Archive for the ‘health’ Category

I wrote a post a little while back about the usefulness of kettlebell training when used with good form and technique coupled with intelligent programming. (To read it click here.) In light of how well that post did, ( thank you) I decided to continue with the same premise and break down a bit more how kettlebell and its movements can and will train your core.

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Before we begin the practical part of this post, I think it is important to realize exactly what the core is. One simple way to understand exactly what our core is as humans is the saying, “that if I cut off my arms, head and lower leg, there is my core.” So you see our middle as humans is more than just the abs and obliques. (To learn more about this subject, click here.)

Now that we have that out-of-the-way let’s get to the topic at hand: 6 Ways kettlebells can work your core.

The swing works the core:
It is a well-known and accepted fact that the kettlebell swing works the glutes and hamstrings. However, it does even more than that in its proper execution, those two other aspects as I stated earlier are part of your middle. Yet, the swing when done in the hard-style format will also train your abs. In order to make this happen one must brace the abs as if they were going to get punched on the top of the swing. This also serves as a veritable brake to stop the low back from hyper extending at the lockout of the swing.
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The Overhead Press works the core:
The body has a highway of sorts on which we transfer energy from the floor into a movement. The overhead press is a perfect example of the concept, in which we wedge ourselves between the floor and the kettlebell that you desire to press. The glutes, abs, lats, diaphragm and so on are activated in order to achieve the overhead move in a way that is safe and strong.

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The Kettlebell front squat trains the core:
The kettlebell racked squat is both an anti-rotational drill when done with one bell and a heck of an abs exercise when done with two. It once again hits the glutes as we hip extend, trains the pelvic floor, (more on that in the future) diaphragm when we use proper breathing patterns and so much more. This move is also a great one to teach a lifter good technique to begin to train the squat with barbells.

The Turkish Get-up works the core:
The Get-up is an awesome exercise. It teaches the practitioner to stabilize their shoulder and to move at the same time. It also works hip mobility, and shoulder mobility. But for the sake of this post it has been shown by E.M.G. to work all of the muscles of the core throughout the movement. It has built into a rolling pattern, spinal stability/shoulder stability and so-on. It is safe to say that the Get-up is an awesome exercise that saves time and trains multiple movements at the same time!

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The Single leg deadlift works the core:
This move is both a stability and strength exercise. It is also anti-rotational exercise depending on where you place the bell in correlation to the move. This exercise when coupled with the right loading will lead to you having to use an abs brace to produce the force needed to lift the loading that you are using off the floor. Give it a shot and see!

Carries work your core:
Loaded carries can be like magic to those who never do them. These moves when used appropriately can bring balance to your muscles in patterns. Train shoulder stability, anti-rotation, build strength and just make you feel plain great! Click on the link above to learn more about them and to learn how to do most of the variations.

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When most people think of the core they think abs and having a “six-pack.” I hope that after you read this post that there is much more than that to it than just a muscle and a look. Your core being balanced and things working well can lead to less pain in your low back and many other issues; it is also important for your performance as a fit person and or if you are an athlete.

So if you aren’t begin to train these moves and if you don’t know how, learn from a qualified, certified instructor in order to get all of the benefits that come training with kettlebells with good form and intelligent programming

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Programming a workout to get out of it what you want from it is not the most complicated thing in the world when you know what your overall goals are and you are willing to do the work. It may however require that you change your approach and thoughts about training a little or completely.  Then of course you will need to apply those new thoughts as long as they are scientific and safe.

 

 

 

Over the last few years I have had such a paradigm shift and as a result my training takes much more planning (which I love) and I have made much more progress in my overall goals. One of those thoughts that I have implemented even more is the need to train aerobically for health reasons as well as to help me have better and greater success in my main goals of strength, explosiveness and so on.

 

 

 

Today’s workout is an aerobic workout using two moves and a protocol that was developed for the kettlebell snatch, the 15/15. This is done by doing 15 seconds of work and 15 off for 80 rounds or 40 minutes. Except today’s workout not only involves the snatch, but the kettlebell jerk as well.

 

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It is done by doing: 6 to 8 snatches to a lockout on each one (hips and elbows) for as many quality rounds that you can get in. Then when you are done with that doing the kettlebell jerk for the same time period and getting in 5 to 6 each round. You want to do this for at least 20 minutes in order to get the aerobic training effect.

 

This tough workout will challenge you and help you burn a good amount of calories while training your heart!

 

 

 

Look at the video below to see it done:

 

 

 

 

Once again we have your guidelines for success

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

Click here to get my Ultimate Kettlebell swing tutorial and workout series. This series will not teach you the swing,  but show you  how to train with it to get to your goals!

It seems like our culture is getting worse and worse when it comes to mobility and movement quality. We usually have locked up t-spines, ankles and hips and as a result cannot move the way that we need to stay safe and get the results that we want from our training. One of those issues that we find a lot in our clients and athletes is an obvious lack of the ability to touch ones toes.

This movement pattern is vital for your safety and performance in lifts and movements that require that your hips move in a hinge pattern and at times in hip extension. (Hint, just about everything that utilizes lower body requires these movements.)

But before we go any further, let’s look at these moves so that you can have better understanding of them.

Hip hinging is when you are required to moves your hips back. This is seen in the exercise world in the form of deadlifts, kettlebell swings, broad jumps and other like movements.

Hip extension is the finish of these moves and is also seen in proper running and walking mechanics.
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(Dave knows how to extend his hips!)
Now that you understand in a very simple way what these moves are, let’s discuss how a lack of toe touch can mess up these patterns and lead to less than stellar performance.  You see a lack of toe touch is often a problem of not being able to shift your weight back and as a result your brain fires you hamstrings to keep you from breaking your nose. There are also times that your brain senses that a muscle is inhibited in the movement chain and as a result tightens up muscles to keep us from hurting our precious joints.

So then if stretching isn’t the answer, then what is?

The answer isn’t as simple as a 1, 2, 3 solution and can vary from person to person, but we can give you a few drills to help you:

1. Breathing;
Proper breathing patterns that utilize the diaphragm as the main respiratory muscle has a huge in stabilizing ones midsection and can enable you to move better by causing your brain to release any unnecessary tension in the body and to better stabilize your mid-section.

2. Toe touch pattern drill:

As a stated before an inability to toe your toes is usually a lack of being able to shift your weight back. This drill can helps you re-learn how to do this important movement and give you the ability back to deadlift with proper positioning.

To do this drill find a two inch elevation, such as a book, board or even dumbbells. Put your toes on the lift. Then stick something between your legs right above your knees, reach up to the ceiling, crush the object between your legs; and touch your toes 10 times. It is ok to bend your knees if you have to, in order to get to your toes.

After you have done that direction, stick your heels on the lift and follow the same sequence. You will either be able to touch your toes or you will be closer. Keep on practicing this drill until you can touch your toes, when you aren’t warmed up.

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3. Glute strengthening:

Lastly is if your glutes are weak or inhibited, you will probably not be able to get in the proper position to lift and train safely with good form. Now when people sit often as well as those who are just begin to workout usually have overactive or tight low back muscles and hamstrings and under active glutes as well as being stuck in a flexed or forward shoulder position.


To combat this and to help better position yourself you will want to, release (stretch, foam roll.) The tight areas and strengthen the weak ones. For the sake of this post we will only discuss the glutes. (We will be doing a posture post soon.) Glute development isn’t too difficult, you will just want to do it in a way that doesn’t keep the imbalance though.

1. Lower rolling for glute strengthing:

2. Supermans, birddogs and reverse hip lifts:

3. Bridges, Single leg and 2 legged

4. Glute ham raises:

 https://youtu.be/w0X0Vw6Vu1Y

5: Hip thrusters :

These aren’t the only exercises that train the glutes they are just simple and effective ways to do so.

Having a comfortable toe touch that is controlled is very important for your health and fitness. So it is worth finding out what is limiting you from being able to do so and to take the time to correct this issue if it is present in your life.

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Human movement can very complex, just think about an exercise that isn’t even considered advanced such as a squat, you need to: stabilize your knees and ankles, keep your chest up , as well as keep be able to maintain a neutral spine. Of course there is the need to press through the floor and to keep all of those others things as you do. So as you can see that is one piece of complex motion and not as quite as simple as you would think. Which brings me to me next point, get a coach if you are looking to begin an exercise program, so that you can learn to do all of these things in the beginning of your journey.

Now with that there is an even deeper level of complexity in human movement and it is done by moving and exercising with single limbs (arms and legs)and in multiple directions with proper mechanics. That is what this week’s workout is about.

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Weekly Kettlebell Workout: Multi-directional Madness

 

This week’s workout is done by doing the following with a medium size kettlebell without setting down the load , so rest as much as you need to in between rounds to get the work done.

Lateral lunge to halo 5 per side

Forward to reverse lunge to press 5 each per side

Rows 5 reps per 

Outside the leg hand to hand swing 10 each side

Do 4 to 5 rounds 

Enjoy this workout and take a look at the video below to see it done:

 

Once again we have your guidelines for success

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

Click here to get my Ultimate Kettlebell swing Tutorial and workout series. This series will not teach you the swing,  but show you  how to train with it to get to your goals!

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Fitness in general has become a breeding pot for extreme ideas or so it seems to me. Throughout my 14 year career  I have seen and heard so many thoughts that just aren’t true or have been taken to harmful extremes. Now don’t get me wrong a nice thrashing once in a while will put some hair on your chest. (if you want it!) Also if you are getting ready to compete or do compete in a sport, then you will want to be a bit more extreme depending on what you play and do.

 

However, If we always get thrashed when we train you will not get to goals or at least be able to maintain the success that you have achieved so far. As a result, I am a big believer in doing the right amount of everything to get the maximum benefit. In spite of how much this reasonable mentality is catching on. most of mainline fitness thinks that one must kill themselves and spend every single free minute at the gym to get results.

 

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I am here to tell you that it is not so, unless you are training for some sort of completion, you can do the bare minimum done well with the right amount of intensity and get amazing results. I have seen nothing good from being too extreme and going overboard. Setting p.r. s all the time, making too big jumps in weight too often, not owning a move for the sake of just trying to do more and so-on. Not only will these mind-sets eventually lead to the law of diminishing returns, but they will also most likely leave you “licking your wounds” on the sidelines while others who trained in a balanced way continue to progress!

I don’t know about you, but I have been there and it is very depressing and discouraging.

 

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There is also the sort of going crazy over an nutrition program and thinking that you must perform absolutelty one hundred percent to see change . When that is not the case, again unless you are competing in a physique event, there is no need need to be an extreme dieter.

In fact the body needs balance and if you seek to continue to live this lifestyle over your whole life, being balanced can help you achieve that goal. So eat some “bad stuff” once in awhile, if you enjoy alcohol, have some and so-on. Just remember not to go crazy and to eat more whole foods than anything else and you will do fine.

 

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Then there is also the extreme no nutrition, no exercise and self indulgent lifestyle and that is also destructive and can lead to major health problems and death. So this post is not saying to live that way either. It is rather exhorting us to find balance in what we do.

Train hard some times, go heavy, hit the conditioning hard. Work on mobility and satbility, eat well and cheat sometimes. Be lazy here and there and spend lots of time with your family. Just remember in everything that you do to seek and learn balance and if you do, you will be so much happier , healthier and get amazing fitness gains!!!!!!

It is the holiday season and a few days away from Christmas and I am very excited to be able to share the season with my awesome little dude as well as my siblings and friends.  I also am very excited about this week’s workout that involves a functional movement, loaded carries. 

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Think about it we have to carry all kinds of stuff around. We carry groceries, bags of gifts, (for this time of year) kids if you have them and so on. So, it makes perfect sense to strengthen and build work capacity with this movement pattern.

Weekly Workout: Cardio Christmas Carry

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This workout is so simple that it will make you question whether there is more  to it or not! But it will leave your heart and waistline happy as well as give you the option of one more cookie, if you so wish. 

Pick a distance to carry half or your body weight in dumbbells or kettlebells (I prefer kettlebells for this one, due to the ability to do more rounds with them.) Set a stop watch for 10 to 30 minutes and carry away, after each round check your heart rate and go again if low enough to do so, if not recover enough to midway or all the way for your aerobic training zone and then go and go and go again until your chosen time is up.

Enjoy the happy heart, fat-loss training friends!

 

 

Once again we have your guidelines for success

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

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My workouts have been hypertrophy or muscle building based lately, for a few reasons such as: giving my central nervous system a rest from very heavy weights and also experimenting how my body and systems will respond to this type of stimulus.

It so far has been going well over the last six weeks, I developed a little bit of muscle and am a bit harder as a result of training this way. I also am enjoying the faster recovery time and more frequent sessions due to a more volume based approach instead of my usual intensity (heavy) focused one.

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In line with the mechanisms of muscle development, I have been focused on the components of building mass, which are: time under load, metabolic stress and muscle damage in my sessions as well as in my finishers and that is where today’s workout was developed!

                            Weekly workout: Kettlebell Walking Fat Destroyer    

           

This week’s workout requires that you have two kettlebells that equal up to half of your bodyweight but a little bit lower could work as well. You will also need a stop watch to time it and lastly a heart rate monitor to know when to go again. Now if you don’t have one handy, you can always use the rate of perceived exertion; (it is less accurate but better than nothing.) this is done by simply giving an honest number from one to ten after a round and then when you feel it lessen (perceived) go again.

