The Kettlebell High Pull

There is a technique, along with the Kettlebell Thruster, that should be in the arsenal of anyone training with Kettlebells.  That technique is the Kettlebell High Pull (KHP).

When I attended the RKC sixteen (16) years ago the KHP was part of the (extensive) curriculum we were exposed to. In recent years it has been dropped from the RKC curriculum but it hasn't been forgotten by those of us who are on the front lines of training athletes.

Why is the KHP a forgotten technique? It could be that a number of years a group of Kettlebell "experts" deemed it dangerous to the shoulder and panned it. If they were truly "experts" they would have recognized immediately that it was not only perfectly safe for the shoulders (when properly coached) but it was an important tool in building confidence and skill with the trajectory aligned with the Clean and Snatch.

Irregardless of what the "experts" say about it, the KHP is an important tool our Kettlebell arsenal. It is dissimilar enough to the Kettlebell Swing that it requires additional coaching and cueing - but the effort is well worth it. The KHP has a more compressed recycle rate and requires a much more "tight" trajectory than the Kettlebell Swing... and that is why it is so valuable.

SMH - The Kettlebell Swing

The fundamental ballistic technique with the Russian Kettlebell is most decidedly the Kettlebell Swing (KS). While it is a "simple" technique in appearance it is anything but when it comes to execution. YouTube and Facebook are littered with well intentioned clients and under-educated and under-trained coaches executing (and I mean "executing") this technique.

Common failures include: poor set-up, incomplete loading, non-existent backswing, improper power base, dangerous unloading, etc. The list is actually longer but you get the idea. How can this fundamental technique be so poorly represented? Could it be that because it looks so "simple" that people barely scratch the surface when they train it? Could it be inherent physical weakness or mobility issues overriding technique? Yeah... very likely it's a combination of this and more.

Want to see a solid Kettlebell Swing with near half-bodyweight? Check out the video below:

Little Monsters...

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson has been on my mind a lot lately. Primarily from reading his book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos". He makes sense of a lot of things and I strongly recommend you either reading the book, watching his stuff on YouTube, or listening to his podcast (multiple venues but I highly recommend his appearances on the Joe Rogan Podcast; numbers 877, 958, 1006 and 1070).

Anyway... we all have little monsters that we are hiding (at least we think we are) under the carpet. It could be our eating habits, our training, our mobility, or a host of other things that you need to attend to. Trying to hide them only gives them power and makes them even more dangerous in the long term. Trust me - it's better to get to them now, whatever they are, then giving them chance to become big, bad monsters!

Athletic or Aesthetic? Lame or Legendary?

KB_SnatchWhat's my acid test for any exercise that I personally do or teach my clients?  It's a real simple one - all I do is look at the exercise and determine if the underlying goal of the exercise is Athletic or Aesthetic.  Simple?  Yes.  Effective?  Absolutely!  In case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain.  An athletic exercise is going to direct impact on my speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, etc.  An aesthetic exercise is going to give (the layman) the impression that I have speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, etc.

Let me give you an example - how about Biceps Curls for starters?  The goal of the biceps curl is to increase the size and definition of the biceps head in relation to the other muscles in the upper arm.  Increasing the size of the biceps would also require the development of the triceps in order to maintain balance in the upper arm.  What is the athletic purpose of large biceps?  I guess they'll fill out your t-shirt better but will they really improve your performance or just make you look like an athlete?

How about the Kettlebell Snatch?  The goal of the Kettlebell Snatch is increase the athlete's hip speed; enhance anterior and posterior chain integration; increase overhead strength, mobility and flexibility; and develop anaerobic endurance.  The Kettlebell Snatch doesn't overtly emphasize the development of one muscle (group) over another but does promote development of the pelvic girdle and glutes. BTW - not all Kettlebell Snatches are the same. Most are just Swings that end up overhead... a sad and ineffective way to train this great technique.

So which exercise do you think I would do as part of my own workouts as well as recommend to my clients?  Right...

BTW - Someone recently asked me about the Burpee and what I thought of it. If you're asking me about the "Flopee" or the "Slopee" that you seen done in most gyms - absolute waste of time. But, if you're talking about a well executed Burpee (the way that we insist they are performed) - then I think they are a key tool in not only developing strength in the athlete but also assessing their movement and integration. If you don't know what a real Burpee looks like I'll be happy to post a video for you...

"CrossFit is Crazy!?!?"

JohnKalil_2008If you've ever tried something new, something that is not necessarily within the scope of most people's experience, I'm sure you've been told that you're crazy.  Which is shortly followed by "you're going to get hurt", "it's not good for you", "you're going to put your eye out", etc.  I know that's what I was told over 40 years ago when I started training in the martial arts.  I heard the same thing when I started training with Russian Kettlebells back in 2000.  I won't even begin to tell you what I heard when I started doing CrossFit.

All I can say is listen to your heart and follow the path that makes you happy - and ignore the naysayers who will try to steal your dream and diminish your joy.  I know that John Kalil's (pictured) friends probably think he's crazy for doing CrossFit, but if you ask him he'll tell you he's never felt better or more alive.  If you don't believe me just ask him - he's at every class. BTW - that picture is from when John started training with us over TEN YEARS AGO!  John is still going strong at 76 years old and teaches several classes and clients every day!

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"It's the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you are mad, then dangerous, then there is a pause and then you can't find anyone who disagrees with you."
- Tony Benn

Your Brain on Exercise

The United States leads the world in the consumption of antidepressants and mood altering drugs. The number of people that are consuming them on a daily basis is staggering and continues to grow.  What is even more alarming is that the average age that these drugs are being prescribed is getting younger and younger...

What can be done to slow or even reverse this trend? Exercise! Exercise is a tremendous effect on the mood and the whole neurological system. Does it matter what kind of exercise you do? Well, that's debatable. Some scientists believe that movement in and of itself is beneficial. Others believe that certain of movement is more beneficial to certain age groups.  What they ALL agree on is that movement is ESSENTIAL to maintaining your mental health and well being.

Check out this TED Talk by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki on the mind changing benefits of exercise!

CrossFit Koncepts Mission Statement

IMG_7106The mission of CrossFit Koncepts is to develop every individual to their athletic potential; to restore strength, movement and vitality in their life.

To some, this will be to an Olympic, professional or semi-professional athlete, or even operational level. To others, it will be returning them to the strength, mobility and vitality they had in their youth.

We will accomplish this together by exposing them to a variety of athletic skills and scenarios that will challenge them both physically and mentally - while making the whole experience fun, challenging and exciting.

We will use coaching and teaching methods that have been honed over thousands of hours of working with clients from all walks of life, experience levels and abilities. 

We will strive to push, cajole and challenge our clients to improve their lives by improving their bodies.

Starting a fitness regimen is a daunting task for anyone. By surrounding yourself with people who are on the same path as you, your chances for success are much higher.

CrossFit Koncepts is committed to improving your life... are you?

Stand Up Straight!

Do you know how important your posture is?  Do you really? If you thought that it had an impact on your strength, energy level, respiration, and production of dopamine and serotonin - would you work harder on your posture?  Well you should because your posture impacts all of the things listed above and more.

Want to know more?  Check out Jordan B. Peterson's new book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" and you will learn about this and much more!