Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kettlebell Swing into Summer

I can’t think of better piece of equipment in the gym than a kettlebell. There are over a dozen exercises that can be done with a kettlebell but today I want to highlight one of my all-time favorite exercises; The Kettlebell Swing.

The kettlebell swing (if done correctly) can be an amazing exercise to incorporate into your program. Whether you are looking to develop lower body explosive power, or just looking to tone up those glutes for the summer, the kettlebell swing is sure not to disappoint.

It’s a Hinge NOT a Squat!

First and foremost, the kettlebell swing is a hinge movement pattern, not a squat. A hinge is essentially maximal hip bend with minimal knee bend (think deadlift). As the hips come back in your hinge, the torso will begin to come down as well. On the other hand, a squat is maximal hip and knee bend simultaneously. During a squat, the torso will remain mostly vertical. This is a common error that I see most often with the exercise.

                                           Hip Hinge                                    Squat

Set Up and Execution

The set up for a kettlebell swing is fairly simple. Begin with kettlebell on the ground in front of you. It should be about arm’s length away. To begin, hip hinge back and place your hand firmly wrapped around the handle of the kettlebell. At this point, you can shift your weight back a bit and the bell should tilt on its side slightly.

While maintaining your hinged position, you will ‘hike’ the kettlebell back towards your glutes.

1                                                      2

Once the kettlebell has been hiked, proceed by driving the bell forward using your hips, glutes and hamstrings.  As the bell reaches shoulder height, engage your lats, pecs, shoulders and core to decelerate the bell.  



  • Sometimes the arms will start to do all the work in the movement if the weight is too light. If you feel like you are not engaging your posterior chain during the movement, try using a heavier kettlebell. I find this sometimes will clear up that problem.
  • Breathe! Breathing during the swing is very important. You should be exhaling forcefully as you drive the weight forward and inhaling at the top of the movement just as the bell begins to make its downward phase. Proper breathing during the swing will help brace the core and prevent injury.
  • Be Patient! A lot of times I notice there to be a disconnect between the upper and lower body during the swing. The most common error I see is, during the downward phase, the client will break their hips back into a hinge before the kettlebell has reached the hips. Breaking the hips back early can cause the kettlebell to travel below the knee and in turn create excessive tension in the lower back.

Blog post by Greg Wilson.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Motivational Strategies for Successful Training

Hi everyone! If you are reading this, then you are probably searching for some information to help you stay motivated with your training. No matter who you are, whether you are a beginner just starting out or a seasoned gym veteran, everyone has reached a point where they have hit a wall (metaphorically, that is).

My Story

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Greg Wilson. I am a new strength & conditioning coach at the Mashpee Fitness Center (a division of Cape Cod Rehab). After a very successful high school and collegiate track and field career as a shot-put, discus and hammer thrower a few years ago, I was tipping the scales at a whopping 265 lbs. Needless to say, I was a bit stout.

As time went on and my knowledge of training and nutrition began to develop, I started applying it to myself. My training became a lot smarter and my nutrition was getting better.

To make a long story short (and I mean long), after five months, I lost a total of 60 lbs. Now, as you can imagine, there were many ups and downs along the way and losing those 60lbs wasn’t easy. There were plenty of times when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but I managed to keep myself motivated and I kept moving forward.

Here are some strategies that I used to keep myself motivated…

Goal Setting

Goal setting is really important to me and should be important to you too! Setting a goal is a great motivator and successfully completing that goal is an even greater measure of success. Here are some important points to think about when setting goals:

  • Small Goals: Setting small goals allows you to generate more success for yourself. When you keep reaching your small goals, step by step, you gain motivation to keep going towards your biggest goal. Always set attainable goals.
  • Be Specific: Identify exactly what your specific goal is. If you want to improve your max bench press, don’t just say “I want to improve my max bench press”, give yourself a specific weight like, “I want to increase my max bench press by 10 lbs”. This will help further measure success.
  • Deadline: Sometimes you need to give yourself an end date to really get you going. If weight loss is a goal, tell yourself, “I am going to lose 10 lbs by October 31”. Make that your deadline and stick with it.
  • Measurable: This point can be related back to the Be Specific example. If you set a goal to improve your max bench press by 10 lbs, and you meet that goal, then that is a measure of success. Another example would be if your goal is to lose 1 lb in 1 week and you are successful, then that is measurable.

Other Strategies

Here are some strategies to keep you moving forward if goal setting isn’t working for you, or if you just want a little extra motivation.

  • Positive Attitude: I think the number one problem for most people is that they are always down on themselves. You can’t put yourself down. Always keep a positive attitude and block out the negativity.
  • Collaborate: If you know somebody who has similar goals to you, or if they have already done something that you are trying to accomplish, talk to them. They might be able to give you advice on something you’re having an issue with.
  • Keep an Open Mind: It is always important to try to keep an open mind, especially when beginning a new training program or diet. Always give it a chance, because you never know what could happen.
  • Remove “Can’t” from your vocabulary: People use the word “CAN’T” too often. Instead of  “I can’t”, try saying “I will”.
  • Never Give Up: No matter how hard something gets. Never give up. Keep chipping away at it, because eventually you will break through your wall.

I hope that some of this information helps you to stay motivated and to never stop pursuing your training and nutritional goals, no matter how long they take! I think Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best….

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Blog post by Greg Wilson.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Spring into Action & Get in Shape for Gardening!

Did you know?

1 hour of gardening can:
  • Reduce stress
  • Boost done density
  • Burn about 300 calories!

With all that bending, squatting and raking proper technique and strength are a must! Here is what you need to know…


Muscles used: Abs, back, legs.

The right way to do it: Focus on tightening your leg muscles (your quadriceps and your hamstrings) as you bend forward. Keep your knees slightly bent.

Try this exercise: Bird dog

Get down on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles while simultaneously raising your right arm and straightening your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 6 seconds. Return to the starting position, switch sides and repeat 10 times.


Muscles used: Core, shoulders, arms.

The right way to do it: Use short, quick motions, and keep the rake close to your body.  Switch sides every 2 to 3 minutes.

Try this exercise: Countertop pushup

Stand facing a countertop, with your hands shoulder width apart on the counter. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight as you bend your arms into a pushup position. Straighten your arms, and repeat 15 times Use short, quick motions, and keep the rake close to your body. Switch sides every 2 to 3 minutes.

Pushing a Wheelbarrow

Muscles used: Core, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, shoulders, arms.

The right way to do it: Load the wheelbarrow with only as much weight as you can handle without straining. First, use your leg muscles, not your back to lift the wheelbarrow; next, use your arm muscles to push the load forward.

Try this exercise: Modified plank

Lie on a mat, supporting your upper body with your forearms and your lower body with your knees; your stomach stays raised as you keep your body in a straight line without arching your back. Hold for 15 seconds, working up to 60 seconds.


Muscles used: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings.

The right way to do it: Keeping your torso upright, lower yourself until your bottom almost touches the ground. Try to keep your weight on your heels.

Try this exercise: Chair squat

Stand in front of a chair, feet shoulder-width apart, arms in front of you. Bend your knees and slowly squat, gently touching the chair without fully sitting down, then stand up using only your legs. Repeat 10 times.

All photos from Home Exercise Program at

Blog post by Farran Jalbert.