Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another short and sweet kettlebell routine!

I posted a 5 minute kettlebell routine focusing on total body recruitment, which quickly became very popular on youtube.  So in response to that demand, I turned the video camera on during one of my many shoulder exercise circuits.  Here it is:

Please keep in mind that these are advanced exercises.  If you have not mastered the basic swings and getups, and perhaps even cleans, presses, and snatches (videos to come), I would focus on those exercises first.  For the record on terminology, the video above shows exercises in the following order:
1) Kettlebell Pummel
2) Kettlebell Side Press
3) Kettlebell Bend Press (with some Kettlebell Windmills thrown in as well)

Double Kettlebell Swing

I posted an earlier video for the basic 1 arm kettlebell hip swing.  As you all know, the 2 arm and 1 arm hip swings are considered the foundation of kettlebell training.  Everyone should master both versions, as well as the kettlebell turkish getup, before attempting to incorporate other exercises and their variations. 

However, for those who have mastered the basics, and who do not have very heavy kettlebells, here is a variation of the kettlebell swing you may wish to try.

The beauty of the double kettlebell swing is that it allows you to overload the hip and core musculature, even if you don't own heavier kettlebells.  At the office, the heaviest kettlebell we have is 40kg or 88lbs.  I would like to train with twice that weight, so the closest I can get right now is using (2) 32kg kettlebells, which translates into a total of 64 kg or 140.6 lbs. 

The challenge is that as your kettlebell size increases, you must create a wider stance for them to pass under you hips.  You must also be certain to rotate your wrist inward as you pass under your hips to make certain you do not hit the heavy kettlebell into your thigh.  Believe me, that is a BAD idea!  ROTATE THOSE WRISTS!

Double Kettlebell Cossack

I posted an earlier video showcasing the "bottom up kettlebell cossack", which is a great exercise for lower body strength and flexibility.  For those who wish to throw in more challenges for your upper body and core, try the double kettlebell cossack.  Each hand holds a kettlebell in the "rack position", creating a lot of tension around the shoulders, lats, and obliques.  I consider this a more advanced exercise, so if you haven't mastered the basics, let this be a goal for yourself!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why can't you swing your kettlebell right? (Part 3)

We have touched on gluteal amnesia and poor core strength as two culprits in hurting your kettlebell swing. The third thing that is very often a problem is slow hip drive. The kettlebell swing is not supposed to be a "slow-controlled" movement. To reverse the kettlebell arc between your legs, there should be a fast, powerful, and VISIBLE hip drive. Your hip should "POP!" forward, faster than you can say the word out loud! Start popping!

Rehab your Shoulders By "Getting-Up"

Many people know the turkish getup is a great exercise for your core and leg flexibility and strength. However, some in my field would argue that it is even better for shoulder rehabilitation, especially if you are doing a few in a row. Because of the long "time under tension" around the shoulder capsule, both the stabilizing rotator cuff muscles and the strong deltoid muscles of the shoulder are recruited effectively. Check out the exercise here:

In fact, the benefits of greater shoulder stability and strength are greatly improved if you decide to only do "partial getups" instead. For added shoulder instability, try holding the kettlebell "bottom-up", for an even more difficult task on the shoulder musculature.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Short but Sweet!

Experimenting one day, I completed a 5 minute kettlebell routine consisting of 3 exercises:

1) 1 arm Bottom-up Cleans and Presses (Using 16-20kg)

2) 1 arm Rows in a Split Stance (Using 24-40 kg)

3) 1 arm Full Snatches (Using 24-32 kg)

Check it out! Stay safe and have fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why can't you swing your kettlebell right? (Part 2)

