(Work)out| Lizard Crawl + Kettlebell Carries + Walking Lunges + Crab Walk

Motion, Workouts

 

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Lizard Crawl to Kettlebells

 

Fusing body weight locomotion movements with traditional strength and conditioning exercises can create a hybrid workout experience. can breathe new life into a stale training regimen.  

When training gets stale, mix it up to breathe new life into your regimen.  

Basic linear lifting can get extremely monotonous.  Instead of skipping the workout, toss in different exercises to give you new motivation.  

What exercises are you avoiding or leaving out of your program?  Everyone has some.  It is impossible to do it all, all of the time.  My YouTube channel has hundreds of exercise demos, only 4-10 exercises can make the cut for a workout on any given day.  That leaves hundreds more sitting on the sidelines.  

Many people forget about the value of carrying heavy objects.  Carry those objects in as many different positions as possible (overhead, at your side, chest height, bear hug, etc).  Do it all.  

Locomotion drills are also a relatively new platform for building fitness most people haven’t explored.   If you haven’t, you must.  

This training session includes both.  

Today’s workout includes the following exercises:

  • Lizard Crawling (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)
  • Suitcase-style Kettlebell Carries 
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carries
  • Kettlebell Walking Lunges
  • Reverse Crab Walks (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)

*** For all of the kettlebell exercises, feel free to use dumbbells instead.  Any object with a handle and some challenging weight will do.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 heavy kettlebell
  •  2 kettlebells of matching weight
  •  15 yards of walking space

The Structure of the Workout

  1.  Start by lizard crawling 15 yards the location of the kettlebells.
  2.  Clean the heavy kettlebell up to chest height and position overhead.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  3.  Clean the same kettlebell overhead with the opposite arm.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  4.  Suitcase carry the same heavy kettlebell down and back with both arms.
  5.  Pick up the matching kettlebells and lunge walk the same 15-yard distance, down and back.
  6. Reverse crab walk to the initial start position.
  7. Repeat the process, beginning with lizard crawling once again.

Workout Video Demo

Workout Notes

This workout can be executed for rounds or time, whichever you prefer.

If you were going to work this for rounds, I suggest starting with 3-4 rounds and crushing those rounds.  The idea is to work hard and work smart.  Working smart is awareness of fatigue and body position.  When your movement turns sloppy, you’re done.  

Of course, more rounds can be added if you can handle it.  

If you’re hammering this workout for 8-10 rounds, you need to increase the difficulty of all of the exercises.  Lizard crawl for 20-25 yards, increase the weight of all of the kettlebell carries and the walking lunges.  More is not always better.

If working for a target amount of time, I suggest capping this at 20 minutes.  The video demo above shows roughly 8 minutes worth of execution.  

Use the lizard crawl and overhead kettlebell carry as indicators of when you need intra-workout rest periods or when you need to pull the plug on the session altogether.  Don’t be afraid to rest.  There is zero shame in it.  Your body can only fight fatigue for so long before the movements get sloppy.  Take the rest, towel off, get back to work.  

The overhead carry is an amazing shoulder stability/vertical core exercise, but it is also an exercise that deserves respect.  DO NOT FORCE THE OVERHEAD CARRY FATIGUE IS EATING YOU UP AND TECHNIQUE IS DROWNING.  

This particular day, I worked this exact medley for 15 minutes, wiped down the sweat avalanche and transitioned into another medley of completely different exercises.  

Combining both medleys, I accumulated 30 minutes worth of continuous quality work.  

If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it.  Weight is weight.  Use dumbbells, a sandbag or any other tool that has a handle.  

 

Give this workout a shot and let me know how it went…

Kyle 

 

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Infusing Kettlebell Presses into Turkish Get Ups = Amazing Added Challenge

Kettlebell Training, Quick Tips

The Turkish Get Up is a little known weapon to those who are insanely strong, balanced and mobile.

Since implementing into my own training schedules, I have noticed incredible increases in shoulder stability and strength, core stability and strength through multiple planes of movement, along with a nice boost in joint mobility at the hip, shoulder and thoracic spine regions.

To be honest, it’s extremely hard for an exercise to crack my workout line-up. In other words, I am very selective about adding new training methods since I have seen such tremendous results with my mainstay movements.

However, in the same breath, I have to say that the turkish get up has been one of the greatest additions to my training habits to date. The amount of insight that I gained about my own movement quality was unprecedented, and humbling at times.

I ‘bulletproofed’ my body the day that I dedicated myself to learning the turkish get up, and by learning, I am talking about reading articles and watching YouTube videos until I was blue in the face.

You can learn any exercise correctly if you know where to look on the internet. If you’re a visual learner, check out the videos on YouTube, some are extremely high quality and in depth.

I cannot say enough about the drastic impact turkish get ups had on my performance and quite frankly, my physique. Spending that amount of time under tension does wonders for firming up a person’s body. I can’t deny that I haven’t enjoyed seeing the tweaks in transformation.

The traditional turkish get up is a phenomenal exercise, and probably needs no further adjustments or additions, but for the curious mind (which I have) and those who enjoy exploring (which I do), adding in slight tweaks to the turkish get up can make what some feel is a “bland” exercise extremely interesting, not to mention fun.

Of course, everyone should hone in on the basics of executing a regular turkish get up before moving any further in the progression, it just makes senses to progress with common sense.

The idea of pressing during the turkish get up was simple…

I perform a press at certain check points that allow for it.

Press #1: Horizontal chest press in the starting prone position.

Press #2: Overhead vertical press at the tall kneeling position.

Press #3: Overhead vertical press at the standing position.

Press #4: Explosive push press at the standing position.

Done.

If you stop and think about it, you’re pressing the kettlebell (or dumbbell) four different times for each individual rep of the turkish get up.

That’s a lot of work.

*** Keep in mind that the chest press performed in the lying position might will not feel like a normal bench press because: 1) You’re pressing an odd object (kettlebell), 2) Your range of motion is limited (elbow contacts ground surface) 3) Your body position is altered from a more traditional bench press.

All of these things are ok, so relax about it. “Real world training” says that you won’t always be pressing a shiny dumbbell on a padded bench. Though he was referring to sandbags, I believe I heard Alwyn Cosgrove call repetitions like these “alive reps”. Nice terminology, I can roll with that.

If you perform 5 reps of get ups on each side of the body, you’re looking at 20 reps per side (40 total) right and left. If you go higher reps, which I typically like doing since my turkish get up practice usually involves nothing more than get ups and some kettlebell swings afterward for conditioning purposes, you might be looking at a pressing volume of 40+ reps on each side of the body.

Consider that the pressing is uni-lateral (pressing with one arm while the other remains unloaded) and you can bet that your mid-section is getting as much of a workout as your upper and lower extremities are.

Poke your tummy the next time you press a decently heavier weight on one side only, it will be activated.

“Six-pack training” anyone?

I considered pressing at the same check points on the way back down to the start position, but felt like this would be slight overkill. Who knows, maybe down the road. That would have increased my pressing volume to 40 reps per side for every 5 reps of turkish get ups, and 80 per side had I completely 10 turkish get ups.

This is where I use my logic. For my goals, that amount of pressing will take away from my main goal, which is to work the turkish get up, not improve my pressing strength and abilities. So, I avoided this volume to keep the workout more TGU-centered.

Make sense?

Post-workout, the first observation I had was the fatigue component experienced from all of the added pressing.

The shoulder burn wasn’t nearly as bad as it was from the “5 minute no rest turkish get ups” that I adopted from Jon Hinds (owner of Monkey Bar Gym), but it was right up there. I am humbled what a simple activity like holding a weight (and a relatively light one at that) overhead can do to fry your shoulder musculature.

For me personally, it was a completely manageable fatigue (which is perfect) that provided an added challenge to the main movement.

A rarely discussed topic with turkish get ups is the amount of cognitive support needed to execute such a segmented exercise. There is a lot happening on the way up to the standing position, and then on the reversal moving back down to the starting position.

Holding the weight overhead is one thing. Holding the weight overhead while twisting and turning underneath that weight in an effort to rise up to the standing position from a dead stop laying position is another. Don’t

The first few times I gave a good effort to turkish get ups- treating them like practice versus a workout- my brain was fried. My eyes felt tired.

The brain has to be engaged in order to make turkish get ups work, and this is another HUGE benefit of the drill. Turkish get ups are a technique driven drill sequence. I respect those who preach this, because I feel that focusing on technique and the subtle details is how you extract the most physical and mental benefit from the movement.

The mind-body connection during get ups is of tremendous benefit for the exercisee.

I feel smarter after get ups, no lie. More detailed, more creative, stronger 3-dimensionally.

If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding some presses into your turkish get up practice. But keep it exactly that, practice. Be mindful of your abilities, yet don’t be afraid to walk to the fringe to challenge your mind and body.

And as I mentioned earlier in the post, if you have never practiced turkish get ups, your main job is to learn the steps first before adding pressing. You have to crawl before you walk.

Cheers to adding pressing to your turkish get ups,

KG

(pictures to come…)

A Martin Luther King Quote Could Help Ease Your Fitness Anxiety

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martin luther king jr quotes

 

After watching an episode of Madmen that shared some audio and video clips about Martin Luther King Jr. being assassinated, I felt that it was ironic that I stumbled upon this quote this morning.

The quote hit home for me because it represents some feelings that I continue to have toward modern science.

First, let me clarify that I really enjoy reading studies and learning of scientific breakthroughs. I find it fascinating that we continue to understand things that were previously only considered true through speculation or anecdotal evidence. I continue to read articles on Business Insider where scientists claim to have identified formulas for “What Causes Men to Be Attractive” or “Scientists Have Figured Out The Noah’s Arc Would Have Floated with 70,000 Animals If Built By Dimensions In The Bible”.

I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I didn’t click on links like this to see what exactly was the conclusion of the findings. I am lured in like everyone else it seems.

However, I’m usually less than impressed with the findings, just like I am with nutritional and exercise studies at times. There completely meaningless. Whether Noah’s Arc had 7 animals or 70,000 animals on board, it doesn’t matter to me.

It’s pure minutiae, but you know damn well that there are groups of people fighting about those facts and figures as I write this. Someone is always trying to prove someone else wrong.

All of this relates back to what I am realizing is my spiritual connection with exercise and nutrition, kettlebells, short burst workouts, long walks to re-energize, breathing to calm the mind and body, yoga (not often but more so lately) and the exploration of ideas that haven’t been proven by double-blind study or a laboratory somewhere.

I thoroughly enjoy partaking in activities that science cannot find explanations for. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and delivered a healing/calming effect to millions of people. Science decided to investigate all of the hype to investigate matters. Initially, they concluded that the entire concept of Yoga had inconclusive evidence supporting it’s integration into a human beings life.

I wasn’t a yoga supporter at the time so I have to admit that I didn’t care. My body was younger and more pliable than it is now. Once I gave yoga a chance, even just focusing on a few poses that I knew would help to alleviate tonic muscles or calm my nervous system through deep breathing, I knew it worked. Just because I couldn’t explain it or support it with 10 pages data filled charts and tables, I knew that it worked extremely well for my mind, my body and to be somewhat poetic, my soul.

Science is great but we lean on it way to much. It’s a crutch for people to finally take action. It seems like we increasingly disregard activities that our mind and body tells us that it thoroughly enjoys, just because a study says that it burns 5% less calories than an alternative approach.

Who gives a shit? Do you really care that much?

Maybe if your a top 1% athlete (those who we watch on TV) or a professional (paid) bodybuilder who can detect the slightest alternations in their workout and eating habits.  These two populations can gain a competitive edge over such minutiae.  Shaving .0001 sec can be the difference from wearing a gold medal and shedding a tear over the silver.

But when we are talking about Billy Bob who handles accounts at the office versus Sandra who is the company social media direction this 5% becomes less and less important in my mind.  The average Joe needs to focus on establishing and perfecting the basics.

I’ve seen multiple studies showing that running is superior to riding a stationary bike, but from my own experience, I thoroughly enjoy putting my headphones in and riding my $180 (bought from Craigslist) Schwinn Airdyne over pounding the pavement. 5% more calorie burn for the same duration of exercise is irrelevant to me because my nutritional habits are good and I am 100x more likely to consistently hop on that old rickety Airdyne than I am to tie my shoes and beat the streets.

There is a beautiful simplicity in ignoring science jargon, and there is also value in respecting it.

The evidence based approach guys/gals will always claim that the spiritual approached guys/gals are lazy and “just don’t want to work to understand the data”, and the spiritual guys/gals will always claim that the evidence based approach guys/gals are robots guided by incentive based research.

I think both parties are somewhat accurate in their assessment of the other and quite honestly, I prefer to be a hybrid of both approaches.

As I have gotten older, I find that I don’t have that deep seeded need to prove why everything works the way that it does. I enjoy letting my body and mind dictate the intensity of any given day’s workout, staying up late because I feel like it or drinking too many cups of coffee in the morning because I enjoy the aroma and taste.

Modern day research would frown upon these things because the data says that all three won’t make me the best possible functioning human. Science says that I should be monitoring any fluctuations in my resting heart rate upon waking from an adequate 8 hours of sleep, following by a cup of green tea.

Did I mention that I love drinking craft beer also? Science hates beer, but my soul loves it.  I drank two delicious beers last night in fact.

I have found that no matter what approach guides your fitness and nutritional actions, what’s most important for the long-term is that you ENJOY whatever form of physical activity and eating style you adopt.

High tech or low tech, extreme or un-extreme, evidence based or spiritual…  it doesn’t matter as long as it ignites a motivation to take consistent action for the long haul.

If you evidence based, take the time to understand the spiritual approach and if you top-heavy on the spiritual approach, take some time to understand the evidence based approach.

The fusion of spirit and evidence based efforts might provide the truest enjoyment of the journey.  The side of your brain that wants science supported action can get along with the side of your brain that wants to discover your inner connectedness.  They can coexist.

Self-experimentation can be a liberating experience for both parties.

 

Cheers to thought-provoking quotes from MLK!

 

 

KG

 

Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up… Workout

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I’ve never felt inclined to name any of my workouts.  Thus, I give you the:

Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + 2KB Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up…

… workout.

There is another organization that names all of their workouts, which isn’t a bad thing,  I just don’t feel like labeling my workouts with someone else’s name.  I could name this one “Brutus” or “Cactus Jack”.  Maybe I should name my workouts after WWF wrestlers past and present.  That would be cool.  Everyone seems to know WWF wrestlers names whether they admit to watching it or not.

I could use a numbering system I suppose, like “Workout #1” or “Level 5”, but maybe I’ll just call it what it is.

I selected the movements listed above because they represent most of the major movement patterns, and also because these exercise could be easily executed with the workout equipment that I had available the other day.

What did I have available?

As I mentioned, I typically only incorporate big movement patterns into circuits.  To be honest, I don’t like wasting time with exercises that hardly stress the prime movers.  Bicep curls and such are desert.  If I have time after I have completed what I often refer to as the “main meal”, I will work in the accessory exercises for fun.

 

I value my time.  Time is a commodity in my life (as I am sure that it is in your’s) so I prefer to get in, get out and get back out to experience other aspects of life.  Sure, I write about working out, structuring workouts, movement and nutrition a great deal, but that doesn’t mean that I am working out 2 hours a day.  Efficiency is the name of the game.  How effective can I make my workouts without taking away from other areas of my life that I also value.

Occasionally I will add an exercise or two that is slightly out of the box, but these movements are usually treated as a filler exercise (active rest) between more demanding exercises, or reserved for before or after the main circuit of the workout.

While I will admit that doing this is my personal preference, I would suspect that most of you will find that your own workouts are immediately enhanced by working in the big movements instead of a series of fillers.  More muscles engaged equals a greater training effective at the end of the workout session.

If you do more work in a smaller time frame, now you’ve primed your body for fat loss + muscle gain.

This is a great scenario, one that we need to keep advocating instead of “weight loss”.  You can lose weight by dehydrating yourself down to a raison in a sauna.  That’s weight loss, right?

Swap the fat tissue for muscle tissue.

Chase muscle and while running away from fat.

So what are the big movements?  In this case, the big movements that I leveraged for a training effect were:

I’m continually amazed at how effective bodyweight strength movements are, especially when organized into a circuit.

I can get the training effect that I desire while minimizing risk of injury and awful soreness in the days that is so commonly associated with resistance based training.   Of course, if you have never performed a push up or a squat, you’re going to be sore in the coming days.  That’s something you can expect with a new training stimulus and re-discovered muscle contraction.

Loading up on bodyweight style training sessions.  This type of training sessions should be heavily considered by anyone that struggles with achy joints, etc.  Bodyweight resistance exercise provides a low load introduction to basic strength drills, easing your body back into the swing of things.

Plus, being able to control your body exhibiting stability, strength and power through a healthy range of motion will do wonders for your performance, whether that performance be for sport or raking the leaves out of your yard.

So what does last weekends workout look like?

The structure looked something like this:

Metabolic Resistance Training Circuit

I loaded up most of the movements and went for 4 rounds, which took slightly over 20 minutes.  20 minutes continues to be the sweet spot for workout duration.  Anything more than that and I lose output, anything less and it seems like it wasn’t enough… as if I left some fuel in the tank.

20 minutes also seems to allow for focus on proper exercise technique (and grooving) while the fatigue continues to snowball.  Technique is important, don’t forget that.

If you take another look at the exercise selection above, I’d like to share a couple of substitutions that you could make.  If you cannot perform a bodyweight chin up, wrap a resistance band around the chin up bar you’re using, and stretch it down around your knee or foot.  This will assist you on the way up and ease you down from the top.

You could swap out standing broad jumps or squat jumps for the kettlebell swings, although there really isn’t a movement to mimic a kettlebell swing.  If you have dumbbells you could use those in a pinch, but again, there is no tool that functions quite like a kettlebell.

If you don’t have a suspension trainer, just do regular old push ups.  If you want a less expensive option that does a decent job of mimicking the push up+knee tuck combination, use furniture sliders or socks on a hard surface.  Both work decently.  I would go the furniture slide route if I had to choose.

If you don’t have kettlebells, dumbbells or a barbell for squats, you can do bodyweight squats just as well.  If bodyweight squats are easy, mix in pistols alternating each leg.  If you squats are too easy and pistols are too hard, use squat jumps.

If you don’t have a jump rope or a bike, run in place.  High knee with simultaneously arm action.  If you’re lucky enough to have a place to run a short distance, figure out how far it takes to run half of a 20 second shuttle run (10 sec out, 10 sec back).

As you can see, there is a progression, regression and alternative to just about every single movement known to man.  Once you know what a level up and a level down from an exercise is, you’re in business. Now you can OWN your workouts.

Replenish and refuel your body with some rock solid recovery nutrition, and you’ve just done your body good.

 

 

Cheers to Chin Ups, Kettlebell Swings, Squats, Jumping Rope and Push Ups!

KG

PS:  Seriously check out the nutritional link that I posted above.  If you want to see dramatic change in your body and performance, nutrition is at the bottom rung of the pyramid.  

The Huffington Post Advocates Exercising With “Kettleballs” to Burn Fat and Lose More Weight

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“Kettleballs” are a great tool for exercise enthusiasts looking to building elite level endurance, raw strength and burn fat.

The Huffington Post thinks so at least.

After opening the “news” drop down on my iPAD today, my eyes immediately connected with the bolded heading “Kettleballs”.

Here’s precisely what my eyes saw:

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I’m fascinated by the suggestion because it seems that I’ve been using the wrong tool all of these years!

You see, I’ve been using kettlebells to build and maintain my boyish figure. But that’s not what the Huffington Post is recommending.  They’re touting “kettleballs” as the go-to workout tool for those who are serious about reshaping their bodies.

I feel cheated.

What might I look like had I been using “kettleballs” all this while? How would my performance improve if I had been using “kettleballs”?  Could I have been spending less time training and more time building other businesses if “kettleballs” were a part of my daily workouts?

I Googled “kettleballs” just to see what I have been missing…

Kettleball Training

I couldn’t believe it!  Photo after photo kept popping up!

Kettleball Extreme Training

“Kettleball” exercises that incorporate bite strength?!  I was feeling weaker with every passing second…

… and then… the dagger…

Faster results with kettle balls

I had hoped that I wouldn’t see any “kettleball” claims like the picture above, but there it was, staring me in the face.  I did the math on this.  I could have trained for 10min per day (instead of 30 min) and seen 3x the striations in my muscles, increased abdominal visibility and all while shaving minutes off of my trail race time.

Stupid kettlebells. Their worthless it seems!

I’ve been swinging, pressing, pulling, carrying and snatching a cheap knock-off piece of equipment.

Unreal.

Here’s a link to The Huffington Post’s “kettleball” workout review that I am ripping on so hard.

Got Kettleballs?

Got “kettleballs”?

 

 

Cheers to the “kettleball”!

KG

Hang In There… The Kettlebell Clean is a Great Exercise and an Acquired Taste

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The kettlebell clean is an acquired taste, for sure.

It reminds me of a craft beer drinkers first sips of an I.P.A. or a Double I.P.A.  Do you remember the bitter beer face commercials?

One quick search on the old Dragon Door article library or the new StrongFirst forum, and people will praise the hell out of this move, but I am here to warn you up front, you might not enjoy this exercise at first.

It’s an acquired taste.

Both from a technique standpoint and a “Why the hell would I choose this exercise over kettlebell swing variations, kettlebell snatches, weighted jump squats or even barbell cleans”?… standpoint.

For quite some time, I wasn’t exactly sure what significant purpose kettlebell cleans served.

At that time, the kettlebell clean seemed more like a sweet little method to move the kettlebell from the floor up to the rack position, and not much more than that.

Photo credit:  FitBomb

Photo credit: FitBomb

In case you’re not familiar, the rack position describes a static posture where the bell rests for a given amount of time (split second or for multiple seconds) against the chest with elbow tucked tightly to the side.

Also, at that time, my timing was way off with the kettlebell clean.  I was mostly pulling the bell up from between my legs using my upper extremities, and flipping it over the top of my knuckles.  Obviously, the upper body does have some involvement in most kettlebell training, but one of the main principles of any ballistic kettlebell movement is hip snap.  I have always viewed “hip snap” as the slang terminology for aggressive/powerful extension of the hips.

Kettlebell drills like swings, snatches and cleans all thrive off of aggressive hip extension, or hip snap to catapult the bell through its trajectory/range of motion.

[Improving your ability to aggressively extend your hips is incredible for sport performance and fat loss.  The research on the influence that kettlebell swings has on body fat elimination has been growing rather consistently in recent months.  Anyone that has spent any time working out with kettlebells in a dedicated manner will no doubt give the nod to kettlebell training (specifically swings, cleans, snatches) and its dramatic effect on fat loss.  Almost to the point of zero dietary intervention.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pursue higher standards of eating… because you should.]  

Ok, back to kettlebell cleans.  Originally, I didn’t like them.  I just didn’t see the value.  Swings (moving the bell to about sternum height) provided a noticeably large training stimulus that mimicked an explosive deadlift and kettlebell snatches (moving the kettlebell overhead) worked very similar to dumbbell snatches, which are amazing for building uni-lateral explosive power.

But kettlebell cleans seemed like the red-headed step child (forgive my joke if this offends anyone).  I kept asking myself,  “What are they good for?”

I never felt like I was achieving anything while practicing the kettlebell clean.  The hip snap didn’t feel like it was present, and quite frankly, it didn’t seem like it really needed to be present in order to execute the clean.  So then what?

Again, as I stated early in this post, the clean (to me) felt like an efficient method to transport the kettlebell vertically to the rack position so that I could set up for other exercises like:  squats, overhead pressing or carries.

Eventually, I made the decision to work on my clean technique in a diligent manner.  I also spent some time combing over the forums and articles from trusted resources for to increase my understanding of what the kettlebell clean is and why it was important.

Here’s a messy synopsis of what I found…

From a basic observation, I thought of the kettlebell clean as a variation of the swing, and still do.  Obviously the motion is different, but hiking the kettlebell through the legs, moving forward into an arcing pattern is very similar to that of the kettlebell swing.  However this arching pattern is interrupted as the hand/arm pulls the bell much tighter to the anterior (front) aspect of the body than the arc of the kettlebell swing.  Some people will refer to this as “taming the arc”.

You can read more about “taming the arc” from this excerpt:

Kettlebell Taming the Arc

Once the bell begins its ascent vertically to the chest, this is where most people will get lost, as I did.

Why?  Because in the time that it takes to blink your eyes, the bell needs to transition from a prone (hand over the top) grip to a neutral grip (palm toward the midline of the body) with the kettlebell nestled partially against the forearm and chest, at armpit height.  The entire sequence happens really quickly.

The most common mistake here is “flipping” the bell.  Technically, it’s incorrect yes, but the bigger mistake is that flipping the bell over the hand is essentially beating yourself with the greatest mass of the kettlebell.  Kettlebells are constructed of dense cast iron so… it hurts.  Once the bell flips over the hand, the only object to stop its motion is your body, and this can be painful.  If you’ve played contact sports, the sensation of the bell impacting your body will be eerily similar to the impact of another human hitting you.

So what is supposed to happen?

Around waist height, the bell begins to turn over and rotate.  It’s a combination of both.  The only way to successfully accomplish this, is to relax your grip and allow the kettlebell to turn over/rotate around your forearm.  I said RELAX, NOT LET GO.  Your hand position changes on the bell, without your hand ever leaving the bell.  I use the terminology turn over/rotate because I feel this is the best description of what happens to the kettlebell as it transitions into the rack position hand position changes on the bell, without your hand ever leaving the bell.

This “relaxed” grip was uncomfortable for me at first.  It didn’t feel natural to loosen a grip and relax while dynamically swinging a 53lb piece of cast iron.  I am sure that you might feel the same way when you give this movement a go.  It can be unsettling for the first few reps.  Make sure that your hands are dry and free of any grease.

Chalking your hands is a great technique for improving hand/grip integrity kettlebell training, although chalking can be messy for you house over time.  Check out this Metolius Eco Ball chalk bag that really helps to save yourself the hassle of cleaning up chalk mess.

But, like anything other new stimulus or skill, consistent practice will move your  technique of the clean from completely foreign to second nature.

Filming my kettlebell clean (which I encourage you to do always) revealed that I wasn’t initiating my turn over/rotation of the bell soon enough.  I was attempting to mimic the barbell clean, where the hands and elbows (and body) move under the vertical moving barbell above waist level.

Again, if you attempt to “flip” the kettelbell above waist level you’re going to get some tough love from the bell in the form of a shot to the chest/shoulder.  As long as you don’t hurt yourself, this type of feedback is probably a good thing, as there will be no question that your timing is off.

The kettlebell should park itself into the rack position rather peacefully.

The kettllebell clean is a “steering strength” movement that requires adequate attention for successful completion.

You might start out despising it like I did and end up loving it as I do now.

A series of simple tips that can help you out:

  • In the beginning feel free to learn using a lighter bell.  This is important.
  • Quickly move into a heavier kettlebell that demands some  hip snap to make the bell move.  Otherwise, you may find yourself “muscling” the bell as I was.
  • Work the single arm kettlebell clean until you feel you are proficient with technique at heavier weights.  Forget about “work capacity” training while you are learning, learn it first, don’t get ahead of yourself.
  • Once you’re moving a heavier kettlebell (32kg men/24kg women), consider transitioning into the double kettlebell clean, which will require attention to be paid to both arms and an increase in hip snap to move the bells to the rack position.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

On a positive note, if decide to dedicate some time and practice into learning the kettlebell clean, you’re going to find great carryover to all of your other lifts also (kettlebell swings, presses, etc).  The move requires timing and coordination, but improving both will boost your performance and your results in the race to lose fat.

The clean is nothing that I thought it was and everything that I thought that it wasn’t.  I have been pleasantly surprised and challenged by its technique and it’s purpose inside of a balanced strength and conditioning program.  I highly suggest that you work it for yourself and see how it benefits you.

 

 

Cheers to kettlebell cleans babies!

KG

What is Ido Portal’s Training Philosophy Doing To Me?

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Ido Portal

I’ve been following Ido Portal for nearly 2 months and I’m starting to question how we “practice” fitness, what it means to be “fit”, how we get to the point of being considered fit, what humans should be able to do movement-wise, and on and on  and on.

I have to admit, thought process-wise, I am going through a shift.

Ido makes incredibly great points about movement and body control.  It’s a raw thought process, completely stripped down to just… movement.

The point that Ido conveys time and time again is that we should be able to move freely.  He references movement patterns, but I know from reading through his blog and watching his YouTube videos that he isn’t referring to the “safe” movement patterns that we fitness professionals beat into the ground.  He’s expanding far beyond that thought process.

Here are some snapshots of Ido-style movement…

I realize now, more than ever, that the modern-day human really doesn’t know how to handle their body.

We are slaves to sitting in chairs, cubicles, in front of the television and in cars.  If you really stop and think about how much we sit on any given day, it’s nauseating.  Even if we have no choice but to sit for our careers, when the weekend comes we still choose to grab a lawn chair and sit, sit at the bar, sit at restaurant.  Sit.

I can partially throw myself into this group also because I have to sit down to write on this blog.

I consider myself to be an athletic dude, but watching some of these videos leads me to believe that I have handicapped my own movement performance.  I am not even in the same realm as some of the people that have been under the Ido Portal tutelage for as few as a few months.

I can squat (ass to grass) and rest in the squatting position for long periods of time, elevate my arms overhead without breaking at the low back, and exhibit rotational range of motion at my thoracic spine when it’s required… but integrating of all of these elements into a free-flowing long sequence without making it look painfully difficult was humbling for me.

The low lizard crawl is a basic locomotion pattern in the Ido Portal Training Method, and it’s basically used as warm-up!  I am here to tell you that it is humbling how difficult it is to crawl 10-15 yards like this (fast forward to 1:56)…

Are the followers of the Ido Portal Method been practicing different techniques than I am?

Yes, of course.  They are following strict progressions that allow for a appropriate movement education.  A repetitive approach to learning movement in a progression-friendly manner will ensure that no fundamental steps were skipped along the way, all while achieving desired results.

The human body will adapt and increasingly better how we ask to move, or how we don’t it to move.  That is why a lot of people have back pain, poor hip mobility and loss of muscle activation from sitting.  But humans naturally want to stand up straight, so in order to make this possible, we compensate to achieve.

So I think that over time my movement will begin to flow like some of his videos, but it is going to take some work, some practice, dedication and time.

Many of Ido’s students YouTube videos display what I would consider to be “test-outs” or results from following his teachings, so I think that it’s important (when watching these videos) to keep in mind that there was an incredible amount of dedication and work put in prior to shooting each person’s testimonial of the Ido Portal Method.

It didn’t happen over night, in a week or in a month.

The other night, I was trying to find the words to describe my perception of how we pursue health and wellness, and where I stand on the matter.  It’s a difficult topic to discuss because there are so many elements that combine to form, health.

I continue to find myself veering away from “safe” more and more.  Now, I don’t mean that I am moving toward “unsafe” and negligent, but I really am questioning why we do what we do in the gym or outside of the gym (wherever we train).  It’s cookie cutter and robotic in nature.  It’s lacking exploration.  Reps, sets and rest cannot be the pot of gold at the end of the movement continuum.

Who established these rules that we follow so closely?  Science?  Industry leaders?

Do we continue to teach and preach these methods because that is what the masses want?  Or are we lacking in our own understanding of more complex movement patterns, integration and improvisation?  Are we aiming for the wrong target?  What does fitness mean anyways?

We aim for reproducible results- and I don’t think that we should be aiming for anything different- but we have become robots in our pursuit of fitness.  The entire idea is skewed.  Everything that we preach for people to do is cookie cutter and safe.

There is very little room for anyone to stray from the path, and if you do (as I am exploring currently), you’re branded and thrown out to the wolves.

We preach moving within our means, avoiding compromising body positions and alignment, moving weight safely, employing safe rep and set ranges for maximizing our goals, adequate rest to perform that work safely, etc.  Safe, safe, safe.

Before you label me a hippocrate, let me say that I actually also believe in safe.

Ido Portal’s methods of movement might be right for everyone at some point, but maybe not at this moment.

The human race have never moved less or eaten worse.

We sit more, we move less. We are walking time bombs with regard to our ability to move effectively or for any duration (endurance, etc).  We eat food created in factories, food that has never seen the earth’s soil, food that contains ingredients that we cannot pronounce much less identify… and because we eat so much of this food, our body’s have become a reflection of these poor choices.

Make no mistake, we are what we eat.

But the problem is that we don’t even know we are heading down a path of self-destruction.  Eating crap has become the norm, and we don’t even know it.  But food chatter is outside of the scope of this blog post.  I’m not a nutritionist nor do I really want to be.  I’ll end the nutrition talk here.

We walk around commenting that a person is “in shape” if they don’t cast a bubbly shadow on pavement on a sunny day.  Not everyone needs to have a six-pack, but we are desensitized to what health looks like.  “Lean” is almost taboo is some areas of America, and the world.  One look back in history will show that most of civilization is getting bigger.  And by bigger, I am not referring to taller.

In many instances, our body shape is actually limiting our ability to move.  Yes, the amount of tissue that we are carrying on our bodies are preventing us from moving the way that we are supposed to move.

Studies like this support my bantering…

I started thinking like this a few years ago, and I thought I was crazy, because my background is strength and conditioning.  Strength and conditioning workouts and programs are EXTREMELY structured, and EXTREMELY safe.  There is very little room for movement exploration in the eyes of strength coach.  Strength based programs, as I mentioned, are extremely structured.  You work through phases that place focus on building different athletic qualities (hypertrophy, strength, power, work capacity, etc).  The reps and sets are calculated, training days, rest, etc.

I got trapped in that way thinking for everyone, athlete or otherwise.  More like handcuffed.  To the point that I felt like if I explored anything outside of a 4-phase workout program, a barbell squat or a systematic approach to “core training”, then I was a Looney Tune.

Then I picked up a kettlebell for the first time.  Kettlebells had been around for a little while, but they were still considered taboo by some of the leaders in the strength and conditioning industry.  After executing some kettlebell swings and some turkish get ups in a hotel room after a performance conference, I realized that movement was different from exercise.

Movement is different from exercise.

This is movement:

This is exercise:

I was strong, but my integrated movement was shit.  In fact, I wasn’t graceful at all.  My muscles were powerful and my joint were mobile and stable, but I had zero grace in pure movement.  I was powerful, strong and stable within the confines of identified movement patterns, but when I challenged myself outside of these confines, I was at beginner level.

Again, I realized that movement is different from exercise. I was certainly moving when I exercise, but I was trapping and limiting my ability to move freely with traditional exercise.

In fact, I don’t even like the word exercise.  I use it but I don’t like it.  I use the word “movement” on this blog over and over again.  I would even prefer to say “train” or “practice” or “drills” over the word exercise.  Exercise makes me cringe.  “Exercise” makes me think of automated robots on a treadmill.  I don’t want to be an automated robot.  I want to move.  I want to move because I enjoy moving, and seeking out new methods of movement is challenging.  I want to move in an unrestricted 3-dimensional manner.

I’m not going to discard structured movement training using such drills as push ups, squats, and lunges, because they have their place.  But I am damn well going to explore un-traditional forms of movement from here on out.  Climbing, hanging, swinging, etc.  Full integration of movement play and practice starts now.

We fitness professionals think that we know movement and that we are teaching people how to be “functional”, shame on us.  We stop our teachings at “flat back”, “shoulders down and back” and “pressurize your core”!

I learned a long time ago, after crumpling up and throwing away probably 2-3 books worth of writing material that I should trust my thinking.  I feel that I should trust my thinking now.  I have grown to appreciate being exposed to new ideas that initiate an evolution in my own thinking.

Why be trapped?  Go explore, go move…

Oh and here is that picture that I promised some 910 words ago…

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 12.01.58 PM

 

 

 

Cheers to stumbling onto ideas that open our minds!

KG

KISS KISS KISS!!!

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ImageThe KISS method is the most effective path to jumpstarting a consistent training program.

It’s also how you make a active lifestyle stick for the long-term.

If I handed a lot of people a 12-week training plan, most won’t progress passed the first week, if not the first few days.

It’s just too much to process.

Too much information to process.  All of the information creates a surplus of anxiety and excitement inside of a person’s head.  They have EVERYTHING that they need in that 12-week program, but there are way too many moving parts to concentrate on completing them.  

We lose focus and end up doing nothing when we get overwhelmed.

We shut down.  

What you can handle (mentally and physically) will determine what you need right now, at this very moment.

And surprisingly, the amount that you need to make significant change is relatively small.  

If I write the world’s greatest fat loss program, not everyone is going to hit a home run with it.

Why?  Because the world’s greatest fat loss program might be way too much for most people to digest.

My hesitation in talking about kettlebells on this blog has always been that not everyone is ready for kettlebells.  Some people don’t even know what they are until they read about it on here.  Are they good candidates for kettlebell training?  Maybe, maybe not.  

Maybe we should consider that there are far better places for these folks to start.  Places that will engrain powerful habits of exercise that will one day evolve into kettlebell training and all of the amazing benefits that come along with kettlebell training.

Some folks cannot execute a bodyweight squat, push up or run a 1/2 mile without taking a pitstop.  And that’s fine if you can’t, all in good time.  You have to start somewhere.

I reference the Bruce Lee quote consistently on this blog:

“Absorb what is useful and discard the rest”.

This blog is a la carte style.  You pick the information that you can apply to your situation right now.  Act on it.  Everything else, discard.  You won’t hurt my feelings by doing so.  

And truthfully, I write about whatever I feel like writing about for that day.  My most popular posts have been centered around sharing detailed workouts, but I don’t want to be the blog that just shares workouts without discussing WHY you’re engaging in them.  

Treat this blog like a menu at a restaurant.  At a restaurant, not everyone in the group is going to order the same meal, which is why they provide a vast variety of options.  

Back to KISS…

The next time that you get the motivation and inspiration to push forward with a movement program, take a second to step back and ask yourself, “How complicated does this process need to be?  Can I arrive at my destination (goal achievement) by employing simple strategies?”

KISS is a theory that thinks so.

Many before you have used KISS to absolute perfection, achieving amazing results over time.  Be patient and proactive in your approach, and for heaven’s sake… KISS!

Try this KISS workout today:

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Cheers to KISS!

 

KG

It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing and Suspension Trainer Workout

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A few months ago, I wrote a post titled:

—>  It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing Workout

Kettlebell Swings

That has been my most popular post on this blog, by far.

I wrote it because I wanted to convey how simple a workout can be, and probably should be for most people.

Totally stripped down.  Nothing but a timer, a towel and water bottle, and a kettlebell of a decent weight.  You could make the argument that a “totally stripped down” workout would only involve bodyweight exercises, but that’s beside the point.

A lot of people avoid physical activity because of two things:

  • Time
  • Preconceived thoughts and anxiety about how the workout will feel.

Simple workouts are time effective and aim to limit anxiety.  You look at the agenda for the workout and say to yourself, “Oh, I just have to focus on kettlebell swings today.  I can do that”.

If you have a kettlebell or have the means to acquire a kettlebell for the future, I will ALWAYS encourage you to make the purchase.  Don’t wait, don’t peruse, don’t over-analyze.

Just buy and be done with it.  You won’t be sorry.

Well, I take that back, you could be sorry… if you buy it and fizzle out and using it.  Then it’s just another heavy object holding a door open.  What a shame that would be.

Anyways, I wanted to build on that post, because I felt that the workouts displayed were rock solid, and applicable to a large population of readers.

They are simple, yet brutally effective.  I would consider them entry-level workouts, however, I have to admit that I continue to use the 15sec work/ 15sec rest (24 rounds) kettlebell swing protocol to this day.

The only difference is that I have climbed the ladder in weight.  When I started with the protocol, I used a 20kg kettlebell from LifeLine Fitness.  I then climbed to the 24kg kettlebell, then to the 28kg kettlebell and now on to the 32kg kettlebell.  All were purchased from LifeLine Fitness also (yes, I promote these guys heavily, they make equipment worth buying).

Don’t be fooled by elaborate training protocols.  Keep it simple and be detailed.

A simple workout/program executed to perfection will trump the world’s most complex/perfectly written program done poorly.

Stay in the “simple” zone, do it right.

That being said, I would like to say that kettlebells and suspension trainers are a match made in heavy.  For roughly $300, you can outfit your home with a Jungle Gym XT and a nice variety of kettlebells ranging in weight.

The combination of a suspension trainer and kettlebells is magic.

Seriously, they are match made in heaven.

Let’s look at workout that I’ve employed over the years…

Kettlebell + Suspension Trainer

A workout like this is complete.

The kettlebell swings alone are enough to initiate a tremendous training stimulus, but when paired with the other movements, the workout is magic.  Push, pull and ballistic movements for the upper and lower body are all represented here.

With high volume workouts, I typically choose simple rep schemes.  It’s annoying trying to remember how many reps to complete in the middle of round, when you’re real focus should be on controlling your breathing and fatigue.  Once you experience this frustration, you’ll wish that you would have picked simple rep schemes.

After completing each round, I would rest anywhere from 45-75 seconds depending on your conditioning level.  Don’t be a hero and rest for 45sec in the first round if you can’t handle it.  This decision may bite you in the ass in the later rounds when your fatigue levels spike.

Fatigue accumulates throughout the workout, just as it does for every workout.  It’s inevitable that it’s coming, but timing it so that you complete quality work while you can is the idea here.

The number of rounds that you complete is depends on your ability to complete quality work (exercise technique, complete reps, etc).  If your form breaks, you make the decision to rest before re-engaging, or you pull the plug on the workout altogether.

Safety first, always.  Form good habits.

Put this workout in your back pocket for now, load it in the chamber when you need a challenging high tempo training session.

 

 

Cheers to ST’s, BW’s and KB’s!

KG

(PS:  I turned on “Location Tagging” so that you’ll really believe that I reside in God’s Country… Eau Claire, WI)

My Philosophy: Great Point Alwyn Cosgrove!

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When I initially read  Alwyn Cosgroves post (shown above) I immediately felt that it was too good not to share. 

Once I established my training philosophy, I was set for life.  I was set to teach others and also to execute for my own benefit.  

It doesn’t matter what equipment is around, what I have access to or what I don’t have access to.  

I can accomplish something even though I don’t have everything.  

Sure, my ideas and preferences will evolve, but I think that much of what I believe makes a great program and workout is solidified.  I am not sure (at this point) how it can get much better, without sacrificing certain things that I morally cannot consciously sacrifice.  One of those being safety of myself, or the you guys.  

I write about kettlebells and suspension trainers on this blog A LOT.  

But it’s not for any other reason than I believe whole heartedly that the combination of kettlebells and suspension trainers make for insanely effective workouts, especially since they fit into my training philosophy so well.  

Kettlebells provide loaded (resistance), ground based movements that are primarily (not all) completed in a vertical standing position.  The bold print is a part of my training philosophy.  I could substitute “kettlebells” for a whole host of other fitness equipment, and things would be just fine.  

Movements like kettlebell swings and turkish get ups are world class for building a variety of qualities, at the same time.  

Suspension trainers are an entire gym in a box, weighing in at less than 2lbs tops.  Equipment-free bodyweight training is great, but suspension training makes it better.   Suspension trainers allow for the leverage of a person’s bodyweight against gravity.  My favorite benefit of the suspension trainer is the fact that you can PULL!  Inverted rows (aka: body rows) and chin ups (supinated and neutral grip) are all made possible by two straps with handles.  

Get rid of that shoddy kitchen chair set up that you’ve been using for so long…

But as stated in Alwyns commentary above, kettlebells and suspension trainers are just tools that I use to to implement my philosophy of what makes a great workout, program, etc.  I am not exclusive to any piece of equipment.  That’s not my style.

The fact is that most equipment works wonderfully.  

It’s the user (aka: you) that has the opportunity to make the magic happen.  

I know a lot of people that own a complete set of kettlebells and the best suspension trainer money can buy, but they don’t have a philosophy, or any sort of guidance on how to use it.  In turn, they are stalemate in their efforts, or on to the next fashionably trendy workout tool.

For most people who are beyond their days of athletics, the total body approach to training is probably best.  I know that there are upper body/lower body splits and a thousand other ways to organize your weekly training, but total body is effective in short windows of time.

Time is probably our most precious commodity.  We can never get time back.  Once a minute passes, that minute is gone.  Same with days, weeks, and months.  Time keeps moving forward at the same steady pace regardless if we want it to slow down or stand still.

That being said, leveraging a total body workout, using a smart philosophy to structure the workout is (in my personal opinion) the best approach for accomplishing goals of fat loss, building all around strength and many other athletic qualities using time management.

But, it must also be said that paying attention to your nutrition, specifically what you shove into your mouth and drink, is the most time effective way to stay lean.  

My advice to all of you is this:  Treat tools are tools, not philosophies.

Gravity decides what an object is going to weigh, humans decide how the object will be shaped, how the weight is distributed and to some degree how the tool should be used best.  An example of how a tool should be used best is in fact, the kettlebell.  You can swing a dumbbell, sure.  But your first time swinging a kettlebell will lead you to believe that dumbbell shouldn’t be swung.  

Kettlebells are the standout choice for swings and many other exercises.  

But I can in fact swing a dumbbell.  I can also perform a turkish get up with a dumbbell, or a sandbag, or a filled milk carton, or a loaded backpack, etc.  It might not feel the greatest, but I can do it because it has weight and a handle to grip.

The tool is not the philosophy.  It is an augment to the philosophy.  A supplement to your training philosophy.  

Again, I can perform a squat with any tool, or no tool.  If I don’t have a two, it’s bilateral air squats or for an added loaded and challenge, it’s pistol squats.  

Therefore, pay attention to more important aspects of your workout such as:

–  Consistent progression of loading.

–  Rest

–  Time under tension

–  Range of motion

–  Sets/Reps

–  Heart Rate

–  Movement patterns

–  Exercise progression

–  Your goals, needs, abilities and dysfunction

-etc…

These are things that can you can use to imprint your own philosophy of how an effective training session or long-term program should be designed, regardless of what equipment you have or don’t have.

Very simple thought pattern yet often overlooked.  Thanks Alwyn…

 

Cheers to philosophies and sticking to them…

 

Kyle