Nail the Fundamentals FIRST

I was recently asked why we don't have a ton of variety in our kettlebell training and programming and why we spend so much time focused on helping our superheroes nail what are considered the fundamentals first.  This is a FANTASTIC question and having a better understanding of the importance of nailing the fundamentals first will lead you to better results in your training efforts. Get ready for a little paradigm shift...

Fundamentals Doesn't Mean Basic.  It Means FUNDAMENTAL.

The first thing to understand is when we talk about the fundamentals, we don't mean that you're doing something that is basic or easy or even that you are at the beginner level.  It could mean those things but that's not why we have everyone spend so much time on them.

To get a better picture of what we're talking about, you'll need to understand the basic definition of 'fundamental':

  1. forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.
    "the fundamentals of strength training are important as fu&%"

Think of them as the building blocks of any structure.  Without them, the structure will crumble or at the very least not last.


In strength training, and in basic human motor function for that matter, we break down the fundamentals as being able to squat, hinge, push, pull, and stabilize.  This will vary a bit (just a bit) depending on the implement/modality of training you use so I'll break it down like this for kettlebell training:

  • *KB Goblet Squat: Men should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 24kg; women should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 16kg
  • *KB Deadlift: Men should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 24kg; women should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 16kg
  • *KB Swing: Once you master the fundamentals of the deadlift men should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 24kg; women should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 16kg
  • Push Up: Men should be able to do 10 perfect reps; women should be able to do 5 perfect reps
  • *KB Strict Press: Men should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 20kg; women should be able to do 5 clean reps with the 12kg
  • Stabilize: EVERYONE should be able to

*We use Strong First standards for these.

It will take time and some practice but this is the path that will lead you to the best results in the long term.  Skipping these to do what might seem more 'advanced' or flashy because you think it will help you get results faster will only hinder progress, make you sore and tired, or even worse, injured.

So how do you nail the fundamentals and get stronger?

Strength Is A Skill

One of the most important things to understand when it comes to nailing the fundamentals is that strength in and of itself is a skill.  One of our Strong First mentors and the man who broughtkettle bell training to the United States, Pavel Tsatsouline teaches "Strength is a skill.  Training must be approached as a practice, not a workout."

We like to encourage our clients to always practice with good form for obvious reasons.  So when it comes to hitting the fundamentals standards I listed above, you must do so with pretty damn good form.

For example, if you're doing a goblet squat or overhead press and can't move from an 8kg kettlebell to a 12kg or 16kg kettlebell with out technique going down the crapper you haven't mastered the fundamentals.  Or if you can't go from doing an 8kg goblet squat to doing bodyweight with stellar posture and alignment you also haven't mastered the fundamental either.

There's nothing wrong with that, it just means you should spend more time practicing.  Now, if you're with me on this, amazing things will happen if you're patient.  You're going to get results far beyond the average, trust me.

Make Yourself Better, Not Burnt Out

Our main philosophy when it comes to training our clients at AMP is: "Better Every Day".  Think about where you are with all this fundamental stuff right now.  Seriously, think about it.  Now tell yourself you're just going to get a little better each time you train.  Focus on progress, not perfection!


If you want lasting results, the focus shouldn't be on 'just getting through another workout' it should be on getting better.  It can be hard to weed through all the memes and t-shirsts that still espouse the "no pain, no gain" philosophy but it's imperative to understand that there's a better way.  One that will lead you to everlasting results and happiness....and no pain!

Within that mindset, it is also important to understand that your body doesn't care how tired you make it or what it "feels" like but rather it adapts to the stimulus you provide it.  If you're practicing well and creating progressive overload (trainer speak for 'going up in weight') you will get significantly more badass with your training.  That's how it works.

If your goal is to make yourself tired and minimally more fit, that's okay I guess.  But if you want to get stronger, have more energy, move better, feel better and look amazing then taking the time to nail your training goals will get you there.

(Quick Trainer Note: If your goal is fat loss, you can't out train your diet.  You can't out train your diet.  You can't out train your diet.  Seriously.  You can't out train your diet.)

This is where spending time nailing the fundamentals will really pay off and help you make continuous improvement and get results that last!  Because you can!

Now, how do you want to train?