The Fatal Flaw In the Kettlebell Swing: The Kettlebell Coaching Series

You’ve probably seen headlines like this before…. kettlebell swings and saving your back OR the one thing you need to fix in your kettlebell swing OR the guide to the most effective kettlebell swing. Yet here you are… you still clicked… Why?

jillian2Teaching the kettlebell swing (a good, safe one) is as hard as teaching Olympic Style Lifts because so many things can go wrong. Plus… there is more bad info out there than good as evidenced by Fit EDU’s “go to resource for kettlebell swings” and celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels. If you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm please try your best to keep up.

Here are a few critical elements of the swing we will assume you know how to teach (if not you can find an link to article on that topic below):

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  1. How to hip hinge through the clients full range of motion
  2. How to brace at the top of the swing 
  3. How to ensure explosiveness (from the bottom to the top)
  4. How to breathe (biomecanical breathing match and diaphragmatic breathing)

 

 

*Note: any of the above can also be fatal flaws, but we are assuming you already know how to address all of the above because you’re an awesome movement coach** Oh by the way… we offer 2 levels of kettlebell seminars. Check them out

Ok… now that we have gotten this far its time to focus on the one thing that separates good kettlebell coaches from great ones. SEQUENCE in the downswing. You can see poor sequencing in the first portion of this video. Liz (sorry Liz!) hip hinges before closing the gap between her body and the kettlebell. In other words, she does a poor job of allowing the kettlebell to get close to her body before hinging.

Here’s another example illustrated by Coach Erik (while he is discussing explosiveness in this video it is still very applicable).

Let’s do a lame/generic review of physics and then apply to the swing.

Center of mass- The point, about which the distribution of these individual weights is symmetrical, is the center of gravity of the body. Thus, if a body has more mass distributed in its upper part, the center of gravity will be closer to the top of the body.

External load- A load (kettlebell in our case)

Ok… so time to apply these terms to kettlebell swings. In the kettlebell swing the further the external load (kettlebell) is from the body and more specifically center of mass to greater the stress on the body. Huh? The further the kettlebell is from our body the harder it is to control and the more likely we are to allow the spine to flex/extend which increases the likelihood of injury.

Now that you can identify bad sequencing in the downswing (if you’re still not sure watch the videos above one more time). We need to make one more point before we talk fixes…

SELF PRESERVATION

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Above all else we have a natural instinct to keep ourselves free of harm. Logical. However, this is to our detriment in the swing. We often hip hinge early because our instincts tell us to… so the kettlebell doesn’t hit us in the crotch (even though it won’t).  We have to fight an instinct that goes back tens of thousands of years so please be patient with your clients. This will take time. The bottom line is they need do the equivalent of “play chicken with your manhood” as Coach Erik so eloquently puts it. He’s a wordsmith. Not truly applicable when training women, but using this cue still works and usually gets a chuckle.

To the fixes:

Medicine Ball Drill

Long Lever Drills: Core Blaster / Rope

We have more… many, many more, but these are a good start. We really like starting with the medicine ball drill as there is immediate feedback. Bad sequence… you hit the med ball. It’s a bit jarring, but doesn’t hurt. It quickly gets the point across. If this doesn’t resolve the sequencing issue then we go the the rope or core blaster. For more info on sequencing and to make “Play chicken with your manhood” actually make sense check out this article.

If you interested in formal education in this area, but don’t want to go broke or feel like you are joining the military check out our Kettlebell Coaching Seminar. We are preapproved for 8 CEUs by all the major certifying bodies and most of the others will accept our curriculum with an appeal.

Have questions? Email us info@fit-edu.com

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The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing (For Your Shoulders) Part 2

In our last post on the Armbar Kathy Dixon of Action Potential Physical Therapy took me (Coach Joe of Fit EDU) through the set up of the unloaded Armbar. Now it’s time to take the next step, but first a follow up to “my shoulder story”. I am still working my way back to 100%  and regularly perform the Armbar months after completing PT. Here’s why I mention my progress… I feel much more stable/packed in all loaded upperbody push/pull work because I am “in touch” with my shoulder stabilizers… particularly immediately after performing the Armbar in my prep work.  I am better able to get and keep the stabilizers active and know this will improve performance and prevent injury long term.

Now back to why you clicked…

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the Armbar is, when/why to implement this exercise, appropriate body position, and how to get into position it’s time to introduce load (from part 1 of this series). Please note it is critical to be conservative with the weight load and to follow each step in this process. Additionally, a kettlebell (not a dumbbell) is our preferred method of loading for a variety of reasons.

When making the transition from unloaded to loaded with the Armbar (assuming correct position) you will immediately feel the stabilizers (posterior cuff and serratus anterior just to name a few) turn on. When watching the video below you will notice quite a bit of shaking when Kathy loads me with just a 12kg kettlebell (55 seconds in). This isn’t a bad thing and is a great opportunity to help your students/patients/clients feel their shoulder stabilizers turn. This has become my “go to” exercise to teach shoulder packing even before loaded carries.

Here Kathy coaches and explains how to perform and coach the loaded Kettlebell Armbar with Shoulder Internal/External Rotation.

Important coaching points to remember:

  1. Ensure proper alignment of the spine, scapula, and arm before introducing load… position is everything
  2. Watch and palpate the scapula, pecs, traps, and lats to minimize compensation
  3. Develop cues that work for you as it relates to describing ideal shoulder blade position (I like “slide your shoulder blade into your back pocket”) and muscle activation
  4. Master the static loaded hold in this position before introducing internal/external rotation

Here’s a recap of the step by step process of the Loaded Kettlebell Armbar:

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  1. Assume a supine position (pic 1)
  2. Grasp a kettlebell with the hand on the “working side” and bend the “working side’s” knee
  3. Placed the other hand behind the head and keep the other leg straight (pic 2)
  4. DSC_0008DSC_0009 Establishing posterior cuff activation {be sure the ribs are down (not splayed) and the spine is neutral} and then press the kettlebell up to the position in pic 2-notice how I closed the gap between the scapula and the ground in the above pics
  5. Ensure proper alignment of the arm and shoulder blade on the working side and centrate the joint (pic 2)
  6. From this position roll the body as one unit onto the “non-working” side while maintaining shoulder joint centration and scapular position (pic 3)
  7. Connect the working side’s knee to the ground (pic 3)
  8. Now that you’re finally in position ensure proper alignment of the spine  and working arm (fist is directly above the shoulder joint) (pic 3)
  9. Activate the posterior cuff and Serratus Anterior in order maintain a depressed and retracted scapula
  10. Slowly perform internal/external rotation of the shoulder joint with an increased emphasis on maximal external rotation (pics 4 and 5)

If it’s already obvious to you, this is an exercise you must practice on your own before implementing into your performance or rehab programs. If you are working alone we recommend videoing from a posterior view and reviewing positioning. However, your best bet is to perform with a colleague present so you can practice performance and coaching. Once again thank you Kathy Dixon of Action Potential Specialized Physical Therapy for great information.

Want to learn more about this or other fitness related topics? Then visit us at www.fit-edu.com for tips on kettlebell and barbell exercises, breathing and postural control, and metabolic conditioning just to name a few topics. We also just so happen to offer 5 (soon to be 6)  live, full-day seminars on a variety of fitness topics.

The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing For Your Shoulders Pt 1

The longer you work in the field of exercise science (really most fields for that matter) the more you realize how much you DON”T know. I am certainly no exception to this rule. Many years ago and after 3 Labral repairs and many rounds of physical therapy from football and basketball injuries I was convinced I had the shoulder all figured out. I knew the anatomy and physiology, understood the movements at the Glenohumeral Joint and Scapula, common injuries, best practices for “rehabbing”, and thought I understood the interplay between the movement at the scapula and the Glenohumeral Joint. Well… as it turns out I was wrong. After all the surgeries and physical therapy I still had atrocious motor control and poor posture which led to re-injury.

Now let’s skip ahead… I was back in physical therapy… this time at Action Potential UnknownSpecialized Physical Therapy in Glen Mills, PA. In one of my first appointments the therapists reintroduced me to the Arm Bar. I knew of this exercise, but rarely performed it, never prescribed it to clients, and never considered it’s potential benefits when “rehabbing the shoulder” . As it turns out, this exercise was absolutely critical to my lateral viewrecovery.  Specifically, performing The Arm Bar under the watch of Kathy and the team of Physical Therapists at Action Potential helped improved my motor control by  teaching me to quiet my Pecs,  Upper Traps and Lats while activating my  Serratus Anterior and “Posterior Cuff”. I tended to default to Lat activation in lieu of Serratus activation which led to a host of motor control problems.

