Intensity is Key!

by Dan Staton, MS, PES, CrossFit Level II Coach


Discovering a shortcut to better fitness results is simple, but it’s hard for folks to get on the correct path. There’s plenty of bad information out there, making it difficult to decide what’s factual and what’s fictional. If your workouts are comfortable, routine-oriented, and involve a moderate effort, then expect minimal results. Sorry, but it’s the truth. If you’re a bowhunter and don’t have a fitness regimen, then pack your bags for a friendly guilt trip! The shortcut to less body fat, more strength, more stamina and increased work capacity is intensity. Who doesn’t want less fat and more muscle? Regardless if you hunt, shoot competition, or are a recreational archer, fitness is key.  

Intensity isn’t how much you grunt, yell, or how high you got your heart rate monitor to read.  Rather, intensity is how much work you can accomplish in the least amount of time. Simply put, work divided by time equals power – and power is exactly equal to intensity. If you can move large loads over long distances very fast, then you’re stepping toward the path of results. The exercise highlighted this month is a great compound movement; if executed at high intensity you’ll undoubtedly reap major rewards for your efforts. The path of least resistance is the biggest detour when your destination is fitness results. Learn this month’s move, time your workouts, and get on the fast track to long-lasting results.    

“The clean” is a traditional kettlebell (KB) exercise and it’s the precursor for the military press, push press, push jerk, etc. The KB clean can be used by itself as an exercise for strength and endurance or in combination with body weight exercises or other high-repetition kettlebell exercises. For now, let’s concentrate on mastering the KB clean. When properly executed, it should land as light as a feather and cause no bruising or pain to either the forearm or shoulder. By the way, sharp pain, consistent pain, or bruising usually means one thing – you’re doing it wrong! Stop, assess the situation, make the necessary corrections, and then move on.

The Move

1. The arms must stay loose and the hips must do all the work of driving the KB upward.
Avoid the tendency to curl the KB.
2. The KB should travel the shortest distance possible – following a vertical path, rather than an arc.
3. Pull the KB into the body at shoulder height, allowing it to “roll” over onto the forearm on both the negative and the positive. Don’t allow the KB to flip up and “crash” on your forearm.
4. The KB, the elbow and torso must become one solid unit at the top of the clean. The shoulder must be pressed down, armpit squeezed tightly, triceps resting on the ribcage, and KB resting between the forearm and the biceps, almost in the crook of the elbow.
5. Upon lockout, as the KB lands on your forearm and upper arm, immediately tighten the abs and let out a little bit of air (similar to a boxer exhaling with a punch).
6. Keep the wrists straight and neutral. No flexion!

Tip:  Fire your glutes and core to generate the power necessary to project the KB.

The KB clean is a great alternative to the barbell clean, especially if you have wrist flexibility concerns. The movement teaches your body to generate power from the hip and to absorb impact and decelerate force. The benefits of these skills transfer to many sports and can make backpacking or dragging a critter to your rig much less daunting. As with all foundational lifts, invest extra time learning the basics, and you’ll soon be ready for the many variations. Keep it tight!

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