I’m a Goat Bagger!
Written by Michele Vieux
I’m a goat bagger! What does that mean, exactly? It’s a term I made up for someone who likes doing the kettlebell movement called the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swings. This movement was originated by Dan John and is an excellent posterior chain accessory exercise. Don’t ask me why he decided to call them that but I will happily answer any questions as to how to do them and five reasons why I love them!
To do a goat bagger:
Stand with your feet at shoulder width. Just like with most movements in the gym, the weight should be in the (front) of the heel and there should be three points of contact with your feet and the ground – front of heel, big toe and pinky toe. Slightly grip the floor with your toes but keep most of the weight just in front of the heel.
Take a big belly brace and grab a HEAVY kettlebell by it’s horns and plant the bottom into your sternum. Learn all about bracing with the valsalva maneuver in this blog written by Zach Erick.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you as if you are trying to crack a walnut between them. Your elbows should be behind you – try to touch them together behind you.
Unlock your knees just slightly and begin to push your hips back as far as they will go. Once they stop moving backwards (try to touch your bum to the wall behind you) you are at your end range of motion. I recommend taking 3 seconds to get there – try doing these at 30X1 tempo. For more information on tempo training and what all those numbers mean, check out this blog written by CJ Martin.
When you reach your end range of motion, stand up by pushing the hips forward until they are completely extended, you are standing tall, and squeezing your bum. Don’t forget the bum squeeze – you wouldn’t want to miss any opportunity for unsolicited booty comments and that little squeeze, when added up over hundreds of repetitions will certainly pay off!
Don’t forget to squeeze those blades and brace through the entire movement! Nobody wants douchebag shoulders so don’t miss this opportunity to get some supplemental scap work in! Here’s a great post by Kelly Starrett explaining what douchebag shoulders (DB shoulders) are.
Now that you know how to perform the most perfect kettlebell goat bagger, check out all the reasons I think you should start incorporating them into your program, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, a well-oiled machine or even if you’re injured!
Top Five Reasons to Be a Goat Bagger:
1. It is really hard to hurt yourself doing goat baggers (unless you drop the kettlebell on your toe). I feel pretty confident most people can do them – with a challenging weight – with little-to-no risk of injury because the athlete need not carry the load on their backs as is the case for squats and good mornings or pick it up off the floor like for deadlifts.
2. Goat baggers provide for optimal hamstring extension, even if you have super stretchy hamstrings. Since you are not loading the weight on your back, you can bend over as far as you want without worrying about the barbell rolling over the top of your head or tweaking your back. If good mornings just don’t do it for you, try these instead. You’ll definitely be saying “good morning” the next day when you get out of bed.
3. All that bracing is a great ab workout! If you’re going HEAVY then you will really have to brace to hold that kettlebell in place – especially for sets of 10 or more reps. If you’re doing them at a 30X1 tempo, that could mean 40-60 seconds of hard core bracing each set and surely abs of steel after a couple sessions with this movement.
4. Holding your kettlebell into position builds scap strength. Not only are you bracing and stretching your hammies to the max, you should be pinching and squeezing your shoulder blades together with all your might to avoid DB shoulders by strengthening those tiny muscles beneath them. Strong scaps mean good posture, fewer injuries and more PRs on your lifts and gymnastics movements!
5. They are a simple technique to improve your swing or teach the hip hinge, so they are great for beginners. The goat bagger movement is basically a slow motion kettlebell swing except that you hold the kettlebell to your body instead of let it swing between the legs. Everything else is the same and it really lets the athlete get to know the hip hinge and it’s benefits. Slowing down the movement of the swing lets the athlete make sure they are in the proper position throughout then they can speed it up when they are comfortable with the movement.
The toughest part and limiting factor is definitely getting it into position and holding it in place on your chest. Goat baggers are my favorite combo of booty pump, scap work and strongman! For more information on the benefits of strongman training, check out this blog I wrote a while back.
Like I said before, these are great for any level of athlete who wants to work the posterior chain. I work them into my program at least once-a-week and have gradually used a heavier and heavier kettlebell over the past year. Try them out and reap the rewards of unsolicited booty comments!