Given my success with the Arm Bar, I thought writing a piece on it made sense. Particularly because most people are scared of this exercise since it looks high risk when holding a kettlebell and many of those who do perform it don’t adhere to some of the most important principles.  Let’s get starting on the Kettlebell Arm Bar…

What exactly is the Arm Bar?

If you don’t normally watch the videos in our blog reconsider on this topic as this is much easier understand by watching. Here Kathy Dixon of Action Potential Physical Therapy explains what the Arm Bar is.

kettlebell-arm-barThe demands the Arm Bar place on the body are unique. The Arm Bar is a mix of rotary stability and active hip extension to get into the position and becomes a combination of rotary stability and thoracic spine rotation while maintaining a packed and centrated shoulder joint. Got all that? Now on top of all those things we need to ensure the correct musculature is active and prime movers don’t jump in to act as stabilizers. When I first began performing this exercise in PT I recruited Lat or a mix of Pec and Anterior Delt which is way wrong.

How to set up the Arm Bar…

As we said earlier, watching while Kathy talks makes learning the set up and mechanics much easier.

The basic steps in setting up/getting into position for the Arm Bar are:

  1. Establishing a supine position with a bent knee on the kettlebell side and the opposite side’s arm placed behind the head
  2. Press the active side up while establishing Serratus Anterior, Lower Trap, and Rhomboid activation
  3. Be sure the ribs are down (not splayed) and the spine is neutral
  4. Ensure proper alignment of the arm on the working side relative to the shoulder and joint centration
  5. From this position roll the body as one unit onto the “non-working” side while maintaining shoulder joint contraption and the same scapular positionkettlebell-arm-bar
  6. Now assume the position in the picture to the right (notice the knee is connected to
    the ground)
  7. Now that you’re finally in position once again ensure proper alignment of the spine, shoulder blade, and working arm.
  8. Finally, activate the posterior cuff and Serratus Anterior (told you this is easier to watch!)

When is it appropriate to prescribe the Arm Bar and what are the benefits?

While the Arm Bar appears to be high risk, it is safe when executed properly and can produce significant benefits including improved shoulder packing, motor control, and when loaded strength.  I now use the Arm Bar to help students and clients understand how to pack/centrate the shoulder and as a prerequisite to the Turkish Get-Up. I even like to use this before getting into heavy carries because it’s great at putting clients/students in touch with their shoulder/scapular stabilizers.

We will leave it there for now, but we’ll be back soon with a second installment on the Arm Bar. After all, we need to add in internal/external rotation while maintaining a stable scapula! Before we let you go we should probably clear up this whole joint centration thing since it is a term regularly used by physical therapists, but not so much in fitness. Joint centration is a fancy was of saying centering the ball in the socket. Yup… it’s pretty much the same as “packing” your shoulder, but this term can be applied to any ball and socket joint (shoulder/hip).

A very big thanks to Kathy Dixon of Action Potential Specialized Physical Therapy for such great information on this topic. If you are local to the Glen Mills, PA Area and you or a client need physical therapy I highly recommend using Action Potential! They are one of the very, very few one to one Physical Therapy Clinics in our area.

Want to learn more about this or other fitness related topics? Then visit us at www.fit-edu.com for greats tips on kettlebell and barbell exercises, breathing and postural control, and metabolic conditioning just to name a few topics.

 

Zumba For Powerlifters, Swings For Athletes

The kettlebell swing and sports performance. These two topics are rarely talked about in the same breath by most in the fitness industry, but should they be?

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Is this like suggesting powerlifter should do Zumba to improve performance? To some the answer is probably a resounding yes. With that said, is there a place for the kettlebell swing in a sports performance setting or is it just for general fitness clients?  

We would argue the kettlebell swing is a fundamental building block for both populations. We would further argue the kettlebell swing should be in sports performance training and if it’s not, a disservice is being done to the client. Read on… we’ll explain why.

Before moving forward, we need to start out with a few definitions from the world of exercise physiology… (Please bare with us for a few paragraphs)

Potential Energy– the energy of a body or system as a result of its position in an electric, magnetic, or gravitational field

Kinetic Energy– energy the body possesses by the virtue of being in motion

SSC- is an active stretch (eccentric contraction) of a muscle followed by an immediate shortening (concentric contraction) of that same muscle.