In part 1 a few weeks ago, we talked about how gluteal amnesia can contribute to dangerously performed hip extension, which would also create problems in your kettlebell swing dynamics. In part 2, I want to talk about another likely culprit, namely poor core strength and stability. When I talk about "the core," I don't just mean your "six pack." The core consists of many muscle surrounding the hip,spine, and torso that produce force in 360 degrees of motion. That means that just performing situps and crunches will not strengthen the core in its entirety, and in fact, focusing on them can cause problems rather than solve them. Read Dr. Stuart McGill's article here to learn more:

So to strengthen the core, lets start with focusing on plank holds and glute bridging, both of which teach you to firmly connect your ribcage to your pelvis, allowing you to effectively transfer energy throughout your body in your kettlebell swings, snatches, presses,getups, etc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kettlebell Bottom-Up Cossack: Improve hip flexibility and strength!

For those of you looking for variations of kettlebell exercises that continue to improve your hip flexibility and strength, try the "Bottom-up Kettlebell Cossack." Dr. Horwitz and myself are seen here demonstrating the movement using an 88lbs kettlebell:

Be sure to maintain maximum tension in your arms, shoulders, and core to ensure stability of the kettlebell. Once you have mastered the exercise, it becomes a full body lesson in tension, "connectedness," and precision movement of the kinematic chain!

Have you been warming up the correct way?

In my experience, a lot of people believe that spending 10-15 minutes warming up is wasted time. For most, a quick 5 minute jog on the treadmill is all they complete for a warmup, with perhaps a few brief static stretches thrown into the end, then its time to hit the heavy weights! Sure, jogging 5 minutes will help to raise the body's temperature, making the muscles more pliable, but where is the dynamic mobility and movement specificity for your nervous system? The fact is, spending 10 minutes moving through dynamic mobility exercises and specifically preparing your body for the major lifts of the day will IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE! Dynamic warmups actually increase your strength, flexibility, and stability INSTANTANEOUSLY, because your nervous system prepares for the training immediately to follow. Here is a 10 minute full body, dynamic mobility routine that you can use prior to your kettlebell training, and is also great as soon as you get out of bed.

Upper Body:

Lower Body

You won't believe how much better you feel throughout the day after having completed it first thing in the morning! Incorporate the movements demonstrated however you can into your daily life. Joint mobility movements are nearly infinite in their variation, so the videos are merely examples of routines that you can create on your own, once you fully master the full ranges of motion of all your major joints. Have fun! Be consistent!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why can't you swing your kettlebell right? (Part 1)

Those of you who have begun learning and practicing kettlebell swings should already know that you must have a powerful gluteal contraction to perform them correctly. What you may not know is that many people struggle with neurologically recruiting their glutes, because of habitual sitting throughout the day or inactivity. When people cannot preferentially recruit their glutes to perform powerful hip extension, the brain attempts to compensate by firing the hamstrings and back extensors to complete the quick hip drive. If this continues, not only will your kettlebell never swing correctly, but you may cause a lower back injury or chronic lower back pain.

So, start fixing the problem by reteaching your brain to contract your glutes for hip extension. Begin with mastering the Gray Cook Hip Lift, or other glute bridge techniques on the floor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why be thankful for KETTELBELLS?

“A lot of women who could not do any type of exercise with knee issues, shoulder issues are exercising again.”
“I have lost weight with the kettlebells…40 + pounds.”
“I’ve lost 50 lbs. total.”
“I’m grateful for what it’s done for my body, for the way I can look in the summertime in a bathing suit…I just feel good about myself.”
“I’m a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter and I have seen tremendous benefits in my lifting.”
“I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m in my mid 30s.”
“You can get cardiovascular and strength training at the same time.”
“Being able to walk places where before it just killed me.”
“Cardio and strength training in a blender.”

Come join the kettlebell community...try a class...for FREE!

Call us now at 301-622-9000 or email at to register!


Read what military personnel say if they had lifted kettlebells before they had enlisted:
“Definitely would have had a stronger back if I had lifted kettlebells.”
“I could have spared myself a lot of knee, neck, and shoulder pain.”
“I started to use kettlebells about a year and a half in and it completely enhanced my military experience. The packs got easier to lift and throw on your back…loading heavy weapons, lugging them around…everything just got easier.”

