Back Bridge

 

Handstand Wall Push-ups

 

 

Dips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, my son and I were on a family fishing trip in Miami. It was Saturday afternoon and we needed to train, so we went down to the hotel gym and saw it loaded with treadmills, small dumbbells and a cable machine. We looked at each other & decided to head back to the room to do a bodyweight workout.
The first group of exercises included Bridges, Handstand Push-ups and Squats. We performed 5 sets of various repetitions. The next group included Split Squats, Dips and Abdominals. We also mixed in several variations of push-ups.
It was a great workout and it was completed in the room. The movements are based on exercises from Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning book. Another little piece of equipment to bring with you is a jump rope. There are many times I intersperse bodyweight exercises with rounds of jumping rope.
When you are traveling, there is no reason not to train!
Strength & Honor,
Coach Phil

Master RKC Phil Ross Performs a Pistol Squat

Master RKC Phil Ross Performs a Pistol Squat

The Pistol (Single Leg Squat): The most difficult and beneficial leg exercise – period. The training enroute a butt to heel Pistol develops balance, trunk stability and incredible leg strength. There are weight lifters that can full squat 500 to 600 pounds, yet they collapse and fall over when attempting the Pistol.

 Let me relay a little story to you. I was cornering at a UFC Event in Houston in 2011 and went out for a bit of R & R before the fight, once my fighter was in bed. As a typical occurrence, the supporting fight team trainers and coaches usually run into each other and discuss their “Trade Secrets” and training methods. As it happened, I ran into a couple of other trainers in a local watering hole (that’s another name for a bar incase the younger crowd is wondering what I’m talking about.) So I’m talking to a couple of the other trainers and we strike up a conversation about strength training, what works best, how we train, etc… Our conversation moves onto squats. Now both of these guys were around 30 years old and are built like brick outhouses. They could both squat in excess of 600 lbs, but were not overweight or disproportionate. We started talking about the one-legged squat (Pistol) and I proceeded to demonstrate a few of them. They, of course, had to try and promptly fell over – on every attempt. Not a clean pistol performed between the both of them. I now had their attention. 
The balance, core strength and overall athletic development gained from performing the Pistol are incomparable. In most athletic events (even in walking!) you are placing all of your weight on one foot and then the other.  When you make a “cut” on the field, quickly hop from one side to the other or have to scale a deep incline, your stabilizers, tendons and and core are continuously firing. Pistols, much more than machines or bilateral, two legged exercises, increase your strength more efficiently.
 As far as injury prevention, the development of the synergy with these muscles of the leg – all at once – is incredible. I experienced a trilateral break o my left leg which resulted in 10 screws and a 5″ plate being installed.  I used Pistols as part of the rehabilitation process. I realize that whole industries have been built and billions spent on leg muscle “isolation” machines. However, when you walk, perform a task or athletic event – do you ever isolate your gastrocs, quads or hammys? The answer is a resounding “No”. Unless you’ve experienced some type of injury to a specific area, you will be creating asymmetries by muscle isolation. If you have a leg extension/hamstring machine, do yourself favor and sell it for scrap metal and practice your Pistols! 
 
So, how do we achieve the proper execution of this Ultimate Leg Exercise? You need to employ progressions and at times, regressions. This exercise, up to a certain weight, is more easily achieved with a kettlebell. The counter weight aides your downward momentum.  One of the best books on the subject is Coach Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning:  http://www.dragondohttp://www.dragondoor.com/?apid=4640 visit products/books. The progressions enroute achieving the Pistol are the best available. 
To start your Pistol Training, you must first be able to perform narrow stance squats. Once you are able to do 20 or so, you are ready to attempt shifting the weight from two legs to one. I believe the best methods to improve your Pistol is with both Top Down and Bottom Up motions. Maintaining tension throughout the full range of the movement is tantamount, especially at the bottom of the Pistol. That is the point where most people lose their tension and collapse. Go down into a full narrow stance squat and thrust one foot forward and then go up. Be sure to stomp your Pistol foot into the ground and drive your power through the heel of the unweighted leg. Grunting and focused hissing, especially when you are first learning, is very helpful.  Again, creating and maintaining the tension throughout the whole movement is essential. For the Top Down training – employ the use of a bench and once your buttocks touches the bench, EXPLODE Upward. When practicing the Bottom Up training, use a rope or band thrown over a high bar. While you improve, you’ll have to use your arms less and less to help you come out of the bottom position. There are also a variety of steps explained thoroughly in Coach Paul Wades Convict Conditioning book. Once you start to develop the ability to perform the Pistol, do it from a raised platform so that your unweighted leg does not have to be held so high. When you can perform 5 or more on a raised platform, you are ready to try a Pistol from the floor. The actual amount of repetitions before you are ready to move to the next step may vary from individual to individual. However, the numbers listed are good guidelines. 
There are more advanced levels of the pistol as well. One or two hands raised in the air adds an element of difficulty and makes the Pistol a truly Elite Movement. You may add weight. It is true that a smaller kettlebell makes performing the movement a bit easier, but once you start increasing the weight or use two kettlebells or a barbell, then you have significantly increased the difficulty of the movement.
As Always, Train Hard & Train Often!
Coach Phil
www.kettlebellking.com

The Kettlebell Workout Library is HERE!

Learn from one of the country’s top Kettlebell Authorities in your own home or gym! Master RKC Phil Ross, Star of the Advanced Russian Kettlebell Workout Video and trainer to many fighters, athletes, celebrities and physicians designed and conducts these classes, has a new Video Series Available. The Kettlebell Workout Library. 

The Kettlebell Workout Library is a culmination of more than 6 years of Kettlebell Based workouts designed by Martial Arts and Kettlebell Master Phil Ross. Kettlebell, Bodyweight, Plyometric, Dynamic Tension, Flexibility and Cardio Vascular Endurance are all addressed.

Lose weight and dramatically increase your strength with the S.W.A.T. (Strength, Weight and Athletic Training) System. There are 104 workouts and a manual included in this incredible training package. You will be able to challenge yourself and develop incredible strength and unmatched conditioning with this body of work. By simply varying the density, intensity and volume of the workouts included, each workout becomes four!

This may be the only Video Series you will ever need to purchase. The workouts will keep you strong and fit for a lifetime. Master Phil Ross has dedicated his life to training and developing programs to help athletes, fitness enthusiasts, personal trainers, coaches, law enforcement, military personnel, executives, surgeons and special needs clients to reach their goals, improve their performance and their lives. This video library is a result of more than 35 years of experience in fitness, sport and combat arts.

Bridging the generational gap with my daughter.

Spending some quality family time with my daughter back from college for her break.

What Kettlebells and the RKC have done for me. This year, I’ll be putting out my Dirty Dozen must have exercises in my monthly Blog. This will cover the 12 months of the year. However, I must digress a tad and let you know how this seemingly innocuous, yet at times evil black iron ball with a handle and the organization that promotes the training – The RKC has had an incredibly significant effect on my life. I know that it may seem impossible, yet locked inside that black chunk of iron is an incredible amount of emotion, sweat, enjoyment, pain, love, trial, tribulation and triumph.

At the beginning of my Kettlebell Journey, people thought that I was a “Crazed Man Possessed”. This may be all true, (wink, wink) but I was committed to spreading the word about  kettlebells and the RKC. I personally had never felt physically better, more challenged and more excited about a training method in my over 35 years of serious training. People looked at me quizzically when I spoke, especially the skeptics of the Greater NY/NJ Metropolitan area. Yet I never let up.

One of the first major Kettlebell/RKC events that changed my life had to do with my first Kettlebell video. I had called my distributor, BayView Entertainment, to see how sales were going on my S.A.V.E. Self Defense video series and they informed me that they were doing a Kettlebell video with Amy Bento. I let them know that I had just become RKC Certified and they asked me to do an Advanced Kettlebell Workout video for their label. They then asked me to establish contact with Amy. We were doing our shoots back to back, so we got to talking during the months preceding the shoot. I wound up letting her use some of my kettlebells for her video. Over the next year, we established a friendship and wound up dating, getting married and being blessed with our daughter Adrienne. Amy became RKC certified and her latest Kettlebell Power video just received a Top 10 Rating from Fitness Magazine in February, 2013.

My oldest daughter, Nicole, a college freshman is pursing a degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science. Nicole is a Black Belt, HKC Certified and a staunch vegan with a popular recipe blog. At 99 lbs, she can do 100 snatches with the 12kg (25 lb) kettlebell in under 4 minutes. She does yoga, zumba and martial arts in college and ran track in high school. Fitness and sports have helped her through many tough times in her life and have become a big part of her persona and a way of life. She loves helping people live better.

My son Spencer is a poster child for Kettlebell Training. He is 16 years old, 6 foot 1 inch, weighing 210 lbs. His most recent throw of 58’ 8.5” put him at the #7 spot in the nation and #2 for all High School Juniors. One of the most amazing things is that he also wins and places in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and he is anywhere from 50 to 100 lbs lighter than the other Elite Status throwers. I do not have him do barbell back squats, but he can do a heel to butt Pistol (single leg squat) with the Beast (106 lb kettlebell) with either leg, easily! He has never done a max bench press or deadlift. He only started doing those exercises last year, and only for reps. He is a true product of Kettlebell and Bodyweight training.

