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. 

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?

Kettlebell Clean Tips

The kettlebell clean is an unsung hero of kettlebell training. Not only does it provide a ‘best practice’ to delivering the kettlebell to the rack position (on your shoulder) for pressing etc, but it’s also a fantastic movement for building resilience, power and strong arms and grip.

Less technical than the snatch, the clean does still demand a few nuances for your safety and optimal opportunities for your pressing, squatting and other ballistics (push press and jerk).

In the video blog post (aka Vlog) below I’ve covered some key points.

For more detailed clean pointers, check out this video.

Keen to learn more? Maybe you already use kettlebells and would like a technique tune up?

Get in touch below.

Essential Strength Training for Cyclists

Here’s a training post I wrote for my friends at Queensland Kettlebell in East Brisbane last month:

In the 80s and even early 90s we were led to believe dietary fat was the enemy and that training with weights would make us too bulky. As a competitive cyclist this struck a deep chord. Who wants to lug extra weight around the countryside? 

‘Sigh’! 

When an average days cycling was done, you’d raid the kitchen of every known carb, lean meats including liver (often boiled) and then clean the bike before resting. 

The rules for rest went like this. 

Don’t stand if you can sit and don’t sit if you can lie down. 

The recipe of a cyclists life: Ride – Eat – Rest 

There was also no known reason to get purposefully stronger with anything else but the bike. Specifically yes, riding the bike makes you better at bike riding, but if you value one percenters and optimisation, spending just a little time in the gym can be the missing magic potion.

I only discovered the benefits of strength training during a year out because of my knee injury. I was left with no option but to do circuit training routines with a pair of York dumbbells with exercises I took from Flex or Muscle & Fitness magazine; the only reference for resistance training I could find in the newspaper shop at the time. 

Whilst not perfect, I had a strength routine of sorts to help keep up my strength and fitness and yikes, did I feel awesome when I got back to racing the year after, I even had these things called biceps and deltoids! 

My haphazard routine has thankfully been vastly overhauled since then. The cyclists I currently train follow a very particular recipe consisting of essential ingredients for both the bike and life. 

When programming for any sport, not just cycling, I believe it’s a duty of care to take into consideration life outside of the sport. I ask, ‘what will best serve the sport and not take away from other physical qualities, but add’?  Essentially, I want the individual to be more resilient and better equipped for their cycling whilst also being more useful for life overall. This also addresses some of the issues cyclists exhibit off the bike from feet issues, lower back and shoulder complaints. 

Cutting to the chase, here are my top movements for cyclists.

(Pictures for simple illustration only and not instructional purposes. Videos available upon request)

  1. Cycling Essentials:

Hip Hinging – deadlifts, both bilateral and single leg deadlifts and kettlebell swings

Knee dominant movements – Squats, both bilateral and unilateral, like kickstand squats and step ups

Crawling forward, backwards and inverted and rocking rush ups with varied hand positions. 

Balance Beam walks and balance drills

  1. Life Essentials:

Deadbugs, Birddogs and Rows, both 2 arm and single arm

Single arm Carries (suitcase, goblet, overhead) 

Get Ups. It takes a bit of coaching but proves a great tool to add to the toolbox.

Here’s a variation of the Turkish Get Up to consider

These two components are written into each training session, generally with the life essentials being built into the warm up and finishing sequences. The cycling essentials are placed after warm ups, when fresh. 

The weekly placing of each hinge and squat variation are dependent on the cyclists bike sessions but generally, the heaviest lifts are best early in the week with the explosive work towards the end of the week. 

Reps, sets and intensities are a bit beyond the scope of this piece but should be programmed so as not to compete with the cyclists racing / training calendar.

Generally though, developing the hinge strength should be a priority whilst maintaining stable, healthy knees with squat variations is important. No exercise should ever be taken to fatigue or muscle / form failure. Instead, I like to use an average of around 75% perceived effort. 

Minimum Effective Dose!

