Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is Hard Style Strength And How Does It Work?

According to the RKC Instructor Manual, "Hardstyle Strength is exemplified by power lifting and Okinawan karate. The common denominator is COMPRESSION."

We compress the muscles as force is produced through tensing.

We compress the breath as extraordinary intra-abdomincal pressure increases your strength. Think of a can.

We compress the ground to create amazing stability and take full advantage of the reactive force of the deck. Th goal is to take root.

And finally we compress our focus. Think of the difference between a laser and a light bulb. Try a static dead lift until you feel your feet burn.

Many folks have asked me to define "Hard Style" and the above is surely better than anything I can come up with.

So how does it work? Well for me it's worked like this. I am leaner, stronger, more mobile, more flexible and have great cardio conditioning. Remember, I'm 47 but am at least as fit as when I played NCAA football. And I feel a ton better.

I use three tools. An Olympic bar, a pull up bar and kettlebells. Pretty basic. I do squats, dead lifts, tactical pull ups, side press,clean and press, snatches, swings and Turkish Get ups. Each is a compound exercise.

I use maximal speed both up and down in the quick lifts like snatches, cleans and swings. We go all out for two reasons. First, your hips store tons of power on the way down on a swing and when you explode back up it is like letting a pulled rubber band go. Second, you get good training effect without a huge volume. Anyone who tells you that they are swinging a 32 KG kettlebell for 300 reps non stop is not employing Hard Style technique.

Doing grinds like the squat, dead lift presses etc I go slow and create as much muscular tension as I can. Tension is strength but it is slow. You must practice creating tension on the grinds even using lighter weights or even when doing bodyweight work. If you don't you won't have a chance when dealing with real weight.

If you use kettlebells for strength and conditioning you really want to make the lifts as difficult as you can. The goal is to make your chosen sport (life or otherwise) as easy as possible.

Hard Style in it's essense is about kinetic linking. Kinetic linkage required that you work multiple joints all at once and is the opposite of one joint exercise. Nothing we do treats the body as collected body parts. The body is a machine and that is how we work it.

Again to quote the RKC manual. "RKC teaches how to focus the scattered energies of the body into a directed all-out effort while minimizing the odds of injuries."

I'd love to have you share your thoughts here as well or ask any questions.

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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At July 1, 2009 at 10:24 AM , Blogger John Lauber said...

Amazing how much work we did, without even lifting a kettlebell.

Definitely, a high learning experience and thanks to you for organizing it. Very glad I "treated" myself for Father's Day.

At July 4, 2009 at 8:13 PM , Blogger Al in Vancouver said...

Nice article. Thanks for thinking that through and sharing it.


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