…..from the Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC) workshop I attended a couple weekends weekend out at Skill of Strength in Chelmsford, MA.
I have been using kettlebells over the last five years or so as part of my own training and my clients training. I think I have a fairly good understanding of when and how they should be used. But I wanted to get a better understanding of three of the most common kettlebell exercises: the swing, the get-up and the goblet squat. So I went to an eight hour workshop on a beautiful sunny day to learn about three exercises? And my certification was going to revolve around three exercises? You are correct. Yeah, you can probably find some sort of instructional video on YouTube about these exercises, but you could also find crap like this on YouTube:
Without going into a rant about everything that is wrong with that video here’s a breakdown of what I learned about the swing, the get up and the goblet squat.
- It is called a swing because it is a swing. It is not a squat and a front raise which is what you will see being performed a good majority of the time, especially if you’re doing Kettleworx.
- Before you are cleared to do the swing, you should be able to a pretty good looking kettlebell deadlift. Before you are cleared to do the kettlebell deadlift, you should be able to do a pretty good looking hip hinge.
- When deadlifting or swinging focus your eyes on a spot on the floor about 10-15 feet away. Keep your eyes on that spot throughout the entire movement.
- The swing is an exercise to produce horizontal force, not vertical force. If you were to release the kettlebell at the end range the kettlebell should project forward, not up. Please don’t start throwing kettlebells around. Just take my word for it.
- There is no need for the kettlebell to travel higher than shoulder height unless you’re doing Crossfit or unless you are looking to jam up your shoulders. If you want to get a kettlebell overhead work on kettlebell snatches.
- The top of the swing should basically resemble a standing plank. There should be tension in the glutes, upper back and core area. You should be in complete extension, not hyperextension.
- On the descent the kettlebll should pass through the “triangle” which is at knee height or above.
- Once you feel comfortable doing the two handed swing try working on some one arm swings and hand to hand swings.
- Swings can be used a number of ways in your training program. They can be used as a power development exercise. They can be programmed as a hip dominant movement. They can be used as a metabolic exercise by themselves or as part of a metabolic circuit.
- I remember doing the get up for the first time about ten years ago. I basically laid down on the floor with a dumbbell in one arm and then kept that arm vertical as I found a way to get up to a standing position. I thought it was as simple as that. Little did I know know that there was a way to doing a get up correctly.
- Before you attempt to do a get-up with any weight you should be able to a naked get-up correctly. Let me clarify. A naked get-up is not you stripping down to nothing and then doing a get-up. A naked get-up is doing a get-up with no weight.
- After you’ve done a naked get-up work on doing a get-up by placing a shoe on your fist with the bottom of the shoe resting on your fist. For the entire duration of the get-up that shoe should stay planted on your fist.
- The shoulder of the loaded arm should stay packed down the entire time.
- During the first half of the get-up your eyes should be focused on the weight. Once you get to the half kneeling position your eyes should look straight ahead. The same goes for returning to the starting position.
- When getting back down from the top position one of the most important parts of the descent is taking a big step back to set you up for a nice leg sweep to get your hips back to the floor.
- Don’t rush through your get-up. Break it down into small parts.
- The get-up is a great exercise to identify asymmetries, a great core exercise a great shoulder stability exercise and a great exercise to use as part of a warm up.
- I think the mistake I made with get-ups in the past was using too high of a rep range so that I was completely gassed and my technique fell flat on it’s face. And that was even before doing the other side. At least for the time being I plan on loading my get-ups a bit more and keeping them in the 1-3 rep range.
The Goblet Squat
- The goblet squat is an exercise that was popularized by strength coach Dan John a few years ago and for good reason. When someone has a poor looking squat pattern have them goblet squat and almost immediately the squat pattern cleans up.
- Before I’m going to have anyone do any type of barbell front or back squats I’m going to have them work on goblet squats for awhile. In fact, I may never get past a goblet squat with some people and that’s quite alright.
- Just because you are not using a barbell doesn’t mean you can’t load the goblet squat up. You can go have heavy as you want with this bad boy as long as your form doesn’t fall apart.
- There is no arguing about what is proper depth with the goblet squat. When you are doing goblet squats you are going to lower to the point to where your elbows touch just inside your knees.
- If you can’t get to that depth work on some goblet squat static holds. Stand a couple feet away from a doorway or post and lightly hold onto to that doorway or post as you drop your butt towards the floor. Hang out in that bottom position for a bit while you shift your weight from side to side trying to “pry” your hips open.
- Two things to think about on the descent. One, push your knees out in order to engage your glutes a bit more. Second, pull you yourself down into the squat by actively using your hip flexors.
- From a programming standpoint, the goblet squat can be used as a main lower body lift, as an accessory lower body lift or as part of your warm up.