You Got Problems? Well I Got Solutions!The Final Version of Dragon Gym's Introduction to Kettlebell and Barbell Strength Training
is available now and it's a real monster!The final version of the eBook includes:
What You Will Learn From This eBook:
- A complete breakdown of the core 6 kettlebell movements including the swing, squat, turkish get up, snatch, press, and clean. Learn the important nuances of each movement and drastically refine your technique.
- In depth tutorials of double kettlebell movements including double swing, double clean and press, front squat, and more! It's time to take your training to the next level with double kettlebell movements.
- How to safely and effectively perform the "Cardinal Six" strength movements including the bench press, military press, back squat, deadlift, pull up, and bent over row
- Two strength and conditioning programs including a three day split and four day split
- Pictures of each movement, in depth video tutorials, and quick technique reference videos
- Proper body mechanics to ensure that you are able to complete each and every movement with confidence, strength, and safety.
- How to bench press without wrecking your shoulders and how to deadlift without destroying your back!
- How to move and operate like an athlete.
- How to become as strong as Hercules through diligent practice, and as hard, mentally tough, and conditioned as a Spartan through merciless conditioning protocols
But What This eBook really offers are comprehensive solutions to common and pesky fitness problems. The keys to fat loss, strength gains, performance enhancement, adding lean muscle mass, become more flexible and mobile, or a combination of any (or all) of the above can be obtained through this eBook!This eBook is over 130 pages long; with no fluff, filler, or silliness. The price is $14.99
Introduction to Kettlebell and Barbell Strength Training
A Solo-Training Primer for Tae Kwon Do and Other Traditional Martial Arts
Look, if you are a martial artist then you need this eBook. It's really as simple as that. My good friend, proud fellow American, and fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do has been practicing Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido for over twenty years. He has been on the forefront of integrating kettlebells into martial arts programs for years now, and he has finally decided to do the martial arts world a favor and make his simple, yet incredible effective training methods available to the world.
If you want to drastically improve your striking power, conditioning, and mental toughness then this eBook is for you.
A simple guide to give the traditional martial artist a competitive edge in the training hall. The price is $14.99. Enjoy!
The Turkish Get up
and The Snatch
These six movements are the foundation from which all other hardstyle kettlebell movements are based. They also happen to be the six movements that you are tested on should you ever decide you want to become an RKC. My job here is to break down each of these movements and set a standard for what I would consider to be "excellent" (not perfect) form.
Will you meet the standard?
The Kettlebell Swing:
The Hardstyle two hand kettlebell swing is the first ballistic movement you should learn when working with kettlebells. Assuming your deadlift technique is on point (I pray this is a safe assumption; but if this is not the case then please do not proceed until you are confident that your deadlift form is solid), then the kettlebell swing should not be all that difficult to grasp.
First and foremost the swing is a hinging movement, NOT a squatting movement. We want to primarily use our posterior chain (hamstrings,glutes,lower back) to power this movement. There will be some quad action/knee flexion involved, but the knee flexion is simply an after thought of your hips moving back and slightly down (think you are reaching your butt out for a bench and your feet are glued to the ground).
The most important component of the kettlebell swing is to maintain proper "crown to coccyx" alignment, aka a neutral spine. While it may not be unsafe to swing with a rounded back, it is inappropriate to do so for our purposes.
Often a "swinger" if you will, will have some cervical extension, therefore losing that perfect alignment. Cervical extension is the least of my worries, but for me, I prefer to focus my eyes on a spot on the ground in front of me about six feet out. As this helps me to keep my head in line with the rest of my spine.
Each and every swing is initiated with a forceful hike pass to stretch the posterior chain/load the hips (never does the handle of the bell swing below the knees). Think of your posterior chain as a bow, and your arms and the kettlebell are the arrow. You want to load the bow with as much tension as possible, then explode with as much force for as possible! Squeeze your glutes, push your heels hard into the ground, and drive your hips forward as quickly as possible, and be sure to brace your abs at the top. The force is then projected outwards (not upward!), again much like a bow and arrow. This is why we do not swing higher than chest height.
Once the bell has reached the top, actively throw the bell back down, speeding up the eccentric as much as possible to reload the hips. Rinse and repeat.
All this time you should focus on keeping your lats engaged and your shoulders packed (screwed down and back into their sockets), and using the biomechanical breathing match (inhale on eccentric, sharp exhale on concentric).
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. The swing is initiated with a forceful hike pass
2. The heels are firmly planted
3. The hips snap forcefully to power the movement
4. The shoulders remain packed
5. The knees and hips are fully extended (but not overextended) at the top and the abs are visibly braced
6. Biomechanical breathing match
The Goblet Squat
While you will often be tested with the front squat (holding two kettlebells in the rack position) at your RKC, we will focus primarily on the goblet squat for right now. The goblet squat is a fantastically simple way to develop a proper squatting movement pattern. While many times it may be beneficial to practice an exercise unloaded, the goblet squat is the except, as you will at least want to work this with even a light kettlebell.
To set up a proper goblet squat, bring the kettlebell up to your chest (I recommend using the high pull catch method as I demo in the video below) and secure it by the "horns"(sides of the handle). Assume a comfortable squatting stance, which should be in the proximity of shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly out but no more than a forty five. Now with the goblet squat we do not want to push our butt and hips back first to initiate the movement, but rather we want to actively pull ourselves between our legs and bring our butt down at about a 7 o'clock. Think about trying to sit on a very low curb. Maintain a neutral spine and keep your chest up and out as if you are very proud of yourself. Allow your elbows to track right inside of your knees along side your vastus medialis muscles. At all times your heels should be planted and your knees should stay in line with your toes. Yes, your knees will track forward (increasing ankle flexion) as you descend into the squat, but hopefully your ankle mobility is good enough so that you are able to keep your heels firmly planted. We want an even weight distribution on throughout the medial side of our foot and on our heels for the squat. As we want to put pressure on all the receptors responsible for firing the quads (which lie on the medial side and the ball of the food) and the posterior chain (which lie more around the heel and lateral side of the foot).
Sit nice and tall at the bottom of the squat. Think long spine! When you are ready to come out you may power breathe or even grunt! Be sure that your hips and shoulders ascend at the same rate, as you do not want your butt to come up first and finish by performing some sort of frankensteined good morning type of movement. Again, this movement is best performed shirtless and in maroon shorts.
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. The heels are planted
2. The toes (especially big toe) are planted
3. The athlete pulls themselves down into the hole under control - maintaining a neutral spine and sitting as tall as possible
4. The hips and shoulders ascend at the same rate
5. Power breathing is utilized
6. The knees stay in line with the toes at all times
The Turkish Get Up
This one is going to take a while, because there is so much that goes into crafting a beautiful get up. But putting the time into honing your get up skills is well worth it. As this full body, compound exercise has you moving form every joint in your body, and is one of the best over-head and core stability exercises anywhere.
Start by laying next to your bell in the fetal position. Insert your working hand through so the handle lies deep in the base of your palm so that you may maintain a straight wrist ( the bell should be just about in line with your belly button). Secure your other hand on top, hug the bell close to your body, and roll onto your back. From here, press the bell up overhead with both hands (use both hands because eventually you may want to work up to performing get ups with a bell heavier than you can press). Now for the set up...
Extend your opposite arm and leg our at about a forty five degree angle from your body. Keep your forearm off the ground however, as you will want to "pull" from your planted elbow. Now plant your same side heel fairly close to your butt, but again this leg should be angled out at a forty five but now in the opposite direction. A good set up will inevitably lead to good execution. Since everyone's body structure is slightly different, take time to feel it out and find the optimal position for you.
From here you will crunch, pull with your planted elbow, and push with your planted heel to prop yourself up onto your forearm. Keep your lats tight on both sides and both of your shoulders packed at all times. Now, prop yourself up to your hand straightening your arm, but keeping your hand planted on the ground (imagine it is nailed to ground, so it may rotate but not lift). Next is the high bridge. Squeeze your glutes and push off your planted heel to drive your hips high up into the air to create space for the next step which is the sweep. For the sweep, you want to bring your extended leg underneath your body and plant your knee directly in line with your planted hand, so that your legs now form a sort of L formation. The problem often occurred here is that people try to sweep directly into a forward lunge position which creates for some awkward discomfort. Do not do this; sweep your leg back and plant your knee in line with your hand, after it is planted then you will lift your hand and simultaneously swivel your back leg and your hips into a tall forward lunge position. To finish the get up just complete the forward lunge standing nice and tall.
Now what gets up must also get down. The get down is exactly the same except you may omit the high bridge on the way down and simply perform a "low sweep" as I demo in the video.
