Take a deep breath into your belly and twist your feet into the ground (imagine screwing them down without actually moving them) and squat, keeping your torso upright. Place the kettle bell on the floor and take a staggered stance with your right foot in front.
Rest your right elbow on your right thigh for support and reach for the kettle bell with your left hand. Stand tall holding the kettle bell in one hand at shoulder level.
Note that your chin should be pulled back so that weight has no trouble clearing it. TIP: “Don’t get fixated on achieving a full overhead lockout right away,” says John Wolf, Innit ’s Chief Fitness Officer.
“Just going to where your elbow is bent 90 degrees and holding it isometrically is a ton of work for most people.” If you need to arch your back, causing your ribs to flare in order to lock out your arm overhead, you’re not training the shoulder effectively. Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettle bell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum.
Draw your shoulder blades together and down (“proud chest”) and cast your eyes on a spot on the floor approximately 15 feet in front of you. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.
In my own gym we have a collection of fantastic coaches, each one an expert in their field having been, or having produced, champion fighters. But it seems to be a common theme, especially with older coaches, that weight training will steal your speed, leave you slow and muscle-bound.
In these circles it was common to hear the advice to “borrow force from the earth,” which is a poetic way of saying that a strike starts by pressing the foot into the floor. If I “borrow” this force, load it into the Achilles tendon which springs back extending the ankle, the force continues up the leg extending the knee and hip, it then hits the waist turning it and whipping the shoulder forward; this propels the arm out and into the other geezers mush sending him to sleep. The push up, while a great exercise, focuses on the very end of the action.
For the rest of the muscles in the sequence, it is a good idea to ignore the coach and hit the weight room. They strut onto the mat with puffed up chests and bulging arms but half an hour later they are shot, tired, and gasping for breath.
But bodybuilding is a purely aesthetic endeavor; it builds a pleasing appearance but has little, if any, carryover to athletic performance. Strength training for a fighter must revolve around improving the performance in the ring, anything that takes away from this must be dropped without a second thought.
This has lead to the development of some very efficient training methods which have taken many average fighters and turned them into exceptional ones. Earlier in the article we talked about borrowing force from the ground and how the body extends up and out into a knockout punch.
The most efficient exercises that develop this skill are the ones that call for hip extensions, like the squat, the dead lift and their variations. If you’re a grapple, don’t worry about the squat, the dead lift and its brothers, high pulls and power cleans are the lifts for you.
To avoid the bodybuilder trap of becoming slow, tight and inflexible, it is vital to work through a full range of motion keeping the reps low, the rest periods long and lifts as explosive as possible. Lift a heavy weight as fast as humanly possible then rest as long as it takes to be able to do it again with good form.
Training with higher reps and shorter rest periods is less effective for building brute strength and power but more effective for adding mass to the body, something you need to be careful of if you compete in a weight class. I tend to keep single leg work for more advanced athletes and even than they only do it once per week.
I find the standard squat and dead lift are better for developing full body explosive power. I started asking myself if there was a better way and, almost by accident, I stumbled across the power circuit format and both my strength and endurance improved immediately.
Power circuits are built around your main lift for that day, usually a front squat or a dead lift. You then add 1 to 3 other drills, not so many that you’ll be too exhausted to improve the main lift, but enough that the whole body is covered in a variety of ways.
The other drills are usually upper body and core focused but on occasion it is nice to use contrast exercises (alternate between dead lifts and heavy kettle bell swings and see how you enjoy walking the next day!) When choosing the other exercises to put into these circuits, I find it beneficial to see what kind of movements the fighters are performing in their regular training.
Our kickboxing coach loves planks, press-ups, and leg raises, so I stay away from them to avoid over use in these patterns. The BJJ coach is all about forward flexion of the spine, which is understandable given the art, so I give the guys drills that counter these movements and keep the body balanced. For upper body pushing, rather than standard push-ups, I use Hindu and dive bomber push-ups as they both hit the shoulder in a more holistic manner while also extending the spine. I also teach them the one arm clean and jerk with a kettle bell, quite possibly the finest lift any fighter can employ in their training as it teaches power generation from the ground up.
This works the entire body through a variety of movements and rep ranges, developing strength and stability through the core, shoulder endurance, and teaches the body to generate huge amount of power from the ground up with both the heavy dead lifts and repetition clean & jerk. It forces newbies to take a good long rest between squat sets, especially if they’re still mastering technique.
As stated these workouts can be done in as little as half an hour, so are perfectly suited to slot into the routine of even the busiest combat athlete. Depending on the athlete’s level and needs 2 or 3 of these circuits per week will work wonders for their strength and conditioning.
If they still want to go out do hundreds of push-ups and run a 10 km every morning, ask them to give you 4 weeks of this training and see how they feel. Their road work should be kept to a single long steady jog with chilled out tunes playing on the iPod to help them recover and relax the head.
By the end of the month, their ability keep dropping bombs into the later rounds will have significantly improved, and they’ll never doubt you again. In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture.
This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society. Anterior dominance results in imbalances in our muscles causing us to move and perform at sub-optimal levels.
And if boredom wasn’t an issue, the kettle bell swing is the ONLY exercise you would ever need to do in your entire life. Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above.
Push your hips back keeping your butt high and bend your knees slightly. Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats.
When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging. This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues.
Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot. Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELL SWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal.
If you want to build strength, kettle bell swings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat. If you want to boost your athleticism, kettle bell swings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints.
If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders. And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan.