Monday, December 17, 2012

Training Technique, the "egg toss"

Usually when you engage in high volume swing training your weaknesses can show themselves in the form of pain.  After hundreds and hundreds of reps, especially if you are pushing yourself, you may start to feel lots of different things...not all good!  Grip?  Forearm fatigue?  A "pulling" feeling at your elbow?  Maybe your cardio can not keep up with your strength, and your heartrate will soar, barely being able to catch your breath before the next Gymboss "beep" goes off.  But I hope it's not your back, or your traps,etc, but if it is, it calls for a correction, and quick!

There are many parts of training high volume swing that may cause fatigue...that's the nature of high volume.  But something I forgot to finish my last blog post with is how I changed my technique to take the load off of my back, arms and traps and transfer it to my much stronger legs.

28 kg's is 44 lbs.  When you swing 44 lbs the weight becomes much heavier as the bell descends.  With the help of gravity and momentum the weight increases, so you are "catching" much more weight than you swung!  We need to use our legs as "shock absorber's" to relieve those heavier loads....and we have to do it at just the right time!

I often use the analogy of an "egg toss"....which I may have, apparently, stolen from Pavel! (I think he's used this analogy at an RKC I was attending)  If you have ever participated in an egg toss you know that in order to keep that egg from blasting runny yellow yolk down your shirt (or face!) you better soften it's landing by?  Absorbing some of the speed at which the egg is traveling towards you as you "catch" it.  So your hands move forward to meet the egg, and "glide" it into the "stop".

This is what your legs do with the weight of the bell.  Your legs, at the right time, "catch" the bell and glide it into the backstroke of the swing, and then you are able to fully load your hips to then, project the bell out in front of your for each rep....repeat!  Your legs, with the right timing, can take much of the heavier loads off of your traps, your arms, and your back.

I'm posting two very short videos from my last 10 sets of Saturdays 28kg swings.  The first video shows my 51st set of 10 reps.  If you look closely you can see that with this heavier load I've adapted a more "squatty" swing, rather than a "hingey" swing (tippy bird).  You can see this most clearly in my knee /ankle angle as my knees come forward, in front of my feet, as my upper body stays more upright.  As the weight comes down and back, I use my legs, in a squatting motion, to "catch" the heavier bell as it descends in reps 1-7.  In reps 8 I start to "hinge", instead of squat, and in rep 9 I fully hinge, no squat, and then I finish the 10th rep back in a squatting position. You can see the "hinge" clearly as my knees DO NOT come forward and my shins stay vertical.

In the second video I "tippy bird" the 6th rep, going back into a squatting swing for the rest of the ten reps.

(Oops the videos are backwards!  The first video look at the 6th rep and in the second look at reps 8 and 9)

As Instructors we know when we DO NOT use our legs and only hinge from our hamstrings ("tippy bird") this puts us in a position to NOT fully exploit the power of loading our glutes.  And, in fact, this form / technique ( loading hamstrings, "tippy bird") is a method to train more of the "endurance" aspect of high volume, because it has been said that when we use our glutes and legs it "kill lungs", because big muscle use a lot of oxygen.....too much information yet?  Sorry!  Remember, the arms and lats initiate the swing and the GLUTES finish the swing.  If you don't load your glutes you are loading something else.  Your back?  Your hamstrings?  Your traps?

Keep in mind that every "BODY" is different, and we all, eventually, adapt our own style of swing movement based on how our individual bodies are built, and what kind of training we do.

Anyway, there you go.  Practice your "egg toss" with those heavier bells.  DO NOT swing those really heavy weights from your hamstrings.  If your body does not self correct?  Listen to it.  If something is not feeling right, STOP.  Find out more information.  There is no need to swing those really heavy bells anyway, and especially if you don't know how to, or what to look / feel for.


Chris said...

28 kg is not 44lb. 20kg is 44lb. 28kg is closer to 62lb

Sorry to be picky - it doesn't change the rest of what you write

Tracy Reifkind said...


Funny, I didn't do the math, Mark did!

Michelle said...

Great post Tracy, these are some really good teaching cues as well as good things to remember in my own heavy swing training.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you! That is the intention of these training posts. To bring attention to coaching, whether you are coaching yourself, or if you are a trainer and coach others.

You learn mostly through your own least I do.