Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mike Mahler Kettlebell Seminar Review Part 1


Who is this?
A. Front-Man of your favorite hardcore band?
B. World-Renowned American Kettlebell instructor
C. All-Around Bad-A*%
Well if you don't know Mike Mahler then you could easily choose "all of the above."
I have been receiving Mike Mahler's Free Magazine for quite some time. I had read it, but would only take pieces of information here and there because I was not totally into kettlebells. I did tell myself I would attend one of Mike's Seminars and its a good thing I decided to go.
Mike's Seminar was held at Crossfit Houston.
This was the first time I have been in a Crossfit Gym and even though I don't always agree with Crossfit's overall WOD routine schtick, the space was perfect for the seminar.
For the price of admission into Mike's Seminar you received Mike Mahler Kettlebell Instruction, Hormone Optimization Lecture and Sincere Hogan's Bodyweight Training, and a couple of Mike Mahler's DVD's.
First a little background on my kettlebell experience. It was relatively non-existent since about the only kettlebell movements I did where swings for conditioning and hitting the posterior chain.
The main exercises of the Seminar were swings, cleans, snatches, windmill and Turkish get-ups.
Swings are usually the easiest to learn because its a simple, natural movement but I did learn I was letting the bell control me at the top. You also don't want to squat down to swing but let the hamstrings and posterior chain get the bulk of the movement. Snatches and Cleans were next and are always difficult for the beginner because of the bell banging against your wrist.
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This is where I got the most out of my money. Mike Mahler and Sincere Hogan were going around helping the participants perfect their technique. Videos and DVD's are helpful but coaching in person works the best. Sincere Hogan is no slouch and if Mike had him at the seminar that means he knows his stuff. Another key point here is to keep the bell close to you. The further away it gets, the more momentum leaves your body and energy is lost.

Snatches are easiest for me because I am used to having weight overhead from pressing weekly. As easy as they seem they can be difficult for beginners due to the bell coming around on the completion of the lift. A key point to remember here is to open the hand slightly in order for the handle to rotate in your hand. No need for a death grip! Also you can see explosion is key when dealing with heavier weights because you have to produce enough force to propel the implement overhead.
Photographs of Mike Mahler courtesy of Michael Neuveux.
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KB Cleans have always felt awkward because you catch them with your hands in a neutral position. Make sure to keep your arm close to your torso and lats contracted in order to control the weight. If you have your elbow out to far from the body it can strain the shoulder or elbow since the weight is on the arm. Just keep in mind you will not be the only one banging their wrists. It takes time and practice.
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Next we tackled the lifts that can impress your friends the Windmill and Turkish Get-Up. Although performing them might "illuminate the mind and dazzle the eye" you better be careful they can put you in a body bag.
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The key FOR ME on both lifts is to look and concentrate on the bell through the entire movement in case things go South. With the windmill keeping the leg straight under the overhead extended kettlebell is critical. You also want to push that same hip to help with the weight. You will also have to bend the opposite knee in order to bend all the way down. When performing this lift I feel like a tighter grip keeps the entire body tight and thats a good thing when contorting your body.

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A key point when performing a Turkish Get-Up is to use the opposite elbow that you have the kettlebell in for leverage and also stay super tight throughout the lift. Imagine yourself about to take a punch in the gut. Now the position of your feet on your way up can make things easier or make it extremely awkward. Play around with the technique. Also you've been warned my knees were scuffed up right before standing. The thing with this lift is after completing it even with a relatively light weight you feel strong.
Obviously there was much more that was taught at the Seminar but I just wanted to hit the high points. If there is one of his seminars by your neighborhood you better go. I have been to many seminars and clinics and this is one of the best ones due to the amount of information learned for the money spent. I left my house at 5 a.m. after a Friday Night Football game for a 3.5 hour drive to make sure I wouldn't miss out. The drive home after was a hard but it was worth it. Mike Mahler's teaching style and sense of humor blend perfectly while teaching complex movements. I wish I had more time to talk to Mike because he is there to answer any questions. A quick way to tell if someone is worth anything is if you would like to spend more time picking their brain. Another thing that goes unnoticed is when you are around Mike you feel like you can do more. Mike also makes you think of doing things differently. He exudes Strength physically, mentally and professionally you can't help but ask yourself "Am I Giving a 100%?" I must admit I was nervous talking to him just because of how big of a name he is in Strength and Conditioning. After being around him for the day there is no doubt he is trying to help anyone who is looking for help. If you are on the fence hopefully this review helps make the decision. When comparing the price of other kettlebell seminars the one Mike and Sincere put on was chump change. Price to Value Ratio=High.
Also I can't forget about Sincere Hogan's role in the Seminar. He was very easy to talk to and did not hesitate to give you some coaching cues. Something I enjoyed about his style is his ability to match cues with a beat. He also taught me a new trick to save the grip and low back on the down phase of the all the KB lifts which is a huge plus. His coaching made things seem easier than they really are which is critical for beginners. I will give a more in-depth review of Sincere in Part 3 but all I know is his clients are lucky to have him. This cat knows his stuff.
Coming up:
Part 3-Sincere Hogan's Bodyweight Training Review
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