Get-up or Swing

This weekend, I had a very good conversation with my good friend Joe Ortega, who is an RKC and very successful personal trainer.  One of the problems that Joe regularly deals with is working in a horrendous “big box” facility where contemporary methods are rarely supported by the owners or users of the facility.  It’s really quite a shame.

So his current dilemma that he and I discussed was the plan to start a Kettlebell class.  Another one of our colleagues that is spearheading the plan consulted with Coach Boyle, Brett Jones, myself, and the consensus was that 3 weeks of a naked or shoe TGU progression was very appropriate.

I don’t think there is a more efficient choice than the TGU for blending corrective and performance exercise.  And I was actually quite thrilled that it was even in the conversation that this facility was going to remand this level of quality in a group class.

Joe’s first obvious question was based on client retention.  Remember this is a horrible big box gym.  People pay their $60-70/month to rent as many different tools and classes to hurt themselves as possible.  These clients don’t always care about progression and quality the same way true professionals do.  They want ass kicking RKC and Crossfit style KB training.

I immediately agreed with Joe that if this is the angle, I totally agree that the naked TGU progression is not the way to go.  I then challenged him to ask himself if he was part of the problem or part of the solution.

Joe was suggesting the KB Swing to be used as a progression indicator instead of the TGU.  He thought the KB Swing was easier to teach and that it had the toe touch and deadlift as firm progression indicators.  Getting to the swing would satisfy the urge to challenge the client with a great and safe technique.

Here is why I supported the TGU over the Swing.

1.  Flat out, I like the idea of spitting in the face of “big box” philosophy.  In speaking to trainers, I have used this line many, many times.  Give people what they want………in the context of what they need.  I like the idea a lot of telling people to go home if they don’t like doing naked Get-ups.

2.  I disagree that the Swing is easier to teach than the Get-up.  I referenced a former D1 OL that I work with who was telling me his back hurts when he gets up off the ground off his back.  I told him to reach with 1 arm to the ceiling and then get up.  He did a Turkish Get-up, and his back didn’t hurt.  It was sloppy and unacceptable for loading, but if reach up and get up is enough to “teach” the move, I think that is an awesome foundation to start to coach from.

3.  The phases of the Get-up give far more opportunities for corrective exercise than the Swing.

4.  I don’t think people swing heavy enough, which I would accuse classes and general population of.  Swings with 12kg in my opinion is not heavy enough to cause a natural reaction to lock in the upper quarter and spine’s posterior chain.

I’m not sure why the class couldn’t have the Get-up and the Swing progressions together, but if the question is Get-up or Swing, to me the answer is Get-up.

  • April 6, 2010

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Pete Brown Reply


Thanks a ton, this is great info and quite timely. I am going to take the RKC this summer and I am already looking at plans to introduce KB into our big box gym. Our owner is ordering a set today. I will be relying on the TGU and breakouts from the Kalos DVD’s set to lay the groundwork.

Huge fan of the new page (new to me at least). Thanks! Pete

Nick Chertock Reply

Charlie: I agree that light swings don’t teach the movement.

Good to see you blogging.

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