOCIAL.  Yes, this is a social club.  My thinking is this…..why can’t we rock out to our favorite music, kick come serious butt, recieve world class coaching in the sport, AND be social at the same time?  I’ll show you how!  This club is about community, about getting your bodily needs met, and creating an environment that’s supportive.  I’ll support you by throwing a monthly BBQ, and making Wednesday evening of each week our Social Hour – where convene for dinner and drink.  

Below’s the press release………I’ll see you there!

It’s social.  It’s Fitness. It’s balance. In Dan’s Kettlebell Club,we’re fusing the national ethnic sport of Russia, Kettlebells, with real life socializing, food and drink! Mixing Kettlebells with FMS,we will start each workout by bringing mobilization and balance to the musculoskeletal system. Learning Kettlebells from the floor up from a SFG certified instructor you will feel like you’ve never felt before while meeting fun, active workout partners. The important part takes place after class on Wednesdays,when we venture out the fitness world to a local restaurant (where we normally do ourselves damage) – but the class will be accompanied by Coach Dan, so some learning about how to balance food with fitness will take place (we’re doing now, and not just telling anymore). And there will be regular BBQs – because the two just go well together – lifting iron outside, just like we’re back in Mother Russia.

What to expect:

Meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-7:30 PM (more times opening up – send me an email and let me know when you can make it – this will help me in adding additional class times! dan@workout4results.com)

About 75 – 90 minutes of fitness (we’re ditching the traditional hour)

Mobility, musculoskeletal balancing (FMS) and performance enhancement

Russian Kettlebell Instruction, and dripping wet workouts

Other forms of exercise you can expect: Body weight exercises, barbell instruction and training, boxing, aerobics

Here’s a sample of an old world Russian Kettlebell training manual, accompanied by music that’s sure to put you in the mood for this eastern genre…!

Old School Kettlebell Training

Time – time to talk, ask questions – time to learn about how to crack you’re body’s code and get fit like a spring chicken!

As a coaches, after every session we feel like we’re leaving our athlete/client out into the harsh, cold world where they have inadequate support …….!!!  Let’s discuss nutrition and life balance WHILE you are ordering in real time – I mean actually while you’re eating and drinking! Tired of being TOLD? I will SHOW you. We’ll Bridge the gap for training athletes by providing:

1.  World class instruction

2.Group Support

3. Habit building (the Coach is watching you order that burger…..yes, you SHOULD order that after lifting those iron cannonballs with handles)

Most of the Coachs’ knowledge is untapped – until you leave the gym…..that’s where everyone falls down!  I can’t install a kitchen at the studio to demonstrate – but there are plenty of places where we can walk,socialize,learn how to balance from classmates and the Coach and enjoy some healthy grub! It’s funny how in order to be fit,we must lose all of the habits we’ve acquired over the last 150 years – and how bringing the 5,000 year old kettlebell into the picture helps to pull us out of our modern, unhealthy thinking and habits.”

Watch! Old Russian Kettlebell Training

old school kb club

sports exercise rehab back muscles

Lower Back Pain Rehab and Alignment – Time to Feel Good Again

Exercise and Rehab for Lower Back Pain

Time To Feel Good Again!

Rehabilitation athletes are folks who have been in automobile accidents, have had sports injuries, or are on the mend from one incident/condition or another.   I wrote this article because unless whoever you are seeing to fix you has you moving in exercises patterns or is watching you as you loaded and moving in a pattern, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for them to recognize and fix you.   Fixing muscle/fascia and bodily imbalances may take more than just a few 15 minute visits with a physio, and small stack of exercises stapled together on 8.5/11″ paper.  It’s a process that takes a different approach to exercising (just don’t stop).  

If you would truly like to learn something, take a look at the above picture with me for a moment.  Imagine  that it’s YOUR body in the diagram, and that the muscles and fascia on the right side of your back are 1/16 of an inch shorter than those on your left side, producing stronger, uneven contractions as a result, pulling you out of alignment and actually altering the once straight and aligned skeleton that you once had.  No matter who you just went to see to get adjusted, massaged, etc, you will definitely come right back out of alignment again until you fix these muscle imbalances.  If you look at the diagram, you can see that there is plenty of muscle and  fascia in your back…enough to pull you sideways and right out of alignment again, with all of the accompanying pain.  If you were to have your spine adjusted, ribs, hips etc, do you think that the adjustment would hold itself in place after you pick up a heavy box, or barbell, asking your back musculature to contract with unequal forces?   Answer: No…that’s why you keep visiting the Chiro.  You will need to see a qualified Physiotherapist, Athletic Trainer, or FMS specialist to work with you over a period of time to re-lengthen these muscles, as this is something that cannot be done in a handful of sessions.  Here are the basics of what you need to do, if you have pain in your posterior chain (back, hips, glutes, shoulders etc).

  1. Be seen by qualified Personal Trainer, Sports Doctor or FMS certified specialist.  Many folks may also perform self chiropractic, outlined HERE.  
  2. Spend the appropriate time to re-lengthen the muscles. You can still lift during this time, but it will take a new approach that you will learn with professional guidance.
  3. Perform these re-lengthening exercises before, during AND after your workout.  Each time you workout, your muscles will want to continue with their current shape and dysfunction, unless you incorporate the following types of stretches into your routine:                                            

Re-lengthening exercises for back/hips/thorax misalignment:

Psoas Stretch                Dr. Eckberg VIDEO

Bretzel Stretch 2.0      Dr. Gray Cook VIDEO (go to 6:15 for 2.0)

Lacrosse Ball Rolling   (roll the side of your back that’s tight, more than the loose side on a 3:1 ratio)                                                                     Dr. Kelly Starrett VIDEO

4. Perform kettlebell or barbell deadlifts, sumo squats, or deadlifts with 2 kettlebells.  Use the lacrosse ball technique, the Bretzel stretch and the Psoas stretch before, and after each and every set, as your soft tissue will attempt to tighten up and shorten again immediately after the set.  After a quick and correctly applied roll, you will be straight again, or straighter at least,  taking you out of harm’s way, and reducing the chance of spinal subluxation/hip shifting during your next set.  In this manner, you will steadily progress  in balancing out your body’s web of muscle and fascia, and work your way back to health.  Most folks start feeling improvement immediately, once the proper rehabilitation exercise protocols are applied.

So don’t be afraid to confront the pain in your body directly.  Getting pain out of your body will change many aspects of your life, for the better.

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS,  Workout4Results.com

Rehabilitation at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA