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Archive for May, 2012

25 Kettlebell Quick Tips

Recently I have taught a few workshops on how to perform basic kettlebell movements. After the numerous hours of teaching these workshops, I have noticed that there are many common hurdles that people run across when working with kettlebells. In this article I am going to present a quick list of the 25 tips you can implement right now to fix some of the most common kettlebell technical mistakes I have come across.


Deadlift:

1) Make sure that the shoulder blades are retracted by pulling them down and back. An easy way to do this is to rotate your elbows towards each other.
2) To use the hips more to extend the body (and alleviate pressure off the knees) keep the shins straight and push the floor away with your mid-foot; don’t think about the knees at all.
Goblet Squat:
3) Remember to force the knees out when performing a squat. This will open up the hips and activate the glutes to assist with the concentric portion of the lift.

Swings:

4) Make sure the hips always finish (get the hips fully underneath your body); this not only ensures proper technique but you are also going to save your low back.
5) You want to properly propel the kettlebell upward (not forward) using your hips.
6) No leaning back, you want a “tall body” posture at the top of the movement.
7) When performing the backswing wait for the kettlebell to almost hit you before you hinge. The kettlebell should be above the knees in the backswing. Hinging too early can cause a sore lower back or even worse problems.
8 ) During the 1-Arm Swing it is important to swing the empty arm as well during the movement. This will keep your shoulders square (proper posture), add some momentum to the swing and also make hand switching much easier.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Swings video below to see more tips.

Press:

9) First thing is first; get a solid rack position
10) Before you press, imagine there is a sponge full of water in your armpit; squeeze this virtual sponge to activate the Lats to help you press.
11) Make sure you are pressing against the contact point between your forearm and the kettlebell. If you rotate your forearm too much, you will lose this contact point and your pressing strength will decrease
12) Crush the handle when pressing a heavy kettlebell
13) When pressing, do your best to keep the weight directly over the hips so the structure of your body supports the weight.
Check out my Kettlebell Press video below to see more tips.

Cleans:

14) Keep the upper arm close to the body; don’t let it get away like in a traditional 1-Arm Swing.
15) Clean the kettlebell towards the middle of your body with your elbow near your beltline. Do not clean it up high towards your shoulder.
16) Don’t grip too much; let your hand slide through the handle.
17) On the backswing do not cast the kettlebell forward; simply let it fall and then push it through your legs to create a backswing sufficient enough for the next rep.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Cleans video below to see more tips.

Snatch:

18) Always build off of a good swing.
19) Practice high pulls to train the shoulder retraction.
20) Do not keep a tight grip on the handle at the top. Spear your hand through the handle and upward towards the ceiling to have the kettlebell rest without pummeling your forearm.
21) Keep the kettlebell close to your body on the backswing. Casting the kettlebell too far will pull your body forward and wrench your lower back.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Snatch video below to see more tips.

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Get Ups:

22) Don’t move too fast; stabilize each position before transitioning to the next.
23) Make the small adjustments with your base to keep you in the most strong and stable position.
24) Practice the high bridge position not only to strengthen your hips but to make as much room as possible for the leg to sweep through.
25) When returning back to the supine position from the top; from the lunge position find the floor by pushing your hip out and reaching out to the side with your hand. Do not sit your hips back.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Get Up video below to see more tips.

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Monday, May 28th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Videos No Comments

What to do in the Off-Season: Guide for Young Athletes

With the summer approaching and the school year coming to a close, it’s the time of year when the gym gets busier with more young, eager athletes ready to dedicate their efforts to get ready for the next school year.

Though the stress of studying might have gone away and the pressure of school athletic competitions decreases during this time; a prudent training protocol is something to consider rather than simply diving right into the pool off the high board.

In this article I will outline some considerations for the student athlete going into their summer and off-season training programs.