If pushed for a ‘program minimum’ for cyclists, I’d really have to recommend the single leg deadlift, swings, walking kickstand squats on a balance beam (yes, seriously) and backward crawling. Just for the laugh though, a ‘minimum program minimum’ would probably take the form of swings and crawling!

It’s always hard to reduce one’s work into a short(ish) blog post. There are always lots of variables when writing an individual’s program. 

If anyone would like to explore these movements further I am always happy to talk… or run a workshop to really dig in deeper!

Notes from two cyclists at FitStrong

Bashier:

A late comer to cycling, Bash took up cycling at 38 to shed a few kilos but ended up with the bike bug. Now 43 he competes in Mountain Bike endurance events around the world from Nepal to Italy. Since starting at FitStrong Bashier reports often how much more aggressive he feels on the bike, even at the top of a climb or after a sprint. His upper body strength now allows him to wrestle the bike over the trails rather than just surviving them. He loves that he never gets visits from the cramp fairy too. 

Bec: 

Bec started at FitStrong with a ‘broken body’ in her own words. On her first visit she presented with two sides of an A4 page listing every injury and surgery she had sustained from other sports and cycling. Bec competes all over Australia in Mountain Bike endurance races. After a short period of training Bec noted how much more connected she feels with her body on the bike. Her reflexes seem sharper, all the imbalances ironed out and her confidence is boosted too with much better upper body endurance. 

Got any feedback or would you like to explore these ideas further? Get in touch below.

Why StrongFirst?

I get questions often from clients and friends related to why I spend so much time and money attending certifications and why always the expensive ones!

I am not wealthy. Comfortable, yes. My wife and I do ‘invest’ from time to time in the lotto haha but with no success. So, I don’t choose to invest because I can but because I want to.

What I want in particular from my investment in my own education is value (not cheap), quality, no nonsense education and skills.  Just as important, I want to invest and learn subject matters that I consider important to share with my students and clients. Matters that match my personal and business ethos.

***NOT A RANT***  In the fitness industry it is really quite easy to attend any number of certifications and in most cases, in areas that require no depth of experience and even demonstration of time-spent skills, practice, patience and immersion. In other words, you bulk up continued education credits so you can keep your insurance by attending courses you’re not that invested in and walk away with a certification to teach others. You don’t have to be that good at the ‘new thing’ to teach it! I don’t believe our students and clients deserve this level of standards from a professional. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful people in the fitness industry that I look up to, but most attendees to courses rarely shine. It’s no wonder that most personal trainers last only up two years before packing it in.

I was drawn to the Hardstyle methods of kettlebell training by Pavel Tsatsouline back in 2009. The methods he wrote, demonstrated and talked about were so detailed, precise and based on both scientific research and personal experiences teaching many, many people to become stronger, more mobile and able individuals. His Russian accent sure made his allure all the more compelling.

Unfortunately I didn’t have an option at that time to travel to the USA to attend a certification and instead (sigh!) opted for one of those fitness industry courses that both left me intrigued and wanting more. ‘More’ happened two years later when we moved to Australia from the UK and I got the opportunity to attend Pavels RKC (pre StrongFirst). The preparation for attending was vast. It was made very clear that 60-65% of attendees fail to pass certification due to poor preparation. You didn’t just turn up and leave three days later with a certification paper. You earned to title of SFG through proficient demonstration, teaching, professionalism over the long weekend and the extensive preparation leading up to the event. It was expected that you had spent time with the kettlebell in action, became skilled and strong enough to get through the certification weekend without the distraction of pain and suffering. The certification weekend was an exercise in testing, learning the hows, whys, principles and sharpening our skills further.

This is why I love StrongFirst or more clearly, Pavels ethos and principles. Training with kettlebells is not about just getting sweaty and forging strength with pure grit and effort. There is the execution of great technique, skill and programming methods to develop lasting strength and conditioning as well as the ability to drawn upon many tools in a teaching toolkit to help the masses. Indeed, the many cues, tips and tricks learned over that three day weekend stays with me every day when teaching.

