Deconstructing Kettlebells: Clean it Up, Press it Out

Over the past few installments of Deconstructing Kettlebells, we have explored the many holds and positions of kettlebell training, the deadlift, the swing, the squat, and the get up. Today we will dive into the clean and the overhead press.  

 

CLEANS

This exercise is primarily used to safely bring the kettlebell to the rack position as well as used as a gateway to other kettlebell patterns.  This can also be an exercise in itself once the form is grooved and the arc is tamed. The clean - along with the swing and snatch are common kettlebell ballistic movements.

 

1.      Place the bell on the ground and step in front of it.

2.      Reach back and grab the bell, while keeping your back and head straight.

3.      Hike the bell between the legs, ideally above the knees.

4.      Snap your hips forward, keep your elbow in, while guiding the kettlebell to your shoulder. Use your LEGS AND HIPS to clean the bell. Do no CHEAT CURL the bell to rack position!

5.      Make sure your wrist is in neutral position (straight).

6.     At the top the kettlebell should rest in the natural "V" made between your upper arm and forearm. Women: Make sure to rack the bell on the outside of the breast.  The bell should be held tightly against the shoulder. Men: Hand position is on the chest.  The bell is tightly pressed against the chest and shoulder.

7.      Roll the kettlebell and throw it back between your legs to perform desired reps.

VariationsDouble Cleans, Hand 2 Hand Cleans, Double Alternating Cleans, Bottoms-up Cleans

Some common issues with the clean are the following:

-elbow leaves side and the swing is long

-the kettlebell bangs against the wrist and arm

-wrist position is in excessive extension

- torso rotation

There are many correctives that can be applied by a qualified professional. One of my favorite ways to teach the clean is to go backwards from the rack position and work backwards from the drop.

 

OVERHEAD PRESS

The overhead press is a total body movement. The key to the overhead press (OHP) is in keeping whole body tension. When using the correct breathing and tension, you will find your lower body and core stabilizing to get the kettlebell safely over your head.

 

1.  Clean the bell to your shoulder. Starting position is in the rack.

2.  Keep your quads and glutes tight and press the bell up over your head to a locked out position. Your opposite arm should be out to the side to help with weight distribution and also be tight

3.  During the press up, think of using you lats to help guide you under the bell. HINT - the lats are the key to getting some big weights overhead ;-)

4.  At the top, the bell should be inline with the ears or slightly behind, elbow extended, shoulder packed.

5.   Slowly bring the kettlebell down to your shoulder. Repeat for desired reps.

Variations:

Double Overhead Press, See-Saw Press, Clean and Press, Thrusters

Because of the asymmetries I tend to see in clients I prefer using kettlebells and dumbbells for overhead pressing movements. The offset weight of the kettlebell helps open up tight shoulders. And once the client is able to get the lats to incorporate into their press work - a whole new world opens up!

Next week, we will dissect the kettlebell snatch and also take a look at safety requirements when working with kettlebells. Go to our home page and sign up for our weekly newsletter - it's free and comes out every Wednesday!

Until next time....Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life. 

Deconstructing Kettlebells - GET UP. STAND UP. The TGU

If I told you to lay down on the ground in a supine position (on your back) and hold and arm extended vertically with a kettlebell and stand up completely without bending that arm holding that bell - you may think this is a dare or riddle. In a vague way, I would be asking you to perform one of the oldest exercises around - the Get Up, also known as the TGU, or Turkish Get Up.

The TGU is movement that requires the body to handle stability and mobility throughout the entire kinetic chain, while challenging the core, motor development, and whole-body integration. The TGU is also used to help break down "weak links" and be used as a corrective strategy in some practices. I will use this as an assessment tool occasionally to look at my client's progress.

The shoulders are a very complex body part and they have the most to gain from TGUs. the shoulders can do many things. They flex, extend, hyperextend, internally rotate, externally rotate, abduct, adduct, horizontally extend, horizontally flex, scapular depression, scapular elevation, scapular protraction, scapular retraction. And guess what...they do all of this in a single move. Yup. The get up.

Add to it that the TGU loads the body in an asymmetrical fashion and that does a helluva number on the core musculature. The center of gravity is always changing with the TGU, thus the core is always adjusting to find balance. Add into in all three planes of action are being tested - and your core is more than stimulated during the TGU.

 TGU - TURKISH GET UP, GET UP

Pick Up to Get Up Sit Up (Steps #1-#6)

1. Lay on back and have a bell sit at your side just below chest height

2. Roll onto side and grab the bell with the hand closest to ground first, then wrap top hand over it, knees are flexed

3. Engage the core, roll back onto back, press the bell over the chest. Keep a neutral wrist position.

4. The knee should be flexed and hip slightly abducted on the side with the bell, opposite leg is extended and abducted

5. Initiate a punch with the loaded arm across the body to start the movement pattern back up

6. Roll onto the elbow

Tall Sit (#7)

7. Then transition to an extended arm and grounded hand

Transition to Half Kneel (#8-#10)

8. Provide a hip bridge (high or low) and bring the long leg back to the posterior

9. Sit back into the heels and remove the grounded hand for support

10. Windshield wipe the back leg and now hold a position of grounded knee

Stand Up (#11)

11. Stand up with the bell still overhead throughout

NOW WE NEED TO GET BACK DOWN - CONGRATS ON BEING HALFWAY THERE! (#12-#19)

12. Step back and kneel with the opposite leg - KEEP AN EYE ON THE BELL AT ALL TIMES

13. Twist the back leg towards the front leg (called windshield wiper)

14. Place the free hand down on the ground as you sit you weight back towards the heels

15. Take the leg that you stepped back into the lunge with and push it through to the front in full extension

16. Sit the hips down to the ground

17. Take the grounded hand and shift the weight to the forearm as you begin to lay flat

18. Transition the weight from the elbow to the shoulders as you should be laying flat on the ground

19. Repeat for desired reps and repeat on opposite side

No problem, right?

