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!