Turkish Get-Ups: “Press at Every Step” Variation

Kettlebell Training

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) are one of the great kettlebell exercises.   Nevermind kettlebell exercises, they are one of the great movement training drills we’ve got.

When I am asked, “What are the best exercises I should be doing?”

Turkish Get-Ups are always a part of my answer.

This is a heavy question to ask and even heavier to answer.  Responses will differ depending who you’re asking but generally speaking, there is too much movement value, low risk and high reward with Turkish Get-Ups to leave it out.

Few other exercises provide the total body training effect of Turkish Get-Ups.  

Like any exercise, TGU’s have an infinite amount of variations, add-ons, and programming option (sets, reps, time, weight, etc).  Practicing variations is a nice way to introduce a movement challenge and avoid the onset of boredom.

Make no mistake, keeping training fresh is important across the long-term.

One of those variations is the “press at every step”.

This TGU variation involves performing five presses in the following positions:

  1.  Lying position.
  2.  Elbow support.
  3.  Hand support.
  4.  Half-keeling.
  5.  Standing.

Press #1:  Lying Position

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This is the only true horizontal press of the five listed.  “Horizontal”, meaning you’re pressing from the back of the body to the front of the body (anterior to posterior then back to anterior again), similar to the mechanics of a traditional bench press.  Lower the weight down until the elbow makes light contact with the ground, pause, press back up.

Press #2: Elbow Support

FullSizeRenderPressing from the elbow support position will be a new experience for a lot of people.  Expect this to feel unnatural and use cautionary judgment with weight here.  The trajectory of the kettlebell is slightly different than any traditional pressing exercise. 

Press #3:  Hand Support

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This body position will likely be the most awkward press of them all.  Remain rigid from waist to shoulder.  Naturally, your body is going to want to crease or your ribs are going to flail.  Avoid letting either happen.  Stay rigid and press! 

Press #4:  Half-kneeling

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Training in the half-kneeling narrow stance position is a natural core blaster and can reveal side-to-side differences in symmetry.  You might be steady with the left knee up, but hardly maintain the position with the right knee up.

Turkish Get-Ups aside, half-kneeling pressing is a natural overhead pressing progression into the standing press.

Press #5:  Standing

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Finally, standing at last.  In the world of “functional training”, this is as functional as it gets.  Pressing objects overhead is a common task in life.  Unfortunately, most of the objects pressed overhead in life aren’t evenly weighted with nice handles.

Here is a video of a full “Press at Every Step” Turkish Get-Up…

 

Whether you’re craving a movement challenge or simply a new variation of a timeless exercise, give this one a shot.  Be prepared for sore shoulders and core in the days that follow.  Five presses inside of each TGU repetition accumulates a lot of work for the upper extremities.  

For more great kettlebell exercise variations, I recommend two resources.  The first is a landmark book from the modern day Godfather of kettlebell training, Pavel Psatsouline.  There isn’t a kettlebell professional who hasn’t read Pavel’s ongoing work with kettlebell training.  

The second resource is a full training system from Chris Lopez designed to improve body composition using kettlebells, more specifically fat loss.  Kettlebells are unique in their ability to burn fat when used systematically.  Chris has published a number of kettlebell training programs focused on how to  “lean out” using kettlebells for quite some time.   

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Most importantly, let me know how you made out with this TGU variation…

 

Cheers, 

Kyle

Infusing Kettlebell Presses into Turkish Get Ups = Amazing Added Challenge

Kettlebell Training, Quick Tips

The Turkish Get Up is a little known weapon to those who are insanely strong, balanced and mobile.

Since implementing into my own training schedules, I have noticed incredible increases in shoulder stability and strength, core stability and strength through multiple planes of movement, along with a nice boost in joint mobility at the hip, shoulder and thoracic spine regions.

To be honest, it’s extremely hard for an exercise to crack my workout line-up. In other words, I am very selective about adding new training methods since I have seen such tremendous results with my mainstay movements.

However, in the same breath, I have to say that the turkish get up has been one of the greatest additions to my training habits to date. The amount of insight that I gained about my own movement quality was unprecedented, and humbling at times.

I ‘bulletproofed’ my body the day that I dedicated myself to learning the turkish get up, and by learning, I am talking about reading articles and watching YouTube videos until I was blue in the face.

You can learn any exercise correctly if you know where to look on the internet. If you’re a visual learner, check out the videos on YouTube, some are extremely high quality and in depth.

I cannot say enough about the drastic impact turkish get ups had on my performance and quite frankly, my physique. Spending that amount of time under tension does wonders for firming up a person’s body. I can’t deny that I haven’t enjoyed seeing the tweaks in transformation.

The traditional turkish get up is a phenomenal exercise, and probably needs no further adjustments or additions, but for the curious mind (which I have) and those who enjoy exploring (which I do), adding in slight tweaks to the turkish get up can make what some feel is a “bland” exercise extremely interesting, not to mention fun.

Of course, everyone should hone in on the basics of executing a regular turkish get up before moving any further in the progression, it just makes senses to progress with common sense.

The idea of pressing during the turkish get up was simple…

I perform a press at certain check points that allow for it.

Press #1: Horizontal chest press in the starting prone position.

Press #2: Overhead vertical press at the tall kneeling position.

Press #3: Overhead vertical press at the standing position.

Press #4: Explosive push press at the standing position.

Done.

If you stop and think about it, you’re pressing the kettlebell (or dumbbell) four different times for each individual rep of the turkish get up.

That’s a lot of work.

*** Keep in mind that the chest press performed in the lying position might will not feel like a normal bench press because: 1) You’re pressing an odd object (kettlebell), 2) Your range of motion is limited (elbow contacts ground surface) 3) Your body position is altered from a more traditional bench press.

All of these things are ok, so relax about it. “Real world training” says that you won’t always be pressing a shiny dumbbell on a padded bench. Though he was referring to sandbags, I believe I heard Alwyn Cosgrove call repetitions like these “alive reps”. Nice terminology, I can roll with that.

If you perform 5 reps of get ups on each side of the body, you’re looking at 20 reps per side (40 total) right and left. If you go higher reps, which I typically like doing since my turkish get up practice usually involves nothing more than get ups and some kettlebell swings afterward for conditioning purposes, you might be looking at a pressing volume of 40+ reps on each side of the body.

Consider that the pressing is uni-lateral (pressing with one arm while the other remains unloaded) and you can bet that your mid-section is getting as much of a workout as your upper and lower extremities are.

Poke your tummy the next time you press a decently heavier weight on one side only, it will be activated.

“Six-pack training” anyone?

I considered pressing at the same check points on the way back down to the start position, but felt like this would be slight overkill. Who knows, maybe down the road. That would have increased my pressing volume to 40 reps per side for every 5 reps of turkish get ups, and 80 per side had I completely 10 turkish get ups.

This is where I use my logic. For my goals, that amount of pressing will take away from my main goal, which is to work the turkish get up, not improve my pressing strength and abilities. So, I avoided this volume to keep the workout more TGU-centered.

Make sense?

Post-workout, the first observation I had was the fatigue component experienced from all of the added pressing.

The shoulder burn wasn’t nearly as bad as it was from the “5 minute no rest turkish get ups” that I adopted from Jon Hinds (owner of Monkey Bar Gym), but it was right up there. I am humbled what a simple activity like holding a weight (and a relatively light one at that) overhead can do to fry your shoulder musculature.

For me personally, it was a completely manageable fatigue (which is perfect) that provided an added challenge to the main movement.

A rarely discussed topic with turkish get ups is the amount of cognitive support needed to execute such a segmented exercise. There is a lot happening on the way up to the standing position, and then on the reversal moving back down to the starting position.

Holding the weight overhead is one thing. Holding the weight overhead while twisting and turning underneath that weight in an effort to rise up to the standing position from a dead stop laying position is another. Don’t

The first few times I gave a good effort to turkish get ups- treating them like practice versus a workout- my brain was fried. My eyes felt tired.

The brain has to be engaged in order to make turkish get ups work, and this is another HUGE benefit of the drill. Turkish get ups are a technique driven drill sequence. I respect those who preach this, because I feel that focusing on technique and the subtle details is how you extract the most physical and mental benefit from the movement.

The mind-body connection during get ups is of tremendous benefit for the exercisee.

I feel smarter after get ups, no lie. More detailed, more creative, stronger 3-dimensionally.

If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding some presses into your turkish get up practice. But keep it exactly that, practice. Be mindful of your abilities, yet don’t be afraid to walk to the fringe to challenge your mind and body.

And as I mentioned earlier in the post, if you have never practiced turkish get ups, your main job is to learn the steps first before adding pressing. You have to crawl before you walk.

Cheers to adding pressing to your turkish get ups,

KG

(pictures to come…)

Saturday always provides adequate time to explore different combinations of work capacity style circuits.

I like to take the governor off and push myself on Saturday mornings.

This past Saturday didn’t disappoint.

The goal was to accumulate 25-30 minutes of a work:rest style circuit.  I didn’t feel like being monotonous with the exercise selection so included 10 different exercises, stringing them together strategically so that I could give an honest effort to each exercise without sacrificing anything (mostly due to fatigue) to the next exercise in the circuit.

It really worked out well and challenged a number of movement patterns.

The equipment that I used:  24kg kettlebells x2, jump rope, Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer

Here is how the workout was structured…

—> 20 seconds of work: 20 seconds of rest of the following:

24kg kettlebell snatch right hand

rest

24kg kettlebell snatch left hand

rest

Bodyweight Chin Up

rest

Double 24kg kettlebell squat-to-press (aka: Thrusters)

rest

Mountain Climbers

rest

Kettlebell Figure-8 (advanced and technical, but great drill)

rest

Bodyweight Push Ups

rest

Double 24kg Lunge (alternating sides)

rest

Hand-to-Hand 24kg Swings (alternating every rep)

rest

Burpees (jump and push up)

rest

Jump Rope (combination of two foot bounce and running)

—-> Repeat 4 complete cycles of the above…

The best part about this workout is that you don’t have to worry about keeping track of reps.  When I am doing work capacity style training, counting reps can be a major pain.  It’s really the last thing I want to be doing while I am huffing and puffing.  Instead, the work starts on the buzzer and ends on the buzzer.  It’s really convenient.

Know thyself… If you’re a beginner, this workout might not be scaled to suit you.  If you’ve been working out for a while, this might work great for you.  If you’re a tough guy or gal, bump up the weight for kettlebell exercises, add a weight vest to chin ups and push ups, use a weighted jump rope, etc.  I can provide exercise progressions to bury anyone if that is what you are seeking, hopefully that isn’t the case though.  Smart training reigns supreme.

You might see a lot of volume in a workout like this, and you’re absolutely right, so nice observation.  However, I preach workouts that can be managed.  I managed this one nicely.  Notice how explosive work is ordered first in the workout.  That is on purpose.  People tend to get hurt when they attempt to move weight quickly under fatigue and will poor form.  I am not foolish enough to place a highly technical lift at a place in the workout when I am most fatigued.

Also notice that all of the exercises are non-competing, and ordered in such a way to respect that.  In fact, look at the kettlebell figure-8 + bodyweight push ups + double 24kg lunge… sequence.  Very different muscles are being taxed there.  Figure-8’s are combination of squats with rotational power where the kettlebell moves from a high front to low back to side and finally diagonally across body to high position (hybrid movement).  Push ups are an upper body push dominant exercise, and lunges are mainly a lower body hip dominant exercise.  This allows for an increase in heart rate and work, without gassing out the body for the next exercise.  You tax one movement pattern, than move on to the next.

Different movement patterns, different muscles, quality technique, short rest, big training effect.

Now I don’t own a calorimeter or a metabolic analyzer, but I would guess that the calorie burn from a workout like this was quite high.  Maybe 650-800kcals total, and that doesn’t include the residual calories that are burned post-workout.  Shortened rest periods combined with resistance based lifts that leverage a sub-maximal muscle contraction are notorious for creating an after-burn effect, it’s been studied quite extensively in the last few years as the concept of fat loss slowly gains momentum versus weight loss.

Metabolism can stay elevated for several days leveraging workouts like this.

If you leverage some quality eating habits during that period of elevated metabolism, you’ll burn some fat no doubt.  Rinse and repeat the process and you’re going to end up burning a bunch of fat.

I should also note that I designed this workout knowing that the coming days were going to be either complete rest (no workouts) or at the very most, a short yoga/static stretch session.  It’s important to rest, recover and let your body heal in between workouts.  Your body can only handle so much stress before adverse events begin to occur.  You really don’t want to play chicken with overtraining or chronic fatigue in general.  The point of recovering in between workouts is to give your body the best possible chance to leverage the work done in the previous workout, while allowing enough time to enter the next training session and make gains.

I think that a lot of people could lose greater amounts of body-fat (faster) while boosting performance if they decreased the amount of cumulative stress from workouts.  You want your body to recover in full.  Always entering a workout in a state of recovery is bad for business.  If you haven’t acquired a full taste for physical activity, this is good news for you, as each dedicated workout can be used to accelerate

Instead, choose fewer weekly workouts that create a larger (but quality) training effect.  Make them count.

Focus on accelerating other areas of life while you recover in between sessions.  Focus on establishing quality eating habits.  Re-think your water intake.  Read more books on success and self-growth.  Calm the mind with yoga, foam rolling and a long static stretch session.  Get more sleep.

Learning how to workout is great, and building fitness is empowering.  But keep your training efforts sustainable.  Win the war, not just the battle.

Give this workout (or a variation of it) a go.

Cheers to kettlebell and bodyweight workouts!

KG

30 Minute Workouts, Bodyweight Workouts, Kettlebell Training, Quick Tips

Can You Swing it? High Repetition Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell Training

The kettlebell swing is a fascinating exercise.

It’s hard to think up another exercise that delivers so many benefits in one shot.  

The next best thing are probably deadlifts or thrusters.

Multiple birds are killed with one stone, that stone being the kettlebell swing.

Despite what magazines and news media will tout, there really isn’t just one exercise that a person should base an entire workout program around.  It’s not fair to the exercise and it’s not fair to you, the trainee. Although, there are some programs that revolve around the kettlebell swing.  

One that comes to mind is: The Swing!

If you’re a beginner that needs to develop the basics of bodyweight strength and conditioning, then exercises like push-ups, squats, crawling, pull-ups and chin-ups is where you should spend your time.  

Animal Flow may be a bodyweight oriented program to consider.  

Bodyweight exercise will transition you into kettlebell swings with a sound foundation of strength and conditioning. 

Now, if you have a handle on all of those movements, experience with lifting weight and you’re looking for a refreshing movement to throw into the mix, kettlebell swings are for you.  

Kettlebell swings have been a staple exercise in my workouts for the past 7+ years.  

The impact on my performance and body composition was immediate.  

For my own purposes, kettlebell swing have been magic.

I haven’t found a tool (the kettlebell) or an exercise (the swing) that can maintain or build lean muscle in a comparable way.  

Swings stripped fat off of my body while building functional strength and cardiovascular conditioning I didn’t previously have.  

Swinging kettlebells has improved my running, particularly power I’m able to generate from the hip extension.  

Kettlebell swings are a total body activity.  Few muscles are working during a set of swings.  

Swinging kettlebells has also improved my work capacity, or my conditioning.  

A few years ago, I rarely swung my 28kg bell beyond the 15-20 rep mark.  In reflection, that was both stupid and smart on my part.

Many so-called experts were throwing out cautionary tales of that high rep swings were pointless, or potentially dangerous.  

I bought into it.  Foolishly.  

Until I read a book from Bud Jefferies where he described how he burned loads of fat from his body (without losing much strength) using high rep kettlebell swing workouts.  

Since that time, I have explored the higher rep ranges of swings myself and had great success.  

—> Here is a short list of my observations and findings during that time<—

1)  High rep kettlebell swings will expose any weaknesses in your grip endurance and make your forearms burn like crazy.

2)  Building off of #1, you may find that the limiting factor to higher rep swinging is in fact… your grip and your ability to hold on to the kettlebell.

3)  Soft tissue work on the forearms using a lacrosse ball, trigger point therapy ball or something similar is crucial to avoid the development of range of motion restrictions in your wrists.

4)  You’ll get lean quick… “quick” as in a matter of 3+ sessions you’ll notice drastic increases in your metabolism, hunger and visual changes in the mirror (think 2-3 weeks time for visual change).

5)  You’ll need to use a foam roller (or other soft tissue tool) to smash and iron out your low and mid back.  The eccentric and concentric stress placed on muscles (not the spine) is aggressive when swinging for high reps multiple days per week.  You’ll feel soreness after the early sessions and stiff over time if you don’t take time to roll and massage your back.

6)  Hip power, and the ability to repeated produce athletic-like hip extension increases dramatically in time.  This is ideal for success in any athletic endeavor.

7)  Work capacity increases significantly, and has great carry over other athletic activities.

8)  10-20 minute swing workouts are enough to provide a MED (minimum effective dose) response and initiate noticeable fat loss while retaining lean muscle.

9)  There is potential for overuse and injury if adequate rest, recovery and repair tactics are not employed.

These are just observations.  

I’m not here to broadcast kettlebell swings as the end all be all.  Too many swings can be bad if you’re reckless with your approach. 

Structuring a workout, you’ve got several options.  

First, I would consider “high rep swings” to be any quantity over 100+ in a single training session.  If you’ve never swung a kettlebell before and consider yourself a beginner,  40-50 swings might be considered high rep for your experience level.  If you’re advanced, 200+ might your ticket.  It just depends on your conditioning level and familiarity with swinging.

A classic benchmark swing workout for beginners and intermediate alike would be:

Baseline Kettlebell Swing Workout

(100 reps total)

A workout like this is deceptively challenging.  

The rest periods can make it feel like you’re hardly working, yet in the later rounds,  the fatigue snowballs and each swing is a grind.  

By the numbers, in 10 minutes you’ve completed 100 swings.  

If you’ve chosen an appropriate weight for a workout like this, 24kg for men and a 16kg/20kg for women are good starting points, there’s no doubt you’ll be feeling this workout in the days after. 

This type of workout uses a traditional work:rest model.  

Rest is plentiful enough to avoid sloppy swings for the duration of the workout, even after heart rate begins to climb and muscle fatigue sets in.  

Speaking of a heart rate monitor, if you want to be more precise with the length of your work and rest periods, a heart rate monitor can be used to track recovery heart rates which will initiate the next set of swings.  

Commonly I’ve used 130 bpm as the trigger for the next set of swings.  When you see 130 on the watch, you’re swinging.

I’ve toyed around with many other workout structures, some good and some bad.  I discuss some of those in this article right here.

Workout design options for high-rep kettlebell swings are endless.

It’s important to swing heavier bells if you want to maximize the training effect of each workout.  

Especially with 2-handed swings.  A lot of people make the mistake of swinging kettlebell that aren’t heavy enough to challenge their hip hinge pattern.  

The hips are the most powerful set of muscles in the body, so sizing up your bell is advised.  

As great as swings are, your body adapts to the training stress extremely fast.  What once felt like a heavy kettlebell to swing will soon feel easy.  

Adding more volume to your swing workouts is not always the right choice.  At some point, you’re wasting your time by swinging 500 reps every workout.  

Instead, swing 100 reps with a kettlebell two sizes heavier and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.  

It’s basic progression, the same kind of progression that you would use with more traditional strength training or cardiovascular training.

Swinging heavier kettlebells naturally demand more hip snap to move the weight through the arc of motion.  

Lighter kettlebells can influence a person to lift the kettlebell instead of hiking, hinging and snapping it through.  We want hip snap, not lifting.  

If we’re going to lift, we will deadlift. Kettlebell swings are a ballistic movement, snap those hips!

After increasing the weight of your kettlebell, expect to decrease the reps, which makes logical sense doesn’t it?  

If you add 75lbs to your barbell back squat, you’re probably not going to hit the same number of reps as you did before adding that weight.  Same for swings.  

For example, if you can swing a 24kg bell for 50 consecutive (“unbroken” if you’re a familiar with Cross-Fit lingo) reps no problem and you bump up to a 28kg/32kg bell for an added challenge, don’t be surprised if you can hardly manage 30 reps.  

Grip may fail you before your hip extension will.

So, after all of that rambling… should you work high repetition kettlebell swings into your fitness endeavors?

Well I will say this:  I’m a fan of high repetition kettlebell swings.  

If you can “swing it” (pun completely intended), they are fantastic.  Both from an body appearance (fat loss + lean muscle retention) and sports performance standpoint, kettlebell swings deliver.  

There are advantages and disadvantages (as there are with everything in life), but at the end of the day, kettlebell swings are well worth the time investment to learn and practice.

If you swing consistently and eat properly… you’ll lean out, fast.

It wouldn’t feel right ending an article implying kettlebell swings are the answer all of body transformation.  

Swings are a valuable exercise to help initiate fat loss and lean muscle gain, but nutrition is the grandaddy of body transformation.  

You won’t be able to out swing a poor diet.  

If there was any #truth in this post, it is this:  

You can exponentially increase the visual impact (fat loss, lean muscle gain, “the shrink wrapping effect”) of your swing workouts if you include effective eating habits.

Even an ounce of nutritional effort, coupled with smart exercise, will result in fat loss.  

Proper pre-workout nutrition will give you the energy needed to crush your workouts.  

Post-workout nutrition will help re-fuel and repair the body afterward, setting the stage for nutrient partitioning and readying the body for the next workout.

I know for a fact most people don’t know where to start with nutrition.  It’s overwhelming.  I’m confident these statements will resonate with many readers, because I was once the confused/overwhelmed guy.  I had no friggin clue where to start with nutrition.

One important tip is this: your nutrition doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s nutrition.

Why? Because they aren’t you!  

What worked for them might not work for you, and the moment you presume that it will, as soon as it doesn’t, you’ll be crushed.  

If there was only one way to eat, there would only be one nutrition book on Amazon.

