Gettin’ all Sciency, Edition 2

Not many people know it, but Einstein used to be a crusher. Photoshop Credit: Jordan Haag. IG: @passionhorse

…so  you don’t have to.

The scientific process requires thorough (often tedious) recording of pretty much everything involved in the research process. This allows the next group of researchers to replicate the study, if need be, or continue to progress the line of thinking that spurred the original study. This results in the publishing of informative, but tedious, articles in scholarly journals. They’re tough to read, but if you put the time in, you can come away with helpful information that you can use to get stronger, stay injury free, and crush your goals.

Let’s get to it.

The Study

Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Impingement Syndrome

Kolber et al.  2017

The Background

The study we’re going to look at today took place recently, and examined some characteristics of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS). SIS is an umbrella-ish term that is used to describe certain instances of shoulder pain. Sometimes, if certain movement or structural characteristics are out of whack, the Rotator cuff tendons or the sac of fluid that separates these tendons from bony structures in the shoulder might get stuck or pinched by these bony structures when reaching overhead. Over time, this can lead to degradation of the Rotator cuff soft tissues and that fluid sac (Subacromial bursa, if you want the scientific term). Persistent shoulder pain is usually the inevitable destination of that road.

The researchers involved in this study wanted to see if there was a trend with certain muscle strength and range of motion characteristics among people with Impingement Syndrome, and were curious if any differences existed for people without Impingement Syndrome.

How They Did It

The researchers selected 55 male adults with ages from 21 to 56. The average age was 27 years old. All subjects had been strength training 2-5 times a week for an average of 9 years, so all subjects were relatively seasoned lifters. They were separated into two groups, those with Shoulder Impingement, and those without.

To determine whether a subject had Impingement or not, two tests were administered. –

-Hawkins-Kennedy Test.

***DON’T just have your friend do this. This is a hands-on test meant for use by a clinician that provokes pain to get a diagnosis. If you don’t have the word “Doctor” in front of your name, you shouldn’t be doing this to someone. End Rant.***

The second test looked for a pain during a shoulder arcArc

If these tests were positive for pain, the subject was placed in the Impingement group. If the tests were negative, and the subject had experienced no pain for the previous 72 hours during training or daily living, they were placed in the Non-impingement group.

There were three areas of testing: Muscle Strength, Muscle Strength Ratios, and Active Range of Motion

Muscle Strength

The first attribute tested was muscle strength. The researchers looked at five muscle group’s strength levels, using a hand digital dynamometer. These muscle groups were the shoulder abductor group, external rotators, internal rotators, and the upper and lower trapezius muscles.

Muscle Strength Ratios

After these values were obtained the ratios of these groups’ strength levels were compared with one another. The relationships examined were:

-Internal Rotator Strength to External Rotator Strength

-Shoulder Abductor strength to External Rotator Strength

-Upper Trapezius Strength to Lower Trapezius Strength

Active Range of Motion

The researches examined each subjects active flexion, abduction, external rotation and internal rotation using a goniometer, a device used to measure joint angles.

flexion
Flexion
abduction
Abduction
erir
External and Internal Rotation

Results

After all the data had been collected, certain trends existed.

-Shoulder External Rotators and the Lower Trapezius muscles were significantly weaker in individuals with Impingement Syndrome compared to individuals without.

-The strength ratio of Internal Rotators vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards Internal Rotators (Internal Rotators were way stronger than the external rotators) in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Abductors vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards the Abductors in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Lower Trapezius vs. Upper Trapezius was significantly skewed towards the Upper Traps in individuals with impingement.

-Individuals with Impingement had significantly less Internal AND External Rotation than individuals without impingement.

