One Month In: RKC program minimum completed

1 month of warmups, swings and getups. That is the program minimum.

After several years of tossing kettlebells around without a real vision I’ve decided to get back to the roots of them. So, I purchased Enter the Kettlebell (Pavel) once again and I found this program guide

(http://thief.mars.ucla.edu/piefiles/AOS%20-%20Enter%20The%20Kettlebell%20Workbook.pdf)

by Anthony DiLuglio, RKC http://www.artofstrength.com and I’ve followed it. Refocusing my energies on the basics, proper body mechanics and form. My body has been rewarded.

The program consists of three parts. A 10 minute warmup at the beginning of each workout, and four days working out. Two days doing swings and two days doing getups. Since I had a significant amount of previous experience I jumped right in with a heavy 24 kg (53lb) kettlebell for 1 month. It is suggested that the average male start with a 16kg (35lb) kettlebell. Several years ago this is what I started with and have since moved to the 20kg (44lb) kettlebell then to my present 24kg (53lb) one.

The goal of the warmup is to prepare the body for the workout, as well as to increase your mobility. It has three exercises. Each performed 10 times in a circuit until 10 minutes has passed.

1. Face-the-Wall squat
2. Halo
3. Pump

The face-the-wall squat is a fantastic exercise for teaching proper squatting technique as well as proper swing movement. This exercise is a must do.

“Modified for our needs, it is an outstanding drill for developing the back and hip flexibility needed for pulling and squatting.”
This quote is from Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel on page 9.

The second exercise is the halo. It is performed 5 times each direction for a total of ten repetitions per set. This is a really good exercises for shoulder mobility.

The third exercise of the warmup is the pump. This exercise is used to stretch your hip flexors and shoulders.

These exercises should not be rushed through. You have ten minutes to perform the sets and to warmup. I would complete three rounds of these exercises. It is important to remember that this is the warmup to the workout. Not the workout itself.

After the warmup you do either swings or getups. 4 workouts per week, 2 swing days and 2 getup days.

On the swing days you perform twelve minutes of swings. Starting with sets of 20 and increasing to sets of 50. After you complete each set you then do a 1 minute active recovery such as jogging, jumping jacks, pushups to squat or mountain climbers. It is very important to do active recovery instead of just stopping.

Physiologically it is easier on your heart to continue moving and perform active recovery or a cool down because the venous system is a passive system and when your muscle contracts it pushes the blood back to your heart. This in turn fills the heart more fully and assists in the next heart beat. By helping the blood return to the heart it actually means that the heart does not have to work as hard.

Twice a week you do swings. They are hard, quick and very intense. They will toughen your mind as well as your body. They will increase your conditioning dramatically and they build your entire posterior chain (back) from head to heel with power, strength and speed. By the time I got near the end of the month I was doing as many as I could, then setting the bell down for a few seconds before finishing out the set. It is always important to remember that while you are working out, during the program minimum you are practicing these exercises and the focus should be on proper form instead of trying to smoke yourself to death.

“I dare you to find a single exercise, kettlebell or not, that delivers more benefits than the kettlebell swing! Senior RKC instructor Steve Maxwell, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, had flat-out stated that doing the perfect kettlebell swing alone is superior to 99 percent of the sophisticated strength and conditioning programs out there.”

An excerpt from “Enter the Kettlebell” by Pavel on page 43.

I love the swing. Plain and simple.

Another exercise that I love is the getup. This is performed twice a week for 5 minutes non stop switching arms on each rep. It requires constant focus and every muscle in your body. 5 minutes might not seem like a longtime, but I can certainly feel it after pressing a 24kg (53 lb) bell five or six times per side.

“The one-arm get-up is a general test of strength which had considerable appeal to most strongmen of yesteryear. Siegmund Klein” (“Enter the Kettlbell” by Pavel on page 61)

The purpose of this exercise is to develop shoulder strength and mobility as well as teaching full body tension. Everything must work together to press a heavy kettlebell from the ground up. It is known to be great for the rehabilitation of shoulders through increased shoulder mobility and stability as well as increased shoulder strength.

Next on my list is the Rite of Passage. I’ll be chronicling this as well when I finish it in a couple of months. The program minimum has been a great refocusing of my kettlebell energies. It has been well worth the effort to take a step back and really focus on performing the exercises correctly and allowing for proper recovery. Historically I always hit the gym as hard as I could and I usually over trained. This led to illness and set backs. It’s time to train smarter.

If you’re interested in this type of training then you should purchase Enter the Kettlebell and/or consult with a RKC instructor.

When I first began this program I was only able to do 1.5 Getups/side. By the end I was doing 6/side. I also started out doing 140 swings in the twelve minutes and my last swing day I did 225. Doing sets of 50 was brutal on my forearms. Sets of 40 was much more manageable, but my grip strength will continue to increase. I also finished with a resting heart rate of 52bpm (resting heart rate is best taken while still in bed in the morning before getting up for the day).

Keep in mind that this is only one month into the program. Also it is only the preparation to the actual program. This intro phase consisted of 40min a week of warm ups and 34 minutes of actual workout time for a total of only 1 hour and 14 mins per week.

While I made improvements in my fitness, and i do feel stronger, this program is more of an opportunity to learn the ropes and practice proper technique rather than the workout itself. I would expect to be comfortable with the kettlebell and prepared for the next phase.

There is room for interpretation in this book. I enjoyed this program as it was laid out in the above PDF. If you’re interested grab yourself a kettlebell and take the challenge with me. We’ll both be better people because of it.

I do not have any affiliation with dragondoor or Pavel.

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14 responses to “One Month In: RKC program minimum completed

  1. Pingback: Leontin Blog

  2. Another helpful post from you. Thanks so much! My main question that brought your blog into google again was is regarding the 12 mins of swings – Does the clock run continuously while you jog, or do you stop the clock while you jog, and then continue it when you start swinging again?

  3. Just curious if you ever encountered a sore back from the workouts – not during them, but the day after. It’s sore muscles. Today is a second day of soreness after my first 12 minute swings round. Yesterday was the whole back. Today it is just the lower back, lumbar area.

    Just want to make sure I’m not destroying my back…then again I’ve never really done much of any exercise that worked my back muscles other than pullups.

    • When I first started I would experience lower back pain. That tends to be a response to swinging the bell to low to the ground. You want to keep the bell close to your body. The way that I do this is by ensuring that my shoulder blades are pulled into my back and by keeping my arms straight. The kettlebell should swing above your knees. Well. Your hand should at least. The swings boiled be very close to the body. By keeping it close it allows you to use your legs to do the swinging without over extending you upper body. When the bell swings too low it is almost like you are reaching for something and that stresses your lower back.
      Keep practicing and you’ll get it. Maybe have a light day until the soreness dissipates.
      A lot of the American style kettlebell stuff that I’ve seen is full of poor form. In many of the videos that you see; the American style kettlebellers try to swing the bell above their heads. This leads to poor form and more dipping when the bell is brought backwards.
      With the Russian style the goal is to use the hips to push the kettlebell forward instead of using the arms to raise the bell. Therefore the focus is in the hips. When you practice with this in mind you begin to realize that the height of the bell on the swing is nearly irrelevant. Therefore, focussing on keeping the bell close, pushing the hips forward, and keeping your arms straight will help to reduce the back pain. As you get better you will naturally work towards swinging the bell out so that it is extended in front of you. Sometimes, I help keep my body tight, I will catch the bell at the top and pull it down in order to hike the bell behind. This can help maintain tension throughout your body as you are on the backswing.
      Hopefully this helps. If you need anything else feel free to ask. I’m glad that you’ve gotten started. Goo luck with your training.

      • Thanks man. After examining some video I think I found my flaw – my knees were bending too much, so it was almost like I was doing a squat. I may have been letting the kettlebell get too low too. hard to tell from the particular video I took though. I’m doing some “air swings” with perfect form right now and it actually feels really good…

      • Good to hear. I hope it goes well for you. It’ll take a bit I peel active but pretty quickly your body will adjust into the proper position. Good luck and good swinging.

      • How’s your journey been? I recently decided to focus on a simple workout progression, with the intent of sticking with it and not changing it at all. I was curious as to how much bang for my buck i could do so…i’m doing simply enter the kettlebell style workout without pullups. Just the clean and presses and swings/snatches. I started with the 44lb kb. Finished 5 sets of 5 and moved up to the 53lb kettlebell. Today, I just pressed the 62lb kettlebell for 5 sets of 5. I’ll buy the 70 pounder in a few weeks and work on that one. Oh yeah, i randomly chose to try to the 5 minute snatch challenge of 100 kb snatches with a 53 pound kettlebell. I did this challenge instead of the workout because i was already tired and didn’t feel like doing the full workout. Knocked out 89 pretty easily. Keep up the good work and knock it out. It really does work. Once, classes are out for the semester i’ll write up what i’ve been doing in a new blogpost.

      • Hey! Thanks for reaching out and checking in! Congrats on all your progress! You’re right…it really does work. Just in the last few weeks I’ve gone from comfortably pressing the 12kg, to almost comfortably pressing 20kg.

        There’ve been a lot of changes in my life since this conversation earlier this year – got a new job, moved to Milwaukee, wife is pregnant… The summer and spring were very busy but now things are settling down and for the last few weeks I’ve been in a consistent KB routine.

        The main areas I’m working on are: press strength, swing endurance/strength, with some other core and total body stuff thrown in (TGUs, pullups, etc.)

        So, right now I can swing a 24kg for 12 minutes – 20 seconds on, 40 seconds rest. tomorrow I will attempted 25 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Goal is to eventually master the 32kg.

        TGUs and Presses lag behind. I am going to do TGUs in a few minutes with the 20kg, but they probably won’t be full get ups. Just practicing and building strength…eventually I’ll be up to the 32kg there too.

        I just noticed your list of workouts on the website. Very good. I’ll take a closer look later. I think you and I are thinking along the same lines – keep things simple yet challenging. Looking forward to your post on your progression.

        >

      • Congrats on all thats happening in your life and in your progress. I’ve keot my workout very slim in scope so far. In a couple of weeks im going to buy a 32kg kettlebell as well as add getups and deadlift on tuesday/thursday. I wish you continued good luck. Dave

    • Keep your back straight as well. I apparently overlooked adding that into the comment. Enjoy.

  4. I’m doing the program minimum as well. Going to do 4 phases of it. Each month I will increase the weight of the get up, while using 1.5 pood for swings. I would recomend watching the dvd mastering the hardstyle kettlebell swing as well are reading enter the kettlebell over and over.

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