As you can see, Kettlebells and the RKC has had an incredible, positive impact upon my family. Heck, I even have my 74 year old mom swinging bells three times a week! The RKC is more than a simple fitness organization. It’s an incredible network of people committed to helping others achieve better lives through our proven training methods. Everyone loves to share their knowledge and help others to succeed. We have such a great community with such a vast knowledge base. I’m so thrilled to be a part of it and I know that my life is immeasurably better ever since I made the decision to pick up a bell, sign up for my RKC and go for it. I urge others to do the same. You will get back your financial investment 100-Fold!

Yes, the RKC Certification is not inexpensive. So what? Is anything worth anything cheap? You get what you pay for. If you want to learn how to use Kettlebells from watching YouTube, GOOD LUCK! If you want to be part of an incredible organization of like-minded people, join the RKC Community, it will be worth every penny.

For more information on Kettlebell Training visit Dragon Door or www.kettlebellking.com

The “Dirty Dozen” Exercises:

More often than not, I get asked “Coach, what are the best exercises to do?” Or “If you were to choose “X” amount of exercise, what would they be?”. There are a plethora of great exercises and variations that my students and I truly love to do. However if I were to boil it down to several movements that are essential to any strength and conditioning regiment, I would choose 6 Kettlebell exercises and 6 Bodyweight movements.

 

I’m not saying that these are the ONLY exercises you should do but they all should be included in your workout regiment, no matter what your focus is. These exercises will increase strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility and durability like no others. These exercises will even improve your performance with your bench press, deadlift and bar squats.

 

Over the next year, I’ll be putting forth write ups accompanied by videos on the “Dirty Dozen”. We’ll discuss variations and progressions, especially when considering bodyweight. I’ll discuss each movement in depth and give my reasoning for the selection of each movement.

 

OK- here’s the list.

 

Kettlebells: 

The Kettlebell Swing: This movement is the root of all Kettlebell Training and the great differentiator between Kettlebell based training and all other strength developing exercise systems. The Kettlebell Swing “reverse engineers” the practitioner’s hips by developing hip hinge through the pop and lock required to execute the movement properly.

The Front Squat: Single Rack or Bottoms up. Squatting is the most important movement for lower body and core strength. The Front Squat, by virtue of the position of the Kettlebell, this exercise requires the complete linkage of the upper and lower body. Tensioning of the trunk (core – tho I’m not a fan of the word) and maintaining the bell in the prescribed position requires considerable upper body engagement in addition to the tension in the trunk.

The Kettlebell Press: Pressing heavy weight above your head is very cool and extremely useful. The Kettlebell Press employs full range of motion, full body tension and active negative (downward) motion of the bell.

The Get-up: There is not a single movement that incorporates more muscles of the body than the Get up, also known as the Turkish Get Up or TGU. This incredible exercise is a signature movement of Kettlebell Training. Dynamic tension, balance, flexibility and body alignment are all developed with the TGU. The Clean: The Kettlebell Clean is used in a great deal of Kettlebell complexes, racking the kettlebell for Squats and Presses, but it’s an incredibly beneficial stand alone movement. A single arm clean taxes the stabilizers in the trunk as well as reinforcing the tensioning and relaxation.

The Kettlebell Snatch: This is my favorite of all Kettlebell movements. The Kettlebell Snatch is a ballistic movement that develops strength, endurance, speed, coordination and there is no question why this movement is used in both competitions and testing as a fitness barometer. The Kettlebell Snatch V02 Max workout is unmatched in maximizing one’s volume of oxygen uptake.

 

Bodyweight:

The Bridge: An ignored movement in American physical fitness. Very few athletes, except for wrestlers and gymnasts, utilize this crucial movement. The Bridge is exactly what it’s name connotes. The development of a strong, flexible spine linking together the upper torso with the trunk and lower limbs. Strong spinal erectors are essential to a healthy spine and unhindered movement. Key to athletics, active living and certain vocations – not to mention every day living!

Hanging Abdominals: One can do thousands of crunches and buy every gimmicky ab machine on the TV at 2:00am, nothing will develop your abdominals better than the Hanging the Abdominals. Lifting your legs up to your chest or your feet above your head develops and requires significant abdominal strength.

The Pistol (Single Leg Squat): The most difficult and beneficial leg exercise – period. The training enroute a butt to heel Pistol develops balance, trunk stability and incredible leg strength. There are weight lifters that can full squat 600 pounds, yet they collapse and fall over when attempting the Pistol.

The Hand Stand: This is the coolest of all bodyweight exercises. Nothing demonstrates full body control and balance than being able to invert yourself in the middle of a room and hold it there. The progressions building up to the Handstand develop incredible shoulder and trunk strength.