The level of expertise within StrongFirst with its master trainers, team leaders and collective of instructors makes StrongFirst one strong business and school of strength.

Below, Joe Rogan had the immense privilege of interviewing Pavel. Getting time with Pavel outside of workshops and seminars is rare, so this video is well worth the time to watch. Keep a note pad and pen handy though. There are many learning points to grab hold of.

 

Other than StrongFirst

Apart from StrongFirst, I invest in my education with other great training organisations that similarly teach principle based methods.

If you have read this far, I would encourage you to look into Original Strength and their wonderful movement restoration system.

If you move well and have retained your youthful skills and agility, I would encourage you to look into MovNat and their real world natural movement system. If you want to move with the autonomy, physical competence or become a strongly functioning human in real world of contextual settings and programs, MovNat has a lot to offer. It may just be the way forward in general population health and strength.

Got any experience with StrongFirst, Original Strength or MovNat you’d like to share? Want to learn more about how to incorporate these wonderful systems into your training? Get in touch below.

Jamie

Getting Fitter and Stronger the Easy Way

IMG_8186I don’t always lead the way in our strength programs. Giving clients the option to choose their strength movements gives ownership to that move, to making it their move.

In our latest program we chose two main lifts, an upper body strength move and a lower body movement.

We developed these over 8 weeks without straining and stressing and supported the program with other exercises. We simply expanded our comfort zones – no maxing out, crying or vomiting!

‘This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done.’

Below I’ll demonstrate some of our key chosen movements (not instructional) and then talk briefly about how they were trained and how they tested out this week.

Swing

Elevated Rock

Kettlebell Press

Rocking Push Up

 

The key component of each target movement and indeed, the other movements employed in a training sessions was NOT to max out, not to strain, stress and grind out the reps. This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done. We put faith in a fresh understanding of high intensity training that I talked about here.

At the start of the program, session one was used to identify baselines for the two main movements. What weights were considered light, medium and heavy for the swing, how many push ups / elevated rocks were considered moderate and what was considered a medium weight to press.

This was all based on trialling sets with progressive intensity until medium was felt. I’ll not go into details about how we conducted this as it’s not the purpose of the post but needless to say, we identified medium.

From here we backed off to 70-75% of medium on the pressing movements and gradually waved the volume of the sets from just 1 rep to ladder of 1,2,3,4,5 over the 6 weeks and the swings and elevated rocks we kept at 10 seconds per minute for 10 minutes per session. We gradually used heavier kettlebells in the swings. Really quite simple stuff.

Anyway, the good stuff – the results.

The Swing was tested with the 100 swings test – the goal, to swing 100 times in under 5 minutes. Even though we never encountered 100 swings in that kind of intensity (the most we would do over 5 minutes was 35 swings) everyone has tested out with 100 swings in well under 5 minutes and interestedly, finished fresh and not huffing and puffing! We have carried out swing tests like this in the past, but for everyone, they used much bigger weights.

The elevated rock goal was maximum reps in 5 minutes. Probably tougher than the swing 100.

The elevated rock tested out with a total of 70 in 5 minutes. This is quite a feat – I dare you to try this one!

Pressing. On testing the single arm press, everyone finished with a personal record weight for reps.

The overarching goal of the program was to demonstrate how we can indeed increase our work capacity or fitness if you want to call it that and increase strength too but without ever working ‘hard’. Maybe it also demonstrates that you could still accomplish training goals when feeling kind of tired some days. If all you have to do is turn up, do the stuff and go home.

Turn Up, do the ‘Stuff’, go home, repeat. Simple!

Kettlebell Complexes

Our programming has been building up in 2019 to tackle some of the best ways of training with kettlebells. Whilst carrying out individual exercises in sets of a circuit is great, carrying out Kettlebell Complexes is both immensely fun and beneficial. January we worked on setting up the year with a very healthy start. February we worked on developing strength endurance which leads up to this months strength capacity.

What’s that you ask? 

Strength capacity is simply defined as the amount of strength work you can conduct in a given time. By the end of this month, most gym members and online trainees will be carrying out considerably more work per complex without really having to get seriously out of their comfort zone.

The ​Kettlebell complex​ is perhaps one of the more popular methods of programming for a some very clear and concise reasons. You take 2+ movements (3 to 5 being best) and string them together to execute each movement back-to-back. Simple! 

Without going into too much details, Complexes:

  • Have been proven to increase body fat oxygenation.
  • Are very time efficient.
  • Increase conditioning and strength.
  • Are great fun… albeit a rather twisted kind of fun!
  • Make use of just 1 or 2 kettlebells.

 

‘No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts—kettlebell complexes deliver. This is why they are so frequently featured in training plans by our best program designers like Master SFGs Geoff Neupert and Dan John.’

Pavel Tsatsouline

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 2.58.35 pm

Screenshot from our Program menu within the Online Membership site.

 

Over 4 weeks we’ll be progressing from simple to somewhat more ominous sessions.

Online members and gym members do get the option to personalise these should there be need, but in every case we’ll work on adding a little bit of volume per week, so subtle it’s practically unnoticeable.

 

One Complex we’ll be employing comes from the library of fantastic workouts from Dan John – the Armour Building complex.

Here’s a quick demo.

 

For all those enthusiastic Bodyweight trainees who are choosing to leave complexes for another time, I have built a routine of short and interesting bodyweight flows. Essentially a complex and a flow are the same thing. One just refers to using an external load while a flow is bodyweight.

Here’s a quick demo of one of our bodyweight routines.

 

If you’d be interested to join in, head over to our Online Membership site and sign up for the month.* It’s only $1 a day! Oh, you’ll also get access to e.v.e.r.y other program on our site during the month including all the teaching videos and resources.

ONLINE MEMBERSHIP

Got any questions, just ask me below:

 

*Join for 1 month for just $30 then cancel as soon as you want.

Kettlebells in Brisbane

Brisbane is an extraordinary place. People living in this part of Australia venture out in search of great days out, great food and new experiences, often finding the bizarre, the intrepid, unusual and down right clever. I’d like to propose the Kettlebell as one of those in the intrepidly clever category.

Since first sight to westerners, the cast iron ball with a handle has raised both fear and intrigue. Many gym goers, bootcampers and new year new body resolutionaries have all ventured into the perceived territory of the hardcore to use the kettlebell (often referred to as the cattle-ball or kettle-ball… sigh). Most without instruction have ended the day with an ache or an injury or a reassured impression that the Russian weapon is indeed dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Sadly, the same can be said for those who have received ‘instruction’!!! Instruction is probably not the best word to use because these poor victims were subjected to hardship and torture rather than intelligent teaching and instruction.

Most ‘trainers’ who use kettlebells in their classes and activities have in most cases, not been taken through a vigorous program of learning how to teach the common kettlebell movements. Instead, trainers have chosen to use this wonderful device as a tool to beat people up with to show-off how cool a trainer they are for making them work so hard.

(I probably should not have written that last paragraph but it is the honest truth so I’ll leave it there.) 

In order to sell courses for the CEC chasers, course designers have packed multiple movements into their courses to keep them exciting with various movements and exercises. It’s an unfortunate trade off. Cut back on the opportunity to truly learn the essential moves for brushing over way too much to learn.

The real joy and down right cleverness of kettlebell training is not just in its simple shape but in that the tool with a single handle lends itself to performing an essential package of exercises without hassle. The way in which you learn to hold and move with the kettlebell provides feedback between your limbs and the kettlebell. It is in affect, a self teaching tool and yes, this does mean you can hurt yourself if you don’t know how to perform the moves and read the feedback.

IMG_5824

Correct Grip

I’ve had consultations with prospective clients who have seen the line of 36 kettlebells against the edge of the gym and declared their feeling – usually of hate filled past experiences with poorly educated trainers. What a shame.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT putting down other trainers. We all have to start somewhere in our careers but it is so important to know our scope of practice and to truly take our time to learn how to use our tools before starting to teach others the same.

My process is to teach clients how to move better first-off before loading up with weights. By the time we are ready to use weights, there is a level of trust between us and getting onto using the kettlebells is just the next logical step.

I mentioned course writers eagerness to entertain earlier, with way too many options. Options are fine and perfectly acceptable where required but any good training program should include these essentials:

  • Carries – carrying one or two kettlebells in various positions to develop breathing under tension and torso control / bracing.
  • Squats.
  • Hip hinges, like deadlifts, swings and such.
  • Pushes and presses.
  • Pulling actions.
  • Explosive actions, like the swing, clean and snatch.

The average population training 2 to 3 times a week does not need much more than the above. Add some daily walking and some aerobic activities, good sleep and nutrition and ‘whammy’, there’s a great recipe for health and fitness.

There’s a greater chance of a trainer getting bored than a client getting bored using this short list of moves so professionally, there is not reason to keep swapping exercises every week. Repetitions, sets and loads vary over time as do how the list of moves are ‘packaged’ together in the session. But keeping it simple wins e.v.e.r.y. time.

If you only work with a short list of roughly 6 movements, how well do you think you will progress, get to know the movements, get stronger and more confident? Very well most likely. At the other end, if you work with 20 to 30 variations, how well will you progress and learn how to perform each and every one of them over your 2 to 3 sessions a week? Probably not so well I’m guessing. Keep it simple is the rule.

Confession Time!

I can actually speak from experience. My first kettlebell certification in 2009 was a two day course with roughly 30 different movements that we spent roughly 15 minutes on each with lots of other fluff thrown in too. Would you trust an instructor who had 15 minutes of ‘professional’ instruction on an exercise??? I know I wouldn’t be too confident.

I did spend time over the following 2 years playing frustratingly with some of the moves and all but gave up until in 2011 I saw a Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor certification was coming to town, well, Melbourne, but that was close enough.

The RKC was the Black Belt of Kettlebell Certifications (and the precursor to StrongFirst), renowned for its strict conduct and roughly 35-40% of candidates failing to pass the testing at the end of the 3 day certification.

The reason the certification is so strict is for some very professional reasons.

  • The association wants to ensure its instructors will conduct themselves professionally and represent strongly.
  • They want to ensure their instructors are able to demonstrate proficiently and safely.
  • They want to make sure their certified instructors are committed to teaching the kettlebell movements and system and not just wanting another CEC.

The experience candidates will encounter will be like no other fitness instruction certification that exists. It will be deep, intense, involve lots of demonstration and practice, skills and tests throughout the 3 days culminating in a tough instructor testing procedure… and that’s prior to teaching a volunteer to demonstrate teaching competence!

If successful, an RKC or a StrongFirst certified instructor will offer their clients a professional experience when they attend training above and beyond the average PT session in a high-street gym. If you want cheap, you can find it everywhere, but if you want a quality experience, look up your local RKC or StrongFirst instructor.

Gearing up for re-certification

As thorough as the certification process is, it is advisable that instructors re-certify to stay on top of their teaching skills and abilities with the kettlebell.  I am in that stage this year, polishing my skills. Perhaps part of my writing this today is an act of accountability. “I am telling you all that I will undertake re-certification this year”. Mmmmm, hopefully that will work.

I am confident my weekend as a student not just a trainer will be fun as usual and that I will walk away excited to share my experience with my clients.

What about you?

I do run ongoing private workshops for people who want to experience a little bit of the Hardstyle Kettlebell world. My own Kettlebell Fundamentals program was launched in 2013 for budding enthusiasts who wanted to learn how to properly use their shiny new black kettlebells. Many attendees came for the workshops and have stayed on as clients, so bitten by the kettlebell bug were they.

If you are interested in experiencing the feel or real Kettlebell training, please do consider a visit to FitStrong.

FitStrong Kettlebell Fundamentals

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Want to chat? Get in touch below.