However, that being said, if you’ve never considered Intermittent Fasting and your goal is to lose fat while gain or maintaining muscle, I suggest you take a look at: 

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 5.42.13 AM

Intermittent Fasting

“Eat Stop Eat” author Brad Pilon is on his 2nd or 3rd edition of this landmark guide to Intermittent Fasting.  Why?  Because the research on Intermittent Fasting is being published in droves.  

Take a look as some of the before and after photos on the website.  It’s crazy.  Most people are stripping fat with minimal physical exercise.  

Why transitioned to Intermittent Fasting…

Personally, I leaned out beyond my already low body fat while on I.F., but it wasn’t my goal.  I don’t like being freakishly lean.  Just being lean is good enough for me.  Besides, I drink a lot of craft beer.  

Anyways, the reason I tested Intermittent Fasting was because I used to get terrible cloudiness after eating food in the afternoon.  I’d eat and then immediately feel like I had to peel my eyes open while at work.  It sucked, more annoying than anything.  Especially when you’re motivated to be productive with your time, but you’re stuck in food haze.

Roughly 7-10 days into my first experience with Intermittent Fasting, and I had tweaked my eating schedule to avoid the afternoon food daze altogether.  It turned out to be a really great solution to a ridiculous problem.  

Toss some kettlebell swings in the with some clever diet patterning, and you’re going to lean out in a hurry.  

So far, Intermittent Fasting has not affected my workouts at all.  If anything, I feel better during my workout.

Again, there are many ways to peel an onion, make sure you find the way best for you.  

 

 

Cheers to “swinging it”!

KG

The RKC Deep Six Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell Training

 

The RKC Deep Six Kettlebell Workout provides a valuable lesson in the proven effectiveness of practicing six fundamental kettlebell exercises:

  • Snatches
  • Swings
  • Cleans and Presses
  • Squats
  • Turkish Get-Ups

Boom.  

There’s power in peeling away the minutiae to attack time-tested exercises.  

The less, but better approach.

Practicing the fundamentals regularly will deliver predictably great results.  

It’s dangerous to make claims, but I feel it’s hard to argue on the effectiveness of exercises like snatches, squats, pressing, turkish get-ups and swings.  Especially with intelligent workout design.   

It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t make massive progress by fully committing to a training program focused on improving the fundamentals, the basics.

Nevermind kettlebell training for a quick second, this applies to any training methodology.  People who go all in on becoming the best they can be with the basics of any training method reap big rewards in nearly all physical categories (strength, stability, endurance, mobility, work capacity, power, etc).  Beyond that, new doors are opened more progressive athletic endeavors.

The holy grails of body transformation, fat loss and lean muscle gain, can be achieved equally well through fundamental training.  When fat loss occurs and layers of usable muscle are built, weight loss becomes a myth as well.  People look in the mirror and like what they see, sometimes at a heavier weight than where they started! 

One of the biggest tragedies in the health and wellness is how the general public has been fooled into believing exercise must be sexy, hardcore or extreme to be effective.

It doesn’t.  

Simple doesn’t mean worse and complex doesn’t mean better.  

God, it feels good to say that.  

Fitness is cyclical in what’s popular, no different than fashion or haircuts.  The old ways will become the “new” ways once again.  It’s easy to drift away from fundamental exercise, the tried and true. 

“Sexy” is always a bit tempting, isn’t it?  

Shit, sexy training tempts me every day.  Especially with the exponential growth of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  We are exposed to it more than ever.

The fundamentals shouldn’t be neglected because they are the pillars from which great progression is built.  Give them a chance to work wonders for you, as they have for millions of people.  

Let’s chat about this workout, shall we?…

As mentioned in the opening comments, the RKC Deep Six Kettlebell Workout is designed around snatches, swings, cleans and presses, squats and turkish get-ups.  These are “big bang for your buck” exercises.  

For early visualization, here is a snapshot plucked from the Meauxtion Pinterest board:

The RKC Deep Six Workout

Workout Structure… 

Each of the movements will be performed in the order above, 1 through 5, starting with snatches.  Complete all 5 reps of snatches, proceed on to 5 reps on single arm swings, 5 reps of clean to press, etc.  

This workout uses one kettlebell, so keep in mind each exercise must be performed on BOTH SIDES OF THE BODY before advancing.

Again, the exercise order and repetition structure of The RKC Deep Six Kettlebell Workout looks the following:

5 Snatches

5 Single Arm Swings

5 Clean to Press

5 Squats

1 Turkish Get-Up

The Turkish Get-Up is the only exercise that uses a different rep structure, 1 per side.  

Because this is a single kettlebell workout, you’ll be changing hands/sides after each Turkish Get-Up.  

How do you go about changing sides?

Ideally, you’d change hands without letting the kettlebell touch the floor.  The requires a hand to hand transition similar to this: 

 

However, if you’ve never executed a hand to hand transition, don’t attempt it under fatigue.  Body position, timing, coordination all change when you’re tired.  It can be a great way to wreck yourself.  

In this situation, set the kettlebell down and pick it up with the other hand, continue on.  No worries.  

Rest period management is an important aspect of getting the most out of work capacity training.  The decision to increase or decrease rest periods will depend on your fitness level and past experience.  It is better to start with longer rest periods and complete more rounds with better quality movement.    

In general, plan on resting 1-2 minutes between each round.

Remember, each round consists of one full cycle through the exercises (snatches to turkish get-ups) on each hand.

Complete 3-5 total rounds.

Workout Summary: 

  • 5 reps per exercise (except Turkish Get Ups) per arm.
  • 3-5 total rounds
  • 1-2 minutes rest after each round.

