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RKC Classic Kettlebells

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Rings of Power by Mike GIllette

Rings of Power by Mike Gillette Cool new book from Mike Gillette about Ring Training for all fitness levels. Being on this shoot with Mike was like working with a real live action hero! (And I got to put a cinderblock on him too!) Mike knows his stuff and shares everything you need to know for his versatile go-anywhere ring training.  Full progressions of every exercise, workout plans, and all the know-how to take the training as far as you wish. Good stuff, and yes, that's me on the left side of the cover  :)

Tough Love for the Kettlebell Clean Plus a Practice-Based Workout

Unlike some exercises, many of the kettlebell movements have a learning curve and need to be practiced.   Trendy fat-loss focused "kettlebell trainers" will seldom lead a group or individuals in properly learning the kettlebell clean.  Admittedly, it is a difficult move to teach (to be fair, the RKC Manual says "The clean is one of the easiest exercises to do... and one of the most difficult ones to do right").  Unfortunately, I have seen kettlebell trainers introduce it once, gloss over it, quickly moving onto the more familiar territory of the press and even looking the other way when a client performs an especially bad one.  One particularly popular tv trainer has even gone so far as to "redesign" the kettlebell itself to allow for further bad form with the kettlebell clean.   This is a terrible shame as the kettlebell clean is a foundation exercise, the best way to get a kettlebell into the crucial "rack" position (necessary for military presses, front squats, etc.)  It's also very useful for a variety of sports, general wellness, and even tactical applications.   I've been studying up a little bit on MMA and various martial arts lately - since considering leading a group class at a fight gym here in town - and in tandem with the powerful hip drive required for ballistic kettlebell exercises (Swing, clean, snatch), the shock-absorbing learning that occurs with the kettlebell clean is extremely valuable. 

Two very helpful articles on about kettlebell clean technique:


At the meet and greet at the RKC Level 2 Workshop last month, I saw a really compelling video clip showing a military application of certain parts of the Get Up - the extreme shoulder stabilization required to properly perform the Get Up really seems to help maintain your accuracy when firing a machine gun while you are moving. (ever the party animal, I saw a laptop and was nosy) This reminded me of my rural friends and their shotgun range out in "the sticks." One of them trains with kettlebells and is going to be the unwitting subject of a little human experiment.  I've been thinking a lot about the stability (bracing with muscular tension in this case) and shock absorbing skills taught by the kettlebell clean...  Some say that kettlebell training done in the RKC Hardstyle method is similar to learning to take a hit or a kick without actually having to endure an actual hit/kick.  

Again... crucial that the clean is performed correctly. As with the Swing, all the power comes from your hips, the arms just direct where the kettlebell goes, don't throw the kettlebells out in front of you on the way up or the way down, "dump" them close to your body then throw them behind you at the last possible moment to "hike" and reload your hamstrings - as they come back up for the next clean, punch your elbows behind you to flip the kettlebell to the crook of your elbow.  Always make sure your shoulders stay square and there is no twisting of the spine (you see this happen with single kettlebell swings a lot and it makes me hurt to even watch it.)  All this of course makes much more sense in person - so train with me, won't you?

As promised here's the little workout - the participants on this particular day were having problems with the clean - and we discovered that one of them would do much better cleans when he had 2 kettlebells - so we tried to build a habitual pattern of success, then switched back to singles, etc.   Back and forth a bit - and at the end "hey you know those abs you kept forgetting to use?  Yeah, its one arm plank time..."  Betcha their memory improves...

Start with your Joint Mobility warm ups

  1. I go, you go - single kettlebell cleans and presses 3 reps then the partner goes - keep a good pace going - moderately heavy weight, but focus on the form - that's the whole point here.  10-12 minutes total
  2. I go, you go - double kettlebell cleans and presses 3 reps then the partner goes - keep a good pace going - moderately heavy weight, but focus on the form - that's the whole point here.  10-12 minutes total
  3. Tabata double cleans - medium to light weight - focus on all the power coming from the hips, if not you'll be toast in no time 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest 4 mins total
  4. Tabata double swings - medium to light weight - again focus on power from the hips, striving for perfect form with NO backwards leaning at the top - totally everything tense at the top of the Swing, tight abs, glutes, kneecaps pulled up.
  5. 1 minute plank with right arm lifted, 1 minute plank with left arm lifted (keep it square, don't even think about shifting your weight onto that other side!)
  6. 1 minute plank with right foot lifted, 1 minute plank with left foot lifted (keep it square, don't even think about shifting your weight onto that other side!)

Joint mobility cool down and form discussion q&a  


I congratulate the person in the photo for having the flexibility and mobility necessary to perform this bizarre and possibly useless "kettlebell exercise." I would encourage her to focus on kettlebells of a real weight, basic POWERFUL movements and to save the dancing around for the nightclubs, the dance studio, or other social engagements.  While this move may look "pretty" and not so intimidating, it is also not particularly useful.  Sure, it makes a great picture... great pictures sell things like magazines, gym and boot camp memberships, workout clothing and those horrible little rubber coated kettlebell-shaped paperweights people pedal to women.  Be wise.  DO THE REAL THING.  Find an RKC Certified Instructor in your area.


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