First Thing is First: Get Some Rest

What is the average number of hours that a high school student sleeps?  Many studies suggest that the typical teenager does not fall asleep readily before 11 p.m. or later; yet many have to get up by 6 a.m. or earlier to get to school for a class that starts at 7:30 or 8 a.m.  Another study also shows that more than 90% of teenagers reported sleeping less than nine hours a night, and 10% said they slept less than six hours.

With minimal sleep during the school year combined with other stressors including: homework, exams, sports, relationships and life, the body and mind are constantly stimulated and potentially exhausted.

The end of the school year and the off-season provide an opportunity to catch up on some sleep and mental relaxation.  Proper rest not only will relax the mind and restore mental clarity, but also allows the body to heal from the long season.  Nagging aches and pains, tight joints and strained muscles can all benefit from some rejuvenating rest and relaxation.

Get (Re)Assessed

A long sport season can take a toll on the young athlete’s body and many sports replicate movement patterns that may cause imbalances in strength, mobility and flexibility.  Getting a proper assessment before the athlete begins their new program will bring these imbalances to light and the trainer can then design a program with the right exercises to correct these imbalances.

Rebalancing the athlete will make them stronger and dealing with these imbalances will help protect them from future injuries due to overuse or weakness from not being used properly.

Start off Simple

When you first head back into the weight room to prepare for the upcoming season the athlete should push the anxiety aside to want to head right back into to the power movements like Olympic lifts, plyometrics and even heavy squats, deadlifts and bench press.  Instead, the first few weeks should be dedicated to the corrective and basic strength exercises.

The emphasis should not focus on the amount of weight moved but the movements themselves.  Build a foundation through technique and mobility and then during the second phase of training the focus can shift to adding heavier weight.

In the beginning stage of training it may also be beneficial to cut back on the conditioning as well.  Conditioning adds to more stress on the body and also requires more recovery which is what we are trying to avoid.  Track or field sprints, heavy runs with the sled and prowler add training stress and can prolong recovery.  With the initial training goal of restoration from the season, working out the imbalances and gradually prepping the body for the next season’s heavy conditioning can take a back seat for a few weeks.

If some conditioning is a must, light jump rope work or even jogging can be done until the trainer decides to ramp up the appropriate conditioning for the athlete.

Make Sure You Focus on Unilateral Work

After the assessment and determining the strength, mobility and flexibility differences between sides of the body, the trainer should design a program to correct these imbalances.   Like I stated earlier in the article, heavy squats, deadlifts and bench press should be put to the side for a few weeks of training to focus on single sided movements like: step ups, lunges, dumbbell rows and dumbbell chest presses.

When performing these movements after a hiatus, the strength imbalances are realized immediately and in just a few weeks of training they can be resolved.  Many athletes use one side of the body more than another which reinforces improper movement patterns causing severe imbalances.  Unilateral work decreases the athlete’s risk of potential injuries by equally strengthening both sides of the body and enhancing proper movement patterns.  By balancing out both sides as closely as possible and then going back to the big lifts, the athlete’s body will be much stronger and stable.

Do Your Prehab and Rehab

With all of the practices, games, homework and other activities during the school year, many athletes tend to neglect their stretching and mobility work. Off-season training is great time to reintroduce foam rolling, mobility work and stretching into their daily training routines.

It’s no secret that these modalities aid in recovery between sessions, help the athlete regain lost flexibility and can also help balance out the imbalances between the sides of the body.

There you have it; Five ideas for athletes who are preparing to train in the off-season.  Utilizing these ideas can help them recover and come back even stronger for the next season.

References:

New York Times Online

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Monday, May 28th, 2012 Sports Performance Training No Comments

Fix Your Kettlebell Snatch

In this video I go over some of the troubleshooting drills to fix your kettlebell snatch. I start with build off of a good swing, next we work on high pull variations, then hand insertion drills and then the full snatch. Try them out and let me know what you think.

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Monday, May 28th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Videos No Comments
 

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