Archive for April, 2013

Get with the Kettlebell Get Up

I recently had the opportunity to be an assistant instructor at a Level 1 RKC hosted by Dragondoor.  This was a great opportunity to both teach and learn from the students and other instructors, and I had to refocus some of my training so I could recertify for my Level 2 RKC.

I don’t believe that I will ever be considered a slouch when it comes to training, however no matter how much you train there are always some movements and exercises that may get neglected.  For me the Kettlebell Get Up has been put on the back burner for months and I had to go back to adding it into my programming to be successful at it once again.  I am glad that I did.

The Get Up is a unique movement where one repetition takes longer to complete than any other exercise and because of this you will be able to assess exactly where strengths and weaknesses occur.


The Get Up is one of those exercises that will now be a weekly staple in my personal programming because of the unique benefits it provides.  In this article I will give reasons why you should consider doing this movement and how to progress up to a full Get Up if you never have before.

I also have included a video demonstration of the topics I discuss below.

More than Meets the Eye

Like those famous Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the Get Up can be peeled back in layers to reveal several different movements all of which make one large complete movement.  What may look like a simple sitting up off the floor to the standing position is a much more intricate succession of progressive movements that needs to be complete so the whole movement is performed fluidly.

via The Bariatric Goddess

via The Bariatric Goddess

Your body will demand the most out if its mobility, strength and coordination to complete each task before moving onto the next and, when performed correctly, the muscle time under tension will reward you handsomely with new joint strength, muscle endurance and core stability.

Get Up for Everyone

Do not get discouraged if you have never done a Get Up or have tried and struggled.  Though I am not going to give you and exact step-by-step instruction on how to perform one I will show the progressions I use with my athletes to get the Get Up right for them to be successful and acquire the many benefits this movement has to offer.

If you are looking for an instructional video please refer to my video I did a few years back creatively called; Fix Your Kettlebell Get Up.

Specialty Tools?

Yes, traditionally the Get Up is associated with using the kettlebell but this does not have to be the case.  I have had clients use a dumbbell, a sandbag and sometimes they use nothing at all.

If you are new to the Get Up game or are apprehensive about the movement due to coordination or joint issues, start with nothing in your hand and have your goal to be to learn the movement correctly before progressing to any additional weight.

How to Progress

As I mentioned earlier I truly like the Get Up for its multi-movement-in-one application.  There is not a week that goes by that I do not have any one of my clients who do not go through some progressive form of the movement.

Sit Up

The first part or the Sit Up is where I like to focus a lot of attention.  It is arguably the most difficult part of the movement and it predicates how the rest of the movement will look.

If you are new start by finding your correct position where you will be able to post strongly off the foot to get you up while keeping the chest up and arm locked overhead with a packed shoulder.  After you master that, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and repeat.


Take it to the Bridge

The RKC took out what is referred to as the High Bridge which you perform by using your glutes to lock out the hips before transferring to the leg sweep.  I am not exactly sure why they took it out but I feel that the high bridge is a great step to take to get glute activation and proper core and shoulder stability when trying to advance to the next movement.

I admit I miss the high bridge and see several benefits when using it. First, it is great for glute activation.  Glute actions include hip extension which is valuable for hip strength, athletic speed and deceleration ability.  When the glutes are engaged the Get Up movement is stabilized and it also gives you a greater ability to move the free leg and get into the next phase of the Get Up.

The Lunge Challenge

Lunge variations are great for most strength and conditioning programs.  When considering the Get Up the single kettlebell overhead lunge is not only a challenging variation of the traditional lunge, it is also a great way to strengthen the core and the shoulder joint.

This lunge makes you truly control your movement downwards or else you will collapse in a heap without a stable core and you may put the shoulder in a precarious position.  When performed correctly a few reps and your core will be very fatigued and the shoulder gets strengthened isometrically.  This stabilized strength is great for the rotator cuff muscles and will help with your Get Up progressions with heavier weight.


To see the steps I mentioned above check out the video below:


Programming Your Get Ups

Consider programming some portion of the Get Up each week to get better.  Even if you are a veteran of the movement it is great to go back and revisit the steps to clean up the movements and put them all back together so your Get Ups can improve.

In your first week add sets of the first part of your Get Up and do them for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps.  Work up to a weight that allows you to maintain proper technique where you can keep your chest up, posting foot down and the kettlebell directly overhead.

The second week you will add the high bridge.  You can do this one of two ways.  You can strictly stick with just the bridge or you can repeat the sit up and go into the bridge.  This is a very challenging movement and will help solidify arguably the hardest movements which is the first initial sit up and the posting strong enough to get into the lunge.

Week three work the single kettlebell overhead bridge into the program.  You can do it on your Get Up day or you can make it into an assistance exercise after your squat or deadlift training.

In the final week of the month you are ready to put it all back together and go for the full Get Up.  Do them for singles or choose a challenging weight and go for sets of two.

If you really start getting good and want to turn the Get Up into a conditioning tool; alternate sides going one repetition until you have completed six repetitions on each side without rest.

There you have it; everything you need to practice and make the Get Up smooth and beneficial to your training program.


