How many Kettlebells do I need?

I’d really love to have a gym with a long line of kettlebells, all lined up numerically in military fashion… oh, wait… I do. Ah, but I train people, people in all shapes, sizes and abilities. I also train a handful remotely via this www thingy.

I use kettlebells for all the many benefits they bring and every single person starts their strength regime at a different point. For some (read many) no weights are involved to start with, as we build technique, movement proficiency and a solid foundation. Once ready, we move on with an appropriately sized kettlebell. 

The key loaded movements that kettlebells excel with include pressing overhead, front squats, carries and naturally the kettlebell swing, clean and snatch. 

For everything else, bodyweight movements prove optimal. I’ll not go into these details here but feel to ask. 

One question I get a lot however is – ‘how many kettlebells do I need, and should I use two at the same time’? 

This is one great question. I’m not a man for wasting money on things I will never use. If I end up with something in the gym that never gets used, I sell it on. 

Regarding kettlebell training, is has proven good practice to have a small range of kettlebells that allow you to:

  1. practice with great form and little distraction
  2. practice with a focus on strength and grinding (safely)
  3. practice with a medium effort.

For ladies this might equate to an 8, 10, 12kg or an 8, 12, 16kg and gents, a 16, 20 and a 24kg kettlebell. 

The second part of that common question relates to double kettlebell training. This is an option for both pressing and squatting i.e. holding a kettlebell in each hand as opposed to single kettlebell training. 

What’s the difference? 

Single kettlebell training is, for most people, a great starting point. holding the kettlebell in one hand for an overhead press allows the user to focus on individual shoulder / arm strength, condition and form. A single kettlebell is great for the goblet squat to build the ‘shape’ of the squat and a foundation of strength. A single kettlebell is perfect to learn the hinge and snap of a kettlebell swing.

A single kettlebell held, racked on one shoulder will also expose asymmetries (imbalances) during a single kettlebell squat. It always surprises me and the user, when they goblet squat, say a 16kg with perfect, easy form, then rack it onto one shoulder to find they twist like a noodle!

Loading one shoulder will always expose weaknesses.

Someone wise

However, when one is relatively balanced and seeks strength, muscle building and a metabolically charging training program, then double kettlebell training is the solution. 

Yes, you may still be pressing a 20kg kettlebell, but there is now 40kg on your frame, not just 20kg. No-one can argue that won’t make you stronger. 

The same goes for cleaning the kettlebells to the shoulders. Cleaning a single 24kg bell is great, but a pair is magnificent. Racking up two 20-24kg kettlebells for front squats will vastly boost lower body strength.

Anyhoo, to conclude: 

If you are a kettlebell enthusiast, a few kettlebells should inhabit your training space and ideally, doubling up is a great idea and investment. 

Need help with your kettlebell training? Why not get in touch and we can chat about what you need and how I can help.

The Floor Project

My goal with the new Floor Project page is to encourage you to spend more time on the floor, as you rest, work, move and perhaps eat a meal or two.

Nourish your body, don’t punish it.

At FitStrong I help people get fitter, stronger and more mobile. Not just for the sake of it though, but to become better more useful versions of ourselves.

We work on the skills that lead towards our goals, building confidence, competence and physical autonomy without an emphasis on ‘busting a gut’ or ‘smashing out sessions’. I like to consider training as nourishing our bodies rather than punishing it.

If you know that you need to move better and stronger, why not book in for a chat about what you need and how I can help.

Here’s just one example of working on reactive strength, in this case – balance.

Over 55 and Want to Move Better and Stronger?

At FitStrong Strength and Wellness I specialise in helping people to move better, with fewer aches and pains and develop essential real-world strengths. 

I am looking for people over 55 who want to get more limber, stronger and physically healthier.

If you know you need to move better and stronger but don’t know where to start, simply fill in the contact form attached below or message me on 0450487237. 

PS this is NOT a Bootcamp 🙂

When?

I am open to start new sessions upon request, day-time or evening. 

No contracts or memberships are needed. We like to keep things simple.

And if you’re not over 55 but like the sound of how we train, get in touch anyway.

Real world calisthenics

Calisthenics /ˌkalɪsˈ θɛnɪks/

I’d like to throw out an idea for your consideration; the idea of creating a training program with calisthenic movements that are contextual. The context I want to refer to (apart from a specialist strength or sport program) is the real world and the physical activities that stress our bodies on a daily basis or from time to time. If we are not preparing ourselves for our current and those potential physical activities and challenges we really are doing ourselves a disservice.

I totally get the reason for hitting up the local equipment packed gym with the intention of getting bigger muscles, to pull a bigger deadlift or to row a faster 5km. It feels good to see results. I’ve been there and (mostly / kind of) enjoyed the process.

You know what feels better though?

Being capable, competent and safely confident when met with physical challenges. I was reminded of this recently when a client spoke of a friend who goes to the gym frequently (and trains hard) but gets his kids to lift the shopping out of his car because… wait for it… he’s afraid of hurting his back!!!

I am a fan of purposeful training, much like I’m a fan of purposeful anything. Time is not for the wasting. Don’t get me wrong, I love to explore new things, but anything I do try out is for the greater cause and if it fails to benefit in any way, it’s gone.

So to recap, ideally the majority of our time exercising, training, practicing (whatever you want to call it) should be benefiting us.

Next, let’s look at traditional calisthenic movements. Calisthenics is defined as a form of strength training that uses our bodyweight as resistance and involves multiple muscles in full body movements. These range from pushing, pulling, gripping, squatting and hip hinging as well as jumping and climbing activities. Breaking these down to the usual suspects we have moves like:

  • Push ups
  • Pull ups
  • Squats
  • Vertical and broad jumps
  • Planks

These form the basics and they are great. In fact, the FitStrong January program is built around ‘reviving’ foundations with these movements.

Street calisthenics has been a growing progression to calisthenics over the 15 years or so but really takes the concept of bodyweight training to a much more athletic or dare I say performance level. Do most of us need to do a human flag, levers, flips and spins? Whilst cool, I don’t agree that it’s what we need to do if our goal is to live stronger and for longer.

Real World Calisthenics

Most us of will have a life that requires rather similar physicality’s. Carrying in the shopping, gardening work, taking out the bins to the roadside, lifting our kids or elderly (it’s going to happen at some time), cleaning up the house and all those other household DIY jobs. And it’s all good. We are meant to move and do all of these plus more. Most of us don’t have to hunt and forage our food anymore, but we still have a huge capacity to manage many physical tasks – if we are prepared.

Prepare by practice.

I’ll now start to break down how we could practice or ‘train’ with real world calisthenics. Again, let me categorise our real world movements.

  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Lifting and carrying
  • Getting down to the ground and back up again
  • Jumping over something, onto, off and across
  • Squatting
  • Low to ground locomotion, aka crawl like manoeuvres

Mostly, these are rather similar to traditional calisthenics. With a thoughtful couple of minutes you can easily imagine how these fit potential physical eventualities.

How would a training program look?

First off, a great program doesn’t need to be sterile and void of fun. A great program also doesn’t need to take ages. A lot of benefit can be gained from 30 minute sessions, three or even twice per week. Each session could be used to work on a handful of movement skills in a circuit or over three 10 minute blocks. You could practice the same movement skills per session and gradually build up the effort, or reps or repeat efforts.

There are so many options.

What I will do next is provide two training sessions that demonstrate this idea of real world calisthenics. I’ll pop up a follow up video post to check out or follow along with.

If you like what you see, I will have a progressive program made available soon.

Got any thoughts or ideas? Get in touch.

Best Workout Ever

There’s nothing like getting to exercise in the comfort of your own home… well, except for having access to a huge number of programs to follow as well.


The FitStrong Online Membership has just that, ‘years’ worth of programs to follow along with. I update programs every month and the membership has a library of short ‘workouts’ too.
Check it out and if interested, it’s just $1 a day!!!

Want a more personal service?

2020 taught us many things. Learning how easy it is to teach sessions online with our laptops and smart phones was one. Now with the click of a button we can meet virtually anywhere together to work through a training session.

Whether you need to give your kettlebells a good workout or you want to get to grips with body weight training, live online personal training is a great solution.

Get in touch below to get started.

EPT

An even simpler solution if you are happy to train alone without the live online interaction is EPT.

‘Email Personal Training’ provides a detailed program for you to follow. With an extensive video library and customised videos just for you, I can quickly compile a program to meet your needs, provided straight to your inbox.

Intrigued?

Here’s to 2021… bring it on

The end of 2020 is almost upon us, and whether you’re glad to see the back of it or not, I plan on making 2021 a fantastic year.

2020 was to be the year I took take Animal Flow out to the parks. It was the year I was going to introduce MovNat, natural movement classes outdoors too, but alas, circumstances prevailed and these were shelved.

However, as the year ends I will be re-planning these awesome outdoor activities (in addition to the undercover sessions) and inviting everyone to try out.

For all who supported FitStrong this year, I sincerely thank you, from the bottom of heart. This has been a challenging year but above all, I believe many of us have learned the value of moving better for our health both physically and mentally.

Here’s to 2021… bring it on.

Don’t kill time, love it

How many times do you hear people say they’re killing time in the gym or whatever else? Yeah, I know it’s just an expression but the underlying statement implies time can be just thrown around like some spare change. 

However, time can’t be earned back. If you’re in the gym just doing stuff, you’re not spending time on other valuable agenda items. You know, things like spending time with your family, tending to your home, garden, preparing healthy meals and attending to your career. Actually, much like the last two points there, you don’t just go to the kitchen or work to kill time. You follow particular tasks to accomplish specific outcomes… and that leads me swiftly to my point here. 

Use your time in the gym to accomplish specific outcomes. 

  • Turn up.
  • Do the work.
  • Don’t quit

Three mighty fine rules to live by in the gym, the kitchen, in your chosen career and family time.

If your goal is to move better, practice that. If you goal is get stronger and more useful, practice that. If you want to [enter the goal], do what must be done.

Now, for many people, they might not know for sure what the practice should be to move better, stronger etc.

That’s where the willing professional comes into play and this is where I make my offer to finish off 2020.

‘Express FitStrong’

Well, I could have been more imaginative in the title, but in keeping with the message, it says what it is – express.

Express FitStrong offers the chance to get straight to the point with the minimum fuss. In these 30 minute sessions we’ll warm up and prepare very specifically for the following session. If you’re coming in to work on lower back pain issues – we’ll focus directly on that. If you’re coming in to work on your deadlift strength, explosive power or metabolic conditioning, we’ll get straight to that. 

Our slightly longer sessions do of course focus on goals, but we always include the ‘other stuff’ for a very well balanced routine, but let’s consider the wealth of time for some people and just get to the job at hand.

In keeping with the theme of 2020, this is available both virtually via a choice of video platforms or in person. 

If you’re keen to jump onboard, get straight to the point with express training, email ASAP. 

Optimal Training

Does your fitness program embody the skills and strengths humans are designed to excel at?

  1. It goes without saying that if you do train, it must address a need.

2. If you don’t move well, fix it and learn how to move better.

3. If you’re weaker than a child, fix it and learn how to move stronger.

4. If you get out of breath carrying in the weekend groceries, fix it and build up your work capacity.

5. If you realise that your latter years are fast approaching, get stronger and more agile now and be prepared.

6. Observe the frail. What are they missing, what have they missed and do you want to prevent the same for yourself?

So, are you training to prepare yourself for a healthy and long life? I am trying not to use the word exercise these days as I despair over what modern gym life has become. I really don’t care how big you want your guns to be, how much you bench press or how much weight you can lift off the floor. If it’s fun for you, then it’s good. But, it must add to life now and going into the future.

If you can pick up and wheel a barrow full of soil to the end of your garden and do it again until 3 cubic metres of soil is shifted – I nod my head in praise. If you can still walk and operate the next day, then I am impressed. You are fit.

If you can go play footy with the kids for an hour, before heading home to clean the car, touch up the paint on the coving and make dinner, yes, you too are fit.

If you can practice getting down to the floor with a weight, traverse along an overhead bar, squat up a 40kg weight, heave it to your shoulder and walk for 40 metres before practicing it all again for 20 minutes – then you are practicing being fitter for life. I commend you.

We Homo sapiens have progressed so well and so far in the past millennia only to have lost our ways in the past 50 years or so. Convenience was never meant to take over so much in our lives but it has. We don’t have to or need to be physical any more, not to the extent of our grandparents and those before them.

However, if we all spent a little bit of time performing natural, maybe task orientated movements, we would be using our bodies as they evolved to be used. You can see the evidence of the contrary all around us. Obesity, terrible postures, over reliance on tech, poor movement and postures. As much as humans are living for longer, they are not necessarily doing so with longevity and life long health.

So, here’s a healthy real-world work-it-out session to have a go at:

  1. Warm up with a back to basics movement preparation session.

2. Carry out a round of the following:

  • Carry a weight in front of you for 20 steps.
  • Put it down and pull back up to your left shoulder and walk 10 steps.
  • Put the weight down and sit down without using your hands.
  • Get back up without using your hands.
  • Repeat the routine but carry the weight back on your right shoulder this time.
  • Maybe run through this again, faster, or more efficiently!

3. Carry out this routine:

  • Crawl for 10 steps on your hands and feet.
  • Crawl back with an inverted crawl and then stand up.
  • Hurdle step over a weight or a chair then step under a low hanging obstacle.
  • Step back under the low hanging obstacle and either hurdle step or jump safely over the weight or chair.
  • Repeat one more time.
  • Maybe run through this again, faster, or more efficiently!

4. Take a good rest and reflect on how simple this was but how much you worked at doing very natural human movements.

The human body can develop great strength and abilities to specialise in sports. if you’re not into specialised sports you still owe it to yourself to be physically capable and resilient for years. You were meant to move and are meant to move for a very long time.

If you want to practice living strong and fit in this style, please do get in touch. I will be developing personalised real-world routines and creating set routines soon to share with you all.

Yours in health,

Jamie

Get Up Challenge Updates

The challenge continues with every day explorations of our most commonly practiced get up drills at FitStrong.

Today I spent roughly 10 minutes after my main daily routine of Deadlifting and Pressing etc (ask if interested) playing with the ‘side bent sit get up’.

Here’s the time-lapse video.

And here’s a guide to the side bent sit get up:

Get Up Challenge

Earlier this year I spent a few weeks and posts describing a variety of ‘get up’ exercises. For some, the act of exercising getting off the floor and back down again might seem odd, a waste of time (“what muscles does that work bro”?) or best directed to the circus performers, but really, you never know when it’ll come in handy.

Here’s an example. Let’s call our subject Jim. After much waiting, Jim finally got his triple hernia operation. I must add, his hernias arose from his employment demands, not the gym. Anyhoo, surgery went very well but Jim learned very quickly post surgery how the get up technique applied to getting out of bed. After having your abdominal wall poked around at by a surgeon, crunching up and getting out of bed is not a good choice. Using your hip to roll over to get up out of bed made perfect sense.

Here’s the Strength Get Up

Back to the Challenge

If you are a kettlebell fan, you’ll probably be aware of the Turkish Get Up (aka TGU) but there many other forms of get up drills to help you develop mobility, strength, ‘fitness’ and to learn how to operate the one piece of hardware you’ll own until death – your body. If get ups do something great, it’s just that – building physical autonomy.

Over October I’ll be dedicating 10 to 20 minutes daily to practicing the following get ups:

I’ll post these when I can here, my private Facebook group (yes, I am back on FB but with limited purpose) and my Youtube channel.

To get going, here’s todays 10 minutes of Turkish Get Ups

Want to join in?

Study each or any of the above get ups and practice for 10 minutes a day. If that’s just Monday to Friday, sure that’s fine too. You’ll gain many benefits from frequent practice. Not killing yourself with huge efforts mind you, just simple, step by step practice.

You can still do your other training of course. Feel free to share your challenge on your own facebook etc but please use #fitstronggetups or even just post my sites link fitstrong.com.au

Got any questions?