Breathing, Backswings and Ballistics

by Ryan Jankowitz on December 13, 2017

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Ryan Jankowitz Kettlebell Swing Setup

I really love teaching others how to train with kettlebells; it’s what I’ve become most passionate about as a fitness professional. Whether online or in-person, I get a deep sense of satisfaction when a client learns a new movement or refines their technique.

Ryan Jankowitz 1-Arm SwingWhile it can be exhilarating to learn new kettlebell drills or refine your technique, retaining so much new information—and then applying it to your training can be daunting!

My goal with this post is to create a simple connection between all of the RKC ballistic exercises (swings, cleans, snatches) so that you can easily apply the same knowledge and techniques to all of the movements.

First, let’s start with the timing of the breath. Breathing is one of the most important functions of training and life. At the top of the swing, when the glutes and quads contract, a sharp exhalation is performed. This sharp exhalation helps to compress the midsection and direct more power into the kettlebell. Again, it is coordinated with the glutes and quads forcefully contracting.

The timing of the exhalation remains the same when performing a clean and a snatch. Although the kettlebell will still be traveling after the exhalation has occurred in both the clean and snatch, it still happens when the glutes and quads contract. The exhale acts almost like a rocket booster, propelling the kettlebell into the rack or overhead position with relative ease. If your exhalation occurs when the clean or snatch is in the finished position, then you’ve lost the benefit of the “rocket booster”.

The backswing is another important part of all ballistic movements—and it should be exactly the same from technique to technique. You should be able to smoothly transition from one movement to another without changing your backswing.

Ryan Jankowitz Kettlebell Backswing

Focus on these backswing concepts/tips for one-arm swings, cleans and snatches:

  • The handle of the kettlebell passes above your knees
  • Your forearm connects high up on your inner thigh
  • Your upper arm connects to your ribcage
  • Your hips flex to a greater degree than your knees
  • There is a slight internal rotation of the thumb
  • This is where you inhale
  • Spine is neutral

Ryan Jankowitz kettlebell clean

I hope these tips have given you some good “food for thought” for your training. If you experience an “aha” moment or were able to improve a technique, then drop me a line and let me know what you experienced.

Stay Strong,
Ryan Jankowitz, RKC-II

 

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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 provides online personal training for busy people who want to improve their health and kettlebell training for fitness professionals who want to refine their technique and/or train for a certification. He is available for private kettlebell workshops as well. You can reach him at ryan@rjkettlebell.com or through his website rjkettlebell.com. He also works with clients and teaches kettlebell classes at Fitness on the Run in Alexandria, Virginia. If you’re in the area, visit fitnessontherun.net and come swing some bells with Ryan.

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How to Replace Expensive Equipment With Kettlebells Part 2

by Laurel Blackburn on August 16, 2017

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In How to Replace Expensive Equipment With Kettlebells Part 1, I showed you how to make your own sleds with just a tow strap, belt and kettlebells. I also included a bunch of different exercises and workouts you can do on your own or with your clients.

I am always looking to add new tools to my boot camp and kettlebell classes, without spending a fortune.

I love coming up with creative ways to make my own equipment. If you want to add some new tools to your workouts or your gym but are on a budget, then this blog is for you.

Last year I purchased an Earthquake bar for my other gym, The Tallahassee Strength Club. It was expensive but I knew my members would love it. I spent well over $200. Online you will find prices from $269 up to over $300.

On one of my visits with my physical therapist, he showed me how he uses the bar to rehab his client’s shoulder injuries. The instability of the bar (while doing simple bench presses and shoulder presses) works and strengthens all of the stabilizer muscles in the shoulder. I couldn’t believe how challenging this was–and I was using very light weights.

After I balked at the price, he showed me a rod he got at Lowes. I can’t remember exactly what it was but either a steel fence post or a strong metal closet rod. I did the same exercises with the rod and didn’t notice much of a difference between it and the expensive Earthquake bar. He gave me the fence post to use at my gym.

My trainers and I played around with the bar using kettlebells attached to the ends with small jump stretch bands

We started with simple overhead holds. It was unbelievably challenging. Every muscle in my body had to work to keep the bar stable. We got a little more daring, which is common when we get together. We did overhead squats, deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, overhead walking, bench press and of course, I had to try a get-up.

You can modify the exercises with the placement of the kettlebells and the length of the band. The closer the weight is to the center of the bar, the more stable it will be. The band length can be shortened to make it easier or long, to make it much more challenging.

It’s an amazing, challenging tool and super simple to set up. You’ll need a fence post top. For a more challenging workout, get a pvc pipe.

You can get a fence post top at Lowes for less than $12
A piece of PVC pipe is even cheaper for around $10.00
Jump Stretch mini bands on Amazon start at $7.95

You can also use rope or chain to hook your kettlebells to the bar. Go way lighter than you think you would because these are no joke.

Give these a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Senior RKC, Laurel Blackburn owns Boot Camp Fitness and Training and Tallahassee Kettlebells.  Look for Laurel at www.bootcampstogo.com or www.tallahasseekettlebells.com.

In her early fifties, Laurel 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: www.SuperStrongNana.com.

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How To Avoid Back Pain From Kettlebell Swings

July 26, 2017
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I earned my HKC in April of 2016, and began working with clients shortly afterward. The most common complaint I have heard has been lower back pain after swinging. Since I have always been careful to teach proper technique (e.g. packed shoulder blades, loading the glutes, keeping the head up, etc.), I was puzzled and […]

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Is Certification Worth It?

July 13, 2017
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Education, training, and certification are expensive propositions. Training certifications can last several days and cost well into thousands of dollars—even before adding in the cost of time away from your business and family, transportation to and from the certification, hotels and other extraneous expenses. So, if you are going to invest your hard earned cash […]

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The Fitness Program of the Future—Now!

July 5, 2017
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I’ve been in the fitness industry for almost 18 years. Most of that time has been spent looking for answers to age old questions: How can I best help my clients reach their goals? How can I get my clients to workout more consistently? What are the best tools and exercises to get them the […]

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How to Replace Expensive Equipment with Kettlebells

June 21, 2017
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I started my boot camp business in 2005 on a little patch of grass in front of a gymnastics gym. I didn’t have much money and spent what little I had on a few bands. Our workouts were mostly bodyweight with a few exercises done on the picnic table in front of the gym. I […]

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Why I Like Hardstyle Kettlebell Training

June 14, 2017
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Whenever I use the phrase “Hardstyle kettlebell”, I find it funny that it is very descriptive if you know the style of training, but at the same time it’s very confusing for someone new to kettlebell training. An outsider might infer that Hardstyle is a very harsh and intense style of kettlebell training. But, this […]

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Swinging Through Pregnancy, Prenatal Kettlebell Training – Part 2

June 7, 2017
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This is the second part of a two-part series about top tips for trainers working with expecting mamas. In part one, we covered the first 3 tips for training pregnant women, and today we take a look at three more important points of advice for coaching women during pregnancy.     While each client’s needs […]

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11 Specialized Variety Methods For Blasting Through Overhead Pressing Plateaus

May 31, 2017
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A heavy kettlebell press—or any overhead press for that matter—will always be a super impressive feat of whole-body strength. For some, getting heavy things overhead is the meaning of life, and I can understand why! There are few better feelings than locking out a heavy overhead grind. You have probably heard the phrase, “To press […]

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How to Build Muscle Mass with Kettlebells

May 24, 2017
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The number one rule for lifting—since lifting is life, it’s also the rule number one for life—is always look cool. This accounts for every variable of the workout and all the choices which come with it. Looking cool requires flawless technique, accounting for all safety points, and training with intention. Training with purpose is the […]

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