Loaded Cuddles

For the past year or so, I have been taking time each week to “give back” a little in every area of my life. One of things I have been doing is offering a free two hour gathering each week that we call the “Coyote Point Kettlebell Club.” Our members include a firefighter, several Personal Trainers, a Policeman, a movie guy, students, friends, and all kinds of visitors.

We focus on improvement. It can be technical issues, like a problem with a swing. Having a Senior RKC and several RKCs weekly seems to address these kinds of problems well. It can also be other physical issues and there is where I think we bloom. It seems that if someone has the courage to say “I need help here,” pretty soon some of us either admit we have the same issue or, perhaps better, show us a path to overcoming it.

And my favorite thing is when both happens: we have a technical issue that helps with a physical problem or vice versa. Our foundational movements are the Swing, the Goblet Squat and the Turkish Get Up. If is sounds like an HKC, well, in my humble opinion, that’s all most people need.

In the Turkish Get Up, we discover “issues.” Now, we do literally dozens of partial movements in our weekly gatherings. As Brett Jones said at the San Diego RKC, “this is a drill, not the skill.” In my vision, adults need to do many more drills than we often give them. So, we break down the Get Up in many ways that might often never seem to actually lead anywhere. Well, it doesn’t lead any where until the participant moves flawlessly, nearly mindlessly, through the whole movement.

There is one movement that stands out so well as a training tool that Pavel asked me to write about it. Now, it is subtle and it might not translate perfectly the first time you read it, think about it and try it. As a segue, I am reminded of a recent article where I describe the “Bat Wing,” an isometric move for the Rhomboids. An emailer asked me to send a video, as the picture wasn’t helping them see “the movement.”

It is an isometric movement. The video would look a lot like the picture, I think!

First, let’s describe my terms: I use the word “Cuddle” for the position where you begin the Turkish Get Up on your side. I like the phrase as it describes so much more that something like “Assume a lateral transitional position with the Kettlebell apexing across the tranverse spinae.” Somehow, people “get” the word “cuddle” and we move on. I want you on your side with a big bell with your hands deep into the handle, the knees bent and close to the bell and in a position that you could sleep for a while.

Then, we change the drill a bit: take both feet off the ground. Next, be sure your knees squeeze together. Recently, after my total hip replacement, I had to spend several days with a huge wedge looped between my thighs. I learned that when the legs were locked down, the abdominal core had to work harder to compensate for the loss of that wonderfully favorable moment of physics where the weight of the leg or legs can pull you into position.

The bell will need to be hugged “high.” So, if it is on your right side, you will find that the bell, especially a heavy one, will be over the left side of the chest, more or less. I am also working on doing this drills with both knees up, too, as it protects my recovering hip, so don’t be afraid to make it harder.

So, feet up. Knees up in the Cuddle, squeezed together AND perhaps off the ground. Hug the bell high. Now, without pushing off the elbow, roll to your back.

A good question arises: “How?” That’s the million dollar point of all of this drill. Pavel described this initial movement as “rooting” and I found it to be the same “non classroom friendly” part of “Power to the People:” the anal lock. (Yes, I said it: now, giggle away like my students for a minute, push your neighbor in the back. check the clock and then get back to full attention). This amazing pressurization of the whole area from hip to shoulder simply awakens you the first time you do it right. It is an amazing exercise for anyone who throws, kicks or strikes as, literally, this IS how you feel when you do those big aggressive movements.

When you roll to your back, relax for a moment, repressurize and go back to the start. Now, for some, this is easier. I caution you on this: did you let your legs flop over and pull yourself to the ground. If you take this part of the movement seriously, it can train the “Cuddle to Back” part of the drill. Don’t give in to flopping to the ground. Lock down and PULL yourself over using the pressure built into your body. This is what I mean by “subtle.” If you do it right once, you will have a new skill that can aid in every sport and training movement. Moreover, it will put a line in the sand between two movements:

The Turkish GET Up versus the Turkish SIT Up.

I have no problem with variations, but once you learn this “Loaded Cuddle,” you will appreciate the RKC method of rolling through the Get Up and the importance of where your upper chest (thorax) should be through the movement.

Work a set of eight to thirteen reps per side before you move on. Think of the reps as “Eight sets of One,” versus the notion of “One, two, three…boom, boom, boom.” Take your time to reset and rethink and rediscover every rep.

I also suggest going “heavy-er.” So, what does that mean? There is going to be some who just lay down and pop up and down with too light a weight. Many, like myself, will rush off to try too big a bell. It should be probably your snatch test bell or one heavier. I find that the 28 kilo makes me really have to put the bell higher and higher on the opposite side chest to hold it as we start. Too heavy? Well, no, as I am controlling the movement without these “sins:”
Push off with my knees.
Push off with my elbows or shoulders (you will learn this trick quickly. Unlearn it quicker!)

So, when I tried this with the 32, I became a shoulder and elbow driver. So, my movements should be with the 20, the 24 and the 28. You will discover that once you begin doing the movement that the weight has to be “enough” and then the actual weight’s importance diminishes vis-à-vis the feeling in the body.

The upside of this “Loaded Cuddle” is that the teaching progression of the Get Up is improved as the person learns early that the core is between the hips and shoulders and not the front of the neck and the kicking foot! Also, this is a simple way to train rotary movements inside of our Kettlebell community. As I wrote probably 15 years ago in an article, I have been searching my entire career for the answer to the question of how to train rotation in the weightroom. I think the Loaded Cuddle is going to be part of my toolkit from now on.

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