On Saturday January 15, 2011 Pavel came to San Diego and taught his Return of the Kettlebell Workshop. It was the second year in a row he taught this in San Diego and Yoana and I were honored to host it again. It always amazing to learn from Pavel and to realize how much knowledge he has is quite humbling. Every workshop I attend of Pavel’s is always a huge educational experience and I’m sure all the students would agree with me. We had a great line up of assistant instructors including RKC II Tim Shuman, RKC II Thayne Shatah, RKC Alex Verdugo, RKC TL Paul Daniels and RKC Cassie Charlebois. RKC Level II Max Shank also came for the second half of the workshop and dropped a knowledge bomb on all of us with his expert instruction on the Push Press and Jerk.
We started off the workshop with a great joint mobility session from RKC II Karen Smith who was in attendance and from there got right into SWING practice. We spent the majority of the morning going over SWINGS and then DOUBLE SNATCHES (which are a big part of the ROTK program). Pavel also spent quite a bit of time teaching MOBILITY drills for the T-Spine and shoulders. We learned some variations of the BRETZEL stretch, how to properly use the Foam Roller for opening up the T-spine in all directions, as well as some effective TRX stretches.
The second half of the workshop was all about JERKS, PUSH PRESSES, FRONT SQUATS and FLEXIBILITY training. Pavel wraped up the seminar with a phenomenal talk on program design.
Here are some of the main principles that we went over:
- The Swing is the foundation of all kettlebell movements. You MUST LEARN how to static stomp into the earth during every part of the swing.
- The main reason people have trouble in their double snatch is that they do not continue to drive their feet into the ground. In the top position of the double snatch you must still STOMP into the ground. Failing to do so forces you to overuse your arms and leak power. You want the KB’s to float up in the air. This will happen if you use your hips well.
- The grip position is different for Presses and Jerks. Presses require a crush grip while Jerks/Push Presses require a soft hand and finger position.
- Never compromise your postural integrity. Find a balance in your posture, not the exaggerated flexed posture of a GS competitor nor the ultra puffed out chest of a bodybuilder. A neutral upright posture is what is needed.
- People often forget to power breathe or breathe at all during swings. Fixing your breathing during swings sometimes is all that is needed to feel more solid and take away lower back discomfort.
- Goblet squats are an excellent warm up/mobility drill for Front Squats and Deadlifts. Try PRYING your hips in the bottom position and shuffle your feet from side to side to achieve great mobility. Make sure that the elbows are pressed against the Vastus Medialis (the tear drop muscle in your quadriceps on the medial side). Keep your chest up tall!
- With MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY you must be PATIENT. Do not TRY to be flexible. Let it happen at it’s own pace. Do NOT MOVE INTO PAIN.
- Use total RELAXATION when entering new ranges of motion in your flexibility training. Breathe into the tense areas. RELAX on the EXHALE. Flexibility requires a lot of patience. Most people do not get flexible because they are not patient and they do not WAIT OUT their muscles. Often longer durations are needed in each stretch to make permanent changes in the tissue.
- 3 S rule: use STRENGTH, SPREAD the LOAD, Find SPACE while stretching.
- Other important Flexibility factors: Learn to RELAX!!!! PRY back and forth, side to side, in every direction. This is Brilliant and works every time!
- JERKS: 3 D’s
- DIP / DRIVE / DIP
- The Jerks involves timing and coordination. You must learn to maintain great posture during all three phases of the Jerk. It is okay to come up on to your toes during the DRIVE phase but you must keep the heel planted when you catch the weight on the third DIP and when you CATCH the KB’s as they come back to the start position.
- When DRIVING the KB’s up it helps to think of sliding your feet forward on the ground almost as if you were doing a KNEE EXTENSION Machine. Of course you will not be able to physically do this but your INTENTION should be kick your legs out as this will help the KB’s get in back of you in the top position.
- PROGRAM DESIGN: ROTK uses the BLOCK System which uses 2 weeks of GRINDS and 2 weeks of BALLISTICS.
- Why Blocks? Because you cannot get good at many things at one time. Your body and mind have limited adaptation resources at any time.
- You make the GREATEST GAINS when you start something new, or at least something you have not done in a while.
- USE IT OR LOSE IT. Once you stop training you will get out of shape. The Block system helps solve many training problems. Two weeks of strength followed by two weeks of power is not enough time to lose either of these attributes.
- The GRIND block will bring up the slow strength and MASS. Then for two weeks you will stop grinding, knowing that two weeks are not long enough to lose your muscle. The EXPLOSIVE movements will focus on a different mechanism of hypertrophy stimulation, explosive strength endurance and other types of endurance. Then you return to two weeks of grinds and continue cycling these two blocks while progressively increasing the weights and volume.
- THE ROTK is great because it gives you the best of both worlds: Strength, Muscles and Explosive power endurance.
- The IMPORTANCE of CYCLES
- Everything in NATURE is CYCLICAL. Our bodies have cycles. The Seasons are Cycles. The Universe is Cyclical. Our training must be CYCLICAL!!!
- You MUST NOT HAVE ONLY ONE GEAR!!! You must be Cyclical with your training.
- You cannot train “ALL OUT” all of the time. Have several different gears.
- DO NOT POINTLESSLY “Work yourself out”. Have goals…have a plan……work your plan.
- Think of a training session as a “LEARNING LESSON.”
- You must balance out your HARD training with easy training and relaxation. Slow relaxed stretching at night is effective at helping you sleep more deeply.
- Remove stressful things out of your life. Maybe it’s a brutal Mortgage, a terrible job, a bad relationship….whatever it is…do your best to minimize toxic people, environments and situations. Do this and your training will improve.