Radiant Tension makes it possible to safely move heavier and heavier loads, it also helps the lifter develop a firm understanding of how to apply their entire musculature to any physical task. In my training programs everything starts with an introduction to Radiant Tension, using drills that I have used to teach the initial principles of Kettlebell Lifting since I began taking students.
The Handshake Drill is a sequence that involves squeezing a partners hand, in order to elicit a pressure response that let’s you know the technique is having an effect. Though you could use a weight clip or a crush gripper for demonstration, another person is needed to provide verbal feedback about how well the force created is being transferred into the squeezing hand. The set up is identical to a typical hand shake, Person 1 will be squeezing while Person 2 braces their hand by extending the index finger in order to keep their knuckles from folding and getting crushed.
In the first part of the sequence, Person 1 will squeeze as hard as they can for at least 5 seconds, engaging the glutes by “Pinching The Nickel” (see part 1), and visualizing the force created as being transferred up the body and into the squeezing hand. At this point, if Person 1 is transferring their force correctly, Person 2 should begin to feel increasing pressure at the hand. It is important that all the force created is being transferred up the body and into the “handshaking” hand, if not then it becomes the equivalent to sprinting in place, and will effectively take you nowhere. Also, make sure that you do this drill with both hands.
Before performing the next part of the sequence try this. Relax and poke your index finger into your abdomen, take a moment to observe how deep into your belly you can push in. Next, brace your abdomen so that you can not push your finger in at all and notice the force that you are producing in order to stop your abdomen from collapsing. Now, apply this part to the handshake sequence. Squeeze your hand, tighten your butt, brace your abdomen and feel the force transfer increase as it travels up your body and into your grip strength. Person 2 should feel a noticeable increase in pressure at the hand.
The last part of this sequence, the aspect of the drill that I see as closing the loop, is to squeeze the non-working hand/side of the body just as hard as the working side. To demonstrate this, stand as in this photo. Brace you entire body, including both fists, and imagine you are bending an iron bar. You should feel the muscles under your armpits engage as well as the force of your entire musculature making your body rigid and stable. Once this is applied to the Handshake sequence, Partner 2 should feel the most powerful stage of the drill, as all of the musculature is working to support the squeezing hand by transferring a maximal force through the body and into the task.
Enjoy this drill and apply the concept to your exercise practice in what ever way you see fit, tell a friend who you know is trying to push their strength and feels like their not making gains. In addition to exercise, this is a great concept to know for any level of manual labor. From carrying and shoveling, to everyday moving about our lives, Radiant Tension plays a large role in how much we support ourselves during activity, it is a skill to be practiced and elaborated on for the entirety of life and it is your birthright as an active human being. Enjoy!