A couple of months back, I wrote a post
about training grip strength with one of the most primal of movements: The carry.Today, I'd like to revisit, but rather than focus on the farmer's carry (that is, carrying weight at your side, as you would a pair of suitcases), we're gonna talk overhead carrying. The overhead carry is a crazy good way to develop:
- core strength
- diaphramatic breathing technique
- shoulder mobility and stability
- better posture
- strength induced from spending time-under-tension
So overall, a pretty sweet movement. And a downright primitive one. It ain't sexy, but it works. It's powerful and so too will you be training this movement.
But before you go and throw two heavy kettlebells overhead, you've got to get the technique down.
Check out the video below on how you can pwn the overhead carry...and then watch a most excellent ab finisher you can add onto your next training session.
Check out the military press technique video I referenced in the above video, by clicking here
Typically, kettlebells come in four kilogram increments--12 kg, 16 kg, 20 kg and so on. For those of us who use the imperial system, those are 8.8 pound jumps.
In lower body movements, such as the squat and deadlift, which are powered by some of the largest and strongest muscle groups in the body, no big deal. But in upper body exercises, 8.8 pounds can be a huge jump.
But there are ways to hack through those plateaus, bridge that 4 kg gap, and move along with your total badassery.
Check out the short video below to find out a few techniques on how to push past a kettlebell military press strength plateau:
Drop any questions you have in the comments section. Happy lifting, my friends!
Recently, one of my readers asked me about the kettlebell snatch and how you can improve/strengthen your own. Specifically, she referred to the "100 snatches in 5 minutes" test. This test is part of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge. For women, you must be able to complete all 100 snatches within the five-minute time limit using a 16 kg (or 35 lb) kettlebell. It's challenging...thus the use of the word "challenge" in the name.
But challenging certainly doesn't mean impossible. So in this post, I'd like to go over how you can improve on your kettlebell snatch. But maybe not in the way you'd think...
Firstly, let me say that the kettlebell snatch is a very technically demanding exercise. There are a lot of nuances to it and a lot of opportunities to mess it up, which leads me to Point #2...
I will not be going over how to do the snatch in this post. I'll save that for another time. Instead, I'll show you how you can get stronger at the kettlebell snatch.
But briefly, this is what a kettlebell snatch should look like:
In that video, I performed that 100 snatch test with a 16 kg bell with a full minute to spare. Previously, I've completed the snatch test in well under four minutes. So how did I do this? I...
I don't care how many times I say it. It's true, and I will spout the truth! I lift heavy. Not all the time. But often.
But what do I mean by heavy?
If you can perform a ladder of 1 to 5 reps (in this instance, by a ladder, I mean completing one snatch on your right side and one on your left, then two on each side, then three...up to five reps), with relative ease with the weight you're using and minimal rest, it's time to switch to a heavier kettlebell.
At first, when you jump to a heavier bell, you might not be able to complete the full 1 to 5 ladder. That's fine. Simply cut the reps, maybe only ladder up to three reps per side, but you'll find, in doing so, that your strength quickly increases. Because the simple fact of the matter is...the stronger you become, the easier it becomes to haul around weights, whether you're completing the kettlebell snatch test or performing an overhead press or whatever.
(And the stronger you become, the less devastating the cardio component of completing a high-rep snatch test will be. Your body simply will not have to work as hard to complete the task at hand, which is a GOOD thing).
And by lifting heavy weights some of the time, you develop more power. And power is something every.single.athlete.needs. Every single one of you. I don't care if you're a weekend warrior or a seasoned triathlete. You must develop power. And power, in the athletic world, comes from the athlete's hips. Check out what I mean in this short clip here:
Did you see the hip snap in each of those movements? It didn't matter which exercise I was performing, the power came from my hips.Using the same ladder scheme that I noted above (1 to 5), you'll work on developing power with any of the hip dominant
movements found in the video, by performing them with low reps and heavy weight
. NOT the other way around! Lifting light weights for a lot of reps won't get you any stronger. You'll just be really good at lifting light weight a lot of time. But just completing the ladder scheme won't guarantee your development of hip drive and power. Don't think of a deadlift or snatch or swing as a Sunday stroll around the park but rather as a 100-meter sprint at Nationals. You really have to commit to training that power and "snapping" your hips.
Otherwise, you are cheating the movement...and yourself.
Training for the kettlebell snatch test by just doing kettlebell snatches won't get you where you want to be. Well, it might, but it is definitely the long way around. Take the shortest route--work on the big lifts and go heavy with them. (I discussed heavy lifting in a previous post--you can read that here).
