Archive for August, 2011

September Workshops

August 23, 2011

Kettlebell training is not easy.

In fact, I’ve had more than a few people ask me for help with their technique – after they’ve spent time out injured. Just like with martial arts, the best way to learn is not from a book. It’s with a credible, experienced instructor who knows the subject inside out. This workshop will have the two most senior RKCs in Australia on hand to help you get the most out of your time.

You’ll progress faster and with less setbacks if you learn correctly right from the start.

September 18 we’re running two workshops at Dragon Door Australia in Melbourne. These two workshops are the ideal way to begin your kettlebell training. Led by Australia’s most experienced and highest ranked RKCs you won’t find a better way to begin your kettlebell education, or go onto attend an instructor event like the HKC or RKC. Here’s the run down of our Beginner Kettlebell Workshop

The Swing

Many people will tell you that the Swing is the most important kettlebell lift. Then they’ll spend about five minutes on it before ushering you onto more advanced training methods. But here’s the thing – all the Senior RKCs spend more time on Swings than nearly everything else combined. As one of the few people in the country who regularly spends time with Pavel’s most advanced instructors I’ve come to see just how important the Swing truly is. In fact, I credit the Swing with my ability to break some of my personal records in Olympic lifting after more then ten years away from it (and two big surgeries!)
I’m going to teach you how to perform the five foundational movements before you can even start to swing – that’s right, there are five steps to learn before you can even begin doing Swings safely. And each one can be used on it’s own within your workouts, effectively quintupling the number of workout variations you have. Not only that but I’ll go into all the other steps within the Swing like the four RKC secrets to mastering it via the Deadlift – if you’re not doing these steps you’re either losing power or going to wind up hurt! I’ll even talk about how to program the Swing so that you can understand how and where to use it in your own training to build both strength and fitness or even how to use it to produce Starting Strength – a key element for sports like Rugby, Golf, Wrestling and even Shot Put – yes, one exercise CAN do all that.

The Get Up

Many people rave about the Get Up, and rightly so. But how many people really understand them well enough to maximise their benefits? This movement is so powerful, so all encompassing that in the past I’ve run entire five hour workshops based around it.
In this workshop I’m going to teach you the six steps to a solid Get Up as well as the nine functional movement benefits hidden with it – it really is a one size fits all exercise for true functional strength.
Like with the Swing I’m going to show you how to place this in your programs for maximum effect and how, in combination with Swings, they form a unique one-two knockout punch that boosts all facets of fitness in just a few minutes. This combination is so powerful that I have used it to train two world champion BJJ stars as well as numerous other Olympic and professional athletes.

Goblet Squat

I’ll be blunt, if you can’t Squat, you’re doing damage to yourself all day everyday. Think about it – without a functioning Squat pattern how are you getting in or out of your car? Or even in and out of your chair at work? The Squat is powering all of those.
By using some of Pavel’s secret RKC methods (there’s six in total) to develop the Squat I’ll show you how to Squat deep safely. Despite what many will tell you our bodies were designed to do this and it’s only through lack of practice that we have lost this skill. The use of the Goblet Squat will loosen up the hips and allow you to work safely with much bigger loads.
This two hour workshop is jam packed with vital information to all curious kettlebell users! Here’s a summary of what you’ll learn:

  • The 5 foundation moves that make your Swing crisp, powerful and best of all safe!
  • 4 secret RKC techniques that protect your spine and help increase power and strength.
  • The best way to use the Swing in YOUR training – no matter whether you want strength, power, speed, fitness or fat loss – I’ll show you each way.
  • The 6 building blocks of the Get Up.
  • 9 functional movement patterns within the Get Up and their importance in daily living.
  • How the Swing and Get Up can be combined for a one-two knockout punch for all-round strength and performance.
  • Pavel’s own unique 6 secrets for improving the Squat and developing hidden hip mobility and leg strength.
For more details on this kettlebell workshop just follow the link.

Straight after we’re going to be running an Enter the Kettlebell Workshop. At this workshop – ideal for those with some experience – we’re going to build the three essential strength and power movements from the ground up. Here’s what you’ll learn on the day –

Clean and Press

  • How to get the most out of your press – while putting the least amount of strain on your shoulders.
  • How to stop strength “leaking” from your knees and hips – and what the pros do to prevent that.
  • The key characteristics of a good press.
  • How to instantly increase your pressing strength using these Russian secrets.
  • Learn the RKC specialised pressing drills to instantly increase strength and tension.
  • Develop all purpose strength to easily handle the toughest demand.
  • Forge a physique like legendary strongmen Sandow and Saxon, not the bloated cartoon bodies of bodybuilders – because form must follow function.

The Snatch

  • Learn the ins and outs of the Czar of kettlebell lifts.
  • The simple and sinister exercise that develops killer conditioning and develops muscular and strong shoulders.
  • Learn how not to bruise your arms while snatching.
  • The Snatch is a 3 stage rocket – unlock the secrets to finesse the stages to get more from your training.
  • See why the kettlebell rules for elite conditioning.
  • Maximise staying power, because the last round counts for everything.
  • Propel yourself to Special Forces levels of conditioning to call yourself a man among men.

This workshop only available for those who have previously attended the Beginner’s workshop, or are HKC certified.
All details for these workshops can be found at


Melbourne’s Best Kept Personal Training Secret

August 16, 2011

The fitness industry is funny. On one side we have the many – the tens of thousands of new and inexperienced personal trainers that either enter the industry each year or struggle to meet the demands of their clients. On the other hand you have the few – the professional trainers who have years of experience, thousands of hours of training time logged and have spent many thousands on their education.

When you consider that the lifespan of a new personal trainer is less than two years it makes me feel a little funny sometimes to realize that I am a veritable dinosaur with my nineteen years of experience. What makes it even funnier is that the new trainers are taught to look for more and more complex ways of trying to deliver results to their clients. They’re shown so many tools and variations of ways to perform the same exercise that they can’t possibly know which exercise to pick at what time. In fact, the course I wrote and taught for Certificate IV in Fitness had so many different variations of exercises I used to not bother teaching most of them.

Because the best kept secret in personal training is exactly what your grandmother used to tell you – the simple things in life work the best. Deadlifts and push ups are an awesome workout combination and Rock, Paper, Scissors is still fun no matter your age. And there is a lot to be gained from delving deep into the skill side of these “simple” things.

Check out the video below for a brief dissection of the Swing by Senior RKC Shaun cairns and I.

Considering how simple the Swing seems to be you’d be excused (well, maybe not) for thinking that simple meant easy. We say, in the RKC, that our system is “an inch wide but a mile deep”. And certainly the Swing with all its subtle nuances and hidden secrets is exactly that. Recently I spent almost two months on developing my Swing. On fine tuning some of these hidden depths that increase force production. What’s so special about the Swing, you ask?

For starters, in the kettlebell world, without a solid grasp of the Swing you will never be able to Clean a heavy bell. Because the Clean precedes the Press, if this isn’t done well you will never develop serious upper body strength training with kettlebells as the Press is our prime upper body movement for both strength and size. Likewise you will probably never master the Snatch and you will probably finish each training session short because either your hands will be a ripped up bleeding mess or you will be banging up your wrists and forearms. The Swing done well can alleviate both of those problems.

While many people complain of a sore lower back – as many as 80% of the world’s Western population is believed to have possible lower back trauma (although asymptomatic) – most gyms do little to try to reverse that situation. Given that the biggest stress that can be applied to a spine is sitting how helpful are gyms really being by pushing programs such as Spinning or exercise machines that require being used from a seated position? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to fortify the back to protect it against further complications? Leading spine researcher Dr. Stuart McGill says that the leading cause of back injury is not a maximal strength issue, rather a strength endurance issue. In other words, very seldom do people hurt themselves picking up a maximum attempt, but rather they tire out their spinal stabilizers to such an extent that the spine can no longer be held correctly and BOOM – blown discs. Given that most people therefore need to increase the strength endurance of their back, an exercise like the Swing fits the bill perfectly. By being able to teach the body to load correctly from a bent position – ie to hinge at the hips as the video above shows and place the stress on the hips rather than the lower back, as well as being able to repetitively perform this action with a relatively low weight the body can be safe guarded against further injury.

The body is this amazingly complex interwoven machine. Somehow it knows how much force to produce, how fast our heart should beat to send oxygen to the straining muscles. It figures out how to dissipate heat by sweating. It knows when to be fast and loose and when it needs to be strong and tight. These two things – tension and relaxation – are two sides of the same performance coin. Too much of one leads to injury while too much of the other leads to sluggish movement. There is no better movement to teach both than the kettlebell Swing. It can be loaded to any level to allow everybody from my seventy year old mother to elite strength athletes to perform it. Because the Swing teaches so much about tension, relaxation, the ability to react to force and redirect it as well as linking body software together. Compared to the Frankenstein approach favored by gyms – where you work parts in isolation to one another before trying to tie them together – the Swing allows the body to work in unison, as it should. Everything from grip activation to core control, proprioception to cardiac conditioning are all worked at the same time because that’s how the body does things – all at once, all systems working together to do the job optimally.

The final reason why the kettlebell Swing is the best kept secret is obvious – no one knows how to do it properly in Melbourne. With only a handful of authentic RKC trainers in Australia there are a lot of people proclaiming to be kettlebell instructors who have learned their trade from a book or a DVD. As RKCII Danny Sawaya says, “that’s like taking fighting advice from someone who watches UFC”. The difference between a trained, skilled trainer and the rest of the field is easily visible when you get the opportunity to see them work. Like any skilled craftsman there is no doubt left in people’s minds when they witness a true master of their trade work. Coming to Melbourne October 15 will be Master RKC David Whitley, one of only six elite Master Trainers in Pavel Tsatsouline’s world famous, world leading RKC system. These opportunities are rare indeed and should be taken at every single chance. I’m again looking forward to spending time learning more about kettlebell training from him when he teaches the HKC at Dragon Door Australia.

Dragon Door’s HKC (HardStyle Kettlebell Certified) Instructor Workshops- U.S. and Worlwide
Click here for Certification Course Information – Register now!

For one more thing to think about check out this short video from our new “One Thing” series.

RKC Training

August 11, 2011

It’s right smack bang in the middle of cert season in the US. There are RKC events going on all over the country – from St. Paul to San Diego to Chicago – as well as in Hungary, Italy and Korea. The RKC has truly become the global standard, and leader, in kettlebell training. As both kettlebells and functional movement have grown in popularity and understanding there has been a massive growth too in numbers attending the RKC and even the post-RKC events such as the Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist course and RKC Level II.

While this is great and the growth of the RKC community is a great thing – the short version is it gives us a bigger collective brain to solve problems and keep advancing – it seems like there is starting to be a lack of good ol’ fashioned common sense in preparing for these events. Just because something has become more popular doesn’t mean it will be any easier to pass. In fact, I think the technical standard today is far higher than when I did the RKC, although maybe I feel that way because looking back I now think I understood nothing about kettlebells when I attended the RKC in June ’09. So here is a list of things you can do to help you get yourself ready for the RKC –

Don’t treat the RKC as you would a normal fitness industry certification. Meaning, unlike other groups who certify instructors who arrive at courses as absolute beginners in a subject we expect you to have spent considerable time on kettlebell training already. While the format has changed slightly the Snatch Test used to do this for us – if you couldn’t complete one hundred Snatches in five minutes we’d know straight away that you were likely going to struggle with the weekend. At the very least you should already be able to perform without hurting yourself the 100 Snatches as well as all the other RKC Basic Six exercises of – Swing, Get Up, Clean, Press, Squat. These movements are tested using double Snatch weight bells – for men this will likely be double 24s and for women likely double 16s (although you will probably not have to test the Press with double 16s but with 12s or 14s instead).

This means as a minimum you will need to be able to perform at least five reps on each exercise (ten for Double Swings) with those weights just to be able to test.

The caveat here is that testing is the penultimate thing done after three days of training. During the teaching portion of the weekend you learn by doing. In other words, while learning how to teach the Swing you will do the Swing. In fact, you’re probably going to do about a thousand of them with weights ranging from a single Snatch weight bell to Double Snatch weight to something even heavier, maybe up to even 36kg for men. So if you’re planing to attend you will need to make sure that your lower back and hips, as well as your grip strength, are strong enough to do that many Swings. This is an  often overlooked part of the weekend. I had no opportunity to train with Dragon Door kettlebells before attending the RKC for the simple reason that they weren’t available in Australia until six months after my trip when I became the national distributor. Because of this I was only able to train with competition bells in the lead up to the RKC. While my technique was ok the biggest issue I encountered was the extra grip requirement of training with thicker handles! On the Saturday night I couldn’t even turn the door handle to my room as I couldn’t hold onto it!

You’ll also be doing lots of overhead work in both the Get Up, Press and Snatch portions of the weekend. So you need to be strong enough overhead to deal with having a bell pressed out overhead for long periods of time. There will be times when you will be expected to have a bell overhead for up to two minutes in a static contraction. While testing for the Press is with double Snatch weight – you’ll need to be able to get five reps – you will probably want some strength reserve to allow you to work with that weight at a comfortable level. My suggestion is that men should be able to Press a 32kg for at least a few reps.

All the while you are learning the progressions for these six exercises you will be doing Swings. At my RKC my diary shows almost two and a half thousand in various forms over the three days. Mostly with double 24s. If you plan to be one of the few who manage to make it to day three without walking like Quasimodo I suggest you spend a lot of time training Swings otherwise the sheer volume of work is going to tighten you up and affect everything you do on test day.

Here is the general continuum for how attending the RKC should work –

Discover kettlebells and realise they make all of your other training redundant when used in conjunction with Hardstyle training principles.

See an RKC instructor for technique assistance. Honestly, this is probably the most important step and nearly everyone excludes it. What point is there in practicing bad form? It will just make it harder to fix you on the day as you will have more deeply ingrained your mistakes. See a knowledgeable instructor right from the start and you will find the whole journey much more enjoyable. Don’t bother learning anything other than Swing, Get Up and Squat at this point. It takes months before people start doing Swings well and only then is it worthwhile even teaching them anything else. All that happens if you rush this is they wind up with poor Cleans and Snatches and likely some kind of injury.

Attend the HKC. While this isn’t a pre-requisite for the RKC I believe it should be. The result at the RKC for those having attended the HKC is far better than for those coming directly to the event, especially if they have come without any previous contact with an instructor. Not only that but with the rebate available for those doing the HKC you basically end up with an extra day of training with a Senior or Master to fine tune your form further. So you’ll get to see what the expectations are like for our instructors, the level of strength and skill required, have your technique gone over with a fine tooth comb and you get a discount at the RKC.

In between the HKC and your RKC you should again spend time with an RKC. This is now to learn Clean, Press and Snatch as well as the differences between single and double bell training.

Once you’ve got your HKC and learned how to do the next three moves it is time to move onto Rites of Passage from Enter the Kettlebell. For men you need to be able to complete this with Pull Ups and a 24kg bell in under an hour or you’re not strong enough to even think about going to RKC. At this point, even though you’ve learned double bell work, you don’t need to be doing any. You should also be spending time working on your teaching skills as you do get tested on your ability to train others at the RKC.

Once you can finish the ROP with a 24kg in under an hour you’re now ready to start thinking about the RKC. At the very least you will likely need to start building your Snatch numbers up and developing your work capacity to cope with a weekend of double bell drills. But fear not because you have spent adequate time on creating strength first – because when you are trying to develop strength endurance, first you must have strength. The best formula to follow is to use Brett Jones’ RKC Preparation programs. I find about three months worth of this is enough to put the icing on the cake for people. They can be found here. I differ in my recommendations to Brett in that I don’t think the body necessarily needs to be prepped to work for three days straight – it either has the capacity or it doesn’t. As we used to say in the Commandos – you don’t need to practice being cold, wet and hungry. What I do suggest is following his program using one of the three workouts on three days per week and doing a single bell workout followed by the next workout with double bells for a month, just alternating single bell to double bell workout to workout. Then the remaining two months it goes double bell, single bell, double bell within the week. Each week you swap which workout is single bell but always two workouts per week with double bells at test weight. You will also need at least one workout in there to retain max strength and I suggest a day where you do 3 x 1,2,3,4,5 Double Presses (no Clean in between) plus Pull Ups. Tack some Snatches onto this day and you’ve got a decent day of training. Then a fifth and final day of training needs to be added in that has lots of Snatches. There are many ways to build up the numbers but as long as you can do five per hand with test weight at the beginning of these three months you should be fine.

The final piece of advice is that you should stop ALL other activity at least three months prior, and in some cases as much as six. This is for all those cardio junkies who wonder why they can’t seem to gain strength – it’s because you’re exhausted all the time! For some women in particular this is vital as they are already challenged in the strength gain department and need all the recovery they can get. I recommend all my clients cease all activity outside of kettlebell training for at least three months prior – no running, no martial arts, no team sports – nothing other than kettlebells. And within the kettlebell training I insist they stick only to the Basic Six. There is no running test at the RKC nor is there a max Pistol test. As Senior RKC Dan John says you must keep the goal the goal and when the goal is to pass the RKC having paid all that money to train, travel and attend there is simply no need, other than ego, to be doing other activity. I have actually seen people fail at the HKC because of lack of focus – a 32kg Pistol done a week before instead of practicing Swings or gaining fitness for an all day training event. Looks good on FaceBook, not so much when you don’t pass on the day and walk away feeling like you’ve wasted the entire day as well as your money.

