Trainer Showcase: Will McAlpine

The move I will be showcasing is the bottoms-up kettlebell squat; both bilateral and ipsilateral.


The bottoms-up ketttle bell (BU/KB) squat has numerous progressions, beginning with the kettlebell ‘couched’ at your shoulder for the whole movement and ending with the kettlebell held overhead for the whole movement, with advancing degrees of shoulder extension in between. These progressions then start back from the beginning, but with a kettlebell in each hand. 


So the progressions are:


-ipsilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebell held at shoulder level

-ipsilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebell held at head level with a 90 degree bend in both elbow and armpit

-ipsilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebell held overhead through the entire range of motion

-ipsilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebell starting and shoulder level, and extending all the way up overhead as you sit down into the squat


Then repeating the order of progressions with a kettlebell in both hands:


-bilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebells held at shoulder level

-bilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebells held at head level with a 90 degree bend in both elbow and armpit

-bilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebells held overhead through the entire range of motion

-bilateral BU/KB squat with the kettlebells starting at shoulder level, and extending all the way up overhead as you sit down into the squat


For the squat itself: 


-keep both your shoulders and hips square to the wall in front of you and make sure they remain level throughout the whole movement

-keep your chest tall, and keep your shoulders ‘packed’ behind you (by bringing them up into a shrug, rolled back, and then drawn back and down towards each other)

-holding a kettlebell by the handle in one (or both) hand(s), rotate the bottom of the bell so it sits upside down over your fist

-actively engage your core to help stabilize the weight through your shoulder.

-sit your butt DOWN (not back) in between your heels

-brace your core hard as you drive through your heels to stand back up



The bottoms-up kettlebell hold is incredibly effective at training stability in all three joints involved; the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. One of the most beneficial aspects of this particular hold is that it requires very high level of tension through the body in relation to the weight being used. Practically speaking, this means that you are able to do a fairly intense workout even though constrained to the lighter weight (and very likely; lower rep scheme) this movement demands, all while using the bodies own mechanisms to actively protect and train the joints involved. It is very difficult to execute this hold incorrectly as your ability to balance the weight will fail almost immediately if any part of your body loses its’ form.


Adding the squat component allows us to also train hip and ankle mobility, thoracic extension and mobility (especially the last 3 progressions), glute activation, and intra-abdominal bracing. And because your whole body will be actively working to keep the kettlebell balanced as you move through the squat, whole body coordination and neuromuscular connection are also trained.



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