Your strength will skyrocket, and you'll then be able to jump up to a heavier kettlebell, decrease your snatch test time, or all of the above. That's all from here today, friends! Questions? Comments? Love? Leave 'em in the comments section! Happy Friday, and I hope you have as carefree a weekend as this goofy girl is going to!
P.S. And thanks, Mikey, for asking such a great question! :)
P.P.S So what would you like to see more of here on Beautiful-Strength? Nutrition? Metabolic conditioning videos? Exercise tutorials? Drop me a line at Christine@Beautiful-Strength.com
or leave a comment below!
P.P.S.S. Next week, Heather from healthy living blog, Multiply Delicious, will be sharing some awesome recipes with our Beautiful Strength readers. She's got some super tasty paleo recipes. I don't know about y'all, but I'm super excited!! You can check out her Facebook page here
or go to MultiplyDelicious.com
Before we get into the complexes today, I've put together a quick tutorial video on how to do a reverse lunge. If you struggle with balance on this puppy, you're not alone. So check out the vid below to learn how to properly do this exercise (and an easy trick you can use to keep your balance, too).
Also remember, the reverse lunge is part of the Turkish Get-Up (as you'll see in the Get-Up Sandwich video below) so practicing the lunge now will aid in your mastery of the TGU.
With that knowledge in hand, go forth! Scorch body fat! Sculpt lean sexy muscle! And become one bona fide burst of sexy with these kick ass kettlebell complexes!
And of course, of famed nastiness, The Great Destroyer...
P.S. I just wanted to point out the Google search bar that's now available on the top right of the page. As we add more and more content to the website, this will help you find older posts. And don't forget about the searchable tags on the sidebar, as well!
Happy Friday!!! Wahooooooooooo!
I don't know about you, but I'm excited! And not just cuz the weekend has arrived but also because it's Part Three of our Find Your Strength Deadlift Technique Series. Three Cheers for Deadlifting!!
In this part, we'll be looking at the four...or it is five?...problems that people experience most in deadlifting. Again, I'll let the video do the talkin' at this one.
If you have ANY questions about the deadlift OR if you would like me to critique your own deadlifting technique, you are more than welcome to send me a video of you deadlifting at Christine@Beautiful-Strength.com (nothing weird, please) and I'll take a look -- And if you wouldn't letting me share with the group, then we can all learn! And that's what life's about, right? Learning.
P.S. Chester County's ONLY Bridal Boot Camp kicks off this coming Wednesday, September 12th at the Dragon Gym in Exton, PA! For all you local women out there, come down and check it out! First week is FREE! Here's what you can expect:
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Scorch body fat
Sculpt tastefully defined muscle
Learn the primary kettlebell movements in a fun, interactive, and women’s-only setting
Get the support YOU need to get your best body yet!
For more information on the Wedding Bells Fitness Bridal Boot Camp--and to activate your FREE one week trial--click HERE. Hurry! Space IS limited!
I'll let the videos do most of the talking here today, folks! But as a brief recap, in Part One, I covered the hinge and how to find yours. The deadlift is a hip dominant, or "hinging," movement so patterning that motion becomes incredibly important.
In the below video, learn how to finish setting up the barbell deadlift:
As I mentioned, the deadlift is a hip dominant movement. Power comes from the hips. This is especially important for athletes but also very important for anyone simply wishing to move better.
It's also important to understand that the power you train with the deadlift and the strength you develop by going heavy with the DL translate to other areas of your training. So here's quick little kettlebell metcon workout that you can use to spice things up. And as a bonus, you get to see me almost fall over doing a reverse lunge.
In the last part of the Find Your Strength deadlift series, I'll go over some common deadlift problems and some tips and tricks you can use to get one stellar deadlift. Solid!
P.S. Don't forget! Wednesday, September 5th, 8 pm ET = FREE nutrition webinar! I'll be breaking down some of the key grocery store strategies you need to know to get the most out of your health, your training, and your life!
Shop your way to a sexier you!
The barbell deadlift is, by and large, my favorite movement. To me, few things feel more powerful than pulling weight, standing tall, and owning it.
And what makes the deadlift most excellent?
1. You can pull a tremendous amount of weight with it.
2. It's a total body move that engages everything from thighs to back to abs to lats to traps. Phew! That's a lot o' muscle!
It's quite common to have a fear of the deadlift, though. People seem to be insanely afraid of doing anything that they can feel in their backs. There's something about feeling your lower back work that makes people extremely uncomfortable. But fact of the matter is, you're not going to hurt yourself. But you will hurt yourself, if you NEVER work your back muscles or when you do, you lift with poor form.
