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.

Friday, August 5, 2011


An hour before midnight is worth 2 after.” ~Sleep Proverb


Sleep truly has been the missing element to healthy living for me in the past. Like most guys I would rather stay up late and play video games than go to bed early. But trust me when I say this, making the time to improve your quality of sleep will make a big difference in how you look, perform, fell and even age!

Sleep is not a passive state, it is the time our body and brain uses neurological performance, endocrine (hormone) balance, immune system functioning, and musculoskeletal growth and repair. A full night of sleep will enhance your memory performance and creative problem solving skills the next day. It will also further boost your athletic performance, including speed, accuracy, mood and overall energy. Good sleeping habits will keep you health, in fact, your immune system is most active during sleep. To boot, adequate sleep makes you more resilient to daily stress, which supports your immune functioning that much more. And finally, solid, consistent sleep over the long-term has been linked to self-reported “successful” aging.

Still not sold on getting more quality sleep? Just look at the negative effects sleep deprivation:

- cognitive weakness

- you sacrifice all manner of memory abilities, including short-term and working memory

- over time, even long-term memory and the generation of nerve cells are impaired

- impact on emotional mood and well-being (I am famous for being a jerk when tired)

- to increase the risk for conditions like depression and exacerbate pre-existing psychological illnesses

- even a single night of sleeplessness can throw our emotional regulatory abilities out the window.

- a single night of sleep loss increases systemic inflammation, and impairs the body’s ability to handle the kind of moderate oxidative stress we deal with every day

- sleep deprivation was a common torture tool in the USSR, and in extreme cases can cause death, so plenty of sleep is important for a happy and healthy life

Now that you are finally on board, how much do you need? It seems that seven to eight hours is common, some people like me need nine or ten. A rare few can get away with only six or so hours of shut eye, but very few and that is likely not you. Most people think they can get by with less sleep but what they are really adapting to is functioning at a lower cognitive level. In other words, they are getting used to being stupider!


How can you improve your quality of sleep and get more bed time in? Some of the tricks I have used over the years include lunch time naps, enforcing a bedtime, wearing ear plugs, wearing a mask in the summer, turning off or covering all sources of light in the room, and not using an alarm.

For me, going to bed early and sleeping in complete darkness with a mask and earplugs is the only way to ensure quality sleep. I need 8-10 hours in a colder room (which helps with fat loss too!) and I have to be in bed before midnight. Sleeping in is fine, but for some reason it isn’t the same as hitting the hay early.

What is the key to getting to bed early? It is so simple yet important, you need to turn off the TV and computer at least 1 hour before bed, no screens! The lights from screens mess with your body’s natural sleep inducing hormones. I try to avoid screens after dinner, opting to read or spend quality time with my wife instead as a relaxation technique! I recommend it, not my wife of course, you have to find your own.