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.
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.