Archive for April, 2011

Kettlebell Swing

Hmm Looks very similar to the picture I posted in my last article eh? I wonder why….

Since my last post was about biomechanics my friend challenged me to apply it to kettlebells and I am accepting that challenge. Please let me know if I write anything wrong/hard to understand so I can improve myself 😉

Let me put a disclaimer here. I am NOT saying that kettlebells are the ‘be all end all’ of strength training, fat-loss, weightlifting or whatever you want to call it. It is one of the MANY tools that can be used and for best results; use different tools from your arsenal so that your body does not get the chance to adapt and it will never know what hit it.

Another disclaimer, I am currently pursuing a diploma and have very little real world experience so what I say may or may not be true, furthermore what I am about to write on are just general observations.

Okay let’s get the ball rolling. The basic movement of kettlebell is the kettlebell swing. There are two parts to this. The concentric and eccentric portion. Concentric is when the bell is behind you and you are about to explode with your hips till the bell reaches about chest/abdominal region.(NOTE: It should not go up too high because that means you are using your shoulders to bring it up more than it should be). The eccentric is all momentum. There is no tempo like typical free weight exercises. This movement might look very simple but a lot of people get deceived by its simplicity that they let their ego take over. This movement is the basis for the rest of the other movements and should be properly drilled before moving on to more complex movements.

Let me give my personal experience from observation. I feel that people who don’t understand why others are so into kettlebells are the same people who ‘ego-lift’. What I mean by this is that they want to use the heaviest kettlebells they are able to barely lift and yet want to swing and up being the biggest jerks (pun intended) ever known to man.

The kettlebell swing can be used as a great tool to show the average joe how to lift with proper posture (neck, upper and lower back alignment) and activate the posterior chain (lower back,hamstrings,glutes,calves) instead of ‘muscling’ the swing. You have to grasp the concept of making love vs having rough meaningless sex. Kettlebell lifting is like making love while Ego-lifting is something like rough sex. It’s kinda like different strokes (literally) for different folks. You get the picture?

The two most effective coaching cues for this move is to ‘stick your ass out’ (to spare the lower back from excessive torque) and to ‘lift your toes up/put your bodyweight on your heels’ because this will AUTOMATICALLY activate your posterior chain. I have personally tried to do the opposite of this and suffice to say, it was a mess. Losing balance constantly and using the wrong muscles to do the same movement is not efficient exercising.

Another cue that I learnt from my good friend Andyn is to ‘keep the bell close to your groin’ because of several reasons which makes perfect sense if you think about it. You want to make the distance travelled by the bell as short and efficient as possible and for a person like me with long limbs, it might be ‘natural’ to have a longer range of motion but I have to consciously bring the bell close to my crotch area every time I do a repetition so that I don’t waste my energy and I will be also be able to generate much more explosiveness into the next repetition because it is much more closer to my body.

One possible debate is how much to bend the knees or whether it should be bent at all? As always, the answer is a gray area because there MUST be a slightest degree of bent knees (think stiff legged Deadlift) to spare the knees. For me personally, I don’t take note of how much I bend my knees because as long as my form (posture) is good, then it’s all good as there are no compensations (mobility and flexibility wise).

In conclusion, I feel that in life and weightlifting, EGO is mankind’s greatest enemy and if we learn how to defeat it, we can learn so much more and be a better human and lifter. I am just sharing what I know so please feel free to correct me.

Introduction to Biomechanics

A picture to illustrate what I've been blabbering about

This is something I submitted for my schoolwork. If I wrote something that is wrong/hard to understand please let me know. Enjoy the revival of my blog 🙂

How do you apply Biomechanics to your daily life?

First, let me define what biomechanics is. It is the study of movement of the human body. Biomechanics might seem like a technical jargon but it actually is not because if you observe closely, we humans have very similar yet different bio mechanism. What I mean by this is even though we walk the same (to the naked eye), There are several aspects that needs to be analyzed such as gait and degree of range of motion (ROM) for joints.

It is this analysis that is the epitome of sports and exercise sciences. It is said that no two people have the same thumbprint but I feel that it extends even further than that. I would go further to say that no two people have the same bio mechanism due to factors such as limb length, Upper and Lower Torso length difference and Motor Control.

The most important reason why people even bother studying about biomechanics is twofold. Firstly it is to improve performance efficiency. Many Olympic World Records have been smashed due to advancement in technology (external equipment, technique refinement) and bio mechanists are trying their best to push the envelope. Secondly it is to predict and prevent overuse injury due to a whole host of factors from daily postural habits to mobility and flexibility (or lack thereof).

This is why people should have a basic idea of bio mechanism for their own health and longevity so that their quality of life is not compromised even as they age. Bio mechanics can totally be applied to daily life. There are countless examples of how we get injured that can be traced to our bio mechanics. There are two types of injuries. Contact and Non contact injury. All non contact injuries can be prevented. The reason why non contact injuries happen is due to bad postural habits (Excessive kyposis, lordosis, Chronic shortening of the hip flexors and hamstrings) and lack of mobility in joints and lastly flexibility in muscles.

In conclusion, I feel that learning and applying bio mechanics should not be limited to athletes but to the average Joe too. It is true that athletes need everything they can get to improve their performance but what we are looking for in the long term is healthy joints and muscles.