Obviously if you’re in Australia we constantly have people come to learn more about kettlebell training with us and I currently have online clients getting ready for various RKCs. Our new website will be up soon and will feature an online training option so even people outside of Australia will be able to have guidance to get ready for a certification – even if there are no local RKCs we’ll be able to do technique corrections online. But the bottom line is always the same – if you fail to prepare adequately you will likely fail. While my plan is longer than many would hope it is 100% successful and breeds strong, experienced instructors once they pass the RKC. By developing strength gradually as well as experience with kettlebells they turn up at the event ready and enjoy their weekend instead of suffering and hoping they pass.

Iron Tamer coming to Oz!

August 5, 2011

Wow – a week ago we had Senior RKC Shaun Cairns here running VIP PT sessions, an HKC and all day advanced workshops the next day to a great group of instructors. With a growing, committed, band of qualified instructors we’re starting to get some serious talent turning up to our events.

Let’s make one thing clear – we’re not after just anyone to come and join our ranks. We don’t want to be the Hyundai or the McDonald’s of the fitness industry – there’s already enough people doing that. In fact, I would say that the problem with the fitness industry worldwide is way too much supply of low quality instruction. For the people out there who are in serious, desperate need of good trainers this isn’t doing much to help the obesity and diabetes bomb that is exploding in our midst. The HKC helps to change all that. Even people who attend from other certifications are amazed at the massive amount of detail we go into to teach, break down and trouble shoot exercise. And all that makes me laugh a little at how so many people misunderstand kettlebell instructor courses here in Australia.

I routinely get emails from people asking how many CEC points are attached to the various beginner workshops we run through Dragon Door Australia. It needs to be said that if you attend a single workshop, having never touched a kettlebell before, and walk out as an “instructor” at the end you’re not going to be much of an instructor. In a very literal sense you will only have a few hours more experience than your clients, which is hardly the expert service they believe they are paying for. In the longer term this will see clients leave as they become dissatisfied with the service and seek out a true expert – it happens to me all the time. Refugees from other PT studios, who have fallen in love with kettlebell training come seeking out the best they can find.

So which one do you want to be – qualified or a subject matter expert?

It’s like martial arts masters have said for centuries – “better to face the man who trains a thousand techniques than the man who knows one”. Because in all honesty, if you attend the HKC, you will KNOW three techniques inside out and the Hardstyle method of training allows you to train anyone, no matter the age or experience. In our classes at Dragon Door Australia we use far more of those three things than anything else. And despite what many in the industry will tell you, mastering a few exercises and being able to perform them at high levels of skill (read: use more weight) will always bring about a greater improvement than using beginner weights on a random variety.

If you’re serious about becoming a sold out Personal Trainer in your area, if you’ve made the decision to become the best you can be then the next choice is easy –

On October 15 Master RKC, the Iron Tamer, Dave Whitley is coming to Melbourne to run a full weekend of Hardtsyle kettlebell training.

We’re going to begin with VIP PT sessions on Friday the 14th – if you’re interested be quick once they’re up on the website as the last time he was here they sold out in less than 8 hours! Yes, you read that right – the Iron Tamer sells out faster than Justin Beiber!

Saturday 15th October will be the HKC – an all day, all out, Hardstyle festival of strength and movement.

Sunday 16th – all day workshops featuring both Dave Whitley’s best material and mine ranging from his Deep Get Up skills workshop to the patterning work I’ve been doing (which saw nearly everyone in attendance last weekend set PRs after a full weekend of training).

The message – if you’re planning to come to the HKC, plan to come to the ENTIRE weekend and take away all the knowledge you can fit in your head. The bottom line is that education brings you income. The more you learn the more effectively you can train your clients, problem solve and get them results. Having a Master RKC here is no easy task – this guy is seriously busy! Along with Dave we’ll also have an RKC Team leader in place (yours truly) as well as Australia’s first ever female RKCII, Shannon Scullin. This combination of experience, education, strength and passion can’t be matched anywhere in Australia – don’t miss your chance to train and learn from the best!

Dragon Door’s HKC Instructor Workshops- Enter the lucrative world of the certified kettlebell trainer—and attract more clients for a better income. How to master the essentials of kettlebell lifting—and dramatically boost your power.Click here for Course Information or Register Now!.
How to master the essentials of kettlebell lifting—and dramatically boost your power and effectiveness as a personal trainer or coach Pavel and Dragon Door’s one-day, entry-level kettlebell instructor certification workshop .

(Details for the VIP PT sessions and Sunday workshops will be available on by the end of the weekend. But with limited spots available to learn from the Iron Tamer himself book now for the HKC!)