Home Posts tagged "Kettlebell Swing"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/9/18

I hope you're having a good week. I was off the grid for a few days for a mini family vacation in Maine, so this post is a few days late. However, as you can see, the scenery was well worth it!

The Ideal Business Formula - I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of this book by Pat Rigsby, and it was outstanding. I highly recommend any business owners out there check it out.

The Underrated Value of Mediocrity - This was a quick read from Tony Gentilcore, but the message is important and enduring.

This surgeon wants to offer cheap MRIs. A state law is getting in his way. - This article was an interesting look at the rising costs of diagnostic imaging - and how one surgeon is challenging existing laws in order to make these tests more affordable.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/22/14

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you're all doing better than I am with your holiday shopping. While I

Kettlebell Swing: How to Cue the Hinge and Never Perform a Squat Swing Again - Here's a great video post from Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Gentilcore's website. It'll help you to avoid one of the most common kettlebell swing technique mistakes.

kb

Squat Right for Your Type - Todd Bumgardner authored this insightful piece at T-Nation last week. I see a lot of folks try to jam a round peg in a square hole when it comes to squat technique, and the information in this article can help folks avoid that tendency.

Dodgers Betting Brandon McCarthy Can Shoulder the Load - I Tweeted about this article last week, and I think it's a great message for the blog as well. Brandon McCarthy just got a big contract with the Dodgers, and his recent success can be heavily attributed to the fact that he's healthy and durable for the first time in his career. That came about because he was open-minded enough to tinker with his training approaches - even when he had already "made it" to the big leagues. It's a great lesson for young athletes.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 59

It's time to rock and roll with a new installment of quick tips you can put into action with your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs:

1. Enjoy some cherries!

Cherries are in-season right now in the Northeast, and my wife and I have been enjoying them regularly. In addition to being really tasty and loaded with nutrients and some fiber, there is actually a bit of research to suggest that eating them may help us overcome muscular soreness. Granted, working around the cherry pits is a bit of a pain in the butt - especially if you want to use them in a shake - but it's still worth the effort. Enjoy!

cherry

2. Watch baggy shorts with kettlebell swings.

Rugby players and female athletes excluded, most athletes prefer longer shorts that are a bit baggier these days. I don't anticipate a return to the era of Rocky and Apollo anytime soon, so it's important to appreciate this fashion sense and coach accordingly.

The biggest issue with baggy shorts is that they can get in the way on exercises like kettlebell swings and pull-throughs where you want to keep the weighted implement (kettlebell or rope/cable) close to the family jewels. When the shorts are too baggy, they can actually get in the way.  With that in mind, when an athlete is wearing baggy shorts and performing these exercises, it's best to have him folder over the waistband a bit so that the material won't block the movement path.

3. Find your biggest windows of adaptation.

Dr. John Berardi gave a great presentation at the Perform Better Summit in Chicago last weekend, and while there were a lot of outstanding points, one stood out the most for me. While "JB" is an incredibly bright guy with seemingly infinite knowledge, he never overcomplicates things when counseling folks on the nutrition side of things.  In fact, he stressed fixing the most glaring problems for individuals before even considering anything more "sexy." On the nutrition side of things, it might be as simple as correcting vitamin/mineral deficiencies, getting omega-3 fatty acids in, improving hydration status, or eating protein at every meal.  When things like these are out of whack, it doesn't matter what your macronutrient ratios or, or whether you eat two or six times per day.

It got me to thinking about how we can best apply this to training. One thing that popped to mind: a lot of people jump to advanced training strategies when they simply haven't gotten strong in the first place. If you are a male and only bench press 135 pounds, you don't need wave loading, drop sets, German Volume training, or accommodating resistances; you just need to show up and keep adding weight to the bar each week with straight sets, as boring as they may seem. And, if you aren't training very hard or frequently enough, you need to increase your effort, not find a fancier program.

Likewise, there are a lot of people who look to add, add, and add to their training volume, but never pay attention to recovery. If you're sleeping three hours a night or eating a horrible diet, a lack of training volume probably isn't what is keeping you from reaching your goals.

The takeaway message is that everyone has different windows of adaptation where they can improve. And, what a novice lifter needs is usually much different than what an experienced trainee should incorporate.

4. If you're going to sprint, start on the grass.

It's an awesome time of year to get out and do your conditioning in the beautiful weather. For me, this means I get to get outside and do longer sprints than I can do the rest of the year when the weather is less than stellar and I'm limited to a 45-yard straightaway at the facility. A common mistake I see among folks at this time of year, though, is heading right out to the track or an even more unforgiving surface: pavement. If you want to start sprinting, grass is your best friend - and it's even better if you can find a slight hill up which you can sprint. For more tips on this front, check out my old article, So You Want to Start Sprinting?

5. Try some band-resisted broad jumps before deadlifting.

Whenever I'm not feeling so hot when I first go to deadlift, it's usually because I just haven't warmed up thoroughly enough. I've found that the bar speed almost always seems to "come around" when I add in a few sets of plyos before returning to try deadlifts again. Without a doubt, my favorite option on this front is band-resisted broad jumps:

These are a great option because they offer a little bit of resistance to push you more toward the strength-speed end of the continuum, but perhaps more importantly, the band reduces the stress you encounter on landing, as it effectively deloads you. Next time you're dragging and it's time to deadlift, try two sets of five jumps.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 40

Today, Greg Robins has five more tips to help you get your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs on track.

1. Clean up your unilateral deadlift technique.

If there is one exercise that I see butchered on a daily basis, it’s the 1-arm, 1-leg RDL. Furthermore, it makes coaches look like they are speaking French when they try to get people to do it right. It’s a great exercise, but here are the issues:

• It’s used right away in the majority of popular programs as the staple of unilateral hip hinging.
• It’s there because it’s difficult to hurt yourself doing, mainly due to the lack of weight in an effort to maintain some semblance of balance. Therefore, people just assume that over time people will figure it out and get better.

Just because doing it incorrectly with 5lbs is “safe” doesn’t mean it’s that productive; especially if you still can’t get the form right. It’s a hard exercise that I feel has somehow got the reputation of something easy.

Instead of getting frustrated, try doing the exercise to a dead stop every rep. You can use a KB, or elevate a DB on some mats. Allow yourself to reset every rep, just like a normal deadlift. Having two points of contact, albeit for just a moment, is enough to keep you in check.

2. If you’re stuck, evaluate your approach.

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum." -Bruce Lee

There are three types of people in the gym. The first is a group of people who don’t know a thing about training philosophy. The second is a group who know enough to understand what’s important and what’s not. The third is a group who knows just enough to completely twist up their training.

The majority of you are in the third group. The other two groups are the minority. The majority is making little progress. The minority is continually improving. If this was graph here’s what it would look like:

Progress

 

If you are making good progress, keep going. If you are stalling, you may be somewhere in the middle of my chart. In this case, really evaluate your training approach. Somewhere along the way you may have begun to acquire just the right amount of exercise variations, percentage schemes, and who knows what else to halt your progress.

At this point, do two things:

One, ask “why?” Why does jumping help, why does speed work help, why this and why that? You can’t go back to group one, so you have to try and get to group 2. This means you take something you read, and you look at where that person gets their information. When you do that, you might find that jumps aren’t doing what you thought they did, either is speed work, or that new exercise with all the bells and whistles.

Second, get back the secret of group 1. When you are in the gym, shut down your analytical side. Work hard, have fun, and trust your gut.

3. Utilize benches for better push-up regression/progression.

4. Do more complexes.

Maybe it’s me, but complexes are not talked about or used nearly enough. They had a stint three years ago or so where they were all the rage, but are slowly becoming worthy of a spotlight on VH1’s “Where Are They Now.”

