Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Six: Crawling for Time

I’m a little behind wrapping up this press series and that’s because Eric and I have been working overtime to rollout Iron Body Studios’ interactive online training platform through WeightTraining.com. We finally launched the platform a few weekends ago on October 4, 2014 and we are REALLY excited about it! The platform is perfect for people who want the flexibility of training on their own time but also want the guidance of a coach to write their program and provide feedback. The online training platform is appropriate for all levels, even if you have never learned the kettlebell swing or the Turkish get-up before, we will teach you via the online training platform.

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You can learn more about and sign up for our interactive online training platform HERE.

There is also still time to register for my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid to Lift on November 8 at Iron Body Studios! Details and registration link at the end of this post… Hope to see you there!

NOW onto the sixth installment of this seven part press series!!

This is the sixth installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about how incorporating crawling for time into your training program, can help you to improve your upper body press strength.

If you missed the first five installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” I wrote myself a specific training program to build strength for a half body weight military press in order to press 24kg (53lbs) successfully.  Part of this program included leopard crawling for time two times per week.

Why Crawling?

Crawling helps to build upper body strength, in particular shoulder and triceps strength, that will translate to both the press and the pull-up.  In addition, crawling is considered an Original Strength (OS) reset so it helps to enforce the necessary cross pattern (opposite arm and leg) that we need and use when crawling, walking, and running. Therefore it preps your Central Nervous System for exercise in order to limit the risk of injury.  Eric and I refer to crawling and other OS Resets as “Neural-Prep”. You can learn more about crawling from the instructional videos on the the Original Strength website HERE.

How Did I Program Crawling?

I programmed in leopard crawling for time two times per week. On the days that I crawled, I would start my sessions with crawling. The first week I started with 5 minutes of continuous crawling and I built up to 10 minutes of continuous crawling by adding on one minute each week. I would primarily leopard crawl and use baby crawling as active recovery if I needed a break from leopard crawling during the timed crawl.

Below is a video that I filmed for the New York City, I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop participants, as part of a series of follow-up guidance that I sent out after the workshop.  This video will give you some guidance on how I structured my crawling sessions…

In the next and final installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Get-ups, Cleans, and Racked Carries.  In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about Crawling for time!

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If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

~Artemis

Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift

 

Is Your PR Safe?

28kg Get-up_v2

It’s exciting to hit a Personal Record or a Personal Best in your training session, but is your PR safe?

You see all sorts of ridiculous, unsafe, feats of strength on the internet. Many that make me shake my head and wonder why someone would risk injury for one unsafe PR.

No matter how strong and skilled or advanced a lifter you are, safety should always be your number one priority in training, especially when you are going to attempt a lift with a new, heavier weight for the first time.

I have been working towards a 32kg (70lbs) Turkish Get-up. I have tried it a few times, but the bell still feels so huge on my arm that I cannot get past the roll up to my forearm.

Last week we received a shipment of 30kg (66lbs) kettlebells and since 28kg (62lbs) get-ups have been feeling strong in my training lately, this week I decided to see if I could do a get-up with 30kg.

How did I approach this PR attempt to ensure that it was safe?

First I warmed up by doing single get-ups starting with 22kg (49lbs) and then moving up a weight ladder of 24kg (53lbs), 26kg (58lbs), and then 28kg (62lbs). If the 28kg felt strong I was going to try 30kg.

The 28kg felt strong so I then asked Eric if he was available to spot me for the 30kg get-up. You’ll see in the video below, as I went through the lift, it felt very strong and I felt confident that I didn’t need him on high alert through the lift. Even though I communicated this to him, I still asked him to stay there and spot me just in case.

30kg – 66kg Turkish Get-up, Right Side

 

I also tried the left side, and even though the roll up looks strong in the video, my left arm did not feel quite as stable as my right and I was fairly sure that I might lose the bell after I stood up or on the way down. So, instead of risking this I decided to stop the lift. See the video below for how I did this… I will try it again on another day when the left side feels just as stable and strong as the right side AND when I have someone to spot me.

30kg – 66kg Turkish Get-up, Left Side Attempt

 

Some things to keep in mind to ensure a safe PR:

  • When attempting a lift that requires a spotter, such as a Turkish Get-up, Kettlebell Bent Press, or Barbell Back Squat, make sure to have a spotter and to establish with your spotter BEFORE you start your lift how you will communicate with him or her if the lift goes bad.
  • When attempting a lift that is hard to have a spotter help you, such as a Heavy Dead-Lift or an Overhead Kettlebell Press, if you know the lift is not going to be successful, aim for a “successful failure”. Don’t risk injury and continue to pull weight if you lose your form with a dead-lift. Stop the lift immediately and lower the weight to the ground or drop the weight.
  • If you are attempting a max overhead press but you are pushing your body away from the bell, leaning too much, and using your back to get the weight up, then don’t waste energy or risk injury on pushing a heavy weight through a bad pattern. In the case of a kettlebell press, stop the press, lower the bell to the rack position, put it down and walk away.

Below is an example of a “successful failure”. This press was not going the way I wanted to go, and rather than waste energy and risk injury on a bad lift, I stopped the press.

Successful Failure

 

 These are just a few suggestions and examples to help you keep it safe in your training.

Stay safe and lift STRONG!

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If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to turkish get-ups and how they help to build symmetrical strength, or to train for a half bodyweight turkish get-up then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

~Artemis

Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift

Counting Calories vs. Counting Macronutrients

By Coach Artemis

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Recently I was talking to one of my clients about a friend of hers who was doing Weight Watchers for the second time and she asked me, “Should I count calories?” or “How important is it to count calories?”.

In the conversation that we were having, my client, let’s call her Diana, was telling me a story about how she went out to lunch with a friend of hers, let’s call her Jane, who was going through the Weight Watchers Program for the second time.  Jane ordered pizza for lunch because it was less “points” than say a bun-less burger with a side salad.

Diana was telling me that she questioned Jane’s choice because she knew that regardless of “points” that there were healthier and more nutrient dense options available to her on the menu, like a bun-less burger with ¼ avocado and a side salad.

Continue reading this post on Iron Body Studios website HERE.

10 Reasons Why I Love Kettlebells

3493lbs of Kettlebells

As a FitTag Ambassador, in honor of the #FitTag hashtag for the week of September 22, 2014 #Kettlebells, I put together this post. You can follow FitTag on twitter @FitTag, on Instagram @FitTag and on Facebook .

In no particular order, here are 10 reasons why I love kettlebells:

Symmetry

Kettlebells promote symmetry. Since you have to train each side of your body separately when training with kettlebells, each side must build up its own strength and skill to work with a particular kettlebell weight.

For example, I am right side dominant and when I was training for my kung fu black belt, I would do all of my weapons forms with my right side. As a result, I was extremely asymmetrical as my right side was much stronger than my left side.

Now, we will never be perfectly symmetrical, but after working with kettlebells very regularly since receiving my kung fu black belt 5 years ago, my left side is just as strong as my right side.

I can press and get-up the same weights on both sides for the same number of repetitions.

One of the additions to my weekly exercise program that I found helped to build the most symmetry was training get-ups every time I train AND programming in one day that I train 3 sets of 3 repetitions of get-ups one time per week.

28kg Get-up_v2

Lowest System Load

Kettlebells allow you to train with the lowest system load for maximal results.

Let’s take the kettlebell swing for example, the purpose of the kettlebell swing is maximal force production. Therefore, if the correct force is applied to an 8kg (~18lbs) kettlebell, that 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs. If an 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs with the correct force applied, imagine how much a 24kg (~53lbs) kettlebell can weigh if the correct force is applied?? Subsequently, the kettlebell swing can help to improve dead-lift strength because it allows you to use the lowest system load for maximal results. You are getting the most bang for your buck, by using less weight. As such, if you do not have a heavy weight available to you for dead-lifts, then just do a few sets of perfect kettlebell swings and apply maximal force, and you just worked towards a stronger dead-lift.

Compact and Portable

Kettlebells are compact and portable and make a great home gym. They don’t take up a lot of space and they are easy to travel with on road trip vacations. I even have clients who pack one in their suitcase when they travel on planes for vacations and business trips!

Functional

The asymmetrical shape of the kettlebell translates to the asymmetrical shape of loads and packages that we lift in real life. Therefore, whatever you do in the weight room with a kettlebell translates to activities in real life.  Many times I’ve had clients comment that they caught themselves doing a get-up to get up and down from the ground, or when they went to lift their groceries or suitcase they immediately are reminded of the farmers carries they do in their training with kettlebells.  For me, lifting kettlebells helps me to lift and carry 44lb Poland Spring water bottles from the front porch to store on our back stairs!

Efficiency with Inefficiency

The kettlebell swing is an inefficient exercise in that it’s not something that you can do for a long period of time versus riding a bike, which is a very efficient exercise as you can ride a bike all day long. By being inefficient, you maximize your training time by burning the most calories in a short period of time simply by training 10 to 15 minutes of kettlebell swings or a kettlebell complex.

Combines Strength and Cardio Training Into One Compact Package

Kettlebell training involves both grinds (strength movements) and ballistics (cardiovascular training). With one single kettlebell, and one simple 30-minute workout, you can train both strength and cardio together.

(See swings for cardio above and front squats for strength below!)

Compound Movements

Many kettlebell movements, like the kettlebell swing, are compound movements. Compound movements are total body movements therefore you have to recruit more muscles in order to complete the movement, versus an isolated exercise like the shoulder press alone. Since you recruit more muscles when training a compound movement, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time. The more muscles you recruit to perform a movement, the more calories burned, the more bang for your buck and the more you maximize your time training especially if you only have a short time allotted to train.

For example, the kettlebell front squat is a compound movement as multiple joints must work together to complete the movement.  Not only are you using your legs to lower your body into the descent and press into the ascent of the squat, but you are also engaging your abdominals and your lats along with all of the muscles of your upper body to support the weight in front of you and to maintain an upright posture.

DBL FSQ_v3

Builds Strong Glutes and Are Good For Your Back

All kettlebell ballistic movements, like the kettlebell swing, are based upon the hip hinge and loading the glutes properly. By training the hip hinge and loading the glutes properly on a regular basis you will strengthen your glutes, build a stronger and shapelier booty, and take the stress of load away from your back and transfer it to your hips and glutes which are equipped to handle load.

In addition, kettlebell training teaches bracing and maintaining a stiff stable spine while managing an unstable load. Per Dr. Stuart McGill, symmetric stiffening of all the muscles surrounding the spine without hollowing or pushing out the abdominal wall is a superior technique. Kettlebell training helps to improve the spine bracing skill.

Double 48kg (212lbs) Kettlebell Dead-Lift

Always Challenging, Never Boring

I have been training with kettlebells for over 6 years now. It is the primary tool that I use to train, and it never gets boring. To me it’s like a martial art, there is always something more to work on, something more to improve, something more to learn. There are endless combinations of movements from swing intervals, to complexes and chains, and working with both single and double kettlebells.

Supports Skill and Coordination

Kettlebell training helps to support skill and coordination. The more you improve the skill, the more muscles you recruit correctly, the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, and the more you benefit from kettlebell training.

Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Five: Double Kettlebell Front Squats

DBL FSQ

This is the fifth installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about how training heavy double kettlebell front squats, just once per week, can help you to improve your upper body press strength.

If you missed the first four installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” I wrote myself a specific training program to build strength for a half body weight military press in order to press 24kg (53lbs) successfully. Part of this program included training heavy double kettlebell front squats with double 24kg kettlebells (106lbs) one time per week.

Why Heavy Double Kettlebell Front Squats?

The Double Kettlebell Front Squat is both a lower body press and a total body movement. Training the double kettlebell front squat will help to improve how you grind through a strength movement, and since it is a lower body press and a total body movement, it will allow you to push more load in order to build strength for an upper body press

Double 24kg (106lbs) Kettebell Front Squats 5 Sets of 3 Repetitions

In kettlebell training with have grinds, which are strength movements, and ballistics, which are explosive, cardiovascular movements. The double kettlebell front squat is a grind. This means that when you are going through the movement of a double kettlebell front squat, in order to successfully ascend from the bottom of your squat and push your bodyweight plus the additional weight (e.g. 106lbs) that you are holding in the rack position in front of you, up against gravity, you have to know how to properly grind through the movement with proper tension techniques, muscle coordination, and breath.

Training this grind movement with a front squat translates to the upper body press, because you have to grind very similarly through an upper body press.

In addition, since the double kettlebell front squat is a total body press, you can push more load than you can with simply an upper body press.

For example, at a bodyweight of 117/118 pounds I am strong enough to front squat double 24kg (106lbs) kettlebells for 5 sets of 5 repetitions but I am not strong enough (yet ;) ) to press double 24kg kettlebells overhead in an upper body push.

Subsequently, training the press variation of a heavy double kettlebell front squat allows me to grind and press twice as much weight (48kg – 106lbs) as my ultimate goal weight (24kg – 53lbs) for my upper body press, and therefore build strength for my upper body press in general and specifically for a half body weight military press.

