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

by Wayne Pallas on July 26, 2017

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Wayne Pallas HKC, Swinging A Kettlebell

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 decided to figure out what was causing this problem.

One possible cause is over-lordosis, arching the back at the top of the swing. I think the best remedy is to teach and practice a vertical plank. Full body tension, especially in the core, helps keep the back properly aligned.

I also noticed is that swinging with a kettlebell is different than practicing the hip hinge without weight. Weight changes the way the upper body moves during the hip hinge. The heavier the weight, the greater the risk that it will alter a proper hip hinge, putting more stress on the lower back (see photo below), especially if you keep your arms perpendicular to your torso on the way down.

Lower Back Stress From Incorrect Swing

The heavier the weight, the greater the risk that it will alter a proper hip hinge, putting more stress on the lower back, especially if you keep your arms perpendicular to your torso on the way down.

If you think of the upper body as a lever, with the navel area as the fulcrum, the weight of a kettlebell during a swing or snatch will tend to pull the shoulders down and in turn, move the hips up, which engages the lower back (see photo below). The solution I came up with is to “sit” into the hinge more, which feels like you are moving closer to a squat than a hinge, but relieves lower back stress.

Upper Body As A Lever

If you think of the upper body as a lever, with the navel area as the fulcrum, the weight of a kettlebell during a swing or snatch will tend to pull the shoulders down and in turn, move the hips up, which engages the lower back.

You can experiment with adjusting your hip hinge while moving or you can adjust your technique statically. Hold a fairly heavy kettlebell as you would for a squat and assume a hip hinge stance. Bend forward slightly visualizing your immobile upper body moving around a fulcrum (the red dot in the photos above). You should be able to feel your lower back reacting to the weight. From there, rotate your shoulders up (and hips down) until the back stress disappears (see example below). This approximates the proper stance while swinging with weight.

Lower Back Swing Experiment

Rotate your shoulders up (and hips down) until the back stress disappears.

After adjusting the hip hinge using weight, my clients and I have become more aware of our posture, and have been able to adjust it even while swinging, avoiding back pain.

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Wayne Pallas, HKC is a retired Colorado teacher (40 years, math/music), avid runner, personal trainer, and former martial artist. Over the past five years, he has sent out a monthly general fitness newsletter, Wayne’s Fitness Tips & Tricks, to several hundred readers. He is currently training for the Denver RKC in September.

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