In this episode, Kettlebell Master and World Champion, Mike Salemi discusses the exercise phenomenon that is the Kettlebell and how he learned through practise, competition, and pain and from world leaders, such as Louise Simmons and Paul Chek to Master The Kettlebell.
Mike shares the benefits, the risks and gives his top tips to master the kettlebell.
Mike's Background & Athletic Achievements
What is Kettlebell Sport?
How The Kettlebell Feels Different to Other Resistance Training Modalities
Developmental Chunks of Kettlebell Movements
Mike's Sport Specific Kettlebell Injuries
Origins of The Kettlebell
The Benefits of Kettlebell Training
The Key Mistakes When Kettlebell Training
What is the Difference Between What Mike Teaches and Other Kettlebell Educators?
What Motivated Mike to Develop his Kettlebell Courses?
What Is Different About Mike's Kettlebell Teachings?
Top 3 Tips for Kettlebell Rookies
You can find Mike @:
The Path Podcast: https://www.mikesalemi.io/thepathpodcast
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Leigh website - https://www.bodychek.co.uk/
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Radical Health Rebel YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/@radicalhealthrebelpodcast
[00:00] Mike Salemi: Like, there's a lot of sexy movements. There's a lot of exciting movements, and they're fun and they're dynamic. And again, you can take them outside. But with that said, a lot of people miss the developmental steps and miss looking at that tool and also their own journey and fitness, like, a little more realistically, like, I think in a loving way. One of the of jobs that I try to do really well is give people a realistic picture of where they are now and the plan on how to get there. Not long after I got into kettlebell training, actually, while I was training at Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio, Louie Simmons, who since passed, he's the one who introduced me to the kettlebell. There training out there for a few weeks, but when I got back, I just fell in love with the kettlebell. And even, for example, the Kettlebell swing, which is so if you were to break down the developmental regression of the snatch, you'd have the snatch as, like, the king, for example. And then right below that you have the clean. Then right below that you have the swing. Then right below that you have the deadlift. And so those are just some of the developmental chunks. They tend to see these sexy things or they tend to see things on Instagram, people doing flows and complexes and snatches and a lot of these crazy stuff that are awesome. But even when I'm teaching, and often times, most of the people I've taught to over the years have been coaches and trainers, even with coaches and trainers. I mean, where often people think they are from athletic or just a skill level with the tool. It's a very specific tool. It's a unique tool. It's very different than other things that they may be very good at. And so people oftentimes have a very unrealistic picture of where they are. And so they want to do the snatch. They want to get right into it. And I'm like, let me just see it first. So let's see where at. And I'll pick out like, 15 errors that they're making.
[01:49] Announcer: Welcome to the Radical Health Rebel podcast with your host, Leigh Brandon. If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a five star rating and the warm review. Your opinions are important, and your ratings help grow the podcast and help educate people to lead a healthier, more productive, fulfilling, and happy life. If video is your thing, please check out the Radical Health Rebel YouTube channel, where you'll find Fun Bite sized clips from each episode. And now, seriously, the Radical Health Rebel with this week's podcast.
[02:31] Leigh Brandon: Mike Salemi. Welcome to the Radical Health Ribbon Podcast. How are you, buddy?
[02:34] Mike Salemi: Dude, doing good today, man. Bright and early in California and very excited to be chat with you. I know this is a long time coming, buddy.
[02:43] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, and it's good to see you again. I was thinking earlier today that we met once in London in a coffee shop a few years back and we probably haven't even had a conversation since then.
[02:54] Mike Salemi: Yeah, I remember that now. Yeah, I absolutely remember that. When I was out in the UK teaching. Absolutely.
[03:00] Leigh Brandon: And I remember that I was quite disappointed because you were teaching your kettlebell workshop and I couldn't make it. I can't remember why, but I couldn't make it. And I was like, ****, I can't make your course. Which I really wanted to, but everything happens for a reason, right?
[03:17] Mike Salemi: Yes, absolutely. I don't think back to the UK since then, but I love teaching out there, the people, the students. And so much of the students that I have, obviously there's a crossover with the Check Institute and stuff like that, so there's just this common mindset and common approach to health, wellness and fitness. So what I find, like when I teach to Check Institute students, there's not that there's really much convincing, I would say, in the work that I do, especially in the movie. Like, I usually don't have to convince many people. I think most of them get it, but the check in student students get the entire picture, speaking about the four doctors or why this is important and why we do what we do, they really just get it, which is makes it so much more easy to do.
[04:06] Leigh Brandon: Most of the students in the UK are a very good teacher.
[04:09] Mike Salemi: You see that's, right?
[04:13] Leigh Brandon: Matt Warden's a very good teacher. Cool. So today's episode is entitled mastering the kettlebell with Max. AAMI. And over the last 30 years or so, I've seen many a fitness fans come and go. I've also seen a number of things stay the course too, which usually suggests its longterm effectiveness. In recent years, the kettlebell burst onto the scene and is now used in gyms homes and parks all around the world. The Keto belt can be a great exercise tool and can be great fun to use as well. However, like any resistance training modality, it also comes with its risks, if not used safely and effectively. Now, where we heard that term before, the kettlebell certainly became my most frequently used tool in my fitness toolbox as we were plunged into lockdown and gyms around the world were closed in 2020. So I enjoyed working out on my balcony in the sunshine in 2020 and used Mike's Mastering the Ketter Bell course to ensure that my technique was safe and effective. I do sadly see many people in gyms using the kettlebell when perhaps they're not structurally or physically prepared to do so, or with technique that is going to lead them down a slippery slope of pain and injury. So, Mike, to kick things off, would you share with the audience a little bit about you, your upbringing, your career to date and an overview of your athletic achievements as well?
[05:48] Mike Salemi: Yeah, absolutely. And I really appreciate what you shared, just kicking that off, because I think you summed up a lot of how people approach a lot of the roadblocks. And some of the things, I think with Kettlebell training, specifically, there's a lot of sexy movements. There's a lot of exciting movements, and they're fun and they're dynamic. And again, you can take them outside. But with that said, a lot of people miss the developmental steps and miss looking at that tool and also their own journey and fitness a little more realistically, I think, in a loving way. One of the jobs that I try to do really well is give people a realistic picture of where they are now and the plan on how to get there. And for me, like, I've always really appreciated and loved, like, a methodical way to approach training. And so when I was younger, like, my athletic background, I really started getting into gymnastics. I was a gymnast from seven to 14. And then in that whole experience, my ability to develop a higher level of body awareness and of confidence and a movement, like, my movement vocabulary was really increased in gymnastics. And even though I didn't go to college to be a gymnast or anything like that, that fundamental base served me so well and everything else that I did. And so even when I competed in powerlifting after that, for ten years, where the lifts are fairly simple, you have a squat, a bench, and a deadlift, so they're very linear type movements. But because I had the base of gymnastics, I really felt like having the flexibility of mobility, the body awareness, being explosive training, all these biomotor abilities, I took that into powerlifting. And I think the combination of that base level of strength, that's what really set me up to, I would say, like, maybe thrive with the kettlebell before I even touched it. And I think a lot of those base fundamental levels of strength, of control, and then, of course, having the flexibility, mobility, and the awareness piece, I think a lot of people miss that today. So I really got into competitive powerlifting in one drug free organization. I was a world champion in the W A BDL in the bench press and the Deadlift. Not long after I got into kettlebell training, actually, while I was training at West Side Barbell in Columbus, Ohio, louis Simmons, who since passed, he's the one who introduced me to the kettlebell. There training out there for a few weeks, but when I got back, I just fell in love with the kettlebell. And I'm excited to share, you know, a little bit more about that. But I've competed for ten years in kettlebell sport since no longer competing, since retired about five years, but was able to reach the elite rank of Master of Sport. And all during those years, the last 20 years that I've been a competitive athlete, dealt with a lot of injuries, a lot of setbacks, and in each setback, I always say it opened the door to a whole new way of looking at the body and really even working with someone like Paul Czech very closely. So that's a very brief summary of where I started and how I entered the kettlebell stuff. But everything that I've done to this point I believe matters. And I think a lot of looking back, I'm so grateful, even though I probably couldn't see it as clearly when I was in it. But the fundamentals and the foundations of gymnastics, like, I still, like, thank my parents for that because that was huge.
[09:14] Leigh Brandon: So you just repeat what ages you did gymnastics.
[09:19] Mike Salemi: So gymnastics was seven to 14. So right. Freshman year of high school is right before I'm sorry, right before high school is when I got out of it.
[09:28] Leigh Brandon: Yeah. And did you do that to quite a high level?
