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Learn to Swing: the RKC Way

December 19, 2011 09:00 AM

MarkReifkind Article learntoswingRKC
 
The working title of  Mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing was "Learn to Swing", because that was the intent when we made the video. After we produced Tracy’s Programming the Kettlebell Swing DVD to show her unique methodology for doing hundreds if not thousands of kettlebell swing variations, we were struck by just how many people really didn’t understand how to do a proper kettlebell swing. At least well enough to handle serious high volume swing training.
Of course those who went through an HKC or RKC did, but too many clients and seminar attendees were self taught ("you-tube certified") and were missing MOST of the key mechanical positions and or principles involved in doing proper RKC Hardstyle swings. I have yet to meet almost anyone who has not had hands on instruction come into class or session and do their swings correctly.
 
As Keats Snideman RKC, says, "anybody can swing a kettlebell, but not everyone can do a proper kettlebell swing." So true…
 
The intent of this production was to create a step-by-step DVD to teach the exact methodology we use on day one of an HKC or RKC and to put out the most complete tutorial on the kettlebell swing that would exist.
 
We don’t spend the entire first half of an RKC teaching the swing and the proper progressions, regressions, drills and cues of the swing for nothing. It’s THAT important. It is, as has been said, the Center of the RKC Universe and this DVD treats it as such.
 
SO why should you buy this DVD, especially if you are already HKC or RKC and have learned the proper progressions, have the manual in hand and know what you’re doing?
 
Because even though you passed the course and took notes, it’s virtually impossible to remember ALL the critical drills, progressions and corrections that you were exposed to over those intense three days. This DVD is a very handy visual guide to remember all those key principles and techniques. For a newly minted RKC without much hands-on teaching experience, it is an invaluable resource to help you master all the principles and techniques to pass on to your students and clients, as well as to help keep your own practice going in the right direction towards true Mastery.
 
For those of you that haven’t been through the course but are considering it, or getting ready for it, you will be hard pressed to find a more complete guide to getting a serious leg up on what you be asked to learn AND teach at your HKC or RKC.
 
And lastly, those of you that have no interest at all in getting certified as a kettlebell instructor, but want to learn how to do the most efficient and productive exercise ever, need to get this tutorial. The kettlebell swing is one of the safest methods of getting into serious muscular and cardiovascular shape as quickly as possible. But, just like any power tool, used incorrectly it can bite you. Learn the right way from the start and save yourself the trouble of having to break and rebuild your swing technique.
 
As one of the key principles of the RKC, Deep Skill is what we strive for in our personal practice. We also infuse Deep Skill as a key goal with our students, and there isn’t another resource on the market that goes into the detail about the swing and it’s mechanics as does Mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing. I know there isn’t because I searched for one to be able to recommend to clients and friends as I taught them the swing week by week.
 
There are great DVDs on the market that teach the swing, but none dedicated to just that one subject. As it is such a pivotal movement for kettlebell training I wanted a single DVD that focused JUST on the swing and the state of the art RKC progressions and corrections.
 
If you are an RKC this is a great resource to sell or give to you clients as you take them through the proper progressions of their learning. If you have friends or clients that are HKC or RKC bound there is nothing better for them to study as they begin their journey into the land of Hardstyle. Getting the verbiage and techniques that will be required for them to know and teach at their cert is invaluable. Talk about a serious head start.
 
Plus we created a new drill, the Power Swing, (or the Static Start Swing) which is not only great for teaching the hike pass and the proper positioning to do a perfect swing but a KILLER exercise on its own. Pavel loved this so much that it is now part of the RKC curriculum! It’s safe, self-correcting, you can go very heavy with it and it’s BRUTAL, in a nice way of course.
 
The Power Swing: The guts of the most basic swing technique there is.
 
Pavel estimates that the power swings requires 35% more energy to do than the conventional Two Hand Ballistic Swing. Why? Because each and every rep requires that you start from a DEAD START.
 
That’s right, in this technique you don’t get to enjoy the momentum from the back swing that makes the traditional technique so deceptively easy- after all you can use momentum right?
 
The Power swing was developed when I discovered an HKC candidate doing the start of the swing correctly but then lapsing into a ‘mini swing’ for lack of a better term. He stayed too upright and would not reload his hips. The power swing takes care of that, as each and every rep requires you to get back into the perfect starting position over and over.
 
It’s the kettlebell equivalent to the barbell box squat, which also takes all the momentum out of the squat, forcing the trainee to generate ALL the power from their posterior chain. Just like the power swing.
 
The power swing emphasizes ALL the key components of the perfect swing, sitting back and loading the hips, connecting with the kettlebell and combining centers of gravity, as a strong hike pass and perfect control are essential after the initial swing.
 
The key principle of Hardstyle Kettlebell training, to quote Pavel is "we choose Power over efficiency, choosing maximal acceleration in the quick lifts and maximum tension in the grinds."
 
You won’t need to do much high rep work to get a strong workout. And strong it should be, as the Power swing lets you use very heavy weights very safely.
 
How to do the power swing:
 
1) Set up as if you were doing a conventional two hand swing: hips back shoulders down, lats engaged, connected and linked to the bell.
2) Hike the bell into the back swing hard, you’re only doing one rep.
3) Stand up into a single rep swing.
4) Let the bell back swing as if you were parking the bell at the end of a set, placing it on the deck in front of you in the perfect position to start the next rep.
5) Keep your hands on the bell and reset for the next rep DO NOT STAND UP BETWEEN REPS.
6) Continue doing single reps for between 5 and 10 reps.
7) Do between 5 and 10 total sets.
 
Although you can do higher reps with the Power swing, it defeats the purpose as want each and every rep to be strong, crisp, and, well… POWERFUL! Your lower back will let you know if you aren’t in the right position.
 
Take this opportunity to really work on perfecting all the fundamental positions of the two hand swings, it will pay you dividends of strength, power and ideal swing mechanics all at the same time.
 
Also covered in great detail, are corrections, stretches and cues that one needs to be able to teach others (or themselves) the right way to fix mistakes in form. Just like the RKC we use muscle memory drills to instantly create the right form once a technique mistake has been identified.
 
Key concepts involved in why one should learn, train and love swing training are revealed. From the increases in work capacity, functional abilities, carryover to real life activities as well as athletic endeavors, we give you all the ammo you need to convince others how valuable this single activity is, and how and why to build that serious swing foundation.
 
As I like to say, ‘if you are only going to do one exercise, SWING.’ You can’t get a better bang for your buck from any vantage point, and in this busy modern world, where clients want the shortest, safest AND most effective training methods available, NOTHING will beat swing training. Nothing.
 
Plus, Tracy guides you through two additional workouts that will teach you to apply all the basic ingredients of the DVD into incredible beginning and intermediate workouts that you can use immediately with your clients and in your own training (see Tracy’s article in this issue for details).
 
For almost seven years all I could do was swing training, as my beat up body wouldn’t tolerate much else. In fact, I could only do one arm swings and transfers as two hand swings overloaded my asymmetrical spine too much and caused issues.
 
Just doing swing training not only kept me in great condition, but increased it as well as rehabbing my back to the point that I could press, snatch and two hand swing again with no pain! At 54 years old I am literally in the best shape I have been in in almost 20 years and I have the Hardstyle RKC swing to thank for it. It’s what started my journey back to strength and health for me back in 2001 and what continues to sustain me as I go even further forward to reclaiming my "lost physical function".
 
I used to think that the barbell squat was the most basic of all fundamental movements for training but now I know better; it’s the kettlebell swing that is the real King of Movement for almost everybody. It is the BEST strength and conditioning exercise for 100% of all people, 99% of the time.
 
Almost everybody, regardless of their condition can swing a kettlebell safely, whether they are 300 plus pounds or 80 lbs of weakness. It will build up the weak and slim down the heavy, all in the shortest possible time. What more can we ask of an exercise? This DVD will get you and your students there in the shortest time possible. EVERY RKC should have this in their library, that’s how proud I am of this resource.
 
Enjoy!
 

 
 
Mark Reifkind, Master RKC, is the co owner of Girya, Russian Kettlebells Palo Alto, the first kettlebell studio in the country with his wife Tracy. Mark has been using kettlebells for 11 years and after 40 years as a competitive athlete, coach and trainer and believes they are the single best training tool he has ever come across. Mark is also the author of Restoring Lost Physical Function, another Dragon Door resource as well as numerous magazine articles on training and competition. Check out their website at GiryaStrength.com or contact Mark for workshops or seminars at markrif1@yahoo.com
 
 
 

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