Watch these inspiring videos!

Come to your first class free and see for yourself! Call 301-622-9000 to register!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


At Capital Sports Injury Center we have been using kettlebells as an exercise rehabilitation and injury prevention therapy since 2006 with GREAT results! We have had success with conditions such as lumbago (lower back pain), lumbar disc herniations, degenerative hip arthritis, degenerative knee arthritis, ankle sprains, pulled hamstrings, rotator cuff injuries, obesity (weight loss!), and fatigue.

The kettlebell will make your back resilient. Unique Russian exercises condition your back from every conceivable angle, statically and dynamically. One would have to take up powerlifting, yoga, strongman, gymnastics, and a couple of other things to half way imitate the benefits of kettlebell training.

Kettlebell's offset center of gravity maximizes shoulder strength, flexibility, and health. According to Pavel, most Russians have never heard of 'rotator cuffs.' Save for combat wounds, shoulder injuries are virtually unheard in the Russian armed forces.

We are unique in being able to combined kettlebell rehab with scar tissue removal techniques like Active Release Techniques®, Graston Technique®, Kinesio Taping®, Cold Laser, and chiropractic adjustments. No other health care facility in the national capital area has the amount of experience offering this combination of therapies that we have! If your body’s got damage from a high-mileage life, kettlebell rehab may be able to give you more relief and restore your strength and quality of life better than anything else.

Call us today at 301-622-9000 or email us at!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Females Unite!

Throughout my 12 years of training experience, I have gotten more joy out of training women than men. While that may not surprise you, the truth is that I love to empower women. I could certainly be called a "feminist," and absolutely hate when women express feeling ostracized from the free weights and kettlebells at their gym. There is nothing inherently "manly" about strength training! Every male and female gains tremendous benefit from added strength, since it directly transfers to your daily performance and athletic endeavors. Muscle size has very little to do with strength, and as I explained in an earlier post, strength is outwardly expressed through the internal tension created by your neuromuscular system. Ladies, your nervous system can be trained to produce just as much muscular tension as your boyfriend's! Don't believe is proof:

Suzanna is probably around 130 lbs. I can honestly say that most 180 lbs men I have worked with can not do what you see her doing. And yet, society would have women believe that in order to flip a 70lbs kettlebell after swinging it would require big, bulky, bodybuilder muscles! I emplore women everywhere to pick up your kettlebell and start training. Forget about all that high rep B.S., go for the heavy stuff, and build your strength, as well as your confidence!


I Am a Runner. Why Do I Need Strength Training?
Resistance or strength training is the Rodney Dangerfield of the running world: it gets no respect. I'm amazed that distance runners still believe the following:

- They do not need to resistance-train at all, at least "not for my legs."
- Resistance training will build big muscles and slow them down and ruin their form.
- If they perform weight training, it should be with light weights and high repetitions.
- Weight training should be done with machines.

Over the past two decades there have been dozens of studies showing the benefits of resistance training for runners in the areas of injury prevention and performance. There is no debate on this question. Resistance training will most certainly not build "big muscles" since most distance runners are ectomorphs, and no matter how hard they train with weights they will not build big muscles. Resistance training will improve your form and increase your speed by improving localized muscular endurance and nervous-system efficiency.

As for training with light weights and high reps, that went out with Jane Fonda workout tapes. Of course any beginner must use light weights while developing proper technique, but with experience it becomes readily apparent that not all reps are created equal. In order to increase strength (which is a good thing) you must apply gradual progressive resistance, which means heavier weights. Are you trying to set a world weight-lifting record? No, but getting stronger allows your muscles and tendons work more efficiently, making your gait more relaxed and "springy."

Finally, machines in no way compare with free weights, especially kettlebells. When was the last time you were seated in a fixed plane of motion while you were running? Running, and all movement in life for that matter, occurs in a 360 sphere. Machines turn you into what a well-known sports coach calls a "motor moron." They groove improper movement patterns that will ruin your running gait and lead to injury.

What Makes a Kettlebell So Special?
The design of the kettlebell differs from that of a dumbbell. With dumbbells the weight is evenly distributed over your hand. When using a kettlebell, there is constant pulling on your core (the muscles from shoulder blades down to your buttocks) for several reasons:

- Many exercises involve swinging the kettlebell which requires tremendous core strength to keep your body stationary.

- When you grasp the kettlebell by the handle, the center of mass or ball of the kettlebell is offset or slightly to the side. Pressing the kettlebell or holding it overhead causes a strong activation of your core to keep your body stable and tight.

Most of us who work out in the gym are used to isolating muscles. This is a bodybuilding technique bit it is not an effective way for a runner, or any athlete, to train. With kettlebells you use your buttocks, legs, abs, back, and arms-all at the same time. Kettlebells are a great time saver!

Kettlebells will strengthen the "weak" areas of your body. As a chiropractor and sports performance coach for over 20 years, I have seen the same problems over and over again-poor core strength, and a misunderstanding of how the core works and how to strengthen it. Kettlebell training is nothing short of phenomenal at addressing these issues. I have been training with kettlebells for five years and using them to rehabilitate injured patients for almost two years. Kettlebell rehab works wonders for lower-back, hip, knee, and shoulder problems.

Kettlebells can be used anywhere and require very little space. A few kettlebells make a complete gym. There are so many different exercises you can do that boredom will never be a problem. The price of a kettlebell is very reasonable considering that it will last a lifetime. You can't wear them out!

If you want to increase your sprinting speed, then kettlebells are the answer. As far as aerobic conditioning, try swinging a kettlebell for several minutes and see how long you last. Like any new exercise, proper instruction is required for safety and technique.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Master Technique WITHOUT Fatigue

Throughout my twelve years of training experience, I am often reminded of the bodybuilding cliche, "No pain, no gain!" I am not a bodybuilder, and neither are most of the people I work with on a daily basis. Despite this obvious fact, occasionally someone spouts out such nonsense, as if suddenly they will snap me out of my ignorance! Of course, after a few seconds of education on basic motor learning theory, they are quickly brought back to my world of intelligent training. Using a kettlebell requires skill, and mastering the kettlebell requires perfect practice. You see, in the world of strength and conditioning, we know that practice does not NECESSARILY make perfect. However, "PERFECT practice makes PERFECT!" And to practice perfectly, you must minimize fatigue. Don't believe me? Watch a UFC or other mixed martial arts fight. After 5 minutes of combat, the best fighters in the world start making rookie mistakes, like dropping their hands! They CAN'T hold their hands up, because their fatigued nervous system won't allow it...not because they aren't highly skilled. Still don't believe me? Check out this video of Marcus Martinez playing with "The Beast," as he hardly breaks a sweat, because he avoids training fatigue!

So pick up your kettlebell and start drilling your swings and getups, but stop well before you start getting tired for the first few weeks. Keep your reps low, meaning five or less. Practice everyday, for just a few minutes at a time, maybe even multiple times throughout the day. You'll quickly surpass all your friends who have insisted on performing higher reps for an hour straight, insisting that the "burn" they feel means they had a great workout, only to be confused by the exhaustion they experience throughout the rest of the day. In a matter of weeks, your kettlebell skill will drastically improve, and your mind and body will "thank you" for training smarter...instead of longer!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


What is the strongest muscle in your body relative to its size? If you said, "your tongue," you'd be right! But since this site is about kettlebells and skeletal muscle, the trick question is actually referring to your glutes. The glutes are actually several muscles, whose job is hip extension and hip external rotation. These "butt" muscles primarily serve to drive your hips forward, and because of their awesome leverage, they can produce intense, powerful contractions. In fact, to train the muscles most efficiently, you must introduce high loads (weight) with high velocity (speed) to your strength training regiment. Enter the kettlebell swing!

Because of the powerful and dynamic gluteal contractions throughout the swing, resulting from forceful hip extension, it is one of the most EFFECTIVE "butt" exercises. In addition to this aesthetic appeal, the movement is incredibly functional and easy to learn. I can teach you how to swing perfectly in less than 5 minutes. And to top it off, once mastered, the swing becomes a full body exercise, effectively strengthening every major muscle group in your body because of the heavy loads handled and the dynamic nature of the movement!

What size KETTLEBELL is appropriate for me?

At Capital Sports Injury Center we use kettlebells in wide range of sizes - from 4kg to 40kg. We STRONGLY recommend that you come in and let us show you how to use a kettlebell before trying one on your own. I just spoke to a colleague of mine who had just completed his first kettlebell class. He had difficulty doing a Turkish Get Up (TGU) with NO WEIGHT! An empty hand!

The first time you attempt any kettlebell movement, you should use a weight you are sure you can handle. In our facility even a strong man may start with a 8kg kettlebell. That being said, within one session he may progress to a 16kg kettlebell. For the ladies, a 4kg or 6kg is an appropriate starting weight.

Once you gain some experience and find your comfortable training weight, then purchasing a kettlebell will be easy. Most women can start with an 8kg kettlebell (for overhead movements like presses, TGUs, and snatches)and a 12kg or 16kg for swings. Most men should buy a 12kg to warm-up and for overhead movements and a 16kg for swings. If you rapidly progress to heavier kettlebells - good technique is the key - then good for you!

For the best deal on kettlebells we recommend MBodyStrength - CLICK HERE!

For high end kettlebells, we recommend Order Authentic Russian Kettlebells

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are KETTLEBELLS dangerous? Am I too old to use KETTLEBELLS?

Kettlebell training is very safe when you are supervised by a trained instructor. We strongly recommend you learn kettlebell training in one of our kettlebell classes. Even in top level kettlebell competition, the injury rate is miniscule compared to injuries in sports. In our practice we use kettlebells for injury rehabilitation and injury prevention. We have high school athletes training with kettlebells as well as senior Olympians. Our oldest kettlebell man is 74 and he swings the 53 lb. kettlebell! Our high school female golfer also swings the 53 lb. kettlebell!

Learn proper technique to prevent injuries. Come to one of our kettlebell classes. Call us at 301-622-9000 or email us at

Monday, November 23, 2009

How are KETTLEBELLS used for Fitness?

Kettlebell workouts are intended to burn body fat, increase strength, build endurance, and teach agility and balance by challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular systems with dynamic, total-body movements. Kettlebell training requires the involvement of all major muscle groups at once which provides a fantastic full body workout. Watch this...

For women we recommend:
KettleBell Goddess DVD Plus Kettlebell
For men we recommend:
Enter The Kettlebell

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The kettlebell or girya is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a shot put or cannonball with a handle. Kettlebells were used by legendary old-time strongmen in Russia, Europe and in the US in the 1800's up until just after the turn of the century. Soon after the 20th century, kettlebells largely disappeared in the US, but stayed popular in Russia. But now they have made a comeback. Kettlebells are now for everyone! Watch this...

Come to our Silver Spring location at 12200 Tech Road and try your first kettlebell class for FREE. Yes, FOR FREE! To register, call us at 301-622-9000 or email us at

We strongly recommend the Kettlebell Foundation and Kettlebell Basics DVDs as a place to start. CLICK HERE for our KETTLEBELL STORE!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Female Flow

For those people who feel that woman can't, or shouldn't be, kettlebell training, you are dead wrong.  There is nothing I like more than empowering women, and this video should do just that.  I know I personally could not duplicate this routine being shown, and don't know another male that could either.  So men, drop the ego....