Keep Calm and Press On

So… you have successfully completed the Rite of Passage with a given kettlebell, but the next bell is just too heavy to  press consistently for three to five reps. Now what? There are many methods that work including, just starting over again with the last bell, but to many this may sound unappealing. It you’re bull-headed or just insist on lifting heavier,  I’ve got a solution custom-tailored for you.

“It’s as easy as “2,3… 1”
No, I didn’t stutter. Start the Rite of Passage over as written but instead of using the same bell again, use both the previous bell and one heavier. The rep scheme will change slightly, but the principle remains the same meaning each ladder will start off easy, progressively get harder, then start over and repeat. Continue reading

IMPROVE YOUR PULL-UPS BY LEARNING TO RIDE WAVE

RIDING THE PULL-UP WAVE

The pull-up is possibly the king of bodyweight exercises. It encourages a healthy strength to bodyweight ratio, builds strong abs, lats and a mean grip. Most people think of the pull-up as an exercise in upper body strength, but when it comes to conquering a pull-up or adding more reps strong abs and timing of the breath are essential.

THE PULL-UP DEFINED

First, let’s be clear on what a pull-up is:
A pull-up begins with you hanging motionless from the bar in an overhand grip, with arms extended and your feet off of the ground.
From this motionless dead-hang, you will pull yourself up without swinging or kicking until your throat or chest touches the bar.
Consecutive pull-ups require you to lower yourself under control and start each rep anew from a motionless dead hang.
No kicking, swinging or kipping is allowed. Ever.

THE STICKING POINTS OF THE PULL-UP
During any lift there comes a point in the movement where you experience poor leverage or a transition between muscle groups that can cause your lift to slow down or grind to a halt.

Here are the three most common sticking points I’ve found in the pull-up.

  • The start: Overcoming the inertia of the dead-hang.
  • The Mid-Point: the point where your elbows approach shoulder level
  • 3/4 The Way Up: The point where the bar approaches eye level.

As with any lift there are a lot of little tricks of the trade to develop the strength to pull or push your way out of your sticking point such as partial reps, isometric holds and so on. But another way is to learn to shift gear and accelerate before you get stuck. I’ve found that hardstyle abdominal training and power breathing as taught in the StrongFirst School of Strength are two great ways to cruise through these sticking points.

HARDSTYLE ABS
To improve your pull-ups you’ll need stronger abs. You don’t need a visible six pack, but you will need a strong midsection. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, but before your start cranking out worthless traditional crunches putting your spine into flexion I strongly recommend the methods found in Hardstyle Abs and the StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor Course. The methods are vastly superior to traditional sit-ups and safer. With a qualified instructor these methods can produce dramatic results in a single session and life-changing results after 8-12 weeks. After learning these methods you’ll find ways to strengthen your abs anywhere with little to no equipment in a manner that will actually strengthen and protect your back instead of injuring it through commonly practiced methods.

During a pull-up strong abs can be used to knit the entire body into a solid and more manageable piece to be controlled in space.
This becomes evident with the following mental experiment: Imagine pulling a friend up over a wall who is holding still then another friend who is flailing about. The one who is holding still makes your job easier by allowing you to direct all of your effort into pulling, while a friend who flails about causes you to expend extra energy toward steadying or steering him as you pull.

The ability to both strongly and quickly contract and relax your abs means you relax at the proper time during a pull-up and quickly tighten in time to cruise through a sticking point.

Note: “Hardstyle Abs” is the title of a fantastic book on abdominal training by Pavel Tsatsouline. ALL of the abs drills I use and teach are derived from his methods contained in the “Hardstyle Abs” as well as what I’ve learned from attending his courses and bodyweight strength instructor certifications.  I recommend them because they are 1) Safe, 2) Simple and 3) Devestatingly Effective. One of the principles behind hardstyle ab training is learn to generate MORE tension with your abs and to do so faster. This ability to quickly contract your abs AND contract them harder is the equivalent of putting in a powerful engine so your car.

BREATHING
Athletes such a powerlifters, martial artists, boxers and volley ball players understand that breath control is the key to producing power, or relaxation. A long sigh can relax, while a short intense grunt produces maximal strength. Listen to a pro tennis player hit a ball with power and you’ll notice a sharp and loud exhalation similar to a grunt to produce power followed by longer drawn out sigh to promote quick relaxation. To learn power breathing, I recommend visiting a StrongFirst certified Instructor, preferably one who is certified as bodyweight instructor as well.

RIDING THE WAVE
One way to get better at pull-ups is to coordinate your abdominal contraction around your breathing.
Initiate the pull-up with a grunt, pushing the diaphragm down and zipping up the abs with the intention of shortening the distance between your sternum and belly button. If done properly, you will feel like you are braced for a punch to the midsection. By strongly and quickly contracting your abs in this manner while hanging from a pull-up bar your feet will pull up quickly and start a shockwave that travels upward within the body. When you can do this strongly it’s like getting a small push from below to start your pull-up.

Practice this combination by hanging, then tightening/grunting as you give an initial pull, do this repeatedly for several reps.
Notice sensation it creates as well how far it gets you into the pull-up. Also, take note of how quickly the tension from the initial explosive grunt dissipates. This is the initial “wave”. It will only get you so far, to your first sticking point to be exact, but it’s a great start.

Now that you have practiced this explosive take-off it’s time to learn to quickly change gears and keep accelerating.
Just before you hit your first sticking point where the upper arms are approaching parallel to the floor tighten up your abs and glutes again with a sharp powerful hiss and pull. This second contraction of the midsection momentarily increases the tension in your midsection and surrounding muscles to facilitate a stronger pull. The key is to time it perfectly so that you get tight-ER just before you hit the sticking point and you continue accelerating. When done properly you’ll practically glide right through your first sticking point. The next sticking point occurs just before you are about to clear the bar. By adding another strong contraction / sharp hiss just before this sticking point you improve your chances of cruising past it as well.

So the pull-up is initiated with a grunt, then quickly followed by a short hiss and increased tension when necessary before a sticking point.

NOTE: It’s important to point out that in both types of breathing an audible grunt and hiss are not the goal of the power breathing but the result of an incredibly forceful abdominal contraction. Simply making noise misses the point and will not give you the desired result. The grunt is the result of the initial contraction and the hiss is the result of breathing out while tightening the midsection further.

Like anything that requires timing, this skill will require practice.
To practice and get this down you will need a partner to help you through the sticking points at first. Your partner will place their hand on the center of your back. When you get stuck, your partner’s job is to give you just enough assistance to keep moving and finish the rep.The speed of the assisted rep should be as close as possible to the speed you intend to do an unassisted rep. As you practice your partner should give you feedback and communicate to you when he or she feels you are improving and requiring less assistance. Eventually your partner will need to push less and less or not at all.

Give this a shot and let me know how it helps your pull-up training.

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.
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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.

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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
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One of the great things about kettlebells  is their unsurpassed versatility which allows for incredibly efficient training sessions.
Today, after teaching my group and private classes I had 15 minutes to myself and was able to get in a nice little practice session with two 24kg kettlebells and a 16kg.

In just under 13 minutes I did the following [Watch the video]:

Level I techniques

  • Double Kettlebell Swings
  • Double Kettlebell Cleans
  • Double Kettlebell Presses
  • Double Kettlebell Front Squats
  • Double Kettlebell Snatches

Level II techniques

  • Double Kettlebell Push Presses
  • Single Kettlebell Bent Presses
  • Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerks
  • Single Kettlebell Windmills
  • Stacked Kettlebell Presses
  • Double Kettlebell Windmills.

Looking back it was a nice little practice. As far as changes go, I’d add in Getups  and a pulling motion (Pull-ups with the 24kg on my foot) or Renegade rows if no pull-up bar were available.  For a “Finisher” I’d wrap up with a hard set of one of the featured ballistics (swings, snatches, or clean & jerks) then stretch everything out with some windmills.

My original intent was to simply film myself performing a variety of StrongFirst Level I & Level II kettlebell techniques for the sake of review and analyzing the video to determine what I need to work on.  But, watching it I realized that this may also give people interested in kettlebell training a sense of how efficient a kettlebell session can be as well as see how some of the single kettlebell techniques can be progressed to more a challenging level.

Enjoy.

John Scott Stevens
Omaha Elite Kettlebell

Kettlebells are an incredibly versatile and efficient way to train.

When all you have is 15 minutes, nothing beats the efficiency and versatility of kettlebell training.

StrongFirst Kettlebell Training: An Efficient Practice

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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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.

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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