This workout is actually done by doing only one move , a walking lunge (which is simply a moving split squatfor as many rounds as possible in 10 to 15 minutes and if you are crazy like I am, you can do it after doing a high volume lower body day!!!

 

 

 

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After you do round, check your heart rate and then when it goes down to the bottom of your performance heart rate, and go again and again and again for the time that you’ve chosen. Hello metabolic stress, high heart rate and sore legs for a few days!

 

 

 

 

Once again we have your guidelines for success

 

 

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

Click here to get my Ultimate Kettlebell swing Tutorial and workout series. This series will not teach you the swing,  but show you  how to train with it to get to your goals!

 

Perfection is an interesting concept, we all realize that we are not it if you are in touch with yourself and if you do think that you are you are deceived and possibly very insecure. Now the realization that you are imperfect should not leave you feeling powerless and hopeless, in fact it should make you excited for the endless possibilities to learn, grow and improve in all areas of your life from: relationships, career and so-on. I will be the first to acknowledge that learning new stuff isn’t difficult and often painful, but avoiding this truth will lead to you getting nowhere fast and becoming ineffective before you know it. So just to end this rant, seek and pursue perfection. But realize it is out of grasp and even if we did somehow manage to achieve it, how can we really know if it truly is perfection?!

Another idea where people feel that there is a perfect standard is in movement. A lot of times exercise and rehabilitation professional foolishly assume that there is no such thing as perfect movement and try to cram people into their box of ideological fallacy.

This group of people believes that their standard will somehow stop the injuries that happen in people due to poor exercise form and overuse. Yet, their clients are often the most “banged up” and it could be different if they did not assume that everyone should look the same, as well as respecting the law of individual differences.

Now this post is not saying that there are no rules for safety and performance when it comes to training and exercises. It is simply saying that there is safe form not perfect form. The goal of this post is to give you a standard for that form, which is simply, competency as well as some of the consequences of forcing our movement ideals on all. What should be corrected and finally to tie it all together with a bow and send you home being better for it!

As I stated earlier, there is no such thing as perfect movement; however, there is competent and safe movement. Safety comes as a result of not overtaxing a joint in the movement pattern and doing that overtime which could lead to injury in the exerciser. This means that you should have proper mobility and stability in the movement to keep you safe as you do it. The joint by joint concept shown below can help you visualize this as you look at it.


Also here is an example of this concept at work in squatting, the low back should be stable or long, the t-spine needs extension, the hips mobile to get in the best squat for you. You need ankle dorsi-flexion and plantar-flexion to do it well and of course your head shouldn’t bob around like Quagmire!

So in light of the last paragraph, you see the need for things to be move adequately in order to perform this task of loaded or unloaded squatting. If one aspect has an issue, it can lead to overuse in another and an overuse injury somewhere along the chain. If that is the case, our cues are not enough to fix the problem and the problem at hand should be corrected in a way that results in better movement by the individual. E.g. a restricted ankle needs to be mobilized in order to squat better.

In light of those issues that can put the exerciser into a bad position as they train there needs to be allowance for the individuality of the person and their anthropometry as they do any exercise. In fact, there may be things present in the person’s movement patterns that you feel are ugly. But that is how the person is built and just the way it goes and maybe there is a need to switch to different variation of the same move. E.G. dumbbell bench press over barbell.

Now also be aware that there is the possibility that a person may stand a tiny bit uneven in a lower body exercise and also be ok. I would in this case try to correct it, if their movement profile says that they are ok and then be open for feedback from the person as to how they feel while doing the move. If they feel weird or if they have pain there may be a chance that they have two different hip joints (the ball and socket and need to be allowed to be a bit uneven in their stance.

Depth in a move also may vary from person to person and trying to force a person deeper in a move such as a squat may lead to a whole lot of health problems down the road. So have your ideas just recognize that everyone is different and should be treated as such.

In conclusion, I hope that you realize that better is better and not to aim for some false ideal of perfection as you train others if you are a trainer and if you are a fellow no trainer fitness buff, don’t let anyone force you into an uncomfortable or painful position in the name of some outdated philosophy. Be free to do you even if it bothers the anal exercise form person. Take the time to get assessed to see if you have any issues that need correction and practice safe form as you train. Most of all keep on rocking and get fitter as you train to be the very best that you can be!

I am by nature an introverted person, am inclined to shyness and as a result of my personality am very, skeptical. So as you can imagine, when something new comes along, I am not the first to embrace it with open arms. In fact, I usually stay away from it, do research and then begin to experiment with the thing. In this case it is exercise and considering the fact that I train others for a living and their safety and results are in my hands as far as picking moves and programs to do goes, it makes it a very good trait to have.

I was very skeptical of kettlebells when they began to get popular around my area. But I did my due diligence and came to the conclusion that they are a very useful tool and when coupled with good programming, can get someone the results that they crave. So you can probably imagine when hip thrusts came along I was a bit apprehensive. Beside the fact that it looked like you were trying to get it on with the bar! 

I however began to look into this move and began to read up on it. I looked for articles, research, analysis and other’s experience and results from and with this movement and found it to be a useful movement and as a result have added it into my client’s and my own training.

I have had some good results from using it as well. One: my glutes fire so much harder on my other lower body moves such as my squats and deads.

Two: I have ended up improving my kettlebell swing form and my ability to generate force.

Third: my butt grew a bit which my wife likes! I am also sure that there have been other benefits but I haven’t noticed them as of yet.

How to do them:

This movement is not too complex to do but like every exercise, you will need to pay attention to the details as you do them. In order to get the full benefit of this drill and to become a believer like me, you will want to: Set up properly, find a spot on the horizon to focus on throughout the movement, keep your rib cage down. Drive the earth away through your heels, keep your knees out and squeeze your glutes hard on top.

1. Set up properly:
I have said it a million times and now I will say it a million and one: “the set-up is the most important part of any exercise.” The same holds true for this movement pattern; if you don’t set up well, it will be hard to fix everything once you start your set.

So when you set up: take a seat on the ground with your mid back on the bench behind you. (Make sure that the bench won’t move before you get going.) Find a spot to look at on the horizon throughout the move, place the barbell on your A.S.I.S or the bony part of your hips. Tighten your with a brace (as if you are about to get a people’s elbow to your gut.) and get ready to get some booty and strength building movement!

2. Push through your heels:

Like any other exercise that works the posterior chain, you will need to “push the earth away with your heels” to engage your glutes, hammies and of your other back side’s muscles. If you do this as well as the other parts to this move, you will get an amazing glute activation.

3.Force your knees out:
Physics are funny and always lead to a certain part of our body wanting to collapse under the resistance of a move. For example, when you do push-ups- your low back and legs want to bow.  In this case just as with squats your knees may want to bow inward. So make sure to keep your knees out as you workout by using this strength move. To learn more about this and how to correct this mistake, click here.

4. Squeeze your glutes hard on top:
The Glute max is a phasic core muscle, which simply means that we must focus on firing them to get the most out of it. So as you do this move, you basically want to do a plank for your butt and squeeze super hard as you pause on top for a second.

Hip thrusters have won over this skeptic in a very convincing way. Between my and other’s experience and Bret Contreras research, I am a convert and use them with most of my clients for various reasons but always with good results. I recommend that you do the same and get to as Bret C would say, “Get glutes!”


It is said that strength is the master quality in fitness. I do agree with this statement, in fact in my and many others experience as well as a lot of research shows the need to get stronger in order to get better results from your fitness program. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to jump higher, run faster, burn fat and get lean and so on, strength training has a huge part in make those goals a reality in your life.

This week’s complex acknowledges that fact in more than just lip service, but gives you a clear way to build your strength while helping you maintain power and explosiveness as you train. Oh yeah, did I mention that it will wind you as well!

This week’s workout is uber simple and requires that you use two bells to do it. Now, if you are a beginner you can use one bell but just do the moves and reps on both sides as you work out. (Thanks Captain Obvious!) The moves are: regular continuous cleans into a squat (re-clean each time) then an overhead press followed by dead cleans on each press. This workout should be done in a ladder fashion by doing as many rungs and ladders as you can with good form. (But up to 5 reps on each ladder. (So in other words, do a ladder of 1 to 5 reps., then rest) Your rest period in between ladders should be up to 5 minutes but no less than 2 minutes in between ladders.

Use a bell that you can press 8x in a row to do this workout. If done right it will be a lot of volume and too heavy will not let you do that. But as you know too light won’t do too much for you either!

Once again we have your guidelines for success

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

Click here to get my Ultimate Kettlebell swing Tutorial and workout series. This series will not teach you the swing,  but show you  how to train with it to get to your goals!