Jump Rope, Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts

fat loss, Motion, Workouts

A jump rope, kettlebell, the weight of your body, a small space and roughly is all a person needs to create workouts.   

How heavy of a kettlebell?  

Good question.  

I suggest a moderately weighted kettlebell for each of these workouts.  

How heavy is a “moderately” weighted kettlebell?  

Good question.

”Moderate” will mean something different depending on each person’s current fitness level and familiarity with kettlebells in general.

Select a kettlebell weight based on your overhead press, which is often the weakest lift for many people.  

Choose a kettlebell that gives you hell to press overhead for roughly 8-10 repetitions.

A generalized recommendation for weight selection is:

Males:  44lb (20kg) or 53lb (24kg)

Females:  26lb (12kg) or 35lb (16kg)

No kettlebell? Substitute a dumbbell or a sandbag instead of a kettlebell.  

If you don’t have access to a jump rope, you can:

  •  “Air rope” (pretend you are turning a jump rope)
  •  Bounce side-to-side like a boxer  
  •  Perform jumping jacks 

If you’ve got no equipment and the only option is bodyweight, check out some of these bodyweight-based workouts, here, here and here.  

Warm-Up

Before you start in on these workouts, please, warm-up with some mobility and light bodyweight drills

Here’s a 14 exercise total body warm-up:

 

Workout Structure:

  •  Target 18-20 minutes of continuous work, or roughly 8-10 rounds
  •  Take rest as needed, keep it brief.
  •  Add or subtract reps as needed.
  •  Get creative with different jump rope drills.

 

#1 Jump Rope + Clean-Squat-Press

30 second Jump Rope

6 Right/Left Single Arm Clean-Squat-Press 

 

#2 Jump Rope + Lunge + Row + Rocks

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Right/Left Reverse Lunges

8 Bent Over Rows

8 Hollow Body Rocks

 

#3  Jump Rope + Ground Game + Swings

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 yard Forward/Backward Crawl

10 yard Sideways (lateral) Crawl

10 yard Crab Walk

10 Kettlebell Swings

30 second Jump Rope

 

#4 Jump Rope + Ground Game Part II

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Scorpions

8 Cossack Squats

 

#5  Jump Rope + Kettlebell (as many rounds as possible)

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 Dive Bombers

10 Goblet Squats

 

These are simple, approachable workouts.  

If you’re training at home, each of these should fit your space.  

Stay active, stay healthy.   

 

A Glimpse of a Sample Staircase Interval Workout

Quick Tips

There is really nothing like sprinting up and down a long staircase.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a staircase near you that is of decent length, congrats, you’re in luck.

By decent length, I am referring to a staircase that takes about 30 seconds or longer to run up at a brisk pace.

If you’ve never treated yourself to a staircase training session, you’re going to find that running vertically is nothing like running horizontally.  Every step/stride requires brute force and attention to detail.

Why attention to detail?

Because the split second that you get lazy or lose focus on what you’re doing, you’re going to miss a step and leave shin skin on the staircase.

Staircase running requires hip extension.  You can fake to make it for a little while, but you’ll find that opening up the hips and driving “down and back” with every stride is going to get you to the top faster and with a higher efficiency.  The hips are the powerhouse of the body, so you might as well use them if you have them, right?

Besides, your quads are overworked.  Let’s build a backside.

If you are finding that you cannot comfortable achieve hip extension, I would suggest regressing and addressing these issues quickly…

Here are some videos that might help…

Thanks KStarr.

Now on to the workout…

Staircase Interval Training165 glorious stairs

Staircase interval training

Total time from start to finish for this workout.

Staircase Interval Training

This is the break down of the workout.  30 minutes of work was my initial target.  I hit that.

My heart rate peaked at 168bpm, which I thought was surprising.  I thought that it would have been much higher.  I’ve seen it 175bpm while running trails.  Interesting.  I suspect that had the staircase taken me longer to run, I may have seen higher heart rates.

I have to disclose that I probably whipped through 12-13 rounds.  2 of these round were loaded up with kettlebells.  I brought my trusty 24kg LifeLine kettlebells with me for some fun carrying variations.  After looking at the length of the staircase and evaluating what I wanted from the workout, I decided that I would only use one kettlebell for these carrying drill.

I worked overhead, racked position and farmer carries, switching hands using a single arm swing hand transition + KB clean + Press.  I can explain this later, but I prefer using this method for switching hands during single kettlebell workouts.  Always loaded this way.

The general structure of the workout look like this:

  • Running the stairs took around 60 seconds (I think)
  • Rest periods were 1.5x-2x the length that it took to climb the stairs (or recovery to 130bpm)
  • Upper body focus was placed on arm action (elbow drive and hands to face) and keeping posture vertical versus slouching once fatigue set in.
  • Lower body was all about putting force into each stair and extending the hips aggressively, picture your feet as springs… explode!

Men’s Health ran an article almost a year and a half ago that I thought I would share because they included a research study out of the British Journal of Sports Medicine which concluded that stair climbing was pretty bad ass, even at relatively low output (just walking up).

Here is that article

One interesting thing to think about here.  Keep in mind that the speed with which you run the stairs is not the only quality we are aiming to build here.

We are also aiming to reduce the time it takes for you to recover, and repeat that effort.  Faster recovery is a sign of improving conditioning.

If you’re a weekend athlete or a movement enthusiast, increasing your ability to recover quickly from multiple bouts of vigorous activity is beneficial for performance and your body composition.

Runners, I would consider this an amazing supplement to improving your running endeavors.  You’re essentially lifting yourself with every stride while running a staircase, and focusing on explosive hip extension is what most of you could benefit from.  Get the hips involved people.

 

 

 

Cheers to training where other people aren’t…

 

KG

The Gym is Dead to Me

Quick Tips

It’s not really, and it never will be, but the point here is that the gym reminds me of a jail cell.

When I first started training, it was very traditional.  Barbells, cable machines, stationary bikes and treadmills were the ticket.  It was how people stayed “fit”, strong and athletic.

Again, these tools still work, but the deeper you go into the rabbit hole, the more you question why building high functioning bodies has to be such a cookie cutter process.

Barbells will never go away.  Why?  Because a barbell’s design is perfect for lifting heavy things off of the ground, loading up the squat pattern and building explosive power through exercises like the clean, snatch and push press.  We need tools like barbells.  Barbells are safe.  A quality barbell isn’t going to break mid-rep, and there are a series of checks that a person can run through to make sure that  replicate their technique every single time.

But what I am beginning to question- and the better term might be “explore”- is why movement should be so cookie cutter.

Because that is how I am seeing it these days.  It’s cookie cutter.  We preach posture, we preach exercise technique, we preach moving within manageable ranges of motion.  But how about this… let’s get out of the gym and move.  Forget about all of the in-depth information, get off of the couch and out of the house.  It’s sunny and 80 degrees outside and it’s a prime opportunity to use your god-given right to move yourself around.

If you’re a newer to training , and you cannot handle your bodyweight… the load that you carry around with you 24/7/365… forget about barbells, cable machines and kettlebells.  You have bigger fish to fry than worrying about the next great exercise.

When I left the gym I started to LOVE training again.  When you’re done with organized athletics, working out just for the sake of working out is a sure-fire way to burn out.  Boredom sets in and you start to wonder what all of the effort is for?  A six-pack?  Honestly, who cares.

Six packs are nothing without function.

You can have a rippled six-pack and blow out your back in a heart beat, tear a rotator cuff, etc.

It’s like, “Congratulations, you can see your stomach muscles through your skin, but you can’t run a mile or pull yourself up to a bar or pull yourself out of Quasimodo posture”.

In fact, these days, I think that dedicating your training to achieving a six-pack is comical.

Once you get in this “I’m training for a six-pack” mindset, you’ll go insane trying to get it or attempting to maintain.  It will elude most people not because their workout program sucks, but because their eating habits suck.  You wouldn’t believe how hard that is for people to swallow (no pun intended).  If you want a six-pack and don’t have it despite insane physical efforts, it’s most likely because your eating is not conducive to having a six pack.  Ok?

It would be like if you started a business only with the goal of getting uber-rich and but ignored your customer service.

It’s short-sighted.

Get yourself out of the gym and start moving more.  What do parents tell their kids when they are inside for way too long?… “Go play outside”.  Adults should take their own advice.

Once you’re outside bodyweight training is an amazing method to leverage when you use the correct formula.  Climb some stairs, hills or jog flat ground.  Get your heart rate up and get the blood circulating rapidly.  Mix in some squats.  If you cannot squat, grab onto a pole, hinge your hips down and back, keep your chest tall without folding at the lower back and feel the movement.  Use the pole to help groove that squat pattern, and what it should feel like.  Gradually let go of the pole and continue to “feel” the movement.

Face the wall squats

“Face the Wall” squats are great for learning technique.

If you cannot perform a certain movement- and I use the squat as a common example because it seems to give people the most trouble- you have got to practice it.  Occasionally, you’re going to find that your internal wiring is all mixed up.  In this case, you need to implement corrective exercises, which I why I promote The Functional Movement Screen so much.

Everyone should be able to squat, among other things.  This isn’t a circus move that is exclusive to fitness buffs, this is exclusive to all humans.  If you cannot squat, you need to figure out why and restore your ability to squat.

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Gym memberships.  We seem to think that just because we buy a gym membership we have just bought ourselves a fit body.  But you haven’t.  What you did is you bought yourself a gym membership, a contract that says you can walk into a brick and mortar structure where a bunch of fitness equipment resides, waiting for the next person to pick it up, push it, pull it or run on it.

But most people who purchase memberships never go.  Buying the membership is the easiest part of the process.  Anyone can hand over a credit card, swipe it and feel great about their decision.  Especially credit cards, because when you don’t physically see the money being handed over, the impact of the purchase is dampened.

The real work begins when you make it a priority to go that gym over and over again.  Daily.  Every other day.  Or at least on some kind of consistent schedule.

But most people burn out or never commit from the beginning.  Out of the gates hard and fizzle, or they purchase the membership and never go in the first place.  But they have the membership, so they will go “someday”.  The membership is comforting because they always have it in their back pocket, never to be used… but it’s “there”.

Ido Portal

In the back of my mind, I have long thought movement should be explored.  We should be able to execute movements that require power and strength, yet exhibit a stable full range of motion and gracefulness regardless of the environment or the obstacle.  And let me tell you something flat-out, one brief glimpse at how life happens in real-time when you are actively engaged in movement (outside of the confines of the gym) will reveal that you need to be able to adapt to the unknown.

However, I also believe that exploring movement should be done unloaded.  External loading in really awkward positions can cause injury, and that erases any ground that you’ve made.  Move with your body, and your body only.

Unknown stress, unknown range of motion, etc.

You’ll never be running on a trail and find a barbell neatly loaded with a chalk container sitting next to it.  You’ll find a rock with shitty hand holes for gripping that is weighted heavier on one side than it is on the other, and wet.  Or maybe that rock isn’t on the running trail, but it’s a part of the magnificent landscaping in your yard.  Maybe you’re gripping 40lb bags of mulch carrying for 30 yards up an incline, shoveling gravel or raking a 2 acre yard.

You cannot train for this stuff.  You can prepare, and barbell training and other more traditional forms of gym work can aid in your completing of these tasks, but we have to develop succeed in raw movement.  It’s life.  Movement is part of life.  So I have embarked on my dabbling of increasing my ability to move, mixing in Ido Portal-like methodology (logo seen above, great logo).

I believe that there is something to be learned here.  Getting out of the cookie cutter mindset and into the movement mindset.  Exploring the bear crawl, moving into a lateral lunge flowing into a crab crawl, gorilla hops and then into single leg pistol followed by a pull up to a bar where you pike out and lower yourself with a graceful strength.

Got that?  🙂

I value the building of systematic strength.  I value programs that are geared toward making damn sure that strength progress and conditioning progress can be measured and evaluated.  We call this “periodization”.  We move through 3-4 week phases where focus is placed on building a certain quality, such as strength or hypertrophy.  But all of this work needs to transfer over into the unknown, into life.

Systematic strength building and conditioning will always have a place for every human, and I will never stop promoting that to athletes, Mom’s and Dad’s and the elderly.  We should place some focus on this method of building physical fitness.

But once we leave the gym, we have to realize that movement is more than bending over to pick up a piece of iron, grunting, standing up with it, then dropping it back on the floor.

Blip on the fitness map

Fitness is a blip on the movement map.

Fitness doesn’t mean that you can move.  

In fact, I really don’t know what fitness means?  Who’s considered fit?  The powerlifter who can pick up 1,000lbs in a deadlift?  The marathon runner who can win the Boston marathon?  The UFC fighter?  Usain Bolt?  The kettlebell guru?  The Crossfit Games champ?

I know this might not make sense right now, but fitness does not mean that you can move.

Ah, the gym.  It’s really dead to me at this point.  I value the tools found in the gym, particularly cable machines that can be used for movements that cross the midline, such as chops and lifts, but not the gym itself.  I think there are better places to train.  Places that inject an energy into your sessions.

With the evolution of  training equipment that is capable for training outdoors, I’ve never been more motivated to explore movement in different environments, using different tools and lately with others who value the same approach.  It’s a great bonding experience to train outside with someone else and finish the workout together, just as it is to climb a 14,000 foot mountain, bike 100 miles or complete a marathon.

SUP ATX Stand Up Paddleboard

With the popularity of unique outdoor activities like stand up paddleboards on the rise, I’ve never felt more justified about my decision to leave the gym in my rearview.

Come join me out here.

Cheers to movement and your ability to do it anywhere!

KG

A Kettlebell Swing Workout (Part 2): Singles and Doubles

Quick Tips

An entire workout can be centered around the kettlebell swing.

There are very few exercises other exercises I would feel comfortable saying that about.  But the kettlebell swing is definitely a movement that be an all-in-one solution.  One stop shopping if you will.

Based on the popularity of my previous post, It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing Workout, I decided to go ahead and continue posting samplings of other kettlebell swing based workouts.

But I must be clear about one thing:  I am in no way endorsing that the kettlebell swing be the only exercise that you leverage in your movement training programs.

While the kettlebell swing is certainly a world-class movement, it is important to develop strength and power through other exercises as well.  Remember, the human body pushes, pulls, jumps, twists, carries, etc.

Humans have to be able to execute a wide range physical tasks if you stop and think about it.  Especially when you consider that you never really know what the demands of the workday or weekend are going to bring.

It really pays to be physically prepared.

Workouts are scheduled bouts of physical exertion.  You know exactly what is going to happen during a workout and how it is going to happen.  So much of our daily lives are unscheduled, random and out of our control.  The workout is one aspect of our lives that we can control.  We control the amount of effort, intensity, exercise selection and duration of the workout.  We have complete control of what happens during this brief period of time.

It’s a real turn on for some people who feel like they have little control over anything else in their schedule.

Anyways, back to the point of this blog post.

Kettlebell swings, and how we can organize and rearrange kettlebell swings into highly effective training sessions.

When I sense boredom creeping up on my training habits (as many of you have also experienced) I know that it is time to shuffle a few things around.  I value the impact that 2-handed kettlebell swings- especially heavier swings for longer duration work sets- can have on maintaining my body composition, but I also know that too much of anything can be a bad thing.

Boredom is part of being human, so it’s important to inject energy into your training sessions.

In this case, single arm swings added an element to my training session that reinvigorated the entire session.

Here is what the workout looked like.

Kettlebell Swing Workouts

If you get serious about adopting kettlebell swings into your workouts, you’re quickly find that your body will enter a different realm of lean.  I have to admit that I thought kettlebells were gimmicky in the beginning, but after submerging myself into kettlebells exclusively one Summer, I prove my own opinions incorrect.

I got really lean, really quick.  From just swinging the damn thing between my legs, back and forth like a pendulum.  The concept seemed too good to be true initially.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have the greatest technique at the time, but I had established a great foundation of all around strength, stability and resilience to fatigue which allowed me to continue advancing my workouts.

This is an important point.  I would strongly advise that anyone reading this post go and seek out a professional who has the credentials of a high level swinger.  RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) or StrongFirst certified individuals would be a great place to start.  Most of these folks were trained under Pavel Psatsouline, who is the godfather of kettlebells in the Western World.  You would get fantastic tips, tricks and technique adjustment from these individuals.

But, if you have a willingness to learn and a decent bodily awareness, I also personally believe that you can teach yourself how to swing at home.  Set up a smart phone and shoot short clips of yourself swinging.  Compare it to other videos like the following:

Neghar has great technique… check out her blog

Pay attention to the difference in your technique and Neghar’s swing technique.  Critique yourself bit by bit.  Make the small adjustments.  Most people will notice that they are “lifting” the bell versus swinging it, or squatting versus hinging the hips.

We have the ability to teach ourselves things- not just mental education but physical education also- which I sometimes think that we forget.  We can be self-sustaining.

If you find that you have little time, and want a workout that is bare bones simple, try this little diddy…

10 minute kettlebell swing workoutRecently, I jumped into this exact workout prior to my evening plans.  I didn’t have much time to train but needed to get some amount of work done to feel good about myself, so this 10 minute workout fit the bill.  Using a 28kg KB, I recorded 215 swings.  Not a world record but also not too bad in my mind.

Kettlebell swings are a highly productive exercise.  Add them to your training, and with an ounce of consistency I know that you’ll see some significant return on your investment.  Just do it.

Cheers to swing workouts!

KG

Example of 3 Simple Kettlebell Workouts

Quick Tips

Lifeline Kettlebells

Kettlebells are a great tool for the home gym.

If you’re scared of making the monetary investment in a decent pair of kettlebells, don’t sweat it.

Kettlebells will out live you.  Spread $100-$200 over a lifetime and you’re looking at pennies per month to own a nice selection of kettlebells.  Besides, nothing is more refreshing than eliminating that boring commute to and from the stuffy ass gym that you’re training in, where you have to fight for equipment or discuss politics with the guy next to you (who is resting on the equipment that you need to finish your training session).

Ugh, I don’t regret leaving the gym atmosphere, not for one second.

I’ll always pump the tires of companies that I personally support and believe in.  If you’re interested in purchasing some kettlebells, head on over to LifeLine Fitness (a Madison, WI based company) and get yourself some.

Read up on the good starting weights for males and females, but I’ll go ahead and make the suggestion that you purchase the next size bell.  You’ll grow out of your suggested starting weight rather quickly.  Adaptations happen quickly with kettlebells and most people are swinging bells that are far too light to have any significant impact.  Especially swings are designed to load the hips explosively, and the hip musculature are the most powerful in the human body.  Swings require a decent load, so load up people.

I started with a 20kg kettlebell and almost immediately moved to the Russian Special Forces standard weight of 24kg. I hovered there for a while before adding a second 24 kg kettlebell.  Double kettlebell movement opens doors to whole other world of training, one that is perfect for complexes and other work capacity based sessions.

Training sessions that incorporate high amounts of work in a condensed time frame will blow fat off your body quickly.

Here are examples of 3 simple kettlebell workouts that I commonly use in my own personal workout regimen…

1)  Kettlebell Flow

2)  Kettlebell Swings on the Minute (aka:  swing-stop-swing-stop)

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I tend to use a much heavier kettlebell for this workout than I do for workout #3 (listed below).  Grip strength is tested toward the middle/end of the workout, but having two hands on the bell during swings helps to distribute the stress to both hands, versus snatches, where the load of the bell is directed at one hand.

3)  15:15 Kettlebell Snatch Intervals (20 minutes total)

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I use a sub-maximal weight kettlebell for this type of workout.  Speed of movement from top to bottom, without sacrificing technique are my focus.  I could probably go for a 24kg kettlebell for this type of training session, but the 20kg has been my go to.

This is hight repetition snatch work.  Make sure you’re resting between sessions like this.  Overdoing snatches will tear up your hands, mess with your nervous system and potentially cause some overuse response in your shoulder/back musculature.  Just be aware of these things, don’t dwell on them.

 

Fire up one of these workouts today or tonight.  If you don’t own a kettlebell, go buy one.

You won’t regret it.

Oh one more things… if you want shorter tidbits on movement and health, head over to my Facebook Page and give it a like 🙂

 

Cheers to the simplicity of effective workouts,

KG

A Simple Kettlebell Drill to Light Up Your Mid-Section

Quick Tips

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My interest in kettlebells is quite obvious on this blog.  They are such a great training tool.  I pump the kettle bell’s tires regularly because I think that they are the perfect representation of what multi-dimensional movement can and should be.  Paired with a suspension trainer, you’ve got a complete home gym.  That’s cool.  Doing more with less.  The future of training.  Simplicity.

Speaking of simplicity, the kettlebell drill that I describe in this post is about as complicated as my training gets.  It doesn’t need to be complicated when you are paying attention to the details, your technique, your movement.

Well, actually there is one movement that might top this for complexity, but it isn’t that crazy.  I’ll write about it soon.

Multi-dimensional movement is something that most gym goers have never experienced, which is something that I am working to change… post by post.

Image

The ability to move with stability, mobility and strength in all 3 possible planes of movement (shown above) is important.  It keeps our bodies balanced and capable of handling physical stress in many different postures, both statically (not moving) and dynamically (moving).

Part of multi-dimensional movement is not only being able to initiate movement in all 3-planes (create force), but to be able to resist forces acting upon us in all 3-planes.  The ability to absorb force without sacrificing posture- vulnerable positions where injury may lurk- is important.

One of the ways to train the body to resist external forces is to mix in a healthy amount to carrying, both dynamic and static.  Carrying refers to loading either one side or both sides of the body with a challenging amount of weight, staying rigid with upright posture, and either holding the position without moving or walking for a specified distance.  I suppose if you were not moving, you wouldn’t refer to the drill as a “carry”, but more of a “hold”.

There are many different variations of carrying which are phenomenal for building a body that functions as good as it looks, but touching on each will have to wait for another post.

For the purpose of this post, the kettlebell drill that I am learning to love involves a static posture (no movement) and one kettlebell.  So as you can see, it’s simple.  Simple is good.

The drill is can be referred to as a “Bottom’s Up Waiter Hold” (with kettlebell).

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Kettlebell Bottoms Up Waiter Hold

1)  Grab a kettlebell of a challenging weight (experiment with what “challenging” is for you)

2)  Clean the kettlebell to chest height, or use both hands to position the kettlebell upside down (bottoms up)

3)  Hold the kettlebell just lateral to your midline/in front of your working arm’s shoulder, upside down, and balance for a specified amount of time.

4)  Grip the bell hard with your hand, pull your elbow in tight to your side, and create total body tension.

5)  Brace your core musculature and breathe through pursed lips

Time of hold:  15-45 seconds

Sets per side:  3-4 per arm

Where in the workout?:  After the warm up, before the workout, when you are fresh.

Front view

Lateral view

 

Fitness thoughts

Flipping the kettlebell upside down will instantly make everything in your world unstable.  Not quite “massively destabilized”, but you’ll quickly feel the need to stay rigid in order to keep the bell balanced.  During this time, your entire body is fighting to maintain an upright posture.

The mass of the kettlebell is typically located underneath the handle in most kettlebell exercises, so inverting the bell moves the mass above the handle.  It’s the arms equivalent of putting your feet on a balance beam.  (I hope this makes some kind of sense, I’m going with it)

As for coaching cues of staying tight and rigid… there is no other way to do this drill successfully.  If you’re loose, you fail.  You can’t fake it till you make it with this drill, which is why I love what it re-enforces.  Tension.  Don’t forget to learn how to breathe against that tension that you’ve created.  That is important also.

Anytime you load one side of the body and not the other, the core fires in an effort to off-set the loading and protect the spine.  It’s a natural reaction that should happen in most healthy functioning people, although our sitting epidemic is really hurting this.  Pick up a suitcase, milk jug or anything else that has some decent weight, put your fingers into your stomach on the opposite and tell me what happens.  Do you see now?  The opposite side should feel noticeably contracted, hard.

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One other fantastic benefit of flipping the kettlebell “bottom’s up” is the stability and packing component that the shoulder receives during the hold.  Again, gripping the bell tight and packing the shoulder sends signals to the rest of the body, particularly the shoulder which is located in close proximity to the hand grip.  The hand grip relays information that “something” is going on and it’s time to go to work.

Lastly, the move is completed in a standing position.  What does that remind you of?  Real life.  I am ALL for re-training people on how to fire their core in sequences (rolling patterns, etc), but life happens on your feet.  Training your body in the standing position, with feet firmly dug in, posture tall and rigid, is invaluable to me.

**  Train on a surface that allows you to ditch the kettlebell if it falls or slips.  I prefer grass or a thick rubber floor.  Your nice hardwood or new tile in your home is not the place for this.  Be careful in your attempt to catch the bell if it falls at any point.  Attempting to save the bell is like catching a 40+ lb basketball with a handle, which can be disastrous.

***  If you use a dumbbell or anything other than a kettlebell for this, you’ll receive SOME benefit, but it will be watered down significantly compared to using a kettlebell.  The challenge of balancing the kettlebell in the bottoms up position is what makes this drill effective.  It will be hard to re-create that unstable environment with a dumbbell.

Give it a shot.  Tell me what you think.

 

Cheers to going vertical with your core training!

KG

Single Device Workouts for Indirect Core Training

Kettlebell Training

I love training one tool at a time.

The stress that it places on the body to maintain posture during movement is priceless to me.

Sure, you’ll sacrifice the amount of weight that you’re able to use for the movement(s), but you’ll sacrifice something with every training method that you choose.

Single device training could be born out of necessity not having enough equipment or from a simple desire to breathe some fresh air into a stale program.

Staleness sucks.  You’ll stop training when things get stale.  The workout will feel like a chore more than a chance to challenge and better yourself.  Stale is boring.

For me, I started single device training with dumbbells and medicine balls first.  I was traveling and wanted to get a workout but the equipment in the hotel was lacking so I had to improvise to get some kind of respectable training effect.

Working out with one dumbbell at a time is effective in that you can use a weight that is challenging and most people are familiar with using dumbbells as a training tool.

However, since I am deeply in love with kettlebells- their flow and versatility I now prefer KB’s to DB’s (that’s kettlebells to dumbbells by the way).

The flow of a kettlebell is unmatched. I can’t say enough about it.  Especially when you start working in single device training sessions, you’ll find that being able to flow from one exercise to the other seamlessly provides a much more enjoyable experience.

Here is an example of an improvised single device complex that I threw together.


***Remember, a complex involves 4-8 exercises grouped together without rest between movements.  Complexes are metabolically demanding and probably not suited for beginners, although there are progressions that beginners can work through to get to a true no rest complex.  It just takes time, like everything else.

Progression is everything.  Don’t skip the basics.

You’ll notice in the title of this post I wrote “… for Indirect Core Training”.  I mean that.  Anytime you load one side of the body and not the other, you’ll find that the unloaded side’s musculature contract aggressively and goes into overdrive to maintain posture.  If you’re paying attention to your exercise technique during a uni-laterally (fancy term for one/single sided) loaded movement, you’re going to have to work harder to maintain a normal posture against those uneven forces.  Your torso musculature will light up like a Christmas tree, naturally.  No need for direct core work here.

I love it.

Even just pressing a dumbbell or a kettlebell over head one side at a time delivers such a unique training stimulus.  You’ll be sore in places you’re typically never sore, assuming that you are fighting to maintain that perfect posture.  When that happens, just understand that it happened because you loaded your body unevenly.

We tend to train everything with both legs or arms mirroring each other, so breaking out of the norm and going single arm or single leg is a great training tactic for the body.

Cheers from the great city of Eau Claire, WI…

KG

Completely Un-Organized Kettlebell Training For Fat Loss and Athlete-Like Conditioning: Part 1

Quick Tips

I am a huge believer in following a system.  Sticking to the game plan if you will.

There is nothing like a well executed game plan.  If you have ever played sports you know what I am referring to.  If you are fortunate enough to have a career with an employer (or as an entrepreneur) that preaches game plan for success and then the entire company comes together and follows through on executing it, well, it feels damn good.  

Sticking to your systems is the best way to measure your progress.  A system can tell you where you have been and also points you in a focused direction of where you are going.  For a beginner or even a novice aspiring to reach new levels of health and wellness, there is nothing more effective at creating change than executing a system to perfection.  

I love systems.  Did I say that already? 

But let me ask you something that I often think about in my own life…

  • What’s wrong with being sporadic about your exercise selection, sets, reps, interval length, rest periods, etc?
  • Does everything have to follow a set system?
  • Can I still maintain strength and conditioning levels and leanness improvising workouts?

I know those seem like a silly questions, some that most people will never think about, but after you make so many visits to the gym, work through workout after workout following a set progression to an end goal, systems get boring.  

Once I took a step back to get a deeper understanding of how and why we humans move, what our movement options were once we choose to train movement and what seemed to be the most effective at creating total body change… I realized that building high functioning lean bodies can be achieved in a completely un-organized way.  System-less if you will.  Cross-Fit does it in every single workout.  Besides following their two days on, 1 day off (rinse and repeat) training schedule, they seem to be building some pretty resilient humans.  I can’t say that I agree with everything that they are teaching and coaching, but the system-less approach seems to work pretty well for them.

If I can ever focus long and hard enough to put the final touches my books (they are coming I promise), you’ll find that I love simple advice.  Once you become more than a recreational exerciser and decide to invest time in learning about more serious forms of fitness and nutrition, topics can get really complicated, confusing and blurry.  The fitness and health pool is really deep.  There is a lot of conflicting advice, methods and even research.  

But it doesn’t have to be complicated, confusing and blurry.  At least I don’t think it does personally.

I spent years (and still do) reading heavy literature for no other reason than I enjoy reading it. I have a major chip on my shoulder from years and years of personal athletic endeavors that had no real guidance in strength and conditioning.  I didn’t know what a power clean was until Senior year of high school.  That sucks, because I no know what a dramatic difference a simple program can make a young athlete.  It’s incredible.

Sorry, sidetracked for a second there… Where was I?

Oh, I know…  I was just about to finish discussing the title of this post.

I love systems and I love simple training and eating advice.  Give me the meat and potatoes of what I need to know and I can figure the rest out as we move forward.  “Learn by doing” kind of thing.

I have also found that I love the concept of physical preparedness and completely un-organized kettlebell training.  I love heading to the basement, drawing up the workout based on my goals, and getting after it.  Sometimes there is good flow to the training session and sometimes it is full of sticking points, causing a much choppier workout.  Either way, I really never know what I am going to be doing until I get down there.  

However, that being said… I do stick to some key guidelines that help me get away with this un-systematized approach.  Here they are:

1)  Train big movements with challenging resistance

2)  Multi-planar core training

3)  Mobility Mobility Mobility

4)  Conditioning using many different methods

5)  Rest and recover harder than I workout

 

1)  When I say big movements, I am talking things like squats, kettlebell swings, snatches, presses, pulls, etc.  Stop messing around with tricep extensions and bicep curls, you have to eat your main course before you can have dessert.  

2)  I train my torso region in all directions and planes of movement.  I train my core for force production and force absorption.  I train my core to reinforce stability I can transfer as much force with any energy leaks from my lower extremity to my upper extremity.  

3)  Mobility.  I train mobility so that I can experience life as it should be experienced physically.  Loss of mobility is a prerequisite to pain through faulty movement  Loss of mobility is loss of life to me.  

4)  I condition myself with as many methods as I have resources.  When I was an athlete, I conditioned myself using set methods.  Running early in the off-season, slide boarding and then biking as the season drew closer.  It was scheduled and systematic because that was what my sport (hockey) demanded.  It made sense.  But, now I don’t have a sport.  I simply want to be physically prepared for anything.  It feels damn good to go for a 50 mile bike ride, run a 10k or play hockey 3-4 nights a week without feeling like a slug.  I use many methods to achieve both aerobic and anaerobic-like qualities.  I want to be able to endure long duration activities as much as short burst activities that get my heart rate sky high.

5)  I rest and recover much harder than I train.  Sleep, tissue work, hydration and nutrition are all important to me.  I am what I eat, drink and how I recover from my training sessions.  The green light isn’t always on.  You have to learn how to sit at the red light patiently until it is time to accelerate once again.  Rest, recovery and regeneration.  

Do you see what I am getting at?

I can train myself using a simple set of rules to keep myself lean and athletic, without experiencing the boredom of a system.  Training smart and slightly sporadic will keep me athletic for the rest of my life.  Sure, age will catch up with me as it does everybody at some point, but each training session will be fresh and purposeful.  Movement longevity is something that I am fully invested in, and I encourage you do invest in the same. 

I will say this however, I HIGHLY recommend systems to everyone.  You’ll never get better results as you will when following a system step by step.  My books leverage systems.  Systems get results.  They keep the main thing… the main thing.  Following a system takes discipline, and discipline is something worth developing throughout life.

I treat myself like test rat for variations of time tested methods.  I enjoy seeing if my 5-mile Airdyne ride for time improves or suffers after I train high repetition kettlebell snatches for 3-weeks versus metabolic body-weight circuits.  That kind of comparison scenario is interesting to me, but it isn’t for everyone.

(Any strength coach that reads this is going to grind their teeth)

 

Cheers to moving more and with purpose,

 

 

KG 

 

 

 

The Birth of Multi-Method Cardio (the aerobic alternative)

Quick Tips

Cardiovascular training is important for genuine health and athletic endeavors.

Cardiovascular training, mainly aerobic, is a topic that hasn’t gotten it’s due respect in the last few years, especially with the rise of work capacity style workouts.  Most of these work capacity style training sessions are resistance based, using training tools like dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells.

Multi-method cardiovascular training was born out of necessity for me.  Maybe someone else was utilizing a tactic similar to this before me, and if so, give credit to that person.  I am sure I didn’t invent it.  However, I will certainly take credit for perfecting it:)

The background behind it…

For 3 years I trained in a studio apartment with limited equipment.  At first, I thought it was just going to be a temporary situation, but it soon evolved into a challenge of sorts.

Could I maintain my current fitness levels using nothing but a jump rope, 4 kettlebells, a suspension trainer, an Schwinn Airdyne and some resistance bands?

That was the question.

It wasn’t difficult to set up my program at first.  I had plenty of room for improving using my kettlebells and progressional exercises on the suspension trainer.  However, as the weeks and months passed by, I began to adapt to my training regimen.

Adaptation is inevitable.  I love the concept of adaptation.  You know why?  It means you stuck to the program long enough to reach the point where your body became strong enough, powerful enough, stabile or mobile enough to render your program… easy.  You essentially have become really efficient at the performing the physical tasks in your daily program.

***Just don’t continue performing those same training sessions for too long or you’ll be sorely disappointed by the results.

Sorry I sidetracked for second there…

So multi-method cardio was born out of necessity.  In between my higher intensity work capacity days, I needed a day where I could engage in some form of aerobic-style activity.  Easy right?  I could have just hopped on the Airdyne and pedaled mindlessly for 30-40 minutes.

The problem is that I don’t have the attention span for that.  I get bored, just like many of you probably do.  The Airdyne solution would have worked just fine, but it is boring as shit!

So, I decided to choose lower impact training methods sectioned off in designated time increments to accumulate that 30 minutes of aerobic activity.

I primarily used my jump rope, a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell and the Schwinn Airydyne.  I also had my Polar HeartRate Monitor on at all times.

I would use each training tool for 10 minutes, grab a swig of water, then move on to the next immediately.  Ironically, I never experienced that same level of insane boredom that I did when only using one method.

I love that.  Training effect without insufferable boredom.

I am effectively accomplishing the same thing I set out to do had I only rode the bike for 30-40, but now I am developing skills using other tools.

Staying in the 10 minute range duration-wise also helped me avoid over-use injuries.  I am convinced of this.  I love jumping rope and swinging kettlebells, but you cannot do it every single day.  You’ll eventually develop chronic over-use type symptoms or worse yet, injury.  Your body needs a break at some point.  (If you’re a person who is back in the fitness saddle for the 2013 and experiencing hip pain or back pain from all of the working out you’ve done, it is for a reason my friends!)

One important point of MMC (multi-method cardio) is anyone can do this at home, which is the other part that I thought kicked ass.  I listen to MY music in MY own environment.  I could watch my television while I jumped rope and rode bike without giving any thought to what channel or movie was showing.  Completely personalized.  Fantastic.

Here is exactly what one of my multi-method cardio session…

Sample Multi-Method Cardio:

Jump rope-  10 minutes

Kettlebell Swing-  10 minutes

Bike-  10 minutes

Depending on your training level, you can adjust the session a bit:

  • Beginner:  6 minutes each
  • Intermediate:  8 minutes each
  • Advanced 10 minutes or longer each

My heart rate for a MMC workout usually hovered around 145-155bpm, occasionally rising higher than 155bpm but never lower than 145bpm.  This type of training is intended to be an aerobic segue between more intense training sessions.  It worked great.  Soreness from my higher intensity training sessions dissipated quickly with the increase in blood flow

Simple?  Absolutely.  Why complicate fitness?  That only leads to confusion and lack of action in my experience.

Always remember that you have to be able to justify your training habits.  I can easily justify this type of aerobic conditioning, and I think that many of you can also in 2013 and beyond.

At the end of the day, give it a try.  Self-experiment and find your groove…

Cheers…

KG

(Part II coming soon…)

Dr. Oz… And Here Comes the BackLash

Quick Tips

I always perk up when I hear or see popular figures like Dr. Oz on television.

Why?

Because I know that he has won the hearts of so many television watching addicts that are in search of “the next great tip”.

Last night’s piece on NBC Sunday Night programming surely didn’t disappoint.

I have to admit that his advice last night was decent.  But it’s the same old song and dance for me and many others…

–  Eat more vegetables.

–  Stop eating processed junk.

–  Exercise moderately for no more than 30 min a day.

–  Include the walk into the Mall, place of work or grocery store as part of that 30 minutes.

Huh?  Re-read the last two points that he made about exercise.

Now, one might say, “Kyle, these are great points, anyone can start with this!”  You’re right and you’re also missing a much more important point.

You’re right in the fact that advocating people to just get up and move in some way shape or form is a really positive tip.  You should move whenever possible, no doubt about that.  Add a little bit more everyday and the accumulation will equate to big things.  You know the drill… take the stairs, park farther from the front door, take a short walk in the morning or after dinner.

But understand that this is the absolute bare minimum needed to get by.  These are recreational activities.  This is not “exercise” in my opinion.  Walking is a skill that an able-bodied human should be able to do for miles upon miles, not just for the minimum 50 yards from the car to the front door of the area shopping mall.

I have seen the studies showing the correlation between minimal amounts of moderately intense exercise (roughly 30 min per day) and its positive effect on life.  I get it.  I read it and I get it.

While this information is definitely interesting, how about we demand a little bit more from ourselves?  Walking for 30 minutes a day is great, but let’s get serious about changing or improving our physical abilities, trading unhealthy tissue for healthy tissue, increasing range of motion at important joints, etc.

Set some goals… Aim to run a 5K or a 10K.  Squat your bodyweight on the barbell.  Swing a kettlebell for 20-30 minutes.  Slam a medicine ball.  Go to war with some battling ropes or try to improve the maximum number of push ups or pull-ups that you can do in a 5 minute time-frame.

Become an athlete later in life, that’s something worth pursuing.

As I mention in my training book(s), we have become a nation afraid of work.  I am talking about legitimate physical labor.  The kind that fatigues your body quickly from effort, causes sweat pour down your face and eventually soak into your shirt.  The kind that causes your lungs to “burn” from a short and intense bout of conditioning.

We always seek the path of least resistance.  Our joints do it, our muscles do it and now our brains are doing it.  We crave what is easy.  We scour the internet, magazines and newspapers for the quickest possible route to health glory while enduring the least amount of physical agony.

Let me tell you something… resolving to dominate your training sessions, whether you are a beginner just learning or an advanced trainee seeking a new path, builds character that spills over into all other areas in your life.  If you can do it physically, you can do it mentally.

Back to the backlash…

I predict a massive backlash from Dr. Oz’s comments, even though I think that he is very intelligent and probably didn’t intend for his comments to be twisted the way that they inevitably will.

It was funny to listen to him talk.  He said that he has to choose his words so carefully when he talks about health concepts and strategies because:  “People will hear what they want to hear”.  I respect that comment.

What he is means is that people are always going to take his advice and twist it to fit their situation.  Some will use common sense and add his tips to the greater whole (exercise and nutrition), but most won’t.  They want the least painful quick fix.

If he says that raspberry ketones are a great supplement for helping to initiate weight-loss, consumers are going to be buying mass quantities of raspberry ketones and consuming at an alarming rate.  When no weight is lost because all that person did was over-dose on raspberry ketones, they render that intervention useless and ineffective.

I also respected his comments about NEVER endorsing a product.  That’s cool.  He said that anything on the shelves that mentions his name or shows his picture is a scam.  That particular company has chosen to use his fame as leverage to sell their product.

Beware of this.  The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry with so many horrible scams out there.  It is difficult to regulate the supplement industry and even more difficult to identify the supplements that are worth taking.  You’re spending your hard-earned cash on these products and most of them don’t work!  Ouch.

Anyways, prepare yourself for the backlash.  Don’t be afraid to push yourself into new realms of fitness.  I don’t care if you’re interested in kettlebell training, powerlifting or endurance-related activities.  Go after something and be WAY MORE THAN AVERAGE in doing so.

Make it happen this week, alright?  I will do the same.

 

Cheers on this Monday…

 

 

KG