So let's remedy those things.
First things first, you have to work your back muscles, and the deadlift is going to be the best all-inclusive manner in which to do so. Backsides are often forgotten because they aren't readily seen in the mirror and are often ignored out of fear of injury; thus, they remain underdeveloped or worse.
Secondly, you have to lift with impeccable form. We've all heard the phrase "Lift with your knees, not with your back." That's true. And that's the safe way to lift. But there's more to it than that. There's safe, but there's also optimal. We're going to work on optimal (in which "safety" is automatically included).
So over the next several weeks, I'm going to break down the deadlift, go over the technique, and give you some drills you need to be doing to get the most out of this movement.
The deadlift is an incredibly strong movement. Now let's work on strengthening yours.
Watch for the next episode of the "Find Your Strength" Deadlifting Series!P.S. Everyone knows someone who could improve their deadlift. (We all can use to improve our deadlift; no one's perfect. Not even me. That's not easy for me to admit... :P) So do your sub-par deadlifting friend a favor, and send 'em the link to this post! Their spines will thank you! P.P.S. Local to Exton, PA? If so, ladies, head over to the Wedding Bells Bootcamp page and sign up for your FREE one week trial. Come on in, sweat it out, and start gettin' the fat off...no strings attached! Hurry--We're just about 3 weeks away from the start of the FIRST Killing It With Kettlebells Wedding Bells Boot Camp and space IS limited! P.P.S.S. Psst...You don't have to be a bride to come into Wedding Bells Boot Camp! This kettlebell boot camp is for women only. So come on in and get lean(er) and strong(er) with like-minded women! P.P.S.S... whatever... Not local? We'll have you covered soon, too! This fall, Wedding Bells Fitness goes online with a completely online training program for any woman, from brides-to-be to mothers-of-the-groom to any woman ready to get in the best shape of her life! Weekly training plans, recipes, how-to videos, coaching calls, and more will be at your fingertips. Keep an eye out...or better yet--sign up for our FREE newsletter to keep up-to-date on all Wedding Bells and Beautiful-Strength news!
Last week, we were having a nighttime training session during a rainstorm that did NOT do anything to cool the gym down, which doesn't have air conditioning, by the way, (unless you count the breeze coming off of a crisp, powerful kettlebell swing). Between our workout and sharing the gym with about 30 Muay Thai students, it hit 96 degrees with 96% humidity.
So when in the middle of the workout, I decided to try and (breathlessly) explain to my workout buddy how to do an excellent kettlebell clean...well, let's just say I did not do the clean justice. So I'd like to remedy that here by taking the time to explain how to perform a solid kettlebell clean.
Although you might not have a need to strictly practice kettlebell cleans in your training, they are the intermediate movement between the kettlebell being on the ground and the bell being in the rack position (and thus in the starting position for many, many lifts). If you have a sloppy clean, you are wasting valuable energy and time and are forcing yourself to compensate for initiating a lift with poor form by resetting once the bell is in the rack before then moving onto the next portion of the movement or workout you're doing, rather than moving fluidly between stages.
(Plus, having a sloppy clean just makes everything super awkward when you try and explain to concerned friends and coworkers why you have nasty bruises all over your wrists).
In the below video, I dissect the clean and give you cues and tips you can use--and should use--to better execute the clean. And a "clean" clean means you'll be much less likely to bang up and bruise your wrists and will be in a great position to have a strong, stable lift, whatever that lift might be.
Take a look!
**Apologies for the low volume on the video--I was competing with rush hour traffic and a groundhog chewing on a fallen peach next to the camera...Just turn up your computer volume or grab a pair of headphones, and you should be able to hear just fine! Promise!**
As I mentioned, you don't necessarily have to strictly practice cleans. I particularly like to add them in as part of a "long cycle clean and press," which simply means that you clean the kettlebell between each press, or long cycle front squats (again, this just means that you clean the bell between each squat). You can use this as part of a strength workout (e.g. perform sets of 3-5 reps of long cycle clean and press) or as part of a metabolic conditioning routine--like the one below, which I present for your viewing pleasure:
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Cleans require a lot of power and hip drive.
It is one of the best exercises you can do to develop explosive power, which for any athlete is paramount, so that means you SHOULD be practicing them on a regular basis.
(Again, whether or not you are strictly practicing cleans or joining them with another movement, like the military press, is up to you).