Takeaways

-One takeaway from this study is the importance of shoulder external rotator and lower trapezius strength. Keeping these muscles and groups of muscles strong help keep the “ball” of the humerus centered in the shoulder socket. The shoulder relies on a relatively large amount of soft tissue to keep the joint centered, so a weakness in certain groups may allow the ball to creep out of the center position. Poor position means a higher chance of running out of room during a movement, and therefore a higher chance of trapping soft tissue and getting impingement. It seems external rotators and lower traps tend to be weaker in individuals with impingement, so it miiight be a good idea to keep them strong. Here are some simple and effective exercises to address that.

 

-Another takeaway I got from this study was discrepancy in strength that was related to shoulder impingement.

It’s seems as if people can be pulled into internal rotation if they neglect proper form during training, or have certain lifestyle factors, such as sitting at a computer for extended periods of time, drive for extended periods of time, or have poor posture (the standard climber hunchback). All these can lead to an imbalance in which our joint position and muscle strength is skewed towards shoulder internal rotation and lead to a weakness in our external rotators.

Another factor seems to be the imbalance between lower trap and upper trap strength. We’ve gone over a way to work on lower trap weakness, but the upper traps can end up being to “switched on”  by something we do every day:Breathing. When we breathe incorrectly, it’s often by using our accessory muscles which are in our shoulders, upper traps, and neck. Ideally, we want to be using our diaphragm to pull air into our lungs, and crocodile breathing is a great way to reinforce this pattern. Lay on your belly and take relaxed, complete inhales through your nose. Your midsection should rise and expand laterally, and your shoulders should stay relaxed.

 

Wrapping it Up

Give some thought to how you breathe and what positions you spend the majority of your day in. If there’s some things you can work on, start doing them! The examples I talked about in the videos are just a few of the myriad of ways you can begin to address these issues.

I think these exercise form corrections are crucial to the health of the shoulder joint, as strength training with proper form helps reinforce movement characteristics. You’re either building bad habits and making them harder to break, or you are reinforcing healthy and balanced joint mechanics. You make the choice.

Have questions, comments, rants and raves related to this article? Feel free to reach out to me!

Learn More

Here’s the citation and link to the abstract if you want to read the full study.

Kolber et al. Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001554

Bullet Points and a Brew 4/5/17

Hot and a chance of tornadoes.

That’s the weather in Chattanooga today, so it’ safe to say we’re working our way deeper into spring. As spring arrives, so does a renewed focus in Jiu Jitsu and sport climbing. I’ve got a match with a competitor from Knoxville in a week and a half, so I’m trying to develop some conditioning and sharpen up my game to put on a good showing April 15th. I’m excited to get back on the mat again!

17522880_443991575938756_460425100830198375_n
I made sure to look as intimidating as possible

I’m also starting to work to develop some endurance for route climbing. I’ve set up my plan, so now it’s time to go to work. I recently finished reading Logical Progression by Steve Bechtel. It’s chock full of ideas to structure your training, and I’m playing with a few. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Let’s get into the Bullet Points.

The Bullet Points

Feast your ears on the first “Board Meeting” Power Company Climbing podcast featuring all four members of the team. In the episode, we talk about where we get our sources of information. The Board Meeting episodes are a bit more laid back, so expect some solid information paired with some laughter.

Will Anglin is the head climbing coach for Earth Treks in Golden Colorado. He’s full of intelligent training ideas and ponderances. This article introduces rules that you should follow if you want to be a better climber. A concise and fantastic article.

Many individuals live in a state of extension in their lower backs. At worst, it can lead to pain and spinal injury. Oftentimes, it’s just mild discomfort. However, lacking the ability to control spinal position is a problem. Here’s an an avenue to address it.

Too often, it’s easy to jump into a certain corrective exercise or mobility drill to address joint funkiness. Maybe, the cure is just to step back and evaluate technique. This article addresses the bench press and some technical points, and includes some GOLD pressing variations at the end of the article. Like the majority of Tony’s work, it’s full of actionable information while being an enjoyable read.

The Brew

wp-1491389555384.jpg

Rum Barrel Aged Siberian Black Magic Panther, Westbrook Brewing Co.

Disclaimer: I had a cold and couldn’t taste much when I cracked this open. Of course, I didn’t have this realization until right after I opened it, but o well.

This beer is a big, boozy stout from Westbrook. It poured black with a dark chocolate colored head and a boozy aroma filled the room almost immediately. It had a strong aroma of Rum with some sweetness. The flavor was full of roasty and bitter malts, some candi sugar sweetness, maybe some vanilla and caramel flavors, and rum pronounced throughout. Super boozy. It’s not a surprise this is a 12% abv beer. A big, burly beer that is aggressive. It was good, but a bit too in-your-face and not quite balanced enough for me.

That’s it for this week.


What’s Happening

kettlebell-course-chattanooga-tn

Strongfirst Kettlebell User Course

I’m excited to announce that the Strongfirst Kettlebell User course is coming back to Chattanooga! On May 27, Senior SFG Delaine Ross will be at Scenic City Strength and Fitness for an 8 hour workshop breaking down fundamental kettlebell skills. These skills lay the foundation for a lifetime of effective kettlebell training, so this course is not to be missed. You can find more information here.

Coaching

I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have one open spot for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please reach out ASAP. You can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

Bullet Points and a Brew 12/20

Everyone enjoying the week leading up to Christmas? Clearly I am:

wp-1482253511645.jpg
Deep in thought, and full of Christmas Cheer

It’s busy one for me. My priorities this week are finishing up some coaching things, getting a great week of coaching on the floor, finishing up some Christmas shopping, and getting a good week of training in. I was able to get out to Rocktown last Friday and finally figured out a piece of beta on one of my long-term projects. I’ve got a ways to go, but it was nice to have some progress and not feel like I was just banging my head against the boulder.

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Crazy schedules make super complicated training difficult to do. When life gets nuts, how do you get done what needs to be done? What do you cut to make your training plans lean yet still effective? Dean Somerset opens a window into his thought process.

Not quite an article, but chock full of some good information. Eric Cressey works with a large number of professional athletes. A majority of these athletes are baseball players with arms that are literally worth millions of dollars. When he puts out some information on arm care, I make sure I listen. “30 Days of Arm Care” was a series on social media he shared and finished up recently. I’ve included the hash tag link for twitter. You can also search the same hashtag on instagram. Look through it. It’s got some gems.

I’m a fan of Reddit. It’s a great way to learn things of all sorts. The Climbharder subreddit is packed full of information and discussion. This thread is full of insights, viewpoints, and discussion about the importance of technique, importance of strength, which one is more important, etc. Check it out.

The Brew

wp-1482253469134.jpg

The Lizard of Koz, Founders Brewing Company

An Imperial Stout brewed with blueberries, chocolate, and vanilla, and then aged in bourbon barrels. It’s quite the beer. The Lizard of Koz pours black with a thick, bubbly tan head. Bourbon and chocolate fill the aroma. Chocolate, vanilla, and very prominent blueberry make up the flavor. A slight hint of bourbon is present, but the bourbon is surprisingly subtle considering how strong it was in the aroma. Mouthfeel wise, it’s very thick and savory, just how a dessert beer should be. Definitely a beer to share, as it’s a bit much after a glass, but one glass would be a great end to a great meal.

 

 

 


What’s Happening

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 11/28/16

Hey there, everybody. Hope the holiday weekend was good to you! I had a good time up in Indianapolis. The trip was full of visiting family, seeing friends, eating a bunch of food, and laying around. I’m back in Chatt now, getting started on the week. I’m competing in another Jiu-Jitsu tournament this weekend, a submission only event. It’s a 16-man blue belt bracket, and since I’m just a white belt, I’m sure I will learn quite a bit about my game. I’m stoked! Probably no climbing this week, I warmed up like an idiot last week and my elbows paid the price. Resting and making sure I stay focused on this weekend.

In Case You Missed It

It was a good week for content this past week. I wrote a guest article for Skimble, an online training app about some basic strength training principles. If you apply these principles, you’ll be on a solid path to get stronger and not get hurt. Check it out here:

>>4 Principles for Effective and Sustainable Strength Training<<

I also published a post on here I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It covers motor learning, patience, and some of the finer points I’m focusing on in terms of my training.

>>Majoring in the Minor Details: A Good Thing?<<

The Bullet Points

Wait…what? It’s a great article, and not what you think. Read it.

I thought this one was cool. A brief breakdown of an overhead lifter and some non-painful shoulder issues he was dealing with. Also included are some interesting and effective shoulder correctives.

A climber performing a bottoms up kettlebell press for shoulder stability? A climber actually doing a pushup correctly? I was as shocked as you were. Turns out that people like Alex Megos work with good coaches. Who knew?  I’m not familiar with the first movement showed in the video, but I might have to toy with it a bit. Consider me intrigued.

The Brew

wp-1480330838403.jpg

5 Beans, Sixpoint Brewery

Imperial porters are fairly common these days. Porters with coffee, vanilla, and cacao also aren’t hard to find. Imperial Porters with cardamom? That’s a different story. Inspired by a Turkish Coffee, this porter has roasty notes from the coffee that are blunted by the vanilla before it gets too harsh. Bittersweet chocolate rides throughout the flavor and a hint of cardamom makes this beer seem slightly different than a lot of the other winter seasonals out there. It’s true. It’s different, and it’s good. If you see it on the shelves and like chocolate, porters, Turkish coffee and Turkish Get Ups (they go hand in hand), you should probably grab some of this beer.

 

 

 


What’s Happening This Week

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, or performance training, I’ve got room for a couple more clients. More information here.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training will be held Tuesday, November 29th, at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you’re in the Chattanoooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I’m also teaching a class on Thursday, the 1st of December, for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 11/07/16

Back on track! Hope everyone had a good weekend. I was able to fit a trip to Nashville, some coaching and an evening bouldering session on Sunday. I was stoked to climb  Pipe Dreams, a boulder problem tucked away on Lookout Mountain. Revolving around a big throw off of two small crimps, it’s a fun power problem. We also put down the left exit, which had some interesting squeeze topout fun. The temperatures are finally cooperating, so I’m excited to get outside and climb a lot more frequently! Let’s get to the bullet points.

20161106_175812.jpg
Daylight savings time makes evening bouldering sessions tricky.

The Bullet Points

Almost everyone has hip issues at some point in their life. The hip is a ball and socket joint, which means the joint has more degrees of freedom than almost every other joint in the body. While this is a good thing, it also means things can get out of whack. Here are some points to consider to keep those hips healthy.

Since we’re on the topic of ball and socket joints, let’s look at the shoulder as well. I think this article applies to more than just overhead pressing. If you are an overhead athlete, which means you need to apply force through your arms, shoulders or fingers while they are over your head, than your shoulder need to be able to deliver that force safely and efficiently. A good way to develop this ability to is lift heavy things over your head, IF you can own the movement.

Alex Barrows released a PDF simply titled “Training For Sport Climbing”. It’s one of the best pieces on energy systems applied to rock climbing I’ve come across. Sol gives us a breakdown of some concepts from the PDF as well as some other links. Check it out.

The Brew

20161017_222132.jpg

Imperial Biscotti Break Raspberry Umami, Evil Twin Brewing

The Biscotti Break line from Evil Twin has produced some winners. Chocolate and coffee and almonds make every one of these beers a delicious cold weather treat. This new addition is no different. It pours an oily black and is rich with roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee. The raspberry present is subtle and well balanced. I’ve had raspberry beer where the taste is overpowering and artifcial. This was not the case with this one. Evil Twin has yet to make a beer that disappoints. If it’s on the shelves, grab it.

 

 

 


What’s Happening This Week

What’s Coming Up

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching or strength and performance training, I’ve got room for a couple more clients. More information here.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training will be held Tuesday, November 8th, at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you’re in the Chattanoooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I’m also teaching a class on Thursday, the 10th for folks on who are more familiar with kettlebells. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 9/27/16

A week and a day late, but it’s out. I’m getting started on the first week in our new facility. We’re putting stuff together and figuring out the flow of the whole space, but it should be really cool once everything’s dialed in.

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition had a great turn out at their Buy Your Own Boulderfield event and raised over 13 thousand dollars! It’s always awesome to see the community here in Chattanooga come out in full force to support the land acquisitions and climbing community in general. It was a great time. I donated a Kettlebell Class pack and some personal training sessions, so if you won those in the silent auction, make sure you reach out to me to get started! Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

In Case You Missed It

I wrote an article a week or so ago detailing some variations to add some challenge to the Kettlebell Armbar. It’s one of my favorite drills to build healthy shoulders, and these variations make the movement even more powerful. Check it out.

It still boggles my mind the confusion about shoulder position when hanging. Esther Smith provides some basic principles to follow to keep your shoulder musculature engaged and safe.

Do you know what foam rollers actually do? They’re useful, but maybe not in the way you think. Quinn Henoch, a physical therapist details some of the research and science underlying foam rolling, and the mechanisms behind certain mobility implements. Ignore the buzzwords floating around on the internet and dig into some facts.

Hey…wanna know a secret? Not a whole lot of people know this, but I’m a big fan of kettlebells! Seriously though, while I use kettlebells to improve a large amount of qualities, it’s important to understand that they are just one tool in a large toolbox. They are well suited for some movements and goals, but for other goals, a different tool may get you there faster. Chaining yourself to just one implement will impair your progress. This could mean kettlebells, barbells, cable machines, bosu balls, or shake weights. Have a large toolbox, and use it accordingly.

The Brew

20160924_153549.jpg

Pompeon, Wicked Weed Brewing

This was an interesting one. A rum-barrel aged, sour pumpkin beer fermented with ginger. I was intrigued and figured I’d try it to get into the fall spirit. The rum balanced well with the pumpkin, and surprisingly, a sour pumpkin ale is a tasty combo. However, the ginger was a bit much. I’ve had a few beers with just a hint of ginger, and that’s fine. This was a little too overpowering for my taste, and left a fairly bad taste in my mouth. However, that could have been from watching Notre Dame lose to Duke. Who knows.

 

 


 

What’s Happening This Week

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching or strength and performance training, I’ve got room for a couple more clients. Reach out to me via email or apply here. If you’re curious about what I do, check out my program offerings.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training will be held tonight, September 27th, at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you’re in the Chattanoooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I’m also teaching a class on Thursday, the 29th for folks on who are more familiar with kettlebells. A good crew of our students at SCSF will be there and are training for the TSC in October. We will continue to refine the technique required for the TSC, and continue to build resilient and strong bodies.

You can register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy it and the cooler temps that are (hopefully) on the way!

Bulletproof Your Shoulders III: Improving the Armbar

I’ve previously written about the Kettlebell armbar. The armbar is a fantastic drill for the mobility and stability of the upper body. Today, let’s dive deeper. A multitude of progressions and variations of the armbar exist to attack different aspects of shoulder health. Before exploring these variations, make sure you have the basic armbar down. If you’re unsure of correct Kettlebell armbar form, I break down the movement here.

These additional variations turbocharge and already powerful movement drill. By performing the basic armbar, you can get most of what you need in terms of shoulder health. When the  right variation is applied, even the most stubborn of shoulders will benefit.

Before we dive into the variations, I want to stress that if you have shoulder pain or an injury, clear your injury with a medical professional before you attempt any loaded mobility movements. Be smart. If it hurts, don’t do it.

Variation 1-The Bottoms Up Armbar

Why it Works:

One of the advantages of a kettlebell is the off-set nature of the weight. When held overhead, the off-set bell constantly applies a force pulling the arm out of alignment. This forces the rotator cuff to contract to hold the ball of the humerus (upper arm) in the center of the shoulder socket.

Quinn Henoch, a brilliant physical therapist, describes the shoulder joint as a golf ball on a tee. The golf ball is the end of the humerus, and the tee is your shoulder socket. The tee is extremely small compared to the golf ball, so the rotator cuff needs to contract to keep the ball centered on the tee. Correct and timely contraction of the rotator cuff is critical to a healthy and well aligned shoulder. By holding the kettlebell in a bottoms-up position, the “wobbliness” is magnified, training the strength and timing of rotator cuff contractions.

How To Do It

The steps for this movement are the same as the vanilla armbar, with one crucial difference. The kettlebell is held upside down by the handle. It’s important to get set up in the position safely, because dropping a kettlebell on your face is not fun. Or, at least I would assume it’s not fun. I’ve never done it, and I will always take extreme measures to make sure it never happens.

-Start with a bell smaller than your normal armbar bell. This will be a greater challenge than a normal armbar, especially just starting out.

-Lay curled up on one side with the kettlebell lying on its side next you, handle facing you.

-Grab the handle with your bottom hand and grab the bell with your top hand.

-In one motion, roll to your back and raise the kettlebell, supporting the bell side to make sure you don’t lose control.

-Stabilize your starting position, which is the same as the starting position for the armbar.

-Continue with the armbar steps. Once you return to your back, stabilize the bell with your free hand again and return to the ground.

-Drag the bell around you, or get up and face the other way to perform the movement with the other hand. Never pass the bell over your body.

Variation 2-The Crooked Armbar

Why It Works:

The Bent or Crooked armbar was introduced to me as movement prep for the Bent Press. The Bent Press is one of the more demanding movements for the upper body, requiring considerable mobility and control of the shoulder and upper back.

One of the benefits of the vanilla armbar is the gentle “opening up” of the pec minor area while ensuring the shoulder does not creep forward in its socket. The crooked or “bent” armbar is a way to intensify the movement. It can reduce tightness in the pec minor and promote proper shoulder mechanics in a more demanding position. Improving all of these qualities helps reduce the hunched back common in overhead athletes or people with poor posture.

How To Do It:

First off, this is a more advanced drill, so it’s important to never work outside of your level of comfort in this movement. David Whitley states “Work within your limits to expand your limits”. Since he literally wrote the book on the Bent Press, it’s probably a good idea to listen to him.

If you are forcing your elbow down and holding your breath because you’re trying as hard as you can to open everything up, you are way past the effective zone of this movement. Honestly, you’re way past the safe zone of the movement. Relax. You should always be able to breath deep into your belly in any sort of mobility work. If you can’t, the changes you are chasing probably won’t last.

-Lay on your back and press a LIGHT kettlebell up with your left hand, like you would in the beginning of a Turkish Get Up. Reach your right arm up behind your head.

-Keeping your right arm and leg straight, bring your left knee towards your chest and roll to your right.

-Find a “tripod” position with your left knee and breathe. This is where things change from the vanilla Armbar.

-Open up your kettlebell arm until your elbow points in the direction of your legs and feet. Open up through your chest and try to bring the elbow down towards your opposite hip.

-Keep your shoulder connected to your back, don’t let the front of your shoulder rotate or slide forward.

-Once you have reached the lowest comfortable point for your elbow, hang out there. Get a couple belly breaths in.

-To press the bell back up, visualize breathing into your lat area and bring the bell back up to the normal Armbar position.

 

Movement Frequency

With any movement prep, consistency is the key to obtaining optimal joint health. Perform these movements before any overhead practice to keep your shoulders healthy. Movement prep opens up windows of greater mobility. Using that newly found mobility in your sport or strength training helps transform these short-term improvements into long-term joint characteristics. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.


I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like, it’s completely free.

Interested in training or nutrition coaching? Reach out to me here.