Posts Tagged ‘health and fitness’


I teach four classes a week at the gym that I work at and no one ever ends up disappointed when I use the kettlebell swing to give them a challenging workout. Sometimes the move is at the end of the class as a finisher. Other times it is placed during the class as a strength move or as a part of a complex and so-on.



This week’s workout is based solely on the kettlebell swing and will challenge during, then make you feel successful as on who has overcome the adversity of training.

Watch the video below to learn how to do it, (it is under two minutes) then get to it!






The guidelines are:


  1. Safety first- Always value proper form and movement above all. Do as many Quality reps as possible.
  2. Breathe– As always match up your breathing to your movements (In on the bottom of the swing and out on top).
Also as a gift to you; I want to share with you my free videos series on how to do the kettlebell swing properly for strength and conditioning,  Click here for it.


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.



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!

While I was training two friends that worked out together with me and were doing Romanian Deadlifts with dumbbells; a very overweight gym goer approached us and then told one of my clients, that they would hurt the student’s back. As a result of this well-meaning ladies exhortation, I had to virtually talk this lady off a proverbial ledge and re-assure her of this particular exercise’s safety for her lumbar.

That was over ten years ago and these fear still plagues gym goers everywhere and that is what this post is about. So read on friends.

Before I begin my rant on low-back safety and health, I want to talk about the lumbar spine and  its function . First of all, in movement our body works in a concept called the joint by joint approach or regional interdependence. This concept is a pretty simple one; when it comes to movement, some parts of our system should be more mobile and others more stable. In this science, we find that the lumbar are is one that requires more stability than mobility although it is made to move as well. (More on that in a bit)

So many times we end up injured in my opinion due to the fact that we don’t understand and apply this concept to our fitness and lives.

Just before I completely begin this rant and its application to our training, let’s discuss the low back and how it should be treated during our training and life. The lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebrae and at connects to sacrum an area that has five fused vertebrae and finally ends at the coccyx which is often referred to as the tail-bone.


The muscles of this area are a force couple known as the lumbar erectors and are multifidi, longissimus thoracis, Iliocostalis lumborum and others these muscles are very small in comparison to the neighboring glutes and lats above and in our lifting should be treated as such.

The movements that the low back can do are as follows:

Extension, flexion, rotation, and lateral flexion or bending; these movements are and can be relatively safe within reason. However, too much of these and or with loading can lead to injury and pain. Yet, on the other side of this coin, one should be able to do these moves in order to have a healthy spine and to keep their movement vitality.

There is also another issue that needs to be dealt with as well; most of us have not so good to terrible posture due to excessive sitting or standing. This places us in either a forward head or an excessively extended posture and can cause things to get shortened and tight that shouldn’t as well as cause muscles that should be active to be under active.

Now that you understand the anatomy and function of the low back, we can begin to understand how to train in a way that will make your chances of injury lessen even if you have been injured in the past.

Let’s go back to few a paragraphs ago and review a concept that we already stated. That being that the lumbar area is built to be mostly stable. This does not mean that there is never motion in it as we move, in fact the opposite is true, as you move, so does your spine. The problem comes into play though when it moves too much and we go too often into the end ranges of the spine as we move.

This includes too much rotation through the low back and way too much extension and flexion. So you see when it comes to low back pain, in most cases it is not necessarily the movement and how it may look to the outsider without the training needed to identify what is potentially dangerous and what is not. It is more a matter of not being able to control the lumbo-pelvic complex as we move and as a result going into hyper-extension and so-on.

Does this mean that everything is safe for everyone all of the time and people should just go crazy and do whatever? The answer of course is no, because of the simple fact that what doesn’t hurt one person, could injure another. This is why some sort of assessment should be administered before a person begins to embark on their fitness journey. This should find any limitations in movement, any potential pain provoking movements and a referral should be given to a qualified medical professional if there is pain present during the performance of a movement pattern.

Then as we go along any issues with mobility and stability can and should be dealt with as well as the avoidance of any pain provoking moves until the issue is dealt with if at all possible. Also as we train, in order to maintain a healthy lumbar spine, we must pay attention to our hip position and spinal position in our movements.

If one can do that and stabilize as their spinal column they can most likely do movements that may be potentially dangerous, if they have not developed the mobility and control that is needed. An advanced trainee not only has arrived to higher than their peers levels of strength and work capacity, but  have also learned how to control themselves in movement and as a result can do the movements that require higher levels of awareness.

Another important aspect to this whole concept is the need for the muscles involved in a pattern to be firing both unconsciously and consciously  in a movement in order to keep the neighboring muscles form being overworked and creating pain and undue stresses to the joints in that exercise. In the case of the low-back it is often the glutes and some of the ab muscles.

This is why any good program will have built-in it proper progressions and regressions in order to make sure that the requisite muscles are firing quick enough to do an exercise safely. Another example of this is just yesterday a man was doing a high bridge and the gym and someone commented on how he was hurting his back as he did it. My response was the opposite of what he expected, “not as long as he is using his glutes!”

