Friday, December 30, 2011

WOD- Max Effort 1 Repeat


3 Rounds of Max Weight (Ramp up the load each set)

Turkish Getup: 1 rep max
Bottom-up Clean and Press: 5 rep max (each side)
Suitcase Deadlift: 10 rep max (each side)

Compare with: 10/20/11

Saturday, Dec 31st Schedule Change


There is ONLY a 9am and 10am class.  There will be no 8am class.

Look for your name so you know which class I have you attending.  If you have to change the time (or else not attend), please feel free to do so, although the numbers work better for me if we stick to what I have below.

9am Class

Leslie B.

10am Class




Thursday, December 22, 2011

WOD- Cardio 6 REPEAT

AMRAP (as many reps as possible for each exercise in the given time frame prescribed.)

Turkish Getups- 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Clean and Press - 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Snatches -  5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Compare to 9/16/11

Friday, December 16, 2011

WOD- Max Effort 4 REPEAT

Directions:  End with the highest weight possible for the given exercise and repetitions. Spend 3-5 sets getting to that heaviest weight.  Log the weight, and if it is different on the left and right arm.

Windmill - 5RM

Reverse Lunge- 5RM

Lateral Lunge- 5RM

1 Arm Swing - 10RM

Compare to 9/30/11

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kettlebell Workshop Jan 29th, 12noon-4pm

Hi Everyone,

    I will be holding a kettlebell workshop at CrossFit Diesel on Jan 29th from 12noon- 4pm.   It is open to the first 40 registrants.  I have  included the direct link to pay online for registration.  If you are interested, please register asap.  If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass this email onto them.  I could really use everyone's help in promoting this workshop.  It's success will allow me to continue holding workshop at their location in the future, and as such, could be great for growing Maryland Kettlebells.  So send this email to everyone you know in the local area, and tell everyone how great of an instructor I am, as well as how kettlebells has changed your life! 


Friday, December 9, 2011

WOD- Cardio 6 REPEAT

AMRAP (as many reps as possible for each exercise in the given time frame prescribed.)

Turkish Getups- 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Clean and Press - 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Snatches -  5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Compare to 9/16/11

Friday, December 2, 2011

WOD- Max Effort 3 REPEAT

Directions: Over the course of 3-5 sets, work up to the heaviest weight possible for each exercise assigned.  Post your max weight in the comments section for each exercise.

Clean and Jerk - 5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions on each arm)

Snatch -  5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions on each arm)

Thrusters -  5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions*)

* Use 2 kettlebells (1 in each hand) for the thrusters if possible.

Compare to 9/23/11

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Right now we’re living in a time when the economy is rough, Sundays are no longer days of rest, the risk of diseases and cancer are high, and there are more broken families than ever before.
With all the negative, we’re all still finding a way to survive and get strong(er).
Extraordinary Resolve.
We find a way to conquer no matter what, no matter how.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we want to know what YOU are thankful for. Let us know in the comment section below.

What are you thankful for?

And for you those of you like me who work hard to be strong, this compilation is for you! 

Extraordinary resolve is not just found in adults....


Friday, November 25, 2011

WOD- Cardio 5 REPEAT

Descending Ladder ( Record time to completion and weight used)

Turkish Getup - 1 rep each set on each side

             Followed by:

1 Arm Snatches - 10, 9, 8,....1 reps

Directions: Start on your back. Use turkish getup to stand up, perform your 10 snatches, then leave the bell up on the 10th snatch.  Return to the ground, reversing your turkish getup.  Switch sides, repeating the same sequence.  When you return to the first side, once you are standing, you will only perform 9 snatches, then go back down to the ground.  You will continue in the descending pattern until you end with 1 turkish getup and 1 snatch on each arm. 

Compare to 9/3/11

Monday, November 21, 2011

You Have to Swing Those Bells!

Do you face three of the same challenges that I regularly confront with my conditioning?
  1. I hate doing cardio in pretty much any form.
  2. I don’t have huge amounts of time to focus on conditioning because getting time to do my strength work can be an issue.
  3. I don’t have (or have access to) a Prowler.
Before some douche bag trainer from the Biggest Loser goes all medieval on my arse and tells me to find a hill and sprint up it until I lose my cookies or grow a pair, indulge me for a moment. I never really saw the point in running unless it involved someone chasing me or me chasing a ball. The whole concept of a “Fun Run” is really one of the great oxymorons of the modern age. However, I have found an alternative that allows me to complete some butt kicking conditioning work without going anywhere near a hill, all in the span of twelve to seventeen minutes (twenty if you include a warm-up period).

The answer—kettlebells. In my mind, there are four main kettlebell exercises—kettlebell swings and their variations, kettlebell snatches, kettlebell clean and presses, and Turkish get-ups.

My conditioning program is simple. I pick two of these exercises, do one of them for ten to twelve minutes, and then do the other exercise for five minutes. With kettlebell swings, two arm, single arm, and alternating arm versions are all fine, and I often mix each of them into the same session, particularly when they form the longer portion of the workout.

At the end of this workout, your heart will be pounding and almost your entire posterior chain will be screaming. Put the kettlebells away, walk around to get your breath back, get your bag, and get on with your life.
I will acknowledge up front that the workouts can be as boring as hell, but I make no apologies for this. I’ll take boring but brutally effective over mind numbing treadmill work any day. Focusing on holding on to your last meal can make the time pass quickly. Believe me. The key to getting through the workout is to focus on ensuring your technique is sound and remains that way for the duration. Once you get over the five-minute mark, fatigue will set in, and for the next five to seven minutes, a technical failure may result in an unwanted injury. If your technique starts to fail you, stop the exercise and move to another exercise. As my mother use to say, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.

Pavel Tsatsouline has written extensively on all things kettlebell related, including proper technique. Sample technique videos are available on my blog and my youtube page and I strongly recommend you study these prior to commencing with this protocol. The protocols presented here are variations on work presented by Pavel, particularly the ten-minute clean and press challenge. For this, I will forever be indebted to him.

One of my favorite variations is to line up four kettlebells of progressively lighter weight and perform twenty repetitions at the heaviest weight. Then I move to the next lightest for twenty repetitions and continue down the chain to the lightest weight before working my way back up the chain. While it’s mentally pleasing to move down the chain with the weight getting lighter, the mental challenge in moving back up the chain is significant.

For those who don’t have access to kettlebells, dumbbells can be used, but take care with your grip if you use two hands when doing swings. I also suggest that you give alternating arm swings a miss with dumbbells.
So the next time you’re contemplating another boring conditioning session for you, mix it up and bring on a kettlebell challenge. Even a two-minute challenge will be significant for an inexperienced client. Remember, you have to swing them bells!

Friday, November 18, 2011

WOD- Max Effort 2 REPEAT

WOD = Max Effort Day

Work up to a max weight for each movement, using the given repetition maximum assigned.  Do so over the course of 3-5 sets for each exercise.  Once you have used the most amount of weight possible for the prescribed repetitions, you are done that exercise.  Therefore, continue on to the next movement and repeat the process of progressive resistance, ending in a max effort attempt for each one.  The max weight used in each one is what gets logged in the "comments" section below.  FYI, the weight logged needs to be the same for your right and left arm!

1) Turkish Getup - 1RM (1 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 1 repetition)
2) Front Squat - 5RM ( 5 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 5 repetition)
3) Overhead Press - 5RM ( 5 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 5 repetition)

Compare to:  9/10/11

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do More of What you Suck At!

Do you ever wonder where you weaknesses come from?  They are the result of your habits and movement patterns.  If you sit a lot for your job, you develop tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings.  If you don't do stretching exercises to counter this behavior, you will eventually end up with pain and dysfunction.  Or take another more personal example, and perhaps you train heavy weightlifting movements most of the time, like me!  I get great gains in strength and muscle mass, but the weakness that results is that my cardiovascular endurance is relatively poor.  Why? Because I don't train movements or activities with enough frequency to make positive changes to that system. 

So does that mean that I should ignore that weakness?  Well, if you are like me, your ego is saying "yes."  Our egos like us to continue performing the activities and movements that we are good at and like to perform. However, if we want to optimize our fitness, and achieve a more balanced body, you should not ignore your weaknesses.  You should find what you suck at, and work on those movements or activities. 

That doesn't mean stop doing what you enjoy or what you are good at, but simply weave in some work to address the weaknesses you discover.  Try including something at least once or twice a week, and it doesn't have to be a large time commitment.  To make significant changes in my cardiovascular endurance, I could jog 1.5 miles one day, and perform a 10 minute kettlebell interval training session on another day.  In less than 30 minutes a week, I would likely see changes in as little as 3-4 weeks. 

You should do the same.  Find what you suck at, learn activities or exercises that address those weaknesses, and then act on them regularly.  Plan this out, because remember, it will not be things you enjoy doing.  Additionally, your weaknesses may change over the course of a year or two.  You may fix one problem, and then find that another problem needs to be prioritized.  For example, the office worker I mentioned in the first paragraph has tight hip flexors and hamstrings.  Well, after 6 weeks of daily stretching, those muscles are no longer tight, but I bet their abdominal muscles are weak too.  So, time cut back on the stretching to a maintenance level, then focus on strengthening the core over the next 4-6 weeks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WOD- Cardio 4 REPEAT


21-15-9    (complete for minimum time)


Compare to 8/27/11

Friday, November 4, 2011

WOD- Cardio 3 Repeat


Reps for minimum time (20 minute time limit)

5 Getups each side
20 Clean, squat, press on each side
30 Suitcase Deadlift each side
40 Snatches each side

Compare to 8/20/11

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kettlebells Make For a Great Braking System

The main functions of the core are stabilization, rotation/anti-rotation, and anti-extension. Anti-extension is often the most overlooked of the three categories. In fact, I’d even argue that most coaches overlook all three and focus on flexion for their core training. To those coaches, I suggest reading McGill. But that’s a different topic for a different time…

Anti-extension is important because if I go up to grab a pass in football, it is my core that must be the braking system and keep my body from extending back into a pretzel. The ab wheel is one of the few infomercial items that actually work in this regard. It trains pure anti-extension. However, although I love my ab wheel, it doesn’t train the core in a dynamic enough matter for many athletes and many athletes are too weak to perform it safely and correctly.

Part of my training consists of heavy kettlebell swings.  To perform the swing correctly, after extending my hips , I was contracting my abdominals hard at the top to make sure I wasn’t thrown into hyper extension by the 88-lb kettlebell. Lo and behold, for each rep, I concentrated more on this mechanism, realizing that it directly mimicked anti-extension in quite a few sports. This movement was done dynamically and with heavy forces acting upon it within a movement that involved hip extension and the almighty posterior chain. I can already feel the good pain in my abdominals, which means they were highly activated.

Check this quote out by Charlie Francis: “In sprinting, abdominal strength is critical to success. If the abdominals fail in the late stages of the race, the athlete will begin to lean back in an attempt to maintain knee lift. The backward lean causes the foot strike to occur too far ahead of the center of gravity. This results in deceleration and overstress of the hamstrings, potentially leading to injury. Strength and endurance in the abdominal muscles can be developed relatively quickly with EMS.” Although we aren’t using EMS here, you can see how the braking system can be developed dynamically for an activity like sprinting using anti-extension in the kettlebell swing.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this movement is more beneficial to athletes than the ab wheel and it can be taught and performed at a much younger training age. Most athletes and trainees can perform kettlebell swings at a relatively young training age due to the fact that once they ‘get’ hip extension and can keep the lower back in neutral, they can usually put it together to do light kettlebell swings. I have taught 9 year olds how to swing a kettlebell, and frankly, there is no good reason not to teach this from an early age.  Don't kid yourself, the forces exerted upon your 9 year during his peewee football game are likely greater than that of a kettlebell swing.  So why the hell do you just have your kid playing a dynamic, powerful sport...with no preparation in mechanics or physiology?

Next time you take your kettlebells out for a spin, be sure to put on the anti-extension brakes with the abdominals. This will give you more bang for your buck and help to injury proof you or your athletes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

WOD- Cardio 2 REPEAT

20 Minute AMRAP ( as many reps as possible) using an Ascending Ladder for Repetitions.

Directions:  Perform the exercises in the order they are given. Perform each repetition on the right and left side before moving onto the next exercise.  Once the 20 min time limit starts, you will perform 1 rep of each exercise on each arm.  You will then repeat the order using 2 reps on each arm, followed by 3,4,5,6.....Keep moving until your time runs out, at which point, you will log the highest repetition (or round) you made it to, plus any partial rounds.

1 Arm Swing

Compare to 8/13/11

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For Those Looking for a Unique Halloween Gift!

If you want to decorate your home with something new this Halloween, check these out:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some of the Best Athletes in the World Are Olympic Weightlifters

Most people who have not tried to learn the Olympic Lifts have very little appreciation for the athleticism required of top performing lifters.  At the Beast of the East competition on October 8th, I witnessed a reminder of just how awesome these lifters can be.  A 24 year old, weighing 169lbs, snatched 308lbs and clean and jerked 396lbs.  That is incredible.  I weigh 190ish pounds, and on my best day, I have snatch 190lbs and clean and jerked 245lbs.  That is no where close to this kids performance, and I have been practicing for years.  We recorded the videos below:

Snatch:  From the ground to overhead in one motion (must establish control at the top in order to be counted)

 Clean and Jerk: (From ground to shoulders, then from shoulders to overhead.  Must establish control at the top in order to count)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WOD- Max Effort 1 REPEAT


3 Rounds of Max Weight (Ramp up the load each set)

Turkish Getup: 1 rep max
Bottom-up Clean and Press: 5 rep max (each side)
Suitcase Deadlift: 10 rep max (each side)

Compare with:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Should You Hop Aboard the Crossfit Bus?

Those of you that have known me a while know I have mixed feelings about Crossfit.  While my wife and I practice it, we do so for different reasons.  She wants to just be generally fit and athletic, and feeds off the social support.  I participate for the competition with others, as I no longer devote time to just powerlifting or MMA competitions.  Crossfit allows me to compete against other strong and fast athletes, without the large time commitment required to excel in MMA and powerlifting.

In a little over a decade, CrossFit has gone from obscurity to prominence as arguably the most well-known event in the iron calendar—the Arnold Classic Sports Festival. This system has become a near global phenomenon, racking up thousands of affiliated gyms worldwide and acquiring an army of devoted and unmistakable aficionados (kipping pull-ups anyone?). However, popularity doesn’t equal good. Britney Spears has taught us this much. A great divide exists between critics as to the value of the CrossFit system. To some, it is a “one size fits all” solution to training, offering total body conditioning, muscle gain, strength, and more. Yet to others, it’s a poorly thought out exercise in masochism that turns men into women and women into men (not my words).

Plenty of critics from either side of the debate have already written at length about the value of CrossFit. What I will try to add to the argument is what makes the system good or bad and why that is the case. I’ve tried to sit on the fence for the sake of neutrality, but I invite you to use the information below to form your own opinion and decide if CrossFit is right for you.

