Considering the skill, time, and practice required to really get good (and safe) with kettlebell swings, a challenge that surfaces many times for instructors, trainers, and coaches is in the form of someone I call a “fit beginner”. In other words, this person may come into your gym with a high degree of athleticism, already in shape, and with great strength and endurance. But they are coming to you because they want to learn the skills necessary to take their training to the next level – or because of their gym experience they know they need your help as an RKC or HKC instructor to learn about kettlebells the right way first. YES, the Fit Beginner does exist, I’ve trained several of them (and they’re awesome!).
First off, always congratulate your Fit Beginner on having the smarts (and humility) to seek you out–there’s no doubt that their success in the gym has taught them that spending time with an instructor or coach is time well spent. But it’s time to teach them the skills! You’ll want to make sure your OWN skills as a coach and communicator are up to the task as well. The Fit Beginner runs a risk of getting frustrated with this skill which might be the first thing that’s been difficult for them for a long time! Just remember to take breaks as you would for a complete beginner — the Fit Beginner needs to process this info too, but might end up asking you specific technical questions instead of recovering from a new level of exertion. The Fit Beginner may also have a number of automatic habits or patterns related to the speed of reps, etc. just be aware of it, some might be very useful, some might not be compatible with kettlebells. There’s also a good chance you may learn something cool about another exercise modality as well. Winning All Around!
That being said, below is a small group workout that was designed to add in the Fit Beginner into the circuit. He had already trained one on one and was good to go with practicing swings. I wasn’t ready to just throw him big sets of swings yet, as we wanted to make sure to “program in” those new movement patterns. Here’s what happened:
We warmed up with a Primal Move sequence, a little bit of extra joint mobility, and the infamous Trifecta (participants work at their own level) from Convict Conditioning Vol2. Then while the “regulars” continued their warm up with 100 kettlebell swings (their choice of kettlebell, their choice of straight through or broken up into sets), I went through a quick review of the hip hinge, kettlebell deadlift, and swing with the Fit Beginner (these were the most helpful movements for his situation). We then worked on the sequence he would do while the others wer perfoming their sets of swings in the next circuit. (while they did 20 swings, he would do 5 hip hinges–using the dowel and three points of contact guide, 5 kettlebell deadlifts, 5 more hip hinges with dowel, then 5 kettlebell swings. I’ve used this sequence to help people really “program in” the swing before, though sometimes depending on their past experiences in habits, we have to swap out a move or add an extra one… it must be tailored to your Fit Beginner!)
After a quick water break we all revisited our old friend the goblet squat, and did a decending ladder of them with a moderate to light kettlebell – 10 reps, then 9 reps, then 8 reps….. all the way down to 1 rep, resting as needed.
Finally it was time for the circuit which we repeated 4 times:
- 30 battling rope “up downs”
- 20 kettlebell swings (or the Fit Beginner sequence above)
- 10 push ups (or appropriate progression or regression. Our Fit Beginner chose to make his push ups more difficult by raising his feet on a bench. Awesome!)
- 10 step ups while holding kettlebell at the chest (choice of step up heights were medium and OMG tall)
We cooled down with Q+A and joint mobility. Good times for all! You may also find that some of your regulars will enjoy throwing in the Fit Beginner sequence to dial in their kettlebell swings on alternating rounds, it can be fun and great for group morale as well.