Stumped on Warm-ups?

by Laurel Blackburn on April 16, 2014

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laurel1 Stumped on Warm ups?Laurel3 Stumped on Warm ups?I remember being a newly minted RKC back in 2009. I couldn’t wait to get back and start training clients. I had a head full of knowledge and a heart full of pride and excitement.

One of the things that stumped me a bit was doing warm ups and movement prep for my classes. Yes, we learned some basics such as the pumps and hip flexor stretches, but after doing that class after class, I was looking for something more. Something my clients and I wouldn’t get bored with doing before every class.

As I continued with my education through Dragon Door and the RKC, I was able to add to my knowledge and my toolbox. By taking the CK-FMS in 2010, I learned about compensations for proper movement, and how to correct them. I added many of the correctives to my own movement prep/warm up as well as my classes.

I noticed that my client’s movement improved and their performance skyrocketed. The workouts that followed a good movement prep helped them perform the Kettlebell exercises with much better form. The better the form, the more they got out of our workouts.

My classes are thirty minutes and many of my personal training sessions are thirty to forty minutes, so I was looking for something that I could do with them that didn’t take a lot of time. The movement prep had to hit all of the areas that are crucial to getting the most out of their workouts. The movement prep also had to give me the most “bang for my buck” in addressing some of the most common problems I see in many of my clients such as ankle, thoracic spine mobility and proper breathing techniques.  Again, I added to my arsenal by continuing my education by taking the Primal Move certification. This certification was the final piece of the puzzle in providing my clients and myself with everything needed to address the biggest movement and mobility issues.

I took everything I’ve learned through certifications and workshops and came up with my own movement flows. They are quick and easy and my clients enjoy them.

I’ve included one of my favorites and I will be posting a lot more in the near future. I hope you enjoy this, more importantly, I hope your clients enjoy them. Let me know what you think and please let me know if you have any special cases or issues with your clients that need specific drills. Chances are I have a movement flow that will address these issues.

Have fun and get moving!


 Laurel Blackburn is an RKC Team Leader and owner of Boot Camp Fitness and Training and Tallahassee Kettlebells.  Look for Laurel at or

At 51, she is out to prove that age is just a number. Her goal is to motivate and inspire people everywhere, both young and old that strength, flexibility and mobility can get better with age. Follow her adventures on her blog:


The Core Issue

by Jay Armstrong on April 10, 2014

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Jay Getup Seated Position DD 1024x1006 The Core IssueWhy Exercise?
Why are you exercising?  One of the reasons I often hear is “I want to strengthen my core”.  To do this many people are doing exercises (or thrashing about) while standing on an unstable surface such as a wobble board or a Bosu ball.

Another popular technique for developing a strong core is the plank.  Now, I am a big fan of the plank since it demonstrates the principles of connection, linkage, tension, lengthening, etc.  However, spending lots and lots of time practicing the plank will make you really good at doing the plank.  This is particularly valuable if you fear that you might fall down in a dirty place with spiders and snakes on the floor and you will need to hold that position (about 8 inches above the ground) and be very still for an extended period of time.

A strong core that is only strong while you are stationary is pretty much useless.  You need a core that can be strong while you are in motion.  This requires two things:
1.    A core that is resistant to loading in a variety of directions, and
2.    The ability to use your arms and legs while your core is stabilized.

Enter the Turkish Getup.

Stability in Motion
This is a perfect example of a skill that requires a stabile core while the body is in motion.  The weight overhead is supported and lifted by force directed into the ground.  This force must go through limbs that are connected to a solid and strong core.  The ability to maintain spinal length during movement is an essential element for most athletic activities.  The muscles on our back put the spine into extension while the muscles on the front of the body put us into flexion.  Both sets of muscles plus the muscles on the sides of our trunk must have a balanced amount of contraction in order to stabilize the spine in this straight, elongated position.  You may consider this to be a good postural position and a corrective exercise for the many hours you spend hunched over your iPhone texting your friends.

Seated Position
The first move of the Turkish Getup involves moving from a supine (or lying) position to a seated position.  If you tuck your chin and curl your spine into flexion as you perform this movement you will find that it pulls your arm forward, causes your leg to rise, and makes it very difficult to move into the seated position.  Contract your abs while simultaneously opening your chest and lengthening from your head to your tailbone.  This requires “core strength” in motion as you move from the lying position to the seated and nearly vertical spine position.  The downward force of the kettlebell must travel through the arm, through the “core” and into the floor.

