It’s About the Principles…

What A Great Weekend!

My apologies for not getting to your questions last week. I literally just ran out of time prepping for the RKC2 weekend.

Speaking of which, I just got back from an outstanding weekend of teaching at the RKC2. What a blast!

Team Neupert, RKC2

GREAT Team at RKC2!

My responsibilities were to review RKC Level 1 exercises and to teach the Jerk. It was great to see how many people had practiced the Get Up when we reviewed that part of the RKC Level 1. The Jerk is a great exercise to develop power production and teach deceleration as well as force absorption.

The biggest tone for the weekend was that the RKC is a principles-based system. It’s not just a collection of “cool” exercises. We apply the same principles to all of the exercises.

That being said, I wanted to share with you just a little bit from this weekend so you can apply it to your training.

Movements that Matter.

1. The Shoulder. I’m still amazed how many people do not know what I now admittedly take for granted. In pretty much any activity that involves the shoulder, the gleno-humeral joint needs to be “centrated” – or “packed” as we say in the RKC.

This involves engaging your lat(s) in any pressing or supporting movement, not just pulling movements. Interestingly enough, it’s surprising how many people don’t even do that while pulling!

So here’s what you need to do to “pack your shoulder” to improve your strength and your [shoulder] health:

  1. Actively pull your shoulder down to your hip in any pressing or pulling movement to engage the lat
  2. Keep it there throughout the motion
  3. If you can’t do that, spend time increasing your hip mobility and thoracic mobility

2. The Hip. I am equally amazed at how many people have no idea where their hips are. Your movements should be initiated with a “hip-hinge” – that is – pushing back into the hips first to initiate your Swings, Snatches, what have you.

If you can’t do that, then you need to spend some time working on your hip mobility, and regaining the flexibility in your hip flexors and quadriceps.

If you’re not sure about either of those, then start by re-reading Enter the Kettlebell. Pavel extensively covers the hip-hinge and shoulder packing in there.

If you ignore these concepts along with many others, you can fully expect injuries in your future. It’s not a matter of “if” but rather “when.” So be smart about your training and get these dialed in before moving further.

What’s the Difference?

Ok, admittedly, those two points may seem pretty mundane. But do you know the difference between an amateur and an elite athlete? The elite athlete routinely practices the basics and has mastered them. Even as a Master RKC Instructor, I still focus on at least these two points in every training session I perform. And I make progress every single session. I become even more in tune with my body and move more fluidly because of it. It may not be “sexy,” “fun,” or “exciting” at times, but the results are.

One year ago, I couldn’t do a Get Up without pain in my knees or a hip. Today, I can do a full Kalos Sthenos style Get Up with a 48kg. Admittedly, part of that was from seeing Brett Jones back in November, but the rest is from taking my time and focusing on the basics.

What could you do by mastering the basics?

6 comments… add one
  • Strength Nomad Jul 13, 2010 @ 22:53

    “The elite athlete routinely practices the basics and has mastered them.” I don’t think I could ever be reminded of this enough. Thanks, I sometimes fall off the straight and narrow.

    Love the blog,
    C.J. Brown

  • Chuck Jul 14, 2010 @ 3:33


    Pulling down with the lat, during a press, seemed counter-intuitive, at first. Then, I thought pulling my shoulder back toward the spine was “engaging” the latissimus. However, your explanation was clearly a bit different. I’ll modify my movement, give it a go, and see how my “bad” shoulder does.

    Somerset, NJ

  • Russ Moon Jul 14, 2010 @ 10:54

    I am now feeling no guilt over obsessing over these.

    Shoulder – TGU helped me learn how to attempt to pack my shoulder, it then transferred over to my swings and snatches and the pain went away.
    Yes, the shoulder is not made to repetitively bear the weight when not packed and it is definitely a WHEN it starts to hurt vs. IF. Not to mention the arc was further tamed making the motion more efficient.

    Hip Hinge – I no longer feel stupid for looking at those pictures of the Chief Instructor sitting down on the box doing the box squats for hours. Dead lifting has helped me with that piece and that was advice shared from Master RKC Whitley. It made sense that if that same motion initiates so many different exercises within the system then it must be important enough to spend extra time on learning. Teaching me where my hips are at in relationship to my back/legs.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Congratulations on the TGU with 48kg, I bet that felt like climbing to the top of Mount Everest.

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