7 Ways to Accomplish More with the Same Reps and Sets

The typical solution to making an exercise or given weight harder is to do more reps, run farther, workout longer, etc. The problem with this approach is that there comes a point where you can only spend so much time training per day, and the ‘more is better’ approach eventually leads to running out of time and or overtraining/injury.

There is an elegant solution that requires far less time while providing a higher return for your investment.
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If You Wished You Were Strong…

Let’s face it, fitness can be intimidating.
A bunch of sweaty people pretending to be tough…  grunting loudly and throwing around slogans like “No Pain, No Gain!” or “Feel the Burn!” gets to be a little too much for the average person. Then you watch some of the outrageous training videos or fitness competitions and you get more than just a little freaked out by the insanity and machismo or inappropriate sexuality.

If you’re like me, then you believe fitness shouldn’t be a competition or a fashion show. Training should make you better at something other than …  just being better at training.  Training should improve your posture, your strength, your confidence and your quality of movement. Training shouldn’t be your life, it should improve your ability to to enjoy life.

If you’ve ever wished you were strong enough to train with barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells, but didn’t think you were…  or just wished you knew how to get started then I have just the resource for you:

“Foundations of Strength”  by StrongFirst is an excellent video with clear instruction that goes over the basics of how to safely and efficiently perform some powerful and effective techniques that will help the average person accomplish any level of fitness they choose. You’ll learn fundamental barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, bodyweight and sandbag movements to help mold the body you were meant to have.

Watch the video, takes notes and hit the gym or just train at home, then watch it again and repeat.
Eventually you’ll want to know more, but this is a great place to start.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet and chat with
Mark Toomey and I can tell you without reservation that he is a gentlemen, a scholar and an excellent instructor who walks the talk.  At Omaha Elite Kettlebell we use the exact methods and principles shared in this video so I feel confident you’ll you like what you see and hear.

If you need further assistance or a more specific training plan, check out some of the recommended links above on the right such as “Power to the People” and “Simple & Sinister”. Check out the more expansive online store above or give me a shout, I’ll be glad to help or point you in the right direction.

Remember, strength is a choice.

"If you never thought you were strong enough to lift weights but wish you were, this is a great class for you.   I always walk into class a little nervous that I might not be up to the challenge, and then leave saying, "I did it!" and feel good about it the rest of the day. Scott really knows his stuff. He will customize to your individual needs...this is not a "one size fits all" class. Scott has taught me how to get more out of 5 reps than I used to get out of 25. My whole core is stronger as a result. Now when I go back to other classes, everything seems easier. Less really is more."  - Karen Bexten

 

 

 

 

Squeeze More out of Your Only Kettlebell

Squeeze More Out of Your Only Kettlebell: Omaha Elite Kettlebell - John Scott Stevens, SFGII

Keeping a kettlebell at the home or office is a great way to recharge during a 15-minute break from the computer.
Not everyone has a wide variety of bells to choose from and some people have only one bell, often a relatively light beginner bell and they quickly outgrow it… or so they think.

With a little creativity you will find plenty of ways to make a light bell seem heavier than it should and keep your strength gains coming.

Here are just a few examples of how to squeeze more out of a given size bell. Each list is arranged from easiest to hardest. Aside from doing more reps or taking less rest… when a particular version of a technique begins to feel easy,  start working on one of the versions further down the list.  Safety is always a priority and so is your dignity, for that reason you will never attempt any kettlebell exercise while standing on a bosu ball or standing on a kettlebell. [Note: If your idea of kettlebell training involves doing a single leg squat atop a kettlebell… you’re doing it wrong.]

This list is by no means exhaustive and with a little imagination I could easily double the variations shown below.
With variations like these I can keep a 16kg kettlebell challenging although I can readily swing, bent press, squat and do getups with a bell three times that size.  I’m not trying to brag, there are many stronger people in the world… but, my point is this:

Strength is a choice: If you have a kettlebell you think you’ve outgrown, you’re probably wrong.

Enjoy & Don’t forget to share this post if you do!

 

KETTLEBELL DEADLIFT

  1. Easiest: Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift
  2. Harder: Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift from an elevation
  3. Harder: Single arm suitcase deadlift
  4. Harder: Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift

KETTLEBELL HIP HINGE

  1. Easiest: Two Hand Swing
  2. Harder: Hand to Hand Swing
  3. Harder: One Hand Swing
  4. Harder: High Pulls
  5. Harder: Snatches

KETTLEBELL PRESS

  1. Easiest: Push Press
  2. Harder: Military Press
  3. Harder: Bent Press
  4. Harder: Military Press Blind Folded, Standing on one leg… or both.
  5. Harder: Tall Kneeling Military Press (Blind folded too)
  6. Harder: Press Up, 1/4 the way down & back up, 1/2 the way down & back up, 3/4 down then up.
  7. Harder: Seated On The Floor Press
  8. Harder: Press from the bottom of the squat
  9. Harder: Press while seated in the splits

KETTLEBELL GETUP

  1. Easiest: Partial Getups
  2. Harder: Full Getups
  3. Harder: Full Getups with several presses on the way to standing.
  4. Harder: Slow Motion Getups: 1 minute + per repetition.
  5. Harder: Continuous getups for up to 5 reps without setting the bell down before switching hands.

KETTLEBELL SQUAT

  1. Easiest: Goblet Squat
  2. Harder: Reactive Goblet Squats  (Engum)
  3. Harder: Goblet squat with the bell held upside down (bottom up)
  4. Harder: Goblet Squat with a 10 second pause in the bottom while shaking the bell vigorously. (Dan John)
  5. Harder: Front Squat
  6. Harder: Cossack Squat
  7. Harder: Bottom Up Front Squat
  8. Harder: Goblet Squat with the bell held overhead
  9. Harder: Single Arm Overhead Squat (hold the bell overhead with one arm locked out and squat)
  10. Harder: Pistol (a.k.a. Single Leg Squat)
  11. Harder: Racked Pistol
  12. Harder: Botom Up Racked Pistol
  13. Harder: Overhead Pistol

KETTLEBELL CLEAN

  1. Easiest: Cheat Clean with both hands
  2. Harder: Clean (standard)
  3. Harder: Dead Clean with no backward hike pass between reps.
  4. Harder: Bottom Up Clean
  5. Harder: Add a 15 seconds hold/pause in the rack position between reps.

Kettlebell Juggling: Omaha Elite Kettlebell - John Scott Stevens SFGII

KETTLEBELL JUGGLING
Kettlebell juggling sounds scary, but it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds.  You will need to perform these outside of course where the bells won’t bounce.

  1. Easiest: Two Hand Release & Catch at the top of the swing
  2. Harder: Hand to Hand Release & Catch
  3. Harder: One Hand Release & Catch
  4. Harder: Hand to  Hand Release into a flip & catch
  5. Harder: One Hand Release into a flip & catch
  6. Harder: One Hand release into a helicopter spin & catch
    (For a greater list of kettlebell juggling techniques and progressions I recommend the works of Jeff Martone and Gus Peterson)

WANT MORE?
For even more kettlebell lifting variations check out “More Russian Kettlebell Challenges” from Pavel Tsatsouline.
More Russian Kettlebell Challenges

Ketlebell Snatch to Lunge: An Uncommon Killer Kettlebell Combo

Kettlebell Snatch/Jumping Lunge: Omaha Elite Kettlebell

Allow me to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite killer kettlebell combinations: The Kettlebell Snatch + Lunge.

The kettlebell snatch by itself is an awesome technique that works everything from head to toe, but by combining lunges with snatches I get to keep things interesting while drilling the basics. Additionally,  it’s a whole lotta fun.
Other benefits include:
  • The addition of the overhead lunge is great way to slow someone down who tends to cut their snatches short of a true vertical lockout.
  • The snatch and lunge are a great way of pairing one explosive movement and one grind.
  • The lunge adds an increased balance challenge.
  • Because the overhead lunge is a component of the getup, this combo is a great way to drill part of the getup or use as a seamless transition into the getup.
  • This combination can be progressed in various ways by changing the timing, adding a jumping lunge or even using two bells at once.

VARIATIONS

Here are several variations of the Snatch to Lunge combination that I like to use in my own training that range from simple to advanced.

LEVEL I: Snatch then lunge

Snatch the kettlebell overhead, pause motionless in the lockout, then perform either a forward or reverse lunge. Return to standing and repeat.  This is the obvious starting point for individuals who have demonstrated competence in both the snatch and the lunge separately.Q: “Which knee goes in front?” 
A: It doesn’t matter, just get good at both. When performing multiple reps per arm I sometime alternate legs with each lunge. The only exception to this rule is when you use the lunge to transition into a getup you must have the same leg in front as the overhead arm.
Snatch then Overhead Lunge

LEVEL II: Snatch as you drop into a lunge

As you perform the snatch, step forward and time it so that you catch the bell in the overhead lockout either just before or at the exact moment you reach the bottom of the lunge. Obviously, this is a more advanced variation that allows you to move at a faster pace and requires a slightly higher degree of timing and coordination.   The knee should touch the floor softly and quietly. Crashing the knee into the floor is forbidden and a definite sign that you’re not ready for this exercise.
Kettlebell Snatch as You Lunge

LEVEL III: Snatch as you jump into a lunge

Kettlebell Snatch into a jumping lunge

That’s right, jump! Ok… more of a hop really.
Start the snatch and as the kettlebell floats immediately jump into a lunge and catch the bell as you reach the bottom of the lunge.  Once again… no knee crashing allowed! The trick here is to not use as much power as you would to snatch while standing or the bell can go out of control. Since you are dropping under the bell, you only need to snatch with as much power as would be required to perform a  “clean” or make it float to shoulder height. From the kneeling position, I like to jump back up as  the bell drops into the hike phase of the next snatch.

LEVEL “M”: Double Kettlebell Jumping Snatch into a Lunge

Double Kettlebell Snatch to Jumping Lunge: Omaha Elite Kettlebell

Yes, I went there.
This is the same as Level III with one additional bell.
Since both snatches and lunges lend themselves to double kettlebells… I figured “Why not?” and I immediately fell in love with these.  I have never had a client perform these, but they are something I feel safe to use in my own training.
Safety is always first and foremost so I recommend only using bells that you can safely drop from the overhead lockout into the next snatch. For this reason I personally prefer to use 16kg or 20kg bells.  If I felt the need to go heavier (and I don’t) I would recommend lowering the bells to the shoulders between snatches.

There are quite a few levels of difficulty between this move and the last.. so hopefully, naming it “Level M” (the Roman numeral for 1000) gets the point across.  Again, obviously not for everyone… but if you have the necessary skills it’s about as ninja-like as a kettlebell move gets.

SAMPLES ROUTINES

Some examples of how to integrate the Snatch/Lunge combo into your workouts.
  • 5-10 Snatches + 5-10 Lunges, switch arms, repeat x 3 to 5 rounds.
  • (1 snatch + 1 lunge) per arm,  (snatch + lunge)x2 per arm, (1 snatch + 1 lunge) x 3 per arm… climb as high as you want, then start over at 1 & repeat for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
  • 1 snatch, 1 lunge, 2 snatches, 2 lunges, 3 snatches, 3 lunges…etc, switch arms & repeat. Climb as high as you want, then start over at 1 & repeat for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
  • (1 snatch + 1 lunge) x 6, switch arms & repeat. ( goal = 50 to 100 total reps)
  • 1 snatch + 1 lunge repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, repeat with the other arm. x 3 to 5 rounds per arm.
  • 1 snatch + 1 forward lunge. Step forward as you stand up & repeat across the floor. Switch arms & come back. Repeat for rounds, reps or time.
  • 5 snatches + 5 lunges into a reverse getup. Switch hands when you return to standing and repeat for reps or time.

CONSIDERATIONS

SNATCH + OVERHEAD LUNGE PRE-REQUISITES
Before you consider adding this movement to your routine understand that this movement is uncommon for a reason.
It’s only recommended for for individuals who meet the following criteria:
  • No pain, and symmetrical 2s or 3s on the following components of the Functional Movement Screen
    • FMS Active Straight Leg Raise
    • FMS Shoulder Mobility
    • FMS Trunk Stability Pushup
    • FMS Rotary Stability test
    • FMS In Line Lunge
  • No Pain on the following clearance tests”
    • Spinal Extension Clearance Test
    • Shoulder Clearance Test
    • Spinal Flexion Clearance Test
  • Technical Competence in the following movements
    • the kettlebell deadlift
    • the kettlebell swing
    • the kettlebell getup
    • the one hand kettlebell swing
    • the kettlebell snatch
Before you jump into any advanced kettlebell technique… consider this: 
If the answer to any of the following is either “No” or “I’m not sure”, then this combination is not for you.
Does this exercise support your goals?  
Have you mastered the fundamentals first?

Don’t even think about combining snatches and lunges until you rock at lunges and snatches. This should seem obvious.

With the help of a competent instructor you can regress one or both movements to get the same benefits in a safe and appropriately challenge manner.

Is the risk to reward ratio acceptable?
Can you accomplish the same thing in a simpler or safer way?
Tight rope walking between two skyscrapers will teach you balance, and juggling live chainsaws on fire will build great hand eye coordination, but there are simpler and safer ways to get the same benefits without the risk.

Are Kettlebells Better for Strength, Cardio or Toning?

Double Kettlebell Renegade Row Omaha Elite Kettlebell

“Are kettlebells better for strength, cardio or toning?” – The short answer: “YES”.  

The following post is a response to a question posted by Laura Spencer
“Anyone have any insight as far as kettlebell goes? Is it more cardio based than most yoga or barre? Does it compare in the toning you see from barre? I’d like to hear some input from people personally before doing a listless web search.”

I originally posted my response to her blog, but after further consideration I realize that there are probably MANY more people out there asking similar questions.


Laura,

Kettlebells are simply tools that can be programmed and utilized many ways.

Put simply, kettlebells can be used to improve both strength and endurance. Of course, “it depends” on how your workouts are programmed, using the appropriate weights, reps and sets, rest, and safe technique.

Caution: There are a lot of fitness classes out there utilizing kettlebells run by instructors who know next to nothing about how to perform or teach kettlebell techniques let alone how to program a kettlebell workout. To find what I consider to be the highest calibre of Kettlebell training visit www.StrongFirst.com

Kettlebells are a form of resistance training, and when you think about it… so are Barre and Yoga. In Yoga and Barre you use your bodyweight and manipulated leverages as the main source of resistance while kettlebell training relies on… kettlebells. Any form of training that builds strength improves muscle tone. The more resistance you can learn to overcome by either adding an external load or manipulating leverage the stronger you will become and you will improve the “tone” of the muscles being worked.

Tone = Tension. Tension = Strength. Therefore, Strength = Tone
Muscle tone is partly due to the amount of resting tension your muscles have throughout the day.
Tension is strength. When you flex you are temporarily increasing the amount of tension in the muscles involved. So, to lift a heavier weight you need the ability to “flex” harder or generate more tension, which when done with a sufficiently heavy enough weight to elicit an adaptation response builds a stronger muscle capable of generating even more tension. The stronger a muscle is, the more tension it can afford to have at rest (consider the rippling muscles of Bruce Lee, a tiger or even a chimpanzee at rest… THAT’s TONE!)

Additionally, there are many unique kettlebell lifts that develop flexibility like the Getup, Cossack Squats, Pistols, crooked press, arm bars, windmills and Bent presses that many people like to refer to as Yoga with Weights.

SAMPLE KETTLEBELL WORKOUTS

KETTLEBELL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING WORKOUTS
A Kettlebell Workout that does BOTH Strength/Tone & Conditioning can be viewed on my blog
here: https://omahaelitekettlebell.com/2014/09/11/15-minute-advanced-double-kettlebell-workout-no-gym-membership-required/

KETTLEBELL “CARDIO” WORKOUTS
Simple examples of Kettlebell “cardio” workouts that melt fat to reveal the underlying muscle tone could be something like

– Using a light kettlebell you can snatch overhead for 15 to 20 reps and doing sets of 10 per arm with a 1:1 work:rest ratio for 15 minutes. A similar workout was shown to burn more than 20 calories per minute by the average person (study:http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/kettlebells012010.pdf)

– Alternating 20 seconds of kettlebell swings with 20 seconds of goblet squats.
(20 seconds of swings: 10 seconds rest: 20 seconds of goblet squats: 10 seconds rest) x 8
Shoot for 10+ swings and 8+ squats per round.
THEN
(20 seconds of double bell Clean & Push Presses: 10 seconds rest: 20 seconds of renegade rows: 10 seconds rest) x 8

KETTLEBELL “STRENGTH” WORKOUTS
Key features of a kettlebell STRENGTH workout is that the rest periods are longer, the reps are typically lower and the weights are much heavier.

Simple examples of HEAVY kettlebell STRENGTH workouts that increase muscle tone
– 1 getup per arm per minute for 10 minutes.
– A pair of bells you can lift & squat for 5 reps: 2 clean & press + 3 Squats, rest & repeat. 
– Two VERY heavy bells you can swing for 5-10 reps and perform sets of 5  

As you can see, there are many variables you can manipulate in your kettlebell training to target the results you seek. 

Hope that helps. ;]”

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Strong(er)

Conquering The 5-Minute Kettlebell Snatch Test

In my opinion the Kettlebell snatch is the most powerful and beautiful movement one can perform with a kettlebell. Nothing looks as athletic or awesome as a girevik standing tall with perfect posture holding a kettlebell locked out overhead, victorious.

Aside from just looking cool as all-get-out the kettlebell snatch is just hard work. So hard that the average person measured burns over 20 calories per minute performing them.  The kettlebell snatch uses muscles from your fingers to your toes, the bell travels twice the distance as the kettlebell swing yet uses only one arm and therefore takes nearly twice as much effort… if not more. It requires more mobility than a swing, as well as the finesse to not crash the bell against your forearm. Then you have to drop the bell from the overhead position and master the backswing before gravity and the kettlebell conspire to master you.  The kettlebell picks up speed accelerating down and back until the moment you brace, drive your heels through the earth and rip the bell overhead for another rep. The bell floats upward as you steer the weight to catch it, pausing in perfect stillness… a timeless victory pose the likes of which have been immortalized in statues and paintings for millennia. Very few workouts feel as exhilarating to me as a hard set of kettlebell snatches. Something about it is primal. High rep sets leave your chest pounding, lungs burning and forearms swollen. It is literally about as close as you’ll get to feeling like you’ve been in a fight without throwing a single punch. During extended sets it is often a combination of simple tenacity, fighting spirit and nerves of steel that separates the casual exerciser from the disciplined trainee.  The perfect exercise. Vicious poetry in motion.

In the world of today’s kettlebell enthusiast the minimum mark of competence for a would be kettlebell instructor is the five-minute snatch test.  Men and women typically use a 24kg(52.8lb) or 16kg(35.2lb) bell respectively and are required to perform 100 repetitions to standard without dropping the bell or allowing it to touch the shoulder.  Although not everyone who trains with kettlebells needs to nor should become a kettlebell instructor I believe everyone should strive to achieve and eventually exceed the work capacity required to pass this minimum standard on any given day.

 

THE “OEKB SNATCH TEST CONQUER” PROGRAM

There are many proven methods for passing the snatch test.
You’ll find mine below.

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FLEXIBILITY IS A SKILL

The author in the splits.

Flexibility is a Skill

In the RKC we teach that Strength is a skill… so is flexibility.

For nearly 30 years I had practiced Taekwondo, a martial that relies heavily on flexibility to deliver a wide range of kicking techniques.  While I did improve my flexibility through the practice of kicking I never achieved the flexibility one would expect of someone with that much time under the belt.   I did train with many instructors and attended workshops and clinics with world class martial artists but when it came to flexibility no instructor was able to teach flexibility as a skill. The best they could do was demonstrate a position or technique and tell us to practice. Frustrated, I had decided you either have flexibility our you don’t.

It wasn’t until I learned of Pavel Tsatsouline’s flexibility methods and read his books that I began to realize there was much more to flexibility than simply holding a pose and trying to force a stretch.  Reading the material helped, I made great progress faster than ever but it wasn’t until I FELT the methods during workshops taught Pavel Tsatsouline and Master RKC Jon Engum that I understood them and could consistently repeat the results.

Finally, for the first time in my life I understood how to correctly combine tension, relaxation, breathing, strength, posture to achieve flexibility goals.  These master minds of flexibility showed me how to combine these ingredients like a master chef to achieve seemingly unbelievable results in minutes and sometimes seconds.

Using the methods I’ve learned as an RKC Kettlebell Instructor and CKFMS Functional Movement Specialist I’ve been able to get clients to improve their toe touch from mid-shin to a full toe touch or from shallow ugly heels up squat to rock-bottom butt-to-heels squat in as little as 5-minutes.

Although these methods are simple they are still not well known.

If you would like to learn more about improving your flexibility I invite you to attend a private lesson, group class or flexibility workshop.

Until then I hope you’ll consider the following resources and enjoy the article I wrote about one of my favorite stretches for reducing stress.

Enjoy.

John Scott Stevens, RKC II, CKFMS

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RECOMMENDED FLEXIBILITY INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES

Relax Into Stretch DVD: Instant Flexibility through Mastering Muscle Tension
Relax into Stretch DVD

Beyond Stretching the Seminar DVD set –
4 hours and 48 minutes of a flexibility workshop taught by Pavel Tsatsouline
This is  gold mine and virtual encyclopedia of stretching techniques that literally covers everything from head to toe.  

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A FAVORITE STRETCHING TECHNIQUE OF MINE

A Passive hamstring stretch is one of my favorite stretches for stress relief. It works for me well as I tend to carry a lot of stress in my hamstrings and neck.  Doing the stretch from the supine position allows me to relax both my neck and my hamstrings and experience a dramatic sense of relaxation and improved mood in as little as 5 minutes.

  • Lie down on the floor and loop a strap, belt or towel around one foot. I prefer a quiet room with dim lighting or something covering my eyes to help me relax.
  • Rest your head on the floor or on something like a pillow so that your neck is completely relaxed.
  • Using the towel for assistance extend your straight leg into the air until you feel a mild stretch and hold your leg in position with the towel. Imagine your leg growing longer as your heel and hip extend away from one another.
  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. This is to prevent shrugging, relax your neck and prevent injuring or tightening the muscles around the neck.
  • Keep the toes of the stretched leg pulled back toward your shin.
  • Keep your hips parallel to the ceiling.
  • Hold the outstretched leg in the air for 30 seconds to minute or so
    and….. here’s the big tip…
    during the last 5-to-10 seconds of the stretch push your leg slow but hard against the strap as if trying to resist the stretch. You must hold the leg in position by resisting this push with the strap. The idea is to sufficiently fatigue the hamstrings so that are “relaxed” or unable to resist the next repetition.
  • Lower your leg to the floor, then raise it up again with a second or so and repeat the process.
  • With each repetition you should be able to go a little higher than before without pain.
  • Switch legs when you can no longer make progress and repeat the process.
  • Focus on your Breathing while you stretch.
    • Breathe in slowly through the mouth for 3 to 4 seconds, pause for one second, exhale through the nose for 3 to 4 seconds, pause for one second and repeat.
    • While inhaling your stomach should rise as you imagine forcing the air down deep into your belly. While exhaling your stomach will fall.
    • This diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to reduce your stress level at anytime and can be performed while sitting in traffic, trying to fall asleep or before speaking in front of a group.
  • When neither leg seems to be making any more progress  I will begin to shift tactics and employ a series of various methods learned from Pavel and Jon Engum to trick my muscles into an increasingly deeper stretch.
  • Finally, I’ll finish up with a few easy sets of 10 legs swings per side.
    • Hanging on to a wall or chair for balance swing a straight leg in front of you with your foot rising to stomach, chest, face level or higher.
    • Keep your spine straight and look up.
    • Swing your leg only as high as you can while being relaxed. You should not feel any fear or pain as long as you stay well within your limits.
    • Exhale on the upswing.
    • Perform the leg swings at a casual pace with an emphasis on using strength to achieve height rather than speed.

After all this I stand taller and typically experience a sense of improved mood and freedom of movement.

Give it try and when your’e ready for more, give me a call.

Overview of the Kettlebell Clean & Press

Like most kettlebell techniques, the Kettlebell Clean & Press is a full-body compound exercise that challenges muscles from your hands all the way down to your feet. When performed using RKC Hardstyle methods the press becomes a great way not only build strong shoulders but strong lats and abs. For strength it is generally recommended to perform sets of 1-10 reps using a weight that is between 40% & 80% of your one rep max.

Some benefits of the kettlebell clean and press over free weights and machines.

  • The design of the kettlebell allows you to maintain a neutral wrist position which is safer for the wrists and challenges the forearm muscles to a greater degree.
  • The design of the kettlebell allows you to use a greater range of motion without the bar or awkward ends of heavy dumbbells getting in your way. A greater range of motion means building more strength, burning more calories, building more flexibility and it just feels awesome.
  • Kettlebells allow you to rotate your wrists and shoulders into a natural position that is safe for you versus being jammed into an odd position by a bar or machine.
  • Kettlebells allow you use your natural pressing groove that is safest and strongest for your shoulders whereas bars force your shoulders to move in a way that may not be suitable for you, or machines that force you to follow a linear path placing shearing forces on your joints.
  • Kettlebells can be recleaned by hiking them and accelerating them backward between your legs. This large range of motion cannot be duplicated with barbells and is too awkward with heavy dumbbells. The result is a greater cardio workout and developing explosive power through a large range of motion.

While the kettlebell is an excellent tool for the clean & press one of the biggest drawbacks is that it becomes impractical to clean & press heavier than 212 lbs since most kettlebell manufactures only make bells up to 106lbs. I have seen kettlebells that are heavier but the price of such kettlebells are prohibitive and the size becomes unwieldy. However 2 35lb kettlebell and 2 70lb kettlebell is enough to keep most men and women challenged for a lifetime.

The Clean

The Clean is where you bring the weight up to your shoulder in one clean movement.
The Press is simply pressing the kettlebell overhead from your shoulder.
When you lower then re-clean the weight between each press your performing the “Clean & Press”
When you clean the weight once then perform multiple presses in a row this is called a “Military Press.”

Before performing this technique in high volume I strongly advise taking time to develop the adequate shoulder mobility & stability to get your arm into a safe lockout position and hold a given weight there comfortably. In general you should be able to hold the weight overhead for at least 30 seconds before you begin doing presses with it. The best way to go about all of this is spend several weeks practicing things like pump stretches, “Brettzels”, the Turkish Getup, and Walks with the weight in the overhead lockout position.

  1. Assume the ready position with the kettlebell(s) on the ground in front of you.
  2. Hike the bell(s) backward between your legs.
  3. Quick stand up, keeping your armpit(s) shut and your elbow(s) glued low to your side.
  4. Quickly accelerate your hand(s) around the kettlebell(s) and catch the bell(s) softly between your upper and lower arm.

Lower the bell(s) by quickly pushing your hips backward, hiking the kettlebell(s) behind you then lettingthe kettlebell(s) pendulum forward to a rest in front of you.

The Press
The press is simply (not necessarily easily) pressing the kettlebell overhead.

  1. From the Rack position sniff in some air and get tight from the armpits down to your toes.
  2. Initiate the press with grunt to pressurize your midsection and protect your back.
  3. Keeping your forearms vertical drive your elbows outward and up.
  4. Full extend your arms and lockout with your biceps behind your ears.
  5. Lower the bells by pulling your elbows down in front of you keeping your midsection tense and return the bells to the rack position.
  6. From here you can set the bells down, perform another clean or go directly into the next rep.

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Stop the Insanity: Simpler is Better.

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It all started for me in 2006, I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning fat.
I bought myself a Speed Rope and Buddy Lee’s book on jump rope training and stuck to the plan. I started off fat but average at jump rope and within a year I was making that jump rope hum and buzz at a dizzying rate enough to make Rocky Balboa look bad. I could jump 40-minutes with only a handful of missed jumps and do things like 110 revolutions in 30 seconds. 50 consecutive double-unders & double-under cross-overs were something I do on moments notice on a bad day. I was lighter, faster, more agile and a hell of a lot leaner. Two problems…

  • I’d wake up with my feet killing me. (Plantar Fasciatis from all the stress of jumping.)
  • While I was indeed leaner with improved cardio, I was not any stronger.

I realized that while jumping rope was an incredible exercise it wasn’t something I wanted to do or could continue doing for up to 40-minutes 5-days a week for the rest of life and it wasn’t going to improve my physique or strength past a certain degree. Then I discovered Kettlebells. For years I had been reading books on martial arts and flexibility training and there’d always be these ads by some Russian guy promising to get me in the splits in record time. I’d read those ads and sneer…. until I bought one of those books and his stuff worked, not full splits in minutes… but 12 inches improvement after years of being plateaued in seconds. So when this same Russian promised Kettlebell training would deliver the same sort of rapid strength and endurance gains I was intrigued to say the least.

I purchased the book “Enter the Kettlebell” and read it several times, took notes and bought my self some kettlebells. I followed the plan provided in ETK and stuck to it. A few weeks of the break-in program called “The Program Minimum” and then I began my journey to as the Evil Russian put it “become a man among men” by following the program entitled the “Rite of Passage”. Within months I was making rapid, incredible and unbelievable gains with only six exercises: Getups, Swings, Cleans, Presses, High Pulls and Snatches all done with a single kettlebell. Here are just some of the benefits I experienced

  • I lost 14lbs of body fat and replaced it with 14lbs of muscle.
  • I rehabbed a shoulder that used to sound like broken glass during warm-ups
  • I rehabbed a chronically sprained ankle that had bothered me for years within 4 workouts
  • I went from pressing the 16kg/35lb kettlebell to man-handling the 24kg/53lb kettlebell
  • My posture improved so dramatically that I was frequently shocked by my own reflection in mirrors. Out of the corner of my eye, I would honestly see this guy following me that I didn’t recognize, turn my head and realize it was my own reflection.
  • Developed forearms that drew unsolicited compliments from other men in the gym.
  • Develop muscles on neck, back and shoulder that honestly freaked me out the first time I discovered them by accident in a mirror.
  • Lowered my resting heart rate from the 70s to the low 40’s in just 4 weeks.

That was the start. Now it’s 5 years later. I completed the Rite of Passage: I can one arm press a Kettlebell 1/2 my bodyweight and perform 200 or more reps of kettlebell snatches in 10-minutes with a 53lb kettlebell. I’ve earned my RKC, RKC II and CK-FMS Kettlebell instructor certifications.
I’ve taught thousands of group and private Kettlebell lessons, hosted kettlebell workshops and certifications, successfully trained others who have gone on to lose weight, transform their bodies, become better athletes or go on to become HKC and RKC certified instructors themselves. Just yesterday I returned from a continuing education workshop for kettlebell instructors and strength coaches and I’m scheduled to attend several more this year alone. I learned more about fitness in 23 hours of my first RKC than most trainers learn in a decade. Since then I learned even more, more than I honestly ever thought there was to know and I’ve discovered that strength and fitness are simple. Not easy, but simple and I owe everything I’ve learned to Pavel, John DuCane, Dan John, Jon Engum, Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Thomas Phillips, Zar Horton, David Whitley, Betsy Collie, Karen Smith and all of the strong, and intelligent professionals in the RKC School of Strength that I’ve had the honor to learn from.

Why am I telling you this? I suppose it’s because despite all the disinformation and crap out there concerning exercise and fitness there’s so little of it that actually delivers the results as promised in a way that is realistic, reasonable and sustainable for life. Programs like Crossfit, P90X, Insanity, and Biggest Loser are selling people on the idea that every workout has to be insane performed at a super high intensity. That if you’re not wearing a shirt that insults someone else’s performance you’re not a real athlete or worthy to train in certain gym. That puking and muscular soreness are admirable goals. That Box Jumps are appropriate for a 300 pound female with bad ankles and knees as well as for a teenage volleyball player who can’t perform a decent squat with her own bodyweight.

Fitness doesn’t require another intense 90-day program and boxes of supplements. It doesn’t demand high risk exercises like box jumps for obese weight loss clients or a skinny female trainer yelling at you on television. You don’t need Tires to flip, sledge hammers, bosu balls, plyo boxes, Concept II Rowing Machines, boxing bags, and all the other equipment necessary for the next Workout of the Day.

Still don’t believe me?
Here’s more proof… Karen Smith Sr. RKC performing a strict one arm press, weighted dead hang pullp and one legged squat with the 53lb kettlebell all in two months with just 10 reps a day of each exercise, … no puking, no box jumps, no screaming trainers.

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The RKC Methods can deliver elite fitness with as little a Kettlebell and your bodyweight.
But your’e not hearing me. The kettlebell won’t deliver the results, the exercises won’t either…the RKC Methods will. The RKC Methods will deliver results regardless of the tool you choose to use. It’s documented and proven and the RKC methods are currently in use by professional athletes, special forces and more… for a reason, THEY WORK! The RKC Methods consistently provide the kind of safe and effective techniques that can transform a fat couch potato into an athlete or transform an athlete into a champion. Moreover, the RKC never rests it is constantly improving. The RKC is a think tank that continues to attract the best of best and develops people that are stronger than they look and stronger than most people believe they have the right to be.

Are you tired of the fitness B.S. and seeking a coach that will cut the crap and give you ONLY what you need.

Do you want results, not fitness oriented entertainment?

Are you tired of the macho posturing in fitness; the puking, the tough talk and slogans that insult your intelligence?

Do you want training that is high yield, not high risk?

Do you want to be stronger in your 70’s that most people are in their 20’s?

Are you ready to commit to 6 years of smart, sustainable & repeatable training vs 6 weeks of stupidity that virtually guarantees injury?

If this sounds like you, then I can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve and ultimately surpass your fitness goals. As an active and constantly growing/improving RKC, RKC II, CK-FMS instructor I am uniquely qualified to deliver exactly what you seek. Safety, Strength, Intelligent training and Results.