I can assure you they are not hung over, face down in a pillow like 70% of the other people on that show. Instead, they are alive and well and deserve a spot in your training.

A complex is any series of exercises, done in sequence, with the same weight, preferably without putting the weight down.

Why I like them:

• Limited equipment
• Time efficient
• Helps groove form on major lifts
• Time Under Tension
• Doesn’t involve running
• Sucks in just the right way
• Tension, again

Things to remember:

• They are taxing. I prefer to see them used at the end of a training session.
• If used on off days, I prefer to see them done at a conservative intensity OR done all out if you are not lifting the next day. For example, if you take the weekend off lifting, Saturday would be a good spot to hit complexes.

Here are two of my favorites:

Barbell:

Barbell RDL x 6-10
Barbell Row x 6-10
Barbell Squat and Press x 6-10
Barbell Reverse Lunge w/ Front Squat Grip x 6-10/leg

Kettlebell:

Double KB Swing x 5–8
Double KB Clean x 5–8
Double KB Press x 5–8
Double KB Front Squat x 5-8

5. Consider another variation of the "plyo push-up."

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Hip Extension and Rotation in the Baseball Swing

Today's guest blog comes to us from Jeff Albert, one of the bright minds in the world of hitting instruction. I've enjoyed Jeff's stuff for years, and I think you'll like it, too.

Hip extension is a getting a lot of attention in the fitness world these days. Eric Cressey was asking us to get our butts in gear back in ’04, ESPN recently made a Call of Booty, and we now have our very own glute guy, Bret Contreras. Kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, deadlifts, and squats are staples of exercise programs for athletes for good reason: they make the posterior chain stronger and more explosive. This, in turn, makes it easier for athletes to do things athletes are supposed to do - like run faster and jump higher.

But how is this going to help with your actual skills? What is the role of hip extension in the baseball swing?

EMG studies in both baseball (Shaffer et al 1993) and golf (Belcher et al 1995) report highest muscle activity of the primary movers of the posterior chain – the hamstrings, glutes and low back – happens during the beginning of the forward swing. The exercises listed above are often programmed because they target the same muscles. Very conveniently, those muscles are also responsible for creating rotation in the swing.

Here’s the key point: good hip rotation has an element of hip extension!

This is what it looks like from the front and side in the swing:

Check out the belt line as the hitter transitions from landing with his stride foot to making contact. This is the actual unloading of the hips during the forward swing. You should be able to see how the hips (belt line) lower into flexion (load) and then actually come up a bit as the hips extend (unload).

Unfortunately, the baseball EMG study only measured muscle activity on the back leg. The golf EMG study, however, measured both legs. An interesting point from this golf study is that in the initial forward swing (from the loaded position to horizontal lag position), activity in the quads (vastus lateralis was measured) of the lead leg was higher than the posterior side (glutes, biceps femoris, semimembranosus). This makes sense because the front side is accepting some shifting weight during this time. But, when the club is being moved from the horizontal lag position to contact, the hip extenders again become more active. Baseball instruction commonly refers to having a “firm front side”, but we haven’t talked much about how that happens. This golf EMG suggests that extension at the hip, rather than knee, is more responsible for creating this effect.

Keep this in mind if and when you are working on the lower half in your swing. Very often players can show a nice, powerful hip rotation and extension pattern in the gym (throwing medicine balls, for example), but look much different when they pick up a bat in the cage. Differences in terminology that you’ll find between the gym and the batting cage can often be a cause of this, and sometimes players just don’t make the connection between their physical conditioning and their actual swing.

If you do struggle with rotation of your lower half, give some thought to the hip extension and rotational work that you do in the weight room and pay attention to the patterns that you’re developing there. First of all, make sure your hip extension and rotation are good in the first place, and then see if you can repeat the movement pattern when swinging the bat. The whole point in creating strong, explosive hip rotation in the weight room is so you can actually use it to create more power when you finally have the bat in your hands.

