Today I completed the Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor Course @ Ironedge in Melbourne with Strength & Conditioning Coach Todd Carlon of Elite Sports Performance.  Kettlebells is something that I have incorporated into my workouts over the last couple of years, however with only limited exercises.  The majority of the exercises that I have incorporated into my workouts using Kettlebells have included:

  • Kettlebell Farmers Walk
  • Kettlebell Double Arm Swing
  • Kettlebell Single Arm Swing
  • Single Arm Kettlebell Row
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat
  • Kettlebell Deadlift

Kettlebells are relatively new in Australia when it comes to being a sport and exercise used by personal trainers, exercise physiologists and strength and conditioning coaches.  Whilst it has probably only been the last 10 years where there has been a much greater awareness, the sport of kettlebells and training has been around much much longer.  The Eastern Bloc countries such as Russia have been using Kettlebells for training and conditioning for many years.

Recently I completed the Level 1 and 2 Functional Movement Screen Course by Gray Cook and was excited to see how Kettlebells are incorporated into their training and conditioning program.  It was this and reading more on Kettlebell training that prompted me to complete this Level 1 course.  Below I have summarised some of the key learning points from today’s course.

Key Learning Skills & Exercises

Warming Up – We learnt a couple of great warming up exercises that teaches the individual to pass the kettlebell from one hand to the other.  This involved figure of 8’s between the legs from the swing position to the that of the lunge position.

Screening The Individual – It was emphasised that anyone wishing to use kettlebells should undergo both a health and musculoskeletal screen.  Like any resistance training, all relative and absolute contraindications must be determined to identify whether Kettlebells is appropriate.  Some of the key musculoskeletal screening tests involved:

  • Squat
  • Overhead Active Shoulder ROM
  • Apley’s Scratch Test
  • Hawkins Kennedy Impingement Test
  • Hip Hinging Patterns

Today’s focus was on teaching correct Double Hand Swings and Single Hand Swings, Kettlebell Cleans and Kettlebell Clean & Presses.  Therefore it was important that individuals demonstrate they have appropriate range of movement, control of movement and adequate movement patterns.  Anyone who is not able to demonstrate this should perhaps focus on correcting these before commencing Kettlebell Exercises.

Kettlebell Double Swing – The key was to focus on using the legs and hips to drive the movement of the kettlebell.  Rather than muscling the kettlbell up with the upper body.  Being able to hip hinge and maintain a neutral spine is essential to exercising without causing back pain.  Check out the link for another view of this exercise.

Kettlebell Single Arm Swing – This involved holding the kettlebell near the corner of the handle with a thumb over 2nd digit grip.  The 3rd – 5th fingers were not gripping hard over the handle.  The idea with this was to avoid tearing up the hand from swings as well as avoiding overuse of the smaller forearm flexor and extensor muscles.  Tendinitis is a common condition for new kettlebell enthusiasts.    We also practiced passing the kettlebell from one hand to the next through the high point of the swing phase.

Kettlebells Swing Variation – We looked at how we can vary the Kettlebell swing for when we want to perform Kettlebell cleans.  This involved moving the kettlebell in a more up and down fashion with the swing rather than forward and up.  This allowed us to translate the swing into a more efficient clean exercise.

Kettlebell Clean – The key with this was the action of swing to clean and unloading from the clean position.  Neutral wrist position is essential to longevity in Kettlebell exercise.  Also knowing how to hold the kettlebell agains the arm and body so to allow for a transfer of force through the body is essential to repeated efforts.  Unlike many other exercises, rather than muscling the exercise up into positions, the kettlebell clean is about fluid movement and transfer of force and energy.