Are You Pulling Your Weight? – Part 1

As a kettlebell instructor one of my favorite non-kettlebell exercises is the pull-up. The pull-up is an efficient way to simultaneously improve abdominal strength, upper body strength and flexibility, shoulder health, grip strength, overall body composition, and all around athleticism. The good news is that the pull-up is nothing to be intimidated by, it’s simply one point on a long continuum from planks to pull-ups and beyond.

If you have healthy and mobile shoulders, want a challenge and an honest assessment of your overall fitness, the pull-up may be just what the doctor ordered.

5 Ways Pull-Ups Can Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

1. Pull-Ups are an excellent predictor of athletic performance.
Individuals who can perform a high number of pull-ups also tend to  perform well in push-ups, sit-ups and even running, but the opposite is not true. It’s quite common to see someone who can do dozens of pushups or hundreds sit-ups perform poorly on the pull-up bar.
As a martial art instructor I used to test individuals on pushups, now I simply test pull-ups for the simple reason that if someone can perform well on pull-ups, then pushups are always a breeze.
Image
Watch a video of Master SFG Instructor Karen Smith performing a weighted pull-up with a 53lb. kettlebell and more.
Subscribe to our email list to get more information on our March 8th Ladies’ Strength Workshop with Master StrongFirst Instructor Karen Smith Hosted by Omaha Elite Kettlebell
2. Pull-Ups Encourage a healthy body composition and strength to bodyweight ratio
If fat-loss is your goal, then the pull-up is a perfect way to assess progress.
As you get stronger at pull-ups you tend to improve lean muscle mass, and as you lose non-functional body-fat your pull-ups will just keep getting easier.
Kelly loves chin-ups!

Kelly Rushlow pictured here has lost over 100 lbs and kept it off with the help of regular kettlebell training.

“When I started kettlebell training I had very little upper body strength. I think a lot of women like me see people hoisting these heavy weights overhead and probably say to themselves “I could never do that” or “I don’t want to get bulky”.  What they don’t realize is that it’s a journey and you don’t have to do it all at once.  Since training with Scott I’ve steadily progressed to strict push-ups, 5 chin-ups, 2 pull-ups a weighted pull-up and even pressing a 53lb kettlebell overhead. Bulking just doesn’t happen and now women actually compliment me on my arms.  As an added bonus the special abdominal techniques we learn in class have helped me really tighten up my midsection when other people that have lost as much weight as I have might need to resort to surgery to tighten loose skin.”-Kelly

Scott & Jean demonstrating pullups & chinups

Pictured: A thumbless weighted pull-up (palms out) with 53lb kettlebell and a Chin-up (palms facing).

3. Pull-Ups Build an athletic and youthful physique

Chiseled arms, strong shoulders, the athletic v-shape created by a strong back and a tight mid-section are all by-products of training the pull-up. A woman that can do 5 or more pull-ups or a man who can do 20 or more generally possesses a very athletic physique.
One of the most athletic men I’ve ever known is a Vietnam Vet named Jan. Jan is a former kettlebell client of mine who told me he had completed over 30 marathons. He runs like a gazelle, lifts heavy weights and possesses a lean, mean physique with approximately 5% body fat and washboard abs. When I met him I had just witnessed him perform 64 consecutive chin-ups without rest.  He was 64 years young at the time. When I asked him how he was able to maintain such an amazing level of strength at 64 he simply said that ever since he was 13 years old he insisted on doing one pull-up for every year he was alive.

4. Pull-Ups Can Improve Posture

Excelling at strict dead-hang pull-ups touching your chest to the bar stretches out tight chest muscles while strengthening the abs and muscles of the back. When performed the way we teach them they even strengthen the glutes.  Coincidentally a strong back, strong abs and strong glutes are essential for good posture.

5. Pull-ups Make you feel like a champ

Pull-ups improve athleticism, upper body strength, posture, ab strength, encourage a lean physique. This means you get to feel like a champ  PLUS  flying over the top of the pull-up bar is just plain fun and empowering. It’s like starring in your own “Rocky” training montage.
I once heard a wise man say the job of a good trainer is to find the thing you’re not good at and make you better at that. In other words if you’re like the majority of the current population, then pull-ups may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
The pull-up is nothing to be intimidated by, it is one point on a continuum from the plank to hanging from the bar for time to more advanced pull-up variations like weighted pull-ups, hanging leg raises, muscle-ups, front-levers and even the one arm chin-up. Whatever your current strength or skill level at pull-ups we can  find a safe and appropriately challenging progression for you then teach you the skills to conquer the pull-up and achieve your goals.
Raise the bar and give our Omaha Elite Kettlebell classes a try.
Enroll in Kettlebell classes before November 1st and receive a complimentary 30-minute Private Lesson, A Functional Movement Screen to keep you safe and a personalized corrective exercise progression.

OEKB Enroll Button-08

ARE PULL-UPS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Before getting started here’s a quick list of pre-requisites for safely training on the pull-up bar. 
Trunk Stability: Do you have sufficient core strength in your lats, abs and glutes to keep the body knitted together and stable as you raise and lower your body through space?
Shoulder Mobility: Do you have healthy mobile shoulders that are  capable of safely attaining the overhead lockout or start position?
Shoulder Stability: Are all the muscles surrounding the shoulders including the lats strong enough and coordinated enough to keep the shoulders held tightly and safely in their sockets while supporting your weight?
Grip Strength: Do you have the grip strength and endurance to hang on to the bar long enough to get the job done?
As a Functional Movement Screen Specialist and StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor I will use a quick series of object assessments to determine the appropriate starting point for you.
The Author:
John Scott Stevens is a Level II StrongFirst Certified Kettlebell Instructor, StrongFirst Certified Bodyweight Strength Instructor and CK-FMS Functional Movement Specialist.
He can be reached at
Scott.Stevens@OmahaEliteTraining.com
(402) 403-3975
OEKBScottEMAILFoot-04

DROP and GIVE ME FIVE

Want to get stronger? Give Me Five Reps!

I know what you’re thinking… “Five!? Five is easy!” Bingo! That’s the whole point… most people CAN drop and give me five, or two sets of five, or a set of two then three repeated twice. Only a few can give me fifty that actually amounts to something. If the average person gives me fifty, the first five are good, reps six through ten are questionable and the last 40 are like watching a train wreck. But, that’s the way most people train, hammering away regardless of form and grind out horrible reps so they can get a three for one work-out: they stay weak, they get sore and they get self-induced injuries as a extra bonus.

One of the biggest “secrets” to reaching any goal is consistency. There is great strength in consistency. Repeat a correct performance often enough and you WILL become very good at it. Practice two sets of five perfect reps, five days a week for 40 workouts and at the end of the 8 weeks I’ll show you 10 STRONG reps.

Another secret is setting small easily achievable goals that build upon one another.
Can you do ten reps today, and the day after that for 40 workouts? Yes, that’s reasonable. By doing so can you increase you bench press by 10lbs in 8 weeks? Yes, that’s reasonable. Can you simultaneously improve in one or two other lifts by a similar amount during those 8 weeks. Easily. Can you do this several times throughout the year? I think so. Can you do this for several years to come over the span of your athletic career? Now that’s strength training.

This is one of the themes of “Easy Strength” by Dan John & Pavel Tsatsouline that is having a huge impact on the way professional athletes train strength. Keep it brief, make it realistic, keep it perfect and keep it simple. Pick two to three full body movements that address your weaknesses and practice ten reps of each consistently for 40-workouts. It sounds too simple to work, but that’s exactly why it works… it IS simple, it IS doable, it IS brief and it IS something that is reasonable to do for 40 consecutive workouts. “Easy Strength” is ideal for athletes because low rep heavy lifts have been shown to not produce muscular soreness and it allows athletes more time to focus on practicing and mastering their sport.

I recently attended Pavel Tsatsouline’s & Dan John’s Easy Strength two day workshop in Reno, NV. It was an amazing experience where I was surrounded by a lot of great strength professionals, a lot of who where RKCs. The workshop covered Dan John’s incredibly useful concept of putting athletes into quadrants to determine their training needs, templates for “Easy Strength Training” and “Even Easier Strength Training”. We received top notch coaching in the Olympic Lifts from Dan and Pavel and a lot more.

For those of you who have not read “Easy Strength” watched the DVD set or attended the “Easy Strength Workshop” here are just a handful of gems:

  • Don’t confuse strength training with conditioning & endurance.
  • The stronger you are the easier it is to achieve fat loss, speed, endurance, power etc…
  • The stronger you are the more wiggle room you have when it comes to dieting.
  • The reasons plyometrics is a waste of time for most people.
  • Why lunges are not appropriate for most.
  • How to make significant strength and performance gains in as little as 20-30 minutes of strength training 3 days per week.

As an RKC I get paid to help people get stronger. As it is for most RKCs getting someone stronger is easy. Now it’s even easier. Armed with new tools, knowledge and renewed enthusiasm I can’t wait to see what strength gains my clients will be experiencing in the next 8-weeks. What can you accomplish in 40-workouts?

Give me a call, I’ll create a professionally designed “Easy Strength” program for you and begin 8-weeks to a stronger you.

Stop the Insanity: Simpler is Better.

20120313-154019.jpg

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.

20120313-212918.jpg

20120313-213356.jpg

20120313-213438.jpg

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.

20120321-081832.jpg

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”

20120321-080235.jpg

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
20120321-080933.jpg


MASTERING THE SWING

20120321-080710.jpg