Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Kettlebells?

One of the biggest selling points of Kettlebell training is that it’ s strength, cardio, and mobility all in one
efficient training. Unfortunately, when many people think of those 3 components they think yes, we know
cardio is important to keep us in shape and keep our hearts healthy, being strong is pretty important, but
often they gloss over mobility. “ I don’ t care if I can touch my toes” – well, I don’ t care if they can touch
their toes either. When we in the RKC community speak of mobility, we mean the ability to move properly,
to own the primitive movement patterns we seem to lose when we get stuck behind a desk or in a car all
day long. The mobility that is critical for our health and well-being.

It’ s a matter of fact that the American Society as a whole lives in flexion. We sit and do work at our
computers, behind the wheel, on a couch – and even our children are growing up playing video games
instead of playing outside. Many in our society cannot move the middle of their spines (the thoracic spine)
in order to stand up straight. I have seen countless people who have no thoracic spine mobility say “ But I
can stand up straight” and then they move from their lower back. It’ s no wonder that back pain is the most
common ailment among Americans. Or maybe someone says “ But I can stand up straight” and then they
move from their shoulders. Either way, they are compensating with poor movement pattern and making
things that much worse.

Even many “ gym people” who are a step ahead of the sedentary spend their time looking in the mirror
working their biceps, and pecs, and then what happens? They build up the front of their bodies and neglect
the backside. They too, end up in flexion. The problem guys who "can’ t put their arms down" have because their "lats are so
huge" (a "disorder" that some lovingly call ILS - or Invisible Lat Syndrome) is more likely caused by an
immobility in their thoracic spine rather than bulging muscles.

What’ s left is a society with poor thoracic spine mobility, no shoulder stability, weak and tight hip flexors,
and no glutes - well, no strength in the posterior chain at all. As fellow RKC, Paul Lyngso said "We look like a group of Mr Burns' from the Simpsons!"

The beautiful thing about Kettlebell training is that it addresses all of these issues: regaining the rolling,
standing, kneeling primitive movement patterns as well as training the posterior chain making us mobile,
strong and powerful. And the best part about it is that good practice can take only 30 minutes (or less) only
a few times a week!

Basic, Basic, Basic. If someone is proficient at the two foundation Kettlebell exercises: the swing and the
get-up, they will more than likely move better, perform better, and feel better than most of the population.
The swing is strength and cardio in one exercise; the get-up is strength and mobility in one exercise.
Everything else is icing on the cake. "Magic" happens with the other exercises when the basics get better.
In one particularly busy month last year I stopped all training except, MRKC David Whitley's Furnace,
twice a week. What happened? I set a PR on my military press without training presses. The WTH effect
in full force. As taught in the CK-FMS course, we need a solid base of mobility and stability before we can
even think about piling strength on top of a bad foundation.

So why Kettlebells? The foundation Kettlebell exercises teach us to move properly and counteract the
damage we do by the postures we live in. They train our bodies to work as a unit and have the composition
we are made to have - and the exercises are so efficient and powerful that it takes a fraction of the time
many are accustomed to spending on their training.

5 comments:

  1. Great post Delaine...so very very true!!

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  2. Kettlebells rock. I have much greater strength and mobility since I started Kettlebell training with Delaine at Gym Condition. So glad Kettlebells will prevent me from looking like any character on the Simpsons!

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