How to Turbo Charge Your Big Six

by Phil Ross on September 23, 2015

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Master RKC Phil Ross Kettlebell Split Squat

There are so many workouts, so many movements, and so many choices… So, what’s the best way to train? Variety is the spice of life, but is it necessary for achieving optimal fitness levels? As humans, we tend to get bored, so we are on a continuous quest for something different, something better. But on the other hand, we are also creatures of habit. We tend to go to the same restaurants, buy the same type of car or get the same breed of dog. We like a certain level of comfort and familiarity. Yet, we still yearn for the exotic, the different. This is part of the Human Condition. What does this have to do with training? Everything. 

We can achieve both with our training and quench the desire for both the exotic and the basic. I wanted to shock my system (and my students’) with the basics. Most people might think, “WHAT? With the basics? To shock our bodies, we need variety! We need to keep it off-guard! I’ve been doing kettlebells for years, show me some new moves!” Au contraire my friends, try the workouts below and treat yourself to some very basic movements performed in a method that will blow you away!

Even though the movements on the whole are very basic, the delivery and the proper execution of the sets require a great deal of skill. Due to the density and intensity required, these workouts are designed for a more experienced Girevik.

You have to be prepared to challenge yourself weight-wise as well. Your snatch test size kettlebell or heavier is required as a starting point for the workouts. Get set to challenge yourself with these basic routines… or are they really so basic???

We start all of our classes by jumping rope for 3 to 5 minutes. Then we perform a myriad of mobility, stretching and tension movements with the bo staff (dowel). After that, we perform some freehand stretching, crawling patterns or primal movements. But even then we are still not ready to put some iron in our hands.

Instead, we will generally perform three sets of three different bodyweight exercises. Some examples would be as follows:

  1. Scapular push-ups (20 reps), thoracic bridge (5 each side) & deck squats (10).
  2. Deep squats (20), pull-ups (80%), planks (various)
  3. Handstands or crow stands (1 minute), Table top bridges (10), Skewed squats (10 each side)
  4. 10 Ninja push-ups (push-up, table top bridge and frog squat)

When starting the cycle, I begin with the overall basics tested in the RKC Level 1. Then I move to the next workout and so on. Do them in the order prescribed for the best results.

Workout 1: RKC Basics:

Armbar, Lying side press and kettlebell pullover, 2 sets, 10 reps of each (each side, when applicable).

Now we perform the RKC Basics Complex. Do anywhere from 3 to 5 sets.

Phil Ross BackswingPerform these as one big complex, moving from one exercise to the next without rest. Take a one minute rest period between the rotations. This is a great method for prepping for your RKC Level 1, a re-certification, and it is also a good way to prepare for part of your RKC-2.

RKC Basics Complex: Use RKC Snatch Test sized kettlebells or larger

  • 1 Heavy get-up each side
  • 10 Double kettlebell swings
  • 5 Double kettlebell cleans
  • 5 Double kettlebell presses
  • 5 Double kettlebell front squats
  • 10 Snatches each side

Once you are done (with your 3 to 5 sets), do 3 sets of the following:

10 reps of single kettlebell split squats, followed by 10 reps of single kettlebell rows. Finish one side and then do the other. Rest for one minute between sets.

Cool down and stretch

Workout #2: TGU Pyramid and Swing Ladder

Once you have completed one of the warm-up circuits, preferably one including arm bars, we need to make certain that our shoulders and hips are prepped for the task ahead.

Phil Ross Get UpGet-Up Pyramid. Begin with your snatch test size kettlebell. Perform 5 reps on each side. Move up to the next sized kettlebell and do 4 reps on each side. Repeat this with 3 reps at with a heavier kettlebell, 2 reps with the next heavier kettlebell and then one rep with the heaviest kettlebell you are able to use. Once you’ve gone up, go down repeating the sequence in reverse. This will yield 60 repetitions. If you are not able to increase on every set, use good judgment and only use a kettlebell that you are able to safely perform the get-ups with proper form.

Next, we will perform a swing ladder. 5 reps of each, for 10 sets. Start with the snatch test sized kettlebell and move up each set while maintaining the same amount of repetitions.

I happen to have a plethora of kettlebells (well in excess of 100), so it’s easy for my students and I to change kettlebell sizes. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to improvise by doubling up kettlebells (double kettlebell swings, for example) or doing two sets at the same weight before moving on.

We will now work on our push-ups to round off the session. We do one set of standard push-ups, generally between 20 and 50 reps, depending upon your fitness level. Follow this up with 2 sets of plyometric push-ups, anywhere from 10 to 20 reps.

Cool down with some restorative stretching and you’re done.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Turbo Charged Series…..

