Friday, April 24, 2009

Sandy Sommer, Baltimore Kettlebell Instructor Demonstrates 40 KG Turkish Get Up

I've been working on my Turkish Get Ups quite a lot and have made some real progess the last few weeks. "Kettlebells From The Ground Up" is the resource I've referenced in order to get more proficient in this kettlebell movement. And I've practiced and practiced. I want to be able to press the 40 KG Kettlebell and the Turkish Get up will help me get there.

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Should You Train for The New RKC Snatch Test?

This post presupposes that you have built a solid base to build off of. I mean that you have tackled "Enter The Kettlebell" to build your resilience or worked with an RKC instructor who has given you the go ahead to tackle this elephant. Preferably both. Getting hurt while training is not the goal. Train hard but train smart. If you aren't able to follow this advice, then rest assured kettlebell training isn't appropriate for you.

Once your base is built and that foundation is solid, then you are ready for the "Czar of Kettlebell lifts." (Contact me if you need to build your foundation).

You want to train the snatch twice a week. There is so much more to getting your RKC certification than the infamous snatch test. If you choose to focus all your work on the snatch test you will wish you'd never heard of the RKC by the end of your certification weekend. You really will need to practice the other 5 foundations of "Hard Style" as well. Seriously.

You should also be aware of hand care. You don't, I repeat don't want to rip your hands to shreds. It's not a sign of toughness nor is it a badge of honor. I need to be careful here but I just saw a ton of picsture of shredded hands after last weekends certification. I had one tiny blister after the RKC weekend. Handcare is paramount, pre RKC, at the cert and as an instructor. Again I can't stress enough that you need to use your head on this. Forget the crush grip for snatches. You must have relaxed hands or you will pay a heavy tol. Check this out about handcare.

Enough of that, we are here to talk the snatch.

For men, the snatch test is 100 reps in 5 minutes with the 24 kg kettlebell. For women, you will use the 16 at a weight heaver than 56 KG and 12 if you are below that. You too need to do 100 reps in 5 minutes.

Please remember that this is written for those who are SURE of their snatch form. We go "Hard Style" here...not GS sport...No corkscrew. Hard Style.

If you don't know what that means ask:)

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Do 5 reps per hand at the top of each minute. Start here don't jump ahead. You are building the walls of your house. Forget the roof at this point. Once you can go 5 minutes add sets, not reps. Go to six minutes and keep adding to it. So you work your way to 20 minutes. That will be 200 reps. Solid work in 20 minutes.

Now you'll want to take a few days off and test your max without switching hands. start on your less dominant side and try for as many as you can and then switch to the strong side. Most likely you'll be able to do at least 50 total.

From there you'll next work up to 20-15-10-5. If you switch hands on each number it will help save your grip. Once again, I recommend starting on your weaker side. Keep pushing through. If you need to you can back off and start on a different rep count than 20 so it may look like 15-10-5-1 at first and your goal would be to add reps to each component. To reiterate, train smart. Getting hurt will slow your progress to a standstill. Take time off if your body is telling you to do so.

This road map will work for you. I promise. Use patience and perseverance and you will own this.

Please leave your commentary and any thoughts.

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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What Motivates You?

Why do we do the things we do each day? Or why do we not do certain things? What motivates you?

Why I train with kettlebells is fairly personal for me. I'm an older dad of a young son. I was 42 when my son Alex was born and he is almost 5 now. His birthday is in just a few months.

I wanted to make sure that I had the wind, flexibility and strength to play actively with him as he gets older. I don't want to be the old guy wearing at suit at Little League who isn't playing catch after the game is over.

When he was first born, I was in decent looking shape but wasn't able to move the way that I was used to. I was inflexible and also had lost lots of strength. I wish I could remember exactly how I found Dragon Door. I can't but I did end up at the website in November, 2006. I had never heard of kettlebells but was intrigued enough to begin working with an RKC instructor. I attended a few workshops after that and quickly got addicted to the changes I was making. Yes, I was getting tons stronger but what intrigued me most was how much better I was moving and how much more flexible I was getting. And how my aerobic capacity was really improving without "The dishonor of aerobics," as Pavel so brilliantly puts it. It was the classic "WTH" effect that so many seem to get from "Hard Style" kettlebell training.

My next step was a few workshops. Mike Mahler, Anthony Diluglio and I kept getting better and fitter. Enter David Whitley, Sr. RKC. He and I had an email correspondence going and he wondered why I wouldn't want to learn from the gentleman who really has been the driving force for the popularity of kettlebells in the United States. So I signed up for the October, 2008 RKC in April of last year. Once I knew I was going, then I developed a training map. Each destination in the journey was planned. There was no meandering. I was not going to fail. Simple as that. I was now motivated not only by the desire to be in shape for my son and me but there was no way I was going to the RKC certification and not leaving with my cert. No way no how.

Honestly, when I first learned what the requirements were I thought...."oh I don't know....sounds hard...can I do it? etc etc." Once I committed I just figured it out. Knew what I needed to do. Not everyone does. I mean there was a guy on Team Jones who had NEVER trained with a 24 kg kettlebell. How he was going to pass was a mystery to me and certainly to him as well.

Is there hope for you? It depends what motivates you and how bad you want to achieve your goal(s). For example, the RKC just published new requirements for our certification. Is it harder? Certainly more is being asked of us, especially for women. Most RKC women felt the old standard was too easy so change was implemented.I hate this phrase but it is useful here. "It is what it is." I passed with a different, not sure easier, standard. Will I pass it when I recert? I can guarantee I will no matter what the requirement. I'll plan for it and crush it. I wanted badly to be able to roughhouse and not get my butt kicked by a 5 year old. Pretty motivating. I also found that I really wanted to share with others. Motivating again! When I re-test I will be incredilby motivated.

If there is a better and faster why to reach general fitness goals, I'm not aware of it. You get strong, flexible and really aerobically fit with kettlebell training.

I can't get a wonderful workout done in less time than a drive to the local gym. Nice huh?

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New RKC Certification Requirements

This is sure to get all into an uproar. It is what it is. You can and will pass.

New RKC Kettlebell Snatch Test Requirements (as of SEptemember 2009)

An RKC candidate is required to do 100 repetitions regardless of bodyweight.

Kettlebell Sizes Men Open Class 24kg
Men Masters (50 and Older) 20kg
Women Open Class over 56kg/123.5lbs bodyweight 16kg
Women Open Class up to 56kg/123.5lbs bodyweight 12kg
Women Masters (50 and Older) 12kg

Old Kettlebell Snatch Test Requirements (runs through August 2009)

An RKC candidate is required to put up the number of reps matching his or her weight in kilograms, up to 100 repetitions.

Students heavier than 100kg are still required to do only 100 reps. For instance, an 60kg student needs to perform 60 snatches, an 82kg student 82 snatches, a 100kg student 100 snatches, a 122kg student 100 snatches.

Kettlebell Sizes Men Open Class 24kg
Men Masters (50 and Older) 20kg
Women Open Class 16kg*
Women Masters (50 and Older) 12kg

* Women under 50kg /110 pounds in the open class may opt to perform 80 repetitions with a 12kg kettlebell instead.

How to Convert Kilograms to Pounds
One kilogram equals 2.2046 pounds.

Here is a sample conversion of 53kg:


To make a quick kilos to pounds conversion multiply the kilos by two, then add ten percent. For instance, 53x2=106. 106+10=116. Thus a 53kg comrade weighs approximately 116 pounds.

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Is There a Best Way To Eat to Prepare for the RKC Certification?

If you are thinking of readying yourself for the RKC Certification you may want to think about what I wrote here.

The reason you should pay attention is that you may have to do some fine tuning in order to find your own nutritional sweetspot.

Preparing for the RKC clearly requires advance planning and strict adherence to a prescribed training schedule. With a goal of RKC certification you know how to train in order to pass the strict requirements. (If you don't then I'm happy to help).

Nutrition may be an area that too many overlook, however. It can be a huge component of your prepartion. Proper fueling ensures that you will recover well between practice sessions and that you keep getting stronger and fitter. The better you eat, then the stronger you will get.

The biggest rule of thumb is that if you need a dictionary to read your food label, you should strongly consider passing on that item. I eat clean Sunday-Thursday. Not one label to read! Eat organically as much as you can but read this first!

I've always eating pretty well but I was using the Warrior Diet prior to the RKC. I got strong and always had a lot of energy. Recently, I've switched over to the Paleo Diet For Athletes and have had amazing results with it. I have NEVER been as strong or as lean as I am at age 47. I don't practice it strictly Friday and Saturday and I think that makes it even more effective.

The reason I mention finding a sweet spot is that both, none or one of these could serve as a catalyst for you to take your training over the top. Right now the only supplements I use reguarly is Krill Oil and a post workout protein drink.

If you want to maximize your workouts and really recover well between sessions, then I suggest you keep these ideas in mind. Remember, I train hard 6 days a week, I'm and old man:) and I never am sore or lethargic.

Let me know if you have any questions at all and I'd love some feedback from you!

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Why A Certified Kettlebell Instructor Is Your Best Bet

If you are new to kettlebell training,then please keep this this in mind...If you want to learn correct kettlebell technique and you want to practice kettlebell strength and condition, then you ought to hire a professional. Why you ask?

Consider this. April is tax time. Can I do my own taxes? Not anymore. I own a small business and I feel it's just too risky. I probably could pull it off but the risk/reward is a bit out of my favor. Let's say I did decide to do them. That's cool but how comfortable would you feel following my advice on how do yours? What if I had a website and even posted some instructional video on YouTube? Since I'm not a CPA, I'd say it would be a losing proposition for you. Wouldn't make much sense.

Let's take this a bit further. Let's say I was an attorney and my speciality was small business consulting. Still probably not the best idea to ask me for tax advice. If I was a resposible person, then I'd have a relationship with a CPA I could and would refer you to.

I'm at wits end on this subject. In the last week, we've seen Jillian Michaels attempt to demonstrate kettlebell exercises (a full on travesty)and more and more "instructional" videos posted to places like Youtube by personal trainers. Folks, the fitness pie is huge and we do a huge disservice not sharing it. I wouldn't consider teaching someone how to use a TRX and a personal trainer shouldn't be trying to teach kettlebells. Can I use a TRX? Sure can but I shouldn't teach others. If I do a kettlebell consultation and the potential client and I decide that kettlebells aren't going to work well for them, then guess what? I smile, shake hands and send them to a certified Personal Trainer. Someone I know and can refer them to. The pie is too big for me to try to eat it all and I want everyone to get fit. Kettlebell or not.

Why are most personal trainers afraid to send potential business out the door? I think that they mostly come from a place of want instead of plenty. That's why and it's a shame. Oh, they think, "if I don't teach this person kettlebells then they won't be a client." Perhaps. But are you more important then they are? It reminds me of the ReMax commercial on TV when a real estate agent doesn't listen to what the client wants and trys to get them to look at houses that are the antithesis of what the client stated they would be interested in.

If you want to be a kettlebell instructor why not get certified? If you aren't going to do that, then why not just stick with your knowledge base?

If you aren't a personal trainer but you are interested in learning how to use the kettlebell, then you NEED to find a certified instructor in your area. DVDs offer you no feedback and when I work with someone who is self taught from DVDs, their form is ordinarily wildly different than what they've been watching. Wildly. But they don't realize it. They wonder why their lumbar hurts etc. Well because your form stinks. Sometimes it's really hard to fix a movement pattern that has been grooved. DVDs are great if you know what you're doing. Otherwise, reconsider.

The real challenge is that the Russian Kettlebell has become the hot fitness tool. There are knock off kettlebells and knock offs of knock offs. I play golf. I stink. I still bought quality clubs. They aren't custom made but I didn't buy them at Sears. I bought them from a golf pro. Did he earn a commission? Yes he did. Are the clubs the right ones for me? Yes they are. Get the right tool and get the right teacher. You'll be so glad.

If I can help with any of your questions, then please feel free to comment here and I'll answer.

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gravely Point Kettlebells

Yesterday I met La Saun Taylor, RKC and Warren Morgan for a kettlebell session in the great outdoors.

La Saun is the top RKC in Alexandria VA and it was excellent to get a chance to spend some time with her.

Warren is the top fitness instructor in Washington, DC and he is an excellent candidate for the RKC. His goal was to check out "Hard Style" kettlebell work and I think he enjoyed himself.

We took Warren through the swing, the Turkish Get Up and the clean and he picked all of it up very quickly.

After we finished our practice we did a short and sweet finisher of 30 work sets of swings. Got 300 swings in 15 minutes.

As you may know, I've been practicing the Beast Challenge exercises as my Viking Warrior Strength work. I've been doing a lot of presses, pistols and tactical pull ups in order to prepare for RKC II, June 2010.

Here's my 16 kg Kettlebell Pistol, as recorded yesterday.

Thank you La Saun and Warren for a great afternoon of work!

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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