Some thoughts about the HKC…which should also help in other ways

I have spent my life trying to understand weightlifting. It seems to me that there are three important keys:

Basic Human Movements
Reps and Sets

Sadly, I think this is the correct order that we should approach weightlifting: first, we need to establish the correct postures and patterns, then work around reasonable “numbers” of movements in a training session, and, finally, we should discuss the load. Sadly, the industry, and I am guilty of this as well, has switched the order and made a 500 pound deadlift the “answer” to improving one’s game or cutting some fat. I apologize in advance, although I still think it is important for a grown man to be stronger than my Homecoming Queen.

And, note well, that I said “training session.” Oh, I can work you out. As Pavel notes, any idiot can get you tired: do 10,000 Jumping Jacks. But, please don’t think that is going to improve your skill set or your long term ability to do anything from sport to simply aging gracefully.

At the HKC, we learn what I consider to be the key patterns to human movement: the Swing, the Goblet Squat and the Get Up. The Hip Displacement Continuum is a term I came up to unlock the secrets of the hip movement has two ends: the Swing and the Goblet Squat. The Swing demands maximal hip hinge and minimal knee bend while the Goble Squat demands maximal hip hinge along with maximal knee bend. They are the same, but different, in their ability to remind the body about what the most powerful movements it can perform. The Get Up (not the “Turkish Sit Up” as I often note) is a one stop course in the basics of every human movement from rolling and hinging to lunging and locking out.

So, the HKC covers Basic Human Movements in a way that is unlike any other system or school. As I often argue, add the Push Up and, honestly, you might be “done.” I have a few principles that I have stuck with for a long time:

1. Training sessions need to be repeatable.

2. Training sessions should put you on the path of progress towards your goals.

3. Training sessions should focus on quality.

So what it the key to quality? I have a simple answer for most people: control your repetitions. No, what you are about to read is not always exact and perfect for your needs at this time or that time, but consider carefully the principles I have found with repetition selection.

In teaching the Get Up, or using this wonderful lift as a tool to discover your body, keep the reps “around” ten. Now, you can think about this as a total of ten with five on the right and five on the left, or you can try ten right and ten left. But, really?

I have noted that if I do Get Ups as part of my warm up along with some Get Up drills for “this or that,” the highly technical name I use for correctives, I am sweating and pushing into a “workout” around ten total reps. Certainly, at times, you can do more. Recently, we had a wonderful challenge of doing one rep on the first of the month and adding a rep a day up until the 31st. Someone told me they were doing this right AND left! That’s 62 Get Ups! That’s a good challenge, but perhaps not a training program.

Week in and week out, think “around” ten reps for the Get Up.

The Goblet Squat seems to lock in around 15-25 reps per workout. I offer you the Humane Burpee as a way to try this concept:

10 Swings
5 Goblet Squats (Put the bell down between your feet under control)
Inchworm out to the Push Up Position (walk on your hands)
5 Push Ups
Inchworm Back to the Start
10 Swings
4 Goblet Squats (Put the bell down between your feet under control)
Inchworm out to the Push Up Position (walk on your hands)
4 Push Ups
Inchworm Back to the Start
10 Swings
3 Goblet Squats (Put the bell down between your feet under control)
Inchworm out to the Push Up Position (walk on your hands)
3 Push Ups
Inchworm Back to the Start
10 Swings
2 Goblet Squats (Put the bell down between your feet under control)
Inchworm out to the Push Up Position (walk on your hands)
2 Push Ups
Inchworm Back to the Start
10 Swings
1 Goblet Squat (Put the bell down between your feet under control)
Inchworm out to the Push Up Position (walk on your hands)
1 Push Up
Inchworm Back to the Start
That’s 50 Swings, 15 Goblet Squats and 15 Push Ups. 8-5-2 will give you the same results with less Swings, if you need (Only 30!).

One of the great insights, among many, that I picked up at the RKC is the idea of doing Twenty Swings with one kettlebell and Ten Swings with two kettlebells. After doing literally hundreds of swings a day, I noted that my technique held up fine in that ten and twenty range. It is the basic teaching of sports: don’t let quantity influence quality. In other words, ten good reps is far better than dozens of crappy reps. If you want more volume, just do more sets.

Absolutely, there are times when you should do more than twenty. There are times when you want to do all kinds of things. There are times, though, known as “most of the time” where you just keep moving ahead. I usually call these the “Punch the Clock” workouts and I think it is the key to staying in the game.

So, you may ask, is this enough?

Over time, yes!

Tim Ferris, RKC II, tells us in his excellent book, “The Four Hour Body,” that there is a Minimum Effective Dose (MED) of everything fitness related. Although the number I am about to share has a bit of wiggle room, it seems that 75-250 Swings a day is the “wheelhouse” for the swing MED. Yes, you can do more, but you want to be able to do it literally day in, day out, year in and year out.

Finally, I think this will come off as a joke, but I mean this: if it is too light, go heavier. And, if you went to heavy, try a lighter bell. Doing that little Humane Burpee with a big bell is a killer workout. But, it is simple to scale it up and down by simply changing the bell. Yes, it’s that simple. If you look at movement first, then reps, for whatever reason, loading makes more sense, too.

Interested in an HKC? Here are some of mine coming up:

Burr Ridge, ILL

I also have one in January…in SoCAL, but it is not all set up yet.

  • http://@Tinmanjohn John Bohlig

    Edxcellent.Thanks for helping me to “focus’. So many people say so many things that , sometimes, we get “information-overload’.”Your article wasclear and concise. I appreciate it!

  • Steve

    Great article! Finally, some sane thought in an insane world. It is hard to understand why anyone would follow a “trainer” or “fitness professional” who has had surgery(ies) to fix problems that were the result their training protocol rather than their sport (I feel hateful comments commin’). As a professional jockey (former) I understand the need for surgery to fix broken stuff as a result of sport. However, when most folks begin a ftness program they typically don’t quit because of lack of motivation (which most trainers want to believe), they quit becaus they hurt. The very thing we ascribe to make them (us) better has — for far too long — made them (us) worse. If you can’t move, I’m not impressed with a 600lb deadlift. BTW, I believe a better forum than the HKC is MovNat, a la Erwan Le Corre. JMHO…
    Again, great post (article)…

  • Steve

    Oh, and as a point of clarification, Ken Jakowlski needs to be credited for the quote ascribed to Pavel.

  • Kylie

    Thank you very much for the ‘Humane Burpee’

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