Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Strength & Health TV - Episode 52: Cleaning Up The Timing In The Kettlebell Jerk.

In this video I go over some tips I learned from my friend Steven Khuong, of the Ice Chamber Gym, for fixing timing issues in the kettlebell jerk.

I have been teaching kettlebell user workshops and instructor certifications for 10 years now and without a doubt the jerk is the hardest lift to master for most people. In fact, some organizations don't even teach it, or save it for an "advanced" workshop. Honestly, with these simple tips I learned from Steven, I have had 100% success getting students and trainers to learn the jerk in about 5-10 minutes.

Breaking the jerk down into positional drills then having students add a jump makes the timing perfect every time. I've found that once they are using leg drive and get the timing issues resolved we can then go back and clean the technique up quickly and very easily. This has resulted in everyone I've ever worked with leaving my workshops knowing how to perform the kettlebell jerk correctly that day. No need for a follow up workshop or advanced certification course.

This video is aimed at the beginner kettlebell lifter who is having problems with this lift as well as other trainers and teachers who struggle getting their students to master the technique and timing associated with this lift.

Hopefully you enjoy this video and if you have any questions or suggestions for future show topics please leave them in the comments section below.

Stay Strong AND Healthy!


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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Favorite Exercises for Recovery, Restoration, and Joint Health.

I've always believed that health is just as important as strength and for optimal development. You cannot have one with out the other. Often the harder we train to push up our fitness levels, whether it is strength or conditioning, the more we shift our focus away from health practices. Unfortunately it is usually an injury or worse that gets people to focus on improving their health.

If you are going to push your body hard, you need to implement restoration, stress reduction and other health-based practices to not only get the greatest benefit from your training but to give yourself the potential for a good quality of life.

One of my favorite things to do is to incorporate extra workouts throughout the week that focus on joint health, blood flow, and restoration from heavier training sessions. These exercises focus on the shoulders, elbows, lower back, abs, hips, knees and ankles. The key to these workouts is to perform very high repetitions. For the most part I shoot for 100-200 reps on the single joint exercises and 50-100 reps on the compound exercises. I do not focus on eccentric loading, but rather controlled but quick repetitions to promote blood flow and strengthen the connective tissue. 

I usually do a workout where I hit 1 exercise for the shoulders, elbows, lower back, hips, abs, knees and ankles twice a week on two of my three off days from my heavy training sessions. Then on one or both of my lower body days I try to throw in an extra restoration workout for the upper body, and on one or both of my upper body days I throw in an extra restoration workout for the lower body.

Here is how my normal weekly training schedule looks:

Sunday: dynamic effort upper training in the afternoon

Monday: full body restoration session in the morning

Tuesday: max effort lower body training in the morning, and upper body restoration in the evening

Wednesday: full body restoration session in the morning

Thursday: max effort upper body training session in the morning, and lower body restoration in the evening

Friday: dynamic effort lower body training session in the evening

Saturday: off

In addition to this I practice qigong and Taijiquan 5-6 days per week and walk daily, usually finishing with a full body bamboo or iron brush massage. Lately I have adopted a practice of doing a brisk 10 minute walk 3 times per day usually after a meal. I saw a video by Stan Efferding on his YouTube page where he talked about this practice, why he does it, and an introduction to the science behind it and found it fascinating. It's still early as I've only been doing it for a couple of weeks, but I feel much better doing this after eating and I definitely feel I have more energy and mental clarity, particularly in the mid-afternoons when I sometimes feel like crashing.

Here are some of my favorite restoration exercises.

Indian Club Swinging 

Club swinging is great for the shoulders, elbows and wrists. I generally perform 20-50 reps of various swing patterns or just do 5 minutes of continuous swinging.

BandBell Bar Bench Press

Using the BandBell Earthquake bar is great for shoulder health. I usually do 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps.

Band Face Pulls

These are great for the upper back and external rotators. I usually do 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps.

Reverse Hyperextensions

The reverse hyper bench from Louie Simmons is hands down the best exercise for the lower back I've ever come across. It builds strength and tractions the lower back simultaneously. I usually do 3-5 sets of 15-30 reps (80-120 reps total) with heavier weights on my two lower body workouts and 2 sets of 20-25 reps with lighter weights on restoration days.

Leg Curls

Something else I got from Louie Simmons was to do 100-200 reps of leg curls with 5-10 lb ankle weights or against bands to promote knee health.

Band Triceps Pushdown

These are great for elbow health and building up the triceps. I shoot for 100-200 reps per workout. Another great exercise from Louie Simmons.

Sit Ups on a Medicine Ball

This exercise I heard Louie Simmons talking about on a podcast and he said it did wonders for a psoas issue he was working with his A.R.T. therapist to correct. These definitely help to release the hip flexors. They strengthen and stretch the abs as well. I usually do 3-4 sets of 15-25 reps.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are great for strengthening the calves and the smaller muscles around the ankle joint. I usually do 3-5 sets of 15-30 reps either on a seated calf machine, the leg press or standing on a block.

These are not the only exercises that I do, and I am constantly experimenting with my clients and athletes as well as my own training. In addition I am always reading, learning and doing my best to assess and apply the knowledge gained. Hopefully this article gives you some ideas on how to incorporate some of these exercises into your own training. Some of this stuff may be boring and tedious but don't neglect your joints and smaller muscles, spending some time on them will pay dividends in strength and health.

Stay Strong AND Healthy!