Take your time with the get up. Practice it "naked" or unloaded at first before attempting it with a kettlebell. The slower you can go the better. Feel the stability and structure throughout the movement. Each position should feel strong and sturdy. It is often a good drill to hold each position for a couple of moments before progressing to the next.
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. Shoulders remained packed at all times
2. Wrist remains neutral at all times
3. Each position looks strong, stable, and clearly defined
4. The athlete is looking up at the kettlebell the entire time until the forward lunge position (where they then look straight ahead).
5. The athlete demonstrates excellent control over their body and the kettlebell
6. The toes are planted (not pointed) in the lunge position - this is a minor point but often one where many make a mistake - pushing off a pointed foot is both uncomfortable and ineffective
The Kettlebell Clean
The kettlebell clean is designed to bring the bell up into the rack position, where a variety of movements are initiated. The clean derives its name from the manner in which it is performed...clean! Remember: the key to a good clean is a good swing! The power is still derived from the hips except the force is now redirected.
Initiate your clean like you would a one arm swing. As the bell comes up keep your elbow planted close to your side (think you are trying to hold a piece of paper between your armpit) and uppercut through the bell when it is at about hip height. This uppercut motion should be quick, smooth, and bring the bell straight up your center line and into a proper rack position. The bell should travel the absolute least amount of distance possible (tame that arc!). Loosen your grip as you punch through the bell so that the bell rotates freely around your forearm and the handle transitions smoothly into the base of your palm (maintain a straight wrist like you would in the get up or press). This is not a bicep curl nor is an olympic style clean. There is no shoulder shrug or dipping under the weight. The arm stays loose throughout!
The clean takes practice and requires patience. Keep the reps low enough at first so that you don't bang your forearms up too much. The clean goes down almost exactly as it comes up, just move your hips out of the way!
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. Hips power the movement
2. Arm remains loose - no half tension
3. The bell travels the least distance possible
4. No banging of the forearm
5. The wrist is straight and the rack position is strong and tight
6. The bell goes down almost exactly how it came up
The Kettlebell Military Press
The kettlebell military press is a full body strength movement; NOT an isolated shoulder exercise! Your entire body should be tired after a set of proper hardstyle military pressing.
The press is initiated the rack position, therefore a good clean will ensure that you have a good set up for your press. The clean essentially "loads" your press, and is why I would recommend that you re-clean between every pressing rep.
Start by gripping the bell hard and generating tension throughout your entire body (except your neck and face...that would just make you look silly :P). Tense your quads, squeeze your glutes, flex your abs hard, and engage your lats! Initiate the press by visualizing that you are trying to press yourself away from the kettlebell into the earth. The press should move somewhat outward and then upward, with the forearm remaining vertical throughout. Keep your lats engaged and your shoulder packed the entire time! Lockout with your bicep right next to or slightly behind your ear! When you are ready to return the bell to earth, do not yield to the weight, rather actively pull it down as if you were performing a one arm chin up.
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. Knees are locked, glutes are braced, abs are flexed, and body is visibly tense before initiating the press
2. The shoulder remains packed throughout the movement
3. The forearm remains almost perfectly vertical throughout
4. Strong lockout at the top with bicep next to or slightly behind the ear
5. The bell is pulled down under control
6. There is no backward lean of any kind
7. Power breathing is utilized
The Kettlebell Snatch
Like its brother the clean, the snatch has a higher learning curve than many other movements. So again, be patient and diligent with your practice.
Rather than bore you with another long written description of how to perform the snatch, here is an in depth video tutorial I put together for you all along with the short technique reference video. Enjoy!
A Few Things I'd Look For:
1. Hips power the movement - no "press-out" at the top
2. No banging of the forearm at the top - the bell rotates smoothly around the forearm
3. No scooping or taking a second dip under the bell
4. Arm is fully locked out and visibly motionless at the top - Bicep is next to or slightly behind the ear
5. The bell is brought down (an up) in one uninterrupted motion - no half snatches (bringing the bell to the rack between reps)!
6. Biomechanical Breathing Match
Over a year ago I posted a video of me swallowing a mouthful of raw eggs. Unsurprisingly, it caused a bit of a backlash. Here is a video I put together helping to explain the risks and benefits that come along with raw egg consumption.
