12 Week Challenge

Are you one of those people who just plod along regardless in your training? I’m often a fan of just turning up to the gym, doing what’s on the plan and moving onto my next to-do item. Other time however, I love to charge forward with a challenge.

If you are this way inclined and love the occasional challenge, our 12 Week Kettlebell Challenge will tickle your fancy.

This 12 Week program addresses essential components over 4 week blocks with plenty of opportunities to hone and fine tune your kettlebell skills as the intensity gradually increases. Best suited to the trainee with experience with kettlebells but, tutorials are provided throughout.

The online program is easy to follow … why not check out more information here.

click here

 

What’s included:

  • Detailed program with video demonstrations and teachings
  • Ongoing support for any of your questions at the click of a button
  • Downloadable content for easy access a the gym
  • Access to other valuable online content

Got any questions? Ask below.

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.

Carry On to Get Real World STRONG

Training must always have a purpose. It’s that simple.

You turn up and you conduct movements with an overarching purpose. That may be to elicit a calorie burn, to add muscle or to get stronger, faster or to develop a skill. Whatever the purpose or purposes, you should ideally choose purposeful movements. Think I’ve made that clear… next point.

The word functional gets a fair amount of use and misuse in the training world. Maybe it’s me, but when I consider function, I immediately visualise movements that relate to our daily lives and occupations. Movements like lifting things up and putting them back down again, pushing, pulling, pressing and of course bracing ourselves to handle those activities.

Just for a moment, reflect on your day-to-day physical activities outside of the gym and then consider how they fit into the above range.

Go on… I’ll wait for you.

These movements above are what I think of when talking about functional training. One more activity that we can’t ignore is carrying ‘stuff’.

How often do you carry armfuls of shopping, maybe gardening activities, carrying those 25s to the bench to press them and a myriad of other carrying? You might find these chores challenging too, exposing your weaknesses. The carry has a much great purpose than just incidental transportation of things, it transforms your weakness to a strength.

The action of successfully carrying heavy implements has a multitude of physical benefits that’ll be sure to toughen you up and give you some real-world ‘strong’.

So what do carries do?

If carries had a sales pitch:

Putting carries into your life will tighten up your posture as good as granny making you walk around with books on your head. Your upper back will get strong like ox whilst your shoulders will boast some impressive wolverine shadows (the hair is a different story though!). Expect your grip to take on a vice like quality… everyone likes a firm handshake. Talking of firm, your backside will develop mighty fine hardware to go along with a torso only the Gods of Mount Olympus could forge. “Holly abs of Zeus”!

How to do carries?

The rules of the carry are simple. Pick up your weight and carry it for a set time or distance. Vague I know, but committing to the carry is vital. Yeah, it might suck a little as every muscle on your frame gives you feedback that time is up. Rule two then is this… don’t let go, don’t give up. Rule three, maintain your postural integrity. We don’t want to see any hunch-backing, bending over sideways or other ugly positions. Stay tight, stay upright, stick with it.

What kind of weights or implements depends on what you have. I like kettlebells because they’re compact and often heavy. Specialised bars can be used as well as dumbbells, barbells, heavy bags, a wheelbarrow full of rocks, rocks by themselves. An adventurous mind will be helpful.

Carrying isn’t just limited to carrying by your side. Here’s a list of options:

  • Farmers walk with two weights by your sides
  • One arm carry by your side 
  • Racked on your shoulder, one or two arms 
  • Overhead carry, one or two arms (depending on shoulder mobility this might or might not work) 
  • Sled pull and carry anything, anyhow, any way
  • Sled pull with a harness, a weighted vest whilst pushing a wheelbarrow – I have never done this one, but wowsers, it sounds pretty cool.

Here are a few videos:

Coach Dan John calls carries the Game Changer. Read what he has to say – just in case you don’t believe me!

An adventurous mind will be helpful but stick to the rules and really do try to include some kind of carries into your training week.

I challenge you to experiment over the next month with carries. You’ll not be disappointed.

Stay strong and mobile,

Jamie

Swing Tip

The Kettlebell Swing is the cornerstone of Kettlebell training. The more swift, smooth, yet ballistic and powerful the swing, the better all other exercises become. There are of course a few styles of swinging a kettlebell but I focus on the (labelled) hardstyle swing.

Pavel swings on cover of Simple and Sinister

It stands out from other styles of swinging a kettlebell by being explosive with the aim of expending energy over short-duration ballistic sets rather than conserving energy for endurance sets. For reference, the standards of the swing are as follows.

The Brief: Swing a kettlebell in one hand / each hand back between your legs and then in front of you up to chest level.

The Standard:

  1. The back is neutral. the neck is slightly extended or neutral on the bottom of the swing.
  2. The heels, toes and the balls of the feet are planted and the knees track the toes.
  3. The shoulders are packed.
  4. The kettlebell handle passes above the knees during the backswing.
  5. The working arm / arms is straight in the bottom position.
  6. There is no forward knee movement on the upswing.
  7. The body forms a straight line on the top of the swing: the hips and knees extend fully, the spine is neutral.
  8. The kettlebell forms an extension of the straight arm(s) at the top of the swing.
  9. The biomechanical breathing match. (power breaths, if familiar)
  10. The abs and glutes visibly contract at the top of the swing.
  11. The kettlebell floats momentarily on the top of the swing.

(This is NOT an instruction guide or a how to. To learn how to swing, get taught. Dont tempt fate, learn and practice and repeat.)

Too many words? Here is a great video demonstrating the swing and other key StrongFirst exercises.

StrongFirst Video of Standards

Progressions

A beginner learns how to hinge their hips first with either a deadlift or a wall drill to teach the correct movement before moving onto the swing. How quickly depends on mobility and other factors but when first learning the swing a beginner focuses on swinging a single kettlebell with two hands.

For many this proves fine for a very long time but for others who may want to progress to single arm swings with its many core strengthening benefits (cue Dr Stuart McGills Studies on the kettlebell swing and back health found here) there are a few adjustments to pay attention to.

  1. A single arm swing places great rotational stress on the torso.
  2. A single arm swing requires greater shoulder packing on the loaded arm.
  3. Grip strength is stressed more.
  4. Simply getting used to swinging single armed is unusual for a time being and a distraction to good form.

In my time teaching the swing there have been people who transition to swinging with a single arm without a hitch whilst others have struggled to maintain form even over a small number of swings. Whilst programming the single arm swing appropriately, mixing it between sets of 2 handed swings can help, for some the focus of holding the kettlebell with a single arm is a distraction.

So, without further babbling, here’s the Quick Hand Release kettlebell swing. I couldn’t figure out what to call it and I am sure others use it, but I have not seen other instructors broadcast its use.

The premise is simple. For a very quick moment release a hand from the handle at the top of a two handed swing, while it floats whilst maintaining a packed shoulder. Just as the float ends before descent, get the released hand back onto the handle and continue the swing two handed.

It’s quick, brief and a minimal stress, but I’ve found it help swingers get confidence holding the bell with a single hand.

Additionally, I’ve discovered it’s great way to get that hang-time, the float at the top of the swing that some rush. It’s also a simple way to get used to holding onto a heavier kettlebell for even experienced kettlebell swingers. My quick video shows me swing the 40kg with the QHR kettlebell swing which I would struggle with solely using a single arm swing.

Yeah, I’m sure others have discovered this drill. I found it by accident one session swatting a fly off my face but it has helped me help others swing better… so, smiley faces all round

Smiley Awesome

 

Peace and smiles,

Jamie

Make Your Habits and They’ll Make You

One overarching principle I’m aiming at imparting (to anyone that listens) is this – changes must to reasonable!

Pretty much everyone attending fitness facilities are looking at changing something. Be it strength, size, skills, eating habits, exercise habits; change is on the agenda.
However, big drastic changes fail, every time. Being told exactly what to do fails. Being given a diet sheet with one weeks worth of eating, fails! Going full-hog at training then blowing a gasket, fails.

time to change

Making small, gradual changes to important issues that hold value does work, providing that you consider it a reasonable change. If you can see the value of stopping drinking a sugary drink like a coke for example for even 95% of the time, you will value its positive impact on weight control. Not having to compensate for the huge amount of empty, non-nutritional calories makes your efforts a lot easier.

If however this change seems unreasonable, then there is absolutely no purpose in perusing it – it will fail.

With consideration to eating habits (maybe a food diary will come in handy), identify one poor habit. There could be more than one, there probably are to be honest, but take just one that you consider changeable. This could be like the example above or even something small like sugar added to your coffee.

Take this one habit and consider how to change it for a healthier option.
This has to be a reasonable change, don’t forget this.

How you change it is up to you but strive to reduce the serving, choose an alternative with less sugar, a different food stuff or even stop it if it’s really an unnecessary snack.

The kind of poor eating habits that hinder weight control could include one or more of these:

  • late night sugary snacks
  • staying up late in the first place. Sleeping is a great weight control tool
  • added sugar to tea and coffee
  • cordials and fruit juices
  • crumbed fish or chicken
  • piling your plate up just because your partner has
  • processed foods
  • not eating after exercise
  • grocery shopping on an empty stomach or when hungry
  • buying unnecessary foods…. Just stop that right now and you’ll more than likely see change very quickly
  • heavily refined cooking oils

The list could go on, but can see how many of these are common sense issue.

To repeat, don’t go mad with lots of changes; totally ‘own’ changing one poor habit at a time into a healthy habit. Making a commitment for even one week might allow you to really appreciate the change. If not, at least you gave it a go and maybe on another occasion you’ll succeed. Take another issue, work on it but don’t stress and beat yourself up, you’re not alone, just stay reasonable with yourself.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Gandhi

Fat Loss Truths

Diet and exercise is commonly espoused as the go to method of losing body fat rather than just one over the other.

The claims that exercise is all you need to help control, prevent and lose body fat is a modern age fitness industry fallacy…. Sorry folks, but exercise alone will not lose fat very effectively!

The energy deficit from exercise is rather insignificant compared to a ham and cheese sandwich!

Two slices of bread alone are worth roughly 150 calories or 15 minutes running  or 20 minutes weightlifting or 45 minutes of walking.  That’s a lot of activity for just two slices of bread!

Why exercise at all then you may wonder, if it yields such little return?

EPOC for a start and no, that’s not a new wonder drug. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is an increased uptake of oxygen after exercise to help recovery, energy substrate replenishment, hormone rebalancing and generally a return to a normal resting state. This process of recovery uses more fat lipids in the presence of the increased oxygen uptake.

Depending on the exercise type and specifically the level of exertion, the affects of the excess oxygen uptake varies considerably. Low levels of exercise such as steady state (easily sustainable) exercise requires the least amount of recovery despite its hourly ‘burn’ of around 200 calories. At the opposite end of the exertion spectrum, the HIIT (high intensity interval training) and exertive resistance training requires the greatest amount of post exercise oxygen consumption despite using an average of 450 calories over an hour although this kind of training session normally lasts 20-30minutes in reality.

Many studies have demonstrated that HIIT type training does increase the metabolic rate to varying degrees post exercise compared to steady state exercise but overall, the HIIT training comes out on top.

The exception to the rule in regards to low levels exercise and successful fat loss is seen in those individuals who are able to commit to longer training sessions, sessions lasting in the region of 90-120 mins a few times a week! How many of us actually have the time for that however? The downside to this is a general lack of functional, practical strength training… do you actually want to be weak and skinny or leaner and stronger?

If you answered yes to the first question, please do not bother to ask to train with me.

Getting back to the matter of significant fat loss, food and what food we are eating is the largest influencing factor. If you didn’t know that then please excuse me for calling you an idiot!

People sit too much, fail to move as much, stay up too late, depend on emotion kicks and energy kicks and just plain eat way too much… We know that of course, if we are to be totally honest with ourselves.

Most of us know we should consume a balanced diet of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The ratio of each does get hazy and confusing especially in light of all the media attention ‘extreme’ diet fads receive.

Essentially, the key to healthy eating for normal living and  weight control requires us to consume natural foods with as little human meddling as possible; that is to say, with as little added chemicals, hormones or factory processes.

We should fill our daily diet with meats, vegetables and a few naturally occurring carbohydrates.

These do not include bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes and such… you know that of course, don’t you?

Carbohydrates are not the enemy but we should realise that carbs are just fuels. Sitting around on our backsides doesn’t elicit much of a calorie demand and does not justify the consumption of carbs more than 50 grams a day to be honest. Exercise activities burn fuel and require fuel for recovery so we therefore need carbs post exercise.

Look for your carb intake from this list:

  • Whole vegetables
  • Whole fruits
  • Legumes and beans (non GM)
  • Nuts and seeds (non GM)

A professional dietician can suggest all of this in a nice little package of detailed meal plans, but it really isn’t hard.

Eat veg, eat meat and fuel sensibly.

Control your portions, and on that note, here are the two best, most effective and sustainable exercises for fat control.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmkNZmuMaco&feature=share&list=UUhV7LglsQx0-P1Su5TyFAuQ

Yeah, I know, I’m taking the micky in the video, but in reality, ‘pushing away the plate’ when you know you are not hungry any more and ‘closing the dam fridge door’ are two sure ways to control what goes into your mouth.

Stay healthy, keep sensible, always be a student.

Jamie

The Butt of all problems

Most people at some time will experience back pain and sadly most of them will continue to be affected by ongoing back pain, discomfort or a fear and apprehension of a reoccurrence of pain. In most occasions such pains can be attributed to lifestyle originated problems like sitting too much, poor posture and just a lack of physical exercise leading to imbalances of muscular activation and use, tension and relaxation.

Sitting Is The New Smoking, is a phrase you will read with growing incidence as evidence builds for the health issues associated with prolonged sitting.

The bigger concerns are the impact on cardiovascular health but increasingly as a trainer of movement and strength, I am seeing more and more clients with lower back pains brought on predominantly from prolonged sitting.

Presuming a client with a history of pain has had the all clear to exercise from an allied health professional, what should the course of action be? Lifting? Pushing? Pulling? Ab Curling? Sitting on a machine to lift, push, pull and curl??

Probably not to be honest and sincerely professional.

The first item on a trainers agenda, for a client experiencing pain from a lifestyle orientated problem, should be helping the client move with more competency, comfort and awareness of what the body is doing and in particular the vestibular system or in plain language, balance and coordination.

Now, before we all start thinking of heading down to the gym to do move some weights around, this may be rather too ambitious as it creates a focus on an external object, like the weight, not the individual.

Perhaps it would be a wiser or a more practical solution to choose a simplification like just moving without gym equipment, from walking, walking uphills, stepping up steps, walking through the countryside with obstacles to encounter.
For some however, even walking elicits pain and discomfort due to ongoing poor posture developed by the prolonged sitting and yes, perhaps other factors too.

To start to correct the posture imbalances it’s important firstly to understand what is physically wrong with sitting that causes the problem.

Problem 1. When we sit for periods of time, muscles at the front of our hips can shorten and become tight pulling our pelvis forward creating an extended lumbar arch or lordosis or what some call a Donald Duck bottom – it sticks out!
Longer term this over-tight hip muscle and pelvic repositioning causes other muscles to take on unnatural tension and others to be switched off, especially the deeper core muscles of the abdominal wall who provide anterior support from the pelvis to the rib cage.

Problem 2. The bottom isn’t actually meant to be a load bearing muscle! Odd as that reads, it isn’t. Look at the palm of your hand and the sole of your feet. They have that hard fatty padding, a denser feel to touch and tougher skin… because they are meant to take loads, get it?
Our bottoms don’t have this kind of structure and largely this sizeable muscle is designed for locomotion, pelvic support and stability and physical, muscular activities like lifting.
Sitting for lengthy periods actually squashes all those layers of backside muscle, in turn desensitising the nerves within. The result is what leading spine specialist, Dr Stuart McGill labels as ‘gluteal amnesia’; in other words the brains nerve signalling to activate the gluts don’t happen or happen very poorly. The trip switch has been knocked off due to the sitting and compression of the backside muscles.

Why is this a problem?

When you eventually stand and require the bottom to move the legs affectively they are not fully able to and other local muscles take on the referral, become overworked and in turn become fatigued, over-tight and potentially injured. Don’t forget too those deeper core muscles who are now also not able to support the pelvis to rib region including the lower back… Oh dear, can we see and injury time-bomb!

How to do we fix this?

There are many solutions that a trainer could investigate or refer on (to a physiotherapist) if hindering pain is present. But, where pain isn’t hindering and you see a poor lower back posture aka Donald Duck Bum, we’ll start with those tight hip flexors need loosened up a bit.
In the two pictures below you see the set up, a half kneeling position with the pelvis tucked under (pulling the groin up towards the navel).
The second picture illustrates pushing the hips forward just enough to bring on some tension at the front of the hips and top of the thighs. This should be held without pain anywhere for up to 10 seconds before swapping legs.

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1. Tuck pelvis under

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2. Push hips forward to feel stretch in hip

Ideally this should be carried out 3 times a day after a little bit of moving around.

If pain persists, see the Dr or preferably a physiotherapist.

Secondly, let’s try to switch on those gluts whilst correcting the pelvic position.
The first picture demonstrates the poor posture, the Donald Duck posture.
The second picture illustrates the standing ‘Tuck and Squeeze’ of the pelvis and gluts. This drill should be carried out any chance you get without getting odd looks from observers – or perhaps they should be encouraged to join in!

1. Donald Duck Bum aka over-arched lower back

1. Donald Duck Bum aka over-arched lower back

2. 'Tuck and Squeeze'

2. ‘Tuck and Squeeze’

These two drills above should be carried daily out to get the ball rolling but are by no means enough.

After mastering the postural re correction of the Tuck and Squeeze and stretching the hip flexors for a week or so, it’s time to work on strengthening the gluts and the deeper transverse abdominals muscles of the core.
This is where the help of a movement system based strength coach comes in helpful.

In the FitStrong Gym exercises such as bracing our stomachs, ‘rolling’ from our backs to our fronts using just our torso and minimal limb use are all excellent activities to enable our brain to directly communicate with our body as a global unit to just move naturally. Hey, if you don’t believe me and think I am mad, hit the floor and try to roll from your back to front 5 times… right now – do it!…

Here’s author of Original Strength, Tim Anderson demonstrating a great warm up including these rolls.

Tim Anderson Warm Up

…Okay, hope you did that and I hope you feel all that stuff going on all around your body – that my friend is exercise at its simplest and purest.

As Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert describe in their Original Strength book :

“We have lost our way. We have lost our foundation. Our sedentary lifestyles have robbed us of the foundation and the joy of movement that we built as children. Because of this, we have lost our strength, our health, our resiliency and our vitality.”

A healthy movement program designed to reclaim our natural design looks no further than at how children, especially toddlers move.
Rolling and crawling as silly as it seems is a great ‘ctrl, alt, del’ to reset our bodies before we start to load ourselves with weights, Kettlebells and barbells.

If you are stuck behind a desk for most of the week and are keen to learn how to reclaim your younger, more mobile, pain free and happier self, get in touch soon, in fact, get off your backside now and schedule an appointment.

Contacts:

Jamie Hunter
FitStrong Performance Training

Tel: 0450 487 237

Email: fitstrong@mail.com

http://www.fitstrong.com.au

References:
Low Back Disorders: Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation, By Stuart McGill
Original Strength, by Tim Anderson & Geoff Neupert

The Simple Life Keeping It Simple!

I’m rather partial to the simple things in life, like a black coffee, a nice home cooked meal and Kettlebell swings.

Today had it all.
I was a bit tired today I’ve to confess, so finishing the afternoon with a line of doubled-up Kettlebells leaves me with a satisfied smile on my face.

The session consisted of 10 minutes of Primal Move warm ups and mobility then swinging my way down a line of double 14s, 16s, 20s, 24s, 28s and the 32s.
Just two rounds of 10 swings each was sufficient to fire me up enough to leave me feeling stronger than I did all day.

Remember, training for power, strength and skill is about making small and frequent deposits into the proverbial bank of Strengthville. Withdrawals should be spared for those rare occasions.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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Attack your 2014 Resolution Mindfully

Attention …

… Resolutions can work, you don’t have to fail. 

Against the common opinion and observations, making changes or a New Years resolution, can happen and do happen.

In most occasions stories of failures travel stronger than tales of success.

We all know the January 1st resolution revolutionaries who start out full tilt only to fail, give up or to wear themselves out by January the 21st or earlier.

Their doomed tactic is to attack everything at once. They cut their diet to the most unbearable of limits, they exercise much more than they had been, they go out and buy every imaginable pre-workout, intra-workout and post workout concoction and heaven knows what else to make their dreams seem all the more feasible.

This start off in 5th gear strategy is far from sensible. You wouldn’t get into your car and try to take off in 5th gear. You wouldn’t throw all the ingredients of a cake straight into the oven and expect a glorious cake to come out and you wouldn’t expect a seed to grow and develop into a blooming tree without a little bit of patience.

I could spend many hours attempting to write something that covers intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, self defeating and self limiting factors, Prochaska and Diclementes stages of change but, I won’t. There are many more highly educated people out there who share this information online…

Prochaska and Diclementes stages of change

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

We’ve all heard and read that quote numerous times before and I’m pretty sure we can recall a personal instance of it. If not, why the heck are you reading this? You probably know better than I how to plan to succeed.

Anyway, the phrase is a very simple instruction once you covert it from a negative to a positive.

‘Winning to plan is planning to win’.

Hmmmmm, think I like that more.

I love modern set-up instructions for games consoles and phones, so long as they are in English. My Spansh isn’t too ‘fluido’ these days!

These instructions go something like:

1) unpack all equipment

2) plug A into B

3) plug C into D

4) switch on A and B

5) you are now ready to play

Okay, not a very good example list but you get the idea.

Now, imagine your new years plan, now we’ve established that you are going to plan rather than just go crazy like all the other crazies out there (no insult to genuine crazies intended).

The end goal of running through the set-up for your console is so that it works and continues to work for a long time after this initial phase.

The set-up list for a console or other devise, is arranged in an order of priority. You have to set up one thing so that the next has a chance to work. It also allows you to focus on one thing at a time!!

This ‘chain’ of priorities should be demonstrated on your plan.

Let’s consider a weight loss plan as most new year ‘resolutionairres’ will be targeting this.

You know you want to lose weight and supposing you’re relatively educated you’ll know that to lose weight aka body fat you will need to:

  1. Adjust your diet.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Educate yourself about 1 and 2.
  4. Stay on course.

This isn’t your ultimate plan, it’s just identifying an agenda.

Number 4, staying on course is probably the most important as it’ll override everything else. Number 4 entails considering your goals, staying motivated to reach them and setting short term goals.

This then is number one on your list. Set goals. You might say you want to lose 8kg in 2 months. So let’s break that down to 1kg per week on average (fat loss can fluctuate a lot over a course of 2 months)

So now you’ve got a weekly plan. Let’s add the dietary element. First thing is to get a professional to look at your food diary – yup, you’ll have to keep a log of every morsel that enters your mouth, drinks included.

You might even look at your own food diary and clearly see what needs to change. You may know already that all the mini Mars bars, muesli bars, hump-day pizza and chill-out wine have to go!

To be honest, acknowledging the errors is the battle half won, so be honest with yourself in terms of what you need in your diet.

Cutting everything at once may not be the best solution for all but the most resolute, stubborn, dedicated, non-distracted people out there. For everyone else, let’s break it down into a months block.

Week 1: Fix breakfast

Week 2: Fix lunch and maintain the new improves breaky

Week 3: Fix dinner whilst maintaining the good breakfasts and lunches

Week 4: Hopefully you’ll be adjusting to the new normal meals

At this stage, if you feel you can’t maintain the new habits, go back to week one or week two or wherever you feel you struggle. It may take a few cycles of trying this but I find regressing to the simpler stages of week 1 or 2 and trying again works for most.

The 3rd element is probably where most overestimate the benefits. Any honest trainer will tell you that the time spent exercising your butt off is only a third or a quarter of a successful weight loss plan and lifestyle.

Let’s be clear here, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet!

It doesn’t matter how hard you exercise, a shoddy diet will hold you back.

Exercise still has a very, very  important role to play though.

Cardiovascular steady state exercise will assist to create a calorie deficit and a healthy heart, circulatory system and an entrance level activity for some exercise newcomers.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) will assist in creating an EPOC – Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. To simply this mouthful, EPOC increases post exercise metabolic activity and forces the body to use more energy stores or Fat, for a period after stopping exercise for the day.

Resistance Training offers the same as HIIT but as an added benefit helps to develop and maintain muscle mass, strength, posture and physique.

To break these down into a monthly plan does depend a lot on the individuals experience in all of these. Factors to consider before embarking on any of these include:

  1. Cardiovascular health – get a check up with the Dr
  2. Your Mobility – get a functional movement screen (FMS) to assess your potential risk of injury and exercise contraindications
  3. How long have you been exercising including all three of the above?
  4. How much time do you have to exercise per day or per week?

If you have only 45 mins to an hour 2 to 3 times a week set aside to exercise around work and family commitments, your plan will look vastly different to an exerciser who is perhaps retired or single and has an hour+ a day to kill.

However, a progressive exercise plan should be structured so that you are not busting a gut every session. Many exercisers fail to reach potential because they continuously do the same ol same ol and always pedal to the metal! If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had! Another great quote by some smart ass.

However, over the course of a week training should be wisely cycled over varied intensities from Light, Heavy to Medium using the three mediums identified above (Steady State cardio, Resistance Training and HIIT). This simple progression is a tried and many times tested system of training. Again, the details depends on the individual and a good trainer will structure the variables accordingly over a 4 week plan, to accompany the diet.

The absolute minutia of a program is so hinged around the individual and the variables attached to them but a template for a 4 week plan could look like this below, combining the dietary elements too.

Prior to commencement consult with your Dr, complete a weeks worth of a food diary and identify weak areas and maybe book a trainer!

Week 1: Fix Breakfast and complete a medium intensity resistance program, a steady state cardio session and another medium intensity resistance program.

Week 2: Sort out lunch and complete a steady state cardio session, a harder resistance program and another light to medium intensity resistance program.

Week 3: Work on improving dinner and complete a steady state cardio session, a medium to hard resistance program and a short HIIT session.

Week 4: Maintain great meals throughout the days and complete a steady state cardio session, a hard resistance program and a thorough HIIT session.

Week 5:  Should aim to maintain the healthier eating habit or resolving any issues while repeating the exercise plan from the stage of the Week 2 schedule… and continue in this 4 week waving pattern of 4 weeks forward, 3 back.  The weeks too may have a rotating intensity like the weekly plan of light, hard and medium.

This of course is a simple suggestion but a plan very similar to what I have used for clients successfully over the years. Of course, not everyone actually wants to change, but this is a subject for a very lengthy discussion by parties far smarter than I.

Essentially, what I have attempted to illustrate is a plan. Break your goal down into what you need to do to accomplish it then try the plan over a set period, 4 weeks in my case. If it doesn’t work , try it again. Don’t stress, failure isn’t the end of the story, just something to learn from, remember and an obstacle to clear on the next attempt.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.”

– H. Stanley Judd

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

– Julie Andrews

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

– Johnny Cash

My Slowest Quickest Snatch Test

Time is a curious thing, set in stone in terms of actual rate of passing but, at times seemingly controllable at a mental level anyway.

The RKC / SFG snatch test is 5 minutes in length, in which time you must snatch a 24kg (for men) 100 times with great technique. Failing to lock out the arm, failing to reach a vertical arm position or demonstrating unsafe practice will result in a no count, of which you will only receive three!

Prior to the RKC certification weekend, snatch training had been a planned process, one snatch at a time and mostly for less than 10 at a time per arm before taking a planned rest.

Every snatch training session followed a planned, laid out progression to ready me for my assessment and the weekend training itself.

overhead kettlebell

Initially I trained a humble 5 L/R per minute for 5 minutes, then progressed up from there for a maximum of only 8 minutes of snatching at 10 L/R per minute.

In the 10 weeks prior to the RKC weekend, every snatch training session I snatched the kettlebell. Read that again, I ‘snatched’ the Kettlebell! That’s all I did in training on snatch day, snatch the kettlebell. I thought only of snatching the kettlebell. “Cool”, you say, “that is the objective, stop repeating it”.

In most learning circumstances we start with a cognitive approach, with focus and attention to the detail, to mistakes and fixing them, before the learned skill becomes automatic and habitual. This is much like jumping into your car and just driving to your destination without thought for how to drive, you still drive. Naturally I assume you are a competent driver! But, whilst in the learning stage of an exercise or activity, cognition is of utmost importance. If you end up practicing sub-perfect reps you are only getting better than practicing sub-perfect reps.

By the time the RKC weekend was upon me I had accumulated many, many hours of snatching. Apart from the prior 10 weeks plan I had of course spent time snatching during other routines for a couple of years. I had earned the right to just snatch automatically, without much thought as it was pretty simple… not always easy, but a simple move I felt competent at.

But, here’s the thing (that I’ve been winding myself towards in this post), a somewhat weird thing that happened on test day that deludes me today, a year later and an experience that I’ve not since experienced. The tests for those who don’t know, start off with all of the candidates lined up in teams with our assessors, and each of us takes our turn at the test Turkish Get Up, Swing, Clean, Squat, Press and finally the 5 minute Snatch test.

My Snatch test started off rather cool. In fact I snatched out a comfortable 20 L/R to get rolling then I found myself in an odd place. As I started to get comfortable with the discomfort of snatching I began to spend time on every snatch planning each movement component of the snatch. From the top as I inhaled sharply I simultaneously goosenecked my wrist, pulled the bell down, hinging my hips, reaching far behind me before recoiling, extending my knees and hips with a simultaneous sharp exhale, seeing the bell float up in front of me before punching out the lock out and all with a seemingly slow progression, like time was going slowly enough for me comprehend and focus on each and every movement.

This might all read rather silly… unless you’ve ever experienced such focus that time does indeed seem to pass more slowly. The big picture of this particular event is of course to always think about what you are doing in an exercise, to focus intently and not to become complacent or automatic. Oh, and I passed my 100 snatch test in under 4:20!

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

Alexander Graham Bell

Peace Y’all

Jamie