Moving Strong(er) Equals Training Strong(er)

by Russell Andrews on May 25, 2016

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Russ Andrews Group Class

First, let’s consider the human movement system. What parts are involved? What is moving? What initiates the movement?

The human movement system is comprised of the nervous system, skeletal system, and the muscle system—including all the connective soft tissues: tendons, ligaments, and fascia. The nervous system is the master control center of the entire body. It coordinates every function, contraction, and every movement. The nervous system is a super highway of sensory and motor output controlling proper functions, compensating for deficiencies, and altering positions and patterns to maintain homeostasis. The human body is a global tensegrity unit.


Nerve impulses contract muscles. Muscles and tendons tug on the bones. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, and fascia covers a great portion of the entire system. The skeleton can’t generate movement without muscle contractions. The soft tissue cannot contract to move the bones without the neural input firing impulses into the muscles. It takes all three systems to generate movement.

In perfect human movement, every muscle would be the perfect length, have perfect tension, and have perfect flexibility. The skeletal system would be perfectly uniform and aligned to move with precision and accuracy. The joints would have freedom of movement and quality mobility.

But we aren’t perfect.

Throughout life, we encounter interruptions and interference to our movement system. Here are just a few of them:

  • Congenital issues
  • Traumas and injuries
  • Altered growth patterns
  • Diseases
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of quality water
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Excess stress
  • Poor air quality and pollution
  • Lack of movement and exercise (of any type)

These interruptions force the human system to rearrange its alignment, compensate for imbalances, alter movement patterns, and adapt to dysfunctions—all to maintain homeostasis so we can perform in our daily lives. The body will maintain this re-arrangement until there’s a breakdown, an overload, or some type of system collapse. How can we maintain our systems and facilitate efficient function with minimal breakdowns? In other words, how can we move strong(er) in hopes of avoiding catastrophe?

I teach a wonderful class at Life University in the Chiropractic Science Department called Wellness, Movement Assessments, and Conditioning. In this class, we assess movement patterns then determine the soft tissue connections involved in dysfunctional patterns. After collecting all the data, we begin re-training the dysfunctional movement patterns by introducing corrective mobilization exercises and drills. We begin with simple ball rolling on the involved muscles.

Russ2SimpleBallRollingWhen using many of the kettlebell and bodyweight exercises in Dragon Door’s philosophy of addressing the total athlete, the improvements and results are phenomenal. When improving dysfunctional movement patterns, it is important to introduce corrective patterns through sensory input. This way, the brain can begin rewriting the movement patterns recorded in the cerebellum.

Some of the exercises we use are the get-up, windmill, one-leg deadlift, goblet squat, cossack stretch, renegade row, bear crawl, and arm bar. These movements are the “backbone” corrective exercises. We also mix in crawling patterns, diaphragmatic breathing, and bodyweight core-engagement exercises.


Teaching the kettlebell exercises to Chiropractic students peaks their interest in the versatility and advantage of knowing how to incorporate the kettlebell in correcting movement patterns.

As my good friend Max Shank has repeatedly said, “To improve movement at a certain joint, say the gleno-humeral joint, work from the inside out.” That’s where the focal point of the corrections begin. Strengthen the core, next work on proper diaphragmatic breathing, address scapula stability and mobility, and then arrive at the gleno-humeral joint for strength and mobility. The same formula of working inside out also applies to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.

Along with teaching and instructing at Life University, I work with a local high school building quality athletes with kettlebells and movement exercises. These young players are experiencing the increase in strength and mobility that the kettlebell exercises deliver.

Moving Strong(er)             Training Strong(er)

Moving Strong(er) Training Strong(er)

Lastly, at Train Strong Gym, I work with local athletes. We use kettlebells to develop athletic strength and mobility. The benefits from kettlebell training is almost endless.


In these three platforms, I have the privilege of introducing the value that the kettlebell exercises delivers to all these students and athletes. The knowledge and experience gained at all these levels is invaluable.

Russ Andrews Fingertip Pushup


Russell Andrews, Chiropractor (23 years), Assistant Professor at Life University, RKC, FMS, 30 years in Strength and Conditioning, certified in kinesiotaping. Previous speaker for the Glazier Football Coaches Clinics, lecturer, future author, co-instructor with Beth Andrews, Senior RKC at


Why Recertify?

by Dan John on May 18, 2016

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Dan John Instructing at the 2016 San Jose RKC

As I review my half-century in the weightroom (I started lifting in 1965), I begin to see our world of strength through the lens of something Arthur Schopenhauer noted:

“When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.”

With my massive collection of Strength and Health magazines and the short-lived American Athlete magazine, I can pick up an issue from just after World War II and see articles about how to repair the wounded warriors. The training presented for injured veterans was just like what most people now consider training: laying down on machines, isolation work and a few sets of about eight to ten reps. While that kind of training is perfect for someone with compromised health and fitness, it’s not optimal for elite sports performance!

I can read articles from the 1950s and see kettlebells used for leverage work, curls and grip training. I have found swing articles from the 1960s that emphasize dangerous overflexion at the hinge and overextension at the plank.

