Seasons of Training

Our physical training can have many seasons depending on factors such as our current state-of-health, goals, hobbies and current conditioning level.

We just hosted an RKC-I event at MoveStrong Kettlebells. The participants, including two from our gym, were focused on mastering the six skills they were required to test. They also prepared to test 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a prescribed kettlebell weight and they worked hard to increase their overall conditioning to make it through the 27 hours of the event. They were in the season of Event Preparation.

Event Preparation. When we have paid and registered to participate in a competition, workshop or certification event, very specific training is often necessary to get the most out of the event. In my experience, this includes at least 2-3 days of week of specific skill preparation. The other 2-3 days can include mobility/movements that complement the event preparation. Our two RKC candidates prepared by attending kettlebell classes regularly 3-4 days a week. I made sure the programming was appropriate for them with technique emphasis, conditioning and snatch test preparation. This same programming benefited all of our general kettlebell students with occasional modifications.

Standard Training. This is training to be happy, healthy and mobile in everyday life. This is how we (at MoveStrong Kettlebells) train most of the time. This is a mix of upper and lower body push and pull 3-4 days a week using hardstyle kettlebell movements and lifts, lots of mobility and bodyweight work and occasional barbells lifts. We seek to improve in some way in every session. Some coaches refer to this at the 1% rule (get 1% better at something every time you train.) Standard Training can actually be quite extraordinary because there is a lot of learning and progressing without the pressure of preparing for an event. Personally, this is my favorite way to train because it is a mix of light, medium, heavy training and exploratory movement, with rest days as needed, over the course of a week.

Training Toward a Personal Record. Our general physical preparation is varied, yet strategic, so that progress is made consistently over several months. If someone has a specific goal, we can train toward that over time. We don't always have to train, for example, barbell deadlifts, to keep that skill high. However, for an experienced athlete who is seeking to improve a lift by, for example, 20%, that athlete needs to train it regularly with attention to load, volume and rest to achieve that goal. That student may want to follow a specific written program with steps to progress intentionally to that goal. This can be challenging in a group setting where all the needs of the group must be met. Some additional work with your coach may be needed outside of classes. 

Adaptive Training. Sometimes a new or former injury fires up and we need to carefully step back and train differently to allow the body to strengthen and/or heal. Perhaps a weak area of the body is causing a compensation in another area. Special attention is needed to progress in our weak areas to protect our health and to keep safely progressing. For example, if low back pain occurs because of rounding in the lumbar during pulling activities, the focus is on improving pull technique, repositioning the load to prevent compensatory movement or perhaps using no load at all until the movement is perfected in the body. Some additional strengthening exercises, more mobility, or even time away from the gym may also be necessary to move back into Standard Training.

Specialized Sport Training. Many students have a specialized sport they enjoy for a portion of the training year. I like them to continue their strength and conditioning with us two days a week to keep their kettlebell skills high and to help them stay overall strong and therefore more resilient to injury. But of course, when they are in 'season', our general training is secondary to their primary sport. My goal is to keep them injury free and moving well. They are not training their heaviest with us when they are in season and I ask them to manage their overall physical and mental fatigue. I have found that hardstyle kettlebell training is highly complementary to specialized sports with appropriate loading and rest days.

Summary. Our gym members fall into different seasons of training at different times in their lives. Yet, we all train together in small group classes. How is that possible? It is surprisingly easy to do with the RKC System of Strength which allows each person to adapt with varied training loads, volume, intensity and rest. Small group training is a cost-effective and a safe way for people to train if they are moving safely and mindfully. With small group training, you have peers to support you, a coach to guide you, and the programming to help you progress at your own pace in a non-competitive environment.

Do you want to learn more about our training methods? Contact us as we'd love to share our training approach with you. ~Lori

Body Care to Prevent Injury

Myofascial release is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. Connective tissues called fascia surround the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs of the body.
— Spine-health.com

One of our practices is to use a foam roller and/or lacrosse ball for myofascial release before every class and afterward as well.

Mobilize in Every Class

Foam rolling / lacrosse ball use mobilizes muscles and fascia and the body sends blood and nutrients to those areas. This primes the body for vigorous physical activity. This practice can help break up adhesions in the fascia that help to loosen up muscles and may help prevent injury.

We also mobilize before class with standing or ground-based dynamic body movements such as half windmills and hip-flexor stretches, light kettlebell movements and lifts (such as halos, bottoms up, good mornings, hip openers, t-spine and lat warmers) and we use the TRX and Clubbells in different ways to get the body mobilized we start the kettlebell circuit, chain or complex. We do some static stretching at the end of our training sessions. We especially like the Brettzel, Bretzel 2.0, frog, up and down dog, tailbone to heels after training.