[09:33] Mike Salemi: No, I was not a compulsory gymnast, so I was in the optional level. I was definitely in it, but I wasn't super. I was on the, like, definitely like the representative Northern California, but I wasn't like a super special gymnast by any means.
[09:50] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, I mean, there's ex gymnast that I know. I don't know if you know Ross Ethorn.
[09:56] Mike Salemi: No, not familiar.
[09:57] Leigh Brandon: New Zealand. So he lives in Hong Kong now.
[10:00] Mike Salemi: Okay.
[10:00] Leigh Brandon: He was a high level gymnast. I did some of my check training with him, and what I found, my experience working in health and fitness for a long period of time, is that some of the strongest people I've ever come across either ex gymnast or gymnast.
[10:21] Mike Salemi: Okay.
[10:22] Leigh Brandon: And I can remember I'm going back a long time, but a friend of mine who was junior Mr Britain Bodybuilder, and he was teaching a course in the Netherlands, and there was a guy in his class who was a gymnast, and he was teaching them fitness stuff and he was doing some great. I mean, the guy had never seen a Swiss ball before. He'd never done any weight training before, and he was just doing this most crazy stuff on a Swiss ball. So my friend, he was very good at exercising on a Swiss ball, even though you think bodybuilder, but he was amazing on a Swiss ball. And so he was showing the class probably stuff he probably shouldn't have been showing them, but he said this gymnast could just do whatever he could do immediately. No practice. Jumping on the ball, jumping, doing a 360 in the air, landing on the ball, his eyes closed and all this kind of stuff.
[11:22] Mike Salemi: Wow.
[11:23] Leigh Brandon: My friend, he was a big guy, right? He was ex-junior Mr Britain big guy, really strong guy as well. And he said to this gymnast, what can you bench press? I said, I've never done it before. And he wasn't a big guy necessarily, and I can't remember the numbers, but my friend, he would have been bench pressing a ridiculous amount of weight back then. He said the gymnast matched him.
[11:49] Mike Salemi: Wow.
[11:49] Leigh Brandon: And he was a lot lighter than him, and he'd never bench pressed before. He just had ridiculous nervous system, and he was just so strong. And the other type of people I've come across over the years have been very strong, are male ballet dancers.
[12:06] Mike Salemi: Wow. Yeah.
[12:08] Leigh Brandon: Ridiculously strong. I guess it's quite similar to gymnastics, isn't it?
[12:13] Mike Salemi: I think so. I remember growing up, and I was training a lot when I was a gymnastic, we were training easily four to six days a week consistently for three hour sessions, oftentimes minimum. And I remember one of my teammates, actually his mom, they were Japanese. They were Japanese family. And he was a phenomenal gymnast. Phenomenal. I think he was about my age, more or less. And we trained together for a few years, but his mom and his family wanted really him to enter and be an elite level gymnast and ballet. And so he did those two for years and years and years, and he was in, like, very high level productions and such. And then when he hit high school and I lost touch with him, but when we had reconnected or actually, I'd heard about him from a friend first before we reconnected briefly, but I had heard he dropped both of those, dropped both gymnastics and ballet. And when he was in high school, he chose to do wrestling. And without any wrestling experience going into it, he was dominating everybody. Everybody. For him, it was just, I believe, just learning the technique and some of the sequences and the maneuvers, et cetera. But, I mean, with a base of gymnastics and ballet going into wrestling, my gosh, like, the only thing that was missing was the cauliflower ears, and now he's got plenty of plenty of those.
[13:38] Leigh Brandon: Yes. Interesting. So the gymnastics seven to 14.
[13:44] Mike Salemi: Yes.
[13:46] Leigh Brandon: What age, again, did you do the power lifting?
[13:48] Mike Salemi: Power lifting was right about 14 because I stopped and went right into it. So 14 to about 24 ish. But when I was like 21 to 24, that's when I started also competing in Olympic weightlifting. Also during that time, I was into kettlebells as well. So I competed off and on for those ten years, but really towards the end is when I started exploring the other stuff.
[14:12] Leigh Brandon: Okay, so was there a point when you were doing power lifting, weightlifting, and kettlebell competitions around the same time, or did they not overlap?
[14:25] Mike Salemi: Not competing right when I was 19 is when I went to West Side Barbell. So that's when I started really first diving into and started taking certifications and that sort of stuff. And actually, at one certification, the assistant instructors were kettlebell sport athletes, because before that, I had never heard of kettlebell sport. I mean, it's such a very small sport worldwide and especially back then. And so I had actually gone to a certification, and the assistant instructors pulled me aside, and they're like, yo, I think you'd be really good at this. And I was like, what are you talking about? What is this thing? And so they broke down what kettlebell sport was and one of the instructors actually lives like maybe 50 minutes away from me and had a kettlebell sport team at the time. So I was like, great. So I ended up just going with him and training and part of the Orange Kettlebell Club for years.
[15:14] Leigh Brandon: So I'd imagine quite a lot of the audience don't really know what the sport kettlebell is. Can you explain that in a bit more detail?
[15:23] Mike Salemi: Yeah, absolutely. It's a question I often get. And with kettlebell sport now, because it's becoming more accessible to more people around the world, there are many more events that they've added in and specialty stuff and also making it more accessible because the main way that kettlebell sport is and I'll describe the classical lifts, they're ******* brutal. Like, they are really, really hard. And so for people, let's just say CrossFitters or what, who are very fit and could potentially thrive in kettlebell sport, even people with a high level of fitness and who are a beast. It's a very specific sport, highly specialized movement, and so you could be really strong and really fit, but in order to reach an elite level, you need to dedicate the time and the energy and really the devotion to this specific sport. So they've made some concessions and they've come up with some really fun different events that are more accessible. But really the two biggest events are what's called long cycle. That was the main one that I competed in for a long time and that is essentially for the men professional division. Now, there's different weights and weight classes and such like that, but for the professional division as a standard, to give the listeners an idea, I had to lift 232 kilos. So about 70 ish pounds, one in each hand. You have to do repetitive cleaning jerk. So you swing the bell through behind the legs to the chest and then jerk into the overhead lockout position. And you repeat that consecutively, as many times as you can without setting the bells down in ten minutes. And so based off of the bell weight that you use, your body weight and then your repetitions, legal repetitions, there's always a judge there judging if it's a legal rep. Did you actually pause in the lockout position where your arms fully straight, for example? Did you stand fully erect? And then that is one of them. And then the second event, which I also competed in, is called biathlon. And essentially Biathlon, you take two kettlebells, again, 32 kilos in each hand and you jerk for ten minutes. So from the chest to overhead, chest to overhead, no setting the bells down in ten minutes. They take that score and then you come back later in the day, or actually, depending on the organization. The order could switch sometimes, but you'll do the snatch. So a single kettlebell snatch. So 32 kilos in one hand, ten minutes unbroken, swinging beneath the body, and then all the way into an overhead lockout position. And you only get one hand switch. So let's just say for strategy purposes, your right hand could crush your left hand. You might do six or six, seven minutes on one hand, three minutes or the other, but you only get one hand switch. And basically it's the combined of the jerk and the snatch that give you a biathlon score. So for me, I was able to hit Master of Sport, which is like a black belt level in both of those events. Which is interesting because typically they're both strength endurance events. But the type of person, the mentality and also oftentimes the body composition is slightly different with those two lifters because you have a 20 minutes event and a ten minute event. Both are strength endurance in the endurance realm, but they both take a different type of person to do that.
[18:43] Leigh Brandon: So what is the difference?
[18:45] Mike Salemi: So, long cycle like, mentality wise, it's going to be more like a garbage man, just like a gritty. You just have to bite down and go. So that person tends to be just a little bit more intense, potentially, whereas what I see in the other event being more endurance, a lot of people, for some reason, that when I'm thinking about past clients and past people, a lot of people who have come from the endurance background, at least in my recollection. So cyclists and stuff like that, they tend to gravitate oftentimes to those longer events and tend to enjoy that, but also to like my body composition. I'm a fast switch athlete, especially being in powerlifting and doing Olympic weightlifting. So for me, I love the cleaning jerk. I absolutely do. And that was just for me, it was a harder event, I would say, than by athlon for me. But that was equally that challenge is what I appreciate and really wanted to dig into. So I loved long cycle.
[19:58] Leigh Brandon: There was two words that came into my mind as you were speaking about those two different events. One was pain and the other one was torture. Just the thought of doing those and what weight were you competing at when you were doing those?
[20:16] Mike Salemi: So I did shift from weight classes, but I was typically about I'm trying to think in kilos, I was usually about 75 kilos of body weight, more or less. And I think I actually competed in the 69 as well at one point. And I'd also competed with double 40 kilos as well. But that's a different not too many people compete at that weight. So that's kind of not quite like a feat of strength, but it's more of like a specialty event.
[20:48] Leigh Brandon: Wow, that sounds crazy. It was interesting because I was thinking if I was to guess what your weight when I saw you, what your weight was, I would have guessed 75 to 80. I would have guessed as your weight, which I'm guessing you probably still are now roughly down there.
[21:06] Mike Salemi: You know what's interesting, what's surprisingly is, yes, I'm actually about the same weight, but I've definitely lost a good amount of muscle. Like, right now, especially in the last few years, my main focus for training has just been for health and then teaching a lot. Most of my movement actually happens when I'm teaching, so my training looks very different than what it used to. But I'm actually surprised. Like, I'm still fairly lean and obviously still eat really well and still take care of myself, but my body weight is actually still very close to what it was, but definitely have lost some muscle, for sure.
[21:42] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, you actually get to my age.
[21:46] Mike Salemi: Well, dude, if I get to your age looking like you and moving like you, I'm really happy. I'm really you're almost 20 years older than me, maybe like, 18 or so. So if I get to your age and look like you and move like you, it's a good day. It's a really good life. Let's say that.
[22:02] Leigh Brandon: Yeah. Well, I'll ask you again in two years time when your little one's been running around figuring you out.
[22:11] Mike Salemi: Well, you know, and that's one thing that's been so at the forefront of my mind and something that you touched on in the beginning is, like, whether it was during COVID and when people are lifting at home or just when you have a baby and time is just so precious. The beautiful thing about kettlebell training is, like, you really don't need a tremendous amount of time. I mean, I honestly spend as much time warming up and cooling down as I do kettlebell training in a session. I mean, in a 15 minutes or a ten minute warm up, five minute touch the bells, do some of the movements to prepare, 15 minutes workout with a five to ten minute cool down like I'm done. I spent as much time preparing and finishing as my dad did in the lift. So one of the things that I do think is an advantage, not just for me, but anybody listening who doesn't have much time, is looking for an efficient way to train. Whether you have kids or not, or you got a lot of priorities, job responsibilities, et cetera, if you know how to use the tool, you can be incredibly effective. Now, I know when I have a kid, my energy levels are going to be likely lower. I'm not going to be sleeping as much, but that doesn't mean that I'll stop training, but I'll just be adjusting the volume, the load, and maybe the expectation that I have for myself or the standard. Like, even now, this isn't something that I've battled with for years, since I've stopped competing. And Lauren laughs at me, my partner, because I'm like, oh, I'm so much weaker than I was and I'd have to train really hard to lift 40 kilos again. I mean, it's been five years since I've done that, so I'm nowhere near as strong as I used to or could do what I did, but I've still managed and maintained a high level of just movement capability and so mobility, flexibility, skill development has really been my focus over the last five years. And just understanding what is like, my goal is not what it was before. And so I need to change those expectations and those standards as I'm evolving. And so when the baby comes, like, I'm not going to expect that I'm going to be lifting double 32s, but if I can do twenty four s and just really just feel good, that's my main priority. So for anybody listening, no matter where you are in life, what phase you are in life, the kettlebell based off of the uniqueness of how it's constructed and the way you can train with it in multiple planes, hitting multiple patterns, training your nervous system. Like there's such a focus on skill development that you can transfer to so many things, and you don't need much time, especially if you know how to use it effectively.
[24:51] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, definitely. I found myself that when I fought myself, a set of kettlebells at beginning lockdown, I'd do maybe three or four sets of three exercises and I was fright. That's what I needed. And it was a really good workout. Wow. It would take me probably 45 minutes to do that with barbells dumbbells and cables. But I guess the other thing I feel is as well you do a kettlebell workout, it just feels like you hit completely different muscle fibers. It feels like tendons have been stressed in a good way, your joints have been stressed in a good way, and you just know that your body is as long as you give it what it needs. Afterwards, it's developing in a different way as well. I don't know if you find that just whether it feels very different from lifting weights or dumbbells cables, et cetera.
[25:43] Mike Salemi: Yeah, that is so true. I'm very grateful, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that I had a gymnastics background heading into powerlifting, but competing, stopping gymnastics and doing ten years of power. What I did notice within my body is, yes, I had a high level of absolute strength and I felt just very strong, but my flexibility decreased exponentially. Like, I didn't feel as just confident in my body movements and coming from having this incredible expression of just movement options and positions and strength in these weird angles and lines. And so when I got into kettlebell lifting, for me it was a beautiful bridge because I was like, wow, I can get really strong and feel very fit, stronger than even I would want to get on. I felt very strong, but I was able to maintain high levels of mobility and flexibility and do the coordination components. So I really enjoyed that aspect of kettlebells because I really felt like it was a beautiful bridge to where strength can really meet athleticism. A lot of the tools today, not that there's not a time and a place for things like barbells. Absolutely. However, if the main goal is to be very athletic, the fact that you're only primarily training, for example, just front to back in the sagittal plane, like in rotation, I felt very vulnerable, super vulnerable. And so whether it's the kettlebell or a tool like the Bulgarian bag, the ability to rotate or train lateral movements, I almost felt like when I was walking, the vision that I have is when I would be jogging or running or doing something, let's say I'm running at the track. When I would start making a cut around a corner. It literally felt, when I was in powerlifting, like my shoes were untied. Like, I just didn't feel confident in my footing or my grip. Like, I didn't feel I never had that. Okay, let's train around a curve. Let's train lateral movement. Let's train rotational movement. And so with the kettlebell, for example, that's just one now I just feel so much more rooted and integrated. And everything that you said about the tendons, ligaments and nervous system, for me, that nervous system, that is the component connected to skill development. And there's a lot of skill involved in kettlebell training that if you do it, it will transfer into any sport and activity that you can do. You can take that capability and you can utilize it in anything that you want to do.
[28:11] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. It was quite interesting the first time I did a single arm snatch with a kettlebell. You realize straight away there's quite a lot of rotation involved. You have to rotate, whereas if you were doing a double arm snatch, there's no rotation. But as soon as you go single arm, now all of a sudden, you added rotation into the movement.
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[28:39] Leigh Brandon: Are you regularly suffering from painful bloating, a wind that can be smelly and embarrassing? Are your bowel movements not as they should be, either constipation or diarrhea or possibly alternating between the two? Do you find the pain is bad enough, but the bloating and cramps make you feel awful and are affecting your everyday life? Do you sometimes feel you can't eat properly because of the wind, bloating, and pain? And has your doctor told you that you have IBS but unable to help find you a solution? Do you feel right now that you simply don't know what's causing your symptoms, and whatever your doctor has suggested hasn't worked and you feel frustrated that you're still far from having a normal, flat, comfortable tummy? Have you invested a lot of time, energy and money into improving your. Symptoms and don't wish to waste any more? Do you feel frustrated and depressed and don't feel like you can take part in all the activities you enjoy and sometimes have to cancel attending events because of the way your tummy feels? Do you fear that if you don't get this sorted, you could end up with a much more serious gastrointestinal disease? If so, what would help you right now is to understand the root cause of your digestive condition rather than continuing to try to mask the symptoms with over-the-counter or prescribed medications. You need help understanding how factors such as nutrition, gut health, stress and toxicology affect the digestive system and how to optimize these factors. You need someone who can advise, motivate, and support you every step of the way, someone who has walked the path before and taught many others to do the same. What you need is my overcome your digestive issues program. My Overcome Your Digestive Issues program can help you in the following ways I will help you understand the root causes of your digestive problems and teach you how to approach the condition holistically via expert advice on nutrition and lifestyle Factors to Overcome Your Digestive Issues Program we'll start by ensuring you are on the right diet for you based on your genetics or metabolic type, and one that avoids the foods that are known to exacerbate your condition. We'll go on a journey step by step, learning all the necessary lifestyle changes required to achieve a flat, comfortable, pain free tummy. Each weekly 30 minutes coaching session will include advice, support and guidance specifically tailored to your needs and at a speed that is right for you. Once you're eating right for your metabolic type, you will begin to see changes in how your tummy feels. And we will also uncover all the necessary blocking factors that you may have. And you'll be taught how to reduce, replace, or eliminate all the factors that are causing your digestive problems. Ultimately, this program will enable you to achieve a flat, calm and comfortable tummy every day for the rest of your life. For more information about how to improve your gut health and to claim a complimentary no obligation gut health consultation, please go to www.bodychek.Co.UK that's BodyChek and fill in the request form at the top of the home page and we'll be in contact to arrange a convenient time. Now back to the podcast.
[32:03] Mike Salemi: Yes, absolutely. I think too, I have to be mindful of sometimes I geek out so much that it's just like, are people even like, am I going too far with this? But with the snatch per se, I want to just share something because rotation is okay. Rotation is okay. I think especially in kettlebells. Still to this day, there's a lot of dogma, and in any sport, in any activity, there's going to be people who have fixed mindsets around things. And so with kettlebells, oftentimes what I was exposed to in the early years was this overly rigid, overly fixed approach that the body can't rotate. The body shouldn't rotate. So even if you're lifting one bell, keep everything as square as possible. And while I do believe that you need to have control and awareness of the spine and what it's doing, like you need to be able to maintain your spine and activate your core, etc. But rotation is OK in this match and in fact it actually should happen if you're not rotating, you're missing out on a huge, huge ability to generate force and power and transfer it from the legs through the core into the arm into the kettlebell. And so we need to rotate. And when you look at most life and sport activities, rotation, unless you're in I mean, again, unless you're in power lifting, which is a very strict sagittal playing sport, unless you're doing something like that, most of the activities that we need to do on a day to day basis involve rotation, involve lateral movement. And so like our mentor Paul would say if you can't, you must. And so what I really believe is in that movement to snatch, I mean, there's so much going on there from just the patterns that are involved. You have a hinging movement, you have some rotation, there's an overhead component which a lot of people have difficulty with. You've got to generate power and you've got to generate power repetitively. You've got to control and decelerate this weight safely and effectively. Then you've got to return it and accelerate it up. So there's a lot of things going on the snatch. And that rotation piece, I just want to emphasize that is A Okay provided you can maintain your spine and is actually a big advantage to the lift.
[34:14] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, and also just to add to that, as long as it's carefully staged progression and you're getting enough rest recovery in between workouts and you're giving your body all the nutrients it needs to recover, then that is really the optimal solution.
[34:34] Mike Salemi: That's so true, man. And even, for example, the kettlebell swing, which is so if you were to break down the developmental regression of the Snatch, you'd have the snatches like the King, for example, and then right below that you have the clean, then right below that you have the swing, then right below that you have the deadlift. And so those are just some of the developmental chunks. But even a swing and I bring this up because even a swing, which is probably the swing and the Turkish get up, in my opinion, are probably two of the most iconic movements that people, when they think kettlebell training. Whether they've seen it in a magazine like Muscle and Fitness or whatever. They're probably thinking, oh, the kettlebell swing in the Turkish ghetto. Or one of those two. And even though the kettlebell swing is a very fundamental kettlebell movement, what I always say is it is by no means a beginner movement. Like, the kettlebell swing is a ballistic movement. It's a repetitive, power generating movement and the ability to not only decelerate the load safely and effectively, but also you learn this dance between having to be very explosive and engaged and activated, and then you also learn in the same light how to turn off and be very relaxed as well. And so if you take sports, for example, like boxing, if someone were to throw a punch and stay engaged the whole time, that wouldn't really work. There's this snapping motion of going from tension and relaxation. And so a lot of times, that coordination of that skill, that's a high level skill. And so what I tend to see is people will say, like, oh, I want to do a workshop with you. I would love to learn the kettlebell swing. And I say, okay, we'll get to that for sure. But there's a few steps before that. And oftentimes what I tend to see is most people, what they're coming in with is way lower than what's needed to safely and effectively do that. So to your point, if someone just grabs a kettlebell, wants to do a kettlebell snatch or 100 reps or whatever, man, there's a lot of steps before that. And even, like, with the kettlebell swing, like, there's people who tout and people even I respect in many regards for what they've done in the industry, but 10,000 swings or, like, you know, 500 swings a day, and when they're doing that, they're not warming up. They're just grabbing it and going, and I'm just like, oh, my God, shaking my head, dude. There's just some sensible it's not even crazy like some sensible rationality that somehow, oftentimes when people see kettlebells, it just goes out the door in the window. But the kettlebell swing, there is some key steps before that. And what I find is when you focus on that, it makes the whole journey so much easier. So even though in the beginning of your kettlebell journey, if you focus on posture, awareness, core control, just some of the mechanics of a deadlift, learning how to hinge all of those things, if you focus the majority of your time there, the learning curve goes. Your progress is exponential. It's not like a linear line. I don't even know if the word is a bell curve. It's like maybe slow, slow, slow, and then boom, skyrockets. And that's really where I think, whether it's for the snatch or any of the movements with the kettlebells, that methodical progression is absolutely critical.
[37:50] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, that's a good point. Just going back to your competing in kettlebell, I know you had some issues with injuries. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[38:01] Mike Salemi: Yeah, absolutely. So in kettlebell sport, I would say some of the smaller things that happened that carried me that were reoccurring during the entirety of my competitive career was, like, just a low back achiness. A lot of times what people don't understand is, well, I did share kettlebell sport, what it is, the events and such, but there are specific compensation strategies that we use posturally in kettlebell sport that are not necessarily ideal for just overall biomechanics and just function of the spine and the body. But these are legit strategies that we use because otherwise and I tried this when I was in the rehab journey working with Paul, and I had went to Paul, the major injury was a compartment syndrome in my left arm. So I had what was called arm pump. So I would lose all feeling. It'd be incredibly painful. My left form would swell and fill with blood, and I would be forced to set the bells down. Now, what we also learned is there was a bunch of other factors going on as well in my body. But one of the things is the compensation strategy that we use is essentially in the rack position, which is that middle position for those who may not be familiar, when you clean the bells to your chest, that is what's considered the rack position. And even though anyone who's lifted kettlebells and you know this, the rack position is not a rest position. And that is really one of the only places that and overhead where we get some moments of rest. But that being said, is there's a strategy where we learn to relax our shoulders down and basically settle our elbows right on the iliac crest. So the bones of the upper pelvis that crest there, we set it there. But in order to get that, due to everyone's difference in size and body length and arm length and torso length, we have to contort our spines, we have to basically go into excessive kyphosis to round and drop the shoulders down. And essentially what you're doing is when the elbows hit that pelvis, you're actually trying to turn off or disengage the shoulders so they can get even a few seconds of rest before you engage and do the next repetition. So what I really learned is when you're in that position, one, the rounding of the shoulder, the increased kyphosis, it basically constricts or blocks, has the ability to block the brachial plexus. And so there's this triangle, as you know very well Leigh, that's right around the neck and that feeds like the nerves to the hand and the arms. And so what I was finding is I was staying so much in the posture of my sport. I was quote unquote, living in my sport as opposed to playing my sport for many years and then doing everything I could to help balance my body. And so when I worked with Paul first, we tried to do a completely different 180 lifting strategy. And while that made me very athletic and very strong, it didn't really help me compete with the highest level from a competitive sense. And so the journey was, and it was a really challenging one, was how can I play my sport but not live in it? How can I also modify my technique slightly to take the best of both worlds, but also be very realistic that if I'm going to compete in this sport, I'm going to have to spend a **** ton of time taking care of my body and doing so many things to balance. So I was doing a lot of Swiss ball training, I was doing a lot of sensory deprivation tank floating sessions, I was getting a lot of body work. So I was doing a lot of the work outside to help offset the stress of the competitive of the sport. But really it was the arm pump that was the trigger for me, that sent me to Paul to start really diving deeper in a lot of this stuff.
[41:43] Leigh Brandon: Cool.
[41:43] Leigh Brandon: Yeah. And did you have any other injuries challenges along the way?
[41:49] Mike Salemi: The constant low back achiness, the arm pump in kettlebell sport, those are the only injuries. But I had a quite a short leg, so eight millimetre short leg, which is throwing things off Atlas axis subluxation also had a massive imbalance between the mover system, the phasic system, and then the postural system, the tonic system. So there was a lot of imbalances in my body, but the big like, red flag high injury stuff, that was basically the art public. That was the thing where I could attribute like, no matter how much I would train, no matter how hard I would push, no matter how disciplined I was, even at moderate loads, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't get through not setting the bells down.
[42:36] Leigh Brandon: And did your lower back of anything to do with having a rigid graphic spine?
[42:42] Mike Salemi: Yeah. So in that posture, essentially what happens is my T spine, my middle back, was super rigid because I was fixed in that position, especially in the early years of competing, what I would do to condition my endurance in the rack is I would just sit in the rack position for longer. So at the end of a session, training session, I might just sit in that position for three to five or seven minutes and grind it out. And it's like now, knowing what I know now. And especially, I remember, with working with Paul when I got on a legit corrective stretching program and I took a complete break from ever entering that rack position with that extreme kyphosis, I was always nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it again because the way I was achieving that position before was just grinding and suffering in that position. And what I found was when I went back to it, I had so much more ability to enter that position with ease and grace. Like, I was able to hit it right away, even taking a break from it for a year. And I really do believe it's because the joints of the spine, which each have a different degree of motion, like, I was able to share the range and the movement over so many more joints in the spine as opposed to, like, moving in blocks. And so in that rack position, I do believe absolutely the rigid kyphosis had something to do with it. Because also when I was in that position, like, it's almost like a sway back as well posture. Because your hips have to shift forward in order for your elbows and for you to maintain your gravity line in that perspective. So it was like compression in the lower back, rigid upper back, and then those hip shifting forward too much.
