D.A.R.C. Swing Technique Tips

Kettlebell Swings are the foundation of the RKC system – and they’re one of the best exercises that exists for power, explosiveness, flexibility and extreme conditioning.  But in all honesty, a steady diet of two hand Swings and not much else can get, well, a little boring.

The good news is that there are actually quite a few variations of the standard two hand Kettlebell Swing.  The D.A.R.C. Swing is a one hand variation where you switch hands at the top of the movement between each repetition.  Here’s a short video clip from the Sacramento Kettlebells For Fat Loss workshop I held last weekend at my personal training gym that covers a few tips on how to refine the exercise:

Here’s a recap of what I cover in the video:

1. You need to have the one hand Swing down cold before you try the Hand-to-Hand Swing.  Everything in kettlebell training starts with the Swing – and the two hand version is the #1 exercise you should be looking to master.  The logical progression is the two hand Swing, the one hand Swing, and then the hand-to-hand Swing.

If you don’t have the one hand Swing down before attempting the hand-to-hand version, you commonly end up too focused on switching hands and your form gets all jacked up – you lose your hip snap, ab brace, you end up swinging the ‘bell to close to the ground, etc.

2. As you learn the movement, keep the ‘off’ hand (the one you’re about to switch to) up and ready to switch. This makes it easier to ‘pluck’ the kettlebell out of the air when you let go with one hand and grab with the other.

In conclusion, the D.A.R.C. Swing is a great kettlebell Swing variation that you should be including in your workouts if you’re not already.  It’ll help you mix things up and give you a new way to challenge yourself while still working on and mastering the most fundamental of kettlebell exericses, the Swing.  I hope you find this quick video helpful in refining your technique – and keep training hard!

P.S. I have a ‘mini-product’ coming in the next week or two that’s all about – guess what? – the Swing.  The thing is, there are a lot of resources out there that tell you how to do the basic movement, but leave out a lot of the details – and the true benefits of the move are in refining and mastering the subtilties. It’ll go over in a ton of detail exactly how to do the exercise, fixes to all the common technique problems, workouts to get you in phenomenal shape using only the Swing and a handful of other exercises, and a lot more. So stay tuned!

P.S. Have you signed up for my weekly newsletter yet? You’ll get my beginner’s guide to kettlebell training FREE when you sign up – just enter your name and best email into the box at the upper right of the page!

Lower Back Pain During The Kettlebell Swing – Causes And Fixes

The Kettlebell Swing is one of the best exercises in the world for whole-body conditioning.  However, it’s also very technical – there are a whole lot more moving parts to the Swing than, say, a Bicep Curl.

One of the most common problems folks get when learning the Swing (especially those that are self-instructed) is lower back pain. And this is very bad – because the Kettlebell Swing isn’t an exercise for your lower back!  In fact, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t feel it in your back at all.  So if you’re experiencing lower back pain during the Swing, here are two reasons why it might be happening – and two drills to help correct your form:

1. Rounding the back/ not creasing at the hip

There should be a totally, completely straight line from your hip to your shoulder during the Swing – like this:

Don’t be afraid to let your body come forward; just don’t confuse a straight back with a flat back. In my experience, when people think ’straight’, they think their body has to be straight up and down.

The fix:

Stand in front of a heavy bag. Do a Sumo Deadlift and ‘punch’ the bag with your butt as you decend into the movement and the kettlebell gets closer to the floor. You should feel the hamstrings load up during the movement and should feel nothing in the lower back.  Once you’ve ‘grooved’ this movement, do a few Swings – and try to get the same feeling and patterning in the lower body.

2. Swinging the ‘bell too low to the ground

Another common mistake during the Swing is when you ‘hike pass’ the weight back, you end up with the weight too close to the ground.  This is a sure-fire way to cause lower back pain with the Kettlebell Swing.

The fix:

The kettlebell should be close and tight to the body as you do your Swings – imagine you’re hike passing a football.  Another visual that helps is to try and get the bottom of the ‘bell to face the wall behind you.

So there you have two common causes of lower back pain during the Kettlebell Swing – and two drills to perfect your form.  Keep training hard!

Additional Kettlebell Swing Resources:

Lifetime Kettlebell Fitness – Learn how to do kettlebell swings (and the other KB basics) from the “ground up” – great beginner’s resource

The Kettlebell Basics Swing Manual – Complete 12 week workout plan to take you from KB newb to HardStyle swing master

Kettlebell Snatch Technique Tip

The Kettlebell Snatch is one of the trickiest basic kettlebell exercises to learn.