Strength & Honor,
Coach Phil Ross


For more information on Master RKC, 8th Degree Black Belt, and Bodyweight Specialist Phil Ross’s strength and conditioning programs, videos (including The Kettlebell Workout Library), and workshops, please visit


Miyagi Pinball: Tilt Your Kettlebell Snatch!

by Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner on September 16, 2015

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Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner Kettlebell Snatch

“You’re the best around. And nothing’s gonna ever keep you down”. That’s what they’ll be singing after you apply the following tips to your snatch technique. The following tips will improve your kettlebell snatch and help you destroy your snatch test if your RKC Workshop is coming up.

The kettlebell snatch is actually a fairly simple move, but people love to overcomplicate it. Over the years, I’ve broken down the technique into two simple words that pack a punch—or a crane kick—MIYAGI PINBALL! (Remember The Karate Kid?)

Two super common errors you’ll see with the Hardstyle kettlebell snatch are:

  1. Rotating or corkscrewing the kettlebell around the wrist as the kettlebell travels up and down.
  2. The arm staying straight during the entire snatch.

This is where “Miyagi” comes in. You have to paint the fence! Imagine you are Daniel-san standing in front of a fence. Your hand is an imaginary paintbrush. You’ll begin to paint upwards with the back of your fingers, then as you near the top of the fence, you’ll spike your fingers upward. The palm of your hand faces outward in this position. Now reverse the same motion on the way down. This will eliminate the first common error (corkscrew rotation) I previously mentioned. Painting the fence will also dramatically decrease the wear and tear on your hands when performing high rep kettlebell snatches.

Steve Holiner Kettlebell painting the fence

Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner in motion while demonstrating the kettlebell snatch “painting the fence” cue.

Do the following to fix the “straight arm” issue: Stand facing a wall, feet together, and with your right arm fully extended. Make a fist then move close enough to the wall that your arm is still straight and your knuckles are making contact with the wall. Now take a half step forward and allow your arm to bend. Paint the fence from this position. We’ve just shortened the arc of your kettlebell snatch, and that’s a very good thing.

Please note, that it is possible to try and shorten the arc too much. This will cause the kettlebell to travel almost straight down the body, forcing the elbow and shoulder to snap almost like a whip. We want to shorten the arc, not eliminate it, and you’ll still need some space to allow for a smooth transition into the backswing.

So, grab your kettlebell and go “Miyagi” on it! Hike the kettlebell back, snap your hips, let the elbow bend, and “paint the fence” until the kettlebell is locked out overhead. Reverse and repeat. If that feels different then you’ve earned that Karate Kid black belt from JC Penney.

Now, here’s where “pinball” comes into play. Having completed, witnessed, and administered over one hundred snatch tests, I’ve noticed another common (and fatal) flaw. Many people will allow their hinge to get shallow as they snatch—and they lose the ability to generate a TON of power when this happens.

Steve Holiner Pinball Backswing

Your hips are a pinball hammer. The kettlebell is the pinball. Pull your hips deep into the hinge (always while keeping the shoulders above the hips, and hips above the knees). As you “paint the fence” into the downward eccentric phase of the snatch, “pull the hammer back” by deeply hinging, then squeeze your glutes hard and fast, drive your feet into the floor, stand tall and “paint that fence”! The kettlebell will soar overhead.

Here’s a combination to help practice the “Miyagi Pinball”:

  • Heavy dead swing x 5
  • Snatch x 5 per arm *Remember to “Paint the Fence”.
  • Heavy dead swing x 3
  • Snatch x 8 per arm
  • Heavy dead swing x 1
  • Snatch x 10 per arm

Here’s why it works:

The kettlebell snatch is about efficiency. Shortening your arc means that you will have to project the kettlebell over a lesser distance to get it overhead. Shortening the arc also allows you to cut the kettlebell’s momentum as it approaches the lockout. This drastically reduces the risk of wear and tear on your shoulders. Using your hips to project the kettlebell will also keep your shoulders and back healthy, while cutting back on undue fatigue during high rep snatches.

Do you think any above would help you crush an RKC Snatch Test?

I do.

A fellow coach at MFF, Laura Smith had this to say about “Miyagi Pinball”:

“After Steve told me to “paint the fence” (karate kid style of course) I never had hand issues again. After months of my hands tearing every time I did a snatch test, this was life changing.”

There it is gang.

Try it and let me know what you think.


Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner’s superhero headquarters is Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC. Fury’s a Senior RKC, a DVRT Master Chief, and an Original Strength Instructor. He is available for classes, semi-privates, instructor training and programming at MFF. Check out Instagram @iamcoachfury and Twitter @coachfury for more info.


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