[44:32] Leigh Brandon: Yeah. The one thing I was thinking of was because you're lifting overhead, if you don't have good mobility in a thoracic spine, what you're likely to do is to overcompensate in the lumbar spine and overextend through the lumbar spine. That was kind of my thought process there.
[44:50] Mike Salemi: That's absolutely spot on because what you need to hit an overhead position is the T spine needs to move into extension. So especially towards that end range. And so if that middle back is a block and it was like a block for me. And then I also absolutely had just like, in retrospect, thinking about it now, just a lot of little things in the rear shoulder. Like, a lot of just like little Tweaks and stuff like that. So always that was an area that took a lot of stress. And I do believe it's because being so fixed in that position that my shoulder was taking so much of the brunt of it when I was in that overhead position. So when I would get massages weekly at the time, that was an area that was just on maintenance mode. She knows, just like any body worker knows, especially if they're working with athletes, no matter how good the recovery program is, those sports, all sports and activities require specific patterns and repetitions of those patterns. So she would know exactly, like shoulder, arm, low back, pecs, like things that she always would do almost like clockwork, like rinse and repeat every single time she would see me.
[46:01] Leigh Brandon: Well, the rear of the shoulder, I would imagine, would be working eccentrically really hard in the rack position. So you've got the weights on the front and you've got that kind of internally rotated position. And now you've got the muscles like the teres minor, infraspinatus, probably the rear delts. They're having to work eccentrically to hold on to that weight.
[46:21] Mike Salemi: Absolutely.
[46:22] Leigh Brandon: So you probably had some quite nasty trigger points in there from all the eccentric load that they were getting. So I guess one of the things that maybe people are wondering a bit more about do you know what the origins of the kettlebell is and what's the history of the kettlebell?
[46:37] Mike Salemi: You know, when I was studying this, this has been quite a few years, I'll do my best to remember. But when I was studying this, I've heard so many different origin stories. I think in the 1700 don't quote me, but I remember in Russia, they would use it as a way to measure grains and stuff like that. So you'd have a scale, and they would measure grains and wheat and all that sort of stuff, and so the kettlebells would be on the other side, and so they would use that. There are stories of just strong men from all over the world, of course, using it. But when I was looking into it, even if I recall correctly, even in, like, ancient China, one of the things that they would do is if you look at the locks on temple doors or on old temple doors, they were basically these square locks with just a bar going through it. And so what you would see is, I believe there was stores, even if, like, Shaolin monks or arranged in China, the monks were actually using those locks in a way that we would use kettlebells. And so I've heard of different stories from different areas around the world, but the modern kettlebell movement came from Russia and Eastern Europe, and in fact, kettlebell sport, this happened much later, but kettlebell sport is one of the primary ways in which they conditioned the Russian military today. But the origins of the kettlebell, I think, goes way back, whether it was used as a counterweight for grains and such. But, I mean, I think we can even look earlier to that, to even China and maybe some other areas over the world.
[48:06] Leigh Brandon: There's a similar thing that they use in the Highland Games, which is, like it's kind of similar. Obviously, the handle, it moves rather than the kettlebell is solid. Yes, it's quite interesting. It's quite interesting. So do you know how the kettlebell sport started?
[48:24] Mike Salemi: The kettlebell sport, I'm actually not certain what actually sparked the sport. I remember being in St. Petersburg, Russia, and being in the Strength Museum, which is actually, like, in, I don't even know, like a middle school. It's actually pretty funny in St. Petersburg, but our middle school or high school or something like that. And so the actual origins of the sport itself, I'm not actually even remembering what it was. It's been so long. But the military application is huge. They have military competitions, and it's really and I think per se, because of what it trains, what it conditions, the strength, endurance. And honestly, the Russians, mentally wise, are ******* just brutal or beasts. And I remember when I was training out there, there were some of the hardest guys I've ever met in my life. Just, I mean, scary, scary nice guys, but very, very scary and very intense. And I remember when I was out there speaking with some of the coaches who are elite level athletes, and I would ask them, what do you attribute your level of success in all these years. Like, what do you attribute? I've shared this story in the past, and they would say, well, one of the coaches would say, well, two things. One, I'm willing to die on the platform. Like, before that ten minutes goes out, I'm willing to die. And you will see videos of people legitimately passing out with the kettlebells overhead. And then all of a sudden, the kettlebells fly to the side. They bounce. kettlebell's bounce if you let them fall and then face planning from a standing position because they will go so hard and push themselves so far. And it's a sense of pride. And then the second thing they would say is, and drugs. I was like, Wait, we call those supplements in the United States? No, no, no, we're all adults here. Drugs. Oh, okay, got it. I understand.
[50:21] Leigh Brandon: Very different culture, isn't it? Eastern Europe.
[50:23] Mike Salemi: Totally differently. Different, yeah. I mean, there's some crazy Americans too, for sure, but even myself, like, I would push myself super hard, but my values as a person and this was the battle internally as I was competing and really didn't have all of the corrective strategies that I do now. The battle internally in my heart and in my mind was like, I love this sport. I want to compete in this sport. I want to reach my goals in this sport, and it's tearing down and breaking down my body faster than I can rebuild it. And then just understanding just some basic biomechanics, I was like, man, there felt like a miso alignment. And emotionally, that was really hard for me. And so to find a way that I could compete in the sport that I love, which has a bunch of positive benefits to it, but also not do so in a way that I felt was acting in direct. Misalignment or direct opposition to why I'm here in the world, or a big part of why I'm here, which is to teach people the fullest expression of their body, mind, heart and spirit. So that was the battle for me, and I had to reconcile that. And what I really realized is, one, I needed to be honest with myself about what some of every sport is going to have imbalances and pattern overload, et cetera. So I just needed to be honest with myself with what those were, but also be willing to put in the time and the effort and the discipline to even if it took me two or three times longer than a training session to do the recovery measures and modalities, then well, if I want to get here and get here fully healthy and whole and to share this perspective, then that's what needs to be done. And got to just set that.
[52:12] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, that's a great attitude, great way of looking at it. We've spoken a little bit about this already, but for someone who perhaps hasn't used kettlebell before, maybe people that have used kettlebells, what would you say are the main benefits that people can get from using kettlebells as part of a resistance training program?
