Kettlebell Warm-Up: How to Activate Beast Mode Part 2 of 2-Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Warm-Up: How to Activate Beast Mode Part 2 of 2

Part one covered the main principles, considerations and explanations behind creating kick-ass warm-ups. Here in part two is an example of one. In a nutshell, the following 15- to 20-minute sequence will lube up your major joints, activate your stabilizers and warm-up your tissue (unless you're in a cold environment).

Any cookie cutter sequence or program won't suit everyone. During the warm-up is also the perfect opportunity to work on individual restrictions and weaknesses (based on the results of a good movement and posture assessment). The warm-up should also be tailored to suit the forthcoming workout activity. However, this warm-up ticks all the boxes mentioned in part one and will suffice for most workouts and most everyday athletes.

If you're training in a cold environment a lot more full-body or locomotive movement would be necessary prior to joint lube such as five minutes of Dan John's get-back-ups , lung matrix , or chimp crawling . The floor might be inaccessible if you're training outdoors in bad conditions, in which case most of this warm-up won't work. You may be harboring an injury or disability, in which case just do what you can but not at the cost of even the slightest hint of acute pain.



Holding your breath during movement sends a signal to the brain that what you're trying to do is stressful or risky. This causes joints to be locked up and defeats the purpose of activating the target stabilizers. Once you've learned the movements and the order, make this a 20-minute deep breathing session, where your main focus is on expanding and contracting 360 degrees of your abdomen with every breath.


Righty ho. Let's get started.


Phase One: Supine

Phil McDougall Toe Circles
Phil McDougall Supine Gate Openers
Phil McDougall Roll and Reach


Phase Two: Six Point


"Six-Point" refers to the start position for these exercises (not the six visual focus points for the first one). Six points of contact on the floor: two hands, two knees and two feet.

Phil McDougall Neck Nods
Phil McDougall Cat Cow


Phase Three: Half Kneeling


Flow through these next six movements (up to the deep squat exercises) on one side only. Then after the deep-squat-knee-drops restart from here again with the other knee down.

Phil McDougall Ipsilateral Bird Dog

The ipsilateral bird dog is awesome for activating the closed chain glute - the glute that's attached to the floor (left leg in picture). It's also great for switching on the shoulder stabilizers and the lateral stability line. Be sure to match your movement to the breath pattern. Slow and controlled.

Phil McDougall Half Frog Rock
Phil McDougall Half Kneeling Scrape the Barrel
Phil McDougall hamstring pumps
Phil McDougall Prying Runners' Lung
Phil McDougall Dragon Twists
Phil McDougall deep squat sit
Phil McDougall Deep Squat Overhead Reaches
Phil McDougall Deep Squat Knee Drops

OK, now repeat the sequence again from the beginning of phase three (ipsilateral bird dog) through to the deep squat, before standing up and scraping the barrel.

Phil McDougall Scrape the Barrel


Phase Four: Kettlebell Activation


Now, grab a light Kettlebell Kings kettlebell and flow through these to finish the job.

Phil McDougall Shin Box Knee Switches
Phil McDougall Goblet Shin Box Pumps
Phil McDougall Half Kneeling Halos
Phil McDougall Prying Goblet Squat
Phil McDougall Overhead Marching

Maybe you can come up with a better name for these. Maybe just glute cleans ? I'm sure someone has done these before, but I made them up as a means of firing up the glute in a higher threshold manner than previous movements in this sequence. In order to target the glute effectively here it's critical to maintain a concave curve in the low back and a proud chest. If the low back flexes forward as the kettlebell drops down the glutes will be cheated out of a job and the stabilizer muscles of the low back will become prime movers - no bueno!

I should also mention the risk actor in performing this one.

Extra load + explosive movement + lumbar (low back) flexion + lumbar rotation = perfect storm for disc damage

Keeping your tail bone up (thus maintaining a nice concave neutral curve) is perfectly safe and strong.

Phil McDougall Glute Cleans

That's you warmed-up and ready for lifting! Here's a link for a demo video. Unfortunately, the demo is missing the ipsilateral bird dog. Henry of Cambridge failed to cue me to perform it. Can't get the staff these days.




I hope that was useful! May the force be with you.


Phil McDougall


IG: @phil.mcdougall


Credit is due to Tim Anderson of Original Strength . Back in 2012 Tim's book initiated a turning point for me in my approach to movement. Some of these exercises are stolen from them. The rest I've either made up (because I hang out on the floor and play with kettlebells every day) or have been inspired by movement legends such as Missy Bunch, Ryan Steenrod , Dr Perry Nickelston and Rob Blair .

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