Monday, November 30, 2009

Females Unite!

Throughout my 12 years of training experience, I have gotten more joy out of training women than men. While that may not surprise you, the truth is that I love to empower women. I could certainly be called a "feminist," and absolutely hate when women express feeling ostracized from the free weights and kettlebells at their gym. There is nothing inherently "manly" about strength training! Every male and female gains tremendous benefit from added strength, since it directly transfers to your daily performance and athletic endeavors. Muscle size has very little to do with strength, and as I explained in an earlier post, strength is outwardly expressed through the internal tension created by your neuromuscular system. Ladies, your nervous system can be trained to produce just as much muscular tension as your boyfriend's! Don't believe is proof:

Suzanna is probably around 130 lbs. I can honestly say that most 180 lbs men I have worked with can not do what you see her doing. And yet, society would have women believe that in order to flip a 70lbs kettlebell after swinging it would require big, bulky, bodybuilder muscles! I emplore women everywhere to pick up your kettlebell and start training. Forget about all that high rep B.S., go for the heavy stuff, and build your strength, as well as your confidence!


I Am a Runner. Why Do I Need Strength Training?
Resistance or strength training is the Rodney Dangerfield of the running world: it gets no respect. I'm amazed that distance runners still believe the following:

- They do not need to resistance-train at all, at least "not for my legs."
- Resistance training will build big muscles and slow them down and ruin their form.
- If they perform weight training, it should be with light weights and high repetitions.
- Weight training should be done with machines.

Over the past two decades there have been dozens of studies showing the benefits of resistance training for runners in the areas of injury prevention and performance. There is no debate on this question. Resistance training will most certainly not build "big muscles" since most distance runners are ectomorphs, and no matter how hard they train with weights they will not build big muscles. Resistance training will improve your form and increase your speed by improving localized muscular endurance and nervous-system efficiency.

As for training with light weights and high reps, that went out with Jane Fonda workout tapes. Of course any beginner must use light weights while developing proper technique, but with experience it becomes readily apparent that not all reps are created equal. In order to increase strength (which is a good thing) you must apply gradual progressive resistance, which means heavier weights. Are you trying to set a world weight-lifting record? No, but getting stronger allows your muscles and tendons work more efficiently, making your gait more relaxed and "springy."

Finally, machines in no way compare with free weights, especially kettlebells. When was the last time you were seated in a fixed plane of motion while you were running? Running, and all movement in life for that matter, occurs in a 360 sphere. Machines turn you into what a well-known sports coach calls a "motor moron." They groove improper movement patterns that will ruin your running gait and lead to injury.

What Makes a Kettlebell So Special?
The design of the kettlebell differs from that of a dumbbell. With dumbbells the weight is evenly distributed over your hand. When using a kettlebell, there is constant pulling on your core (the muscles from shoulder blades down to your buttocks) for several reasons:

- Many exercises involve swinging the kettlebell which requires tremendous core strength to keep your body stationary.

- When you grasp the kettlebell by the handle, the center of mass or ball of the kettlebell is offset or slightly to the side. Pressing the kettlebell or holding it overhead causes a strong activation of your core to keep your body stable and tight.

Most of us who work out in the gym are used to isolating muscles. This is a bodybuilding technique bit it is not an effective way for a runner, or any athlete, to train. With kettlebells you use your buttocks, legs, abs, back, and arms-all at the same time. Kettlebells are a great time saver!

Kettlebells will strengthen the "weak" areas of your body. As a chiropractor and sports performance coach for over 20 years, I have seen the same problems over and over again-poor core strength, and a misunderstanding of how the core works and how to strengthen it. Kettlebell training is nothing short of phenomenal at addressing these issues. I have been training with kettlebells for five years and using them to rehabilitate injured patients for almost two years. Kettlebell rehab works wonders for lower-back, hip, knee, and shoulder problems.

Kettlebells can be used anywhere and require very little space. A few kettlebells make a complete gym. There are so many different exercises you can do that boredom will never be a problem. The price of a kettlebell is very reasonable considering that it will last a lifetime. You can't wear them out!

If you want to increase your sprinting speed, then kettlebells are the answer. As far as aerobic conditioning, try swinging a kettlebell for several minutes and see how long you last. Like any new exercise, proper instruction is required for safety and technique.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Master Technique WITHOUT Fatigue

Throughout my twelve years of training experience, I am often reminded of the bodybuilding cliche, "No pain, no gain!" I am not a bodybuilder, and neither are most of the people I work with on a daily basis. Despite this obvious fact, occasionally someone spouts out such nonsense, as if suddenly they will snap me out of my ignorance! Of course, after a few seconds of education on basic motor learning theory, they are quickly brought back to my world of intelligent training. Using a kettlebell requires skill, and mastering the kettlebell requires perfect practice. You see, in the world of strength and conditioning, we know that practice does not NECESSARILY make perfect. However, "PERFECT practice makes PERFECT!" And to practice perfectly, you must minimize fatigue. Don't believe me? Watch a UFC or other mixed martial arts fight. After 5 minutes of combat, the best fighters in the world start making rookie mistakes, like dropping their hands! They CAN'T hold their hands up, because their fatigued nervous system won't allow it...not because they aren't highly skilled. Still don't believe me? Check out this video of Marcus Martinez playing with "The Beast," as he hardly breaks a sweat, because he avoids training fatigue!

So pick up your kettlebell and start drilling your swings and getups, but stop well before you start getting tired for the first few weeks. Keep your reps low, meaning five or less. Practice everyday, for just a few minutes at a time, maybe even multiple times throughout the day. You'll quickly surpass all your friends who have insisted on performing higher reps for an hour straight, insisting that the "burn" they feel means they had a great workout, only to be confused by the exhaustion they experience throughout the rest of the day. In a matter of weeks, your kettlebell skill will drastically improve, and your mind and body will "thank you" for training smarter...instead of longer!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


What is the strongest muscle in your body relative to its size? If you said, "your tongue," you'd be right! But since this site is about kettlebells and skeletal muscle, the trick question is actually referring to your glutes. The glutes are actually several muscles, whose job is hip extension and hip external rotation. These "butt" muscles primarily serve to drive your hips forward, and because of their awesome leverage, they can produce intense, powerful contractions. In fact, to train the muscles most efficiently, you must introduce high loads (weight) with high velocity (speed) to your strength training regiment. Enter the kettlebell swing!

Because of the powerful and dynamic gluteal contractions throughout the swing, resulting from forceful hip extension, it is one of the most EFFECTIVE "butt" exercises. In addition to this aesthetic appeal, the movement is incredibly functional and easy to learn. I can teach you how to swing perfectly in less than 5 minutes. And to top it off, once mastered, the swing becomes a full body exercise, effectively strengthening every major muscle group in your body because of the heavy loads handled and the dynamic nature of the movement!

What size KETTLEBELL is appropriate for me?

At Capital Sports Injury Center we use kettlebells in wide range of sizes - from 4kg to 40kg. We STRONGLY recommend that you come in and let us show you how to use a kettlebell before trying one on your own. I just spoke to a colleague of mine who had just completed his first kettlebell class. He had difficulty doing a Turkish Get Up (TGU) with NO WEIGHT! An empty hand!

The first time you attempt any kettlebell movement, you should use a weight you are sure you can handle. In our facility even a strong man may start with a 8kg kettlebell. That being said, within one session he may progress to a 16kg kettlebell. For the ladies, a 4kg or 6kg is an appropriate starting weight.

Once you gain some experience and find your comfortable training weight, then purchasing a kettlebell will be easy. Most women can start with an 8kg kettlebell (for overhead movements like presses, TGUs, and snatches)and a 12kg or 16kg for swings. Most men should buy a 12kg to warm-up and for overhead movements and a 16kg for swings. If you rapidly progress to heavier kettlebells - good technique is the key - then good for you!

For the best deal on kettlebells we recommend MBodyStrength - CLICK HERE!

For high end kettlebells, we recommend Order Authentic Russian Kettlebells

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are KETTLEBELLS dangerous? Am I too old to use KETTLEBELLS?

Kettlebell training is very safe when you are supervised by a trained instructor. We strongly recommend you learn kettlebell training in one of our kettlebell classes. Even in top level kettlebell competition, the injury rate is miniscule compared to injuries in sports. In our practice we use kettlebells for injury rehabilitation and injury prevention. We have high school athletes training with kettlebells as well as senior Olympians. Our oldest kettlebell man is 74 and he swings the 53 lb. kettlebell! Our high school female golfer also swings the 53 lb. kettlebell!

Learn proper technique to prevent injuries. Come to one of our kettlebell classes. Call us at 301-622-9000 or email us at

Monday, November 23, 2009

How are KETTLEBELLS used for Fitness?

Kettlebell workouts are intended to burn body fat, increase strength, build endurance, and teach agility and balance by challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular systems with dynamic, total-body movements. Kettlebell training requires the involvement of all major muscle groups at once which provides a fantastic full body workout. Watch this...

For women we recommend:
KettleBell Goddess DVD Plus Kettlebell
For men we recommend:
Enter The Kettlebell

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The kettlebell or girya is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a shot put or cannonball with a handle. Kettlebells were used by legendary old-time strongmen in Russia, Europe and in the US in the 1800's up until just after the turn of the century. Soon after the 20th century, kettlebells largely disappeared in the US, but stayed popular in Russia. But now they have made a comeback. Kettlebells are now for everyone! Watch this...

Come to our Silver Spring location at 12200 Tech Road and try your first kettlebell class for FREE. Yes, FOR FREE! To register, call us at 301-622-9000 or email us at

We strongly recommend the Kettlebell Foundation and Kettlebell Basics DVDs as a place to start. CLICK HERE for our KETTLEBELL STORE!