In a nutshell
The philosophy of CrossFit in a nutshell is this—train for everything to develop balanced performance and appearance. The end result is typically trainees who have pretty good general fitness. They display levels of strength, endurance, and power that would be the envy of the average guy. So far so good.

I can tell you for sure that Crossfit will quickly push you outside your comfort zone. Most WODs (Workout of the Day) are against the clock, so I find the training system lends itself to competitive group environments. Toss in a good nutrition program and you have one hell of a template for personal training, where the average client wants fat loss and general fitness and where group training is smart business.

This generalized approach to training may not just serve general population clients though. CrossFit style training (albeit with some modifications) may be a great introduction to physical preparation for young athletes. Early on in their careers, young athletes require exposure to a wide range of physical training stimuli in order to develop a broad base of athletic ability. Being largely free weight and body weight based, the “functional” nature of the system has also earned CrossFit the adoration of large sectors of the military, martial artists, and the emergency services world—physical endeavors where the unpredictable nature of the task requires a kitchen sink approach to preparation.

The downsides
So CrossFit definitely has some value. I certainly won’t bash a system that promotes physical activity and well-roundedness. However, this value doesn’t extend to the realm of athletic training. In recent years, sites have popped up promoting CrossFit as the ideal solution to prepare for football, lacrosse, rugby, and other sports. Far from being the secret weapon in an athlete’s arsenal, this is competitive suicide. While valuing all round performance is admirable, “balance” shouldn’t be on the lips of elite athletes but “specialization.”

Top Olympic lifters don’t give a damn how fast they can row 2000 meters. Elite marathon runners couldn’t care less about how many muscle-ups they can perform. They would both probably suck at CrossFit and here’s why—as an athlete, you have a finite capacity to train and recover. Perform any training that doesn’t directly contribute or support your event/sport and you have just wasted an opportunity to train, adapt, and become better physically prepared for your sport. At the elite level of preparation, such intense training stimuli (volume and intensity) is required to elicit training adaptations and dedicating training time to all but essential activities becomes inappropriate.

So while certain CrossFitters thumb their nose at the poor powerlifter who squats a grand but get’s gassed climbing some stairs, it comes at the price of being unable to excel at a given event or sport. Achieving elite qualification in sport—particularly individual, non-combat sports where a narrow band of physical qualities typically underpin performance—requires laser like focus of training resources.

Unfortunately for CrossFit, the criticisms don’t end there. Consider also that effective physical training entails identifying and then addressing individual weaknesses. Trying to remedy this with a cookie-cutter WOD will prove inefficient at best or even damaging if certain exercises/techniques are contraindicated for an individual. And that’s even before you’ve started the WOD. Once you get going, you have to worry about the astronomical volume of some sessions. Crazy high volume just isn’t necessary to elicit desirable adaptations in all but the most experienced trainees. In fact, it poses an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury or even muscle damage in novices.

High volume by itself is a small worry but combining it with CrossFit’s use of Olympic lifting becomes a worry. Coached properly, the lifts are a great tool for developing explosive strength and triple extension mechanics. Trying to get a group of people with mixed abilities to perform them properly with low coaching numbers and time is tough. Getting the same group to perform them properly as part of a high rep, fatiguing circuit is nigh on impossible and asking for injury.

The CrossFit trend for sloppy form in the name of “power output” is potentially injurious and not necessarily appropriate. While power output is desirable, stricter form should be the other order of the day for strength, lean body mass, and neural efficiency development and only allowed to be loosened in the hands of expert trainees. The current teaching of new trainees to use loose form on kipping pull-ups, air squats, and other exercises is simply bad coaching. At least learn the motor pattern correctly before you murder it!

So is it good or bad!?
As with much in life, I don’t think CrossFit is all good or all bad. The issue is one of appropriateness. In the hands of an accomplished coach, the CrossFit system can produce a decent program that ticks a lot of boxes and lends itself well to weekend warriors and young athletes. In the hands of a macho, underqualified coach who earned his Level 1 certification over a weekend, it can leave trainees butchering form and breaking bodies.

Maybe this says more about the coaches implementing CrossFit than the system itself? Maybe that is precisely how things should be? Physical training can be a complex and dynamic process requiring the use of the right methods at the right time with a high degree of individualization. It isn’t as easy as chucking crap at a wall and seeing what sticks.

The innovators of CrossFit are certainly right when they assert that sprinters are the fastest athletes on the planet, powerlifters are the strongest, Olympic lifters are extraordinarily powerful, and rowers have unreal endurance. That’s because they focus almost completely on their respective disciplines. But the logic that combining the training of all these athletes will lead to similar results across the board is simply incorrect. You can’t ride two or even five saddles with one ass. The question is, are you happy to be above average at a bunch of stuff or really good at a few things? In my experience, the overwhelming majority of clients and athletes fall into the latter camp and should train accordingly.

So CrossFit doesn’t cure cancer, nor is it the second coming of Jesus. It is just a well meaning, if practically flawed, philosophy of training. And a good coach will get around those flaws anyway. So live and let live. Just quit looking like you’ve been tasered in the ass when you do a pull-up!

Friday, October 14, 2011


As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes

Thrusters (1 Bells) - 5 reps
Snatch (1 Bell) - 15 reps each arm
Clean and Jerk (1 Bell) - 10 reps each arm
2 Hand Swing (1 Bell) - 30 reps

Compare to 7/23/11

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Experience at the 2011 Beast of the East

As many of you know, I competed in the Beast of the East competition on October 8th and 9th.  The event was a Crossfit competition, held in Durham, CT.  There were over 200 competitors there, with 171 of them being men.  The competition lasted 2 days, and consisted of 6 events, with only the top 10 athletes moving onto the 6th event.  I ended placing 50th out of the 171 men, so I did not make it to the 6th event.  Sadly, I had a back injury that almost caused me to pull out of the competition.  It significantly affected every event except the first one.  I honestly believe, had I been functioning at 100%, I would have easily placed in the top 25 male athletes. 

Listed below are the events that I competed in, as well as a few videos of me competing in them:

Event 1: 5k run
It was a very hilly course, and I completed the race in 24:44.  While I only beat about 15 men, for a person who never runs (and hates long distance running), I feel pretty good about my performance.

Event 2: 1 Rep Max Clean and Jerk
I had 6 minutes to get to the heaviest weight possible on a clean and jerk.  My back was really hurting on this one, which is why you see me use a belt after my first attempt.  Had I been 100%, I would have easily done another 15-20lbs.  Even in my condition, I ended with 240 lbs, which was a personal record!

Event 3: Max Reps in 2minutes for 275lbs Deadlift
I had 2 minutes to get as many reps as possible in my deadlift with 275 lbs on the bar.  Again, my back was a huge hindrance, so I moved slowly and deliberately, making sure each rep was a perfect as possible.  Despite my condition, I performed the first 30 reps unbroken, and managed to get another 9 reps before time ran out, totaling 39 reps.I suspect I could have gotten another 20 reps by moving faster if my back was 100%.  Regardless, I still set a personal best in this event as well.

Event 4: 1 Rep Max for Barbell Turkish Getup
I had 10 minutes to get to my maximum weight on a turkish getup for 1 repetition.  I only had to stand up with the weight.  Once again, my back was a problem in this, limiting how smoothly I could transition through the steps.  Despite my condition, I ended with 135 lbs, which was another personal record for me!

Event 5: 21-15-9 MetCon Medley
I had a 10 minute time cap to perform a 21 calorie row (concept 2 rowing machine), 21 overhead squats with 95 lbs, and 21 burpees, followed by 15 of each, and finally 9 of each.  I was exhausted and in pain before I even started the event, so I moved rather slowly on the row and the overhead squats, out of fear of further injury.  Despite that, I finished in 9:25.  Many people did not even finish the event in time, and once again, I set a personal record.

Summary of the Event

Many of you know I have mixed feelings about CrossFit.  Those feelings have only been substantiated by my participation in the Beast of the East competition.  Overall, I had fun, and I certainly performed the best I could given my injured state. I enjoyed being around people who are equally as competitive, fit, and athletic.  I also enjoyed the social support and networking that resulted from my participation.  However, I do have some criticisms.

#1: This event was promoted to focus on strongman and strength events.

    If that was the case, why was the 5k part of the event.  Furthermore, why was the metcon (5th event) included.  Neither has anything to do with strength.  And in fact, you could argue that the 2 min deadlift event has very little to do with strength as well, certainly far less than a 1,3,or 5 repetition maximum.

#2: The standards of the events (and the judges) were horribly low.

     For example, during the deadlift event, many athletes were driving the weight into the floor so that the bumper plates used would bounce up to knee height.  That means those athletes were only pulling from their knees up.  That is not a deadlift.  If you look at my video, my reps are deliberate, with absolutely no bounce despite using bumper plates.  A deadlift is pulling a weight from the floor to a fully erect position.  Bouncing reps should not have counted, which is effectively cheating.
    Another example is the turkish getup.  We were asked to position the bar overhead from the ground, then get to our feet and establish control.  Some judges allowed the athletes to elevate the bar off the ground using the unused bumper plates, making it far easier for those athletes to get the bar into position with only a fraction of the effort.  Once again, if you have an uneven playing field, you are cheating. 

#3: Drug use is clearly prevalent within this subculture.

      Similar to my argument above about cheating and creating an uneven playing field, I can all but guarantee that many athletes are using performance enhancing drugs.  I saw this in women there, as well as men.  I am sorry, but if you expect me to believe that a 125lbs girl can perform a barbell turkish getup with 105lbs without drugs, you must take me for an idiot.  The event, as well as all CrossFit events, are not regulated for illicit drug use.  And given the Type A personality that is attracted to CrossFit in the first place, anyone looking for an easy edge in competition can quite easily be persuade to steroid use.  There is a reason why they are banned from the Olympics.  They work too damn good to be fair, and a lot of these athletes at the Beast of the East, in my opinion, were not playing fair!

#4: The event was disorganized.

    I know that this was the first event of its kind, so there is bound to be unexpected problems.  However, some of what I experienced was just due to poor planning.  First, the chips used to record our 5k run time malfunctioned.  That means many athletes got screwed with what time they had recorded, including me!  Saturday's events were supposed to start at 8am, but we didn't even start getting directions until 9am.  I'm sorry, but as a serious athlete who is spending time warming up and preparing for my first event, making me wait over an hour is going to hurt my performance.  Sunday was no different, with start times being drastically different than what we were told.  In the future, post the schedule and stick with it.  Any athletes that are late, they should get penalized, not the rest of us who were prepared and on time.


Friday, September 30, 2011

WOD-Max Effort 4

WOD- Max Effort Day

Directions:  End with the highest weight possible for the given exercise and repetitions. Spend 3-5 sets getting to that heaviest weight.  Log the weight, and if it is different on the left and right arm.

Windmill - 5RM

Reverse Lunge- 5RM

Lateral Lunge- 5RM

1 Arm Swing - 10RM

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

6 Pack Abs!

Training with Russian Kettlebells is a great way to lose body fat and strengthen your muscles. If you have an intelligent exercise program you will be doing both at the same time! One of the hidden benefits of training with a Russian Kettlebell is that it will strengthen and therefore, tone up your abdmonial muscles at the same time. So, if you get lean enough through hard training and a healthy diet you can acheive those coveted six pack abs everybody wants!
Some exercises to really work your abs with a kettlebell are, turkish get ups, windmills, deck squats, kettlebell overhead cruches, russian twists, renegade rows and any one handed overhead lift. Any time you press a weight overhead your abdmonial muscles have to contract in order to stabilize your body. If you press a weight overhead with one hand, the result is even greater due to uneven loading.
You will notice the abdomial exercises I listed are not your regular high rep crunch exercises, and that is for a reason. Strong muscles are toned muscles and muscles don't get strong with low weight, high repetition exercises. Muscles get strong and toned with high tension only! Tension can be created with heavy weight or holding your body in tough positions the way a gymnast does. 
Gymnasts don't use weights but they have great muscles because of the high tension movements they use. Think of a gymnast doing the iron cross on the rings, every muscles in their body is super tight and looks great.
Anyways, the exercises I have listed are high tension abdominal exercises. Each one will force you to contract your abs hard and therefore make them stronger! Your reps will be lower but the results will be greater. For a nice fat burning effect do a series of them in a row as a circuit. 
Below is a funny looking exercise called a circular clean that will work the rotational muscles of the core. Rotational muscles are important for aesthetics but also for athletic performance; it is for this reason that I always try to incorporate one handed or rotational exercises in my daily training sessions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

WOD-Max Effort 3

WOD: Max Effort Day

Directions: Over the course of 3-5 sets, work up to the heaviest weight possible for each exercise assigned.  Post your max weight in the comments section for each exercise.

Clean and Jerk - 5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions on each arm)

Snatch -  5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions on each arm)

Thrusters -  5RM (Max weight for 5 repetitions*)

* Use 2 kettlebells (1 in each hand) for the thrusters if possible.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tabata Intervals for Fat Burning

              To burn fat you have to force your body to melt calories like crazy. Low intensity, slow and steady exercising and dieting just is not effective enough. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) done with a kettlebell is a great way to send the metabolism into over drive and burn tons of calories after the workout is completed.
              One of the most effective and infamous interval protocols is the Tabata Interval Routine. Tabata's come from a Japanese speed skating coach who determined that sprints of 20 seconds followed by rests of 10 seconds were the most effective protocol for fat loss and speed development.
20 seconds Sprint, 10 seconds rest. Repeat until failure.
             Sounds fun doesn't it. So to get started pick an exercise: kettlebell swings, snatches, hill sprints, clean and press, front squats, etc. Then pick a weight (if applicable) that seems easy at first but you know will be hard. Remember, you can always go heavier, so err on the side of lightness for your first time.
              Have a clock in front of you or a partner with a stop watch. Warm-up nice and easy for about five minutes. Now it is time to rock!
            Whatever movement you choose, go as hard and fast as you can for 20 seconds, the rest for 10 seconds. Repeat at least 8 times and up to a maximum of 12 times. If you can sprint each time for 12 sets the drill you have chosen is too easy. You much increase the intensity so by set 4 you are wondering if you will live and by set five you honestly think you are bending time.
             By then end of the 8-12 sets you should be pouring sweat, your lungs should be on fire, and you should be semi-nauseous. These are all good signs as they are telling you that your metabolism has been properly reved up for maximum calorie burning for the next 24 hours or so.
            Tabata's are powerful and versatile but you cannot do them every day. They are very demanding on the body so use them once or twice a week either after a training session or as a mini-workout on off days.

Friday, September 16, 2011



AMRAP (as many reps as possible for each exercise in the given time frame prescribed.)

