An Interview with Stefan Madsen, RKC and PCC Instructor

Stefan Madsen At PCC Workshop, Minneapolis 2014

Dragon Door: How did you become interested in physiotherapy and fitness?

Stefan Madsen: Back in 2003 while in the army, I participated in training courses about physical training for soldiers. I was a Sergeant 1st class at the time and did a lot of teaching, especially small arms firing and PT. PT was the next big thing for me, and in that training course, a physio taught us about posture, running shoes, alignment of the feet and stuff like that—which is how I got interested in physiotherapy.

Dragon Door: Did you start studying physiotherapy while you were in the army?

Stefan Madsen: In Denmark, you either stay in the army until you are 35 years old with some benefits in that kind of assignment, or until you retire at 62 years old. I had the first type of assignment, which includes the possibility for education—whatever you like—while maintaining your salary from the army. So I was still employed in the army, but my job was to attend school, which is how it works in Denmark. This was how I was able to get an education in physical therapy in my early 30s.

Dragon Door: Where are you practicing physiotherapy?

Stefan Madsen: There are 2 major fields of physiotherapy in Denmark, public healthcare (hospitals or rehabilitation centers in the municipalities), or in a private office or healthcare services clinic. I am working in a private clinic where we tend to see all kinds of patients who have been referred to us from the general practitioners. We do rehabilitation after surgery and injury, neurological rehabilitation, and general training for different diagnoses. We see all kinds of people, and never know what the next patient’s problem might be.

Dragon Door: How did you find out about kettlebells?

Stefan Madsen: I first heard about them in an army course in 2003. Then I read about them and Pavel, and learned more from some of the Danes who attended the RKC at that time. When the first RKC workshop came to Denmark in 2006, I signed up for it!

Dragon Door: How did kettlebells help your training?

Stefan Madsen: I have to admit I have not been very consistent, but I can train with kettlebells for 3-6 months and reach a certain fitness level. During the summer (April to October), I play soccer instead of working with kettlebells. They have provided a good basic physical background I can use in my soccer game during the summer.

Dragon Door: How did you become interested in the PCC?

Stefan Madsen:
From time to time I visit the Dragon Door website, and was familiar with bodyweight training from the army where we did a lot of push-ups, squats, and leaping 10 years ago. I read Convict Conditioning a few years ago and found it interesting, but unfortunately I have to admit once again that I did not work with it long enough to make really great progress yet.

Dragon Door:
What type of training works best for you?

Stefan Madsen: Having fun when working out—the workout that gets done is the one that matters. Unfortunately in some ways for me, I don't stick to the same thing for very long. But the idea of enjoying what you are doing also helps my patients—no matter if they are working through major problems like MS or a stroke—if they like the training and have fun with the physio they are training with, then they will get it done. But if they don't like it, then the opposite happens. I think we can all relate, it's just a matter of finding what you like. I know for a fact that variety has a positive influence on the system too, so I don’t feel too bad about jumping from one thing to another a few times over the years. I have enjoyed doing all these different things.

Dragon Door: What brought you all the way from Denmark for the PCC Workshop in Minneapolis?

Stefan Madsen: I thought about doing the first one in Sweden, but I knew for a fact that I would not be ready for it in time. Since I needed more time to train, and the Minneapolis PCC was scheduled during the holidays in Denmark so it was a good time to take a trip to the states. I also visited some friends on the trip along with the PCC workshop.

Dragon Door: What was your favorite move at the PCC?

Stefan Madsen: The wrist "back of the hand" push-ups are fun, and really make people open their eyes! I’m not very strong in some of the other things, but for some reason I found out I can do those very well. I have a shoulder issue and an ankle issue that limit me on moves like bridging and pistols—it is annoying because I would like to be better at those moves! There's a big difference in my left and right sides with pistols because of ankle flexibility. It's hard to just pick one movement though, they are all great moves and even the things that are not official moves are great too.

Right now I am working on pull ups, and progressing through the archer pull ups. I know it’s a long journey to a one-arm pull up, but the progressions along the way are really what I’m aiming for.

Dragon Door: What’s next for your career?

Stefan Madsen: I am studying osteopathy right now, so on the weekends I have to go to school. And actually we are covering many things from the PCC regarding movement, and high tension in the core of the body. The organs are influenced by the way we move—there’s a lot of things from different fields that come together as soon as you know enough about them. It’s great to see how it all ties together. The next two years I will be pretty busy finishing osteopathy school.
Stefan Madsen Client: 48 year old man after ACL Reconstruction
Stefan Madsen has helped this 48-year-old man after ACL Reconstruction

Dragon Door: How do you think your RKC and PCC knowledge will help you with your physiotherapy practice and ultimately with the osteopathy down the road?

Stefan Madsen: Many of the techniques are useful, even though the patients that we work with have different levels of physical abilities. But tensioning techniques are especially valuable even for someone who is barely able to stand up from a chair. The ideas can help those patients a lot when they understand that good balance, good posture, the correct sequence of moving body parts can create tension in one area and mobility in another. It’s useful no matter how fit someone is or is not.

Dragon Door: What distinguishes you as a kettlebell and bodyweight instructor?

Stefan Madsen: I don't train others too much since physical therapy is my full time job. But the training part of physiotherapy is similar to the regressions that we learned at the PCC. While some of the prone regressions of different exercises at the PCC were not new to me, the specific ways that they were presented was the real take home message for me from the PCC.

Dragon Door: Was that idea the most important thing you learned from the PCC or was it something else?

Stefan Madsen: Actually the specifics at the PCC were more beneficial for me than the general ideas. I learned new details of regressions for all the exercises we looked at the PCC. From physiotherapy I already knew about the idea of making something harder or easier, but the PCC gave me the very specifics.
Stefan Madsen is training this active 71 year old woman with negative pull ups
Stefan Madsen is training this active 71 year old woman with negative pull ups

Dragon Door: Is there a particular regression that you use very often in physiotherapy?

Stefan Madsen: Some of the lowest regressions of the pulls, push ups and squats—squatting from a lower chair or step benches because it is difficult for some people to just stand up from a squatting position. This is why some patients are more afraid of falling because they are not yet able to get back up again. So, helping them to push off the ground with movements like the Turkish get-up—even the most basic parts of that movement pattern can be interesting and useful. The get-up is very useful, along with wall push ups and pull ups from a bar on the wall are very useful for many of my patients at their current level.

As Al said, it’s good to be humble and remember that we all have had a time when we couldn’t move up to the next level. In physiotherapy, we are aware that everyone is at their own level with different moves.

Dragon Door: Are there any particular exercises with kettlebells or bodyweight that you think help with your soccer playing?

Stefan Madsen: Swings and snatches have helped with conditioning. I wrote an article 5 years ago (I think it went on Dragon Door’s website in March of 2009) about the USSS snatch test and the Cooper running test based on some of my observations. When I was at the RKC and RKC-II workshops, I saw a lot of really strong guys pressing the Bulldog and the Beast kettlebells, but that their record for the USSS snatch test was 150-160 reps. I wondered how it was possible because I have been able to break just past 200. I saw the same thing in the army with the Cooper running test—running as fast as possible for the longest distance in 12 minutes.

If you are inexperienced, you tend to push yourself too hard in the beginning and then run out of fuel early during the attempt. So, I had some ideas based on the different timing systems for interval training we used in the army, along with similar time frames, and it all lined up. And that blood taste you get in your mouth—feedback that you were at your limit—after doing these tests is the same!

I also think that some of the bracing techniques we learned at the RKC and RKC-II—how to stay tight for a press or squat is actually very useful in the full contact part of soccer. The timing involved is useful for being grounded for that split second before shoulder tagging your opponent while playing offense, and in the struggle for getting the ball. In my opinion, the movement patterns and timing of getting your feet on the ground, turning your body, and using it is transferable. It is just a question of learning how to use what you've learned in another field.

Right now, since I am going to school and spending a lot of time there, I have to prioritize what I work on right now—and that’s just like at the PCC. I have to focus on a few things at once, and get good at them before moving on—we can’t do everything all the time!

StefanMadsenJumpingMuscleUp thumbnailStefan Madsen, RKC, PCC can be contacted at: stasmadsen@gmail.com ; Phone (+45) 23 44 45 39 ; or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stefan.madsen.5