As stated above, the SSC is activated and utilized when there is an eccentric contraction (lengthening of muscle fibers) promptly followed by a concentric contraction of the same muscle fibers. When the SSC is excited, a concentric contraction has the potential to be more powerful and produce greater force when compared to a concentric contraction not preceded by an eccentric contraction. This is because during a rapid eccentric contraction, potential energy is created and the SSC is excited. If a concentric is then performed immediately following the eccentric contraction, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, resulting in increased force production. An example would be a traditional vertical jump where the student performs a countermovement (eccentric contraction of the prime movers) and then rapidly transitions to a concentric contraction resulting in a jump.  Slide1

Now to the SSC and kettlebell swings…

The kettlebell swing is a ballistic movement in which a kettlebell is actively pulled back and behind the student as a result of a hip hinge (rapid/forceful hip flexion) and then immediately followed by rapid/forceful hip extension. Please note this should all be done while maintaining a neutral head and spine (see the video below for more). In the kettlebell swing the “down portion” is a rapid and forceful eccentric contraction and there is then a quick transition to the “up portion” which is a concentric contraction. Sounds a lot like plyometrics, huh…???  

 

From the perspective of the exercise physiologist, an ideal kettlebell swing sequence under significant load maximizes the potential energy produced via the eccentric contraction which is then converted to kinetic energy for an explosive hip drive.   This occurs because when the bell “pulls/assists” the student into the bottom position of the swing the posterior chain is loaded with significant force (rapid and forceful eccentric contraction in the prime movers) which produces a greater amount of potential energy. This is the plyometric equivalent of a depth jump. Assuming good mechanics, this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy and results in a more forceful concentric contraction.

The end result of regularly performing kettlebell swings include, improved power in the hip extensors, improved control and coordination of key “core” musculature, an “overspeed” eccentric training effect on the posterior chain, and improved efficiency in the utilization of the SSC (of the involved musculature).   

Improved power/explosiveness without the impact of plyometics

For Strength and Conditioning coaches, the KB swing can be an extremely useful tool when training large groups of athletes, especially those at the high school level.  It is generally easier to teach than other exercises that require rapid extension of the hips, e.g. clean and snatch.  The kettlebell takes up much less room than bars and plates and it is easy to cycle athletes through multiple sets of swings using a, you go, I go pattern and a clock.

I’ve done this with many sports teams that want to train in-season and it works very well.  Kettlebell swings are a great way to go to for in-season athletes, most notably for sports that inherently require a lot of running and jumping to play the game, because it is impact free.  The last thing a track and field athlete needs is more jumping and impact in the training room after a practice of jumping and impact!  They need to get generally stronger in the positions that will benefit them the most.  It just so happens that explosive hip hinging benefits pretty much everyone.  

Sticking with track and field, it is really easy to take a whole team, which includes distance runners, sprinters, throwers and jumpers and put them through a kettlebell workout as a group.  The first thing I have them do is find a kettlebell that fits their strength and a partner of equal strength.  Distance runners and younger guys would grab the lighter kettlebells, sprinters and jumpers the medium kettlebells and throwers would grab the heaviest bells.  Next you would line them up so no one is swinging at each other and tell partner one to grab the kettlebell and get ready.  Setting the clock for 10 minutes, you tell partner one they will do swings for 20 seconds, they will have 10 seconds to switch, and then partner two swings for 20 seconds, then switch again.  In the end, everyone gets 10 sets of 20 seconds.  Lots of volume and lots of practice for the whole group in 10 minutes.  

This method also gives the Strength and Conditioning coach a chance to clean up technique and generally give the group feedback.  For example, if after two minutes of swings you notice a large majority of the group is doing a poor job of keeping the kettlebell above their knees as it passes through their legs, you can stop the clock and teach.  A great way to give feedback and praise to someone who is doing it well, is to ask the student who is keeping the kettlebell in the right path to come in front and demonstrate for the entire group.  As they swing, the coach can point out what they are doing well, give some coaching cues, and ask the partners to watch for this and to coach each other when the clock starts up again.  

In this short span you’ve identified general movement flaws, provided an example of proper technique for the visual learners (while using a student model), gave verbal cues for the auditory learners, and taught the team what to look for so they can coach each other up instead of just you coaching everyone!  To read more about different kinds of learns read one of our old posts here.

