The windmill is one of my favorite exercises! It’s beautiful and elegant yet requires serious amounts of shoulder stability and core strength. The windmill is easily regressed or progressed for a variety of skill sets. If you know anything about the movement pattern of the windmill I’m sure you might be asking yourself how exactly can you make a windmill easier (and maybe even how can you make it harder).
Learning the windmill should first be done as bodyweight only exercise, doing so will not only allow you to learn the unique multi-planar movement pattern but will also allow you to teach the windmill in the group setting safely. I like to introduce the bodyweight version as skill work in a few sessions then start to include it as part of certain warm ups. This allows our clients to get used to the movement, which isn’t a typical pattern we do in every day life.
The one downfall to teaching the windmill as a bodyweight only exercise initially is the tendency to not focus on the arm remaining vertical to the shoulder and perpendicular to the floor. One of the key components of the windmill is to maintain two vertical and perpendicular structures with the same side arm and leg, regardless of the loading pattern. Let’s take a look and break it down.
The Turkish Get Up is one of my favorite exercises. It’s a great blend of mobility, stability, and it basically covers the developmental sequence we all used to get from the floor to standing. Nobody ever taught us how to roll over, stand, and eventually walk. We all just have those motor patterns hard wired in our brains. The Turkish Get Up addresses each phase from rolling to kneeling to standing.
I really love this exercise; however, you need to make sure you’re doing it properly. One of my favorite resources on this exercise is Kettlebells from the Ground Up by Gray Cook and Brett Jones. They really do a great job of breaking down the get up. This DVD basically spends 2+ hours breaking it down. It’s an incredible resource and if you’re interested in learning how to do a beautiful get up, you should really spend the money and invest in this incredible resource. You can find it here:
Kettlebells from the Ground Up
First, I want to cover the most basic part of this exercise…addressing and picking up the kettlebell. If you’ve done 50+ get up’s on each side, without weight, I’d say it’s appropriate to start using a little weight to challenge yourself. Start by placing a kettlebell of your choice to your side and lie down next to it. You will roll over on your side and basically be in a fetal position on your side facing the bell. From here, you will need to grab the kettlebell with a pistol grip and begin to pull the kettlebell tight to the body.