4 *BEST* Exercises For The FOUR Phases KB Programming…?

You ever wonder what the “best” kettlebell exercises are for,
well, anything?

Let alone one thing…

Is it the swing? The get up? The snatch? The double KB
clean + jerk? Or… something else?

It all depends on your goals.

Well, that and your exercise history and your “mileage”
you know, what your history is – both exercise and medical.

If you’ve been following along over the last 7 to 10 days
we’ve been covering some pretty unique concepts and
TWO BIG IDEAS: 

BIG IDEA #1: You should have an annual plan.

You should have some idea of where you’re going to be this
time next year and how you’re going to get there.

And…

“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

You have to have some sort of metrics in place to be able to
measure your progress. And if you can’t, you haven’t made
progress, you’ve essentially regressed, and so you’ve wasted
your time.

BIG IDEA #2: If you want to maximize your results, then
your annual plan should be comprised of FOUR sequential
phases:

Phase 1: Get Rid of Your Weak Links

Phase 2: Get Stronger

Phase 3: Get Leaner

Phase 4: Get More Muscular

Furthermore, these phases are placed in this particular order
because each phase provides the building blocks for maximizing
adaptation (a.k.a. the results you want) for the next.

Pretty simple really.

(If you’ve missed or forgotten any of this info, go dig through
your inbox for my previous emails.)

And of course, one of the biggest questions raised about
these ideas is:

How do I know which exercises to do in each phase?

Great question.

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, it depends.

On…?

YOU.

Again, that history you bring to the table.

I’m going to share with you my experience based on training
people from all walks of life with all sorts of histories for
22 years.

Phase 1: Get Rid of Your Weak Links

Everyone needs more reflexive core stability.

What’s that?

It’s your body’s ability to subconsciously use your deep
abdominal/core musculature – your “inner unit” – to stabilize
your spine and your pelvis so your hips can move freely and
your body can transfer force around the spine through your
bigger muscles.

Why do people need more of this?

Sitting AND lower back injuries.

Both of them have been proven to “shut off” the deep
abdominal stabilizers.

You can choose to believe me or not – go do your own research –
I have. I’ve read the studies and I’ve lived through the
“School of Hard Knocks” – actually having a lower back
injury, and then experiencing the fallout from not having
those deep stabilizers working properly.

(Not to mention having used them for thousands of hours
over a broad spectrum of clientele.)

So what’s one of the best exercises to help you regain your
reflexive core stability?

There are many.

One of my favorites is the Dead Bug.

I’ve written about it several times, even once within the
last couple of weeks.

People are surprised at how hard it is the first time they do
it if they have poor reflexive core stability.

Shoot, the first time I did them, I think I got a whopping 5
reps per side – maybe less. And I was sucking wind and
sweating! That’s how bad my reflexive core stability was.

Like I said – there are more. This one is a start.

Phase 2: Get Stronger

There are many ways to “get stronger.”

As long as you keep the Principle of Progressive Overload
in mind, you can’t go wrong.

What’s that?

You always need to add more stress to the organism (you) to
continue to stimulate change.

Weight training “purists” point to simply adding more
weight each session to a barbell.

In the kettlebell world, more often than not, we increase
our total workout volume. (Sets x reps x size of the KB.)

For example, if you did 100 swings with a 24kg kettlebell in
one workout, and then did 110 the next, you overloaded the
system, assuming both workouts were a challenge for you.

In the second workout you lifted more total weight (did more
work) than the first – by 10% actually.

The first time through one of these cycles – these 4 phases – I
like to spend the majority of my time in the first “get stronger”
phase with unilateral KB exercises.

Why?

Because many of us are asymmetrical. Some of us are grossly
asymmetrical. And that needs to be addressed to keep ourselves
from getting injured under heavy symmetrical loading.

For example, I broke my left arm when I was 16. When it
was finally set about 5 hours later, it wasn’t set correctly. Now,
my left arm is structurally shorter and I lack full extension in
my left elbow. That makes bilateral work… interesting.

And before I knew what this structural change did to my
body when I loaded it with a barbell, I was riddled with
movement dysfunctions and compensations. One of the
most productive periods of my training career was spent
doing just single KB work.

So what’s the *BEST* single KB exercise to use during
the “Get Stronger” phase?

There is no “BEST” but here’s a really good one I love to
include in many of my programs is the Half Get Up
(also known as the Get Up Sit Up.)

Why?

Because it combines a rolling pattern (important for restoring
reflexive stability – another topic for another day but one that’s
addressed in Phase 1 programming), with diaphragmatic breathing,
with shoulder mobility/stability. It literally helps restore many
of the upper body “issues” that many of us have faced.

And it was really instrumental in finally getting the junk out of
my left shoulder when I spent a whole month back in December
2009 doing nothing but Get Up variations for 30 days in a row.
Many of my other clients who have used it experienced the same
thing.

Here’s how you do it:



1. Roll to your side and grab your kettlebell with 2 hands
2. Pull the kettlebell to your stomach or your body to the
kettlebell depending on your strength levels, and roll onto
your back.
3. Press the KB overhead with both hands and hold it over
your head with one
4. Make sure you pull your shoulder into the socket for
protection
5. Make an “X” with the rest of your body – so your “free”
arm is about 45 degrees from your body and your legs are
each about 45 degrees from the midline of your body
6. Bend the knee on the side you’re holding the KB
7. Drive from the foot on the same side as the KB and roll
up on to your opposite elbow
8. Once you’ve stabilized yourself there, roll up from your
elbow to your hand
9. Pause there and breathe diaphragmatically
10. Reverse the process and lie back on the floor

Again, that’s where we start – single KBs. And that’s just one
exercise. But it’s a really good one.

Phase 3: Get Leaner

I know and even agree that the Swing is the “center of the
kettlebell universe.”

Many of the other ballistic KB exercises are based around
your understanding of it: Clean, High Pull, Snatch, Double
Swing, etc.

So once we’ve programmed in the single KB Swing and the
person is comfortable doing those, I like to go for the Big
Boy –

The “Tsar” (“King” in Russian) of Kettlebell Lifts:

The Snatch.

(Forgive the lack of instruction here – it’s a little to complicated
to put in an email.)


Why?

Because it makes you work harder.

Not only that, but it reenforces all that great shoulder mobility
and stability you regained in the first two phases and puts it to
work in a dynamic situation – from between the legs to overhead –
repeatedly, reenforcing proper shoulder blade mechanics –
retraction/protraction, elevation/depression along the way.

Not only that, but the Snatch is challenging.

There’s nowhere to hide while snatching. You either commit
and fix the KB overhead or you don’t. It’s not like the Swing
where you can just let the bell swing lower.

And finally, the Snatch produces major “What The Heck”
moments. Not only do people lose body fat doing it, they
also report being able to jump higher, run faster, press heavier,
and even do more Pull Ups!

Like I said, this is just one of the exercises I use at certain
times of the year in Phase 3.

Which brings us to –

Phase 4: Get More Muscular

You might be tempted to think, because I’ve written at length,
extolling it’s virtues, and waxing poetic about it, that I’d pick
the double KB Clean + Press here.

You’d be close –

The Double KB Push Press.

Why?

Because I can program it all three ways there are to grow
muscle –

1) Mechanical Tension – I can use lower reps and build
muscle that way

2) Muscle Damage – I can use higher reps and create damage
within the muscle tissue itself so it grows back bigger and
stronger (like traditional bodybuilding)

3) Metabolic Stress – And here’s the really cool part – because
the DPP is a quasi-ballistic – meaning it’s a combo between a
ballistic exercise (like the Swing) and a grind exercise (like
the Press), it’s very demanding on the body.

It quickly elevates the heart rate and fatigues the muscles.
This can produce a lot of metabolic by-products – like lactic
acid.

And lactic acid stimulates the release of growth hormone,
which builds muscle.

In fact, the DPP lends itself incredibly well to methods 2
and 3.

(I’m running a Muscle Building Beta Test right now that
includes the DPP and only 2 to 3 weeks in, everyone is reporting
back significantly noticeable increases in muscularity across
their upper bodies and decreased waist sizes. Pretty cool. :-] )

Of course, like the other 3 phases, this is not the only exercise
included. It’s just one of the lesser known ones.

I’m trying to broaden your horizons. :-)

What other exercises should you include in each phase?

And how many sets and reps for each exercise during each
phase?

Those are very, very good questions.

The short answer is that both will change throughout the year,
as the year progresses.

The long answer?

I have a new project I’ll be sending you more details about
with the answers to those questions and more in upcoming
emails.

Keep an eye out for them.

Talk soon.

Geoff

P.S. Just realized you might be wondering –

“Where’s the specialized MetCon work?”

I’ll answer that in upcoming emails too.

In the meantime, see if you can guess. :-]

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