CrossFit, Kettlebell Training, Kale Salad and Donuts

by Nick Lynch on October 26, 2016

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

Nick Lynch kettlebell press

First off, I’d like to admit that I love donuts. It may or may not have been the years of skipping Sunday Boy Scouts to watch The Simpsons with my dad that programmed my subconscious to love donuts but nonetheless, I love donuts. Would I eat them all the time? Only if I wanted to be as soft and squishy as the crème filled varietal. I’ve come to learn that in order to have a donut here and there, I need to eat some kale salad. So what’s all this donut and kale salad talk have to do with CrossFit and kettlebell training? Everything…and here’s why.

I’ve learned to appreciate CrossFit over the years. Many clients that I train with participate in it, love it, and swear by it. If it weren’t for Crossfit, I’m not sure kettlebells and dinosaur training would be so popular today. CrossFit has popularized otherwise forgotten strength secrets like carrying heavy stones, pushing and pulling heavy loads, and of course, Olympic Lifting. But, it’s the Hardstyle training methods that we teach as RKCs that make these lifts safe and effective. You could say it’s a match made in heaven! So what’s with the whole kale salad and donuts analogy? Well, the vast majority of the people I know who participate in CrossFit quickly realize that they can’t only do CrossFit. They need their kale salad, which in this analogy is Hardstyle kettlebell training.


Kettlebell training serves as corrective exercise and therefore has functional carry-over to other intense physical activity, such as CrossFit. One must master his/her breath, the hinge, the wedge and gain strong grip strength in order to perform such exercises as the Hardstyle swing, strict pull-up, Turkish get-up, snatch and strict press. Guys like Bolt take home gold medals for having a strong hinge, wedge, wrists, feet and coordinated breath. When you take talent and combine the skills required of an RKC, you’re on your way to a gold medal, so to speak. You’re a strong and functional athlete.

Hinge = staying in your wedge, reach your butt towards the wall behind you without forward bending of the knees.

Hinge = staying in your wedge, reach your butt towards the wall behind you without forward bending of the knees.

 Wedge = shoulders packed, pelvis neutral, glutes locked and abs flexed rock solid.

Wedge = shoulders packed, pelvis neutral, glutes locked and abs flexed rock solid.

The general population does not lead a physically challenging lifestyle. We type, we click, we press, and we swipe to “work” our grip strength. Our daily squatting happens in the form of on-and-off the toilet and up-and-down off a chair. That said, we don’t have the wrist strength and the hip/lumbar/thoracic mobility to safely barbell snatch overhead and catch the bar without something debilitating happening; hence the high injury rate associated with intense physical activities. I’ve learned that you can greatly reduce debilitating injuries during any activity simply by learning functional movement patterns and gaining strength with RKC kettlebell training. It’s fun to eat donuts just like it’s fun to snatch a barbell. But you can’t eat donuts all of the time just like you can’t snatch a barbell all of the time. You’ve got to have your kale salad just like you’ve got to have your corrective exercises.

I here’s a major example of how one can utilize Hardstyle kettlebell training as a form of corrective exercise to enhance their athletic performance at CrossFit:

Phil Ross RKC demo

Wrist strength. Many movement patterns in Olympic lifting require catching a fast moving weight with the wrists in extension. This pattern forces the body to respond with borrowed movement from the elbows, shoulders, back and knees putting the body in a dangerous and compromised position. In martial arts and fighting, this body position would require one to submit or tap out. You’re basically rendered useless as your successor could, if they wanted to, break your arm. Additionally, I want you to think for a second about how many sports and or physical activities require an emphasis on extended wrist positions. Here’s a few functionally and daily movements that DON’T require extended wrists: pull-ups, deadlifts, running, climbing, swimming, rowing, punching etc. Lifting weights in a way that means you could tear or break your arm is a bad idea unless you practice the solution!

Extended wrists in action as showcased by Jared Byczko, RKC and owner of CrossFit Naptown:

Jared CrossFit Naptown wrist extension

The solution: Hardstyle Turkish get ups, kettlebell presses, knuckle push-ups, strict pull ups and bottoms up presses. These exercises require you do the opposite of Oly lifts. In addition, the speed in which you perform such exercises is slow and focused. Wrists maintain a neutral and flexed position throughout each exercise therefore strengthening. Lastly, the body does not need to borrow movement to compensate, instead, one can utilize the wedge to support the weight. The wedge strengthens your whole torso and hips, while the neutral and flexed position of your wrists strengthens your wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, shoulders and postural chain.

RKC Workshop Jared squat

Now you can go a little more nuts next time you clean and jerk with the barbell for reps.

In the following program, I’m going to outline a simple and effective corrective exercise program that utilizes kettlebells. I’ve found that bodybuilders, CrossFitters, powerlifters, etc. all respect and enjoy this program simply because it’s difficult, yet restorative.

Day 1 – WOD – light – Practice your technique, don’t go heavy, don’t set new PRs, be mindful of form. 50-65% max

Day 2 – Hardstyle – Follow the program listed below. Ensure you practice the Hardstyle technique as it’s specifically designed to strengthen your wrists, postural chain, hands/wrists and feet.

Day 3 – WOD – medium – Same as Day 1 except go a little heavier (but not much!). 65-75% max.

Day 4 – Hardstyle – Follow the program listed below.

Day 5 – WOD – hard – heavy- 80-90% max.

Days 6 and 7 – Functional human activities such as running, jumping, swimming, climbing, carrying, etc.

You may have noticed on the hard WOD day I recommended going 80-90% max. Save your 110% effort for every 3-6 months. After all, the greats really only PR once or twice per year and that’s at a competition.

Hardstyle Program-Day 2:

Suitcase Deadlift – go heavy, 3-5 reps

Push ups – on front two knuckles if you can, otherwise on two kettlebells or Neuro-Grips

Rest 1:30

Repeat 4 sets

Farmer Carry – very heavy for 30 seconds. For extra grip strength, wrap a towel around the handle of your bell

OH Press – 3-5 per side, medium weight, stellar technique!

Rest 1:30

Repeat 4 sets


Reverse plank x10 seconds

Plank x10 seconds

Side planks, both sides, x10 seconds each

Rest 30-seconds

Repeat 2-4 sets


Hardstyle Program Day-4

Goblet Squat – heavy, 3-5 reps

OH Double press – medium, 3-5 reps

Rest 1:30

Repeat 4 sets

Pull ups – 3-5 reps

Split squat – medium, 3 reps per side

Rest 1:30

Repeat 4 sets


Log roll – 5 to the right, 5 to the left

Mtn Climbers – 20 reps

Pelvic Push Ups – 3 reps

Rest 30-seconds

Repeat 2-4 sets



RKC Team Leader Nick Lynch is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Milwaukee School of Engineering University (MSOE). He owns Superb Health Milwaukee, a kettlebell studio in Milwaukee, WI. He has 13 years of full-time training and coaching experience and a lifetime of wellness education. Nick lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife Natalie and son Weston.


How to Smooth Out the Kettlebell Snatch

by Ryan Jankowitz on October 12, 2016

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

Ryan Jankowitz, RKC-II Kettlebell Snatch Drill

At first, the kettlebell snatch exercise can be daunting to learn. However, if you have a solid one-arm swing and are able to keep a kettlebell locked out overhead from a press or a get-up, then the snatch is definitely within your capabilities.

One of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen when teaching someone to snatch is not letting the elbow bend on the way up. This lack of elbow-bend will create a large arc for the kettlebell to travel—far away from the body—before landing overhead. That landing will be very jarring to the shoulder since the energy of the kettlebell will directed back behind you after traveling a large arc. Ideally, you want the energy of the kettlebell to travel a path nearly parallel to the body, then down when the kettlebell lands overhead. This path can only happen when we bend the elbow and keep the arc of the kettlebell fairly close to the body.