The Kettlebell Snatch is one of the trickiest kettlebell exercises to learn …

Check out this quick video for a technique drill that’ll help improve your form and prevent the dreaded ‘forearm slap’:

To review, you’ll do:

  • 3 One Arm Swings
  • 3 Low Pulls
  • 3 High Pulls
  • 3 Snatches

The idea is to get the kettlebell to ‘float’ for a second at the top of the High Pull movement, and then to get the hand around the ‘bell – vs. just letting the KB come over the top of your hand and smack you on the wrist.  Give this drill a try and see if it improves your form in the Kettlebell Snatch – and keep training hard!!


P.S. For more tips and tricks like these delivered straight to your email inbox – and a FREE copy of my Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training – sign up for the KettlebellBasics.net newlsetter!  Just drop your name and email into the box at the upper right of the page.

P.S.S. Like the shirt I’m wearing in the video?  It’s from my online store … click the link below to check out all the designs we have available:

KettlebellBasics.net Online Store

Kettlebells For Fat Loss Special

Quick heads up on the Kettlebells For Fat Loss Special:

Couple of quick announcements for today –

First, head over and check out the brand new post on how to use kettlebells for fat loss on my Fitness Monster blog:

How To Use Kettlebells To Lose Body Fat And Get Six Pack Abs

Second, I thought I’d give you KB fans a heads up that I have a Kettlebells For Fat Loss workshop coming very soon at my new gym in Sacramento, CA.  And since most of you reading this blog aren’t located anywhere near the Sacramento, CA area, I’m giving everyone the same chance to learn how to use kettlebells to safely and effectively burn fat and get a strong, lean and defined midsection.  So here’s the plan:  If you purchase the KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide before Tuesday night, October 19th at 9pm PST, you’ll get a free copy of my Best Fat Loss Diet plan.  You’ll have the complete package you need to lose fat with kettlebell training in record time. You can check out the sales pages for each product here (but make sure to buy through the KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide sales page for the special):

So that gives you just over 48 hours to take advantage of this special offer … and sorry, for fairness to everyone, I can’t extend the deal past Tuesday night.  If you want to take advantage of the deal, act fast!  Order now by clicking the link below:

Sorry, the kettlebells for fat loss special is now over 🙁

Abbreviated Kettlebell Training

Lack of time seems to be one of the most common excuses for missing workouts. But in reality, almost everyone can find a little extra time in their day to train. It’s partially a matter of priority (is watching this week’s Jersey Shore episode or getting your workout in more important?) and partially a matter of knowing exactly how to get the most efficient workout in the shortest time possible.

One of the great things about kettlebell training  is that 15-20 minutes of work is, in many cases, all you need.  You can get great results with literally less than one hour per week of kettlebell workouts.

The abbreviated kettlebell training program of choice

When it comes time to design an abbreviated kettlebell routine, I know of none better than the Program Minimum from Pavel’s Enter the Kettlebell. Without giving away too many details, it consists soley of a few mobility movements and stretches, Turkish Get Ups and Kettlebell Swings done in four to five weekly sessions of about 15 to 20 minutes each.

I’ve personally gotten amazing results with this exact program – less than one hour per week in total of training.  I’ve also put countless kettlebell clients on the program and it’s worked great for them, too – no one believes that it’s enough work to get decent results, but everyone is converted into a believer after trying the PM for a few weeks.

You can check out this post on the Kettlebell Man Maker – which is part of the Program Minimmum – on my Fitness Monster blog to get a more detailed idea of what this program is like:

The Kettlebell Man Maker

And you can order a copy of Enter the Kettlebell by clicking the banner below:

Enter The Kettlebell

New option for abbreviated kettlebell training

If you’ve completed the Program Minimum and are looking for a new, more advanced program, the new Kettlebell Muscle book by Geoff Nupert, Master RKC is worth checking out. It’s a book all about building muscle with kettlebells – the workouts are short and efficient kettlebell complexes that are perfect for folks wanting maximum results from minimum time investment.  Click the image below to learn more about Kettlebell Muscle and to order a copy:

Kettlebell Muscle

In short, kettlebells are the perfect tool for building muscle and losing fat with minimum time investment.  I know that when my schedule gets crazy, I rely on kettlebell training to keep me in shape.  If you’re tight on time but are looking for a very effective way to train, I highly recommend abbreviated kettlebell training.

Keep training hard!


P.S. If you haven’t signed up for my weekly newsletter, make sure to do so now – you’ll get a free Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training just for signing up! Just drop your name and email into the box at the upper right of the page.

Kettlebells + The Tabata Protocol = Serious Fat Loss

As you know, interval training is superior to traditional steady-state cardio for fat loss (check out this post on my Fitness Monster blog to learn more).

The Tabata Protocol is a very specific interval workout developed by Japaneese scientest Izumi Tabata. To be exact, it’s 20 seconds of all out work, 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times in a row. It’s a super effective, super tough, and super popular interval protocol used commonly as both a stand alone workout and a end-of-workout type smoker.

Kettlebell training and Tabatas are kind of a match made in heaven (or maybe hell, depending on how you look at it :)) Put together, they’ll give you a heck of a workout in a very short amount of time. In the video below, I talk about and demonstrate two kettlebell exercises that work great with the Tabata Protocol:

Keep training hard and see you next time!

P.S. The GymBoss interval timer I mention in the video is a must-have tool if you’re doing any type of interval training – check out the full description and review of it (and a bunch of other cool kettlebell-related products) here: Kettlebell Basics Recommended Resources

Build Your Own Kettlebell Gym: 3 Essentials

I just opened my new personal training studio/fitness boot camp facility/kettlebell gym here in Sacramento, CA, and I’ve had to put a lot of thought into the perfect equipment set up for the new space.  I think that when it comes down to it, you don’t need a whole lot of equipment to get into fantastic physical condition – and one of the coolest things about kettlebells is that they reduce that need even more.

So if you’re looking to set up your own kettlebell gym or training space, here are three essential items for your ‘to-buy’ list:

1. Dragon Door kettlebells

My favorite kettlebells hands-down.  Yes, I’m an RKC instructor and might be a bit biased 🙂 – but I use them myself and love them, and that’s why I recommend them to others.  They’re very well built, well balanced, have smooth handles that save your hands when it comes to high-rep KB work, and just have a better ‘feel’ than other kettlebells I’ve used.  You might be able to find cheaper ‘bells out there, but you usually get what you pay for – so do so at your own risk.  FYI, my new studio is stocked exclusively with Dragon Door ‘bells.

RCK Authentic Kettlebells on SALE

2. A pull up bar

A few kettlebells – or even a single ‘bell – will allow you to work most all of your major muscle groups.  However, it’s tough to get a real, solid pulling movement without a bar or machine of some kind – and Pull Ups are one of the best ‘big pulls’ you can do.  If I had a super-strict budget, this is probably the only other piece of equipment I’d invest in for my kettlebell home gym.

If you’re just training by yourself at home, a door-pull up bar like the Iron Gym will work fine:

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

Something slightly more heavy duty would be a free-standing pull-up bar like this one:

All-in-one Stand Alone Pull up Bar

Or, if you want something super sturdy (and that can be used for a variety of other purposes as well) you might go with a Squat Cage like this one (this is the option I went with for my own training facility):

Champion Power Rack Gym Equipment

3. Enter the Kettlebell Book and DVD set

Enter The Kettlebell

This is a kick-ass book and DVD that will teach you everything you need to know about getting started with kettlebell training.  Alternatively, if you prefer something in digital format that’s instantly downloadable, you could go with my KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide.  The idea is that you want a guide to help you learn how to train with kettlebells the right way from the start.

It’s also worth mentioning that having good in-person instruction when you’re learning how to use kettlebells is invaluable and highly recommended.  If you’re in the Sacramento, CA area, stop by and take advantage of our ‘test out a trainer’ promo and a free kettlebell training session!  Train and train smart – would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Wait!  Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get your free Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell training while you’re here – just drop your name and email into the box at the upper right of the page.

Grip Tip: Cloth Gloves For Kettlebell Training

I’m not a fan of wearing gloves of any kind when training with kettlebells.  But I also know ripped up hands don’t make kettlebell training very easy.  And some of you just want to protect your hands.  I was actually  re-reading Enter The Kettlebell for about the 100th time last night, and I came across a great solution to this common problem:  Fingerless cloth gloves.

Jared Savik, a kettlebell sport national champion and RKC, came up with this solution – according to him, it allows for 80-90% max rep range (he talks about using gloves in the context of high-rep snatching; but this is one big reason why I don’t like using gloves – it makes you weaker) and forces a little extra grip work.  The idea is that the gloves allow the kettlebell handle to rotate and not tear up your hands, while still allowing your fingers to catch the handle. 

The other cool thing is that you can pick up a pair of these gloves for just a few bucks at the local home improvement store.  If they’re the type with rubber dots on the palms, no problem – just flip them around.  They’re generally not right or left specific.

All this being said, here’s something to keep in mind:  If you’re tearing up your hands, you’re probably doing too much too fast, or you’re gripping the ‘bell too tightly at the wrong times.  If you slowly increase the length and duration of your kettlebell workouts and you pay attention to using perfect kettlebell training technique, your hands should be totally fine.

So if you’re trying to save your hands but you love training with kettlebells, try out the fingerless cloth glove solution – it could be a life saver for ‘ya!  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.  Oh, and if you haven’t signed up for the KettlebellBasics.net Newsletter, be sure to do so now!  You’ll get a free training video and my Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training when you sign up – just drop your name and email into the box at the upper right hand corner of the page.

A Day At My Kettlebell Boot Camp …

I keep getting emails asking about what one of my kettlebell boot camp workouts actually looks like. So I thought that, from the standpoint of helping you put your own workouts together, I would walk you through a typical day:

1. We usually start off with a dynamic warm up of some kind … something like the warm up I talked about in this post: How To Warm Up For Your Next Kettlebell Workout In 3 Minutes Or Less

2. Then we move on to a ‘strength circuit’ – this is sometimes kettlebells only, sometimes kettlebells and body weight or dumbbell exercises mixed together.  It’s usually a combo of two exercises, performed for a specific amount of reps each and rotated back and forth for 5 minutes non-stop.  This is a great set up that allows folks of various fitness levels to all get a great workout in a group setting.  Here’s a video of one of my favorite combos (this is actually a sample video from a brand new workout program I have out – I’ll give you more details about it at the end of this post):

3. Then, we do two ‘conditioning circuits’ – this might be something like:

10 Kettlebell Squat Cleans

5 Kettlebell ‘Renegade Rows’ each side

10 Walking Overhead Kettlebell Lunges

And we’ll run through these sequences in the same fashion as many times as we can for 7-10 minutes.

4. I then take about 5 minutes to do core and/or corrective work – Planks, Hip Bridges, stuff like that.

5. To finish, we do a simple static stretch at the end.

In 45 minutes you get resistance training, conditioning work, core work, exercises for injury prevention, and flexibility – and that’s tough to beat 🙂

That’s the structure of a typical kettlebell boot camp workout at Forest Vance Training, Inc.  Hope that helps you design your own boot camp workouts in the future!

Oh, and the video above is from my new 30 Day Rapid Fat Loss Challenge total transformation plan … if you’re trying to lose body fat, it’s for sure at least worth checking out.  Heck, I’m giving away bonuses with it for the next few days (3 days to be exact) that are worth more than the actual product, including a free copy of the KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide … and on top of that, the package is over 50% off.  Get the details here:

The 30 Day Rapid Fat Loss Challenge

3 Tips To Improve The Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up is a tricky movement … but it’s one of the foundational kettlebell exercises, and it’s essential that you perfect it if you want to get the most out of your kettlebell training. In the experience I’ve had over the last several thousand kettlebell-based personal training sessions, here are three tips that will help you ‘iron out the kinks’, so to speak:

1. Don’t sit up to start the movement – roll instead

‘Punch’ up towards the ceiling while rolling on to the elbow at the same time to get yourself off the floor.  This small detail makes getting up so much easier – and it’s how the exercise is supposed to be performed.

2. Learn the first half first

The best way to learn the Get Up is by learning the first half of the movement; if you try to stand all the way up from day one, you’re going to make things a lot harder on yourself. Just come up to where your down arm is locked out and is supporting your weight, and then return to the ground. You can actually get a lot of milage out of the movement by just practicing the first half; here’s how to perform the half Get Up:

3. Do a sideways Windmill to stand up

As you bring the foot through and go to your lunge position, aim to get your knee close to your hand – then do a sideways Windmill to stand up. Don’t sit back on your hand – this is a very common mistake.

These tips might be a little hard to visualize – see if you can pick out what I’m talking about as I go through the movement in this video:

Apply these Turkish Get Up tips to your kettlebell training today and I know you’ll see some fast improvements.  And keep training hard!

P.S. Kettlebells From The Ground Up by Master RKC Brett Jones and world-renowned physical therapist Grey Cook is a fantastic resource if you’re looking to really master the Turkish Get Up and get everything you can out of it – you can check out a recent review I did of the product here:

Kettlebells From The Ground Up Review