Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MRKC Mark Reifkind: Lats, the Super Muscles DVD

Rif has almost 40 years of experience in training and competing himself, in gymnastics, triathlon, ultramarathon, Ironman, bodybuilding, powerlifting and Hard Style kettlebell training, and more than 30 years in training and coaching other people, from average folks to world class athletes (click here for references). If he, a Master RKC with such a background thinks the lats are important, important enough to do a whole workshop session just on them and publish it on a DVD, then I readily believe they are.

Okay, apart from "the Party is always right!" talk, there are quite a couple of cogent arguments as to why the lats should be considered super-muscles. First, as you'll hear Rif explain and show you, the lats are the second largest muscles in the body, second only to the glutes. They're fan-shaped muscles with very extended origins, on multiple points from the T-spine and the tip of the scapula down to the thoraco-lumbar fascia and the iliac crest, sweeping up and inserting on your upper arm. Consider this for a moment... It is probably not so just for the fun of it, there's good reason to assume they have an accordingly wide range of functions, way more than people in today's inactive civilized life and in a fitness world of disintegration and isolation actually utilize. As Rif puts it, the lats are the "most misunderstood, most under-utilized and hardest to activate" muscles, in spite of the fact that they should be involved everywhere, even in sports movements you wouldn't think they'd play a role. Moving the arm, that's obvious, but did you think of their interplay with the glutes, abdominal muscles (the whole trunk musculature, actually), hip flexors etc. during something as simple as gait, running, swimming? Or their role in back extension and shoulder stabilisation? Overall posture? Even breathing?

After listening to Rif explaining how the lats build a bridge between arm and shoulder, arm and spine, shoulder and hips, arm and lower body, you'll have no doubts that everything you do is a "whole-body, interconnected and interlinked, movement" and the lats have "lots of potential to be used in several different modalities and the ability to use it is critical". And you'll also agree it's not about the kettlebell at all. "There's no kettlebell", as Pavel would say, and there's no barbell, ball, bat or racket either, it's all about how you move.

You will be eager to learn

- how to find your lats and activate them - in both directions (oh yes, it's not just the arm movement!);

- how to fine tune your deadlift set-up by establishing connection between arm and hip and why muscle activation in both directions not only improves your strength instantly but is also hugely protective for the shoulder;

- how lat activation automatically ensures pelvic tilt for safety and better performance with the pendulum swing;

- why a pre-stretched muscle is a stronger muscle and how lat activation increases loading your hips: learn or refine the kettlebell swing hike pass and overspeed eccentric technique;

- how to fine tune lat engagement to increase force generation and to optimalize force transmission from the engine of your swings, the hips, all the way through your core and arms to the hands and the kettlebell;

- from what aspects swinging to parallel and thus projecting force forward is more beneficial than swinging overhead;

- how lat activation before and during overhead presses creates optimal scapular and shoulder position to prevent injury and makes all the difference between an isolated shoulder exercise and an integrated full body move;

- how a couple of slight shifts in focus during your press can instantly set your groove right;

- how slight changes in handle and wrist position can enhance or ruin performance;

- how to use a "pulling" muscle to initiate a strong press and how, in turn, you can use a press to strengthen your lats - or your teres major, depending on your posture;

- why the lats are really hard to stretch out, why it's all the more important to do it and a couple of ways of how to do it effectively.

Expect in-depth and yet easy to understand anatomical and biomechanical explanations on the theory-side and a basketful of brilliant little drills and visual aids to put it all into practice - real gems for your own training and even more so if you work with clients, not just in kettlebell training but practically any sports (stronger bench or pushups, anyone?)!

Well, "it's all easy 'til its heavy" - but "strong fixes almost everything" :)

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