Happy Hacking!

About the Author

Jeff Albert is a CSCS with a MS in Exercise Science from Louisiana Tech University. Jeff is entering his 6th season as a coach in professional baseball, now serving as a hitting instructor in the Houston Astros organization. He works with players of all ages during the off-season in Palm Beach, Florida and can be contacted through his website, SwingTraining.net, or follow him on twitter (@swingtraining).

References

1. Bechler JR, Jobe FW, Pink M, Perry J, Ruwe PA. Electromyographic analysis of the hip and knee during the golf swing. Clin J Sport Med. 1995 Jul;5(3):162-6.

2. Shaffer B, Jobe FW, Pink M, Perry J. Baseball Batting: An Electromyographic study. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1993 Jul;(292):285-93.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 24

Compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins, here are this week's strategies to help improve your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.

1. Create better tension in the Turkish Get-up.

2. Add fat to your shakes and smoothies for easy calorie addition.

For those of you looking to gain weight, here is an easy way to add more calories into your daily routine. When preparing shakes and smoothies, consider adding sources of healthy fat. Many of these options are easy to include, add a considerable amount of calories, and do so without adding a lot of actual volume.

Some of my favorites additions include: olive oil, coconut, coconut oil/butter, chia seeds, cacao nibs, almonds, walnuts, and nut butters.

3. Watch the kettlebell as reference for swing technique.

It’s great when you have a coach or training partner available to help give you feedback on your exercise form. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. One thing I love about the kettlebell swing is this easy way to gauge whether or not your form is staying on point. Check out this table I made for your convenience.

If the bottom of the kettlebell is above the wrists at lockout, there are two probable causes.  First, one may be excessively extending the spine instead of fully using the hips; the solution to this would be bracing the core at lockout to keep the rib cage down, and think about squeezing the butt cheeks together.  Second, the wrists may be "breaking" - which equates to pulling your knuckles to your nose; the solution to this is to keep the wrists locked in place, but maintain a medium/low intensity grip on the kettlebell.

If the bottom of the kettlebell is in line with the wrists at lockout, you're in a good position!

If the bottom of the kettlebell is below the wrists at lockout, there are two potential causes.  First, you may just be raising the kettlebell with your arms instead of using the hips; the solution is to think "swing out" and think of the arms as just "connectors" between the 'bell and your body.  Second, this faulty position may come from a "death grip" on the kettlebell; you'll want to relax your grip to the same medium/low intensity I discussed earlier.

4. Activate the glutes in all three planes of motion.

Glute activation is obviously an important element in many of our warm-ups, and programming strategies. However, we tend to focus primarily on glute function in the saggittal plane. Bridging variations dominate weight rooms and gyms across the country. It’s important to consider the function of the glutes (max, med / min) in all three planes of movement, and train them accordingly. Make sure you include exercises that attack this muscle group in the frontal and transverse plane, as well as drills to train their function in all three planes at once.

As an example:

Side Lying Clams - Transverse Plane - external/internal rotation.

Side Lying Straight Leg Raise Variations
- Frontal Plane - abduction/adduction.

Supine Bridge Variations - Saggittal Plane - flexion/extension.

Bowler Squat - Tri-Planar - flexion/abduction/external rotation.

5. Consider using balloons in breathing intensive drills and exercises.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend my first course with the Postural Restoration Institute. While the course was not on respiration, we were introduced to a few basic principles used within their approach to aid in respiratory facilitation.

One training aid I found particularly helpful, easy to implement, and under-utilized was - of all things - a balloon!
Using a balloon gives you feedback as to how fully you are exhaling, something many of us think we do, but tend to never fully complete. Additionally, the balloon acts as a source of resistance to help fire your abdominals. This activation is particularly important in heavily extended populations, such as athletes, and active individuals.

Give it a try by including it in drills such as the dead bug, or supine 90/90 belly breathing.

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