In addition, by virtue of training heavy double front squats once per week, I also trained heavy double cleans once per week, but not in excess volume. Every time I had to clean double 24kg to start my front squat I gained practice and strength from that 106lb clean. I only trained five 106lb single cleans per week, as I only did five sets of 106lb front squats, but those five singles were enough to build hip power with double 24kg kettlebells that in turn built hip power for my single 24kg clean to press.

Training heavy double cleans once per week far more improved my clean for a 24kg press than training single 28kg (62lbs) loaded kettlebell cleans.

If you can generate enough hip power to kettlebell clean 106lbs in a clean, smooth, strong movement, then a 24kg kettlebell will clean right up, smooth like BUTTAH.

22kg (~49lbs) Press shown below, but you can see how smooth and strong the clean is as a result of training heavy double 24kg kettlebell cleans:

How Did I Progress The Double Kettlebell Front Squat?

I did not come right out of the gate with the ability and strength to squat double 24kg kettlebells. That’s A LOT of weight for someone my size! I built up to it over time.

In my opinion, if you cannot clean the kettlebells then you have no business squatting them or pressing them!  You must build up strength to a solid clean before you can squat or press a particular weight.

It took me 16 weeks to reach my goal and the first week I tested the waters with double 18kg (~80lbs) for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

That was easy so the second week I trained double 20kg (88lbs) for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

That went well so week three I trained double 22kg (~97lbs) for 5 sets of 3 repetitions. This was very hard for me at the time (the note in my training journal read, “These were hard. Keep working with these.”), so I stuck with double 22kgs for 8 weeks.

Over the course of 8 weeks I worked up to 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 22kgs. Once I worked up to 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 22kgs, I trained this weight for a few weeks before moving onto double 24kg (106lbs).

During week 11 I started to work in double 24kg front squats and I started at 3 sets of 2 repetitions, then worked up to 5 sets of 2 repetitions, and then added on reps to the sets as the weeks progressed.

By week 16 I completed 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 24kgs and I stuck with that for four weeks until the week of the Iron Maiden Challenge.

Double 24kg (106lbs) Kettebell Front Squats 5 Sets of 5 Repetitions

Hopefully the progression that I used and provided as an example helps to give you an idea of how you can, safely and effectively, work up to your goal weight for heavy double kettlebell front squats.

In the next installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Crawling for Time. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about heavy double kettlebell front squats!

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If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

Early Bird price ends on October 1 and spots are already filling up so register soon if you are interested because it will be limited to 30 people.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

~Artemis

Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift

 

I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC

#LiftNYC

Last weekend I presented my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift at Drive495 in New York City to a sold-out group of 30 people.

The workshop was open to both men and women, however the majority of attendees were women.

IMG_9511 The Women from Results Driven Fitness in Central Valley, NY

This was significant because it is not often that a group of 20 plus women gather together to discuss and learn about strength training ranging from dead-lifts to weighted pull-ups.

I touched upon the “Bulking” Myth when it comes to women’s strength training but I did not have to cover too much on that topic because everyone was in agreement that lifting weights builds a better, not a “bulkier” body and that it was really cupcakes that make women “bulky” not lifting weights ;) .

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In fact one of the participants shared her story that she actually LOST weight when she started to lift weights more frequently, which was opposite of her goal of wanting to put on muscle weight. More often than not this happens. Women tend to lose weight and/or lean out when they start to lift weights more regularly. They gain muscle, but either lose a few pounds or maintain the number on the scale but drop a few clothing sizes.

I even had a client yesterday share with me, as she went through her sets of weighted pull-ups with 12kg (26lbs), 18lbs, 14lbs, 10lbs for 1, 2, 3, 4 repetitions respectively that she had actually LOST weight and recently she has been lifting heavier weights than she ever has since she started training with me four years ago.

Often I wonder why, specifically, it is that people read my blog, follow me online, and listen to what I have to say. What is it that makes what I have to say and what I write about different from what some other women in the Fitness Industry have to say?

Before the workshop I emailed out a questionnaire to participants and one of the questions that I asked was “What do you seek to learn at this workshop?”

One of the registrants answered this question for me in the questionnaire. She hit the nail on the head in particular in the second part of her answer:

“Are there different considerations or adjustments that need to be taken/made when women strength train versus men? A lot of literature, both online and books, on strength programming are written about men and seem to be tested by men–SFG bloggers, Breaking Muscle, and T-Nation…there are some women who will share their programming, but rarely are women trainers talking about strength. It’s mostly metabolic conditioning, being fit, or “being good to yourself.” I want to hear about simple strength building for women or at least from women.”

Let’s start with “Are there different considerations or adjustments that need to be taken/made when women strength train versus men?”

I advocate that women train just the way men do, because that’s what I do and what we do at Iron Body Studios and we deliver results. There is no special program for women versus men. All men and women dead-lift, squat, do pull-ups, press, and kettlebell swings. Whether man or woman, the only differences are based upon the individual’s fitness level and any physical limitations they may have based upon past injury or for some other reason.

Of course there must be special considerations made for women who are pregnant or postpartum.  However, women who are pregnant and postpartum still do the majority of the same movements that we have our non-pregnant and non postpartum clients do except we monitor load, volume, exertion, and ensure that they are training specific exercises to maintain core integrity as much as possible throughout pregnancy and regain it postpartum.

Next, let’s discuss “I want to hear about simple strength building for women or at least from women”, and this is where she hit the nail on the head.

I write about strength training and programming to build strength. For example:

  • Generally, what do you have to do to in order to reach your strength training goal or goals?
  • More specifically, how to you train to complete the Iron Maiden or Beast Tamer Challenge?
  • How do you build strength to press a heavy kettlebell?
  • More specifically, how does training double front squats improve your overhead press strength and skill? (Taught at the workshop and next up on my Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press blog series!)
  • How do double kettlebell dead-lifts improve your barbell dead-lift?

A short excerpt from the workshop about how double kettlebell dead-lifts improve the barbell dead-lift:

As I have said before I am not Pink and Fluffy, I’m not going to write about or post a #selfie of my latest “sweat sesh” (a phrase I LOATHE by the way), but I will walk you through some simple but not easy kettlebell snatch chains or swing intervals that will make your feet and eyeballs sweat; BUT I will not try to be cute and trendy and refer to it as a “sweat sesh”.

My goal is to empower women through strength training. Through strength training they will gain confidence, self-esteem, freedom of movement to complete daily tasks without the assistance of others. Such as declining assistance with “heavy” groceries from the grocery store clerk and having the ability to carry all six grocery bags in one trip rather than make three trips.

As a result of this confidence, self-esteem, and independence through strength, women will feel GOOD! When you feel down go lift something heavy or swing a kettlebell, nourish your body with REAL, healthy food, and then you will feel GOOD! That’s my self help book for ya’ – “Unsexy Training” Methods all the way!

For those of you who know me, you know that I am sensitive, caring, and giving, but I am a doer not a dweller. Life is too short to dwell for too long, go DO something about it!

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This past Saturday at I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC everyone stepped out of their comfort zone and tried a movement they have not tried before or lifted a new, heavier, weight for the first time.

Many did an assisted pull-up for the first time,My favorite moment? When I just about burst into tears for fear of doing my first (assisted) pull up!” ~Melanie T.

More specifically:

  • Laura S. hit a PR with a double 36kg (160lb) Dead-lift.
  • Michi T. did a bottoms up press for the first time ever and crushed it with 10kg (22lbs)
  • Jessica M. did a 10kg (22lbs) weighted pull-up for the first time AND she had NEVER trained weighted pull-ups before!

 Jessica’s husband Chris Merritt, who also attended the workshop, owns Beyond Strength Performance in Northern Virginia. Make sure to go check it out if you are in the NoVA area!

  • My distance coaching client Jessica V. who also attended the I Am Not Afraid To Lift in New York City last weekend provided to participants a tangible example of how the double kettlebell dead-lift improved her barbell dead-lift:

“The addition of double kettlebell dead-lifts into my strength training program improved my barbell dead-lift form and technique better than any other assistance drill I had previously attempted. 

Previously, I did not always load my hips properly and I found myself lifting with my back and leaking tension or simply not creating enough tension to initiate a pull or complete multiple repetitions with good form.

Working double kettlebell dead-lifts improved my hip hinge and forced me to generate and maintain maximum tension throughout the entire lift.  Standing directly over the bells helped me to better understand how to pull weight while keeping the load close to my body–ultimately making sure that my lats were fully engaged from the initiation of the pull to the completion of the pull.  A proper hip hinge, with maximum tension in the lower body, taught me how to sit back into my hips so that they were loaded correctly and made initiating the pull with my hips and not my back or shoulders completely achievable.

Essentially, the concept here is that with lats fully engaged and a fully loaded hip hinge, one could sit back and hover the weight off of the floor.  And finally, achieving a full lockout at the top of the pull–generating a standing body plank–reinforced the feel of maximum tension and the need for tension before, during, and after every pull.