Turkish Getups- 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Clean and Press - 5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Snatches -  5 minutes (prescribed weight: 35# male/ 8k female)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kettlebell Circuits for Bodyfat Loss

Russian Kettlebell training lends itself very well to wrestling and other combat sports such as MMA. The reason for this is kettlebell training is very high intensity and works the whole body at the same time. Much the same way any combat sports exhausts the entire body within minutes. For best results time your circuits to last the same as your rounds would and go all out for that time period. 

However, you don't need to be a combat sports athlete to train like one, or experience the benefits from that training.  Everyone wants to look good naked right? Well, I don't know about you, but my definition of looking good is lean, athletic, and muscular.  Kettlebell circuits can provide that look for you, and you don't need to invest hours performing them each week!

When doing kettlebell drills your heart rate will increase dramatically, you will go into oxygen debt, and lactate acid will increase in your muscles. All this sounds really fun right?! Well, as painful and demanding as kettlebell circuits are, they will get you results, and fast. You will burn fat, you will improve your conditioning you will get stronger and you will become more athletic.

The key to getting results with a kettlebell is to train hard, train often, and train quickly. What I mean by quickly is that your kettlebell workouts should last no more than thirty minutes if you train daily, and forty five minutes if you train every other day. Training with them is stressful and can burn you out quickly so do not extend your sessions longer than one hour. What I also mean by train quickly is that you should constantly be moving that bell during your session. Use circuits to move from one drill to the next in order to maximize your time. You can do short intense circuits with a quick rest or you can just go straight for half an hour keeping the intensity pretty steady. But keep pushing yourself into oxygen debt and the results will astound you!

The exercises you use during your kettlebell circuits are totally up to you but the majority of them should be compound movements such as swings, cleans, snatches and squats for maximum effect.

Below is a video of a kettlebell training circuit for wrestlers that would be useful to anyone looking to get in shape and burn off body fat.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

WOD-Max Effort 2

 WOD = Max Effort Day

Work up to a max weight for each movement, using the given repetition maximum assigned.  Do so over the course of 3-5 sets for each exercise.  Once you have used the most amount of weight possible for the prescribed repetitions, you are done that exercise.  Therefore, continue on to the next movement and repeat the process of progressive resistance, ending in a max effort attempt for each one.  The max weight used in each one is what gets logged in the "comments" section below.  FYI, the weight logged needs to be the same for your right and left arm!

1) Turkish Getup - 1RM (1 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 1 repetition)
2) Front Squat - 5RM ( 5 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 5 repetition)
3) Overhead Press - 5RM ( 5 repetition maximum = max weight moved for 5 repetition)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kettlebell Training Comes in 3 General Body Shapes

Your body shapes the way you move it, especially when training with kettlebells. Kettlebell training is so powerful it can quickly make your body be Firm and Defined, Strong and Bulky or KettleBell Competition Athletic. Different kettlebell training methods result in different body shapes.

Lets examine which kettlebell training method will create what body shape…

Method #1 - Competition KettleBell Lifting or Girevoy Sport KettleBell Competition, which consists of only 2 lifts

The Jerk: the jerk of two kettlebells from the chest with two arms

The Snatch: The snatch is performed in one movement. The competitor must lift the kettlebell with one uninterrupted movement and pause with it overhead with his arm straight.

Each event consists of performing as many lifts as possible within the allowed 10 minute time period. The highest total reps in both lifts determine the winner in each weight class.

Examples of the KettleBell Competition Body type Male Body

As you can see the two kettlebell Sport lifts creates efficient technique and cardio respiratory conditioning with almost non-existent body toning and muscle definition effects.
Method #2 - ‘Russian Style’ or ‘HardStlye’  Its users describe HardStyle as “Simple, sinister, brutal—and ferociously effective for developing explosive strength, dramatic power and never-say-die conditioning. Guaranteed to forge a rugged, resilient, densely-muscled frame—built to withstand the hardest beating and dish it right back out, 24/7.” This system is also restricted to only a few basic movements – Clean & Press, Snatch, Swings, Get Up and Pistols done while using Heavy KettleBells for Low Reps.

HardStyle Training Example and Body Shape:

As you can see the Russian or Hard Style of lifting kettlebells definitely makes the body stronger, more powerful, and bulky.

Method #3 - KettleBell Conditioning and Fitness

Kettlebell conditioning and fitness is a workout that thinks outside the traditional kettlebell box. KettleBell conditioning combines a complete cardio, core and resistance workout in each training session for whole body fitness.

What’s so great about kettlebell fitness is that it does not have exercise restrictions, so your body benefits from so many kettlebell exercise variations.  In my kettlebell classes, I emphasize the fitness and conditioning training most often, with about 30% of the time spent in the "Hardstyle" training method for strength. I believe that this combination works great for providing people with accelerated fat loss, improved cardiovascular function, and moderate gains in strength for injury prevention and athletic performance.

Example of a KettleBell Fitness Body:

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Descending Ladder ( Record time to completion and weight used)

Turkish Getup - 1 rep each set on each side

             Followed by:

1 Arm Snatches - 10, 9, 8,....1 reps

Directions: Start on your back. Use turkish getup to stand up, perform your 10 snatches, then leave the bell up on the 10th snatch.  Return to the ground, reversing your turkish getup.  Switch sides, repeating the same sequence.  When you return to the first side, once you are standing, you will only perform 9 snatches, then go back down to the ground.  You will continue in the descending pattern until you end with 1 turkish getup and 1 snatch on each arm.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Take on the Primal Blueprint

This is primarily a training blog. It started out solely for the purpose of me sharing my kettlebell workouts with the world and somehow morphed into a "hard core" strength training and Paleo eating site, probably because these are the areas of fitness and nutrition that interest and work for me.

I recently read The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson and I now use it as a kind of guideline for me live a more healthy life. Mark breaks The Primal Blueprint into 10 laws to help you live the way you were meant to, not as corporations and social constructs would have you live. He attacks conventional wisdom  ruthlessly, and why not? As more money is spent in the health, fitness and diet industries, people continue to get fatter and unhealthier. What people "know" isn't working. It's time for a change and personally I believe that Mark is fighting the good fight.

Primal Blueprint Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals.

Before agriculture, people didn't have a choice on this one, so our bodies are actually best adapted for these food sources. Eating plants and animals is an easy one for me. I love to eat meat, veggies, fruits, you name it. I have learned from experience that natural foods are more forgiving to my waistline than processed foods.

Meat makes me feel strong and plants make me feel healthy and energized. Most people who did the Atkins diet and ate only meat and cheese felt kind of sick and became constipated. I needed the veggies and I love a bit of fruit. It works for me and will probably do the same for you. Make plant and animal foods the staple of your diet.

Primal Blueprint Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things.

In the past this would have meant venomous animals or poisonous foods. Today modern processed foods like trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, or even grains fall under poisonous things. Times have changed and now the poisons we must be aware of are more insidious. They lurk under the guise of healthy foods in the super market. To be fit and healthy you have to learn to control your insulin through diet, and that means you can't eat the way TV ads want you to. Ditch the cereal and juice for and omelet and green tea. Bottom line, if you look at a food and can't figure out where it came from in nature, don't eat it.

Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace.

This one surprised me. I always thought walking and easy exercise was a total waste of time. I am one of those high intensity interval training guys who would rather sprint and puke than go for a jog. Well, I guess I was wrong. Mark explained that hunter gatherer's would spend a large portion of their day moving at a slow to brisk pace. Even hunting was done through hiking and tracking, only chasing down prey at the end if necessary. Sure, people had to run for their lives at times, but that was done at full speed and for a short period. People didn't go for jogs, it was metabolically expensive and pretty pointless.

All that hiking regulated their blood sugar, not that they really needed it, and built their fitness base. So getting more light exercise is a new initiative of mine. I am trying to make time to go for walks or easy rides more often without pressuring myself into "making it hard".  Don't be afraid to take it slow to get the benefits of cardio without the stressfull effects of long hard slogs. Mark recommends 2-5 hours a week of light to brisk cardio in the 55% of max heart rate zone. On the bright side, I have yet another reason not to go for a jog, cortisol baths.

Primal Blueprint Law #4: Lift Heavy Things.

Now you are talking my language. Mark explains that at times Paleo people, or Grok in his scenario, would have to lift heavy things whether it was moving rocks, carrying items or wrestling rivals in play. The fact is we know that lifting heavy things helps build and maintain muscle, improves tendon strength, and increases bone density. It also helps regulate your body fat, but only if you diet (insulin) is under control.

As a kettlebell enthusiast and strength athlete I love to lift heavy things. Lately I have been training with a crossfit/ strongman team, so lifting heavy things now includes stones, logs and all sorts of crazy objects. When it comes to health I don't think it matters much what you choose to do for strength training, just pick something you enjoy and have fun with it on a regular basis.

How is this for a fun, outdoor, primal workout?

 Primal Blueprint Law #5: Sprint Once in a While.

As I mentioned above, our Paleo ancestors had to run for their lives at times. Only the strong, and fast, survived back then to pass on their genetics. Although the average person today is fat and weak, deep inside, at the genetic level is an athlete waiting to burst out! Sprinting is something I keep promising myself to make more time for, as it will make any athlete leaner and faster.

I highly recommend including sprints in your routine, but start easy. If you go from the couch to the track and sprint full out you will be back in the hospital waiting room with a torn muscle in no time. Ease into it. Start with bike sprints or hill sprints at 80% and warm up thoroughly before hand. Sprints will make you lean and explosive but they are extremely demanding so work your way up to them over time.

Primal Blueprint Law #6: Get Adequate Sleep.

Before digital entertainment, people had their fun and then hit the hay. They had "relations" more often and caught more zzzz's than we do today. Sounds nice doesn't it? For me this is a tough one, I love to stay up and play video games or watch movies. Going to bed early takes discipline but it pays off. You will look better, feel better and find it easier to lose weight or improve athletically. Turn off the screen and go to bed!

Primal Blueprint Law #7: Play.

This one caught me by surprise. Apparently, hunter gatherer populations have more leisure time than we do! How is that for a kick in the nuts of the modern world. Our entire world is devoted to be being lazy and you are telling me we had it right the first time!

Anyways, hunter gatherers have more time and they use it positively. They play. That's right, even the adults. They wrestle, race, have games of skill like archery and throwing, and it is an important part of their lives. Play is fun, releases stress, is healthy, and a great social outlet. I have always played sports and always thought it was because I am so competitive but what I realized is that I just love the "bro time". I love to hang with guys and test myself against them. Play is fun and will improve your life so join that rec league team you keep talking about and get out there!

Primal Blueprint Law #8: Get Adequate Sunlight.

I love this one. For years I have been reading that training outside boots your testosterone and mood. I don't know about the testosterone but I can tell you that few things make me feel better than an outdoor workout. Sunlight was an integral part of our lives until the invention of the light bulb. Our bodies need it to produce Vitamin D. Get outside and catch some rays! Burning is bad, but a lack of sunlight isn't good either so go outside to do your exercise, play or just hang out.

Primal Blueprint Law #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes.

A blown knee could be deadly for a hunter gatherer, especially one that lives near lions and tigers. Things have changed now and Mark theorizes that life has become so safe, no predators or deadly melee's, that people don't pay attention to anything anymore. For example, today we can survive pretty serious injuries but going through life on auto pilot has other consequences such as deadly car accidents or drownings. As a former teenage boy I can attest to the fact that stupid mistakes can cause injury and embarrassment. Now that I am older I know better than to put my body at serious risk for no good reason. I don't want to miss any workouts!

Primal Blueprint Law #10: Use Your Brain.

Use it or lose it. It blew me away to learn that the brains of Paleolithic people were larger than the brains of people today. We always picture stupid "cave men" but the stereotype is completely wrong. Hunter gatherer's don't get to veg out every night. They don't rot on welfare or work mindless jobs. They think, plan and act every day to feed their families and survive. Humans rose up through survival of the fittest, and it was our brains that gave us an edge against other animals.

With the agricultural revolution, selective pressure waned and everybody got to pass on their genes. Don't believe me, watch Jerry Springer. People don't have to be smart to get buy and procreate anymore, but they don't have to be stupid either. Using your brain will improve your cognitive abilities and delay the onset of mental disabilities related to aging.

Personally I enjoy strategy games, including athletic strategy, and reading to stimulate my noggin.  Everybody is different but my point is that your brain craves challenges so give it some!

That is all the Primal Blueprint laws Mark laid out in his book. I believe they are words to live by and I am trying my best. If you have read the book please post your thoughts below. If not, I'd love to hear from you too!

Saturday, August 27, 2011



21-15-9    (complete for minimum time)


Friday, August 26, 2011

Kettlebells for Countermeasures

Kettlebells are great countermeasures for weakness.

“Countermeasures”are a concept that is mainly used by the military as an offensive-defense method when being attacked. Sounds like a conflict in terms, but it’s really a good concept and avoids the politically incorrect word for “self defense”. Example is an air plane uses flares to deflect a rocket attack, which also has been considered for use in commercial airlines, to protect our citizens.
To me, the concept of “self defense” is one of weakness and can even invite more defenses. If you take countermeasures, as a concept to ward off attack without direct need for counter attack, its much less complicated. To me, Kettlebells become the fitness method of choice.  As a tool, they have a wide variety of possible motions, for which you can target any number of body functions to prevent imbalances or weakness. …….countermeasures.

So what is the best way for avoid physical weakness and above all, becoming a victim of what ever? Physical weakness may invite a physical attack in a criminal context or long term degrading of the usefulness of your body, inviting sickness. You don’t have to look like “roid boy” to have a strong physical presence. When you are strong in health and active abilities you avoid sickness or premature aging, that is ………countermeasures.

You can lean to use a Kettlebell in a few short lessens to maintain a modest level of strength along with improving body appearance and functionality. I have viewed the performance of people both men and woman who just used a basic exercise like the “swing” and lost lots of weight and become more healthy ….countermeasures.

You don’t have to listen to all the Kettlebell program leaders (both sexes) embrace what they think is in your best interest or have a program to remake you into a fitness model. It’s all good! However, no one program out there will provide you with all the fitness needs, even though the kettlebell is a most functional tool. My suggestion is find one Kettlebell trainer who has been at it for at least 5 years and take a few lessons (Not some wet behind the ears trainer who just completed a weekend seminar). Start real slow, do the basics exercises in good form with no intent of rapid results , then experiment to find out your work capacity without injuring yourself…….countermeasures.

Kettlebell exercise can be a “smart” exercise tool as compared to most other tools. Experience has enlightened me to use Kettlebells in all planes of motion; sagittal, frontal, and transversal (basic exercise science) when programming my exercise program. When you exercise your body in all planes of physical motion you prepare the body for almost any impact or the unknowing emergency ……….countermeasures.

