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5 Reasons to Love the Windmill

A few weeks ago I wrote 5 Reasons to Love the Turkish Get Up, and you lot seemed to like it, it’s become the most viewed post I’ve written to date.

So thank you.

Today I want to talk about it’s cousin, the Windmill.

The windmill is a cool lift but one lives in the shadow if it’s bigger sibling, the Get Up. Both have huge benefits for mobility, particularly around the hip. And both tick major boxes when it comes to both shoulder and core stability.

But the Get Up just looks cooler, so get all the attention meaning poor Windmill here needs a leg up.

So lets highlight a few reasons why you should be giving it some attention.

First a video:


Now the writing:

1 – Mobility

The Windmill is a great mobility drill. When you lower into it you are stretching out that rear hip in a manner that we rarely hit in the field of exercise. When we are in the gym we pretty much stick to moving in the saggital plane, ie forwards and backwards. We don’t go off on angles very much at all. But what about outside the gym, on the field or the matt? The windmill takes the hip through a range of motion often restricted by tightness/weakness. This makes light windmills a great warm up drill.

2 – The Hip Crease

When we initiate the movement we fold into the hip crease. Back in my Kung Fu days this was called the Kwa and being able to open and close the Kwa was the key to generating power.

Now, lets lose the kung foolery and stick to simple terms. Sitting back into the hip crease on one side becomes a snapshot of almost any athletic power based endeavour. Look at a thrower or a boxer at full extension, they have folded into the front hip. Look at an athlete cutting and changing direction, they (should) sink into and explode out of the hip (as opposed to torquing the knee and snapping their ACL)

This is NOT a windmill, it IS a side bend. A windmill involves the hip crease

This is NOT a windmill, it IS a side bend. A windmill involves the hip crease

The windmill is not the be all and end of of this hip fold, but it certainly a great way to bring people’s awareness to the fold and how to use it. The straight leg nature of the stance is giving a nice stretch as we learn the hinge, so double bonus.

If folding into the hip crease is of interest to you, focus on it during split squats, it adds and almost spiralling feel to movement.

3 – Shoulder Stability

We spoke about this with the Get Up, but here it is again with the Windmill.

The Windmill is an overhead support, it’s not really a lift as far as the shoulder is concerned. But there is movement at the shoulder as the torso changes angle. Essentially your shoulder does the kind of action your physio gets you to do with a teeny tiny dumbell, which non of us actually do because it’s booooooooorring! Yet, disguised in the form of the Windmill, we have similar movement…and because it’s a support, rather than a lift, we can load up a wee bit……

So from a shoulder stability point of view, the windmill rocks. Between this and the Get Up, you’ll probably do more for your shoulder health than any amount of standard physio.

4 – Core Blimey!

Have you ever really loaded up a windmill? I mean REALLY loaded it up?

I don’t mean, “Oh this is a bit heavy” heavy I mean “nnnnnnnnnnnnghaaaaaarrrrgggghhh!!!” heavy. The kind of heavy that you have to have moment to yourself after.

The best way to do this is with a very heavy object in the top hand, then reach down and pick up something even heavier with the bottom hand. Try it (with care and common sense of course) and just feel what happens to your midesction…..

5 – The Fun Progressions

Windmills are part of a family of lifts that go along a kind of continuum. We start with the basic windmill with the bell held low, this is the initial learning stage. Then the windmill proper with the bell overhead and then the double windmill with weight above and below. From here it gets old school. You can start on the Side Press, the Bent Press (or screw lift) and even use it as a 2 Hand Anyhow lift.

Bent Press by Mike Mahler

Bent Press by Mike Mahler

Keeping things simpler is adding it to an other lift to make a complex. A Wild Geese favourite is the following:

Snatch – Turkish Get Up – Windmill

Here’s how it works: Get a large kettle. Snatch it up to the lockout, then perform a Get Up in reverse, when you get back to standing, perform a windmill. Bring the bell down, swap hands and repeat. We do this anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes continuous work.

Try it, it’s as fun as it sounds.


Dave Hedges

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