Editor's Note: Today we have Part 2 of “The Kettlebell As A Prehab-Rehab Tool by contributing coach, Scott Iardella.
In this final instalment, Scott covers 3 exercises that may be foreign to the beginner, but incredibly effective in creating balance, mobility and strength in the human.
In fact, the first exercise – the loaded carry – is so simple that some may dismiss it's efficacy. Don't.
It could be the most powerful exercise in your arsenal.
The Kettlebell As A Prehab-Rehab Tool (PART II)
by: Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS, CISSN, SFGII, SFL, FMS, USAW, Pn1
In Part I we covered an introduction to the prehab/rehab approach using a kettlebell.
THREE of the most effective exercises for making your body bulletproof were shown to you.
If you haven’t read Part I, please go back and read that first so this all makes sense and you understand the prehab/rehab approach.
As we get into Part II, some will think that the exercises listed below are inappropriate for a prehab/rehab approach.
Suspend your disbelief, my friend.
By no means am I suggesting that these exercises below be used by everyone.
But, they can prove to be effective for certain individuals in a prehab/rehab approach with great success.
This also means using lighter loads to “prevent” and “restore” (instead of trying to push to the limits of your strength and function).
Remember, exercises, programs and progressions always “depend” on so many different variables.
What I am sharing here is what I’ve found to be effective for myself and others to use as a “restorative” approach with kettlebells.
Let’s take a look…
THE “EASY ONE” – LOADED CARRIES
The Loaded Carry is the least technical exercise in this article series.
You simply pick up a kettlebell and go for a walk, nothing more complicated than that.
Loaded carries are a very effective way to uniquely challenge the musculature in the trunk and pelvis.
There are many different variations of loaded carries and all of them are beneficial, with a “reasonable” load.
Research by Dr. Stuart McGill – the #1 low back researcher in the world – has shown that asymmetrical kettlebell carries uniquely challenge the lateral trunk musculature (i.e. the quadratus lumborum and the oblique abominable wall).
This makes asymmetrical carries effective to increase torso stiffness. This is of great importance in reducing the risk for injury.
Dan John has been preaching the effectiveness of carries for quite some time.
There's something really beneficial about picking up a heavy kettlebell and going for a walk.
Carry a “reasonable” load.
What this means is that you want to carry a heavy weight. If you walk for a long time with a carry, then your load is too tight.
NEXT LEVEL PREHAB/REHAB
Now here's where things get interesting and again I want you to suspend your disbelief.
With the next 2 exercises you have to keep in mind that you must have sufficient movement, mobility, and also know how to do these exercises safely and effectively.
These 2 exercises are NOT for everyone, so please understand that.
But, they can be very effective for some people in the approach I’ll outline at the end.
I would not suggest putting any load on these movements until a baseline of movement and mobility is assessed and achieved.
Now that we got that out of the way.
THE BENT PRESS
The bent press is a wonderful movement that increases press strength. But, in my experience, it can also be used for a variety of other reasons.
It seems to have the potential to restore and fix a lot of things in our body.
When performed correctly, the bent press is essentially a “moving plank”. You will also have some thoracic rotation and it is exceptional for hip and lower body mobility.
Because of these reasons, I'm a big fan of using the bent press as a prehab/rehab exercise.
Of course, you have to know how to do this exercise correctly for it to be effective in this approach.
If you want to fully learn about this exercise, then I highly recommend the great book Taming the Bent Press by David Whitley.
I have used this personally as an injury prevention movement and mobility tool. Surprisingly, it has a lot of utility for many people.
The bent press is likely the most under utilized and misunderstood kettlebell exercise there is. It’s an outstanding exercise that deserves more.
There is variation and misunderstanding about the Bent Press.
An incredible resource on how to use the Bent Press is Master SFG David Whitley's “Taming the Bent Press”.
It would serve you well to pick-up this guide to fully understand the positioning and movement sequences.
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Here's an exercise hardly anyone talks about, the kettlebell sots press.
The Sots Press involves pressing a kettlebell (or pair of kettlebells) from a full rock bottom squat position.
If you can’t perform a full rock bottom squat holding a dowel rod or broomstick overhead, this exercise isn’t for you right now.
If you can do this, this is another effective exercise that works many different aspects in our bodies.
The Sots Press demands an exceptional amount of full body mobility, stability, and strength.
There are certain progressions and regressions for this exercise that go beyond the scope of this article.
(Let me know in the comments section if you'd like me to cover them in a future piece.)
Despite conventional thinking, this exercise can be used for a variety of unique benefits that greatly enhance human movement and strength.
If you have the required mobility, experiment with this exercise. Pick up and rack the lightest kettelbell you have, press it overhead, and assess how you do as you descend in a rock bottom squat.
This is where it starts. Assess, then progress.
HOW TO USE THESE EXERCISES
Kettlebell carries fit into any program, so there’s no real challenge to adding carries.
The bent press and sots press are uniquely different.
In the prehab/rehab approach, typically use them either at the beginning or a session or at the end.
And, using a much lighter load than if you were training to develop pure strength.
Remember, we’re talking about preventing injury and restoring movement, mobility, and function.
With that said, a few sets (2-3) and a few reps (2-3) is all I do for this goal.
Well, this is my “unconventional, but effective” prehab/rehab approach.
Own your movement in everything I’ve covered.
That is the KEY to prehab/rehab. I will likely expand on these topics in future articles and please let me know if you have questions.
(If you absolutely have to know more about the Bent Press or the SOTS Press, you can find more information right now at RdellaTraining.com/guides)
Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS, CISSN, SGFII, CK-FMS, SFL, USAW
Coach, athlete, writer, podcaster. Scott Iardella is a strength and conditioning specialist, movement teacher, and physical therapist who’s been involved in the health and fitness industries for over 3 decades.
His unique movement approach and training continuum incorporates kettlebells with barbell lifts and progressions. He’s known for being an innovator and scientist in the area of strength and performance. His passion is helping people of all levels and backgrounds discover their physical potential through a foundation of strength.
He is a StrongFirst Level 2 kettlebell instructor, certified strength and conditioning specialist, certified sports nutritionist, and holds many other notable credentials related to his areas of specialization.
He’s currently completing his 1st major book, “The Edge of Strength.”