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September 2014

REVIEW: Master the Kettlebell by Max Shank, Master RKC

MasterTheKettlebellAre you new to kettlebells and need more insight and inspiration on how to use them? Are you an experienced kettlebell user and need information on how to get to the next level in your kettlebell training? Are you just stuck in a rut in your kettlebell training and need some “fresh blood” in your workouts? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of the above then I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of “Master the Kettlebell”!

Max Shank’s new book, Master the Kettlebell, deserves a place on every kettlebell users bookshelf alongside of the other great books on kettlebell training that Dragon Door has produced over the last decade. I’ve had the pleasure of working and training with Max and his personality and insight into kettlebell training shines through in this book. Covering subjects from how to assess a first time client to program design, this book has more than its share of great information and knowledge bombs that will keep you referring back to it in the years to come. This was a great start for Max and I look forward to his future writing projects!

Do you want to pick up a copy of your own?  Go to the Dragon Door website and order it now!

Great Body Weight Skill

Annie-rope-climbI'm always looking for creative ways to challenge myself and my skills - especially if they are fun!  I found this body weight and stick drill on YouTube (you can also find more at and I am sincerely impressed with it.  I spent a couple minutes playing with the skill and found it to be a real challenge, but one that I want to overcome.  Looking at the strength requirements that it entails will only strenghten my grip but also make my Turkish Get Up better by reinforcing the upper and lower body tension.  Give it a try yourself and see what you think!

BTW - if you are looking at a challenging alternative to rope climbs this might just fit the bill for you as well.  The same upper-body requirements for the rope climb will be needed to perform this drill as well.  You can also easily scale this for beginners by having them use both legs as opposed to one.  Either way this is an inexpensive and safe alternative to rope climbs that will give you a host of benefits with a low investment in time and cost.


REVIEW: The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning

EncyclopediaOfUndergroundStrengthAndConditioningAre you ready for a book that will radically change how you train? Do you use body weight, kettlebells, sandbags, or bars and just aren’t getting the results you are looking for? Are you using all of these tools and just don’t have the tactics to utilize them to their maximum potential? I’m guessing that the answer is a disappointing “NO”.

Zach Evan-Esh’s new book, The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning, is an epic sized introduction into the background, philosophy, and the nuts and bolts of how Zach trains his amazingly strong and resilient athletes. You’ll learn not only how he trains his athletes, but his philosophy and background that lead him to these amazingly effective protocols. Zach opens the doors to his underground training facility and shows you what it takes to truly be strong on the field and on the mat. You’ll find yourself referring to this book often in the future and learning more each time you crack the cover. Great job Zach and I look forward to your next project!

Want to get a copy of your own?  Go to the Dragon Door website and order it now!

Whacked Out Wednesday Number 27

WowI truly don't know what to say about this video.  I know that I have posted some ridiculous stuff by Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and even the "Prancercise" lady... but I can't wrap my head around this one.  This is supposedly a "Master" trainer demonstrating kettlebell techniques and flows with the kettlebell.  His movement has a definite GS (Girevoy Sport) flair to it... but after that I've got nothing!

All I can say is enjoy watching the video and then rinse out your eyes with Clorox Bleach... okay, I'm kidding! Just a little...


Revisiting the Wheel Of Pain (WOP)

Ab_wheelThose of you who have trained with me for any length of time know that I am a huge fan of using only a handful of effective tools to make people strong, mobile and injury resistant.  Close to the top of that very short list is the Ab Wheel or what we at CrossFit Koncepts call the "Wheel Of Pain" or WOP for short.  This amazingly simple and innocuous looking tool will challenge even the strongest abs you can find - trust me, we've tried and we've won every encounter!

The secret behind getting the best results is to create a strong position directly over the WOP (a strong RKC Plank is how I describe it) and keep the wrists and elbows locked and the shoulders "down and packed". To get the WOP to move forward you have to push it into the ground as hard as you can and to get it to move backward you do the same thing.  At NO TIME do you bend the arms or hips - the goal is to load the Plank and make the abs do all of the work.

Hpow many reps do you need and how far do you need to go?  I would strongly suggest keeping the reps low; sets of five to seven are usually good and help ensure that form stays solid.  As far as how far can you go: only go as far forward as you can maintain the braced Plank position.  If the Plank falters then you've gone too far and need to reset, start over and not go as far until you can maintain the tension.  Remember: the WOP is a GRIND and it should be done slowly and under extreme control.  If you don't find this hard enough then try manipulating the amount of time you spend in the bottom, loaded position (nose, nipples and "nether region" hovering above the ground).

Check out the following video.  Are the abs getting the attention they need or are there leaks happening that allow them to unload and take a breather in between reps?


How about this one?  I've done workouts that have come close to doing one hundred reps with the WOP but I was extremely uncomfortable for days afterwards and have had complaints from clients up to a week after high reps.  BTW - this man is a stud at age 71 years old and I respect the strength and work he has done!


As for this video... I'll leave this one up to you!



CrawlingThe old saying "You've got to crawl before you can walk" is very true and is applicable today as it ever was.  With the high incidence in back pain and injury, as well as a lifestyle centered around sitting (cars, office, couch, etc.), a little bit of crawling could go a long way to reverse the negative effects of gravity and poor posture.

Recently there has been a revival of crawling and ground work as part of athletic training programs.  (NOTE: Ground Work is the sixth element we focus on in training; right after Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge and Carry.) I was reintroduced to crawling while attending the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) training with Grey Cook.  In that setting it is used as both a tool to evaluate movement quality and integration as well as as reset to establish good movement.  Others have taken this further and based whole training programs on this type of movement and have had great success.  I am always surprised at how challenging some of these skills are and ow taxing they can be.  Used as a warm-up or for movement preparation they are tremendously effective and outright fun... not to mention they show you where you need to work on holes in your strength and mobility.


Seventy Percent Increase in Core Strength in Eight Weeks?

Kettlebell-swing_12I love to read studies about how people react to various types of training - especially if it pertains to kettlebells.  I have been using them for twelve years and I can state unequivocally that there are amazingly effective at making your stronger and move better... but don't take my word for it!

Recently ACE (the American Council of Exercise) sponsored a study to determine the effectiveness of kettlebells.  What they found after only eight weeks is astonishing!  How is this for improvements after only a handful of workouts:

  • Seventy percent increase in core strength
  • Marked increase to aerobic capacity
  • Significant improvement in VO2 max
  • Additional significant improvement in grip strength, leg press and dynamic balance

These are pretty impressive changes in a very short period of time.  I would be interested to learn who trained the control group and what type and duration of workouts they were doing during the test period.  Regardless - this is pretty impressive results for a "cannonball with a handle"!

Check out the original article on the ACE website.

Whacked Out Wednesday Number 26

WowThere is no denying that Kettlebells have become an integral part of the fitness landscape.  Since they exploded onto the scene in 2001 they have changed the way people train and move.  Once only available from Dragon Door, the company that spearheaded the Kettlebell revolution, they are available online and in most retail stores, including Target and Walmart

The one thing that hasn't changed since their introduction is that most people, and this includes trainers as well, don't know how to use them safely and effectively.  As opposed to getting some solid instruction on how to use them most will rely on an internet expert or a fitness personality (Jillian Michaels comes to mind) for guidance on how to use this incredibly effective tool.  Just because someone is on TV or has a couple videos out it doesn't make them an expert - or even knowledgeable.  Case in point - this travesty by Bob Harper.  You don't need to watch the whole thing; all it will take is a few minutes to get the idea that he has no clue whatsoever to do with a kettlebell.  Just watch a few minutes - I wouldn't want to ruin your day!


Congratulations John & Liz!

Just in case you haven't heard, John Kalil and Liz Gleich both completed the RKC certification this weekend and are now Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructors!  They both have worked tremendously hard to get through this process and were absolute stand-outs the whole weekend. :)

BTW - many of you don't know this but John and Liz are both "plank owners" of CrossFit Koncepts.  They have both been training with me regularly for over seven years, logging hundreds of hours apiece, doing kettlebells, body weight and bar work.  Through thick and thin these two have put in the hours and done the work - and I can't tell you how proud I am to have then both as part of the RKC family!