Yes, kettlebell work had basically devolved into a mess. Powerlifting had pushed Olympic lifting out of the way, and the bench press became the answer to every question. It wasn’t a good answer. Some excellent coaches and trainers were pushing the strength envelope, but others were bogging us down. Speaking of bogging us down in the mess, one famous strength coach advocated using mud as resistance and noted “progress will be made.” It works for pigs, so why not?

“Whadduya bench?” became the fitness standard. We saw the rise of the machines for leg training—as if leg presses indicated anything in the field of play or nature. The world of lifting was a mess.

Dan John's Goblet Squat

Dan John’s Goblet Squat

And then, the kettlebell returned and all credit—all credit—goes to Dragon Door if you wish to be historically sincere. As an Olympic lifter, I couldn’t fathom how these kettlebells could help me. I was surprised when I learned that the swing (done correctly and not how I first did it) made me a better Olympic lifter when I better understood the hinge. As much as I knew how to coach the squat, the horns on the kettlebell allowed me to teach pushing out the knees with the elbows. And, I invented the goblet squat.

One arm pressing trumped most of the overhead work I was doing with throwers as it demanded the hard work of the whole chain of anti-rotation muscles.

I became a better coach with kettlebells. But, I wouldn’t have been ready for them when I first saw them in Strength and Health.

As if kettlebells were a part of my coaching life’s plot, they arrived exactly when they needed to arrive…like what Gandalf says about wizards.

I learned enough to fill my head at my RKC certification in San Jose in 2008. Oddly, I learned even more a few months later as an assistant at an RKC at UCLA. And, I learned more again and again and again…

I started coaching in 1979, and thirty years later my head was being filled again!


I tell people all the time, you can’t think through a ballistic movement. To understand the swing, snatch and clean, you need to “hear” the standards, drills, corrections, and the insights several times before it “clicks.” Oddly, your technique might be seamless, but you might not be able to coach someone who has a simple error in their technique. Or, you might be able to “see” the problem, but your own technique is muddled.

When it comes to the goblet squat, get-up and press, are you really prying, packing or patterning the correct path? Or, are you just getting the reps in? Are you putting the kettlebell down like a professional every single time? How is your breathing? Your tension?

Hip Hinge Coaching San Jose RKC

You need other eyes. You need community.

You need to recertify!

I work with a handful of RKCs daily. It is a rare few weeks, when someone does NOT take me aside and point out that I’m making a basic error. On paper, I am a Master RKC—but in my own training, I am just another person swinging a kettlebell. I try not to get lazy. I try to stay packed and attack the hinge.

…but sometimes I don’t.

Over time, skills degrade. “Safety is part of performance,” except when we get tired, lazy or pressed for time. There are no excuses for lack of safety!

Dan John Coaching San Jose RKCRecertifying will get eyes on you again. Recertifying for $500 means three days of expert teaching and evaluation from at least three people, if not many, many more. This is a bargain compared to hiring a personal trainer.

Whenever anyone returns from a retreat, a clinic, conference, or workshop, the enthusiasm and excitement drips off of them. They have clear eyes and a missionary zeal.

When I first embarked on my RKC journey, I came home and converted everyone I knew to the “Kettlebell Crusade”.

But, like all things, this wanes over time. It’s not bad or good, but without community, without an ongoing dialogue, the battery runs out of excitement.

Outside of an annual visit to “Kettlebell Kamp”, the best thing I can recommend is recertifying.

For as much as I learn during the day, I think I learn more at night. At dinner, we exchange emails, gym insights, training mistakes, and fixes. A wealth of information seems to fit perfectly on a napkin. My favorite RKC dinner moments are when John Du Cane gives me a “MUST” read book recommendations. I am forever grateful for his recommendations.

JDC does an interesting thing, when he asks for my book recommendations, he opens his phone and buys the books as I list them. If you believe in Shark Habits (“One bite!”) like I do, then this is a good example to follow.

It’s a rare day when I do NOT get a text, email, post, or message from someone I met at an RKC. It’s nice to recommit to the shared experience. But, people still move on, drop off and walk away. Recertify your way into a new group of people who can walk the walk with you.

For example, if you were certified before 2008, you missed the goblet squat. Since then, the get-up has been revamped several times. Finally, I think we’re teaching it with the appropriate steps, corrections, and drills. The sections on programming are tighter and clearer with more actual programs.

San Jose RKC Seth Munsey Group Getup

There are more swing drills and clearer correctives. In other words, the RKC is evolving. There was nothing wrong with the Sig Klein articles in Strength and Health, but kettlebells and kettlebell training has evolved. I rarely wear leopard skin and lace up boots when I train. (Note: I said when I train. My gym is judgment free, so you would be welcome to do what you need to do.)

I enjoy being part of this evolution. As much as I loved the original notion of the “kettlebell revolution”, the kettlebell won. If you are keeping score, I enjoy the kettlebell evolution ever more. Hundreds of people teaching thousands of clients with millions of swings will produce new insights, new ways of teaching and greater clarity with problems and issues.

I believe in investing in my continuing education. I sit in the front row at workshops and sign up for a weekend certification or conference at least once a year. It’s hard to find a better deal than the $500 for the three-day RKC recertification.

In 1993, with two little girls in the house, I flew out for a week-long discus camp at Dennison University. For that week, Tiffini worked full-time along with fulfilling full-time mommy and daddy work. It cost a lot—money we didn’t have—and it was a ton of work for me.

But, it changed my life. I have gone back every year since. It sharpened my coaching toolkit, opened my mind to new possibilities, and honed my own techniques.

We have earned back, in every way, this investment.

Look at recertification with the same lens: for $500, you are recertified for three years. More importantly, you’ll have a chance to fill your quiver of arrows, add new tools to your toolkit, experience a dynamic new community, learn new and evolving information, and get new sets of eyes on your technique.

The question shouldn’t be “why recertify?,” it should be “why not?”

It is the perfect way to plot your career.


Master RKC, Dan John is the author of numerous fitness titles including the best selling Never Let Go and Easy Strength.

Dan has spent his life with one foot in the world of lifting and throwing, and the other foot in academia. An All-American discus thrower, Dan has also competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and the Weight Pentathlon, an event in which he holds the American record.

Dan spends his work life blending weekly workshops and lectures with full-time writing, and is also an online religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri. As a Fulbright Scholar, he toured the Middle East exploring the foundations of religious education systems. For more information visit:


From the RKC manual:
There are four compelling reasons to recertify and keep your RKC status.

The number one reason to recertify is to keep your skill level up to the current standards of the RKC. This signifies the importance you place on continuing your education and keeping your personal athletic skills sharp.

The second reason to recertify is the obvious benefit you receive from the Dragon Door marketing machine, by being listed as an RKC on the website. This can lead potential clients to you and give you a presence within and outside your on community.

The third reason to recertify is the ability to network with like-minded trainers. This is an extremely valuable tool to help keep you current, offer support and advice in all manners of kettlebell training and professional issues.

The fourth reason, is to continue to receive a discount on purchases of kettlebell and Dragon Door kettlebell products. Orders can be placed by logging you’re your instructor account online, where qualifying products are automatically discounted, or by calling customer service at 1-800-899-5111 or internationally 214-258-0134. Identifying yourself as a currently certified instructor is required, so the phone agents know to use your account to place your order.


7 Steps to a Bang-Free Kettlebell Clean

May 11, 2016

Few movements in “kettlebell land” frustrate people like kettlebell cleans. Not everyone enjoys the bruising and soreness we often deal with while learning cleans. And, cleans can get stressful if we’re anticipating multiple slams to the arm. In my years as an RKC Instructor, I’ve found kettlebell cleans to be one of the most challenging […]

Read the full article →

Two Quick, Easy and Effective Kettlebell Exercises for Any Population

May 4, 2016

There is something to be said about simplicity of movement and reinforcing the fundamental patterns of our kettlebell lifting. I’ve taken two basic exercises and by using two kettlebells and focusing on the correct alignment and movement, I have turned them into simple and effective exercises for all populations—including your brand new clients, older clients […]

Read the full article →

How to Increase Your Grip Strength for Better Kettlebell Swings and Snatches

April 27, 2016

Train Your Weakest Link… If I had a quarter for every person I’ve trained who blurted out, “That wasn’t too hard, I could have done more but my grip was giving out,” after a difficult set, then I would have enough money to pack a pair of shorts, my 32kg kettlebell, and then swing my […]

Read the full article →

How to Dominate the RKC Snatch Test

April 20, 2016

For many, the Snatch Test is a fearsome obstacle to RKC certification. But it does not have to be that way. When you start training frequently enough and have acquired good technique, you will be able to beat the challenge. It’s like learning vocabulary in school—you know what is expected of you, so it becomes […]

Read the full article →

Dan John, Dr. Chris Holder and Chris White instruct at the San Jose RKC

April 15, 2016

I recently saw a terrific movie at one of our local Indie theaters, called Tangerine by Sean Baker (who has now become one of my favorite directors). Tangerine is about transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles. Shot in a raw, neo-realistic, “street-doc” style, it’s funny, endearing, soulful, sad and enlightening. And beautifully shot. I loved it! […]

Read the full article →

The Standing Power Band Plank

April 13, 2016

Solidifying the top and bottom positions of the kettlebell swing are key components to teaching someone to swing correctly. I have two go-to drills: one is part of the RKC manual and curriculum (the towel pull drill), and the other is something I had been using as a core activation drill. I found the standing […]

Read the full article →

HardStyle Breathing: On and Off

April 6, 2016

Breathing is an important key to performance. If you neglect it, you leave a big piece of the performance puzzle on the table. If your mission (like mine) is to reach the apex of your physical potential—or get as close as possible—you should consciously use your breathing to reach your goals. Why is breathing so […]

Read the full article →

The Journey Doesn’t End with the Title

March 30, 2016

My RKC workshop was in April 2009, and I didn’t pass at the workshop due to a failed snatch test. I submitted a video one week later to earn my RKC title. I recently stumbled across that fateful video and of course, I watched it. I watched it with a little bit of shock and […]

Read the full article →