These also goes for every move that requires hip extension from the rest/ rack position in KB sport, to a bench pressing power lifter and the hip extension moment on a good Olympic lifter’s snatch and clean.

If you take away anything form this post and all its science sounding jargon and voodoo. Let it be that exercise tolerance and ability is an individual thing and should be treated as such. As well as the fact that just because something may cause one person pain, doesn’t mean that it will do the same in another. Just make sure to be assessed before you begin to train and follow a progressive strength and conditioning program that will meet your needs and weaknesses as a person. Lastly if something hurts you don’t do it. However, don’t try to make others do the same as you and write off a sport or exercise as dangerous to all!

Person A had many excuses not to train, when I approached her. I remember talking to her about some of the health benefits of exercise; she responded with” I can’t afford to train”. My response was simple; “you will pay a price for now for sessions and receive immediate benefits and progressive ones. Such as better body composition and better strength and endurance or you will pay later in health bills with endless discomfort and be a burden to others”.

I thought that would have convinced her, however she had another reason to not exercise, she said” I worked with a trainer before and he always tired me out so that I couldn’t get done what I needed to.” I understand I replied there are many trainers who push people  to far beyond their present recovery abilities, however that is not my philosophy; you must be able to maintain your form to keep doing a movement, which will to never going to complete exhaustion”. After this the excuses went on; oh my kids, blah, blah, blah. After a few minutes I realized that this women wasn’t ready to train and that she missed a key component of why we need to exercise, The Moral Obligation!

The dictionary defines a moral obligation as:
A feeling of moral obligation” – an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong; “he did it out of a feeling of moral obligation”duty, obligation, responsibility – the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force; “we must instill a sense of duty in our children”; “every right implies a responsibility; very opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty”- John D.Rockefeller Jr

As you can see it is essentially a question of right or wrong. To me; what makes something wrong is a behavior that negatively affects others and disrupts their right to be happy. How can this apply to exercise? It is very simple, exercise and a sound nutrition program are proven to be the best preventative medicine there is! In fact according to science most of the health issues we face as a nation are due to a lack of eating better and less and not moving a heck of a lot more! Now for my readers that want to argue this point should recognize that I said “most”, not “all”.

Let’s name some of the benefits of exercise:

One; Exercise combined with a good eating program reduces fat in the body or can help maintain a healthy composition. We are realizing in the health and fitness world that being overweight is more of a cause of some of the ailments that plague our nation. In fact being obese is actually dumbly named a disease rather than choice that one made. However I digress. So, exercise for your future and your families also!

Two; Exercise produces independence in its followers, especially strength training. Whether you are young or old the stronger you are the less you will have to rely on the help of others many tasks. In fact it will put you in better place to help others as well! To me that is an awesome perk. Also as you age, being strong will give you the freedom to be on your own for longer! So get strong and exercise regularly!

In addition to these two facts there are many other  great benefits of training intelligently and to making it a habit over a life time.

An Example:
I train a woman who embodies this principles, she has been training with me for about five years. She is 68 years old and she constantly amazes her doctors with her health and fitness. She doesn’t take any drugs for any major health problems. She can move better than most people half her age and has amazing endurance and low body fat percentages for her age.

So, how do all of these wonderful facts help prove that exercise is a moral obligation? The answer to this question is simple. If you make those choices that benefit your health, you maintain it. (As far as controllable factors go) The benefits of this are not just for you, but for your family. They will not have to disrupt their lives and relationships as a result of your failing health. Society benefits because we will not have the expense of taking care of those who cannot do it for themselves, thus lowering that cost. So you see it is a moral obligation to be fit and healthy, if you choose not to change our mind about this fact, then we prove to be selfish and not caring of others. So yes, you are obligated to train and be active!

In all of these sobering facts there is hope. Even if you have lived in a selfish way, you can change the course of your life and its outcome can be made better through active healthy lifestyle. It may be challenging and the results may be slower than if you were younger. Yet you can begin to make amazing changes in your life starting slowly and progressing into higher levels of health and fitness. However you need to get started for your own sake and for the sake of the lives of those who need you to be healthy .Also think of difference you can make in their lives, if you stay mobile and vibrant!

The choice is yours, will you choose well? I hope you will!

Dead lifting much like squats have a bad name as an exercise akin to the bubonic plague as if they were something that wreaks havoc on societies and ravages people’s lives. All Jokes aside, Deadlifts do have a bad name in the world of the health and fitness as a move that is bad for ones back and any other part of the body that one wants them to be. (or so it seems) I understand why many people feel that way because they probably only have heard the occasional horror story that may have involved a deadlift.



However, this idea only shows that this person doesn’t understand human movement, proper strength training and core stability in loaded movement. Deadlifting first of all isn’t bad for your back, if you use your hips properly. In fact the opposite is true, oftentimes the deadlift is considered the most functional exercise that there is! Simply because the deadlift and the hip hinge portion of it is how you should and can safely pick things off of the floor.



Below is a brief video of the style of deadlift that I choose to do. Due to its efficiency, safety and it’s enablement to be stronger in the long run.




After watching this brief video, you can see that I am no longer a fan of the hip-hinge style deadlift. But rather believe in the Olympic style deadlift. (If you would call it that.) This changed earlier this year as I attended the Purposeful Primitive Workshop with Marty Gallagher and he gave many good reasons to deadlift in this fashion, including the reasons of your low back health and the trajectory of the bar as you lift it. (On a straight line as opposed to the up and back positioning of the hip hinge) This ultimately leads to a better, heavier lift! Safety and strength, you can’t lose with this technique!

Do you Deadlift? If so, what is your favorite version of it? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.


This world has so many gizmos, programs, gadgets, diets and pills that promise the world and more often than not leave the purchaser poorer in pockets and devoid of results. Then there are the programs that produce results by bringing changes in body composition but negatively affect your health. So what can one do? Is there anything out there that can help an honest person get the body they want without harming them in the long-run?

Maybe the picture above describes the way that you feel; tired, broken and lost by all of your efforts to get better. I have hope for you this post is about to offer you a brief and simple answer that will revolutionize your health and fitness. That answer is found in two words, Intermittent fasting! Just before you jump ship, please read on and consider my points on this subject matter. Especially, if you are seeking for answers on how to get way better results in your fat-loss/fitness efforts.


I understand the responses of the detractors of I.F.; in fact I used to be one myself. I was told that if I didn’t eat frequently that my metabolism would somehow slow down and that I would lose my muscle and gain fat. I was enslaved to my eating regimen by always looking to get my 6 to 8 meals in. I remember being frustrated and spending a lot more money on food than I really could afford to eat at that time. I can also recall feeling guilty and being nervous if I missed a meal as if some food deity were about to smite my muscle and leave me skinny, fat as a result of missing my meal. (Can someone say eating disorder?!)


Fitness and training should make your life better not more stressful with rules and regulations that hold you in a prison of misery. Now, I am not saying that frequent eating is bad. Especially if you can maintain it, not overeat and not let your hunger control you. However, I have seen over my 11 years of training people who this usually is not the case. As a matter of fact, the opposite usually happens. The people who have followed this philosophy generally overeat if they miss a meal. This is not due to the fact that they honestly need to eat, but to the fact that they have trained themselves to eat at these times and the result is that the brain adapts and releases the hunger hormones due to their habit.

This habit usually produces an addiction to eating and the results are anger, irritability and sluggishness if you miss eating for even an hour longer than you usually do. Does that sound right and healthy? I think not. Addiction always brings us negative consequences.

(This is how I used to feel before I.F. , Now I have better control over it! )


The second problem with constant eating is too many insulin spikes in the body. As we eat, our bodies releases insulin from the liver and either puts the broke down food especially carbs into our cells for energy or if they aren’t empty stores it as fat-cells. Now unless you are a pro sport athlete in the vigorous sports or work a very physical job. I would bet that your cells haven’t used up your energy; unless of course you have just worked-out.

So as you can see constant eating is not the best way to improve you health and fat-loss.

But you may say; that if I fast won’t I lose muscle?

The answer is no, you will not. In fact fasting at times actually improves your muscle-building by stimulating the same hormones that are released after an intense training session. Also, according to science we do not have a breakdown of muscle and organs until 3 days of not eating. So don’t fear muscle loss as a result of fasting. Now there are some contradictions with fasting such as body-builders won’t want to do it as much, but can still benefit from a one day a week fasting regimen. Athletes also need to be mindful when they fast according to their practice and game schedule. So once again we must plan and be wise!

The next dispute that you may have could be:

How will I get my proper nutrients?

This one is pretty simple and I have found that my fasting helps me get focused on this important detail. I have in mind foods that I know that I need to eat for my health and focus on eating different types of foods to get the most bang for my buck. Then, also I am big believer in taking a whole food vitamin as an additional nutrient source. I have found that this fasting approach to eating keeps me from eating pointless meals and foods and I think with a little effort on your part; it will do the same for you!


Lastly: Will not eating at a set time or day affect my training?

Not in the long run, it won’t it takes about two weeks to adjust to it and then it will be up and up from there. Remember your body stores energy and as use that up and then we burn fat as a primary energy source. Thus I.F. will help you burn more fat by giving you the needed caloric deficit. Not only will it do that, but once again it will release the hormones that we get from an intense workout causing you to burn even more fat. In addition to those benefits if you add in a fasted workout, you have now super charged you fat-loss efforts!


After reading this post I hope that at least you will consider an intermittent fasting program. Or at the absolute least look into the research to back up this approach to nutrition. For those of you who are ready to take up a fasting program, next week’s post will be all about some of the different approaches  to fasting . So Stay tuned and subscribe to this blog for that.


Also as a gift to you; I want to share with you my free videos series on how to do the kettlebell swing,  Click here for it.