No matter how much we mobilize before and after class, focus on perfect technique, and dial in the right volume of lifting and moving during class, muscle twinges can occasionally occur.

Be Aware that Former Injuries Pose Risks

Many of us have a lifetime of health issues, former sports injuries and mild weaknesses and asymmetries that we are working to improve, so we are diligent about stretching, moving often, resting, hydrating, eating nutrient-dense whole and natural foods and managing stress the best we can.

At MoveStrong Kettlebells, we ask members to inform the coaches if an ache or pain pops up at any time. And they are very good about doing so.

Address Twinges Immediately

A muscle twinge can be a tightening, spasm or a slight pain. Whatever it is, we assess what might have caused it. Is it a previously injured area? That is important to know because the most likely place to be injured is the location of a former injury. What movement caused an issue? We may want to leave it alone. We may need to stretch and/or foam-roll it. It depends. It may be something that needs attention from a medical professional depending on the severity and if it keeps popping up.

Whatever it is, we take it very seriously.

Technique, Technique, Technique

We will always review technique to make sure you are moving with good alignment and with the best technique you can produce for your body.

My father-in-law, God rest his soul, did wood-working after he retired. He used to say measure twice cut once because it saves time and energy in the long-run. We do that as well.

We address the twinge with great care and attention immediately to prevent it from becoming an injury. Sometimes a couple days of rest now can prevent a couple months off from training to nurse an injury later.

If you are training at our gym, and training at home, or at other gyms as well, it makes us less effective as coaches because we are not able to fully manage your programming, training volume and recovery. If this is the case, you will be managing more of that on your own, and you will need to be very careful not to overtrain; overtraining puts you at risk for injury.

We'll Keep You Safe and Safely Progressing

If something repeatedly causes an issue, we'll adjust or remove it. If lunging hurts your knees due to prior knee issues, but squatting doesn't, squatting is an excellent substitution. However, we will continue to work to get your lunge form corrected with regressions to keep you progressing safely and without pain.

If your shoulder is healthy, but you have had prior shoulder issues, and you tell us that you want to skip a certain lift or movement, that is no problem. We can always adapt another movement that will keep you progressing toward your goals.

Kettlebells can be a great tool for restoring mobility, stability and strength with the right individualized programming and eagle-eye coaching. Kettlebells are not a cure-all. Picking up heavy stuff is serious business and there is no one-size fits program. Work with an RKC kettlebell-certified coach who has a DO NO HARM philosophy.

You May Need to see a Medical Professional

If there is pain, we refer our members to trusted medical professionals such as Columbus Chiropractic and Rehabilitation to address the issue before it becomes a full-blown injury. We are strength and movement coaches, not medical professionals, so we do not diagnose the issue.

Our members are very good about sharing feedback from the day or two before. We ask before every class, every day, how are you feeling? Is anything hurting or feeling abnormal? We ask them not to attend class if they didn't get good quality sleep because it can put them at risk for injury. Mindfulness is required when using kettlebells.

Kettlebells are Safe When Taught with the RKC Methodology

Honestly, because hardstyle kettlebells are very safe to use with the RKC methodology/technique, hands-on RKC/HKC coaching, and with appropriately weighted bells, people rarely have injury issues. If something fires up, it is usually a prior injury area that is at risk when technique isn't spot on.

It is our job, as coaches, to check and recheck technique and intervene when someone isn't handling a kettlebell correctly. We ask people to put a kettlebell down if the weight is too heavy or the technique is off. That is an act of injury-prevention. This is why you hire a coach ... to keep you safe and safely progressing. We don't care if your heart-rate didn't get up that session because we worked on technique instead of doing a high-intensity circuit. We are teaching you to fish, not giving you fish so technique trumps intensity every time.

This is a long-term, life-changing view of exercise as a tool for improving overall health

You earn the right to lift heavy by demonstrating perfect technique for your physique. This is what allows us coaches to sleep at night ... knowing that we did the best we could to keep our gym members safe and safely progressing.