Need ideas on how to put it all together into one intelligent training protocol? Check out Fitter, Happier, More Productive, which tells you EXACTLY which exercises will give you the most bang for you buck--from developing absolute strength to explosive power to maintaining balance and symmetry. Called the "anti" program for a reason, the training program in FHmP disproves the need for an exact training program--and tells you exactly why you need to ditch the "I'm on Week 3 of (Insert Name of Confusing and Convoluted Training Program Here) and I HAVE to do XYZ, otherwise I'll never make the gains I want to see" mentality.
Get lean. Get strong. Get sexy. Start here.
P.S. Hey, foodies! I just spent the past couple of weeks eating a ridiculous amount of sweet potatoes so that I could show YOU some very tasty, very awesome ways to cook a sweet potato.
14 ways, in fact! Each one tested by me (and my sweet baby Lola, of course...dogs LOVE sweet potatoes--she ESPECIALLY loved the bacon cups filled with sweet potato hash).
And as a thank you to all my readers, this recipe book is FREE. Just fill in your best email to the right!
P.P.S. Jeanette from JeannetteCooksPaleo.com contributed a sweet potato pancake recipe--you DO NOT want to miss out on this one!
| |Love the kettlebell clean? Super excited to eat sweet potatoes 14 different ways for the next two weeks?? Anxious to try out the Explosive Power metabolic conditioning complex??? Make sure you leave some love in the comment section, give the post a Facebook like, and tweet about it! Better yet, tweet at me @Kallos_Sthenos or say "Hi!" on Facebook!
In a recent post, I discussed how the body moves in six different ways. Out of those six possible ways, my favorite is probably the hip dominant movements, specifically the barbell deadlift. But I also really do enjoy a good vertical pushing movement. Few things feel more powerful than hauling a heavy weight overhead!
In the case of "vertical pushing" movements, I'm diggin' the kettlebell military press most. Why is that? Well, for one, the kettlebell is just a downright awesome tool for strength and conditioning work (and overall, I find it to be much more useful and user-friendly than dumbbells in a lot of cases). I favor the kettlebell in the military press versus a barbell because the kettlebell allows for more natural movement of the shoulder joints, and since you don't have to move your face out of the way on the upward portion of the press, for many people who haven't perfected the barbell military press, this mitigates the risk of throwing your lumbar spine out of neutrality while you try and "dodge" the barbell so it doesn't smack the underside of your chin. I've never done that... :PThe military press may be a basic movement but that certainly doesn't mean it's without its nuances and sticky points. There are four mistakes that I commonly see when I watch others perform the press. These mistakes can drastically hinder not only your lifting potential but also your health, especially your core and shoulders. In the below video, I go over what those mistakes are, some cues you can use to avoid them, and what a military press should look like that.
How to Integrate the Kettlebell Military Press into Your Own Training:
The military press is one of those "big lifts," like the squat and deadlift, that you will certainly benefit from by going heavy in once a week or so. But it's also an excellent movement to throw into your metabolic conditioning.
For starters, lift heavy. As always, choose a bell weight with which you can perform the movement correctly. That means...choose a bell that you won't make any of the mistakes I just went over in the video! But it also needs to be challenging. If you can rep out 5 presses on one arm with the 16 kg, then you need to move onto the 20kg for one rep. (Unfortunately, as we all know, bells don't come in tidy little weight increments so making the jump from the 16kg to the 20 kg WITH GOOD FORM can be a challenge, but there are ways around that!)
Is it a day when you're feelin' fresh and like you can "kill" the press? Then, it's your heavy lifting day. Set 20-40 minutes on the clock and simply perform one rep on each side with a seriously challenging--but doable! (no going to failure, my friends!)--weight. And practice. That's all strength is: Practice.
If it's a metabolic conditioning session for you? Well, military presses look great in kettlebell complexes. Like this one here:
Questions? Comments? Love? Leave 'em in the comments section, email them to me at Christine@Beautiful-Strength.com, or as always, you can hit me up on Facebook or Twitter!
Oh hey, even better yet...want your own military press form critiqued? Film yourself doing several military press reps on both your right and left sides. Make sure to show me your press from the side (profile view), as well as from the front. Upload them to your own YouTube channel and send me the link to Christine@Beautiful-Strength.com (and please don't send me anything weird), and I will be happy to check out your form and give you some pointers on making it the best freakin' press it can be! And if you'd be cool with me posting your video and the subsequent critique on the site, be sure to let me know in the email. That way, many others can benefit from it, as well.
