Craig Fingrutd: RKC, AKC, MKC
Izzy Barish: AKC
Warm Ups can be done prior to a heavy workout, after a workout or as a light workout in and of itself. Warms ups are done with a kettlebell that can be easily handled. Use the same size kettlebell that you usually use or a lighter bell. You are not trying to build strength or endurance during the warm ups. Use the warm ups to open up your joints, stretch ligaments, tendons, and warm up the muscles so you are prepared for explosive movements without injuring yourself.
We recommend even before touching the kettlebell you add some full body flexibility such as dynamic joint mobility Yoga or Zhealth. These type of exercises warm the joints up and work on the connective tissue of the body.
Good Mornings Halo Lateral Stretch Shoulder Stabilizer aka Arm Bar Shoulder Cross Back Bent Arm Over Back Shoulder Cossack Slalom Sling Shot aka Around the Body Sling Shot Static Squat Sling Shot X’s Sling Shot Lung, Front Leg Pass Figure 8 Cossack Style
The Good Morning stretch develops flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back. The kettlebell can be held in a variety of positions. Hold the kettlebell by the handle as in the two hand dead lift position in front of the body, or with the kettlebell behind the neck using two hands to hold it in place, or in front of the chest using two hands holding the bell. The good morning can be done standing with legs straight, legs bent, or from a seated position. If you are very flexible you can stand on boxes using the two hand dead lift method to get lower then then ground.
For the standing good morning keep your feel flat, shins vertical. Do not protrude the knees forward past your toes even if your knees are in the bent position. The most important thing is the alignment of the spine from the tail bone to the top of the head. To prepare to do the stretch correctly try this, hold a stick in one hand and hold it against your back. There should be 3 parts of your body that are touching the stick, your tail bone, the middle of your thoracic and the back of your head. Now sit back with your hips and start to bend forward at the waist but move only from the hips backwards. Your trunk from your hips to your head should stay in the same position. Keep holding the stick and bend forward until your hamstrings get tight. Do not round your lower back, lift/drop your head or bend forward at the shoulders trying to get deeper in the stretch. This is a false stretch and holds no benefit for the good morning stretch. You need to keep in proper back alignment at all times during this stretch. The stick you are holding with one hand should still be touching in the same 3 places, tail bone, middle thoracic and head. If at any time the stick comes off any of the three body parts while you bend forward you are out of the correct spinal alignment. You will be surprised at how low you go when doing this properly. Try again, until you get it right.
Exhale as you bend forward and inhale as you come up. Before coming up, squeeze your gluts until you come back to the starting position. This is important for a few reasons. Doing this will keep your back long so you do not compress the back when rising up. This will also keep the back protected by keeping pressure off your lower back because this maintains proper spinal alignment.
Everything is the same from the seated position except you need to engage the gluts throughout the movement from beginning to end. Other then that, all other things hold true. Now it is time to try with a kettlebell. Enjoy.
The Halo opens up the shoulders. Steve Maxwell coined the name as it resembles making a halo over the head. This can be done in a host of positions. Hold the kettlebell by the horns in the bottom up position (ball on top in relation to your hands). Begin with the kettlebell in the middle of the chest, elbows at the sides. Raise up one arm up over your head so the arm is positioned left to right over the body in line with the shoulders. The ball is over the shoulder. Continue to rotate your arms so the kettlebell moves behind your back dropping it as low as possible. Still continue the circle and rotate to the opposite side of your body in the same position as when you first moved over the shoulder. Finally bring the kettlebell back to the center of your chest.
The key to the entire movement is to move the kettlebell around your head not the other way around. In fact, do not move body part other then your arms, do not let your body sway or move what so ever. To do this correctly and not move your head you have to open up the shoulders when moving the kettlebell, especially when you move over the shoulders. Ideally, you want to smooth the movement out so it appears you are tracing a circle around your head. Rotate one way then the other or move in one direction for several rotations, then reverse direction. Keep drawing the shoulders down to keep space between the ears but at the same time try to make space in the joint itself.
One of the first thing that goes as we age is our lateral flexion or side to side movement. The Lateral Stretch will help keeps the spine and back limber when moving side to side. The stretch can be with long or short movements. These each address slightly different areas of the body. When done as a long movement, in addition to the spine and side being stretched, the lower back on the sides are also involved in the stretch. Come up and out of the hips then move to the side. You should feel this right through your lower back on one side. Do not collapse your spine when moving to the side, stay long and out of your hips. When performed as a short movements there is very little body motion. The bend is not from the waist but from the middle of the thoracic (middle back).
When performing either long or short lateral stretch do not twist the body at any time, stay flat to the front and back plains. Do not let the shoulders rise, keep them packed and pulled back and down. Breath through the movements, exhale bending sideways and inhale on the way up. Keep your entire lower body from your abs to your toes cored up. This will help keep the body in alignment. The kettlebells can be held in variety of positions. We show the farmer carry, racked and resting on the shoulders below but there are many others.
