Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Do The Move! Don't Just Make the Shape."

When fellow RKC assistant, friend, and RKCII (now Team Leader!) Andrew Read from Dragon Door Australia said this as he was teaching the group at the RKC in April, a little lightbulb went off in my head. I feel like I've been saying that forever, just not in that way.  I've been using lots of words to say the same thing, like "don't just go through the motions, feel what your muscles are doing" and "don't think of your 'to-do' lists in the gym, focus on your body and what you're doing - you'll get more out of your workout".

What these people were doing, in essence, is "making the shape" of the exercise and not "doing the move".

I'll give you an example of someone "making the shape". This lady is the one in your gym right now reading a magazine on the leg extension or the inner thigh machine.  You know you've all seen her and this is not to pick on women, but it's usually a woman reading a People Magazine about how Jessica Alba got into bikini shape.  I digress...

Now, I'm not going to say I'm a huge fan of machines, but if you actually concentrate on the muscles you're working, control the weight with your muscles instead of letting the weight control your movements, you may actually get some benefit from those machines.  Those people probably saw a trainer from across the gym show a client how to work that machine, saw the shape that person was making, and copied the shape. What they didn't hear was the trainer coaching the client on how to effectively do the move: activating different muscle groups, squeezing the muscles at the top of the movement, and then controlling the weight back onto the stack.

So how does this relate to kettlebells?

Doing the Move is HUGE!

Ok, so I'm not going to name any names.  Partly because there are too many out there- on youtube, trainers in your gyms, trainers on TV....  Most of the people you see are making the shape.  They generally say the right things- that the kettlebell is an extreme handheld gym (I would clarify: "in the right hands"), that it works your whole body (clarification: "if you do it right"), and you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time (again: "if you do it right").  But the problem is, what they demonstrate is not incorporating the things they are saying.

Here's my video on what NOT to do!

Now, you probably won't get hurt doing this with light weight.  It's fine, but you can do it with a dumbbell and you're not getting the maximum benefit from the kettlebell, its unique shape and center of mass, and the total body workout you're looking for.  It's a squat and forward raise- awesome for quads and anterior delts.

When you actually do the move, it looks something like this:

You're activating every muscle in your body. The swing motion (back and forth NOT up and down) is generated by throwing your hips back, throwing the kettlebell behind you, and then allowing your legs to do the work to swing the kettlebell forward.  Your body stops in a standing plank position at the top and your arms are loose- allowing the kettlebell to swing.

This is one of the big reasons I clung to kettlebells like I did.  The way Pavel and the awesome team of instructors at the RKC teach kettlebell techniques fit the way I've always trained.

You can't just go into a gym or pop in a video, put in your time, and think you're going to get results.

So get with a local RKC and start Doing the Move!  The results with be worth it!


If you want to see the whole video with my commentary, here it is:


  1. In trying to describe the wrong way to folks, I'd been using, "wavy arm, squaty thing"; 'just making the shape' is a lot clearer - in fact, perfect! -- thanks

  2. Hi, thanks for this...one question...the 2nd video on this page "is not available in my country" (Germany) according to youtube. Is that something your can fix?