Wrong....

Before you decide to run out there and try this with a loaded kettlebell, execute the perfect TGU with a shoe. To learn the balance and control necessary for an effective TGU, make a fist and balance your shoe on the fist. After you can navigate the TGU with the shoe, on both arms, then we can start talking about loading the bell.

Check out the video showing the SGU, Shoe Get Up. please also take a brief moment to appreciate the Donkey Kong Vans ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the many steps of the TGU can be used as individual exercises be very effective improving your fitness. Variations of the TGU are holding the bell with a bottom's up hold, a no-handed get up, and a double bell get up, along with other hybrid movements as well.

Next installment of Deconstructing Kettlebells will take a look at the clean and the overhead press.

If you are looking to make that serious change to your health & fitness, get customized programming from the b3 team today!

Sign up for our weekly motivation newsletter on our home page, bbbwellness.com , and we will see you next time.

Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life.

 

Deconstructing Kettlebells: Squats

In the previous installment of Deconstructing Kettlebells we looked at basic hinge patterns, AKA the deadlift and the swing. In this week’s blog we tackle squatting patterns – looking at the goblet squat, the front squat, and the pistol squat.

 

Squatting is an essential movement pattern. Squats hold benefits for walking, climbing, stepping, sitting and standing, and lower body strength. In addition, the squats introduced today also will help develop core muscles through abdominal pressure in how we will hold the kettlebell(s). 

 

Now, I love me some barbell squats, and I love deadlifting even more so, but kettlebell squats are NO JOKE and can take your training to another level!

 

GOBLET SQUATS

 

The first item up today will be the goblet squat. When introducing squats into a kettlebell program, this is usually where I begin (assuming they have cleared screening and show reasonable mobility).

 

Top of the goblet squat

Top of the goblet squat

Bottom of the goblet squat

Bottom of the goblet squat

Goblet Squats

1.      Find a shoulder-wide stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell along the horns and hold in front of the chest. Do not rest the bell on the chest.

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knees, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knees more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps at the top.

Variations

Bottoms up goblet squats, Front Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Overhead Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Pistol Squats

 

FRONT SQUATS

 

Front squats are one of my favorite moves. First, because of the offset positioning the bell is (which kicks your core's ass). And second, they are very humbling for those that have lived under the leg press and barbell to change things up a bit.

 

Top of the front squat called the rack position.

Top of the front squat called the rack position.

Bottom position of the front squat

Bottom position of the front squat

Front Squats

1.      Find a shoulder-wide stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell with one hand along the handle and hold in the rack position. The bell should rest in the natural "V" provided by the forearm and upper arm. The thumb should be able to touch the collarbone. Women, the arm position may flare slightly to accommodate for the chest

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knees, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly. Reach with the unloaded arm to help maintain alignment.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knees more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps at the top.

 

Variations

Front Squats using 2 kettlebells, Overhead Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Pistol Squats

 

Note:

With both the goblet and front squat, notice the parallel lines that are created by the tibia (large bone of the lower leg) and the spine. This shows a good squat depth and is an indicator of sufficient mobility and stability in the body.

 

PISTOL SQUATS

The pistol squat is a movement that is very challenging on many fronts. Balance, mobility, stability, strength, and concentration all have a roll in effectively navigating the pistol. There are many precursors and compensatory movements that we implement when learning a pistol, but I felt compelled to introduce this movement. The pistol is not for everyone and should not be used as a party favor or bar trick ;-)

Pistol Squats

1.      Take a narrow stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell along the horns and hold in front of the chest. Do not rest the bell on the chest.

3.      Extend one leg in front of you and balance on the grounded leg.

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knee, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly. As you lower down, the elevated leg may rasie up and not touch the ground.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knee more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible. Use the kettlebell for counterbalance if needed.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glute and quadriceps at the top.

Variations

Bench Pistol Squats, Double Kettlebell Pistol Squats, Deck Squats, Pistol Deck Squats

 

There are dozens of variations of lunge patterns, step up patterns, and correctives for an improved squatting technique. The goblet and front squat are a great foundation for new kettlebell training participants and strength training enthusiasts. The pistol is an advanced movement and should be treated as such. 

Next installment of Deconstructing Kettlebells will cover the TGU, Turkish Get Up, or the Get Up.

Sign up for our weekly motivation newsletter on our home page, bbbwellness.com , and we will see you next time.

Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life.

 

 

Deconstructing Kettlebells: Deadlift & Swings

Last week we introduced the kettlebell and the various holds that are associated with kettlebell training. This week in b3 wellness's Deconstructing Kettlebells series we take a look at basic hinge patterns - the deadlift and the swing.