Personal Recommendations…

Common sense isn’t always so common.  

Keep water and a towel nearby.  Hands lubricated with sweat on introduces the possibility of losing hold of the kettlebell.  A solid grip is important to have with most kettlebell exercises.  Snatches, swings and clean are all exercises that rely heavily on having a good grip on the kettlebell.

Exclude any exercises you’re unfamiliar with.  Practice them another time, not when you’re tired or too stubborn to remove them.  You should be proficient in each of the drills listed before you engage in this workout.

How often should you do this workout?  Honestly, not that often.  In the short-term, you could use this workout two or three times a week.  However, adaptation to physical stress can occur quickly, particularly if it’s the same pattern of physical stress (doing the same thing over and over without change).

Without making adjustments to load progression, additional reps, decreasing rest or mixing in variation, the encouraging gains experienced in the beginning when training stimulus will remain the same.   

Scale this workout to your abilities.  If you require fewer reps per exercise, decrease the reps.  If your body needs more time to recover, add more rest.  If 3 rounds is a bit aggressive, crush 2 rounds.  If you burn through 5 rounds no problem, increase the weight of the kettlebell next time.  

Progression is a long-term play.  Build up smart.  

If you want more progressive kettlebell workouts like this, check out Forest Vance’s Kettlebell Challenge Workouts.  

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Forest designed a bunch of challenging turn-key workouts to keep a person progressing for a long time. 

Turn-key workouts often serve as benchmarks to measure increases in physical fitness, or they can function to limit decision fatigue when trying to decide on the workout for the day.  I’ve used them both ways with success.  

For more exercise ideas and workouts updated daily, make sure you subscribe to M[EAUX]TION on the following platforms:

Make sure you take action on this RKC Deep Six Workout, it’s a good one.  Also, make sure to leave me a comment on how you made out.   

Cheers to your effort…

Kyle 

A Tough 20 Minute Kettlebell Workout: Clean+Squat+Press

20 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training

Simple training tactics will give you the greatest return on your time investment.

Want to build strength?  Keep it simple.  Want to lose fat?  Keep it simple.  Want to dunk a basketball?  Keep it simple.

Keeping things simple, is keeping things productive. The more you can simplify, beat on the basics and remove unnecessary feelings of decision fatigue, the more clarity you’ll have in what work needs to get done.

Complicating matters with too much exercise variety, mixing training tactics often lead to inconsistent efforts.  Why?  There is no focused effort, very little direction.

Keep it simple, and maintain laser-like focus.  Choose one path and move down that path with confidence, conviction and attention to detail.

Yesterday, my workout was a simple but potent concoction, and now I offer it up to you…

1)  Double Kettlebell Cleans

2)  Double Kettlebell Squat

3)  Double Overhead Kettlebell Press

Three basic kettlebell exercises.

The clean, squat and press are all highly effective big bang movements.

Kettlebell cleans are an explosive total body movement. Kettlebell squats fatigue the anterior core (front rack position) while training the lower body.  Overhead kettlebell pressing reinforces the vertical pressing pattern of the upper body, which is arguably one of the most important functional movements to maintain for everyday life activities.

The metabolic training stimulus is tremendous when these exercises are coupled together.

Here’s a short summary of the workout…

Warm-up

Of course, it is important to warm-up.  You may feel differently, but until I see a reason that warming up is harmful, I will ALWAYS warm-up.

A brisk, comprehensive warm-up can get a lot of work done in 10-15 minutes or less.  If you’re a calorie counter, consider the warm-up a time to burn a few extra calories (at the very least).  Most people will have a good lather of sweat going by the end of a productive warm-up.

The pre-workout period allows an opportunity to assess how I am feeling on that particular day.  There have been a handful of times when I’ve pulled the plug on a workout based on how my body felt during the warm-up drills.

{If physical exertion doesn’t seem to agree with your body on that particular day, scrap it and come back tomorrow and crush it.  Often times, you’ll find that what your body needed was REST}.

My warm up was free flowing, mixing and matching traditional dynamic stretching with plenty of isolated activation work, crawling variations, traditional bodyweight movements and some basic Ido Portal drills.

The components of a warm-up should provide a gentle introduction to the more potent training stimulus that lies ahead.  Various stretches, joint mobilizations, muscle activation and low-load movement patterns a great pre-workout.

Much of my pre-workout warm-ups are infused with Ido Portal-esque movements.

All ground-based, full range of motion, concentrated and controlled.

On the tail end of the warm-up, I worked through some kettlebell drills to gradually prepare my body for the exertion to come.

All of these drills were completed using only one kettlebell, a DragonDoor 24kg/53lb kettlebell, except for the squat+press-outs, which required a lighter 20kg (44lb) for technique reasons.

Around-the-Body Kettlebell Revolutions     x15 each direction

Single Arm Kettlebell Swings     x10 each arm 

1-Arm Kettlebell Cleans     x8 each arm

Squat + horizontal press-outs     x6

Kettlebell Windmills     x8 each arm

The Workout:

Image

Alternating exercises each rep (clean then squat then press) is extremely challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to kettlebell complexes where all reps of each exercise are completed before moving on to the next exercising.

Here, your mind must stay sharp throughout each “set”.  The kettlebell will be changing positions, transitioning from knee, to chest to an overhead position quickly and frequently, and the minimal rest period only comes after completing 6 full repetitions of each exercise.

By rounds 6, 7 and 8, you’ll appreciate the rest periods, but they won’t feel long enough.

If you find that 30 seconds of rest is too short, bump it up to 45 seconds, maybe 60 seconds.  But remember that the goal is to perform a lot of work in a short amount of time, so don’t get too loose with the rest period.  You should be sucking wind.

I’m not big on boasting about who can use the heaviest weight for a workout like this, that’s not the point.  Consistent training and progress earns you heavier weight.

In general, you should be able to clean, squat and press 4-5 more reps beyond what are suggested in this workout.  So you should be using a weight that you clean, squat and press for 10 repetitions.

Weight-wise, a benchmark to aim for males and females would be:

Time Breakdown…

The “work” portion of this workout required just over 11 minutes.

Including the warm up, we are looking at a total time investment of 21 minutes.

The question I’ll ask to the person who feels they have no time for a workout is this:

What non-productive activities could you eliminate to allow for 21 minutes of productive physical practice?

  • Trade 21 minutes of Facebook scrolling for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Swap 21 minutes of TV watching for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Wake up 21 minutes earlier than normal to accommodate 21 minutes of workout.

Although we all have unique daily responsibilities, it’s important to become aware of where and how we are spending out time, right down to the minute.  A detailed assessment of the allocation of our time can often reveal that we have much more time than we perceive.

 

 

Cheers to time effective training without compromise…

KG

The 10 Minute Secret Service Kettlebell Snatch Test

Kettlebell Training

Let’s start with an obvious question people might have:

—>  Is this workout actually used in the Secret Service?

The quick answer is probably not.  

Regardless, the Secret Service Snatch Test, which I’ll refer to as the SSST (so I don’t have to keep spelling it out) is a brutal workout that involves snatching a 24kg (53lb) kettlebell as many times as possible in a 10-minute time limit.  

Posting a personal best score in the SSST will require a combination of the following:

  •  Kettlebell Snatch Technique
  •  Strength and Conditioning 
  •  Courage 

The courage aspect of conditioning tests like this is a huge determining factor of your score.

A simple question:  can you keep going when fatigue and discomfort boil over?  

When I say “discomfort”, I’m primarily referring to the hand discomfort.  The micro motion between the palm of your hand and the kettlebell handle gets increasingly sensitive during the SSST, enough to make you tap out. 

Some people will crack because of the fatigue, some because of the discomfort of the kettlebell in the hands and others a combination of both.

Ideal for removing callouses…

If you’ve been wondering how to remove built up hand callouses, you’ve come to the right place.  The SSST will remove skin in less than 5 minutes or your money back. 

From a hand care standpoint, this isn’t a workout you’d want to try that frequently.  Probably not even monthly.  Testing your toughness 2-3 times per year is probably more than enough.  

When I was really heavy into kettlebell training, I was testing my SSST 2-3 times per year at very sporadic times.  

It’s not like you’re going to wake up and feel the desire to snatch hardcore for 10 minutes.  I’d pick a day, maybe 7-10 days out where I knew I would be giving the SSST another attempt.  Then I’d section off 1-2 days after for rest, recovery and hand caudling.   

Best case scenario, you’ll have some juicy blisters on both hands.  Worst case scenario, you can expect to rip plenty of skin.

 

This attempt shows approximately 238 repetitions.  I say “roughly” because counting slow to 238 can cause your eyes to play tricks on you.  So if you have 10 minutes to spare to watch the video, feel free to call me out if I did less or throw me a bone if I did more.

It’s an “approximation” because I’m too lazy to keep double checking the reps.  Counting to 238 across 10 minutes is something I don’t have the attention span to do 3-4 times.   

Some of the top dogs in the kettlebell community are snatching get around 270+ reps, documented through video.    

Secret Service Snatch Test Leaderboard

If you want to paste your name amongst the leaders, film it.  It’s important to document your performance with un-edited video.  No one cares about word of mouth reporting.  Prove it.

Breaking down my SSST attempt….

In the early minutes of the test, I typically aim for 10 snatches per arm before switching.  

Honestly, this is for counting reasons only.  After watching the video, I start miscounting the number of snatches per arm pretty quickly.  

The biggest mistake in this attempt was taking a break.  It’s obvious why.  When you’re timing and aiming for most reps, taking a break doesn’t help anything.  

A combination of boiled over physical stress and mental conflict led me to resting for a brief time.  Getting to the root of the why I stepped away, it’s purely mental.  My body could have tolerated the pain, my mind talked me stopping.  

Based on tempo, I’m guessing it cost me 5-10 reps at least.  

It get’s hard to get your thoughts in order during a conditioning test like this.  The mental governor is begging you to quit, your hands are pleading you to quit.    

I could feel the skin loosening up, blisters forming and eventually the ripping on my hands towards the end.  The impact of this impacted my outcome.

 

Kettlebell Snatch Lockout

Critiques…

My posture at the top of the snatch is not great.  

But, I’m going to cut myself some slack on this because the ceiling in my basement is exactly 7 feet 4 inches high at the lowest point of the trusses.  When snatching indoors, I make sure I’m locking out in between the beams, just in case.  

My personal decision to green light kettlebell snatches in my basement at this ceiling height were made based on snatch technique.  The kettlebell turns over the hand prior to reaching full shoulder extension which the highest my hand will be.

Check out this post for a freeze frame depiction of the snatch.

My worst fear is bouncing the kettlebell off the trusses and losing control.  Lord knows what comes next, but I have an idea.  

The fatigue is so high during an SSST, it wouldn’t be good.  

The forward body lean is a counterbalance to the kettlebell, but I also think it’s a precautionary measure to avoid impact with the ceiling.  The kettlebell is not traveling straight up and down, it’s traveling in an arc.  

Counterbalance like this is because the kettlebell is not traveling straight up and down, it’s traveling in a subtle arc.  

I’m counterbalancing to avoid being thrown backward.  On the downward descent, a slow motion video or a keen eye at full speed should show an opposite reaction, where I’m leaning back slightly as a counterbalance.  

The obvious:  Later in the SSST, technique erodes to ugliness and it’s survival time.  

I accept the risk in this. 

BODY FATIGUE IS A TECHNIQUE KILLER.

If you’re training MetCon, you must be able to look yourself in the mirror and accept the risk of doing so.  

To my knowledge, it hasn’t been directly pinpointed in studies but injuries become more predictable as fatigue alters the control you have over your movement.  

Performing a box jump when 100% fresh is a lot different than the same box jump after you’ve done 25 thrusters and a 500-meter row.  

Plain and simple.  If you accept the risk of your actions, then you’re taking ownership for the injury.  

Decreasing the number of times I switch hands with the kettlebell would get me more reps.  Every hand transition is essentially a lost repetition to the final tally and wasted energy in doing so.  

If I was working longer sets per arm before switching, say 15-20 reps, I could gain an additional 10-15 snatches across the 10 minutes.  

 

Years ago, the first time I attempted the SSST,  I was hovering around 180-185 reps. 

Kettlebell training was relatively new, snatch technique wasn’t as great and I was unfamiliar the demands of 10 minutes of torture.   

The repetitions gained is progress.  Progress is always the goal, no matter how small or large.  A step forward is a step in the right direction.  

Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel, where I detail the kettlebell snatch along with many other exercises discussed on this blog.  

More to come, but for now…

 

 

 

Cheers to The Secret Service Snatch Test,

Kyle

Single Device Workouts for Indirect Core Training

Kettlebell Training

I love training one tool at a time.

The stress that it places on the body to maintain posture during movement is priceless to me.

Sure, you’ll sacrifice the amount of weight that you’re able to use for the movement(s), but you’ll sacrifice something with every training method that you choose.

Single device training could be born out of necessity not having enough equipment or from a simple desire to breathe some fresh air into a stale program.

Staleness sucks.  You’ll stop training when things get stale.  The workout will feel like a chore more than a chance to challenge and better yourself.  Stale is boring.

For me, I started single device training with dumbbells and medicine balls first.  I was traveling and wanted to get a workout but the equipment in the hotel was lacking so I had to improvise to get some kind of respectable training effect.

Working out with one dumbbell at a time is effective in that you can use a weight that is challenging and most people are familiar with using dumbbells as a training tool.

However, since I am deeply in love with kettlebells- their flow and versatility I now prefer KB’s to DB’s (that’s kettlebells to dumbbells by the way).

The flow of a kettlebell is unmatched. I can’t say enough about it.  Especially when you start working in single device training sessions, you’ll find that being able to flow from one exercise to the other seamlessly provides a much more enjoyable experience.

Here is an example of an improvised single device complex that I threw together.


***Remember, a complex involves 4-8 exercises grouped together without rest between movements.  Complexes are metabolically demanding and probably not suited for beginners, although there are progressions that beginners can work through to get to a true no rest complex.  It just takes time, like everything else.

Progression is everything.  Don’t skip the basics.

You’ll notice in the title of this post I wrote “… for Indirect Core Training”.  I mean that.  Anytime you load one side of the body and not the other, you’ll find that the unloaded side’s musculature contract aggressively and goes into overdrive to maintain posture.  If you’re paying attention to your exercise technique during a uni-laterally (fancy term for one/single sided) loaded movement, you’re going to have to work harder to maintain a normal posture against those uneven forces.  Your torso musculature will light up like a Christmas tree, naturally.  No need for direct core work here.

I love it.

Even just pressing a dumbbell or a kettlebell over head one side at a time delivers such a unique training stimulus.  You’ll be sore in places you’re typically never sore, assuming that you are fighting to maintain that perfect posture.  When that happens, just understand that it happened because you loaded your body unevenly.

We tend to train everything with both legs or arms mirroring each other, so breaking out of the norm and going single arm or single leg is a great training tactic for the body.

Cheers from the great city of Eau Claire, WI…

KG

Video: Long Circuit Kettlebell Training for Fat Loss

10 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training, Pure Fat Loss

I have to admit that the circuit in the video below has been adapted over the last few years to serve as a warm-up for me before my higher work capacity/short bout training sessions.

I use it for two reasons:

  • It gets my brain and eyes focused on what’s about to happen (hand to hand exchange helps this).
  • Physically, I warm-up every muscle in my body in one shot (after foam rolling/static/dynamic stretch)

In the video below, I am using my trusty 20kg kettlebell, that’s 44lbs for all of the Americans reading this.

 This is my warm-up bell, my hand to hand swing bell, and my long cycle snatch bell.

Initially, when I started kettlebell training it was all I could handle weight-wise.  That’s my indirect advice to you to start slow, and progressing at an your intelligent  pace.  Don’t “Hail Mary” your training or you may find yourself in the emergency room.

All in good time.

Enjoy the music…

The details:

  • 5 reps of all movements (keep it simple!).
  • All movement patterns must be addressed (with exception of upper extremity pulling).
  • Don’t put the kettlebell down until the circuit is complete.

A couple tips…

Tip #1:  Use a dry erase board to map out what movements you’ve programmed and what order you want to perform them.  This helps a lot.  Double clutching a 44lb kettlebell rarely has a positive end result.

Tip #2: Treadmills and ellipticals are $2,000 coat racks.  Sell your old useless fitness equipment and go buy some Lifeline kettlebells or PowerBlocks.

Have fun, tell me how it goes…

Coming soon:  Why single kettlebell/dumbbell training is where it’s at…