Tag Archives: kettlebells

9 Reasons Bottoms Up (BU) Kettlebell Work is Awesome

*You’d do well to use a bell at least one size lighter than normal for your strict press (ideally 12-16kg for all, if this is too heavy for you then avoid BU work for the time being and just get stronger)
 
1 – It teaches you tension throughout your entire body.
 
2 – You need to mater the weight, the balance, the feel and connecting your body as a unit before you can even move a single step or attempt a press.
 
3 – The positive crossover to your pressing form is well worth the ego check.
 
4 – Hitting some solid reps in either the clean, press, rack walk (BU) waiters walk, windmill, TGU etc, all look pretty cool.
 
5 – Strengthens grip-glutes-core better than most other movements.
 
6 – Perfect for GTG and deload work.
 
7 – You will learn which arm is your weaker one, as such you lift with that one first and then match the reps you achieve with the strong arm.
 
8 – It allows you to get in a good session even if you’ve got limited weights (KB’s).
 
9 – Apart from all the strength, stability and coordination gains you’ll get, this way of lifting is good fun.
 
Here is are a few little complexes to try 2-3 times per week.
 
Complex 1 – Ladder set 1,2,3,4,5 – repeat 3-5 times each arm
 
A1 – BU Clean
A2 – BU Press
A3 – BU Squat
A4 – BU Rack Walk
 
^^ You can progress this one to using two bells.
 
Complex 2 – 2-3 reps per arm – 20-40min total
 
A1 – BU Clean
A2 – BU Press
A3 – BU Windmill
A4 – BU Waiter Walk
 
Complex 3 – 1 rep per arm – static hold each position for 10 seconds tops – 20-30min total
 
A1 – BU Clean to Rack Hold
A2 – BU 1/4 Press Position
A3 – BU 1/2 Press Position
A4 – BU 3/4 Press Position
A5 – BU Press Lock Out Hold
A6 – BU 3/4 Press Position
A7 – BU 1/2 Press Position
A8 – BU 1/4 Press Position
A9 – BU Rack Hold
 
*Finish with some swings or snatches each session 100-200 reps.
 
**You’d also do well to think about ‘pulling’ the weight down in the lowering element of the press, squats and windmills.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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4,8,12 or 16 week challenge

Last night I had a thought.
 
I’m sure many of you have done the 10,000 swing challenge before.
 
What else have you applied it to though?
 
Logically there are movements that will work well with this target of reps, and others not so much.
 
The swing variation is to be done in 4 weeks.
 
Extremely manageable.
 
The high frequency of sessions (5 a week) is also great for grooving a movement pattern.
 
4 weeks isn’t the gospel truth though, you can take longer, as such that is how you can apply different lifts successfully.
 
In the 4 week block you are looking ideally to train 5 days per week, hitting 500 reps a day.
 
If you want to stretch it to 8 weeks then you’d be hitting 250reps per session, based on 5 sessions per week.
 
Over 12 weeks it would be 166.7 reps a day.
 
Now since that is an irritating number to me I’d round it up, probably, 167.
 
Still annoying though 😟
 
However if you got for 16 weeks, well that give you 125reps per session and now you can start to apply it to a lot more lifts.
 
An 8 week block you might be able to do Pistols, Push Presses, Jerks, Renegade Rows, Inverted Rows, Clean & Jerks to name a few.
 
^^ All kettlebell movements by the way, you can use dumbbells also.
 
The 16 week one might be better suited to things such as pull ups, some barbell movements.
 
I’m sure you get the idea.
 
As you can see it’s a nice way to give yourself a little challenge if you don’t have the spare cash to hire a full time coach.
 
If you were going to program it this would be the formula to follow.
 
Warm up flow – pick one
A1 – 10,000 rep challenge lift
B1 – Push/Pull/Squat/Hinge/Carry/Sprint (pick one)- 5×5
Cool down flow – pick one
 
Since you’re doing 5 sessions a week the main movement will be done each session, for an accessory lift you can pick any exercise your choose from the basic movement patterns.
 
Of course it doesn’t have to be 5×5, however when I’ve done this personally that worked very well.
 
You could pick different rep ranges each time, it generally doesn’t matter.
 
