Obviously, my titles ironically suck for this week’s article now having written: Why Your Kettlebell Swing Sucks & Why Your Mace 360 Sucks. The Kettlebell get up has no doubt earned a staple in kettlebell strength training. Why? The get up is really more of a complex of movements all fluidly gelled into one. Gray Cook best states in Pavel’s book Simple & Sinister:
“The Kettlebell Get Up is like loaded yoga”
It has the perfect amount of mobility and stability needed in all the right places. Bringing a new level of true performance mastering the kettlebell load overhead in a slow, controlled, and fluid manner . For those that think performing a high amount of reps to prove their strength - the kettlebell get up will quickly humble you making you slow down in each position. While there’s nothing wrong with speed, it can be contradictory in strength training at times because speed hides dysfunction. It's the difference between someone performing 100 reps of “kipping pull ups” (jerking & whipping the spine pathetically half way to the bar) versus someone performing 10 reps of strict pull ups (full body tension in a vertical plank- fully bringing the chest all the way to the bar with control). So the kettlebell get up not only teaches less is more, but is incredible for better shoulder resiliency and pressing strength. So I wanted to breakdown the best prerequisites and corrective drills to make your kettlebell get up better, but stronger in your future programming.
The Kettlebell Arm Bar - Connecting the Lat
An incredible stability drill to get the shoulder connected to the lat and to mobilize the t-spine at the same time. There’s A LOT of tactical feedback happening in the shoulder girdle - so beginners should be spotted for safety for proper setup, alignment, and locked arm position (with the wrist neutral). Beginners should NOT go heavy in this drill; a light kettlebell will provide the stability needed. This a great prerequisite before any student performs a kettlebell get up to better understand the importance of shoulder packing into the lat.
Breaking Down the Get Up
A great lesson I learned from Dr. Mark Cheng, is we need to always consider environmental mobility when teaching a student something new or moving somewhere new - that the body won’t move well if it feels threatened. So in relation to the get up for a beginner, if you’re on the ground with a kettlebell and don’t know what your doing…it’s no surprise many will perform it poorly because the mind & body now feel vulnerable and threatened. So what can be done to combat this? A great alternative is to simply teach the get up reversed without a kettlebell to better take in each position. Watch this tutorial here get the full breakdown:
Wall Drill: Low Sweep to Half Kneeling Windmill:
A great corrective that not only corrects your alignment for those who tend to overshoot their low sweep, but also correct the hip hinge in the half kneeling windmill with the proper neck position (not kinking at the neck - decreasing lat activation). As seen in the image below: start in a half kneeling position connecting your rear foot to the wall looking forward. Then hinge your hips, pushing them toward the wall now looking up at your fist (pretend KB). Bring your base hand down to the ground (in line with your knee and rear foot on the wall). Then low sweep the rear leg out and then back to the same spot on the wall (like a target). Then come up into the half kneeling pushing the hips toward the wall again looking forward.
Putting it All Together….SLOWLY:
Bruce Lee has a famous saying, “if you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it fast." So performing one kettlebell get up (left & right = 1 rep), as slow as possible is not only a great corrective to see where your compensating most in each position, but is also a great challenge for those experienced with the get up. I like to call it the “Caught Somewhere in a Get Up Challenge” (if you’re a real Iron Maiden fan you know which album I’m referring too). To set this up, all that’s needed is a camera with a timelapse feature and stopwatch with you in the background performing an extremely slow get up. When playing back in timelapse mode, it should look like you’re doing a normal get up, at a normal speed as the stopwatch flies by time. Here’s mine linked below, I don’t think over five minutes is too bad: