Shoulder packing for TGU's


My Fourth Post
Hello everyone. New to the board but have been reading Pavel's books for a few years now and got S&S (and a new 24 kg bell) from Strongfirst a few weeks ago. Great site, great board, great books.

I think I'm having trouble with the shoulders down element of the get-ups. Is it my imagination or is it easier to keep the working shoulder down and packed while doing the shoe drill for the getup from S&S (no weight) versus having a kettlebell in hand? It seems to me that once I'm holding a kettlebell overhead in either the lunge or standing position, the working shoulder wants to fly up. I've read the visualization cues in S&S and also Enter the Kettlebell (wedging yourself between the floor and the kettlebell) and it all seems to work when my arm is not loaded, I can keep the shoulder packed just fine. But adding weight changes things, like my shoulder goes into some kind of self defense mode.

I've started the Simple and Sinister program and want to make sure I groove the movements correctly before I get too far along.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Mark, welcome to StrongFirst!

A video of your getup, weighted and unweighted, would be great.

Try a lighter weight. If you're just starting and you're using a 24 kg bell, that might be why there is a fear factor.



My Fourth Post
Hello Steve, and thank you. I think you are right, I probably need to use a lighter weight to groove the pattern with the packed shoulders. It's a case of, just because I can do it with a 44 lbs bell doesn't mean I should, or that I'm doing it right. I have hypermobile shoulders and the packing technique is reassuring and makes total sense in terms of protecting the joint, if I can just get it right. From what I've read of Pavel and others, your nervous system will reduce strength if it senses there is a potential for injury. I practiced a bit with a ten lbs weight because that's all I had laying around besides the kettlebells and I was able to keep the shoulders tight throughout. Time to check ego at the door and practice with a much lighter weight until I've got the packing mastered.



More than 300 posts
in ETK, Pavel advises to lean into the kettlebell at the top of the get up. this lean is both therapeutic and educational. as you lean into the bell, pull you shoulder down and back with your lat, pull pull pull with that lat muscle. this will keep the shoulder packed. use those lats, they are your best friends when building healthy shoulders. if you cant "feel" it right away keep trying and refer back to the pull up drill also mentioned in ETK. get this feeling down, its imperative to safely progressing with most kettlebell and barbell movements.


My Fourth Post
Hi Marchese, thanks for the tips. I don't quite remember the leaning into the bell bit but I have both the book and dvd and will check through them both. The pullup bar drill is clear to me, though. In fact, I actually practice that one in my car (at stoplights, naturally) because I can right-hand palm the roof of the car from the drivers seat and it's the perfect distance to practice "wedging myself" between the roof and the seat. Obviously the lower body doesn't get involved because I'm seated, but I can get the desired feeling in the lat and the packed shoulder when doing this. It feels strong and as it should. Just having trouble transferring the feeling to a kettlebell. Steve brought up a good point about drilling with a lighter weight. Going to practice some more and think lat, lat, lat. The heavier bell probably puts me into "whatever you do, don't drop it" mode when I should be focusing on lat recruitment. It's amazing how we've deactivated them over the years. I'm finding out little by little that I have to re-learn how to use them, lats that is.

Thanks again, gentlemen!


> 1k Posts
Another great source to help with the TGU is the Video from Master SFG Dave Whitley.

That video clears up a ton and gives you a ton of great tips.


My Fourth Post
Awesome Mike, thank you! Looking forward to viewing the link tonight. I'm also looking up SFG instructors in my area or an upcoming SFG course, there are a few.
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