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Kettlebell Warm-Up: How to Activate Beast Mode Part 2 of 2

Kettlebell Warm-Up: How to Activate Beast Mode Part 2 of 2

Posted by Phil McDougall on 8th Jun 2021

Part one covered the main principles, considerations and explanations behind creating kick-ass warm-ups. Here in part two is an example of one. In a nutshell, the following 15- to 20-minute sequence will lube up your major joints, activate your stabilizers and warm-up your tissue (unless you're in a cold environment).

Any cookie cutter sequence or program won’t suit everyone. During the warm-up is also the perfect opportunity to work on individual restrictions and weaknesses (based on the results of a good movement and posture assessment). The warm-up should also be tailored to suit the forthcoming workout activity. However, this warm-up ticks all the boxes mentioned in part one and will suffice for most workouts and most everyday athletes.

If you’re training in a cold environment a lot more full-body or locomotive movement would be necessary prior to joint lube such as five minutes of Dan John's get-back-upslunge matrix, or chimp crawling. The floor might be inaccessible if you're training outdoors in bad conditions, in which case most of this warm-up won't work. You may be harboring an injury or disability, in which case just do what you can but not at the cost of even the slightest hint of acute pain.

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Breathing

Holding your breath during movement sends a signal to the brain that what you're trying to do is stressful or risky. This causes joints to be locked up and defeats the purpose of activating the target stabilizers. Once you've learned the movements and the order, make this a 20-minute deep breathing session, where your main focus is on expanding and contracting 360 degrees of your abdomen with every breath.

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Righty ho. Let's get started.

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Phase One: Supine

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Phase Two: Six-Point

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"Six-Point" refers to the start position for these exercises (not the six visual focus points for the first one). Six points of contact on the floor: two hands, two knees and two feet.

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Phase Three: Half Kneeling

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Flow through these next six movements (up to the deep squat exercises) on one side only. Then after the deep-squat-knee-drops restart from here again with the other knee down.

The ipsilateral bird dog is awesome for activating the closed chain glute - the glute that's attached to the floor (left leg in picture). It's also great for switching on the shoulder stabilizers and the lateral stability line. Be sure to match your movement to the breath pattern. Slow and controlled.

OK, now repeat the sequence again from the beginning of phase three (ipsilateral bird dog) through to the deep squat, before standing up and scraping the barrel.

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Phase Four: Kettlebell Activation

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Now, grab a light Kettlebell Kings kettlebell and flow through these to finish the job.

Maybe you can come up with a better name for these. Maybe just glute cleans? I'm sure someone has done these before, but I made them up as a means of firing up the glute in a higher threshold manner than previous movements in this sequence. In order to target the glute effectively here it's critical to maintain a concave curve in the low back and a proud chest. If the low back flexes forward as the kettlebell drops down the glutes will be cheated out of a job and the stabilizer muscles of the low back will become prime movers - no bueno!

I should also mention the risk actor in performing this one.

Extra load + explosive movement + lumbar (low back) flexion + lumbar rotation = perfect storm for disc damage

Keeping your tail bone up (thus maintaining a nice concave neutral curve) is perfectly safe and strong.

That's you warmed-up and ready for lifting! Here's a link for a demo video. Unfortunately, the demo is missing the ipsilateral bird dog. Henry of Cambridge failed to cue me to perform it. Can't get the staff these days.

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YOUTUBE DEMO

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I hope that was useful! May the force be with you.

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Phil McDougall

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IG: @phil.mcdougall

www.philipmcdougall.com

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Credit is due to Tim Anderson of Original Strength. Back in 2012 Tim's book initiated a turning point for me in my approach to movement. Some of these exercises are stolen from them. The rest I've either made up (because I hang out on the floor and play with kettlebells every day) or have been inspired by movement legends such as Missy Bunch, Ryan SteenrodDr Perry Nickelston and Rob Blair.

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