The Shoulder Stabilizer stretches the shoulder, lat, deltoid along with the spine and hips. Lay flat with your back on the floor. The starting position is with a kettlebell pressed out over your chest. The leg on that same side of the kettlebell is bent with the foot flat on the floor. The other leg is laying down flat, with the free arm at your side. Move your free arm over your head and end up with the arm flat on the floor. Slowly and carefully turn on the side of your body where your free hand is now over your head. Use the foot that is flat on the floor to initiate this move. As you move to the side keep the kettlebell in a straight up position over your body. Drop your should back and down as you try and pull your entire arm backwards behind you. This opens up the shoulder. Keep your elbow straight at all times and do not bend your wrist.
As you come to the side you can remove your foot from the floor and take your bent leg over your body. It is now time to add your hips and back to the stretch by pressing the hips down to the floor as you straighten the bent leg. Try to push your hip to the ground and extend your leg down and out trying to turn your body 180 degrees so you are facing the ground while the kettlebell is backwards over head. Get the feeling of stretching the arms and legs outwards in opposite directions. You can also try and get you head down on the inside of the biceps of the arm that is on the floor. This will stretch the shoulder that is on the floor. It is a wonderful stretch but be careful as not to use a heavy weight. You can hurt yourself if you can not control the kettlebell.
The Shoulder Back Cross is for the shoulder, lat's, and sides. Stand with the kettlebell in an over head press position. Stand tall and try not to move your body only your arm, moving it back behind you and over to the other shoulder. Do not bend the elbow. Stayed cored up at all times through the movement.
The Bent Arm Over Back Should is for the shoulder and lat's. Stand with the kettlebell behind you holding the handle. This can be done with one or two arms at the same time with one or two kettlebells. Stand tall and do not move your body as you move your arm back down behind you as if the kettlebell where being pulled down and to the center of your spin. Move This stretch can be very subtle as there is little movement overall in the stretch. Stayed cored up at all times through the movement..
The Cossack challenges the groin, hip, ankle, and hamstrings. Start in a standing position holding the kettlebell at chest level. Open the legs very wide and move laterally side to side by bending down on one leg while straightening the other. Go back and forth from side to side. Keep the back straight. The foot on the extended leg can be flat, facing forward or it can be pointed up to the ceiling with the heal on the ground. If the foot is flat on the ground you will feel more of a groin stretch. If you perform this with the foot up heal on the floor it changes the stretch from a groin stretch to a hamstring stretch. The kettlebell(s) can be held in a variety of positions.
The Slalom is excellent for the knees and gets the hips involved as well. Start in a kneeling position with the kettlebell held at chest level in any position you prefer. Move laterally from your knees to one side and at the same time extend your arms to the opposite side. The weight acts as a counter balance. Move back and forth from side to side, each time trying to get deeper and deeper to where you can sit your butt on the floor on one side and then the other. Go deeper on each side by relaxing the knees and hips.
The Sling Shot opens up the shoulders and warms up the body to prepare to workout. Start in a standing position. Swing the around your body, exchanging the hands in the front of the body and in the back of the body. Try and stay on the corners of the handle when changing hands. Feel as if the kettlebell where whipped around the body, as if the ball was in a sling being circled around and around the body. Keep your elbows as straight as possible. When you bend the elbows you are slowing down the movement and using more arm strength instead of centrifugal force to move the kettlebell around the body. You should stay cored up at all times to keep the body as stable as possible. Stand tall and pack your shoulders back and down. Be careful as there is a tendency to round the shoulders forward or collapse the chest forward. Do not 'V' the swing. This is where you are swinging the kettlebell from from to back instead of around the body creating a 'V' pattern of movement. There are a variety of stances and movements that all are based on the sling shot movement.
You can do perform this with the feet wide outside the hips, feet hip width or feet together. The feet together is the hardest position. Try combining these and moving from one to the other.
The Sling Shot Static Squat adds a static squat to the sling shot movement. Try and stay upright as possible and keep the back straight. You can bend the knees slightly or get down in a deep squat. This will add to your leg strength as you try and maintain good body position while the kettlebell moves around the body.
The Sling Shot X's adds a diagonal pass between the legs. The feet can not be held together when doing this movement. You need room to move the kettlebell between your legs. There are a variety of styles, going around the body, then passing diagonally from one corner to the other between the legs, then back around the body and back through the legs is one type. This can be done in either direction. Another is to pass back and forth between the legs on each rotation. The body can stay on a low plain moving laterally side to side, almost as if moving back and forth in a high cossack movement, or the body can raise and lower as the bell moves between the legs. Another is where you stand statically with enough room to pass the kettlebell back through the legs. Experiment, but be careful of the lower back. It can be strained especially if you relax and start to round the back.
The Sling Shot Lunge is another variation of the sling shot where you are in a forward standing lung stance moving the kettlebell around your front extended leg. The kettlebell is passed around the front leg, both directions. When you desire stand up moving the kettlebell around the body, then reverse legs moving the bell around the front leg. Be sure not to let the lower back round, you will only hurt yourself.
This combines the Sling Shot X with the cossack movement as done above except you are not doing the cossack on the floor, but you are shifting your body with the movement of the bell. Feel it in the hips as you move from side to side.