Jay Getup Bridge DD 1009x1024 The Core IssueKneeling Position
Transitioning from the seated position to the kneeling position is the second move of the Turkish Getup.  During this phase you will pick up your hips and put one knee under yourself.  Simultaneously pushing into the floor with one hand and one foot puts significant force into the side of your torso.  So, your core will develop strength and stability from the side of your body.  This is one of the areas often missed during popular core training sessions and it can be difficult to load in a practical manner.  Increasing the weight or slowing down the transitional movement will both add load to this lateral core training drill.

Standing Position
Finally, you will move from the kneeling position to the standing position (or perform a one-arm, overhead lunge).  For most people this is a very challenging movement pattern.  Tight hip flexors and a rounded thoracic spine encourage the spine to pitch forward as the knee comes off of the ground.  This will be accompanied by increased extension or rounding of the lower back or lumbar spine.  Stabilize your low back by tightening your glutes and abs as you begin the ascent.  Visualize the top of your head rising or being pulled upward by an invisible string.  Of course, you may need to do significant, additional work to improve your thoracic mobility and to open up those restrictive hip flexors.  However, the ability to stand up and kneel down with a strong, connected, and stabile core is an essential movement skill and is well worth the effort you put into improving this skill.

Jay Getup Kneeling Position DD 802x1024 The Core IssueThe Turkish Getup provides a wealth of opportunities for developing that all-elusive “strong core” in a straightforward and practical manner.  It may not provide you with all of the excitement of holding a gut-wrenching, 5-minute plank but the type of core strength that you will develop will serve you well in other athletic movement patterns.


Jay Armstrong is a Senior RKC, 6 Degree Black Belt TKD, and Master Z-Health Trainer.  The past 30 years have been dedicated to helping others develop confidence through increased strength and pain-free, exceptional mobility.  His quest for knowledge continues.  He runs The Kettlebell Club in Houston, Texas and can be reached here.

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Dirty Dozen #9 The Get-up

April 2, 2014
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The next movement in our Dirty Dozen Line-up is #9, The Get Up. The Get Up is often referred to as the Turkish (TGU) or Low Sweep Get Up. Just the mention of the movement conjures up fear, apprehension and utter abhorrence in most people. I had the same attitude until I began to absolutely […]

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Elite Abs: “Hollow Plank Positions” (Part 1 of 5)

March 26, 2014
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Master RKC, Keira Newton shows you how to achieve a true “hollowed out” position with several different strength-building plank variations. *** Master RKC, Level 3 Z-Health, MCT. Keira first picked up a kettlebell in 2005 when her husband challenged her to stop laughing and start swinging. She stuck with the challenge when she realized that […]

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…It’s Only the HKC!?!?

March 18, 2014
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I’ve had the honor and pleasure to attend pretty much every certification that Dragon Door has offered for over a decade and I’ve always been impressed with the extremely high quality, professionalism, and thoroughness of each and every one of these events. The quality of the instruction and the enthusiasm of the attendees are unparalleled.  […]

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Painful Elbows? Look at Your Technique

March 5, 2014
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I can’t count how many people I run into, that have elbow pain and had to stop or back off their kettlebell or pull-up training. I’m sure you know someone who has developed pain in the elbows after working up to heavier cleans and snatches or just more volume. Perhaps they have just started Convict […]

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Fitness, Health, and Performance

February 26, 2014
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What is the primary goal of exercise? What is the primary objective to training at all? The answer is that it depends entirely on the individual. However, most of us will fall into the health category. This would include anyone who is not a professional athlete getting paid for their level of performance. Fitness and […]

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What is the most versatile RKC movement?

February 19, 2014
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Shannon demonstrates a good and a bad Get Up stance The Turkish Get Up is the most versatile movement in the RKC system. It incorporates all seven of the FMS movement patterns  - squat, hurdle step, in line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk and rotary stability – allowing us to utilise it […]

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The Four Pillars of Strength

February 12, 2014
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INTRODUCTION People are constantly looking for new ways to increase their strength.  They get wrapped up in changing up reps, loads, intensity, and new exercises in the blind pursuit of strength. This pursuit usually entails looking for a new training program, tool, or gimmick that they desperately hope will give them an edge and increase […]

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Martial Artists and the Kettlebell Swing

February 5, 2014
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When I encountered the kettlebell, it was love at first swing. I knew immediately that this was a tool that would complement (rather than interfere with) martial arts training.  Traditional efforts in the gym trying to develop big muscles made me strong, sore, and SLOW. Swinging a kettlebell is clearly not traditional weight training.  It […]

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