What happens when we age ? Hell, that’s a topic for books, not internet articles for the ADD crowd. The aging process is a slow shutdown of the body in its simplest form and not just its appearance. To retain the ageing body, you have to do some physical maintenance(exercise) so it still functions at a respectable performance for general life and those nasty situations when the shit hits the fan. There is something about keeping Kettlebells in eye site, that avoids a situation as the years pass and you are no longer a stud or hottie but still need to live a respectable life. Kettlebells as a resistance tool is a sustainable tool if you embrace its capability and above all, as a countermeasure..........

Saturday, August 20, 2011



Reps for minimum time (20 minute time limit)

5 Getups each side
20 Clean, squat, press on each side
30 Burpees OR Suitcase Deadlift each side
40 Snatches each side

Friday, August 19, 2011

The End of Commercial Gyms?

The New York Times newspaper came out with an article last month on the demise of the “Big box full service gym” and health clubs who are struggling to survive. They are being over taken by low price “Planet fitness” style business model with no frills workout. Now that never concerned me as I have known this long ago that only 15% of the US population has a gym membership and much less use that membership routinely or train like I do. I have a Small box, Crossfit style gym.

Motivation is almost zilch in most gyms today and the turnover each year is about 45%(industry values) that has to be recruited at a high cost to keep the business solvent. Also impacting big box fitness industry is a recession but that is more of an excuse and not always a barrier to success. Some Harvard geek, came up with a reverse business model; you pay only when you don’t go to the gym. Loss of income becomes the motivation and not fitness.

It does not take a degree from Wharton business school to see that as a business model, if you are a midget in the market, you don’t go head to head with Cyclops. If you are offering a overpriced service in an attempt to maintain your customer base and please everyone so they stick around, you have invested poorly. Problem is the average American that goes to a fitness facility really doesn’t appreciate the juice bars, plasma TVs sound systems and Zumba classes with all the fancy trappings of a full service gym. All the fitness customer wants is some simple machines, small assortment of free weights, a shower, easy to get to, so they can work out to their interest level independently. Also for the most part the average gym customer doesn’t want to be rubbing elbows with “roid boy” so there is no need for hardcore power lifting area for a handful of “muscle heads” or “Billy Biceps” types.

The owners of Planet fitness and other low price, no frills gyms understands the public very well and offered a basic facility with machines, weights and clean rest rooms at 10-20 dollars a month. End result is high volume memberships with ever increasing new gyms all over the country. In my area there is 5 in a 30 mile radius and two other clone style low price gyms like Planet’s model. All are doing well business wise even in a recession while the full service gyms are just making it and hoping Planet fitness never existed.

So what keeps people in any gym coming back and staying with the program? Its community, stupid! I venture to guess this is the biggest reason for my success in kettlebell classes.  Because the group training is small, people really get to know each other.  They can socialize, laugh, joke, and motivate each other to push themselves.  If all your friends go there, then you will go there. If you go as an independent customer of a gym and you walk in to train by yourself (some like it that way but they are the exception) there is a high probability that you will not visit the gym consistently for lack of support from friends and people who share your training. My experience is that men and women that come in groups or with associates train much more consistently then those who come in by themselves. Lastly, those members who have a mission or valid, self defined reason for training will be a continuous members regardless of gym type.

Your fitness options are many; success is having friends or partners to share your pain, a comprehensive life’s plan, and wiliness to seek out the correct training, advice to make your adventure in health successful.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fall MCRD Beginner Kettlebell Classes

It is that time again to promote the kettlebell classes offered through the Montgomery county recreation department.  I have 4 class options for the fall season, and all of them take place at our office in Silver Spring.  There are Tuesday and Thursday morning classes, and a Saturday late morning class being offered. 

    For the past two seasons, the classes have been canceled due to low enrollment.  The county stipulates that a minimum of 8 people must enroll in a class for it to continue.  Please help me avoid cancellations this fall by spreading the information regarding classes and registration.  The more people that know about the opportunity, the higher the chance of meeting that minimum enrollment.

   For those wishing to register, use their online page on Recweb:  Click on “advanced search” and search for keyword “kettlebell” between the month of September and December. (The county does not provide direct links to individual classes anymore!) Classes begin the week of September 5th, and continue for 8 weeks.  The fee is $120. Hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

WOD - Cardio2

20 Minute AMRAP ( as many reps as possible) using an Ascending Ladder for Repetitions.

Directions:  Perform the exercises in the order they are given. Perform each repetition on the right and left side before moving onto the next exercise.  Once the 20 min time limit starts, you will perform 1 rep of each exercise on each arm.  You will then repeat the order using 2 reps on each arm, followed by 3,4,5,6.....Keep moving until your time runs out, at which point, you will log the highest repetition (or round) you made it to, plus any partial rounds.

1 Arm Swing

Friday, August 12, 2011

Play (Or What Adults Call Exercise)


You should go outside and play!

Your Paleolithic ancestors were outside all the time and moved constantly in search of food, water, and out of sheer curiosity. This movement would be similar to long slow hikes consisting of plenty of relaxed long slow activity. Not your typical 30 minute power-jog at 75% of your max heart rate. Nope, just lots of long, slow hiking combined with periodic intense sprints, some heavy lifting, and some sporadic play such as wrestling.

This high volume of easy activity combined with low volume of very intense exercise done outdoors developed lean, strong and fit hunter gatherers who could handle anything Mother Nature threw at them. If they couldn’t handle it, they died, thereby weeding out the weak and improving our genetic pool.

I will give you an exercise plan below, but for now understand this. Get outside in the sun and play. Exercising outside will allow your body to absorb the vitamin D it requires to be healthy and strong. It will improve your mood, health, and hormonal balance.


Getting started is never easy, especially if you have been sedentary for a few years. But if you truly want to look like you could star in the Conan the Barbarian movie then you have to get started now.

My exercise/training philosophy is a bit different from popular thinking, but that should come as no surprise to you by now. As I said before, if you want to look like everybody else, do what they are doing, if you want to look different, do the opposite. Well, the masses spend way too much time doing tedius, draining cardio sessions indoors and not nearly enough time exercising the way were meant to. Long, hard sessions on a treadmill while drinking Gatorade are not the answer to a warrior’s physique. Just look at all the fat people who finish marathons.

How many fat sprinters do you know? How many fat, and high level, soccer players? If you want to be lean and strong you need to spend your time lifting heavy things for short snappy workouts and running sprints. On top of this, for repair and well being, do some light and enjoyable cardio such as walking.

Below is an example of a training week for me to give you an idea of how to fit all this in. I will use a regular week for the training plan, but feel free to change up the days of the week and activities to fit with your schedule. The key here is to get lots of low level cardio in, some tough strength training, and a sprint session here and there.


•Go for a walk at lunch.

•Run spints or play on a sport (soccer, hockey, Ultimate, flag football), just make sure it is safe but intense.


•Go for a walk at lunch.

•Lift weights after work

•Upper body heavy


•Go for a walk at lunch.

•Lift weights after work

•o Lower body heavy


•Go for a walk at lunch

•Play with a kettlebell or do body weight drills .


•Go for a walk at Lunch

•Take the afternoon off or do some outdoor light outdoor activity with your family or friends.


•Lift weights

•Lower body light but for more reps


•Lift weights or go for a nice long hike

•Upper body if you lift weights

Putting together a training schedule is really not that complicated. The one above is just an example and might be a lot more than you have the time or inclination to do. That is fine. As long as your diet and sleep are in check, you don’t need to train like a competitive athlete to look like one. Remember, your diet is responsible for 80% of your success. Here are some general rules to follow when putting together a training schedule:

- Run sprints once a week or at least twice a month.

- Lift heavy things frequently, aiming for three to five times a week for 30-45 minutes.

o Use a kettlebell, lift weights, or do body weight drills, and try to avoid machines.

o Most importantly chose whatever you enjoy and will stick too.

- Join a sports team.

o Exercise should be fun and social, not a tedius chore.

o Play hockey, soccer, flag football or any other fun sport you know you will love.

- Get lots of easy cardio in.

o Activities such as walking, biking, hiking or roller blading are great.

o Any kind of movement is better than none and will help you lose weight, feel healthy and get plenty of sunlight.

- Do as much of your exercise outside as possible to reap the benefits of fresh air and sunlight.

- Avoid unpleasant cardio such as tough jogs or spin classes!

o This may come as a surprise but long hard cardio sessions do more harm than good.

o Tough cardio sessions such as a spin class raise cortisol and make you slower and weaker.

o Chronic Cardio does not help you become fitter and stronger, it only makes you better at that type of Chronic Cardio.

o Avoid it and you will be healthier than Joe Marathon who has joint problems and looks like he gets sand kicked in his face.


As I mentioned above, exercise should be fun and social, not a tedius chore. That is why I called this section Play instead of Exercise or Training. Life is too short to spend time doing activities you don’t enjoy. You need to get your fun on man! Our warrior ancestors were physical people who would compete with one another in all kinds of activity such as sparring (play fighting with weapons or bare fists), wrestling, racing, throwing, and lifting. They tested each other for fun and social status. It is a natural thing for men to get together and physically compete.

As for the long easy walks, use these for repair. I find a walk is a great way to get the blood flowing and reduce any pain or inflammation I am experiencing from a tough workout. It is a great way to spend some quality time with a pretty lady, or go looking for one!

Choose activities you enjoy, join a sports team and get outside when you play. You will make new friends, have a great time, and work harder than you would slogging away in a gym. Play time isn’t just for kids, it is for people who want to look and feel their best.

Sample Workouts

Once you get going I highly recommend you choose a physical goal and start training towards that. Whether it is to be the best flag football player in your league or an elite strength athlete doesn’t matter, just pick some goals and start working towards achieving them. Just don’t tell me you are going to run a marathon, that isn’t cool.


I don’t think anything will make you leaner or more explosive than running sprints. I love to lift weights but have to admit that sprint training is probably the biggest tool I over looked as a young athlete. Sprints are extremely demanding so if you have been out of sports for a while, start kind of easy.

Begin with hill sprints because they are easier on your joints and safer on your hamstrings which get pulled easily. Find a steep hill that is as big enough to gas you out at the top during a full speed sprint. The idea is to go all out during the sprint, then catch your breath walking down the hill. Work up to 10 full speed hill sprints in under 20 minutes.

A workout might look like this:

- Walk or bike to the hill as a warm-up

- Walk up the hill x 1

- Jog up the hill x 1

- Sprint up the hill x 10

- Walk or bike home

Unless you are a sprinter, sprint workouts should be short and intense. Don’t drag them out and kill yourself training them. Short, snappy workouts are the key here.

Lifting Weights

There are only a few major lifts that must be central to your weight lifting regimen. They are:

- Squats

- Deadlifts

- Bench Press

- Military Press

- Dips

- Rows

- Pull-ups

- Clean or High Pull

- Barbell Curls

These are the big lifts that will put meat on your bones and build what Dan John calls muscle armour. Muscle mass will make you look more powerful, help you out when you need extra strength, and protect you from damage during impact in sports. I have always said that the best method of self defense is being able to deadlift, pick up off the ground, more than 500lbs. You just don’t want to fight a guy that can pick you up and put you over his head! Spend your strength training time lifting barbells, dumbbells, or any other heavy awkward objects you can find. For example I love to lift big rocks, sandbags, and kettlebells, but I am weird like that!

There are literally millions of different workouts you could do so keep it simple. Split your workouts into upper and lower body sessions. For each workout pick one main lift to go hard and heavy on. The choose 1-3 other movements to get some extra work in at a lower intensity (weight).

Upper Body Sample Workout


B Bench Press

o Working up to a 3 rep max (with a spotter of course)

- Pull-Ups

o Hitting a total of 50 reps with various grips

o Do one set between each set of pressing

- Dumbbell Military Press

o 4 sets of 8-10 to really put some mass on your shoulders, making you look broader (chicks dig that)

- Curls

o 4 sets of 8-10 to blast the guns!

Lower Body Sample Workout

- Deadlifts

o Working up to a 3 rep max to really build power through the legs, hips and back

- Farmers Walks

o Grap a pair of the heaviest dumbbells you can manage and go for a walk

o This will build your grip, hips, calves and upper back like nothing else plus burn a ton of calories!

- Planks

o Get into a push-up position, then walk your hands out forwards while your feet stay planted until your abs have to contract hard to keep you from shaking

o Hold for 4 sets of max time

Weight lifting is only fun and productive when you are forcing your body to adapt by getting bigger and stronger. So don’t be afraid to work hard and be sure to mix up your workouts. Try new drills, experiment with different set and rep schemes, and play with different rest times. The key to progressing in the gym is to have a defined goal but to train for it with a variety of methods that keeps you feeling fresh.

I rarely do the exact same workout twice, something is always different whether it is the weight used, the drills chosen, the set and rep scheme, or even the order of the movements. Mix it up! That being said, there is a basic template that most strength athletes follow.

1. Big heavy lift. This always comes first and is the most important part of your training session.

2. Opposing Muscle Group. If you chose a pressing movement like bench press for your primary lift, you will hit a pulling movement like rows next. The goal is to keep your body balanced and work muscles that were resting during the big heavy lift. Don’t follow up bench pressing with incline benching. That is a waste of time, trust me!

3. Weak Points. Usually done for higher reps and lighter weights because the big heavy lift and secondary lift tired you out. Now is the time to blast your arms or work on that six pack. Whatever muscle group you feel needs some extra attention, this is when you do it.

Weight training sessions should always be under a hour. Work at a fast pace, you should be sweating and tired by the end of it. Stick to compound movements that work several body parts at the same time. Keep it fresh by mixing things up. Also, I highly recommend you hire a strength coach at first to show you how to train the power movements safely. Avoid the scrawny personal trainer, instead find an in the trenches kind of guy, or girl, who really knows their stuff. I have been lifting weights since I was 15 but paid a strength coach to make my workout programs and teach me lifts until I was 21. The amount I learned from him was priceless! Even today I train with a powerlifting team and a strongman team so I have experienced people watching my form and giving me feedback. Plus, the team atmosphere makes lifting more social, which is fun.


Kettlebells have been around for hundreds of years but only became popular in North America around 2002. A kettlebell is an iron ball with a thick handle that you swing, lift, throw or carry for a strength training and/or conditioning workout. I have been training with them since then and even used to manufacture them through a local metal smith. My wife uses them regularly too and let’s just say I appreciate the benefits of kettlebell training dearly! They are not some silly fad, they work.

The key to kettlebell training is to learn the lifts and then do short, intense workouts that get you sweating and gasping for air like mad. I call this type of training “resistance-cardio”, and it melts fat off you while building muscle at the same time.

A sample workout might look like this:

Kettlebell Circuit Training Workout

- Swing

- Press

- Goblet Squat

- Clean

- Windmill

- Rack Lunge

Kettlebells are a great fat loss tool and I think are about as primal a training tool as you can get. When swinging my kettlebell around I can’t help but think of a warrior swinging his battle axe in a field to build up his stamina for the next battle. Warriors and today’s combat athlete need to be able to be strong, for long. They need what you might call staying power, because as we see in mma these days, the first guy to gas out almost always looses.