Say you had Pistols as the 10,000 rep challenge movement.
 
The accessory ones might be Bench Press, Pull Up, Farmers Walk and a Deadlift on the mix every other week, the options are endless.
 
This kind of thing is more about having fun with it and giving yourself some short term focus.
 
When it comes to breaking down he main lift, the reps and sets are up to you.
 
You might do 10’s, 5’s, wave’s, ladders or one mammoth set of unbroken reps because you’re a monster.
 
Give the above some thought and if it takes your fancy, give it a go.
 
If not, search previous posts, you’ll find a lot of other programs on this page.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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The perfect training tool?

There are 5 main kettlebells to work with.
 
For anyone worth their salt that is.
 
A great tool that hits every aspect of your being, in every way imaginable.
 
The big 5 are as follows:
 
48kg = Beast
40kg = Bulldog
32kg = Badger
24kg = Fox
16kg = Rabbit
 
*The beast has always been called the beast, the others picked up names via the SFG/RKC/Kettlebell Communities and they’re awesome.
 
8kg jumps a truly mammoth task to achieve.
 
Such jumps require a good amount of time to achieve, this is where a lot of people lose their drive with kettlebells, the results are not fast or flashy and you need to be willing to invest years of your life in to them.
 
In the modern world patience is in short supply.
 
Which bells of the above can you handle?
 
Those are the standard milestones that many should aim to achieve in regards to kettlebell work.
 
If by the end of a long journey you can swing (single arm), snatch, press, pistol, chin & get up the Beast for multiple reps there is a good chance you’ll have a body that is built to last for a very long time.
 
We do have 4kg jumps in-between the lager bells, and these are useful, when it comes to kettlebells I wouldn’t recommend anyone goes up in less than 4kg.
 
If you just read that and are sat thinking 4kg is too much then you need to rethink your life because clearly being strong both physically and mentally are not high on your agenda, this needs to change.
 
There are no set in stone names for the middle bells, some have floated around, yet few have taken like the main 5 above.
 
12kg
20kg
28kg
36kg
44kg
 
What do you feel they could be called?
 
Leave your thoughts below.
In closing.
These simple pieces of kit are hard to beat in regards to the multiple elements of fitness they hit when using them, mobility, balance, tension, skill, power, and so much more, for the average person there would be little need for any other kit, well, perhaps a pull up bar (or chin/dip station to hang some gymnastic rings on), other than those additions, you’d be golden.
Of course you could add in ropes and other such bits of ‘functional’ training kit, however if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is this.
Less done better trumps more done poorly.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Just One.

One item wonder.

Today I will give you a little something to show you can get epic results with one piece of kit and a whole load of heart.

Heart is the crucial element.

That and patience.

The kettlebell, one of my personal favourites for this.

While all the kit int he world is nice, it gives people too much choice and as a result the procrastinate, less truly is more sometimes.

Many claim you can’t build much muscle with them, however those are usually the same people who can’t really use them.

Here is your end game goals in stages:

– Double Clean & Press
– Pistol Squats
– Double Snatch

All for 10 reps with 16kg, 24kg and finally 32kg bells

If you’re superhuman you could go for using the Beast.

These three movements will add slabs of muscle, epic amounts of strength and remove any mental weakness because you’ve got to have some stones to attempt these.

*If you have access to a sturdy pull up bar then 10 full reps with a single 32kg bell is worthy of your attention s well.

So, where do you start?

With a pair of 16kg bells and mastering the above movements, then from there you can use multiple methods to progress to the above goals.

Here are some of my favourites.

– Ladders (1-5 x5, or 1-10)
– Complexes (4-6 reps per movement)
– Chains (4-6 singles of each movement)
– EMOM’s
– Double & Triple Prog (8×2 > 8×3, or 3-5×3-5 >5×5)

The big thing is to never miss a rep, ever.

You also have the option of building your strength with movement variations if you’re lacking, for example.

16kg Push Jerk >Push Press > Press > Bottoms Up Press > Kneeling Press > Kneeling Bottom Up Press > Z Press > Bottom Z Press > Sots Press > Bottoms Up Sots Press.

(This is without even using yielding/overload options)

^^ You’d aims for hitting ladder sets of 1,2,3,4,5 for 5 total ladders before moving on to the next variation.

Or you could use EMOM’s of 30min until you hit all the reps with a clean reps (no grinding)

Can you see how much room you have for progression and tweaking variables?

I’d say a classic Pull-Push-Legs-Rest rotation will suit most.

Give the humble kettlebell some thoughts.

There is a lot more to this and programming for it, however I’ve written plenty on that subject over the years, so if you have any specific questions pop them below.

Enjoy,
Ross

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“The art of conditioning without conditioning.”

Morning all,
 
Traditionally many will have some fairly high-octane methods for really getting their conditioning fix, and it’s a viable way to train and provides some great results however it’s not the only way.
 
In this day and age not everyone is capable of the more exciting training methods, this could be due to injury, age, lifestyle choices and more. As such different conditioning methods are needed.
 
Here are three low impact alternatives that will ramp up your conditioning without falling in to the traditional guise.
 
1 – Climbing Stairs Two at a Time
 
In the initial stages hitting two steps at a time with a medium pace will be sufficient for a lot of people to get some VO2 benefit, once fitness levels improve you can take on the challenge of stair running for next level heart, lungs & legs.
 
2 – Kettlebell Swings
 
You knew these would be in here, they’re great. If you can build up to single arm swings you can then build up to snatches and those my friends are the Czar of all movements for forging a body to last and a posterior chain the gods themselves would be envious of.
 
3 – Swimming
 
You’d be surprised how many people forget about this pastime, it’s one of the best things you can do, in freshwater or the sea. If you have an ailing body then taking a dip will be one of the best things for you as it will also help bring up your overall strength as well.
 
Some easy options to help you get fit that don’t fall in to the norm of the modern world.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A different take on Eccentrics.

Morning All,
 
Chances are you’ve heard about lowering a weight slowly and under control when lifting.
 
Have you heard about ‘pulling’ the weight back to the starting position or in to the hole though?
 
Probably not.
 
It may seem like a strange idea however it will help build a lot of strength and serve to increase total body tension in your movements.
 
Here is an example:
 
Press a kettlebell overhead to lock out, stay tense and gripping it tight.
 
From the top you now want to engage your lat hard and star tot PULL the weight down, as opposed to slowly lowering it – think along the lines that you’re trying to do a one arm chin up.
 
At first it will feel weird, however the more you do it the better you’ll get and suddenly you will find yourself becoming a lot stronger.
 
This tactic works well on all movements, especially unilateral ones such as Pistols and Single Arm Press Ups.
 
Here are some books to delve in to to learn more about this (mainly because I can’t remember exactly which book I got it from).
 
All by Pavel Tsatsouline:
 
– Enter the Kettlebell
– Power to the People
– The Naked Warrior
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Three things you don’t do that you should

Been away for a few days.
 
Did you all miss me?
 
….
 
Of course you didn’t hardly anyone reads these posts anyway 😂
 
Morning All,
 
There are a lot of underrated exercises out there.
 
The reason most people won’t do them is because they’re hard, put simply.
 
Not to mention everyone is caught up in doing all the standard isolation/mirror muscle work.
 
3 such movements that will literally change how your feel and perform are:
 
– Kettlebell Swings (Kettlebell snatch when you know it)
– Turkish Get Ups
– Loaded Carries
 
Let us take at look at all three, their benefits and how you can apply them in to your training.
 
Kettlebell Swings –
 
If you know me you’ll know I love these because they load your posterior chain, teach you how to hinge, improve your grip strength, VO2 max and are great for posture too.
 
Once you have the adequate skill requirements I would advise moving on to the kettlebell snatch, it offers all the same benefits with the added bonus of anti-rotation and shoulder stability/strength/ROM+Health.
 
They’re not easy when done properly.
 
That said, you should have them in your workouts, especially if you work at a desk.
 
10-20min per day will be enough to literally change your life.
 
Turkish Get Ups (TGU’s) –
 
A great way to warm up and start your workouts because they will mobilise and activate pretty much every muscle in your body.
 
They’re easy enough on paper, however once you start doing them and progressing to a heavier weight you’ll find this soon changes.
 
Balance, core strength, coordination, mobility, strength and most of all fun, that’s what TGU’s will be to you.
 
You might think that simply standing up and then reversing that movement is easy, you’re welcome to think that, even if it is incorrect, 😁
 
On a serious note, 10min of alternating side TGU’s as a warm ups will change how your workouts feel and make your body feel 10times better, or at least 7 times better.
 
If you want challenge in the 10min block aim to do 3 TGU’s consecutively before swapping arms.
 
Lastly we have a favoured movement of Strongmen the world over.
 
Loaded Carries –
 
Want to strip fat? Loaded Carries.
 
Want to build some muscle and an impressive back with an iron clad grip and legs that won’t buckle when the going gets tough? Loaded Carries.
 
Want to build mental resilience? Loaded Carries.
 
These are literally one of the most under utilised movements and it shows.
 
In daily life we are always having to pick things up and having to take them from point A to B, yet when people go to the gym the sit or lay down to move things.
 
Madness.
 
Did you know that in an idea world you should be able to carry your own bodyweight at least 100m?
 
^^ Okay, that’s not an absolute thing, however it’s a good test of your strength.
 
Picking things up and wandering around with them is primal and one of, if not the most effective movement/exercise you can do, especially if you’re short on time.
 
You have many various of loaded carries, you can hold something close to you, by your sides, over your head, one by your side one over head, with bars, bags, dumbbells, plates, anything, just pick it up ann move with it.
 
If you want to make yourself robust and strip fat, try doing 10-20min of carries at the end of your usual workout, trust me, you won’t regret it.
 
If you don’t do these three things, you should.
 
They will make you feel healthier and help protect your from injury.
 
If all you did was Swings (or snatches), TGU’s and a variety of Loaded Carries, you’d be strong, conditioned and look pretty dam awesome too.
 
Give it some thought.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A little known fact about Kettlebells

I’m sure you’ve heard of kettlebells.

They’re great, Tony would approve, especially after earning your stripes to increase the Pood you use.

Pood = measure of kettlebell weight.

There are only half pood jumps, which is 8kg, meaning as you may have guessed 1 pood is a whole 16kg.

Did you know in Russia you use standard bells:

1 pood = 16kg – The Rabbit

1.5 pood= 24kg – The Fox

2 pood = 32kg – The Badger

2.5 pood=40kg – The Bulldog

3 pood=48kg – The Beast*

*The beast & bulldog are known names, some kettlebell practitioners came up with the other three which seemed to stick in the community. Plus they sound cool.

There is no 4kg, 8kg, 12kg, 20kg, 28kg, 36kg or 44kg kettlebell in the mood system of measuring. Obviously you can buy these weights as they are sold by plenty of manufactures, however do you know WHY the poods are set the way they are?

Have a think.

It’s because you have to earn your stripes by increasing the volume with the lower weights before taking the leap of faith and that massive 8kg jump to the next one.

Now I know what you might be thinking.

8kg is a massive jump, and you’re right, it is, however it means that you have to spend a decent amount of time building your strength through various kettlebell movements, not to mention exercise options to help your body bridge the gap from one bell to the the next.

If we take the strict press as the example.

You might easily be able to press 24kg with ease, perhaps for 5 solid reps, however you won’t get near the 32kg for one, or so you think.

Enter training techniques to close the gap.

  • Upping volume – turning 5 reps in to 10
  • Utilising eccentric overload – push press the 32kg and work the negative portion of the rep with pauses at certain stages of the lift for 3-5 reps
  • Implying yielding & overcoming presses with the 32kg

There are a lot of options, that’s only three potential ones without even looking at static holds overhead,  floor presses, windmills, get ups and other such movements.

Thankfully we live in a world where there are 4kg and sometimes 2kg jumps between each kettlebell.

Feel free to progress through them however you choose, however it you want to do it the Russian way, acquire the 5 bells above and be prepared for one hell of a journey to the most impressive 48kg press.

Enjoy,

Ross

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Swing for the win!

I love a good old kettlebell swing, don’t you?
 
It hits the majority of your muscles in your posterior chain, improves your core bracing, your grip strength, firms up your glutes and strips fat like there’s no tomorrow.
 
Yep, swings are great
 
The 10,000 swing 4 week program
 
Have you ever done it?
 
I first learnt of this from reading the fine writings of Dan John, his work/writing worth looking up if you haven’t already done so.
 
Here is how it works:
 
– 500 swings a day (50-30-20 x5 rounds)
– feel free to add in one strength movement of 3-5 reps in-between each set of swings (50 swing – 3-5 presses, 30 swings – 3-5 presses etc)
– perform this 5 days per week
 
Simple enough, right?
 
While it may indeed be simple it’s far from easy as it requires a rather large amount of both physical and mental fortitude to stick at.
 
If you saw it through to the end you’d find you stripped fat, added a nice amount of lean muscle and and built a cast iron grip.
 
The mistake many people make with this is using a kettlebell that is way too heavy from the start, this leads to things getting difficult very quickly.
 
My advice would be for ladies to grab a 12kg kettlebell and for the gents to start with a 16kg, even if that isn’t anywhere near what you currently swing, I know some ladies that are chucking around a 32kg for sets of 15-20 solid swings, however it;s not a good idea to go in that heavy, trust me, you’ll thank me by week 2.
 
Depending on your experience level you could scale this protocol, which personally I’d advise, and start off with say 5000 total swings (this means 25-15-10 x5 rounds, 5 days per week).
 
You may even want to start off at 2500 swings in month one (125 swings 5 days per week).
 
Then 5000 in month 2 (250 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
On to 7500 in month 3 (375 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
Finally go for 10,000 in month 4 (500 swings per day, 5 days a week), it’s entirely up to you.
 
^^ I’d aim to keep the set up of:
 
X swings- 3/5 strength- X swings – 3/5 strength – X swings -3/5 strength -rest, repeat 5 times
 
You’ll just need to break down how many swings that will be each set in the 2500/7500 months.
 
Pick a kettlebell that you can handle, and build ups o that 10,000 target. If you choose to do it over the 4 months, you’ll have something to stick to, just make sure you change up the strength movement to add in some variety.
 
I’d suggest the following movement patterns:
 
– Pushing (press, bench, dip etc)
– Pulling (chin, row, high pull etc)
– Squat (FS, SQ, Lunge etc)
– Loaded carry (bear hug variation)
 
Deadlifting in this time might not be advised, however it’s your choice if you want to do it or not.
 
If you’ve found yourself a little lost then this might be the protocol you need, you can always feel free to crack straight on with the 10,000 swings from the start, just being with a much lighter bell and perhaps work up to your standard shining weight over the next 3-6 months.
 
*It’d be worth taking a few days off perhaps at the end of each block of 10,000, no sense in crippling yourself just so that you start each month on the 1st.
 
Give it a go and enjoy,
Ross

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A complex string of events

Stringing exercises together one after the other with the same piece of kit if known, no rest and not putting said kit down is often known as a complex.

You can do them with dumbbells, barbells and a personal favourite, kettlebells.

Here are three short kettlebell complexes to hit the entire body and build strength, lean mass and strip fat (provided calorie requirements are also correct).

Each complex is done with 2 kettlebells.

Push Complex:

– Clean
– Press
– Push Press
– Jerk

Start off with one rep of each, then two, then three, aim to work up to 5 without stopping. 3-5 rounds of this will help create an impressive upper body, increase the weight of the bells by 4kg once you can do 5 rounds of 1-5 unbroken.

Pull Complex:

– Swing
– Swing to Pull (pull elbows towards hips)
– Clean
– Snatch

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Leg Complex:

– Clean
– Squat
– Lunge (any variation of your choice)
– Rack Tip-Toe Walk or Rack Walk

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Now this could be one workout three times per week, several smaller workouts during the day (morning, afternoon, evening) or a short 10-20min workout for each day depending on your commitments and available time to train.

This style of training is one that lends itself well to daily practice (push day, pull day, leg day, repeat works well).

These are by no means the only options, they’re just simple ones to get you started, you’ll find some great complexes in the writing of Dan John.

Give them a go.

Enjoy,
Ross

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