If during the course of a season you spend one training day a week swinging kettlebells and using a coaching model where everyone is involved, you can improve strength, fitness, sport specific movement patterns, and team building.  As you can see, the benefits of using the swing for large groups in the Strength and Conditioning setting is valuable, and not just for improving physical qualities.  
In closing, the kettlebell swing is an excellent accessory exercising reaping a wide range of benefits for athletes when appropriately performed. Of all the low-impact options available to improve hip extensor strength and power the kettlebell swing should be at the top of everyone’s list. To be clear, the kettlebell swing should NOT replace plyometrics in a strength and conditioning setting, but instead be treated as an alternative option when in-season and as a way to decrease foot contacts/high impact exercise year-round without losing hip extensor power.

For more information about swings or other kettlebell exercises either visit the others posts on our blog OR consider attending one our of Certified Kettlebell Coach Seminars.

The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Goblet Squat -1

The art of loaded squatting can be tricky to master.  Look around most fitness and performance settings and you see plenty of loaded lunges, deadlifts, and often something that resembles a quarter squat, but you don’t often see a loaded squat performed though a respectable range of motion.  Is it because it is scary to put a barbell on your upper back or hold to hold a barbell in the front squat position? Is it the way people are introduced to squats? There’s a good chance both reasons are players in this. However, our opinion is that it has more to do with the initial approach squatting.

Here’s how we progress the squat pattern:
1. Air squat
2. Driver squat (see HERE)
3. Kettlebell goblet squat (see HERE)
4. Kettlebell front squat
5. Barbell front and/or back squat

For those of you who don’t already know, the goblet squat is a squat variation unique and powerful in it’s effectiveness.  It improves the fundamental squatting pattern by increasing range of motion in the hips and develops leg strength. The difference between the goblet squat and most other variations is that it allows participants to express a full range of motion with minimal loading of the spine.  When performed correctly, it’s very effective at putting participants in the “right” position.  This exercise can serve as THE squat a student performs in their training or simply be a bridge to the front and back squat.

Here are Goblet Squat Fundamentals: 

The remainder of this post and series will focus on coaching the goblet squat.
 
Setting Up

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Grasp a kettlebell by the horns and hold it in front of the torso at chest height. Take a shoulder-width stance with the feet turned outward slightly.  Please not that you should NOT wear sneakers when performing the goblet squat. Stand as tall as possible, acting as if a puppeteer has a string attached to the top of your head and is pulling you up.
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Be sure to firmly grasp the kettlebell and simultaneously engage your lats. A good cue to use, which accomplishes both, is “trying to break the kettlebell by twisting the horns away from the center”. If you aren’t able to figure this out, squat success may escape you.
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Finally, push the kettlebell 4-6 inches off the chest.
 
Connecting with the ground
DSC_0028Its important your feet are as connected with the ground as possible (hence no sneakers). Keep more weight in your heels, but also spread the toes as far as possible and press them into the ground. Think about screwing your feet into the ground.  Pretend your feet are on saucers and spin them out.  This will help load tension through the hips.

Learning to pull into the Goblet Squat


This can be challenging to learn, but is critical! If you allow gravity to do the work for you in the descent of the goblet squat you will NOT maintain a tall torso. Therefore, its important you learn how to pull yourself into the squat with your hip flexors. This is a tough concept to master and even harder to teach.

Here’s a great drill to help students learn what it should feel like:

The Drive to the top
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Once you have descended to a depth that allows your elbows to touch your thighs, briefly pause and drive back to the start position. Maintain a tall, rigid torso throughout the movement so that your hips and torso rise at the same speed.

Now that you have all this new information get a kettlebell and start performing goblet squats. In the meanwhile, we will work on additional posts which will address a variety of movement issues and coaching drill you can use to “fix” the squatting pattern including additional drills to help with that challenging concept of pulling into the descent.

The Goblet Squat is covered in detail in our Certified Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 (CKI-1) Seminar along with the kettlebell swing and turkish get-up. Our last CKI-1 in 2015 will be held onSaturday, 11/14/15 in Malvern, PA. Use coupon code SAVE25 for a $25 discount. Valid until 11/9/15. Our 2016 seminar schedule will be released shortly.

The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Turkish Get-Up Part 3

We’re finally back… fresh off a CKI Level 1 Seminar. It’s about time we wrap up The Turkish Get-Up. We have already discussed how to perform and coach the Get-Up along with a variety of cuing tips and coaching drills (see our last 2 blogs here: Part 1 Part 2). Now we’re going to talk safety.
Logically, The Get-Up requires students to express a full range of shoulder flexion (among other things) on the kettlebell side. Well… this can get hairy for many as a limitation in shoulder flexion is common. We recommend evaluating shoulder flexion when possible before having a student perform overhead work. Many use the Function Movement Screen to determine whether or not overhead work is safe. While we like the idea in concept (of using the FMS), we are big proponents of directly measuring shoulder flexion.

How to measure shoulder flexion:

Shoulder Flexion Test

Have the student stand with their back against a wall and their heels a little less than a foot from the wall. Their head, upperback and tailbone should all be and remain in contact with the wall.

Shoulder Flexion Test 2Shoulder Flexion Test 3

From this position, have the student flex one shoulder to 90 degrees (the arm should be in front of them and at shoulder height) with a straight elbow and their thumb up. Tell them to raise their arm up until their thumb hits the wall while maintaining a straight elbow. They must maintain the aforementioned 3 points of contact on the wall. If successful, their shoulder flexion is not limited.

If they cannot reach the wall they are limited. If they reach the wall, but either bend the elbow OR extend their spine they are limited.

Why having a full range of motion (ROM) is critical:

Let’s start of by defining the term “structural load”. A structural load is a load in which the weight/kettlebell/external force is positioned in a way that allows for the joints to remain in an optimal position and for the load to be transferred further up/down the chain to the “core”. Additionally, the load is close to your center of mass. It simply comes down to how the student positions their body relative to the load. An easy example to help with this concept is to go grab a dumbbell or kettlebell. This weight should be a weight you are very comfortable and confident in holding overhead. Seriously. Go get one. Stand up and safely press the object overhead. Once overhead, position the object so that the fist is directly over the shoulder joint while maintaining a straight elbow. If your joints and spine are all neutral and your core is active, you should feel as if this weight is very manageable. Maybe even a little light. Your Lats, anterior core, and posterior core should all be wide awake and helping your maintain this position. Notice you don’t feel too much in your Delt. This is representative of a structural load. Now follow all the same steps, but then allow the weight to get a bit further in front of you and a little lower to the ground (less shoulder flexion). The farther from your body and your center of mass, the harder it is for your core to assist. In fact, go far enough forward and it begins to feel as if your Delt is on an island.  This is not a structural load. Therefore, in The Get-Up a structural load is what you want to maintain throughout.

What happens when you do overhead with bad positioning:

pav1When performing overhead work, such as Turkish Get-Up, Waiter’s Walks, Presses, or Snatches, it’s important to have a neutral spine for a variety of reasons. Maintaining a neutral spine puts the student in an optimal position to brace and maintain stability throughout the exercise. If the student has limited shoulder flexion, getting the working arm(s) into the optimal position without compromising joint position elsewhere is impossible. Specifically, extension of the spine, lateral shifting and/or rotation of the pelvis, and flexion of the elbow are all common compensations. This will logically put high levels of stress on the elbow or somewhere in the spine increasing the chances of injury.

How to Spot The Turkish Get-Up:

Knowing where you need to be any when are critical to safely spotting the Get-Up. This video will help you understand ideal position for the coach.

Time to wrap it up:
After reading our last three installments on The Turkish Get-Up you should be quite a bit more knowledgeable on the intricacies of performance, evaluating, and cuing, etc. However, in order to be an effective coach (especially in this case) it’s critical for you to master the exercise. We highly recommend performing many, many, many Get-Ups before you start coaching others. If you have any questions or anything of value to add to coaching the Turkish Get-Up please don’t hesitate to reach out to us through our website, social media, or even a call.
Next Seminar:
Saturday, 11/14/15 from 8:00am – 5:00pm at McKenna’s Gym in Fawn Grove, PA. Visit our store to register: http://www.shop.fit-edu.com $75 off until 10/14 with coupon code MCKENNA75

The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Turkish Get-Up Part 2

In our last installment of the Kettlebell Coaching Series we addressed teaching and coaching The Half Get-Up.  We discussed how to set up, the initial steps, and some coaching fixes to correct common errors in the initial phases. In this piece, we will thoroughly cover how to make it all the way to standing and the steps to come back down.