Summary

To summarize, here are the ways we can address a muscle twinge:

  • Stop and assess where it is firing up
  • Check and correct technique / run the FMS if needed
  • Foam roll or mobilize (stretch) the area in question / use biofreeze to temporarily calm the area / or completely leave it alone!
  • Use a lighter kettlebell, no kettlebell or change the tool altogether
  • Regress the movement or lift
  • Momentarily rest or stop for the day ... or for several days ... or longer
  • Mobilize at home using FMS correctives to support what we are doing in the gym
  • Eat healthy foods and rest to reduce systemic inflammation (an injury risk factor)
  • Avoid using anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibruprophen) as they can wreak havoc in your gut and slow down soft tissue repair and not give you the pain feedback you need to know how to care for it
  • See a medical professional for pain, lingering issues or immobility

Contact Us to Learn More

Do you have questions or concerns about getting started with us? Contact Lori. We welcome new students post-rehab if you are cleared by a medical professional to train.

So You Wanna Be Strong?

What is strength? The ability to produce power or energy. A good or beneficial quality in a person.

How do you train to get strong?

We teach safe and efficient movement first, then we can add weight, volume and intensity for general physical preparation (GPP) with our bodyweight or with heavy stuff -- primarily the kettlebell, but also using the barbell, bodyweight and lifting natural objects like rocks and logs.

It has been interesting to teach movement and strength skills to people who formerly focused on cardio activities, such as running, P90X and step aerobics.

So how do you make that transition from training cardio to strength?

  1. Patience. Building lean muscle doesn't happen overnight ... but it does begin the moment you start and continues, at any age. Check out Mike Boyle's Strength Training: The Fountain of Youth post.
     
  2. Build quality movement first. By learning to move with perfect form, and practicing with perfect form, you help avert injury while you strengthen muscles, joints and improve your cardiovascular health. Easing into a strength program can be frustrating at first if you have always trained by moving fast, so refer back to step 1. Patience. Avoid pain and injury at all costs. See Gray Cooks's blog post, Start with Why
     
  3. Address any pain or dysfunction with mobility, stability and stretching along with your strength training. Pain is going to limit what you can do. Tightnesses that go unaddressed can lead to pain and injury. Imbalances (left and right) can lead to injury, and at a minimum, get in the way of you achieving your full potential. Address this with foam rolling, stretching, rolling, crawling and doing other prescribed movements based on your FMS results to help you reach your goals. The Seattle Seahawks stellar season starts with the FMS.
     
  4. Adopt a lifestyle that supports your strength goals. What you eat matters ... as does hydration, stress management, sleep, time spent sitting, time management, getting outdoors, socializing and more. Look at your habits and lifestyle and make positive changes that will support and enhance the work you are doing in the gym. See Tim Ferriss' Odd Routines of Famous Minds Like Beethoven, Maya Angelelou and Francis Bacon.
     
  5. Strength first, then conditioning. When lifting kettlebells and barbells, we practice the lifts and movements, with the best form possible, and appropriate weight, to get stronger. Never fear, you are getting conditioning while you practice the movements and lifts. Enjoy this. You are gaining a new skill and an understanding of your body and how to keep it strong for life.  See Mark Rippetoes' Conditioning is a Sham.
     
  6. Be moderate in your training and allow recovery time. Listen to your body and don't overtrain. For some people, two days a week is enough. Others might go five days, with a mix of light, moderate and harder days. During that time between training sessions, muscles are repairing, recovering and getting stronger. So going for a walk (active recovery), taking a day off, drinking plenty of water, getting extra sleep, stretching at home are all practices that help with recovery so you can train fresh the next time you are back in the gym. See Dan John's Ten Commandments of Recovery.
     
  7. Be intuitive about what works for your body and enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of training strength. Some athletes will train with weights and then go for a run. That's cool if you love to run. But what if you don't love to run, or you don't have time or good weather to run ... but you value cardiovascular health? A good strength coach will dose your strength training to lift and move at different frequencies and intensities, for different time periods. Your heart is working hard, for example, when you are  swinging a kettlebell or pressing overhead. So you are keeping you heart healthy while you get stronger. See Josh Henkin's Kettlebells are Not Really That Effective, Are They?
     
  8. Realize that strength training is also a mental endeavor. There is a real mental side to strength training. Learning a deadlift or kettlebell swing requires a lot of thinking and internal cueing. Pack the shoulder, ensure that hips and shoulder rise together, squeeze glutes, stand with shoulders, hips, knees and ankles aligned, exhale at the hip pop, and so on. There is excitement in the challenge of learning and practicing this ... and believe me, your to-do list, and life's daily problems disappear for a while when you are working with a heavy kettlebell over your head or deadlifting  a loaded barbell. See Tori Tarvin's Get out of Your Head: The Mental Side of Fitness.

Strength is a mindset that is fully applicable to our everyday life -- whether we are defending our country, going to an office or caring for family members. We never know when we will need physical strength to assist someone, or ourselves, in a tough situation.

So you wanna be strong?