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In part two of our four part series we will focus on the strengthening exercises:
For the gluten, three of the four I recommend, focus on a hinge action
In that order, easist to hardest, as far as technical application goes.
The plus and negative of each:
Can be done loaded or simply using only Bodyweight
Easiest Hinge movement to master
Doesn’t place as much stress on lower back as other two.
Works less in overall muscles used compared to others.
Could argue it’s the king of all exercises.
Works nearly every muscle in the body and builds unbelievable strength.
Can be done with a kettlebell.
Requires practice with a light weight until movement is ingrained and demands respect.
Can lead to injuries if not done with proper technique.
Builds power and will burn serious amounts of fat if done right.
Even a light weight can deliver a fantastic workout.
Needs respect. Like the Deadlift, there is proper technique to be mastered and without it, it can and more than likely will, lead to injury.
Single arm press:
For the shoulders I believe, that for the majority of us, all that’s needed is the single arm Kettlebell press. The press starts by creating full body tension (more detail about this in the plank section) from the feet and travels up through the body, finishing with the bell in an overhead position.
You set up by tensing the body approximately 80%, this is you getting ready.
Depress the shoulder by pulling the elbow towards the ground, this will activate the lat (big back muscle) and acts the same way stretching an elastic band would, to help the initial drive of the press.
When you actually press, tense the entire body as one unit 100% and drive the bell upwards.
Keep the wrist strong and straight and try and keep the elbow and wrist in line. Don’t flare the elbow out as this will break the structure of the arm and make the press much more difficult.
Word of warning:
Most of you will have some sort of shoulder and T-spine mobility issues and will struggle to get your arm straight overhead. Try and not break at the abs and lean back, resulting in loading your lower back. While this may not cause much damage with a lighter bell, it will ingrain a bad habit that will result in eventual injury when you move to heavier weights. Instead focus on shoulder and T-spine mobility drills like the Kettlebell armbar and six point Zenith (loads more on our YouTube channel) to help free up the joints.
Before you do any exercise you need to understand the concept of full body tension. Tension will help make every strength exercise easier and is vital for safe lifting, especially for the spine.
The Full Body Tension plank is the perfect drill to teach this. When done correctly, you will be able to hold it for around 10-15 seconds before you lose full body tension. The idea is not to go to failure but rather to teach the body to recognise what FBT is.
Lie on the ground, belly down.
Place forearms on the ground and make two fists.
Place your feet shoulder width apart, legs straight and locked.
Lift your body off the floor so as only your forearms and toes are in contact with the ground.
Tilt your pelvis so you feel your abs and glutes tighten. This will take any sag out of the back and take pressure off the lower spine area. Add extra juice to the abs and glutes by squeezing them as hard as you can.
While your arms don’t exactly move, I want you to try (without actually allowing them to slide) and pull your arms down towards your feet. This will activate the lats and increase the tension in your body.
Finally breathing. This is crucial, you don’t want to hold your breath, instead you do what’s known as breathing behind the shield.
Your abs are the shield and you will forcefully push air out by clenching your teeth together and pulsing short, sharp breaths out. You should be making a loud hissing sound if doing it correctly. Focus on the out breaths, the in breaths will look after themselves. Just don’t lose tension in the body. Squeeze the glutes, lats, abs, legs and hands as hard as you can.