Maybe it has something to do with Americans’ inherent love of quantity that gets us so jazzed about long-distance running, slogging through endless miles on treadmills-to-nowhere and hard pavement. After all, we’ve historically had a deep love affair with quantity, anything from Costco and BJs to McMansions and super-sized meals.
And we run. We run miles and miles. Once the first 5k passes, we look forward, not to bettering our technique or time, but to go longer and farther—a 10k, half-marathon, to the much-glorified marathon, and even beyond to ultras (though they haven’t gained as much traction as a 26.2 mile course…yet).
We pride ourselves on how many miles we ran on Saturday, and we idolize those who run the long races because they alone must possess some athleticism of both the body and the mind that mere mortals are not privy to.
Plenty of people love long distance running. They get up early on the weekends to meet up with their running group outside of the local running store, split into teams of “antelope” and “slug” and a mix in between, and off they go, armed with sub-par heels-hit-first technique and GU gel packs tucked into their shorts pockets. They feel accomplished after a long run. They did something that they can measure in tangible miles and not-so-tangible, but much admired, length of time.
Steady state cardio? Long distance?? No speedwork??? No drills???? D'oh!
I once had a love affair with long distance running. In fact, I’ve run countless long distance races—from half to full marathons on trails and on the road. I would log a two-and-a-half hour run before breakfast and go into the gym in the afternoon to lift weights. I loved the long hours, hearing only my steady breathing and the crunch of my shoes as I ran the trails (my particular love). So for those people who simply love long distance running, I get it. I do.
But I don’t run anymore. At least not like I used to.
So here’s my opinion on long-distance running (and by my standards, like the Olympics, long-distance is anything over 800 meters):
That is, it stinks if your goals are to find the most efficient and effective ways to lose weight, build strength, and get and stay lean. (Then again, if your goal is to get better at running a marathon, then by no means is long-distance running stinky. But just don’t expect to develop as much lean muscle mass as, say, not running long distance).
But I’ve got another opinion (don’t worry, I won’t run out; I’ve got plenty of those ;P):
Running sprints is an EXCELLENT way to supplement your plan to get lean(er) and strong(er).
The Shortlist of Sprinting “Bennies”:
· Maintains lean muscle mass unlike steady state cardio
· Develops explosive power / rapid-fire muscular response via increased phosphate metabolism
· Elevates metabolism post-workout via post-exercise oxygen consumption
· Improves glycolysis system which in turn improves the form of metabolism and energy the body relies on for explosive movements
· Improves intramuscular buffering capacity (improves your body’s ability to ward off fatigue)
Pretty awesome, right? But I figure lots of people already know how to do sprints (one way to incorporate them: A great smoker at the end of a workout would be running 6-8 x 100 meter sprints with active jogging recovery between sets), but what you might not know about are strides, a popular technique amongst runners. So in case you don’t know what a stride is and aren’t practicing them at least on occasion, allow me to explain:
Strides work to both prime the body prior to exercise and to pattern the proper running form. So they can be used as a warm-up and a technique drill. You can think of strides as sprints at sub-maximal speeds. You need to move quickly through your stride, but remember: this is a warm-up / drill so it is by no means an all-out sprint.
How to Perform Strides:
· They are best performed barefoot and on an unpaved surface (I like to do them on the soccer field at the community park up the street—the field is well-kept so there is minimal chance for me to twist my ankles in divots in the ground…On that note, before you perform a stride, check the area to minimize the chance of hurting yourself).
· You’ll be performing strides in a similar fashion to a sprint workout (e.g. 6-8 x 60-100 meter strides).
· When you start, gradually accelerate to about 85% of your max speed for the first two-thirds and then gradually decelerate in the final 1/3 of the stride.
· Remember: One of the purposes of a stride is to focus on form. So ensure quick foot turnover, striking the ground on the ball of your feet (just as you would while sprinting or jogging in place), think “quick arms”—pump your arms only as much as you feel you need but don’t waste energy on this portion of the movement. Keep your core engaged—sprinting, speedwork, and strides are a great core exercise. AND DO NOT OVERSTRIDE, meaning keep your foot strike aligned with your hips.
· Keep in mind, strides are not supposed to be hard. Don’t do them at such a hard pace that your warm-up becomes as strenuous as the rest of your workout. They’re drills. Not sprints.
· If you’ve never run barefoot before, be aware of how much extra stability is required, especially in your ankle joint. If you lack stability here, performing pistol squats (Pat and Som over at Chronicles of Strength just did a great post on how to progress into pistols. You can check that out here) or lunges will help develop the requisite stability needed for barefoot running.
Just take it easy, and take it all in stride, and if you have any questions, just let me know!