Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday kettlebell practice

One of the beauties of the RKC system is its simplicity. There are six foundation exercises: the swing, the clean, the press, the squat, the Turkish get-up, and the snatch. That's it. There are, of course, many other valid and wonderful things you can do with a kettlebell, but the main point of these is to help you get better at the foundational exercises.

My personal favorite assistance exercise is the windmill to overhead squat. I find it very helpful with the shoulder retraction and depression that's an integral part of the hardstyle "lock." Also, it flows nicely and looks cool, and it's just a nice way to change things up when I feel the need. It pairs nicely with snatches, presses, get-ups ... basically, any exercise where the end position consists of you standing there with the kettlebell overhead and your arm locked out.

Still, much as I enjoy more choreographed routines that incorporate a variety of exercises, sometimes it just feels good to get back to the basics. On those days I like to pick two foundation exercises and do alternating sets. Generally when I'm working on the foundational stuff I prefer to do reps instead of timed sets because I find it easier to focus on technique when I'm not trying to get in as many reps as possible in a minute or 30 seconds or whatever. Today, for instance, I opted to do alternating sets of squats and snatches, with each set starting on the minute and consisting of 10 reps total. I worked for 20 minutes total, so did a total of 100 squats and 50 snatches on each arm, using my 12 kg kettlebell throughout. The squats took a little longer to complete than the snatches, but on average the work to rest ratio during the workout was about 1:1. So, a relatively leisurely-seeming workout that really allowed me to think about what was happening on each rep. I noticed, for instance, that on my left side I have a tendency to get sloppy on the descent during snatches when I'm a little fatigued. This is when self-talk comes in handy: "Keep the damn shoulder back and down, you miserable worm!" and that sort of thing.

(Note: I never talk to clients that way, and I would never work with a trainer who was verbally abusive. But for some reason I don't pay attention to myself unless I'm calling myself names. Is there a support group out there for people like me?)