Insights from Move Strong’s Kettlebell Workshop

I acknowledge that 99% of my readers are not health and fitness professionals. I will briefly explain what the workshop was about and then go into how you can improve your kettlebell training.

I recently took part in Move Strong’s An Introduction to Kettlebells for Rehabilitation and Performance –  workshop in Sydney.  The founders of Move Strong, Matt and Andrea, both chiropractors, have noticed a void in the industry and are on a mission to educate other clinicians, as well as personal trainers on how to better serve our patients and clients.

So, what’s the void Move Strong has identified in the industry? The gap between the clinical rehab and actual human movement that leads to fitness.

Side note. It’s important to point out that, as Matt stated during the workshop, their goal is not to turn clinicians into strength coaches, or strength coaches into clinicians. There is a shit-ton of space in the industry where both groups can show their expertise to help their clients and patients. The best clinicians and coaches can work together without ever stepping on each other’s toes. End of side note.

Move Strong’s principles are highly influenced by the Functional Movement Systems and StrongFirst. In the kettlebell swing technique they emphasise the Hardstyle Swing which focuses on maximum tension and power production, over of the Girevoy Sports Swing, which focuses more on the efficiency and aerobic capacity.*

As well as the swing, they covered the overhead press, the squat, and the get up, and few variations on all.

My notes from the workshop

Like most good workshops and courses, I learned something new, got reminded of things I’d forgotten, and nodded on facts that reinforced what I was already doing. Selfishly, I left a bunch of that reinforced stuff off my notes. Like, know how to deadlift before a swing, and other things that should be obvious. But, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

As I said, I acknowledge that 99% of my readers are non-fitness professionals. I won’t bore you with the geeky movement stuff. As fascinating as the movement side is, I’ll share notes that you can implement immediately to improve how you do swings, squats, presses and get ups.

The swing

  • To practice the swing do “air swing” (I know, I hate the term too) with a powerful pop & stop.
  • If you struggle to get the powerful pop from the bottom, do few reps of hip dominant jumps.
  • At the bottom, form a “magic triangle” with your groin and knees.
  • To correct shoulder dominant swings, wrap a towel around the handle and swing by grabbing the towel. Try it, you’ll see.

    The next few are more for the coaches, but you can imagine these things going on…
  • Use a flipboard to teach a deeper back swing. “Throw the bell through the flipboard”.
  • Hand tapping the upper back at top position to teach a full hip extension. “Meet my hand at the top”.
  • Catch the bell at the top to teach proper breathing, and to teach the client to wait for the bell before hinging back.

The squat

  • Drive up from the belt buckle to stop the stripper squat.
  • “Hat!” to increase core stiffness before driving up from the hole.
  • Slow the squat down when practicing form. Speed hides mistakes. Also, this makes relatively lightweight kettlebell front squats and goblet squats hard as shit. I utilise this already, but the workshop again highlighted the brilliance of slowing down. I need to do more of it.
  • For collapsed ankle, cue the big toe into the ground.

Press

  • Use both hands to start the press at the top. Actively pull the bell back into the rack position.
  • Fix excessive lumbar extension by doing the press from a seated position with legs spread into abduction.
  • Sit the bell part of the kettlebell on the palm to challenge the scapular stability. Humbling experience.

Get Up

  • “Spread the collarbone” to stop shoulders from collapsing in the elbow/hand position.
  • On the way down you should be able to pause (even if briefly) when lowering from the elbow back to supine. Don’t rush it.

The single all encompassing note I wrote down in the workshop to sum it all

Find a weak link in a strong mofo and target it to make them better (my words, not Move Strong’s).

So, be humble and drop the ego. Then find and improve your weakness(es). That’s how you build a resilient body.


*This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. Both are great, and although there is some overlapping (it’s a swing, dammit), they are a bit different. Instead of getting bogged down on the nuances and politics of different groups, let’s just leave it at that. Because, who gives a shit. Just do one that serves your goal.

Never miss a thing: email