The Kettlebell Front Squat is a key movement directly applicable to virtually every sport and to ALL sports requiring explosive power and strength positions. The squat is also essential to everyday life. Picking up our child, carrying suitcases, getting up out a chair – to name a few. Many people believe that they can’t squat. However after one short lesson they realize that they can. In most cases, if you can sit on a toilet you are able to squat. We utilize an active negative method of pulling the hips into the squat position. Barring any severe deficiencies or physical limitations, this method has remarkable results – usually the first time it is applied!
Why is the Kettlebell Front Squat such an essential movement? The strength gains from the Kettlebell Front Squat experienced in the legs, hips and especially the core are greater and with a significantly lighter load than required with the back squat. When considering Sports Performance and General Fitness, there is a breakpoint where the training required and the muscle size created actually hinders your performance. For example, if squatting 400 lbs. helps you reach a 10.4 second mark in the 100 meter dash, squatting 450 lbs may not necessarily bring your sprint down to 10.2; you may actually become slower! Yes, your squat will increase, but your hamstrings and hips will become tighter thus slowing your movement. The aforementioned numbers are arbitrary. There are far too many variables in individuals and sports to effectively assign exact numbers. In order to provide accurate assessments, experimentation needs to be conducted on a case by case basis. However, I will add one caveat; if your goal to have an extremely heavy back squat and you are a powerlfter, you need to perform heavy sets of traditional, back squats. Even though the Kettlebell Front Squat (KFS) will help boost your back squat numbers, you still need to perform the actual movement that you are competing in.
The Kettlebell is placed in front of you, whether bottoms up, racked or bottoms down. Compression and core activation is required to stabilize your truck and and your spine. Compression, tension and an active negative are all employed as you inhale and pull yourself deep into your squat. The spine is kept long and strong with no “tail tuck” as you get to the bottom. A quick, short and forceful exhale shoots you upward to the fully locked position. The strength of your upper torso is also required/developed to hold the Kettlebell(s) in place as you perform your KFS. Proper power breathing and expansion of your intercostals and serratus, not to mention the development of your pectorals, forearms, biceps and triceps. The muscles that comprise latissimus dorsi are recruited to keep your back straight and strong to handle the load in front.
As far as actual weight is concerned, you have to use considerably less weight with a KFS than for a back squat with better results and less chance of injury. On the back squat, the object is to break parallel with the greatest amount of weight possible on your back and then stand back up into the upright position. One’s back is compromised from having to bend forward to get lower and the hips are also overloaded due to the wide stance. This position does not aide you in developing the strength and proper neural pattern for strength development. On the other hand, the proper execution of the KFS lends itself to activating the Central Nervous System to develop incredible strength the legs as well as in the core/stabilizers. By keeping the spine long and strong, you develop a “Tower of Power” enabling you to move resistive loads and push with your whole body.
I could go on and on about the Kettlebell Front Squat, but I’m sure that you only have a limited time to read! You need to get in there and start practicing your KFS! Substantial gains in your leg strength, increased your cardiovascular capacity and explosive power development, while creating a healthy spine and a pair knees, are all benefits of the Kettlebell Front Squat.
Get Strong and Stay Strong!
Coach Phil Ross, Master RKC
For more information of Strength, Conditioning or Kettlebells visit www.kettlebellking.com or call 201-612-1429.
The Kettlebell Swing: Often to referred to as the “Mother of All Kettlebell Exercises” and is the root of all Kettlebell Training. The Kettlebell Swing is not only the basis but one of the biggest differentiators between Kettlebell Training and other strength and conditioning systems. The Kettlebell Swing “reverse engineers” the practitioner’s hips by the development of the hip hinge, hamstring and glute recruitment through the pop and lock required to execute the movement properly. In addition, the incredible rooting effect for power transference through the body is applicable to improved performance in virtually all sports and strength performance.
The Kettlebell Swing has so many benefits, yet many go untapped through poor execution. I’ve had people walk into my studio claiming “I love to swing, I do tons of them all of the time.” Then I watch them swing – Ooof! I don’t know where the heck they learned to “swing”, but now I know why they thought that swings were easy! No eccentric/concentric motion, shoulder’s not packed, no rooting, legs bent at the top and to much at the bottom, chicken necking so much that I thought was I hanging with Frank Perdue, lats not engaged, power leaks all over!
Now that we’ve looked at the poor examples, how do we execute the swing? Step one, find a quality instructor or at least purchase some DVDs or get your hands on a video program from one of the top flight RKC Instructors. I will mention, no matter how good a video is, nothing replaces working under the scrutiny of a qualified Kettlebell Instructor.
Starting from the ground up, let’s consider our feet. First make certain that your feet are the correct width apart. If they are too close, you’ll never be able to swing the bell between your legs. If they are too far apart, you won’t be able to completely fire your gluteus, thus leaking power. Additionally, you will tax your hip flexors more which could result in injury. Rooting with the floor is key. Take advantage of the feedback from your feet with the floor. Establishing that that intimate contact with the floor creates a map of you body’s nervous system and helps facilitate feedback and feedforward of movement. Draw your kneecaps up into your quadriceps as you lock out your knees. This should happen simultaneously to the driving of your coccyx to your naval and the contraction of your gluteus. While all of this in occurring, you need to shorten your abdominals by “zipping up” and exhaling a short, hard purposeful breath. Pack your shoulders and engage the lats as the power of the swing travels from the ground, through your feet, into your legs and through you hips and gluteus, up into your lats, passing through your arms and shoots out of the bottom of the Kettlebell. When you are swinging, think of “hips and grips”. It’s also very important that you go between full relaxation and full tension. This is how to develop incredibly useful strength!
There are quite a few swing variations. There are the two hand swings, the one hand swing, hopping lateral swing, hand to hand swing, dual bell swing, dead start swing, walking swings and the much maligned bottoms up swing, to name a few. All of the same principles apply to all of the swing variations, however there are certain unique benefits to each variation. Check out the accompanying video demonstrating some of the variations of the swing.
Now its time to get off of the computer and start swinging!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coach Phil Ross
Welcome to Master Phil Ross’ YouTube Channel. Please feel free to take advantage of this opportunity to view one of the World’s Foremost authorities on Martial Arts & Fitness: FREE OF CHARGE! Have fun and expand your training knowledge with the posted workouts, movements and Defensive Tactics.
Spencer Ross: Down Under International Championship 2013
My son Spencer has been selected to represent the State of New Jersey in the Down Under Games hosted in Australia this coming July, 2013. It will be an incredible experience for him and a great opportunity for you to help an inspiring Olympian reach his goals.
The competition is open only to this year’s Junior class and below. The competition is an Olympics for High School aged athletes. Spencer is one of the top shot putters in his age group in the country. Last Spring Track Season he threw a personal best of 55’5.25 and placed third in the NJHS State Groups (2nd in his section and 3rd in the Discus). Check out his State Meet Stats at: http://nj.milesplit.com/
2013 marks the 14th year of the Down Under Games. I checked the winning throw from the 2013 Down Under Games Shot put competition – Spencer could win the Shot Put and you would have helped a World Champion Achieve!
Below is a Sponsorship for in PDF format. What I’m asking you to do is do what you are able to help. If you have, belong to or know someone in a corporation or group that would be willing and able to sponsor Spencer in his Quest, please forward them the attached PDF Sponsorship form. I also urge people to visit the site: http://www.downundersports.
Whether or not you choose to forward this, contribute or do nothing with it; my son and I would like to thank you for your time and support. If you have any other additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me either via e-mail or phone.
Wish us luck!