Applying "The Wedge" In The Get Up

Go into StrongFirst’s article page and type “wedge” in the search bar. The result yields a number of articles by the brightest in the StrongFirst organization discussing the deadlift, the squat, the swing and the get up. The Get Up is the exercise I will focus on applying the wedge.

We learn through StrongFirst principles that every set up and move in exercise is calculated. In regards to the Get Up, it is a grind, and at my first StrongFirst SFG User Course back in 2013, Artemis Scantalides told the group “The Get Up can be light, the get up can be heavy, but it will never be fast.” A slow Get Up will help you feel and uncover every single action and reaction the body must go through from the bottom to the top and back down.

The half kneeling windmill portion of the Get Up is where I have found people can apply the concept of the wedge. The goal is to equally load yourself between the floor beneath you and the kettlebell above you.

Side bar, for whatever reason, every time I get into the Get Up transition going from the hand post to leg sweep, I imagine the scene in Star Wars (the 1977 original that’s now called “A New Hope”) when Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo (both dressed as Storm Troopers), Chewbacca and Princess Laya are trapped in a room full of trash. The walls of the room start to move inward and R2D2 saves them by shutting down this garbage compactor room.

When the walls start moving, Laya screams “Don’t just stand there, brace it with something!” I’d brace that with my TGU wedge!

 I am going to skip the technicalities of the first third of the Get Up and assume you are familiar with this exercise. What I will review is:

  • The shoulder of the kettlebell arm is packed and the arm remains straight.
  • At no point during the Get Up are we reaching the kettlebell to the sky.
  • The saying from Pavel is “The shoulders are poison to the ears.” We pretend the shoulders and ears are not friends, so let’s keep them distanced from each other so we cause no conflicts.

Let’s get to the tall sit position, also known as the hand post. The kettlebell arm is still packed, straight and vertical aiming toward the sky. Brett Jone’s has the best cue getting into this, “Squish the bug!” Just like it sounds, you are going to take that grounded arm and pretend you are squishing a bug into the floor. You can also think of turning a nob down in volume. This will root your grounded arm into the floor; the sensation is screwing into the ground making your armpit tight with the triceps and lat against each other.

At this point we have begun to apply the wedge. You’re pushing hard into the ground with the supporting arm. Most of us are training on rubber flooring. Imagine your hand posted on the floor is applying so much pressure that you’re going to leave a handprint in the ground.

Imagine the ceiling is coming down on you like the walls of that DeathStar trash compactor room. Use the weight feedback from the kettlebell to provide that sensation. Do not allow yourself to be crushed.

There is no more room or space for you to acquire. Crush the handle of your kettlebell with your grip, brace your trunk and sweep your straight leg to the half kneeling windmill position.

This is it, you just wedged between the kettlebell and the floor.

Michelle performing "the wedge" from her tall sit/hand post position to the half kneeling windmill position.

Michelle performing "the wedge" from her tall sit/hand post position to the half kneeling windmill position.

Hip hinge out of the half kneeling windmill and finish the Get Up to the top. On the way down, imagine the same scenario. Once you return to the half kneeling windmill, wedge yourself between the kettlebell and the floor and sweep your leg out to the tall sit position.

Finish your Get Down.

When practicing this wedge technique, I like to practice this myself and with students, repetition ranges between 2-5 each side, lower reps of 2-3 for heavier weight, 4-5 reps with lighter weight and even body weight to learn the transition from hand post to the half kneeling windmill. Depending on the situation, program or training format, 2-5 sets seems appropriate.

Apply the wedge to your leg sweep in the Get Up. See if you notice a difference in the control you have with a heavier kettlebell and how smoothly you transition between the steps. With the application of the wedge, you will be able to successfully complete a heavy get up with exceptional technique.


A few observations and thoughts on nutrition coaching and the fitness business

A few observations from the nutrition side of the fitness industry.

1) A nutrition coach assists people to make better food choices for themselves. Their role is to be a good listener, be supportive, and ask questions to get the person to think independently on their own, leading to better habits which in turn leads to better food choices.

2) Nutrition coaches have no hidden agenda other than giving people they work with the tools and knowledge to succeed. If you are "selling" a client your nutrition services and that comes with creams, body wraps, powders and some sort of pyramid program, you're not in the nutrition coaching business to help people, you're #1 is making money, and somewhere after #20 is the client's best interest. Buyer beware.

