09 Aug The “Summit of Strength” (Bodyweight Training, The Bent Press, & Breathing)
If you don’t know what the “Summit of Strength” (SOS) is, let me give some background, before I share with you what my key take-aways were at this year’s event.
The SOS is a high level strength training workshop that is taught by 4 Master RKC’s (Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructors).
The title of master RKC is the highest level possible in the kettlebell community and is only designated to a select few.
The 4 master’s that were leading this workshop were Jeff O’Connor, Geoff Neupert, David Whitley, and Brett Jones.
These 4 guys are the best of the best, top tier in strength, conditioning, performance, and human movement.
In this article, I’ll give you the broad overview and “big picture” concepts for you to consider in your own training.
It would be quite a challenge to try to write up and explain everything that was covered, so I’m not going to attempt that.
Instead, think ‘’big picture” here.
So, let’s get started.
NEW APPLICATIONS IN BODYWEIGHT TRAINING (DAY 1)
Day 1 was led by Brett Jones (movement and corrective exercise guru and high level performance expert) and Geoff Neupert (Creator of Kettlebell Muscle, Kettlebell Burn, and many other great programs, as well as ‘wicked smart’ strength coach).
The day started off with some new joint mobility drills that were really awesome. We learned joint mobility drills that can make a big difference in joint health, improving flexibility, and improved movement.
But, the real meat of Day 1 was learning new bodyweight and movement skills and exercises.
As you may know, I’m all about the fundamentals, before anything else. You’ve got to learn how to walk before you learn how to run, if you know what I mean.
If this case though, you’ve got to learn how to “roll” before everything else. Yep, rolling was the 1st exercise we started with.
Rolling skills are a natural human movement. Rolling is also central to trunk strength and stability.
Unfortunately, many us of lose the natural movements we had when we were younger.
There are many other reasons why this human movement is an essential part of a ‘grass roots’ training approach.
What other skills are part of this ‘grass roots’ human movement training that can have major benefits in optimal training and performance?
More fundamental movements like:
- quadraped (on hands and knees),
- supine ab bracing,
- and tumbling exercises.
Yes, these are all very challenging and very beneficial, depending on where you are with your movement pattern baseline.
For more information on this type of training and why it’s so important in strength training, I highly recommend the book, Becoming Bulletproof by Tim Anderson and Mike McNiff.
This book is excellent and really provides the rationale for why this should be a central focus in our training.
Here’s the bottom line. All of this provides a quality foundation of human movement and core stability to prevent injury and maximize training results.
Without these skills, you’re “running before you’re walking” so to speak.
Moving onto the higher level drills, we covered things like:
- L-sits (a superior upper body strength drill)
- Handstand progressions (for core and shoulder strength)
- Pistol progressions (single leg squat)
- Leg raise progressions
- Pull up progressions
Fundamental bodyweight strength training is one of the most stealth training methods there is.
Always remember, fundamentals are the key. If you can accept this, you’ll get better, stronger, fitter than you can imagine.
Geoff and Brett did a really awesome workshop that was very valuable covering the skills and drills mentioned above.
This workshop went “deep.”
THE BENT PRESS AND BREATHING (DAY 2)
On Day 2, we heard from Jeff O’Connor (one of the smartest underground strength coaches on the planet) and David “IronTamer” Whitley (movement expert, true strongman, and highly respected RKC).
Starting with Jeff, we learned how to develop and train the Bent Press. Again, a real “deep dive” into this exercise.
I don’t think I ever fully understood the real value of this exercise until this workshop.
Jeff said “everybody should be performing the bent press, at some level” and I believe him.
The bent press is an amazing exercise and has been around for a long, long time, but maybe it’s a bit misunderstood.
Previously, I had viewed this exercise as only a high level or elite type of lift. Not anymore!
If you are a kettlebell enthusiast, The Bent Press is to the hips as what the Turkish Get Up is to the shoulder.
That, my friend, is the real value of this exercise.
There are so many benefits to the bent press that I wasn’t aware of. But, just like other kettlebell exercises, it’s about movement.
Not just movement, but strong movement.
When properly performed, it’s an exceptional exercise for hip strength and mobility, as well as shoulder and upper body strength and mobility.
I think the exercise is misunderstood because there are many different variations of this exercise.
It’s not a clear as some of the other kettlebell exercises.
Jeff seemed to have perfected it with his systematic and strategic progressions, literally building the exercise from one step to the next.
It was absolutely brilliant.
Numerous drills and progressions that led to safe and effective technique that almost anyone can learn when applied in this sequence.
To “cap off” the session, he finished by teaching us how to perform the Bent Press with a barbell.
The barbell Bent Press is somewhat self-correcting, due to the challenge of the long bar.
The barbell was very different and very beneficial for learning and progressing with the lift.
The Bent Press is an exceptional exercise that was revealed for it’s true benefits and power.
If you’re new to kettlebells, this is one you’ll want to learn from early on, if you can get the proper instruction.
And, if you’re a skiled kettlebell user and not implementing this exercise, you’re missing a piece of the movement and performance equation.
Finally, the day concluded with a masterful presentation on “breathing to improve endurance capacity and recovery” by David Whitley.
Yes, we all breath, but the fact is most of us breath all wrong!
A true “under the radar” method to enhance your training capacity leading to improved results is proper breathing.
Believe me, I was a little skeptical in the value of this, but I know that breathing was an area I had undervalued in my own training.
Now, I definitely know better. I understand the value and the benefits of proper breathing applications.
There were 2 types of breathing Dave covered:
- relaxed breathing (slow, controlled breathing) and
- power breathing (breathing to emphasize power and strength)
The big “a-ha” for me was integrating power breathing and relaxed breathing together into sets of swings and snatches, taking me from one end of the spectrum to the other in a workout session.
What did this do? Improve my endurance and ability to quickly recover for the next round. It was pretty wild!
I can see that this is something that needs to be practiced to improve on the skill of breathing for performance.
Again, this is something that can really optimize your training, if learned and implemented. It’s that valuable.
Breathing is definitely something that is overlooked in most of our training programs, without question.
Yes, we advocate power breathing in the RKC system, but the relaxed (or restorative breathing) can be a real asset to your training.
The presentation by Dave was really high value and I was amazed at what a difference it made.
What a way to finish up the “Summit of Strength” (SOS) weekend.
Well, it appears (for now) that this was the final SOS. The event host, Dustin Rippetoe, did a superb job in organizing the event, but it’s becoming more of a challenge to coordinate all 4 masters.
So, this was the final SOS, at least in Oklahoma City.
The synergy between these 4 guys is awesome and the information and content is not to be missed.
Maybe, down the line, we’ll see them reunite for SOS #4 somewhere, who knows.
If that’s the case, I’ll probably be one of the first to sign up because I know I’ll come away with more skills and knowledge to help myself and the people I work with improve and get to the next level.
The SOS event flat out rocked and I was honored to be a part of it.
Bodyweight training, the Bent Press, and Breathing applications.
This year’s SOS were lessons in ‘awesomeness’ for improved strength and performance.
Thanks Geoff, Brett, Jeff, and Dave! And a HUGE thanks goes to the SOS organizer, Dustin.
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See you on the inside.