Sandbag Exercises for Strength and Conditioning

Last month I taught you how to make a sandbag and now it is time to put it to use.  In this video I show you how to perform a few movements with the sandbag and how to combine them into a strength, conditioning and circuit program. Check it out and let me know what you think

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Monday, April 29th, 2013 Sports Performance Training, Videos No Comments

Should You Supplement: Probiotics for a Healthy Gut?

In the spirit of another Easter Sunday coming and going this past month, I have decided to resurrect my Should You Supplement nutritional series.  These articles are getting progressively more difficult to write since I have tapered my supplement use over the years.  Nowadays I am trying only to use, what I believe, are the essentials that I am not completely obtaining through my diet and what I use has to be safe for consumption with no potentially harmful ingredients, side effects or ill effects if taken in too high a dose.

I have always primarily advocated establishing a diet from a wide variety of healthy whole foods first before considering the need to supplement.  As we know the world does not spin perfectly and neither do our actions.  Vacations, dining out and the occasional junk food pangs can leave us needing more foundational nutrients than we are consuming and proper supplementation can help.

It is difficult to know exactly how much solid nutrition we are obtaining from our food, even if we eat healthy, buy organic and balance our fats, carbohydrates and protein.  Like our daily lives, daily changes occur from the amount of work we do, the amount of sleep we get, the amount of weight lifted and the amount of nutritionally dense food consumed.

Supplements are just that; supplements.  They should be seen not to replace anything you decide to avoid consuming; rather they should be used as an insurance policy to assist your healthy lifestyle and build up a healthy reserve for days that you cannot eat optimally.

By clicking on these links, you can find out more about the supplements I use as my insurance policy ranging from essential fats that are frequently missing in our diets, a little extra vitamin C  for immunity and cell growth, nutrient dense, whole food based multi-vitamins and even some muscle building BCAAs.

Should I Even be Concerned with Gut Health?

The gut consists of the intestinal digestive tract where a majority of digestion and absorption of nutrients occur.  The digestive tract consists of good bacteria or flora consisting of about 100 trillion microorganisms which is about 10 times the amount of cells in the human body.

Gut Health

With that amount of flora in the human gut its function is highly important in digestion and proper health balance of the body.  Keeping these flora levels optimal can be difficult to maintain.

These bacterial microorganisms are essential for a number of healthy processes within the body including:

  • Fermenting unused energy substrates
  • Enhancing the immune system
  • Preventing growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria
  • Regulating the development of vitamins and hormones

Maintaining these good microorganisms is not an easy task.  Natural processes of digestion including the use of digestive acids and enzymes can reduce the good flora in the gut. Illnesses further decrease the amount of gut flora due to inflammation.  Taking medication and antibiotics also reduce the amount of good flora in the body.  Heavy metals and artificial ingredients found in our foods also reduce the amount of gut flora.  If this number gets too low or creates an imbalance, digestion will be compromised and eventually problems may occur that can lead to inflammation of the gut, illness and even chronic disease.

Chronically high levels of inflammation due to compromised digestive health may cause swelling and pain and damage tissues.  Diseases including Psoriasis, Ulcerative Colitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are all disease in which inflammation is thought to play a role.

Benefits of Probiotic Supplementation

Probiotics are supplement form of good bacteria and have shown to have health benefits.

There are several studies touting the positive effects that probiotics significantly reduce inflammation in the human body compared to a placebo. It has also shown to be effective against ulcerative colitis and also has helped patients who are on antibiotics when they were taken before their antibiotic treatment.  The probiotic supplementation reduced the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea by about 60 percent.

Proper digestive health begins in the mouth and many of Americans suffer from oral health issues with one of the biggest being bleeding and inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria.  This is also known as Gingivitis.  Taking a probiotic supplement has shown to reduce inflammation in the mouth and decrease the effects of Gingivitis.

Conclusion: Should You Consider Using a Probiotic?

There are plenty of studies and support out there which provide some conclusions that probiotic supplementation is best for people who have issues with their digestive system due to poor diets, illness, chronic disease or taking medication that eliminates the good bacteria in the gut.

My typical approach is to first make sure that I have my diet in check and consume foods that have high levels of probiotics.  Many dairy products primarily yogurt, mike and cheese are full of healthy bacteria.  If dairy does not agree with you or you are looking for an alternative try various fermented foods including sauerkraut and pickles.  Of course you want to get these foods in their least processed state to get the highest health benefits out of these foods.

fermented foods

When these foods are not enough and I am sick, traveling or not digesting well due to the Super Burrito I had on a Saturday night, I like to aid my healing with a probiotic supplement and my supplement brand of choice is Jarrow Brands Jarro-Dophilus® + FOS

Jarrow Dophilius

I do not use this supplement daily but when I am in a pinch I have found it very helpful in getting my digestive tract back to normal quickly.


NBC News: Probiotics Do Ease Gut Problems, Several Studies Show

Nutra Ingredients USA

Wikipedia/Gut Flora

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Monday, April 29th, 2013 Nutrition No Comments


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