Monday, September 27, 2010

A Clean Variation

 Circular cleans are a great exercise to improve your core stiffness and full body tension. However, it is certainly an advanced drill.  The idea behind the movement is to force the kettlebell outward away from the body along the frontal plane, and then cleanly redirect the bell back toward your rack position in a downward arcing motion.  The difficulty will be in staying tight through your abdominal brace and staying grounded with your feet.  Even a modest size bell will pull your center of gravity away from you, and fighting to stay still, tight, and fluid is where the major benefit comes from.

Monday, September 20, 2010

As If Your Swings Weren't Hard Enough

 So we all know there are a lot of variations of kettlebell swings. You can swing with two hands, one hand, switching hand to hand, etc.  Most variations have you change with your hands are doing.  The traveling swings do the opposite.  The focus is on moving your feet, rather than your hands, which makes them great for athletes who need to improve explosive power and agility.  Traveling swings can be performed in any direction, whether it be forward, backward, or laterally.  Be sure that when you try them, you completely extend your hips before you move your feet.  The tempo and chant to yourself should be, "Swing! Step! Step!" 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Overhead Lunges For Awesome Abs!

 Everyone is always arguing over the "best" abdominal exercises.  Some stick with situps and crunches, others go with planks, and still others get fancy specialized equipment involved.  Me? I say learn to squat, deadlift, lunge, etc.  Nothing engages your abdominal muscles better than a heavy deadlift, squat, or lunge.  Why? Because our abdominal muscles are not meant to primarily bend, flex, and twist our torso.  Like Dr. Stuart McGill has proven, our abdominal muscles are primarily responsible for transfering energy from the ground, up...through utilization of "super stiffness." 

The overhead lunge is a great variation of a lunge that significantly activates the core musculature, as well as improves shoulder girdle strength and stability.  As you will see once you try it, the lunge portion is not usually that difficult.  Rather, the difficulty lies in maintaining a stable, erect spinal column and preventing your arms from moving at the shoulder.  Try using no weight at first, and then progress to very light weight next.  Don't even think about trying a weight anywhere close to what you can press, unless your are He-Man of course!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Press Variations: Static Hold and Press

One of my previous posts showcased a pressing variation called a seesaw press. This one is about the static hold and press.  This variation requires an isometric contraction in one arm, while actively pressing with the opposite arm.  The higher the repetitions,  the longer the isometric contraction.  Much like your turkish getups that require maintenance of a static press position, this pressing variation improves the stability of the entire shoulder girdle.  This improvement in shoulder girdle function and stability directly improves your other upper body strength movements, as well as significantly lowers your risk of shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, impingements, etc.