[52:33] Mike Salemi: Yeah, some of the main benefits when you think about other tools, for example, we touched on this earlier, but for example, real quick, like if you're lifting with a barbell, you can do a lot of stuff with a barbell. But if you're lifting with a barbell because you can incrementally load it, because you can load up the weight so much, you've got plates, you can stack it up. It's, for me, one of the best, if not the best tool for developing absolute levels of strength. So high levels of max strength, what can you lift? For one, rep? The movements tend to be simpler. Oftentimes, unless you're a skilled mover, you're not going to be doing lateral movements or as many with a barbell, not going to be doing very many at all rotational movements with a barbell. You have to get really creative and there's a high level of skill there. That being said, if you were to progress that and take like a dumbbell, a dumbbell now you're using like unilateral training and so you're basically able to highlight some of the compensation or imbalances between left and right. Oftentimes there's more of a balance component involved. You're going to be working to higher levels of athleticism, the ability to train in multiple planes. You're going to have more options to you. So if we just take that progression of barbell to dumbbell now to kettlebell, to keep it simple, a kettlebell, you can do what you can do with a dumbbell, but now per se on steroids, because you can train very easily and effectively every single plane of movement. You can train every single pattern. And what you think about with the kettlebell, because it has that offset center of mass from the handle, that in and of itself is a very unique feature. So the way I always describe it is when you're lifting with a kettlebell, it's not like a dumbbell, where a dumbbell is basically like a fixed part of your hand. When you've got a six, when the weight is basically distributed six, eight inches away from that handle, now you're dealing with a live object. And when you're dealing with a live object, your body has to learn how to adapt and adjust and create strategies in order to lift the load safely and effectively and transfer the force. And so overall, what I really believe is not only can you develop high levels of strength, but you can also develop high levels of nervous system skill and coordination and balance that are very hard to achieve with some of the other tools. But also, too, when you look at the benefits of the kettlebell, you can do things that you just simply can't do with other tools or nearly as effectively. So as an example, you can't swing a barbell you can't like it would just run into your thighs. It wouldn't work with a dumbbell. When I see people doing swings with dumbbells for me it's not even remotely in the same ballpark. Yes, it could look like a kettlebell swing if you try to do it with a dumbbell. But because you're gripping so tight and the center of mass is higher on a dumbbell, you won't really nearly be able to express what I shared earlier about that tension and relaxation, which is a huge athletic ability or skill to develop that you need in all sports. If you're full on, full yang, full engaged the whole time and you don't know how to oscillate between that yin, that receptive, that flexibility, that softness component, you're going to gas out in a second. There's no way you'll be able to reproduce that level of force. And so what you learn with the kettlebell is the ability to develop these higher levels of skills every single boat. biomotor ability from strength, flexibility, power, endurance, agility, coordination. You can do that with a kettlebell. And you can allow yourself to get in positions like a swing or a snatch that are not nearly as optimal or just simply impossible to do with some of the other tools. And what I would say is so now with kettlebells, the interesting thing is you can in the early days typically there was only four kilo jumps you would go typically from eight kilos to twelve to 16 to 2024, 2032, etc. But now as the just, they've grown all over the world. They're in every single gym. They're in so many people's homes gyms. Now a lot of manufacturers have two kilo jumps, which is beautiful. Really helps the progression step. Because a four kilo jump with a kettlebell is not like a four kilo jump with a dumbbell. Very different due to everything that we shared. But that being said, the main way in my eyes that you typically progress with a kettlebell is two things. Number one is through repetition, is through strength endurance. And that's why the sport was really created in kettlebell sport. Because at a certain point you can only go so heavy with a kettlebell, or at least back then, you can only go up to 32. So you need to increase in some way and so increase the difficulty in the demand and so the repetition is and the strength endurance component. That's huge. But then really what I look at is the coordination component the ability to combine for example a flow or a chain for example, or even a like a complex with kettlebell. So a chain would be a series of movements done consecutively where it's one movement followed by a different movement by a different movement. So an example would be one rep, let's say of a single arm swing then the rep number two is a single arm clean then rep number three is a single arm snatch. That's a very simple example of a three exercise chain. So that ability to level change, to change from one movement to another, to coordinate that, to have the agility, that is something that doesn't nearly work as easily and efficiently with so many other tools. So I'll just pause right there because I've said a lot. But the benefits of kettlebells, not even to mention that they're portable, they're versatile. I've got one in **** near every single room of my house. Often times in my truck, I could train a whole series of a team of people with very minimal equipment. So it's a very practical tool if you know how to use it and have the progressions leading into it.
[58:39] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, when I'm traveling, I always stick three kettlebells in my car just in case. Like this weekend, I'm going to see my friend I've seen for a while. Last time I went down there, I took them down there. I got up early in the morning, didn't work out before anyone else had woken up. If I'm teaching for the Czech Institute again, sometimes it might be I can't get into the gym because there's clients in there or whatever it might be. I know I've got my kettlebells so that at least I can get a workout if I need it. So, yeah, they're really great for traveling. Or like you said earlier, if you've only got 15 minutes, you can still get a really good workout. River set of kettlebells.
[59:27] Mike Salemi: Yes. You don't need very much at all. I mean, you could take longer rest periods and stuff like that, but it's a tool that works very well in circuits, in combinations and chains, in complexes, those sorts of movements. That's what it's designed for. The longest sessions that I take when I'm training with the kettlebells oftentimes take long as very relative. Maybe let's say 45, 50 minutes if I'm training. The movement, composure, the actual hard component of the training. If I am taking that long, oftentimes it's because I'm integrating other tools into the workout. So I'm doing maybe some barbell lifting in there. I'm doing some Swiss ball stuff, just for some variety. And depending on the exercises and the lows, they're going to basically determine how much reps I'm going to need and what the objective is. But if I'm just doing a kettlebell session, it's very short. If someone's lifting 30 minutes of kettlebells and actually getting after it, they're an animal. They're made ten minutes of kettlebell sport. Oh, my gosh. I want to like, fall down and collapse on the floor like you don't. And our sets were in the training sets. Like even a two minute set unbroken of a lift is brutal. Is brutal, even. Forget ten minutes, so you don't need much time, which is such an advantage of the kettlebell.
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[01:01:24] Leigh Brandon: Just a brief interruption to this podcast to talk about adult Acne. Now, did you know that 40% to 54% of men and women older than 25 years will have some degree of facial acne? And that clinical facial acne persists into a middle age in 12% of women and 3% of men? I know only too well the devastating effects that acne can have on your confidence and your self esteem and how it can easily destroy your social life, your career and your relationships. I know this only too well because I suffered from severe cystic acne from age 13 to 31 over an 18 year period. I visited my doctor on many occasions and his only suggestions were acne creams, harsh cleansers and antibiotics that weren't working and were actually making my skin worse. After 18 years of struggle and thousands of pounds invested in treatments that didn't work, through my professional education, I began to learn that what my doctor had told me was untrue and that diet was directly related to acne, plus other factors such as food sensitivities, toxicity, hormones, and balancing the body's microbiome. Putting what I had learned into practice. I managed to rid myself of acne over 20 years ago and have been helping others to do the same for well over a decade by teaching people what foods cause acne, what food sensitivities each individual has, how to optimize their detox pathways, how to reduce environmental stresses and toxins, and how to balance hormones, especially those related to the mTOR pathway, a major causal factor with acne. I've been able to help many other adults overcome their acne nightmare, too. So if you would like more information on how to overcome your adult acne, please go to www.skinwebinar.com. It's www.skinwebinar.com, where you can also request an Acne Breakthrough call with me to see if you are suitable for my Eliminate Adult Acne Coaching program, where you can once and for all learn how to overcome your adult acne. Now back to the podcast.
[01:03:38] Leigh Brandon: What would you say are some of the key mistakes that people make when using the kettlebell?
[01:03:45] Mike Salemi: That's such a good question. So some of the biggest mistakes. The first thing that comes up is investing way more in the equipment than they do in actually learning how to use the tool. And I deal with this a lot with, like, whether it's fire stations or gyms or sports teams, like, they want to buy two kilo increments from four, six, eight kilos up to 48 kilos, but investing in actually how to use it, that's when the penny pinching comes in. And what I've really learned is if you've got one to three kettlebells, like you have Leigh. If you've got one to three kettlebells and you know how to use it, you do not need much more than that at all if you know how to use it. I would way rather someone spend 20% of their funds and get one or two bells and then spend the other 80% for the first three to six months and get a coach or even just get a month of coaching once a week for four weeks or six weeks, whatever. You will go so much further. It's insane. It's insane. So the first thing is, I think, investing way too much on buying all the weights of kettlebells or thinking that you need very many. If you know how to use one, you're good invest in the instruction. The second thing is, I think really people have and I see this not just with kettlebells, but in so many other things. They tend to see these sexy things or they tend to see things on Instagram people doing flows and complexes and snatches and a lot of these crazy stuff that are awesome. But even when I'm teaching and oftentimes most of the people I've talked to over the years have been coaches and trainers, even with coaches and trainers. I mean, where often people think they are from athletic or just a skill level with the tool. It's a very specific tool, it's a unique tool. It's very different than other things that they may be very good at. And so people oftentimes have a very unrealistic picture of where they are. And so they want to do the snatch, they want to get right into it. And I'm like, let me just see it first. So let's see where at. And I'll pick out like, 15 errors that they're making. And then I'll realize when I actually take it back, not just one level, two levels, but just take it back to taking them, even to a postural exercise or taking them to a floor doing a Glute bridge. Because I'm seeing so many things even wrong on the deadlift. It's like really finding the humbleness, maybe, but also having someone be real with you about like there's probably some very developmental, some big developmental chunks that have been missing or some details that if we iron these out early, they will help so much later down the road. Another big one that comes up in terms of a big mistake. And this is something that I've really refocused on in recent years with the rise of functional movements and a lot of these beautiful training tools maces, Indian clubs, club bells, kettlebells, Bulgarian bags oftentimes, again, those are very intricate tools, very specific tools to work with. They require a high level of skill and coordination and they're oftentimes very dynamic, very total body. And whereas maybe when Paul was starting out, maybe in the movement realm, the machines were the big thing, so the isolation was a big thing. Then I feel like we've gone 180 deg. And now it's been way on the functional movement excess side, which is great, but actually the combination we need isolation and integration. And so I actually do a tremendous amount of coach, a lot of actual segmental work, a lot of isolation work, gluten medius work, even just all different versions of Glute, bridges, walls stuff for the Rhomboids. Like I'm doing a lot of very specialized focus training that often isn't the funnest, isn't the sexiest. It looks very simple and boring, but with done with intention and a high level of detail, it has made me so much more of a resilient kettlebell lifter. So I think what most people do is and again, if I've got a little bit amount of time, maybe I'm just doing kettlebells or oftentimes I might do one body weight isolated exercise in there. But training, the ABS, training the TVA, training a lot of this stuff or doing some of the stretches afterwards, I really feel there's been this big focus on functional movement and we've completely lost or forgotten a lot of the stabilizer muscles, a lot of the more focused strengthening that we need to be lifelong lifters. Like when someone sees me move, my movement, for example, comes from mainly, I would say, two big things, but one, it doesn't come from the majority of my time doing kettlebells. I do a lot of stuff outside, I love kettlebells. But the other thing too is I do a lot of postural work outside. Like I do a lot of corrective stretches. I do all those always so oftentimes. And that's one thing that I've tried to share on social media. But like oftentimes it's nice to put a high level Bulgarian bag or a kettlebell clip. But a lot of what I do is the fundamentals. When we heard of what did Kobe or Jordan do a lot, they would just shoot free throws over and over and over. So while I do do some of the sexy movements a lot and they're fun and they challenge me, the majority of my training are things like swings and get ups or swings get ups and then a lot of the focus isolated work and what I do outside of the bells, that really helps bring that balance. And so I think those are some of the biggest yes, I would say those are some of the biggest mistakes that come up when I'm thinking about when people are approaching kettlebell list.