Before we get into the coaching the next steps there are a few more points we need to make about the benefits of performing the Turkish Get-Up:

  1. Shoulder resiliency
    1. If you’re interested in improving shoulder stability in multiple planes the Get-Up should be a go to exercise. Assuming you (or your student) maintains packed shoulders (see the tips we gave here), you will improve shoulder stability in three key positions (anterior, lateral, and overhead). While many other exercises provide an opportunity to do so in one of these positions, none does in all 3.
  2.   Improved body control and awareness
    1. Not sure why? Start doing Get-Ups and you’ll experience it for yourself
  3. “Linkage”
    1. Linkage is becoming a common term used in the fitness industry by trainers and coaches. Linkage refers to the ability to link segments of the body so as to improve movement efficiency on a “global”  level. While this is an “unscientific” term it’s logical that movements/exercises that improve linkage also improve performance. In “Becoming A Supple Leopard” Kelly Starrett discusses linkage and reducing leakage. Leakage being “energy leaks” caused by a lack of linkage resulting in a loss of power production. A simple example would be failing to “pack” the shoulders and stabilize the spine when bench pressing. If your shoulder joints and spine are not in an optimal position you lose leverage and as a result power due to energy leakage.

Now to coaching the Get-Up:

Let’s start with all the steps to get to from the floor to the standing position:

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  1. Roll
  2. Press
  3. Drive to the elbow
  4. Post up onto hand
  5. High bridge
  6. Leg sweep
  7. Half kneeling
  8. Lunge up to standing

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High Bridge and Leg Sweep

If you remember, the Half Get-Up takes us to the high bridge position.  It stops us short of arguably the most challenging step in the Get-Up, the leg sweep.  Easily the most dynamic part of the exercise, the leg sweep changes our body position from prone, to kneeling, and gets our shoulder one step closer to the full overhead position.  What makes the leg sweep tricky for most is that you are reducing your points of contact with the ground from three (hand and both feet) to two (one hand and one foot) while simultaneously moving your center of mass.

It is our belief that a quality high bridge makes this step a bit easier.  Getting the hips higher in the bridge creates more space for the outstretched leg (kickstand leg) to get pulled under.  We also want to avoid dragging that leg on the ground.  If your leg gets caught up dragging on the ground there is a good chance the knee will not be positioned correctly on the floor which will negatively effect in the Half-Kneeling position.  This can make the steps to finish the move more tricky. To initiate the leg sweep, the knee must bend and the lower leg must rotate so that your pinky toe is close to the ground and your big toe is on top.  This will make the lower leg parallel to the ground on the sweep and give all the space needed to make the knee your principle connection to the ground.

Please note: Where the knee gets placed may depend slightly on limb lengths and individual anthropometrics, but generally you want to place that knee directly under the Kettlebell that is being held overhead.

Here’s how to coach from the ground to standing:

Great job! You now have a client standing up with a weight over their head. Looks like its time to get them back down.

Here’s how:

TGU DownAs you can see from the video and picture, getting back to the ground is as simple as retracing the steps you took to get to the top. Once again, it is the transition between half kneeling and high bridge that creates the greatest challenge. We love the cue “use your thigh as a guide” when having the student reach out laterally from the half kneeling position.  As we did on the way up during this transition we once again want to form a straight line of the hand, knee and foot.

One of the things that is great about the Get-Up is that every position is dependent upon the one preceding it.  You must be precise on every step to be successful.  Like most things that are worthwhile doing, it can be as draining mentally as it is physically, especially when learning the exercise.

For the sake of being crystal clear… here are the steps to go from standing to the ground

  1. Lunge to half kneeling
  2. Hand reach/windshield wiper of base leg
  3. High Bridge
  4. Lower to butt
  5. Lower to elbow
  6. Lower to back
  7. Lower the kettlebell and grasp with two hands
  8. Roll

So… shameless plug time. At Fit EDU, we pride ourselves on makes better fitness coaches. We do so by improving YOUR movement first, then developing your coach’s eye, and finally filling your coach’s toolbox with countless coaching fixes and corrective exercises. If you’re serious about helping your clients we want to work with you! Our Certified Kettlebell Instructor Seminars provide you with both a certification AND 8 CEUs for ACE, ISSA, NASM, NSCA, and 6.5 for AFAA.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
ACAC (ACAC Staff only)
West Chester, PA
Saturday, 10/17/15 8:00am-5:00pm (please note this date is tentative)

McKenna’s Gym
Fawn Grove, PA