The Pull-up: There is no single exercise that demonstrates and develops upper body strength like the Pull-up. If you can do 20 pull-ups, you are in great shape. I challenge you to show me a person who can do 20 pull-ups and doesn’t have a 6-pack.

The Push-up: The Push-up is my favorite for several reasons. There are fun and challenging variations, the movement works not only your upper body but conditions your abdominals and reinforces the total body tensioning. The best thing about Push-ups is that you can do them virtually anywhere that there is a floor. Your bedroom, basement or office – anywhere. There is no good reason for you not to do them. Get started now!

 

There you have it. 12 exercises that no training regiment should be without. If you want to achieve ultimate, applicable strength and conditioning, your program needs to include these core “Dirty Dozen” exercises.

I’ve been asked “Is it possible to gain size with Bodyweight only exercise?” The short answer is “Yes”. It’s easier to accomplish upper body size gains with bodyweight training than with lower. Without meeting you personally or at least getting to know you better, it would be impossible to adequately provide you direct program recommendations. However, I will provide some guidelines and concepts.

First, a few “Don’ts”. Do not treat your calisthenics as a quasi-aerobic or simple warm up. Find challenging movements and utilize progressions, as employed in Coach Paul Wade’s book Convict Conditioning. Or view the video version with Max Shank.

Let’s address push-up, for example. I chose those to address, because you can do push-ups, even at the most difficult levels, anywhere and with no equipment. Remember to use progressions and be certain not to skip any levels in your progression. You may form “holes” on your training and hinder your ability to achieve your highest levels. Here are a couple of YouTube clips of me performing push-up variations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ-S5HK7r2w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-Pi5RkOJJs

Please make certain that you employ strict technique and do not rush through the movements. The combination of 10 second push-ups and spiderman push-ups have yielded some particularly favorable results.

As far as your legs and lower body are concerned. It is difficult reaching great size with simple bodyweight exercises. Squats and Pistol Squats (Single Leg) movements with result in a great deal of strength, but not a supper amount of size. Why is this so? You are on your legs all of the time and you need to substantially increase the resistive load to stimulate muscle hypertrophy. It’s most easily accomplished with adding weight to your exercises. I prefer kettlebells, because you can use much less weight for attain results than you would have to with barbells or machines. If you don’t have access to kettlebells or if you are adverse to using weights, employ a regiment of plyometric exercise. There is a great deal of plyometric literature and exercise programs available.

Good Luck!

Coach Phil Ross

Master RKC

www.kettlebellking.com

Master Phil Ross poses with Kettlebell

Master Trainer Phil Ross poses with Kettlebell

Martial Arts & Kettlebell Master, Phil Ross becomes a Certified Bodyweight Specialist.  In the first ever Bodyweight Strength certification conducted by Master of Sport Pavel Tsatsouline (the man responsible for bringing Kettlebell Training to the US), held in St. Paul Minnesota October 13th and 14th, some 60 participants were in attendance. The students were training in the progressions of mastery of the Bodyweight Strength Development and Master Phil Ross was one of the 15 participants to pass the exam and receive certification upon the course completion, earning the title of Bodyweight Strength Specialist. Master Ross, getting set to celebrate his 50th Birthday this October, was the only participant over the age of 40 to receive certification. He will be launching his “Fit and Fifty” program and posting YouTube clips adding more training tips to his active Phil Ross channel

Below is a write up regarding some training benefits from the training:

Naked Warrior Certification/Workshop: Phil Ross, RKC Team Leader, 8th Degree Black Belt

The workshop consisted of an incredible amount of extremely useful strength and balance developing techniques as well as strategies. The progressions to the specific tasks were particularly relevant because you are gaining useable, practical, applicable strength while you are learning strength skills. Some people may never be able to execute a one arm push-up, pistol, an L-sit pull-up or handstand push-up, but they will achieve significant strength gains and improve their lives through their strength practice.

People may think that if they can’t do a one-arm push-up, there’s no need to train in this fashion. That would be akin to telling a runner not to run, because they will never be able to run a sub 10 second 100 meter sprint. Nonsense, incredible strength and body linkage is developed with body weight training and that results in improved performance in strength, kettlebell training, weight lifting, sport, martial arts and daily life. If a student is able to perform a pull up and 20 two-legged squats, they will certainly be able to carry a bag of groceries up a flight of stairs.

Results are achieved by consistent, intelligent training patterns. Exercise discipline in your training. Build slowly and do not skip any level of the progression. That may result in “gaps” in your strength and prevent you from attaining the highest level of proficiency. Achieving real strength does not occur overnight, it’s a process. Quick gains lead to injury and rob one of their potential. Strength is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long process, but the results can last a lifetime!

 

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