[01:09:25] Leigh Brandon: So really, just to summarize that what I guess we would suggest people do is follow the check success formula, which is flexibility, then stability, then strength and then power. But really the kettlebell will strengthen power. But what people need to do is to build that foundation first of ensuring that they've got good flexibility, good posture, and they've got the ability to stabilize the joints before they add in the strength and the power of movements.
[01:09:56] Mike Salemi: I love that, damn. Yeah, absolutely. And if someone can't meet the positional demands of a lift, like if you can't just think and simply like if you want to do a snatch and when you raise your arm overhead, like you were saying earlier, you compensated the lower back and maybe your head jets forward. Like if you can't get your arm locked out overhead and maintain a good, well aligned position, you can't meet just realistically, I'm not trying to be a **** or an *******. You just can't meet the positional demands of that lift. So if you try to add load, try to add speed, try to add repetitions and volume, et cetera, you're basically just going to be building and driving a lot of the strain into the low back, into the shoulder, and your days will be limited. It's just the way it's going to work. So if it's a conscious choice, cool, fine, 100%, go for it. But if it's not a conscious choice, now that you've been made aware of that and you understand the positional demands of the lift and that success formula, now you can make it empowered and informed decision to choose how you want to navigate that.
[01:10:58] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. So that leads on really nicely to my next question. What motivated you to develop the Mastering the Kettlebell and the Kettlebell lifestyle courses?
[01:11:12] Mike Salemi: Looking back, oh, man. If I could talk to my younger self, I'd have some big words of Wisdom forum, one of the motivations for mastering the Kettlebell, which is like over 400 videos of every single it's more for like coaches and trainers, but I still have a bunch of general people who really enjoy that program. But it's very high detail, tons of breakdowns, everything you'd want to know, common errors, fixes, lectures on program design. But what I was internally, I always had a resistance to posting workouts on social media. And I still do. Parts of me do. And what I really felt was what I was seeing is respect to anyone who's putting out content on social or most all people, especially when they're putting it with heart. Because I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. And so anyone who's really putting themselves out there and trying, like, I always do my best to celebrate them. And that being said, for me, I just realized, just being a teacher and again showing up, even when I'm teaching a workshop, I see 90% of the people attending the workshop. The trainer specifically couldn't even do a deadlift well. And so I just kept teaching and kept seeing what was realistically out there. And I was like, man, I just can't ******* get myself to do and show these kettlebell workouts or what people are telling me I should post online, because most people just aren't there and I don't know who's in front of me. So there was this huge internal battle. And so I was like, you know what? If I'm going to start posting more things, I want to make sure that people have a resource of where they can learn how to do these things well. And also, it was at a time when I was just leaving. I've been a coach for a number of years, but I was leaving my family business in marble and granite and I was coming into fitness full time. And so mastering the kettlebell is like my first creative expression. And I was like, I want to create a resource of everything that I didn't have assessments prior to heading into Kettlebells, knowing every common error that I could do and how to coach it, what to look for, all of the progressions, bringing in the holistic aspect. And so when I created that and also, too, it was around the time that I was working with Paul, more or less, that I was just like, I just learned so much information. I just wanted to share and to give. So for me, the motivation was to have a resource where people could go online and get some good instruction, to have certification level instruction. In fact, there's almost two certification levels of instruction in there and really have something that would be like my first big creation and contribution to the space. And then as we release that, one of the feedback was or has been, people wanted to see how I actually train in a workout. OK, like, we've learned all these techniques and you've got some written workouts or different ways to progress and such. You've taught on program design, but how do you actually train and how do you actually coach? Can we actually see and feel that? So that led birth to kettlebell lifestyle. And so Kettlebell Lifestyle is essentially a follow along program where you see me coaching two lifters, a beginner and intermediate lifter. And especially influenced by my work with Paul when I was training with him, we would do a daily readiness assessment. And so I would check in with how I was doing limbic, emotionally, hormonally my muscle skeletal system, and I would adapt and adjust my volume in my training based off of that. And so I found that to be incredibly valuable and just the intuitive understanding and knowledge that I was developing from that style of training and applying it to Kettlebells, I was like, man, everybody needs this. Everybody. As opposed to just following an overly fixed program, a rigid, or following a program from a magazine that's not necessarily for you or way too advanced for you or too easy for you, I was like, I want to teach people a more intuitive approach and I want to bring in that flexible periodisation component to training. And so I just dove in. And so the program actually has a training readiness assessment. Just five questions. It's way more simplified than what I did with Paul, just to check in, have people check in, on gut status, if their guts and flame, how to check in on sleep and motivation and energy level and how sore they are, and the training volume adjusts to that. So kettlebell lifestyle is really the closest thing anyone would ever get to working with me in person. And it's all phased. And so we do everything that we've been talking about. So learning fundamental movements of course, but having an on ramp phase and taking people through the progression into the higher levels of performance phases that comes later. But it's the accompanying resource that is the follow along, the real way and how I trained the segmental, isolated stuff with the dynamic stuff. And it's just been a really joy to create and see people go through it. Yeah.
[01:16:10] Leigh Brandon: And obviously, I can speak from experience mastering kettlebell course, It's a fantastic course.
[01:16:17] Mike Salemi: Thank you.
[01:16:18] Leigh Brandon: I've never received any specific training and kettlebells. I've just kind of been in gyms and used a kettlebell. I kind of seen videos of people doing it. I've been in the field for a long time, I wasn't that far off. But just doing your course, just simple things like, OK, we're going to do this lift, this is how you grip the kettlebell. And just those slight little adjustments made to me made the world of difference.
[01:16:47] Mike Salemi: I super appreciate you sharing that, especially someone who just has as much knowledge and experience working with the body. It really is a lot of those small details and you can learn a lot of those details and courses. But to be honest, I've taken every single certification out there on kettlebells, **** near every single one, and multiple times I taught a bunch of them, or co taught. And that being said, most of what I learned, I learned a lot in those, for sure. But most of what I learned happened through experience, happened through competing, happened through training. Like a lot of what I learned and all the nuances and all the details and the breathing techniques and the different types of kettlebell techniques that you can use and the variations in the commentators. Most of that came from being a lifter, surrounding myself with great lifters and then teaching. And so that's really what is in those resources. Is it's really the culmination of everything that I've learned up to this point. And of course, there's more, for sure, because really, those two programs are only single bell programs, because I really wanted to make this as accessible as possible. Because one of the big barriers to entry in kettlebell lifting, or in any lifting, is the equipment availability. What do you have access to? What can you afford? And so I was like, I don't want that to be a roadblock or a barrier, so I'm going to teach people what to do with one bell. And we'll see, just from a time and an energy standpoint, what I've got the time to create. But, I mean, there's been a lot of requests for double belt programs, even more advanced stuff. But if someone were to take either one of those programs, they would learn a ton for sure about kettlebell lifting, but how to integrate it into an overall training plan?
[01:18:29] Leigh Brandon: What would you say are the main differences between what you teach and what others teach when it comes to the kettlebell?
