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How To Do A Kettlebell Halo

kettlebell haloThe kettlebell halo is a movement performed to loosen up the shoulders prior to a workout. I first heard of the halo in Pavel Tsatsouline’s book Enter The Kettlebell! I am not totally sold on its usefulness in all cases. There are movements that feel better to me and give me more instant mobility in my shoulders, but that does not mean you shouldn’t test it out. If you want to toe the party line on how to perform the warmup, you’re about to learn how.

The weight of the bell is not important, but lighter is better than heavier. The purpose is to loosen our shoulders up. We’re not into the workout yet. Performing the halo isn’t about effort.

For instance, in this video, does he look like he is straining horribly?

He is very smooth, methodical, and is obviously not under undue stress. At no point does his breathing pattern change noticeably, and his face is not betraying signs of unnecessary tension.

It can be a wonderful movement pattern.

The only reason I say that the halo is usually not the best bet for me is that unless I do it at an extremely slow tempo, my shoulders click. It’s not pain, but it’s my body letting me know that it is not completely happy with me. In my experience, pressing on when I feel that way is usually what leads to pain.

The major thing for me is that I do my best to only perform movements that test well, according to the Gym Movement protocol. This goes for my warmup movements, weight lifting, strength training, whatever I’m doing–it is all just movement. If kettlebell halos do not test well for me, then I am not going to do them. If they test well, then yes, I’ll be all over it until I’ve exhausted their potential for the session.

That is what I hope the takeaway from this is. All movements can be good, but not all movements are good for us all the time. No exceptions. This is what makes my own training fun for me. From warmups to cooldowns, heavy weights to bodyweight only drills…I never know exactly what I’m going to be doing from day to day. But I’m always making progress and always moving forward on multiple fronts.

If the halo works for you, stick with it! It it feels good that’s definitely a clue! But if it doesn’t feel good or provide an obvious benefit, don’t feel like you have to do it prior to every workout, just because a book says you should.

If you’re curious and would like to know more about how to test your movements, I would check out the Grip and Rip DVD produced by a couple of kettlebell experts who were both in the RKC at the time of the filming. It is currently the best product out there for teaching the testing protocols.

Good luck! Train heavy, have a good time, enjoy the journey.


Strength training for body and mind

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pim December 14, 2010, 2:50 am

    Hi Josh,

    My joints click all the time. If I do my morning yoga routine my wrists, elbows and shoulders click. I don’t feel pain or discomfort so I don’t worry. I haven’t purchased grip and rip. Does clicking mean that there is something wrong?

    Please understand, I am curious, I don’t mean to criticize.



    • Josh Hanagarne December 14, 2010, 11:32 am

      Pim, I’m not qualified to say what’s wrong or not, but I don’t believe that the clicking is ideal for anyone. We don’t start out with our bodies clicking when we’re born, right? My body clicks a lot too. When I perform a movement in a way that reduces the clicking, I feel better and soon, the clicking either diminishes or disappears.

      I can’t recommend Grip and Rip highly enough. It has allowed me to treat 95% of my own pains and discomforts. Good luck!