Omaha Elite Kettlebell: It’s All in the Hips!

Omaha Elite Kettlebell Instructors John Scott Stevens and Aleks Salkin demonstrating versions of the splits. Just some of the benefits of Hardstyle Kettlebell training

One of the priceless benefits of RKC Hardstyle™ Kettlebell training is hip flexibility and health. Correctly performing and practicing fundamental movements like the Turkish Get-Up, the Goblet Squat and the Hardstyle™ Swing develop a blend of flexibility, stability, strength, power and endurance that improves posture, back health and athletic performance. Some typical benefits our clients receive are increased hip flexibility, improved posture, reduced lower back pain and reduced incidence of hamstring pulls.

The function of the hip flexors and the definition of “Hip Flexibility” changes depending on the situation and the movement pattern in question. I believe that the function of the hips are best expressed as Dan John put’s it “a continuum between the Squat and the Swing”. The full extension at the top and the bottom of the goblet squat (pictured below) represent the vertical application of force while the bottom and top of the swing represents the horizontal application of force. In both techniques the top position is essentially a plank. These techniques and other like the various planks, one arm swings, lunges, single leg deadlifts or the high hip bridge in the Turkish getup used in our classes also serve as an excellent means of training a combination of flexibility and “live” strength (stability) in the hips.

One of the fantastic features of RKC Hardstyle™ Kettlebell training is that nearly every technique is a full-body compound movement. As a result, your hips learn to fire reflexively and function as part of a team with the rest of your body, the way they were designed to perform.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…
The following pictures of Omaha Elite Kettlebell instructors and students show various phases of the three most fundamental techniques used regularly in our classes. Each technique is an excellent example of hip flexibility, mobility, stability, strength and power.

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John Scott Stevens, RKC is the founder of Omaha Elite Kettlebell and Omaha’s first RKC Certified Kettlebell Instructor. He holds advanced RKC Level 2 and CK-FMS Functional Movement Specialist certifications. Omaha Elite Kettlebell features a team of Nebraska’s highly certified RKCII,CKFMS,RKC and HKC Kettlebell instructors and a perfect zero injury record in over 4,000 group classes.

Omaha Elite Kettlebell uses the following
Recommended Resources for Flexibility Training

Body By You: A Challenge for Life

Get The Body You Want
Through Supplements, Bootcamps and Six Week Programs???

When it comes to transforming bodies most people are looking for a quick fix. It’s a sort of sad irony that the very people who are out of shape or obese are the same people that have absolutely no idea what it takes to achieve a strong healthy body or they would have it already. In other words, they make the perfect victims for snake oil salesmen. You’ll find no shortage of fitness charlatans preying upon these people and selling them some quick fix in the form of new diets, six-week bootcamps, 90-day programs or poisonous supplements.

Body By Supplements???
One such popular option today is a product known as Visalus or Body by Vi. It is a meal replacement shake that contains Sucralose sold as a line of supplements. This is being pushed as health way to quickly transform you body and lose fat. Here’s an interesting article that exposes the health risk of taking supplements: Sucralose: Dangerous Sugar Substitute.

Before deciding which 90-day program, 6-week challenge, vitamin supplement or meal replacement shake you’re going to spend your hard earned money on consider the following:

  • Does the person pimping the product actually care about you? If the product injures you, doesn’t work out gives you cancer will it bother them in the least?
  • Do you actually know people first hand that have achieved and maintained the body or level of health you want from using the product?
  • Can you continue using the “product” for the rest of you life?
  • What are you going to do during the days, weeks, months and years that follow the end of the program?
  • What will you do when the manufacture or company of your product goes out of business or moves?

Success Leaves Clues
If you know someone that has the body you want or admire and has maintained it for some time chances are they didn’t get it through supplements or any other quick fix. Chances are it is a direct result of the way they have lived day in and day out for years. Any athletic body that I admire is the product of … an active & athletic lifestyle and eating in a manner that uses food a source of fuel rather than a source of happiness. I think it’s no coincidence that these bodies are owned by individuals that are intelligent, always seeking new challenges and growing. I’m talking about those individuals who once they conquer a challenge or reach a certain level of excellence set out in search of the next challenge that pushes them outside of their comfort zone. Those that compete regularly, constantly setting out to achieve personal bests and learn.

One such physique I admire is owned by a 66 year old Vietnam Veteran. I had the honor of meeting Jan when he enrolled in my kettlebell class at the age of 64. Jan performs some sort of intense training nearly every day and his workouts would humble most men in their twenties. He is approximately 5’9″ tall about 160lbs and boasts a low body fat percentage in the single digits. I once witnessed Jan perform 66 chin-ups; one for each year he’s been alive. When I asked him about his impressive chin-ups he told me that ever since he was a teenager he’s made it a goal to be able to do one chin-up for each year he’s been alive. Adding one rep a year was a reasonable goal and one that he’s been able to achieve each year so far. He loves to run and has participated in dozens of marathons. At the gym he performs L-Sits for minutes at time, hanging leg raises, a lot of ab-wheel, uses heavy barbell training performing things like cleans and standing military presses. He also enjoys hardstyle kettlebell training, particularly five or ten minute sets of snatches with a 53lb or 70lb kettlebell. His workouts are typically short, around 30 minutes or so. Sometime he’ll workout two to three times in one day. Sometimes he won’t train at all and take a few days or a week off. When I asked him how he eats he tells me he typically eats one very large meal a day in the evening with raw veggies and protein as the featured ingredient. He snacks on things like fruit veggies or nuts throughout the day. He never concerns himself with the scale. He very much loves things thing like burgers and beer but for the most part he simply eats for energy so that he can keep up with his grand kids, his full time job and his workouts.

A Challenge for Life
Starting now, for the rest of your life perform a reasonable amount of enjoyable exercise 5 to 6 days a week. Learn how to perform your exercises safely and effectively. Read about nutrition. Make better food choices. Eliminate unnecessary stress and get plenty of sleep. On average your exercise should be medium intensity, finish every workout feeling fantastic, once every week or so push yourself much harder. Your body will change for the better little by little in a way that is easily sustainable.

When that 6-week bootcamp is over, the 90-day program is up, the meal replacement shakes and supplements are taken off the market for causing cancer or the manufacturer goes out of business you’ll be enjoying your daily exercise, eating healthy and spending your hard earned money of things that make you happy.

Here’s a photo of Kelly Rushlow, she’s lost over 100 lbs and kept if off. Her transformation was achieved gradually over a few years through sensible diet and regularly training with Kettlebells and Hardstyle methods three days and one FMS session per week. She also enjoys regularly trying new exercise classes such as martial arts and most recently Zumba. She recommends losing no more than one pound of fat per week. Kelly is currently an HKC certified kettlebell instructor.

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Give Omaha Elite Kettlebell a try. Choose one of our group classes offered six days a week or schedule a private session. We’ll teach you techniques for achieving a stronger healthier you that can be sustained for a lifetime.

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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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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