[01:18:38] Mike Salemi: To be fully honest, there's a lot of really good kettlebell coaches out there. It's been around enough. I think the first formal instruction in the United States, at least when Pablo brought it out, was in 98 or 99. And when he had started, he brought the RKC, that was the organization and the certification. And so since approximately 98, 99 or more or less, if you think now we're over 20 years past that, right? So there's been a lot of iterations on techniques, there's been a lot of coaches developed. So what I would say is there is a lot of fantastic kettlebell coaches and instructions out there. What I would say is probably the most unique thing is I would probably say the first thing is just a holistic look at the kettlebell. So realizing that it's not all about the kettlebell, no matter how phenomenal of a tool, is understanding a lot of the prerequisites that we were talking about, the check success formula, the positional demands of the movements, understanding what's needed to balance the body before and after, which are huge, huge, huge missing elements. I think that combination of integration and isolation is a huge thing, but also to the fact that I've had a quite diverse background from sports. And so I can see the place for all these tools, I can see the place for them and I can really see where kettlebell stand out as very unique. And so for me, I think a big thing that really separates kettlebell lifestyle and MTK is the level of detail and nuance that comes from experience. Having been a strength athlete and having been a kettlebell sport athlete and not necessarily like understanding the pros and the cons of each and how to take the best of both worlds to create something truly unique. And so there's kettlebell sports techniques without going too much into it, but the actual and you know this lead, but the actual path of the kettlebell changes when the primary objective is strength endurance. And so let's just take the swing very quickly. So the swing, when we're doing a more when we're trying to express power and power endurance specifically, and we're trying to really develop that explosive strength, we're going to use more of a hinge based movement which is more going to look like a deadlift. When people see the swing or think of the swing, in their mind, they're probably thinking of that more explosive hinge based movement, like a Russian swing. Right? Just that now, if I was using that in kettlebell sport, there's no way, absolutely no way I would last. I would gas out after like two minutes. There's way too much energy and effort put into that and my fast twitch muscles would gas out very quickly. So you learn that you need to use a different strategy. And so it looks much more like a pendulum, it's much more relaxed and it is much more of a strength, endurance, endurance type of way to lift. So the trajectory of the bell changes and also the breathing changes and a lot of just a little small nuances need to change. Not anyone's right or wrong, but they're almost like two separate keys that open different doors. And then just based off of having been injured and working with Paul, you also learn that there's so many more facets to the key itself. And so I'll adjust, like the quintessential techniques quite a bit based off of where someone's at and what they're showing up structurally. So the level of detail, the specificity, the holistic nature, and then just having spent so many years training and teaching these things, I think has all been integrated into the training programs.
[01:22:22] Leigh Brandon: Yeah, that's great. What would be your top three tips for anyone that wants to get started using kettlebell?
[01:22:31] Mike Salemi: Probably first tip is to get started. I see a lot of people that are also intimidated by kettlebell still to this day. And one of the things, to be honest, I love the kettlebell and I know you love the kettlebell, Leigh, but the kettlebell is just a tool, right? It's just a means. Everything that I learned about myself and that I teach, I mean, I owe a lot to the kettlebell. The kettlebell was just the expression. It was like the paintbrush, right? But I'm the painter, so what I would say is I get so much gratification in hopefully creating a safe space for people to learn and to let them know. If you just know a few progressions and you're in this for the long haul and you're willing to be patient, it's for anybody. And I'm not saying every movement is for everybody in every given time, but it is a tool that is very versatile, very adaptable, very friendly. So the first thing would just be to get started and to realize it is possible to lift this and it doesn't need to be an intimidating tool. The second thing would be either hire a coach there's a lot of good ones out there, or get a program, like anything that I have to follow some instruction, get some type of guidance. Of course, if you can get an in person coach, that's going to be number one. But if you can't, or if you want an extra resource, there's plenty of good stuff out there. So educate yourself on the progressions. And then I would say the last thing just to share what you had said is ensure that you're really developing the prerequisites of flexibility and mobility. First, before you try and go into the higher level or you try to go to double bells and you develop a lot of strength. You try to do these crazy *** power movements and stuff like that. Really be realistic with where you're at. And even if you just looked and you don't need to be a trainer to understand this, even if you just looked at the positions required in a movement. OK, someone's doing an overhead press with a kettlebell. Okay, the arms overhead, I should be able to do that without load, with looking somewhat stable and somewhat just solid, as opposed to having all of these things move in the middle, my lower back, my rib cage, all of these things. So I would say look at the positions required in any lift and see if you have the strength, control and flexibility to do those without. And if you don't, then develop those first because it will pay dividends. It will. And coming from someone who has been injured, rebuilt himself, trained and competed at an elite level, and then coached tons of athletes from around the world from injured people to elite level people. That's probably one of the biggest missing links is jumping too fast, too quick and bypassing some of the developmental steps that do require patience, but probably not as much as people would think in Kettlebell lifestyle. When I taught that program, the first three weeks are more gentle, easy, phase, basic phase stuff. But after two to three weeks of that, the learning curve, it's steep, it gets advanced real quick, but it's because you focused on the grips, the positions, the awareness, the flexibility. You've identified that stuff. So I don't think it takes as much patience as many people would think. But whatever you put in on that side and on that success formula, it will absolutely come back to you tenfold. So yeah, I think that's pretty solid.
[01:26:12] Leigh Brandon: So number one, get started. Number two, get some coaching of some sort. Number three, build a solid foundation before you build that peak.
[01:26:23] Mike Salemi: Love that. 100% cool.
[01:26:26] Leigh Brandon: Awesome. Now I've got a feeling I know the answer to the next question, but I'm still going to ask it anyway. Okay, what's next for Mike?
[01:26:33] Mike Salemi: Oh, you already know what this is. Having a baby. And Lauren and I are having our first baby in two months. And so what's next? My big values are family, health, and being of sacred service to the world. And that family piece has always been really important to me. But now I can't even express how I'm navigating life slightly different and thinking of, okay, if I'm traveling, for example, I want to get back right away to be here with Lauren and to support her and to be here with our little boy. So a lot of my priorities have been just shifting. And not that teaching is hugely important, but I've been grinding my *** off. So. That I can be dropped in with our baby when he's born, especially for the first few months. So having the baby is really a big part of where I'm focusing and doing a lot more coaching of men, whether it's in retreats or in person setting, that's been a huge thing for me. So taking on whether it's some one on one clients, that incorporates a lot of what we talked about. For me, the physical was the entry point into a lot of this stuff, a lot of the body stuff. And I do believe that's such a beautiful access point, which is where so many more people are ready to go first. And so for me, the physical is oftentimes the foundations of where I focus with people first, and it's also where I feel most comfortable. But that being said is then we start looking into some of the deeper stuff of what is either bringing them closer towards their dream or pushing them further away from it, but doing holistic coaching for men, looking to level up in life. And you have this baby. Man, I'm so beyond excited. And I just have so many visions of, like, having I think it's called the bassinet. I don't even know what a lot of these things are called, but whatever holds the baby, like having them in the gym with me and just like or putting some mats down and having them crawl while I'm crushing the kettlebells. Like, I want to I don't know, I just want to have him see and I want to support him and I want to, like, encourage and not push him, but just be exactly who I am and be the best that I can be for him. So I'm thrilled to be a papa soon.
[01:29:01] Leigh Brandon: Yes, I'm sure you're going to make a great your dad.
[01:29:05] Mike Salemi: Thank you, brother.
[01:29:07] Leigh Brandon: So you've kindly offered a 20% discount off your Kettlebell Lifestyle course. Where can the audience enrol in the course or where can they find you online?
[01:29:17] Mike Salemi: So the best place would be just my name, but Mikesalemi.Io, not.com, that's my website that has all my offerings there. You can also find a link to Kettlebell Lifestyle there, which is just kettlebelllifestyle.com. And then Instagram right now is the platform that I'm most active on, which is just my name, Mike Salemi. And then I recently started a podcast called The Path, and you guys can check that out at The Path podcast on Apple and Spotify. And if anyone has any questions on anything that we went through or would love any more information on anything, I mean, that just hit me up, shoot me a message, and I will do my best to get back to you in a timely fashion.
[01:29:58] Leigh Brandon: That's great. And by the way, the discount code for your discount is Radical 20. And I will also put that in the show notes. So, Mike, thank you so much for taking your time out today to share your wisdom with the Radical Health Rebel listeners and viewers. And to all the Radical Health Rebel tribe, if you know someone who would benefit from watching or hearing this episode, please make sure to share the love and forward it onto them. After all, the mission of this show is to help people lead a more fun filled, healthy, productive, fulfilling and happy life. And if you'd like to support the podcast, you email@example.com Radicalhealthrebel, where you can also receive lots of other exclusive premium content, including unedited, full length, ad, free video episodes monthly, Ask me anything, Q and A sessions, and discounts on my coaching programs. So that's all from Mike and me for this week, but don't forget, you can join me same time, same place, next week on the Radical Health Rebel podcast.
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