3) Unless the coach is given permission by the client to use before and after/current photos, those photos are for the sole purpose of the client to visually see their starting point to where they are currently. Often times clients spend much time contemplating the reflection in the mirror daily and do not see the changes made between day one to 3 months down the road.

4) A doctor works with someone to help them find a cure or manage their lifestyle with a disease or auto-immune disorder. Do not confuse the scope of practice between a nutrition coach and a dietician, doctor or medical professional. That $500 health coach or $1000 nutrition coach certification is just that, a certification to be a coach, not to prescribe certain pills, diets or foods. Recommending to someone to eat more fruits and vegetables is not out of scope, pending known food allergies, etc.

5) To the above, a nutrition certification is not equal to 4 years of undergrad and 2+ more years of post-grad education studying nutritional sciences, human biology, chemistry, etc. Cornell and Cal-Berkeley have some of the best programs. YouTube, Reddit, the two books and those blogs you read don't really count.

6) Counting macronutrients can help you get an idea of what's in the food you eat, meaning protein, carbohydrates, fats. Knowing your fiber and sodium intake amounts can be valuable too. Understanding macro's can give someone a baseline of what they are eating volume-wise. After they know this they can increase or lower based on their goals and how they feel.

7) IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) works for some, not for all. In my experience, project managers, engineers, lawyers, nurses and those with professions that require more attention to detail appreciate and can actually enjoy this kind of work. Sometimes, I have found more creative roles, people in human resources and civil work, or someone with four kids and a jam packed schedule find tracking and journaling macro's tedious and annoying and they stop before they get started. Find another approach that works for you, which could be as simple as writing down what you ate. (I am not saying the other jobs do not require attention to detail. I have been keeping tabs of professions and how well macro counting works and this is only a slight trend in my experience, having worked with over a hundred nutrition clients.)

8) Nutrition coaches who have struggled with their own issues, whether nutrition related or not, tend to be great at their job because they're passionate about their work, care for others and want to help people with what they experienced directly or indirectly related to food.

9) Everyone is different and everyone needs different food amounts and sources. Insert "diet" name here. Don't force what works for you onto anyone else. You do not know their genetics, family history, health history or food preferences. And if you do, I hope your consent and liability agreement is rock solid.

10) Foods aren't evil. It is a bit evil for telling people foods are evil. Food is food, it can be healthy, there can be a grey area, and it can be unhealthy. But calling food evil is putting your stamp of disproval on another person’s choice and lifestyle, and in this day and age, that does not fly high. Labeling foods as evil can trigger emotions which can lead to eating disorders, and like client behaviors, everyone comes with a different relationship to food and coaches need to be mindful of that. (Thanks for this, Jen.)

In summary, if you are a nutrition coach, think about why you became involved in this part of the fitness field and what your intentions are. The nutrition coach's #1 goal should be their client’s safety, well-being and delivering the results they want to achieve their goals. Every client hires a coach to lose weight for the long term, not in 21 days/6 weeks/3 months or whatever special program running to generate a massive cash flow for a short period of time. Nutrition clients should be set up with confidence and a path to follow for sustainable progress, not to regain everything back and then need to rehire that same "coach" again because they’ve been brainwashed into believing that one system is the only possible method that works for them. And for the person looking to lose weight, gain weight or eat healthier, do your research. Find out what the majority has to say about the coach or system you’re going to invest in, how much interaction you have access with your coach and what their nutrition philosophy is, along with their background.

Current Training Program - Week 2, Day 2

I am trying to focus on exceptional barbell deadlift form, which explains the light weight. I have never been successful at the conventional deadlift stance and set up but right now it's feeling better than ever, so I am going for it. The weighted pull up protocol is from Mike Perry and the kettlebell pressing is following a percentage based program. Again, the goal is 40kg weighted pull up and overhead press. 

Part A: Completed A1 first, then A2

A1) KB Windmill x 3,2,1 each (24kg,28kg,32kg)

A2) KB Arm Bar 2 x 5 breathes each (20kg)

Part B: Completed each exercise before moving on to the next

B1) Barbell Deadlift 3 x 5 (185lb,205lb,205lb)

B2) KB Goblet Squat 3 x 10 (36kg)

B3) KB Weighted Pull Up 5 x 1 (24kg,24kg,24kg,28kg,28kg)

B4) KB Single-Arm Military Press x 3,3,2,3 (24kg,28kg,28kg,24kg)

Part C:

C1) Assault Air Bike vs. Battle Rope Bilateral Slams, Alternating 14 x 0:15s work, 0:45s rest

Current Training Program - Week 2, Day 1

Day 1 of 2nd week of current training program. My goal is still the same, in 12 weeks do 1 Weighted Pull Up and 1 Single-Arm Military Press with the 40kg. Still feeling pain from the MCL sprain. I rode the Assault Bike for 6 miles yesterday and was concerned how it would go today with the conditioning, but I felt great. Wattage was around 359 the entire time until the last mile and no lower than 376 for the last 0.5 mile.

Part A:

A1) KB Windmill 3 x 5 each (24kg)

A2) KB Arm Bar 3 x 5 breathes each (20kg)

Part B:

B1) Double KB Bottoms Up Squat 3 x 5 (14kg,14kg,16kg)

B2) KB Weighted Pull Up x 3,2,2,1 (20kg,20kg,24kg,24kg)

B3) KB Single-Arm Military Press x 2,2,3 (24kg,24kg,28kg)

Part C:

C1) Assault Air Bike x 3 miles (7:22, 111 kcal)

Current Training Program - Week 1, Day 3

This is the 3rd day of my current training program. My goal in 12 weeks is to do 1 Weighted Pull Up and 1 Single-Arm Military Press with the 40kg. I'm taking it easy with lower body work because of the torn meniscus and MCL sprain in my left knee. Squats feel good when done slowly with a lot of focus and the Windmill is the best feeling hip hinge other than Deadlifts.

Part A: all exercises done one at a time, no superset/circuit style

A1) KB Windmill 3 x 3 each (24kg,28kg,28kg)

A2) Crawling 3 x 0:30s

A3) KB Arm Bar 3 x 5 breathes each (20kg)

Part B:

B1) KB Single-Arm Racked Squat 3 x 8 each (28kg)

B2) KB Weighted Pull Up 3 x 3 (20kg,24kg,24kg)

B3) KB Single-Arm Military Press 4 x 4,3,3,3 (24kg,24kg,28kg,28kg)

Part C:

C1) Double KB Racked Carry 4 x 0:30s, 1 minute rest (24kg)

C2) Assault Air Bike 2 x 1 mile w/ 2-3 minutes rest between rides (2:17, 43 kcal/2:17, 42 kcal)

Why Foam Rolling Does Not Wash Away Cellulite

I thought self-myofascial release and doing soft tissue work with a foam roller, stick, mobility ball or lacrosse ball would be off limits as a potential avenue of scam-artistry in the health and fat-loss industry. It turns out I am mistaken after a recent advertising campaign on Facebook and Twitter was brought to my attention by a member of Worcester Kettlebell Club.

Want a slimmer waist, there’s a new 21st century corset/plastic wrap/boa constrictor that you can strap around your waist and you’ll never need to do another crunch or eat another vegetable again. Stick your finger in an electrical outlet every minute on the minute and zap yourself to a slimmer, toned waistline. PLEASE don’t do that, but if you do because a celebrity trainer suggested it…then a Darwin award nomination is in your future.

I recently watched a video of the promoted product, by the woman who is a self-proclaimed celebrity and a guru. This tool is basically the same thing as the The Stick or the Muscletrac sold by Perform Better but has these little spider-like fingers that are probably the magical hands of Smurfs, severed and Gorilla Glue'd on Harry Potter’s wizard wand. This glorified stick claims many things, including the ability to lessen or diminish the appearance of cellulite, improve muscle definition and make skin more vibrant. You can buy yours for $89, online, sold by a celebrity, of course. Did I mention she’s a (self-proclaimed) “guru?”

Maybe it works, maybe not. Actually, definitely not.

Here’s a brief discussion of what cellulite is, what myofascial release is, and how any sort of fascial release does not reduce the appearance of cellulite.

What is cellulite? Cellulite is stored body fat, beneath the skin, and is linked to genetics, metabolism, nutrition, exercise and/or activity frequency or lack thereof, hormone levels and function, stress and hydration, to name a few culprits. Cellulite can be found on people of all shapes and sizes and is not limited to the overweight person.

How does one get rid of cellulite?

It should be noted there is no current or relevant scientific evidence proving that cellulite creams work, but those still sell like crazy because some celebrity said so and there are doctored before and after pictures to prove it.

Liposuction is another alternative method to reduce cellulite, but this also misses the target by surgically removing deep fat stored underneath the skin, and it comes with many complications, including post-operative weight-gain. Liposuction is to fat-loss as Tom Brady’s deflated footballs are to winning football games. There is no connection.

Another note about body fat and cellulite - spot reduction is a myth. The product claims to spot reduce. We know spot reduction is not physiologically possible. Fat, or adipose tissue, is genetic and we gain and lose body fat based on our genetics, not because we “targeted” a certain area.

Do you want to remove cellulite? Take a hard look at your habits. Consider your nutrition, activity, and look around your family tree. Be honest with yourself. Adding in or increasing your exercise regimen and fixing some of your eating habits is the most reasonable place to start. I know. Hard work prevails, again.

What does foam rolling do? Foam rolling an area can help hydration of muscle and connective tissue as well as improve the sensations aroused within the tissue. It does not lengthen the tissue, which is common misconception. Master SFG and Chief Kettlebell Instructor Brett Jones has said something to the effect “You can’t foam roll or stretch your ITB (iliotibial band) to gain more length? It does not stretch, and if you connected it to a hitch of two cars and drove them in the opposite direction then you’re going to have at least one car without a hitch, ripped off before you ‘stretched’ it.” Foam rolling might make it feel better, but there is no muscle or tissue lengthening as a result from foam rolling.

Tom Myers, king of fascia, says foam rolling can be like squeezing the sponge of tissue, as long as it’s done slowly and mindfully. At a recent certification I attended (Certified Functional Strength Coach) a suggestion was to cover about 1 inch per 1 second as a good foam roll tempo to follow. Note, you’re not disintegrating cellulite with foam rolling, that’s just physiologically impossible. If anything happens, you will make cellulite more pronounced by dehydrating the tissue during the rolling until fluid is reabsorbed.

This ONE product got me started on a rant. I just want people to be more educated and not be fooled by the glamorization of celebrities selling products claiming impossible outcomes. If you want to begin removing cellulite, first consider your nutrition and exercise habits and go from there. There isn’t a legitimate product on the market that will wash away or remove cellulite. Don’t blow $89 on magic creams, pills and sticks. My recommendation is to invest in a reputable coach in your area who focuses on an exercise and nutrition philosophy that you can get on board with and experience the full benefits for yourself. Take this route and you can lose cellulite and gain confidence, strength and energy, something most “products” don’t focus on or deliver.

Free Training Day #1

I took my training outside on Sunday because it was beautiful and I wanted to enjoy the fresh air early in the morning. It made a great start to my day

3 Rounds of:

A1) USB (Ultimate Sandbag) Tall Kneeling Halo x 5 each (8kg)

A2) Crawling x 25 yards

The following was done with one kettlebell, because being able to complete an entire, full body training session with one kettlebell is simple and fun.

3 Rounds of:

B1) KB Single Arm Racjed Front Squat x 5 each

B2) KB Single Arm Overhead Press x 5 each

B3) KB Split Stance Single Arm Row x 5 each

B4) KB Overhead Carry x 60 yards > Racked Carry x 30 yards > Suitcase Carry x 30 yards

Rested 2-3 minutes between rounds.

C1) KB 2-Hand Swing 5 x 20 EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) w/ 24kg

This morning's driveway training. It's beautiful out today! I used one 8kg sandbag and one 24kg kettlebell. * 3 rounds: Sandbag Tall-Kneeling Halo x 5+5, Crawling x 25 yards. * 3 rounds: Single Arm Racked Front Squat x 5+5 > Single Arm Overhead Press x 5+5 > Single Arm Split Stance Row x 5+5 > Single Arm Overhead Carry x 60 yards > Racked Carry x 30 yards > Suitcase Carry x 30 yards. Rested 2-3 minutes between rounds. * 2-Hand Swings 5 x 20 EMOM. * Entire session took 40 minutes. First time squatting and swinging in almost three weeks because of potential left knee meniscus tear, still waiting on MRI results. Knee felt great before and feels good after. Swings were purposefully slow to see how long it took me to get to 20, which was 0:36s every round. I wanted to play around with this since assisting Brett Jones at the SFG certification in Boston a month ago. He talked about not focusing on how fast you can finish your swings, but how efficient and smooth you can make your swings feel, appreciating the tension, float, relaxation and keeping my internal volume knob around 6 out of 10. With only 0:24s rest, max effort each swing would have gassed me out. I still delivered optimal force in the swing and had that sweet balance between tension and relaxation. * #worcesterkettlebellclub #worcesterkb #wkc #kettlebells #kettlebelltraining #strength #skill #practice #progress #results #stability #mobility #movement #movebetter #getstronger #training #strengthtraining #exercise #fitness #community #team #WorcesterMA #Worcester #StrongFirst #FMS