Exercise physiology is the scientific study of human movement performed to maintain or improve physical fitness. In science, hypotheses are created, put to the test, and a conclusion is formed based on the results. One can compare these studies to a gym where exercise techniques are practiced, classes are formed and machines are used. While some exercise techniques remain others fade out. In the world of fitness and exercise new research is constantly evolving dispelling old myths and enhancing the way we function.

I’m sure many of you, whether an exercise professional, or avid gym goer, have walked into a gym and witnessed “incorrect form”. I know I have! I have cringed at the site of some people working out, because I know they can or will get injured, if they continue exercising that way. An outsider looking in on a kettlebell class or training session might think: that has to be bad for your back, stressful on shoulders, hard on the knees, too much weight to control. Understandable that someone, without the education of a Certified Russian kettlebell instructor, would perceive the movements as such. We are here to dispel a few of these myths. So you are educated and feel safe, despite what…

The fitness controversy: The hyper-flexed hips and knees of a deep squat compromise the joints.

RKC = GOBLET SQUAT

When performed during kettlebell training, taught RKC- HARDSTYLE, this deep squat is actually an excellent leg strength and flexibility developer. The Goblet Squat has been declared therapeutic for the knees and hips, since it “opens” the joints. The client is taught to pull the hips back, and push the knees apart on the descent, utilizing the hip flexors and hip abductors. The conscious activation of these muscles “makes space” in the hip and reduces the likelihood of one flagrantly succumbing to gravity. Here the muscles are called on to align the joints and be in charge!

Abdominal pressurization is emphasized throughout the movement, as well. The bracing of the body from the top of the movement to the bottom and reverse, gives one the ability to maintain the balance of the weight shift into the hips. The controlled movement throughout the squat also removes any direct pressure from the knee because the femurs drop away from the knee joint and also create more space. Believe it or not, in such a strength building movement, flexibility is also emphasized. The Goblet Squat deeply lengthens uni-articular hip extensor muscles (such as the gluteus maximus and medius) and hip abductors. Each individual will have different range of motion while squatting, based on their ability to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.

The fitness controversy: forward flexion puts strain on the low back, which can be exacerbated by adding load

RKC = THE SWING

Forward flexion does not strain the lower back when performed correctly. In the set position of The Swing, the torso is in isometric contraction, strengthening the core’s musculature while maintaining the proper curvatures of the spine. In order to get into the set position of The Swing, the client is taught to hinge at the hips; pulling the hips back while maintaining a 20 degree bend at the knee. Similar to bending over to touch ones toes. This is a functional movement that teaches the client how to move from the hips and utilize the often forgotten and malnourished hip extensor muscles.

When the body is loaded with the weight of the kettlebell, the client still maintains bracing of the core and a neutral spine. At the top of the swing, HARDSTYLE is in effect. Again, the body is braced and proper alignment is sealed. Thus clients learn to transfer the bell from the bottom of the swing to the top, using the hamstrings and gluteus maximus (the agonists of overly tight hip flexors) instead of relying on trunk extensors such as the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum—and avoid potential back pain.

The Goblet Squat and the Swing challenge balance, posture, core activation and stability. Both strengthen while they stretch. So what is the problem? We don’t find one.