Before we get rolling into the movements, let's take a moment and talk about footwear and kettlebells. The best footwear for kettlebell activity is a flat shoe/minimalist shoe or if you have the ability to go barefoot - have at it. The reasoning is we want you to feel rooted to the ground with the entire foot. A pair of chucks works well if you are in a gym setting that frowns on you showing off your "little piggies" on their floor. A shoe with a large heel will change your trajectory on ballistics and could wreak havoc on your practice.

Kettlebell movements are divided into two primary categories - Grinds & Ballistics. Grinding lifts are the squat, the deadlift, the overhead press, and the get up. These are slow and methodical in nature. Ballistic movements are the swing, the clean, the high pull, and the snatch. Ballistics are explosive in nature.

When used correctly, the kettlebell can provide a sinister blend of conditioning and strength training. Today's blog is not about programming, but simply about learning how to correctly deadlift and swing the kettlebell.

SWINGS

This is the foundation of ballistic kettlebell exercises. the swing teaches a powerful hip snap along with conditioning, and strengthening the body.  This swing is the gateway drug to cleans, snatches, pulls, etc in kettlebell training. But even a foundation movement such as the swing has some precursors.

Learn to crawl, before you walk. And the process begins with Step 1 - the deadlift.

 

Step 1 in learning the kettlebell swing is grooving the kettlebell deadlift:

Figure 1 - The setup on a kettlebell deadlift. 

Figure 1 - The setup on a kettlebell deadlift. 

Figure 2 - The Figure 4 position of a deadlift

Figure 2 - The Figure 4 position of a deadlift

Figure 3 - Top position of the kettlebell deadlift

Figure 3 - Top position of the kettlebell deadlift

Deadlift

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Place the kettlebell in between your legs. The bell should be lined up with the ankles (medial malleolus if you are feeling saucy)

3.      Find the crease in your hips and shift your butt back directly behind you as if sitting in a high chair.

4.      Keep your head in neutral spine during this time, while maintaining a natural curve in your lower back. (Figure 1)

5.      Slowly reach for the bell, with your knees slightly bent as you push your hips back. This is called your “Figure 4” Position and it should be tight to maximize your hinge. Take a breath in and hold it. (Figure 2)

6.      With your heels planted, pick the bell up and squeeze your glutes and quads at the top. In addition, try to bend the handle of the bell with your hands, this will fire the lats, shoulders, and triceps to help make the entire chain of muscles engage.(Figure 3) Exhale as you near the top of the movement with a small, compact breath out (you may even make a small "teh or tuh" sound.

7.      Lower and repeat. Maybe even smile....

8.      As the set concludes, you may notice the bell finishes further back than where it started. That is not a bad thing. If posture and execution of the movement are correct, this shows an improvement in mobility – There is nothing wrong with a little progress!

The kettlebell deadlift can breakout into many different variations including bulgarian deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, suitcase deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, double kettlebell deadlifts, etc. etc.

 

 

Two-Arm Swing

Once you have mastered the kettlebell deadlift you are ready to try the swing. We will get into the two-arm swing first. There are many variations and the two-arm is the launching pad for many others. The swing is a blend of tension and relaxation all in the same rep. 

 

Figure 4 - Two Arm Swing Setup

Figure 4 - Two Arm Swing Setup

Figure 5 - The hike

Figure 5 - The hike

Figure 6 - The top of the swing.

Figure 6 - The top of the swing.

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Grab the bell along the handle with both hands (overhand grip) (Figure 4) Take a breath in and hold it briefly.

3.      Hike the bell back behind you while actively bringing your hips back. NOTE: Hike the bell above the knees but be kind to the pelvic region. Think of this region as the triangle that the bell must pass through for an efficient rep. (Figure 5)

4.      Drive through your heels and snap your hips all the way forward, while keeping your arms shoulder packed and your head up. Exhale as the bell leaves the hips from the snap. The exhale should be small, yet powerful.(Figure 6)

5.      Make sure you squeeze your glutes tight and lock your knees out. Bend the handle to help keep the shoulders packed.

6.      At the top of the swing there should be two lines – One line from the ankles through the ears and a line from the bell through the shoulders. (Figure 7)

7.      The power driving the bell up is your hips, not the arms!

Figure 7 - The two lines at the top of a swing (one-arm swing shown).

Figure 7 - The two lines at the top of a swing (one-arm swing shown).

 

        

One-Arm Swing

The one arm swing is a more challenging movement as now we have half the grip holding the bell, and we also have to fight the rotational forces provided by the off-centered load.

Figure 8 - The setup for a one-arm swing

Figure 8 - The setup for a one-arm swing

Figure 9 - The one-arm swing hike

Figure 9 - The one-arm swing hike

Figure 10 - The apex of the one-arm swing

Figure 10 - The apex of the one-arm swing

 

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Grab the bell along the handle with one hands (overhand grip). Opposite arm is tight and to the outside (Figure 8) Take a breath in and hold breifly.

3.      Hike the bell back behind you while actively bringing your hips back. NOTE: Hike the bell above the knees but be kind to the pelvic region. Think of this region as the triangle that the bell must pass through for an efficient rep. (Figure 9)

4.      Drive through your heels and snap your hips all the way forward, while keeping your arms shoulder packed and your head up. Exhale as the bell leaves the hips from the snap. The exhale should be small, yet powerful.The "free arm" can travel with the bell as shown to help keep tempo. (Figure 10)

5.      Make sure you squeeze your glutes tight and lock your knees out. Bend the handle to help keep the shoulders packed.

6.      At the top of the swing there should be two lines – One line from the ankles through the ears and a line from the bell through the shoulders. (Figure 7)

7.      The power driving the bell up is your hips, not the arms!

Hand to Hand Swings, Overhead Swings, Over-Speed Swings, Band Swings, Double Kettlebell Swings are just a few of the swing variations that are out there. Get your head wrapped around the two swings shown here first before you start venturing off the reservation with the alternatives.

I enjoy using most everything when I train people- barbell, kettlebells, bodyweight, suspension training, small apparatus, etc. What is great about the kettlebell is great because of its diversity and space saving capability. I can train a client in a 7 x 7 space and not miss a beat.

Next week the Deconstruction will look at the squatting patterns with kettlebells. We offer specialized kettlebell programming and customized programming for your fitness and nutrition needs at b3 - thanks for reading!

 

Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life.

 

Deconstructing Kettlebells: Deadlift & Swings

Last week we introduced the kettlebell and the various holds that are associated with kettlebell training. This week in b3 wellness's Deconstructing Kettlebells series we take a look at basic hinge patterns - the deadlift and the swing.

Before we get rolling into the movements, let's take a moment and talk about footwear and kettlebells. The best footwear for kettlebell activity is a flat shoe/minimalist shoe or if you have the ability to go barefoot - have at it. The reasoning is we want you to feel rooted to the ground with the entire foot. A pair of chucks works well if you are in a gym setting that frowns on you showing off your "little piggies" on their floor. A shoe with a large heel will change your trajectory on ballistics and could wreak havoc on your practice.

Kettlebell movements are divided into two primary categories - Grinds & Ballistics. Grinding lifts are the squat, the deadlift, the overhead press, and the get up. These are slow and methodical in nature. Ballistic movements are the swing, the clean, the high pull, and the snatch. Ballistics are explosive in nature.

When used correctly, the kettlebell can provide a sinister blend of conditioning and strength training. Today's blog is not about programming, but simply about learning how to correctly deadlift and swing the kettlebell.

SWINGS

This is the foundation of ballistic kettlebell exercises. the swing teaches a powerful hip snap along with conditioning, and strengthening the body.  This swing is the gateway drug to cleans, snatches, pulls, etc in kettlebell training. But even a foundation movement such as the swing has some precursors.

Learn to crawl, before you walk. And the process begins with Step 1 - the deadlift.

 

Step 1 in learning the kettlebell swing is grooving the kettlebell deadlift:

Figure 1 - The setup on a kettlebell deadlift. 

Figure 1 - The setup on a kettlebell deadlift. 

Figure 2 - The Figure 4 position of a deadlift

Figure 2 - The Figure 4 position of a deadlift

Figure 3 - Top position of the kettlebell deadlift

Figure 3 - Top position of the kettlebell deadlift

Deadlift

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Place the kettlebell in between your legs. The bell should be lined up with the ankles (medial malleolus if you are feeling saucy)

3.      Find the crease in your hips and shift your butt back directly behind you as if sitting in a high chair.

4.      Keep your head in neutral spine during this time, while maintaining a natural curve in your lower back. (Figure 1)

5.      Slowly reach for the bell, with your knees slightly bent as you push your hips back. This is called your “Figure 4” Position and it should be tight to maximize your hinge. Take a breath in and hold it. (Figure 2)

6.      With your heels planted, pick the bell up and squeeze your glutes and quads at the top. In addition, try to bend the handle of the bell with your hands, this will fire the lats, shoulders, and triceps to help make the entire chain of muscles engage.(Figure 3) Exhale as you near the top of the movement with a small, compact breath out (you may even make a small "teh or tuh" sound.

7.      Lower and repeat. Maybe even smile....

8.      As the set concludes, you may notice the bell finishes further back than where it started. That is not a bad thing. If posture and execution of the movement are correct, this shows an improvement in mobility – There is nothing wrong with a little progress!

The kettlebell deadlift can breakout into many different variations including bulgarian deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, suitcase deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, double kettlebell deadlifts, etc. etc.

 

 

Two-Arm Swing

Once you have mastered the kettlebell deadlift you are ready to try the swing. We will get into the two-arm swing first. There are many variations and the two-arm is the launching pad for many others. The swing is a blend of tension and relaxation all in the same rep. 

 

Figure 4 - Two Arm Swing Setup

Figure 4 - Two Arm Swing Setup

Figure 5 - The hike

Figure 5 - The hike

Figure 6 - The top of the swing.

Figure 6 - The top of the swing.

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Grab the bell along the handle with both hands (overhand grip) (Figure 4) Take a breath in and hold it briefly.

3.      Hike the bell back behind you while actively bringing your hips back. NOTE: Hike the bell above the knees but be kind to the pelvic region. Think of this region as the triangle that the bell must pass through for an efficient rep. (Figure 5)

4.      Drive through your heels and snap your hips all the way forward, while keeping your arms shoulder packed and your head up. Exhale as the bell leaves the hips from the snap. The exhale should be small, yet powerful.(Figure 6)

5.      Make sure you squeeze your glutes tight and lock your knees out. Bend the handle to help keep the shoulders packed.

6.      At the top of the swing there should be two lines – One line from the ankles through the ears and a line from the bell through the shoulders. (Figure 7)

7.      The power driving the bell up is your hips, not the arms!

Figure 7 - The two lines at the top of a swing (one-arm swing shown).

Figure 7 - The two lines at the top of a swing (one-arm swing shown).

 

        

One-Arm Swing

The one arm swing is a more challenging movement as now we have half the grip holding the bell, and we also have to fight the rotational forces provided by the off-centered load.

Figure 8 - The setup for a one-arm swing

Figure 8 - The setup for a one-arm swing

Figure 9 - The one-arm swing hike

Figure 9 - The one-arm swing hike

Figure 10 - The apex of the one-arm swing

Figure 10 - The apex of the one-arm swing

 

1.      Take a comfortable stance a slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward.

2.      Grab the bell along the handle with one hands (overhand grip). Opposite arm is tight and to the outside (Figure 8) Take a breath in and hold breifly.

3.      Hike the bell back behind you while actively bringing your hips back. NOTE: Hike the bell above the knees but be kind to the pelvic region. Think of this region as the triangle that the bell must pass through for an efficient rep. (Figure 9)

4.      Drive through your heels and snap your hips all the way forward, while keeping your arms shoulder packed and your head up. Exhale as the bell leaves the hips from the snap. The exhale should be small, yet powerful.The "free arm" can travel with the bell as shown to help keep tempo. (Figure 10)

5.      Make sure you squeeze your glutes tight and lock your knees out. Bend the handle to help keep the shoulders packed.

6.      At the top of the swing there should be two lines – One line from the ankles through the ears and a line from the bell through the shoulders. (Figure 7)

7.      The power driving the bell up is your hips, not the arms!

Hand to Hand Swings, Overhead Swings, Over-Speed Swings, Band Swings, Double Kettlebell Swings are just a few of the swing variations that are out there. Get your head wrapped around the two swings shown here first before you start venturing off the reservation with the alternatives.

I enjoy using most everything when I train people- barbell, kettlebells, bodyweight, suspension training, small apparatus, etc. What is great about the kettlebell is great because of its diversity and space saving capability. I can train a client in a 7 x 7 space and not miss a beat.

Next week the Deconstruction will look at the squatting patterns with kettlebells. We offer specialized kettlebell programming and customized programming for your fitness and nutrition needs at b3 - thanks for reading!

 

Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life.

 

Deconstructing Kettlebells

Kettlebells have been around since Tsarist Russia (1700's to give perspective) and only really made an impact in the United States in the late 1990's.  The kettlebell offers an incredible amount of versatility in training the body for stability, mobility, strength, cardio, conditioning, and explosive power! 

But many folks that I have had the pleasure of working with have initially expressed some concerns about using the kettlebell. Whether it was a previous bad experience, fear of injury, or just plain lack of understanding - the kettlebell has intimidated more than a few folks along the way. This post is about deconstructing the kettlebell by learning some of the beginner concepts associated with kettlebells and hopefully opening up your world to another tool in your fitness toolbox! 

Full disclosure - I have learned from the "Russian" school of thought on kettlebells. I acquired my RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge - Level One Certification) from Dragondoor before the split. I acquired my RKC- Level Two Certification from Dragondoor in 2014. Working with an individual with extensive kettlebell experience is critical when learning how to effectively use & program with kettlebells.

Let's start with basic understanding of the bell's anatomy. The bell has three main sections to it; the body, the horns, and the handle.

The kettlebell's unique body allows for an offset center of gravity to challenge the participant with many movements when compared to using dumbbells.

The kettlebell's unique body allows for an offset center of gravity to challenge the participant with many movements when compared to using dumbbells.

Kettlebells come in many different sizes. Widely used in Kilograms, I have also put together the poundage associated with the more commonly used weights for kettlebells. Check out the conversion chart for bells in kilos and pounds.

"What is the best weight for me?" Is a common question I get. The answer depends on the movement, the strength level, and the skill level of the participant.  The point of it all is to do the movement correct first, then add load. That is incredibly hard for the ego but will go a looooooonnnngggggg way in the development of a solid practice.

How we hold the kettlebell will drastically change how the weight feels for a particular lift. The offset nature of the kettlebell provides opportunities for some movements to be quite challenging. Conversely, the kettlebell allows opportunities to make some ballistic movements much more of a reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's take a look at how we can hold a kettlebell and identify when and why we apply this grip.

Double Handed along the handle

Deadlift position - two hands along the handle

Deadlift position - two hands along the handle

Two handed swing. Same grip but the bell starts out in front of feet.

Two handed swing. Same grip but the bell starts out in front of feet.

This grip provides a symmetrical grip on the handle and is used for deadlifts, swings, and helps bring the bell off the ground for some other movements.

 

Single Hand along the handle

This grip is used for swings, cleans, pulls, and snatches and is also used to get to the rack position, pressing patterns, and rowing patterns. This single hand approach challenges the core to engage as the kettlebell will alter the participant's center of gravity.

 

Rack Position along the handle

The rack position. Notice the opposing hand is tense and raised to help balance the weight.

The rack position. Notice the opposing hand is tense and raised to help balance the weight.

The rack position is the rest position for many lifts and is critical for catching a clean, holding a front squat, or starting an overhead press. The bell rests in the natural "V" created by the upper arm and forearm. The wrist is in a neutral position. The thumb is close to the clavicle (collarbone) and the upper arm is firm against the ribcage. For female clients, we want to adjust slightly for anatomy and this may cause the elbow and hand to flare slightly to the outside.

 

Suitcase Hold along the handle

The suitcase hold is used for farmer carries, walking lunges, deadlift variations, and squatting patterns. When in a suitcase hold, press the upper arm into the lats and pack the shoulder down and in. We want to avoid shrugging the shoulder in this hold.

Suitcase hold. 

Suitcase hold. 

 

Overhead Hold along the handle

Overhead position. Strong grip, neutral wrist, and fully extended elbow while keeping the shoulder packed.

Overhead position. Strong grip, neutral wrist, and fully extended elbow while keeping the shoulder packed.

The overhead position is utilized at the top of an overhead press, snatch, bent press, windmill and the get up (aka Turkish Get Up). When in this position, the grip is held firm, the shoulder is packed, and the body is holding tension throughout - meaning the quads, the glutes, the midsection, and opposing arm are "tight". This of your body like a piece of steel, not an overcooked noodle and we will be on point.

 

Ipsilateral Hold along the handle

Ipsilateral is a word that may come in handy for Scrabble or Words with Friends. The root "Ipsi" refers to same side. So for single leg lifts (deadlifts and pistols) an ipsilateral hold would be on the same side of the leg that is the prime mover. As shown by the kettlebell in the right hand while the right leg is performing a single-leg deadlift.

Ipsilateral Hold along the handle

Ipsilateral Hold along the handle

 

Contralateral Hold along the handle

Contralateral Hold along the handle

Contralateral Hold along the handle

Contralateral is the opposite of ipsilateral. The root "contra" refers to the opposing side. So for single leg lifts (deadlifts and pistols) an contralateral hold would be on the opposite side of the leg that is the prime mover. As shown by the kettlebell in the left hand while the right leg is performing a single-leg deadlift.

 

Packed Shoulder

A. Packed shoulder down and into the torso.

A. Packed shoulder down and into the torso.

B. Unpacked, or loose shoulder promotes instability.

B. Unpacked, or loose shoulder promotes instability.

Packing the shoulder is not necessarily a grip, but for many of the hand positions shown, without a packed shoulder - you will not get too far in your kettlebell practice. A packed shoulder is drawing the shoulder down and into the socket. This is done to promote stability and help minimize the risk of injury. Picture A shows a packed shoulder and Picture B shows a loose shoulder. Learning how to pack a shoulder can be practiced on the ground as shown (with or without weight) and you will feel the muscles of the upper back, the lats, and arm engage.

 

Goblet Hold along the horns

Goblet hold along the horns

Goblet hold along the horns

The goblet hold is done by holding the bell right-side-up and grabbing the horns. In addition, we want to pack the shoulders, and draw the upper arms against the torso. The kettlebell should not rest against the torso nor should it be excessively far off the torso either. The goblet squat uses this hold.

 

 

Bottoms Up along the handle (one hand)

The single-arm bottoms up hold is the most taxing hold shown. To hold the bell along the handle (not the curve between the handle and horns, is no joking matter. It will challenge far more than just the grip and forearm as you will require whole body tension to maintain. Initially, keep the free hand close to the bell as a "spotter" to help guide the kettlebell. This is an advance hold and should not be tried until you have establish some level of comfort with the other holds and several of the base movements of kettlebell training. Bottoms up holds can be used in lieu of traditional overhead and rack holds. Lastly, you will find that the weight of the bell will likely need to come down at least two sizes to accomplish.

 

 
Single-Arm bottoms up hold (shown in the rack)

Single-Arm bottoms up hold (shown in the rack)

Bottoms Up along the horns

Bottoms Up hold along the horns.

Bottoms Up hold along the horns.

Grabbing the bell along the horns with thumbs pointed down. Lift the bell and twist the bell so the body is now above the horns and held inverted. Do not let the bell rest on the torso but challenge the grip by holding the bell in place with your hands. Halos and squats are two movements that use this hold.

 

 

Understanding what the kettlebell is and how to hold it properly is the first step in your kettlebell journey. Over course of the next several weeks we will continue deconstructing the kettlebell with some of the essential lifts. Check out the homepage and find us via our many social media outlets and sign up for our complimentary weekly motivation newsletter! If you are looking for programming and/or nutritional planning - b3 is your one stop shop. 

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Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life.

Ropes + Sled + 94 Degrees = Sweaty Good Conditioning

Enjoying a workout periodically versus staying on a program has some benefits. Now, 90% of the time, I build programming for clients to stick with. Occasionally though, it is emotionally helpful to break the monotony. Since most of us are not going to the Olympics and/or get a paycheck for our fitness prowess - some fun is requisite in my honest opinion.

So, I decided to pull out the sled, the battling ropes, and some weight and see what I could do for a conditioning day. Oh yeah, and it was the hottest day of the year so far...never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Today what we have is a sled from the folks at Titan Sports, an iPad mini from the Apple gurus, and 330lbs of pure delight from Rep Fitness. Total weight today is 400lbs. PLEASE NOTE the highly technical approach to securing my iPad of wedging it between a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell and the sled (can you say MacGuyver?)

Today what we have is a sled from the folks at Titan Sports, an iPad mini from the Apple gurus, and 330lbs of pure delight from Rep Fitness. Total weight today is 400lbs. PLEASE NOTE the highly technical approach to securing my iPad of wedging it between a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell and the sled (can you say MacGuyver?)

I thought for  a second and decided to shoot the session and break it down into videos for you to add to your personal torture, um, training regiment. Here at b3 wellness, we are here to develop programming that fits your life. So enjoy the workout and the commentary along the way.

The runway is approximately 120 feet of turf rolled out for the sled work. The driveway makes for a great spot for this as I am at the end of a road.

ROUND 1

After warming up and getting the turf rolled out and loading the sled, we began the fun with Alternating Waves.

ROUND 2

Moving on to Simultaneous Waves....so far, so good.

ROUND 3

Single-Arm Slams sound delightful!

ROUND 4

Temper Tantrums....fitting (aka Two Arm Slams)

ROUND 5

Like a good mix tape, sometimes you need to slow things down a bit (if you have no idea what I am talking about, ask your parents) Side to Side patterns

ROUND 6

Kneeling Alternating Waves had some hamstring delight waiting for me. Getting balance to a rep or two but a great alternative.

ROUND 7

Kneeling Simultaneous Waves....because I really do not like my hamstrings and this is certainly very different than the deadlifting and squatting they usually get stimulus from. (sarcasm being laid down pretty thick here)

ROUND 8

Seated Alternating Waves - you realize just how much the lower body works on the ropes

ROUND 9

Seated Simultaneous Waves - see round eight

ROUND 10

Back Lunges with Alternating Waves was a good challenge on coordination and a change of pace to add the asymmetry

ROUND 11

Lateral Lunges with Alternating Waves - I LOVED THESE! The frontal plane does not get enough love in most programming and again the asymmetry movements are always appreciated with activity!

ROUND 12

Jumping Jacks - besides the timing aspect of weighted arms trying to keep pace with regular leg movement reminding me of just how much of a dancer I AM NOT - they were a great primer for what followed....

ROUND 13

Double Slams paired with Burpees. Sweet Baby Ray! Que lastima! What was I thinking?! More choreography?!?! It was a great combo but most certainly takes the mind-body connection and challenges it thoroughly.

ROUND 14

Over the Top - A great move that provides asymmetry between the legs as you pivot weight and a fantastic core activator! Now is a good time to state just how nice it feels to blow off aggression with ropes!

ROUND 15

Plank hold with right hand slam - never disappoints me on a good core burn stabilizing this move!

ROUND 16

Plank hold with left hand slam - see #15

ROUND 17

Walk it In Waves - This is almost as awkward to watch as it is to do. Keep that rope moving and scurry back and forth like a dancing fool! Harder than it looks.

ROUND 18

Circles In - oh hello there, rear deltoids. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

 

ROUND 19

Circles Out - The ropes get twisted a bit doing this move. But just as Al Pacino said in A Scent of a Woman, "If you get tangled up, you tango on."

ROUND 20

Double Arm Slam with Sled Row - Now that the arms are feeling a bit shaky, let's put some good 'ol loaded pulls into it. I really liked these and will be incorporating this into future programming. It is tug-o-war on steroids (technical description)

ROUND 21

Overhead Walk - this is the hardest move of the day for me. It calls for significant mechanical disadvantage paired up with significant stability requirements. Challenging to say the least

ROUND 22

Now that I am 120' away from the garage that is also sitting at an incline, I need to bring it all back. This was a nice finish to the round. We lost a 10lb dumbbell on the journey up but dragged it with because we leave no weights behind!

There was the end of the first round.

Repeat for five more rounds......

NOT!

With HIIT work, remember if you are a novice at this work to rest ratio should be around 1:4, regulars to this type of training should be 1:2, advanced HIIT folks should be at 1:1 or even 1.5:1 ratios.

For customized programming or other specialized work (fitness and nutrition), check out the site bbbwellness.com and get started today!

 

Be fit. be fueled. Be full of life.

Cheers,

 

 

 

 

I Love My Ugly Bracelet

I Love My Ugly Bracelet

If it has not happened to you before, you will have likely seen it on TV, read it in a book, or heard about a similar situation. Think back to that one time when a special somebody got a gift for you. When you opened said gift, and it was (let’s be polite)…umm…not your style. It was Christmas 2015 when I had this very experience with my fiancée.

After my son had shredded through the presents with his name on it, we took turns opening gifts. I came to a smaller box from Megan (fiancée). I open it up and there it is - a black rubber band, a medical bracelet. You see, a few weeks earlier I had something come up that put a few things into perspective – at 41 years old, I had a heart attack.

A few days after my 41st birthday, I bring my son to the gym and get in a Sunday workout. After the workout, I feel like I am bonking (a highly technical term meaning I feel like a low blood sugar after a workout), and I have a slight discomfort in my right pectoral near my underarm. After drinking something and waiting several minutes, I head back home. I put my son down for a nap, head to the living room, and fall asleep in the chair. When I woke up, the pain subsided, and I simply went about my day.

Fast forward one week later, Megan and I return from a trip to West Virginia and head to the gym for a workout. There was yet another bonking session near the end of the workout. Pain and pressure in the right armpit area. No shortness of breath. No nausea. Normal heart rate. Normal blood pressure. However, as bedtime neared I could not get comfortable, so I went to the living room and started watching a movie. Then another. And another. And then watched sports.  My dumb ass sat with the pain in my chest for nearly twelve hours before I went to the ER! 

I had no prior cardiac problems. No family history of cardiovascular disease. I exercise regularly, eat very well, and had found some peace in my life. I have been active in the fitness world as a career fitness professional (owner/director/trainer/author/presenter/educator), yet here I was staring at a nurse and emergency room physician blankly when they read an enzyme test informing me that I had “at least one heart attack” recently. Inside of 45 minutes, I am on the operating room table.