Additionally, the handle size of kettlebells provide an excellent grip training aspect that makes “breaking” a barbell or holding a barbell for consecutive pulls much more manageable. “ 

For those who are new to lifting, this workshop is about learning to lift,

“I never felt like I couldn’t participate and I came away with so much knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose.” Emily S.

For those who already have experience with lifting, this workshop is also about taking your lifting to the next level… and of course laughter…

“My whole butt is on fire…” ~Artemis 

and dropping a few F and M-F bombs…

If you are not afraid to lift I hope that you will join me for I Am Not Afraid To Lift Boston #LiftBoston on November 8 at Iron Body Studios!

Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

Based upon #LiftNYC I made some adjustments to the workshop agenda to improve the flow of the material covered and to ensure that we are able to cover everything planned in the time allotted. I will email out a detailed agenda that reflects these adjustments to #LiftBoston participants after they register.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

View Pictures of #LiftNYC HERE

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#NotAfraidToLift

#BeXena

#XenaStrong

 

Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Four: Open Half Kneel Pressing

 

Press IM_white font

This is the fourth installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about the benefits of training your press in an open half kneeling position.

If you missed the first three installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” after my first attempt at the Iron Maiden Challenge last September 2013, I took my press down to an open half kneeling position and trained press ladders in an open half kneeling position in order to clean up my press.

I dropped the weight significantly and started with 12kg (26lbs), then progressed to 14kg (30lbs), and then eventually 16kg (35lbs) as I worked through these press ladders in an open half kneeling position.

By training ladders in the open half kneeling position, I eliminated any tension leakages with my press and learned how to apply the necessary tension techniques for a stronger press (especially for a half bodyweight press), such as learning how to wedge properly and grind through a press by pushing into and under the kettlebell instead of away from the kettlebell. I learned how to use the correct technique, and all the correct muscles for my press instead of getting the bell above my head with brute force.

If you apply tension techniques correctly in an open half kneeling position, a light weight should feel challenging and you should be sore the first week or so in your abdominals, glutes, lats, and possibly quads.

Tension Techniques

  • Wedge
  • Position the kettlebell so that the handle rests low on the heel of your hand and deep in the crease of your thumb.
  • Squeeze the glutes and contract the abdominals so that your belt line is high. I like to call this “Trash Compactor Abs” or “Get short before you get long”.
  • Pull your kneecaps up to your hips and squeeze your quads like crazy.
  • Corkscrew your feet into the floor.
  • Maintain tension in your free hand.
  • Hold your breath or limit the exhale on the finish of the clean before the press to maintain tension.

When it comes to pressing and particularly pressing heavy, skill is more important than strength. Even if you have the strength to press a particular weight, if you don’t have the skill dialed in then you are not likely to be able to press a particular weight or it’s not likely to go up correctly.

See my Facebook Post below about To Press  A Lot You Must Press A Lot

I’ve included a video tutorial below about how to press in an open half kneeling position, the benefits of pressing in an open half kneeling position, and about how training your press in an open half kneeling position translates to your standing press.

In the video I talk about how when pressing from a standing position, your toes are likely to be slightly turned out (some people may be comfortable with their toes pointed directly forward, but not many). This turn out should not be deliberate or forced, just allow your feet to assume their natural turn out so that you are in a comfortable pressing position.

You will find that once you are in this position, when you go to engage your glutes, and tighten up your quads as you press that it’s easier to maintain tension through your hips and quads. You’ll know you’re doing it correctly because your butt and legs will be so tight that your inner thighs will feel like they are glued together from the rear. I forgot to go into this detail in the video, so I have to spell it out here ;) ….

After you watch the video there are two ways you can incorporate open half kneel pressing into your training program. 

  1. You can do what I did and train press ladders in an open half kneeling position for 8-12 weeks. Then you can take the ladders to standing. (See Part III: Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders of this series for more detail on how to train the press ladders.) OR
  2. You can go about your regular training program, say with heavier standing pressing two to three times per week and incorporate some lightweight, low volume (e.g. 3 sets of 3-5 reps) half kneel pressing into your program for 4-8 weeks as an assistance drill like the bottoms up press.

In the next installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Double Kettlebell Front Squats and how heavy double kettlebell front squats translate to a heavy press. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about open half kneel pressing!

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If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.  (The NYC I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop at Drive495 is sold out!)

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

~Artemis

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Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift