How to Press a 40kg Kettlebell

This is a story of how one FitStrong client progressed from pressing a 28kg kettlebell well, a 32kg okay to pressing a 40kg overhead on each arm with one simple program.

Pressing or placing heavy stuff overhead has been a feat of strength favoured by many a strongman of yesteryear. Oddly enough it’s not just the twirly moustached gent that thrives off of pressing big bars and kettlebells and other odd objects. I see lots of every day people who love the feeling of pressing things over their head in what you could call a press of victory over gravity and iron kilograms.

This year so far we’ve had many ladies move up to larger kettlebells in their programs whilst others simply got more comfortable with their current presses – another valuable note of progress – but one chap started the year with a notable goal in particular.

TO PRESS THE 40KG KETTLEBELL!

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I like to stay on top of peoples goals and whilst most don’t have any movement specific goals, I occasionally get interesting requests, like this one. “I want to press the 40kg kettlebell by the end of the year Jamie”.

I’ve never been great at pressing. A combination of long, skinny arms, former injuries from bike crashes holding me back and a natural propensity for endurance over max strength has left me with a humbling 32kg kettlebell press. Not terrible but, meh!

Anyhoo, I was stuck at pressing the 24kg for a very long time until I came across a program concept (that I have since run with on many other strength programs) that allowed me to finally press the 28kg with comfort and the 32kg with a bit of a grind.

The concept: TO EXPAND THE COMFORT ZONE GRADUALLY

Now, I’ve written about this concept before but because it keep delivering for not just me, but for other people with totally different make ups, it’s validity keeps growing stronger.

The key to making this program successful is in creeping up volume very, very slightly over the training cycle.

Key notes:

  1. Progress takes a forward, forward, back waved approach. We add a rep, add a rep then back step to a previously completed stage – it’ll make sense below but in essence we sneak the volume up a little and before it gets noticed as a stress, we back off to a comfortable level we’ve completed before.
  2. The program is very specialised and didn’t leave much room for progressing other lifts but the goal was to improve the press, nothing else.
  3. We train three times a week, with active rest days in between to work on mobility and other maintain other qualities.
  4. The programs progression can be overridden by biofeedback. If the body felt a bit battered or tight, we back off to a simpler days training. (You’ll see that below when we cut volume down to 24 total reps a couple of times)

Program rules:

  • Start the program with a weight that can be pressed for 5 reps, or 70% of your max. 1 rep press.
  • Always warm up each session with a thorough mobility routine like Original Strength, some crawling, farmers carries and a few swings.
  • Ensure that each clean before your press is great. The better the clean, the better the press.
  • Perform up to 20 sets.
  • Rest 1 minute between sets or longer once the sets get longer.

The progression we used exactly is copy and pasted below.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 7.19.45 am

To be clear about what the above means, let’s take session #5, 2223 x 5. This means, press x 2, rest, 2, rest, 2, rest, 3, rest, repeat the cycle again for another 4 cycles for a total of 20 sets, equalling 45 presses.  Got it?

I’m not saying this exact layout will work for everyone, but I believe in the concept, the waviness of volume and expanding the comfort zone to achieve new layers of strength.

At the end of this program, the client rested a few days with active recovery before retesting his weights. The 40kg pressed up smoothly.

If you’re interested in furthering your strength with bespoke and interesting programs, please do get in touch below or check out our Online Membership that currently contains over 42 months worth of training programs!!!

click here

 

December 2018 Update:

Here’s what an online client had to say about the program after a few weeks of following the above layout.

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Are You HIITing
Yourself too much?

High Intensity Interval Training

Doing you more harm than good?

 

Part 1

Studies show hard training sessions quickly improve athletic performance, but if they come with an injury rate of 50 percent would you still do them?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) has been a mainstay of training programs and systems for only a short period of time. 30 years might sound like a long time, but in an industry, it’s just a snapshot of time.

Studies time and time again show that HIIT protocols do indeed improve athletic performance. HIIT can be described as performing short 10-30 seconds high efforts followed by a short recovery (10-60 seconds) before repeating for up to 8 to 10 total efforts. The high effort would be in the range of 90% of your VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum effort you can sustain before going red line and you stop using oxygen to create fuel. You instead go into a zone of using other short lived fuels like creatine and lactate.

However, what most studies do not report is that the period we can sustain such training sessions is short, like 4 to 6 weeks. Continue to flog yourself much further and injury rates escalate as do over training risks.

For athletes following a professionally designed program, a period of time would include HIIT training but only during a peaking phase of 4 to 6 weeks of a training program leading up to competition. They do not follow HIIT all year round.

As Doctor Phil Maffetone wrote:
“Anaerobic function creates higher levels of physical and biochemical stress, decreases immune function and muscle repair, increases inflammation, increases the risk of muscle injury and impairs fat-burning. These conditions are also associated with poor (or a lack of) recovery, and are common components of and contributors to the overtraining syndrome.”

So why does the fitness industry keep banging away at the idea that you gotta keep banging away at yourself??

Because HIIT is sexy?
Because high effort is equated to suffering and deserved favourable outcomes??
Because our parents and grandparents suffered to provide for us???

Who knows where the western notion of high effort, suffered and reward stems from, but it is very much a western attraction to fitness. Yes, other cultures follow rights of passage, coming of age rituals, but it’s not an every-day thing!

As I continue, I want to throw out these reality checks for you to ponder:

  1. Every day exercise is a driver to good, better and optimal health.
  2. Athletic Sport performance is NOT about health. It’s about doing everything that must be done to out perform the competition.

When I raced my bike in the 90s, I didn’t race and nor did my colleagues or competition race to improve our health. We trained to race, to do better than every else. The same can be said for most other sports too.

High intensity interval training used too much is not about health, it’s about taking physical performance to its highest potential, regardless of impact on health.

Here’s a glimpse of a couple of studies:
The British Journal of Sports Medicine published the results of a short-term training program, designed by health professionals to reduce running injuries that still resulted in a 30 percent injury rate (Taunton et al., 2013).
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning published a study that showed the popular and notoriously high-intensity sport of CrossFit has an estimated injury rate of 73.5 percent with 7 percent of these injuries requiring surgery (Hak et al., 2013).

One thing researchers may agree on is that they don’t really know what particular exercise effort is best for a given athlete. While the concept of individuality is an accepted approach to programming, it’s not used to a valuable capacity.
The media will continue to present snippets of research, telling us the new solution is here, and people will jump on board the coolaid train, only to risk increased injury and ill health.
Where does higher effort fit into the fitness equation?

Next week I’ll share how a week should look, driven by non-agenda health leaders, recovery and regression from effort rates.

Until then, what do you think? Do you look first at when you’ll do your HIIT or is it something you’ll add once all other areas have been covered?

Let me know.

Jamie

 

 

8 Week Metabolic, Muscle & Strength Program

8 Week Metabolic, Muscle & Strength Spring Program

A Fusion of Kettlebells and Bodyweight Training

INTRO

The FitStrong Spring Program is a simple fusion of both strength focussed training and metabolic enhancing training using Kettlebells and bodyweight movements..

The three days that we will rotate between place demands on two different energy systems.

Day 1: One pure power and strength

Day 2: Endurance and muscle building.

Day 3: Vital ‘Other Stuff’

Now, you’re probably not going to turn into Arnie overnight or even after 8 weeks but creating the stimulation for maintaining muscle hypertrophy helps immensely in creating more favourable conditioning for increasing muscular metabolism and hopefully fat loss.

To simplify, one session you’ll lift heavy with lots of rest and the other session you’ll push a little longer and get a little out of breath.

At FitStrong we heavily promote moving better as well as developing our strengths. With this in mind, the program does include elements of mobility and bodyweight movements also.

4 x 10

This program is built with four (roughly) 10 minute sections, finishing with a 5 minute cool down (either static stretches or repeating some of the warm up mobility movements).

Why? Oftentimes I hear frustrations that, “I’ve not got time for a 30 to 45 minutes training session”.

This program is slightly unique in that you don’t have to complete each of the four sections and that if stuck for time, you build your daily routine to meet your time budget. Only got 10 minutes? I’d recommend just running through the warm up mobility routine. Yep, if stuck for time, guaranteed you’ll be slightly more stressed too. For that reason your body does not need more stress in the form of muscular stress. The body when under stress needs a reset. The warm up will offer just that.

Got 20 minutes? Do the warm up then any of the 10 minute blocks that you’d like to do. Keep it simple.

Of course, you might find that once you start, that you might find it easier to squeeze in one more 10 minute section…. go for it.

 

Each training session emphasises pressing and rowing to develop the shoulders and arms in general. We play with various leg movements and both days use the kettlebell swing to enhance power and fat utilisation using tried and tested StrongFirst ‘Strong Endurance’ protocols.

But here’s the caveat – I’m not a believer that exercise is a good tool for body fat loss. Yes, strength exercise helps to boost the metabolic rate but pales in comparison to dialling in our nutrition habits.

So, I will be providing just ONE Nutrition Challenge to accompany the exercise component. We’ll get to that soon.

I do have an online version of this to be released on my Teachable platform, but if you prefer a slightly more low-tech access to the program, for $20 you can have the PDF version with workable links to video demonstrations. Yep, if you print the PDF the links don’t work!

At the checkout, once you completed the purchase the receipt page will include the link to the download. But, if you don’t want to go through that, once you’ve paid and I receive confirmation from paypal, I can email you the PDF too. Your choice.

Want to keep busy, fit and strong up to Christmas?

Just A$20  Payment Link (redirects to PayPal) 

Any questions or do you want access to the high-tech online version? Just shoot me a message below.

 

Go on, let me help You!

What do you need to thrive in your fitness, strength and health plans?

I’m just a passionate trainer, standing in front of you, asking how can I help?

That’s my goal as a trainer, as a business owner and just plain ‘ol me. My drive and what I want to spend my time doing is helping people, but only those who want to thrive, not just survive.

Watch the very open and honest video below and talk to me.

Even the fiercest beast starts out as a baby

We all started out laid out on the floor as babies and with prolific contact between our our hands and feet with the floor we learned about our environment very quickly.

This of course led to us progressing to more upright endeavours until we all started to sit (slouch) more.

Maybe it’s a good idea to get back to floor to rekindle all those neuro-physical benefits of ground contact. As a quick remark, I’ve found that many clients squat and deadlift better after some practice of crawling….

Baby Crawl to Beast Crawl

No one ever gets to floor, crawls a while and stands up with smile proclaiming, “wow, that was easy!”

Crawling is tough as your body ties together and links your upper body and lower body together. Crawling also activates cross bracing on the trunk, tying together your opposite shoulders and hips together, you know, natural gait like when you walk, jog, run and climb.

So here’s a great sequence for you to practice.

Start in the simplest of crawls, the baby crawl on all fours (or sixes if you count the feet dragging on the ground). Take a few steps before continuing on your feet and hands in what you can call the Beast crawl.

The rules: you must maintain nasal breathing. If you have to suck in wind through the mouth, your set is done. Rest a bit then repeat.

As the body gets stronger and breathing nasally becomes more prolonged, spend less time on the baby crawl and more in beast.

Simple.

Oh, you want more…. try the above with reverse crawling, going backwards 🙂

Squat Challenge

Whilst western society has evolved somewhat in some areas, it has definitely declined in others.

What’s declined? Specifically I’m referring to strength, agility, mobility and how we interact poorly with our environments compared to history and indeed, other cultures.

Posture in particular has slid downwards… like the chins of many an iPad addicted child!

Humans were never meant to sit for hours a day, were never meant to sit on a chair and where never meant to spend countless hours with a forward hanging head. We were made to move and when we were to rest, sitting in a deep squat is our design.

Now, whilst modern ‘progress’ has given us chairs to sit and rest, it isn’t the same. More clearly, it’s not the same physiologically. The evidence is clear. Knee, ankle, hip and back pain is rife today with an unbalanced number of people.

posture evolution

So what are the benefits of sitting in a Squat?

  • Improved Ankle mobility and stability
  • Improved Knee stability
  • Improved hip mobility and stability
  • Improved thoracic spine mobility
  • Improved intestinal health and bowel movements
  • Improved capacity to undertake everyday activities
  • Improved ability to get to the floor (and up again) as you age

The Challenge

This challenge is simple, yet may prove testing. The goal each day is to spend time in a deep, rested squat position. The time per day is be accumulated and not necessarily carried out in one set – unless you can. You can spend the time over as many efforts as you like.

By the end of the 28 days the goal is to accumulate a total of 30 minutes.

How to record

You can record your daily efforts either with a simple record sheet or use your smart phones Stopwatch. Every time you sit into a squat, start the timer and stop it when you stand. Just continue the timer per set.

Rules of the Squat Challenge

  1. No REST days during the 28 days.
  2. Per day your gaol is to ACCUMULATE the allocated time. Take as many sets as needed. Work harder some days and easier other days.
  3. Foot width – around shoulder width apart. Find what works best for you to allow for maximal depth and relaxation.
  4. Foot angle – don’t stress about dogmatic musts in terms of foot angle. Again, find what works best for you.
  5. How deep should you squat? As deep as you can. If you do need support to gain some initial depth or even comfort, use a chair, a door frame or whatever is safe to hold onto to allow you to sit deep, deeper and deeperer!
  6. No tension – The squat is a RESTED position. Don’t worry about keeping a flat, upright back or tight abs. Just sit and chill.
  7. No pain. Don’t be silly and turn this into a pain enduring challenge. Do what you can do on any given set.
  8. Can’t keep heals on the floor? Raise the heals a little. Use piece of wood, two small weights discs or even the toes of your shoes.
  9. Footwear – best footwear is no footwear. Socks, sure. Shoes, try not to.
  10. Share. Don’t be a selfish squatter – share with others the many wonders of squatting, this challenge and even get the family joining in when you do your squat sessions.

 

Copy of How to PLANYOUR 2018 NEW YEAR RESOLUTION