The kettlebell long cycle clean and jerk
is still one of my all time favorite exercises ( and are great for throwing into your complex training
). It works pretty much all of your pushing and pulling muscles, is a fantastic full body conditioner, and is certainly an exercise that any I would recommend just about any athlete (especially martial artists) to work into their routines.
For these I typically worked timed sets, and will often supplement them with some pull ups.
How to Train Your Girlfriend - Part 1
Believe it or not, they are trainable :P ... (she's going to kill me for posting this)
Summer is just around the corner, which means I will be taking full advantage of training outdoors whenever possible. This of course means that I will be implementing plenty of ring training into my routines yet again. Here is a fantastic exercise you can perform on olympic rings (or just about any suspension trainer) for forging resilient shoulders, developing your chest, and learning how to use your lats for strength and stability.
Please excuse my poor attempt at comedy ... I'll stick to my day job
Individuality before conformity and character before congruityActing ethically relative to those around you is ill-fitted for identity
. If you let your environment define you, you are not only inherently weak, but fundamentally characterless. Do NOT
as the Romans do when, either when you are in Rome or anywhere else! Think and act only as a distinct and independent individual.Ethics: The moral principles of an INDIVIDUAL
<====== (KEY WORD)When you look in the mirror are you proud of what you see? Are you proud of your name and how you have chosen to live your life? After all your life is no more than the summation of all the decisions you have ever made.Moral relativism and unethical behavior plagues and adulterates our society. Enron, WorldCom, and Goldman Sachs to name but just a few of the evil empires that have prioritized greed and short term profits over honesty and long term sustainability
. Falsifying accounting statements and shorting junk mortgaged back securities an unethical pig does it make. Naughty naughty. But unethical behavior is by no means exclusive to the world of finance, and is exactly why I have put together ethical decision making criteria for the next time that you find yourself grappling with one of life's many dilemmas.But first, why should you even care about ethical behavior? Ethics Schmethics...what difference does it really make anyways? After all, crime actually DOES pay and its fun to be naughty... That's right, the average estimated annual income of a criminal (including the years spent in prison)
is actually quite high. So why don't we all just quit our current jobs and enter the lucrative field of being a swindler and a scoundrel?I'll tell you why ethical behavior matters; because unethical behavior is unsustainable. Ethical behavior on the other hand establishes trust, which in turn leads to sustainability
and long term growth, both in your personal and professional life. Just as our financial system would be unable to hold water in an unethical environment (imagine what would happen if everyone wrote all bad checks all the time), our personal lives are as well. How manageable is marriage or a relationship with an unfaithful spouse? I'll say it again; Ethical behavior leads to trust. Trust leads to sustainability. The following is a list of questions that you should ask yourself the next time you are faced with making an important decision. I have done my best to make these questions as universal as possible, so that you may apply this decision making criteria to both your personal and professional life.
Reflect upon these questions carefully before implementing your decision.1. What do I intend to get out of making this decision?2. What would the people who are closest to me think about my decision (whether or not they are aware of it)?3. What has brought me to the point of having to make this decision/ Why am I faced with this dilemma?4. Can my decision potentially hurt or injure anyone? And if so, then how?5. How do I think I will feel about this decision tomorrow? Two months from now? Ten Years?6. How does the decision that I am going to make reflect upon me as a person and how I want people to perceive me?7. Where does my loyalty lie?Be unceasingly loyal.And never make a decision based off of greed or fear,
and you will surely find your life to be both profitable and gratifying.
Burn Baby Burn!
Burn is one of my personal favorite complexes from my Metabolic Conditioning eBook
.It's sort of like interval running, but with kettlebells! Sounds like fun doesn't it? Well, it is...at least for the first minute that is. Then it's well...You'll see...The premise is simple. You "jog", then you "sprint". Then you "jog", then you "sprint" again.For our "jog", we will perform a cadence snatch for one minute each side, banging out one rep about every ten seconds.
We then opt for the speed snatch as our "sprint", banging out as many quality reps as we can in thirty seconds on both sides. For our second "jog" we transition into long cycle clean and jerk, again performing about 1 rep every ten seconds for one minute on each side. For the final "sprint" we will take advantage of the speediness of the Viking push press, again banging out as many quality reps as possible in 30 seconds on both sides. You may repeat this entire "jog"/"sprint" sequence for as long or as little as you want!Enjoy this follow along video my friends, as I enjoyed making it for you!