To teach my clients how to bend their elbow when snatching, I have them snatch a light kettlebell from the ground without using a backswing as a teaching drill. Start with the light kettlebell positioned between your feet so that it stays close to your body on the way up. From this position, explosively snap your hips forward while pulling the kettlebell straight up along your body. Punch your hand through the handle to finish in an overhead locked out position just like a standard snatch. This drill should be one smooth movement and not a clean and press.

After a few successful reps of this drill, go back to the standard RKC snatch to see how it feels. Hopefully, this will help smooth out your kettlebell snatch and make it much more comfortable on your shoulder.

Stay Strong,
Ryan Jankowitz


Ryan Jankowitz, RKC-II Instructor, CK-FMS, is a life-long athlete who can’t imagine sitting behind a desk. He enjoys sharing his passion for fitness and spreading the RKC knowledge. Ryan operates an online fitness coaching service and is available for private kettlebell workshops as well. You can reach him at or through his website He also works with clients and teaches kettlebell classes at Fitness on the Run in Alexandria, Virginia. If you’re in the area, visit and come swing some bells with Ryan.

{ 1 comment }

The Triple Extension Swing

October 5, 2016

For power sport athletes, jump and sprint performance are key factors for enhancing sports performance on the field. The ability to generate power has a significant effect on the athlete’s ability to perform in their respective sport (Komi, 2008). Besides mobility, and strength and conditioning work, an athletic training program should also include specific exercises […]

Read the full article →

The Barbell Strength RKC Prep Program

September 28, 2016

Much has been written about the synergy of kettlebells and barbells. They complement each other’s “blind spots” extremely well. Training properly with either will make you better at both. The RKC is the world’s premier kettlebell certification, and I can tell you first-hand that the skills I learned at the RKC have made me a […]

Read the full article →

Get Rid of Nagging Back Pain and Build Abs of Steel

September 21, 2016

The most common complaint I hear from my clients is back pain. Just Google “back pain” and you’ll end up with over a million hits. As a personal trainer, I know that also means there’s a huge population out there that can benefit from my expertise. From a business perspective, that also means building my […]

Read the full article →

Transform Your Kettlebell Swing with Two Simple Cues

September 14, 2016

There’s no doubt that the swing is the center of the kettlebell universe. Mastering the swing should be one of the first goals of your kettlebell journey. It is simple—if you can swing well, you will probably clean and snatch your kettlebell properly too. Besides, the swing should look exactly like your clean and snatch, […]

Read the full article →

Awareness and Kettlebell Training

September 7, 2016

I have been a Krav Maga practitioner and instructor for over fifteen years—I also work as a mental coach, and teach physical training. To me, these are not separate disciplines. I am not a “jack-of-all-trades”. In fact, I feel very strongly about the logical, natural synergy between mental strength, physical strength and effective self-defense. In […]

Read the full article →

Safely Applying the American Kettlebell Swing

August 31, 2016

  “The American Kettlebell Swing (AKBS) is the devil! You will get hurt if you practice this style of swing!” …at least that is what I have been told. Heck, I am guilty of muttering those words once or twice like countless other fitness enthusiasts. But, it’s generally not the tool or exercise selection that […]

Read the full article →


August 25, 2016

I am an RKC. What does that mean? To me, the RKC is the gold standard of HardStyle kettlebell education. The RKC is hours, weeks, years, a lifetime of training toward mastering my craft. The RKC is knowing (despite titles) that I will never truly master my craft. At our heart, the RKC is about […]

Read the full article →

Finally, I’m an RKC Instructor

August 17, 2016

Finally, I can say I am an RKC Instructor. It’s official—my name is in the register! From the moment I picked up my first kettlebell, read my first book about them, and first visited kettlebell websites, I realized that the RKC is the golden standard in kettlebell lifting and certification. First, a confession: I had […]

Read the full article →