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The Stable Core Platform: or HKC 101

June 13, 2012 04:30 PM

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Since the very first Hardstyle Kettlebell Instructor Certification (HKC) in St. Paul 2009, there have been many, many HKC certifications taught throughout the states, and overseas. Lucky enough to have been invited to assist at the very first HKC, and working as an instructor team with Master RKCs Brett Jones, Geoff Neupert and Mark Reifkind, and Senior RKCs Zar Horton, Doug Nepodal, Fabio Zonin, and Dr. Michael Hartle, at my own studio, Kettlebility, and other locations around the states and abroad, I have taught more than a few HKCs. Over and over again I have heard the SAME comment from the overwhelming majority of our students, "Thank you for making me EARN my HKC."
The HKC consists of the three cornerstone movements of the Hardstyle movement system, the Swing, the Get Up, and the Goblet Squat. Upon the foundation of these three, all the others build from; the Clean, the Snatch, the Front Squat, the Bent Press, the Pistol, the Windmill, the Clean and Jerk, etc. Without an understanding and mastery of the basic three, there can be no ownership of the others. And because the HKC and the RKC are INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATIONS, prospective instructors are held to Dragon Door and Pavel’s higher standard of performance.
Prospective HKCs must be able to 1) perform and model appropriate form, 2) be able to demonstrate the ability to teach it, and 3) pass a strength/fitness test, not unlike the testing protocol for the more advanced three day instructor certification, the RKC. This well honed trident makes Dragon Doors instructor certifications the Harvard of personal training certifications – if you carry the letters HKC, or RKC after your name, you must walk the walk if you are to talk the talk.
You may also have heard that the pass/fail rate runs about 60/40, and so you ask, how do I pass the HKC? Well, I have noticed a lot of similarities in what constitutes fails in each exercise for most HKC hopefuls (and RKC hopefuls for that matter), and amazingly, they are all the SAME THING
Let’s take a step back and look at what I’m talking about.
First, what is the meaning of the word CORE? Is it six-pack abs? Nope! Surprisingly, I’ve had quite a few people come through my studio, Kettlebility, that have amazing photo ready six packs and no core at all! My working definition of CORE: the area from your collar bones to your pelvis, which includes the front, sides and back, all working together synergistically. Think cylinder.
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Second, what does this cylinder do when we Swing, Get Up, and Goblet Squat, or run for that matter? It stays architecturally intact. Arms and legs get to move, but the basic form of your cylinder does not.
Most importantly, what does this have to do with passing the HKC? The answer is simple, most people fail because they are unable to keep the integrity of their cylinder architecturally sound; they need a STABLE CORE PLATFORM from which to move.
The STABLE CORE PLATFORM consists of a tall neutral spine with lat, ab and glute engagement. Lat engagement packs the shoulders and keeps the thoracic spine in slight extension, ab and glute engagement keeps the lumbar spine in a neutral to slightly hollow position and protected, perfect for ballistics and grinds. Learning the skill to hold this position during movement is essential for kettlebell training.
Step one: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, push the soles of your feet evenly into the ground, pull your kneecaps up into your thighs, contracting your quads.
Step two: Spiral the force of your body down into the ground, spreading the floor with your heels, firing your glutes.
Step three: Grab your wrist with one hand behind your back, and push your wrists into the small of your back and press hard, pulling your elbows to the ground as you push. You should feel your lats engage and your chest widen.
Step four: Hinge at your hips into a deadlift stance, holding the position of your upper body – your cylinder – in place without losing its integrity whilst moving. Let your arms go loose, again without loosing the integrity of your cylinder. Repeat until you can hold the architecture of your cylinder in place throughout the movement.
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Now that you understand what it means to be able to move while keeping your core stable, let’s take this into our three cornerstone movements:
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The Swing
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The Get Up
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The Goblet Squat
Before your start any of your movements, begin each with the integrity of your cylinder intact for your set up, even the Get Up begins with an architecturally intact cylinder.
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Note: as you practice moving from your Stable Core Platform, portions of the Swing, Goblet Squat and even the Get Up, where power breathing is necessary and appropriate, visualize your cylinder with a top (your diaphragm) and a bottom (your pelvic floor) keeping your lumbar spine safe during ballistic load.
Learning the concept of the Stable Core Platform will keep you safe, your form solid and allow you to grow your skill with the cornerstone HKC movements and beyond – enjoy!

Andrea U-Shi Chang, RKC Team Leader, lives in Seattle, Washington and is the head instructor and owner of the first kettlebell gym in the Northwest, Kettlebility. She is a Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS), Certified Z-Health Movement Coach, Power by Pavel Newsletter Editor, and Dragon Door's Official Kettlebell Dealer.
Some of the teaching concepts and cues in this article are excerpts from the upcoming book, The Instructor’s Toolbox, co-authored with Zar Horton, Senior RKC.
You can contact Andrea here:
Kettlebility Studio - 905 NE 65th Street - Seattle WA 98115 - (425) 224-7110
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