I have written in the past about my affinity towards minimalist training. Reality is, the more time I spend in a gym, the less time I seem to have to train. But I always have some time. So I started taking a more minimalist approach to my own training. I basically took out everything I really don’t need to do, leaving me with only the biggest bang for the buck movements and exercises. Ultimately I am left with Turkish Get Ups, Swings, Squats, Deadlifts, Pull Ups, Bench Presses/Push Ups, Loaded Carries, and Sprints. Sticking with those movements has left me with a great program that keeps me healthy and progressing. That brings me to the Kettlebell.

Full disclosure: The Kettlebell is just a tool. There is nothing magic about it. It’s just a hunk of iron with a handle on it. In reality it’s really only good for a handful of exercises. But for those exercises it is absolutely the best choice.

This past Saturday I conducted a Kettlebell workshop at Impact Functional & Sports Training. The focus of the workshop was on the Swing, Turkish Get Up, Squat, and Pressing. Here are a few nifty tidbits from the workshop:

  • The swing requires both maximum tension and relaxation. Mastering the relationship between the two will dramatically improve athletic performance. Many athletes try to perform in a constant state of tension. The key is to learn how to relax and get tense only when needed.
  • When performed properly, the swing is one of the most effective and safest fat burning exercise. This is mainly due to the inefficiency of the movement. Basically you are going through the entire mechanism of jumping, without actually jumping.
  • If you are unfamiliar, this is the proper way to start and finish your set of swings:

  • Oh, and unless you are competing at the CrossFit games, please don’t swing overhead.
  • The Turkish get up has become my favorite way to warm-up. I generally do 2 – 3 each side then get on with the rest of my training.
  • The get up is a strength exercise. This is me performing a get up with 32kg (70lbs). It actually felt nice and easy.

  • When switching sides please don’t drag the kettlebell across your chest. Instead place it to your side by rolling over, then sit up and spin around. This is much safer, especially when you get to a heavy weight.
  • I often liken the turkish get up to a yoga practice. It is something that can never be perfected. Your get up will change every day. You will always find a new sticking point. But with consistent practice you will get stronger and move better.

I’ll talk about squats and presses in a later post. I would definitely suggest seeking out a professional when first learning these exercises. It will dramatically improve your learning curve and potentially spare you from injury.

Oh, and speaking of Tool: