I’m betting, off the top of my head, that most of you are doing two hand swings exclusively. I know I did for about the first six months of my kettlebell training. Although the two hand swing is great, so are the variations of it – especially for increasing involvement of your grip and your core muscles, for fixing side-to-side imbalances, and more. And plus, two hand swings day in and day out just get a little boring after a while. Let’s quickly cover some common variations – and a few you may not have heard of.
The One Hand Swing
A fundamental variation on the two hand swing. Mechanics on this exercise are identical to the two hand swing, except for the fact that you’re obviously only using one hand, and that you’re turning the hand in slightly as you bring the kettlebell down – this ‘pre-stretches’ the rotators. The one hand swing certainly works your grip more and your core muscles -the abs, obliques, hips, glutes, etc.
The Hand To Hand Swing
Here, you simply perform a one hand swing and switch hands mid-air on each rep. The key is to make the kettlebell float and simply ‘pluck’ it out of the air with the opposite hand at the top of each repetition. Make sure you practice this one outside to begin with 🙂
The Traveling Swing
You can perform the traveling swing a lot of different ways – check out the first video below for some inspiration. A couple of tips for two of the basic variations – if swinging side to side, the key is to step with the back foot first – otherwise you might be in for some disasterous results 🙂 On the forward walking swing, make sure to take quick steps.
Here’s a couple of cool videos with even more swing variations:
There are a lot of swing variations to play around with – focus on learning one at a time to master your form, stay safe, and get the most you can out of your training. Did I miss any swing variations? What are your thoughts?
Here’s the deal: we’ve got a new product launching this Sunday that’s specifically designed for helping you get over the ‘hump’ that we all experience eventually with our training … and we’re giving away two free copies – it’s totally simple to enter; here’s what you have to do:
Go to this post at thefitnessmonster.com, and just leave a comment detailing the frustrations you’re personally having breaking through your own fitness plateau. It’s that simple … it’ll take just a few minutes of your time, and you’ll get the chance to win something free – who doesn’t like that?!
You only have until this Friday, so make sure to head over now and leave your comment! Click the link below:
So I’m typically not one to say anything negative about other ‘fitness approaches’, if you will … with all the conflicting information out there, I think there’s a lot of perfectly fine ways to reach a goal, whether that’s gaining muscle, losing fat, etc.
However, I just wanted to give a quick example of what I’m talking about when I say that YouTube has some questionable instructional material with regards to kettlebell training … even when it comes to videos that have hundreds of thousands of views! One of the main problems is that there’s some very good stuff on YouTube as well, and if you’re a newb, it can be hard to filter out the good and the bad. If you will, let me know what you think about this particular video in the comments section of this post – I don’t think you even have to know much about kettlebell training to wonder wtf is going on here:
The moral of the story is to make sure you’re getting good, quality, qualified training advice. If it’s kettlebell instruction you’re after, an RKC instructor is going to have the knowledge and experience to get you quality training and to help you learn the basic kettlebell movements safely and effectively. ‘Nuff said. To find one in your area, click here.
You’ll do 10 reps of the thrusters and 20 reps of the swings. Pick a medium weight. Set a timer, get
your mind right and do as many rounds of this circuit as you can in 5 minutes. Recover in the fetal
2. Swing/ Get Up Decending Ladder
Pick a heavy weight for the swings and a medium weight for the get ups. You’ll do:
25 swings/ 20 swings/ 15 swings
3 get ups/ 2 get ups/ 1 get up
Except you’ll repeat each swing rep count twice: 25 swings, 3 get ups on the right side, 25 swings, 3
get ups on the left, 20 swings, 2 get ups right, etc.
Try these workouts on for size when you’re pressed for time and let us know what you think!!
One of the reasons you like kettlebells so much is because of the ridiculously fast and effective workouts you can get with them, right? So here are two ultra abbreviated kettlebell circuits that deliver a metabolic whollop and a nice dose of ‘calorie afterburn’ that’s hard to match with other, ‘lesser’ training tools like dumbbells or barbells:
You’ll do 10 reps of the Thrusters and 20 reps of the Swings. Pick a medium weight. Set a timer, get your mind right and do as many rounds of this circuit as you can in 5 minutes. Here’s what a Kettlebell Thruster looks like:
2. Swing/ Get Up Descending Ladder
Pick a heavy weight for the Swings and a medium weight for the Get Ups. You’ll do:
25 Swings/ 20 Swings/ 15 Swings
3 Get Ups/ 2 Get Ups/ 1 Get Up
Except you’ll repeat each Swing rep set twice, like this: 25 Swings, 3 Get Ups on the right side, 25 Swings, Get Ups on the left, 20 Swings, 2 Get Ups right, etc.
Try these workouts on for size when you’re pressed for time and let us know what you think!!
P.S. I have some great stuff for you guys coming in the next two weeks – a brand new product (hint: it’ll give you some killer workouts you can do when you’re away from your beloved kettlebells that will give you some of that same killer metabolic toughness), a new, updated version of the kettlebell basics manual, and more. Sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already to stay posted!!
As much as we love training with kettlebells, the reality is that we can’t train with them exclusively forever and expect balanced development. Kettlebells are great for building strength-endurance and for improving your overall condition, but they aren’t so good for some other things – like building maximal strength. And, just like any training stimulus, you’re going to eventually adapt to kettlebell training. So what’s the best way to mix them with other training modalities and still get the results you’re looking for?
There are two basic approaches to mixing in other types of training with your kettlebell work. The first approach would be to utilize a kettlebell-only program, like the one found in Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel for a four to eight week period. When your progress stalls out on this program, you would then switch to a program such one found in Beyond Bodybuilding – a more traditional barbell, dumbell, and body weight based routine – for another four to eight weeks. Once adapted to this program, you would switch back to your kettlebell-only routine.
The second approach would be to use a program like the one found here on my main fitness blog, thefitnessmonster.com, that mixes kettlebell training and more traditional strength work together. This program kind of gives you the best of both worlds in that you train with kettlebells a couple of days a week and lift heavy a couple of days week.
There are pluses and minuses with both approaches. While focusing on one specific goal for a given period of time does help you make a little faster progress towards that goal, a drawback can be that you lose a little bit of what you worked so hard for in your last training period. Mixing kettlebell training with the rest of your strength work helps you avoid losing what you gained – but you might not make as fast of progress towards a specific goal as if you focused on it completely.
So those are the two approaches to mixing in more traditional strength training with your kettlebell work. In the end, it comes down to your specific goals and what’s going to work best for you when you decide how to organize your training schedule. Keep training hard and good luck!
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Becoming a Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certified Instructor was, for me, one of the more memorable events thus far in my life as a fitness professional. It requires a big commitment for anyone interested – from a physical, mental, and financial standpoint.
The three days of training this certification requires is no joke – in fact, though most people train for months to get ready, there’s about a 30% fail rate – I know a handfull of people from my group of about 10 didn’t pass.
The cert didn’t come with a cheap price tag, either – once all is said and done, after paying for your certification fees, your hotel, meals, and airfare, you end up spending at least three grand.
Honestly, I think all of this is good – it makes the experience much more meaningful. My RKC certification is the one I’m most proud of, without a doubt – I feel like I earned it, which I can’t really say about any of my other four ‘nationally accredited’ certifications. But, not everyone wants or is even physically capable of the standards the RKC requires – which is where the new HKC, or Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification, comes in.
To give you a quick idea of what to expect from this still very new certification course, check out this YouTube video:
The best part about this certification is that it is taught with the same high standard that Dragon Door and Pavel have become famous for. At the HKC, you’ll learn, among other things:
*Knowledge and competency to perform the three most basic kettlebell drills – the swing, the get up, and the goblet squat
*Techniques and drills for core activiation, flexibility, increased power, strength, and athletic performance
*The HKC template for designing an infinate number of kettlebell workouts
And a lot more –
The RKC is a three day course, while the HKC is a one day course. The RKC requires a 100-rep snatch test, while the HKC requires a basic pull up test. The RKC comes with a nearly $2500 price tag, while the HKC can be taken for $599 – and early registration gets you another $100 off.
The last thing that’s really cool is that the immense popularity of the HKC since its launch late last year (you can see this in the video above) has led to these courses springing up all over the country! For more details, to check for availability in your area, to register early and and to get $100 off, click the banner below:
While most if not all of the ‘basic’ kettlebell movements hit the muscles of your back, the kettlebell row, and its different variations, will give you a direct shot to your lats, rhomboids, and middle/lower traps that should leave you sore for days if your form is on point. Let’s talk about how to perform a few different variations of this great exercise.
No different than a swing, the starting position must come from pushing the hips back behind you – loading up the glutes and hamstrings takes the stress off the lower back. The first and most basic version of the KB row is the two-hand variety. To perform this exercise, start with a wide stance and the hips pushed back. Both kettlebells will go between your feet. Start the movement by pulling both ‘bells up to your stomach. Make sure to visualize using your back doing the work and squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top.
The second version of the exercise is the one arm kettlebell row. You’ll start this one with a staggered stance and the kettlebell directly next to the front foot. Simply grab the ‘bell, row it up towards the same shoulder, and get a slight twist in your torso as the kettlebell reaches the top of the movement. Here’s a quick video demo of the exercise:
The third variation of the kettlebell row is the alternating version. This one is identical to the two arm row with regards to set up and positioning, except for the fact that we’ll be alternating arms – hold the ‘resting’ side’s ‘bell up to the body while you row with the other side.
The last variation of the kettlebell row is the ‘renegade’ row. This is much like a push up and row combined – this one is an awesome full – body smoker. This video provides a good description of the movement:
The row is a great kettlebell drill that can add some nice variation into your training routine. Try incorporating some or all of these variations of the drill into your existing program. Keep training hard and good luck!
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