A full occlusion of the RCA (Right Coronary Artery) was what brought me in. The tests exposed the heart attack. I was just given a big ol’ serving of mortality, and as the doctors so eloquently put it, “if you did not exercise and eat healthy, you may not be here right now. We may be having this discussion with Megan instead of you.” Sobering words to say the least.

The cardiologists also noticed another area in my cardiovascular system that may need attention at some point but felt comfortable discharging me. Four months later, I am back in surgery and have two more arteries cleared. Three stents, two surgeries, one heart attack and a whole new approach to things (the new version of the 12 Days of Christmas carol?).

The new approach for somebody that is always stressing about things is to give just a little less worry to things. To let some things go. Holding on to hostility, frustration, and disrespect from others, and myself needs to stop. Focus on the core values of my existence and make that the centerpiece. My son. Megan. My relationship with my faith. My health. My family and friends. My sanity. My work.

It is now over a year since my last procedure, and I am so very fortunate to have the support system that keeps me alive – And this medical bracelet is what helps ground me. It says items routinely like:

“Hey, asshole. No need to deadlift 600lbs. 545lb was plenty.”

“Your kid would like to be able to ask you for money for a loooong time.“

“No reason to compete with anyone except yourself.”

“Everyone has a path. Yours is supposed to be this. Own it.”

The bracelet keeps me humble. The bracelet keeps me on an even keel. The bracelet drives me to be better daily in different ways. Smarter. Kinder. More forgiving. But at the same time, the bracelet teaches me to work for what I want, do things right, and be around for what I value most for the long haul! This is what I bring to my loved ones, my clients, my team – and I plan on doing it for quite a while!

I love my ugly bracelet.

The bottom line has the most important content

 

Bells, Bites, and Balance

Welcome to b3 Wellness’s blog. Each week we will share with you different topics on how to maximize fitness, food, and life. You will learn more about our team, how we work with our community and how their paths have made this not only their passion and profession – but their calling. The b3 way.

(The what way?!?)

b3 (be three) is a multi-prong meaning to our business. Initially, it was named after my son, B. B. Bahneman, but ultimately b3 is about our credo – Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life. Our credo represents the three facets of our company.

Our personal training (Be Fit).

Our registered dietitian-lead nutrition coaching (Be Fueled).

Our corporate wellness coaching and advocacy (Be full of life).

Our mission is to become the recognized leader in online fitness, nutrition and wellness needs - and stay there through diligence, persistence and integrity. We provide practical ways to allow each client to realize their fullest potential through fitness, nutrition and wellness services.

We understand that your time, money, and health are valuable. Who doesn’t have a crazy schedule nowadays? But if you are able to fit in some time to train, an online trainer is a great solution, especially one with 30-plus years of experience and multiple certifications. At b3 we can build a customized wellness and training program around your variables (equipment, health history, goals, days to train, minutes per workout, etc.). Intensity parameters (sets, reps, tempo, rest intervals, load) and accompanied videos with closed captioning are available for more technique help.

All of this at your fingertips.

Whenever you want.

At an economical price point.

Perhaps you already train well, but just cannot seem to get the nutrition dialed in? Many “fitness pros” offer eating plans, recommendations, and suggestions on supplements. Legally, the only professions allowed to design and tweak a nutrition plan for you is an M.D. or a Registered Dietitian. We are one of the few wellness programs that offers online nutrition coaching from a Registered Dietician. So you are only a few clicks away from having an RD design an eating plan to reach your goals.

Perhaps you are looking for a “whole life makeover?” Or maybe just a fine tuning, if you will? Or your business is looking for some help in being a healthy workplace? Many wellness plans offer a boxed program that is turns out to be a minimal method of improving the workplace. At b3, we customize our wellness plans to your needs to deliver an out-of-the-box experience of improved wellness education, awareness, and adherence to make a happier and healthier workplace.

The “Team” at b3 is comprised of two virtual “hands-on” professionals. But as we all know, it takes a village….and b3 has several behind the scenes folks that help support the business. Social media management, Quality Assurance, Vendor partnership, an investor or two, family and friends help keep b3 safe and sane.

Katie Henry is a registered dietitian and a kick ass personal trainer. She develops logical, engaging, and replicable eating plans for all walks of life. She is an up and coming star in the making and b3 is excited to have her services at your disposal!

Don Bahneman, the founder of b3 Wellness, LLC and has been a bartender of fitness since 1994, coaching, training, teaching, presenting, managing, and working hard to live healthier each day. This beautiful grind is a passion and career path that I am proud to be a part of.

For a better scope of our team and all things b3, please follow our social media outlets as we launch soon with a full slate of offerings from quick Grab-N-Go workouts, specialized programming for fitness or nutrition, customized clients, VIP clients, and health and wellness coaching.  Visit bbbwellness.com, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Here’s to a healthy environment where we educate, motivate, and stimulate your overall wellness.

Until next time.....

Thankful and honored to be able to write a piece in The Police Chief, November 2016 edition. The International Association of Chiefs of Police have a strong network dedicated to helping the community. And I am thankful to contribute to their education this month!

Thankful and honored to be able to write a piece in The Police Chief, November 2016 edition. The International Association of Chiefs of Police have a strong network dedicated to helping the community. And I am thankful to contribute to their education this month!