So after you’ve recovered from your W.O.D. induced injury, discovered you really can’t train like the highlite reels from The Ultimate Fighter, put away your P-90X DVDs, or have gotten fed up with that skinny lady yelling at you in bootcamp, give me a call and together we’ll begin an intelligent approach to fitness that you will look forward to doing AND be able to do for the rest of your life.

Start your “Rite of Passage” from victim of insantiy to master of your own health by calling me at 402-850-5551.

Swing It Hardstyle

Allow me to introduce you to one of the safest and most powerful exercises you’ve never experienced: The Hardstyle Swing.

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The Hardstyle Swing is the foundation of effective Kettlebell training. It burns calories at a high rate, develops phenomenal cardio with no impact, develops a powerful midsection, explosive hip drive, resilient hamstrings and a strong back. These benefits have lead to the hardstyle swing establishing a well documented track record of improving the performance of people of all abilities including elite athletes in nearly every athletic endeavor.

The Kettlebell swing looks simple enough on paper.

“Swing a kettlebell back between your legs and then in front of you up to chest level for reps.”

As a result of this deceptively simple explanation many people including well intentioned trainers get the idea that simply reading a magazine article or watching a youtube clip
will arm them with all the information necessary to get spectacular results. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, such simple instruction is just enough to get most people injured and derail their journey to improved health, temporarily or permanently.

As world class strength coach Marty Gallagher and author of the “Purposeful Primitive” says “the swing is an inch wide and a mile deep”. Having the courage to view your exercise as “a mile deep” means taking the time to learn and perfect the details that make this deceptively simple movement a powerful tool for physical transformation and athletic development.

Keep in mind that the Hardstyle swing is not a slow overhead drag from a deep squat as seen in infomercials, most Crossfit boxes, Biggest Loser highlight reels, fitness magazines and your local gym… not even close. The Hardstyle swing is a fluid, athletic, crisp and powerful movement that more closely resembles a cross between a ballerina’s streamlined take-off and karate master’s deadly punch. Performed properly you’ll experience a full body blast that will leave your chest pounding, lungs burning, forearms bulging, abs, lats, glutes and hamstring screaming in the kind of sweet agony that promises a stronger and more athletic you than you have ever known.

“This one goes to eleven”
– Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist of the rock band “Spinal Tap”

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11 Tips for Performing the Hardstyle Swing
Why not ten? While most lists go to ten, I figure you deserve at least one better.

  1. Maintain a flat back.
  2. Keep the heels planted.
  3. Knees track the toes at all times.
  4. Arms are straight in the bottom of the “hike-pass” position
  5. The kettlebell handle stays above the knees during the hike-pass.
  6. There is NO forward knee movement on the upswing.
  7. The body forms straight line from heels to head on the top the of the swing.
  8. The kettlebell forms an extension of the straight arm at the top of the swing.
  9. Forcefully exhale at the top of each rep and inhale during the “hike pass”.
  10. Forcefully and visibly contract both the abs and glutes at the top of each swing.
  11. Stay relaxed from the neck up, keeping the shoulders down and back.

The list above was not meant as “How-to”, but rather a check list to give you a taste of the kind of detail it takes to unlock the swing’s potential and to do so safely. If you decide to give it a try you’ll find that it looks easier on paper than it is in reality. You may even get frustrated and figure it’s too difficult. Let me reassure you that you can do it. In fact, every single client I’ve ever trained has learned to swing the kettlebell effectively and safely, but that’s the key… they were trained by an RKC.

As an RKC Certified Instructor, RKC level II and CK-FMS Functional Movement Specialist I represent the RKC School of Strength: the world’s first and most highly respected Kettlebell Instructor Certification course. Although the RKC’s tool of choice is the kettlebell, an RKC instructor is far more than a kettlebell instructor. An RKC is a strength coach that can teach you how improve your safety and performance in any athletic endeavor or mode of exercise and the kettlebell swing just happens to be one of the best exercises for improving performance in most activities.

The RKC School of Strength is home to such internationally sought after and respected trainers as Pavel Tsatsouline, Brett Jones, Daniel John, Gray Cook, Jon Engum, Geoff Nupert, David Whitley, Mark Reifkind, Andrea DuCane, Mark Cheng and too many to mention by name. These are the same people that the world’s elite athletes turn to when they want to get even more out of their already high performing physiques.

At the center of the RKC Universe is the Kettlebell Swing. Learn this movement from an RKC instructor like myself and your understanding of exercise will be forever changed.

I invite you to be my guest and learn the Hardstyle Swing and improve the way you train.

Email RKC.Scott.Stevens@gmail.com to schedule your intro.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES
No Book or DVD will ever replace the immediate feedback, corrective drills and personalized instruction a qualified instructor (RKC) can provide.

The most efficient path to unlocking the potential of the kettlebell is qualified instruction. The next best option is excellent instructional material. With that caveat below you’ll find what I consider to be the best resources on the market for getting the most out of the hardstyle swing.


ENTER THE KETTLEBELL: Men’s Starter Kit
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MASTERING THE SWING

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