Melt Fat AND Get Strong? A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem.

Melt Fat AND Get Strong? A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem.

You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too… Or Can You?

A lot of people want to get lean and toned, but when it comes right down to it, the methods of how to accomplish this often escape them… What they’re really after is melting some extra fat and building a little muscle, it’s kind of an important aspect of “getting toned” most people don’t want to talk about… These might seem like two separate goals, but they actually work quite well together.

Contrary to what you might read in a magazine, there is a training solution that offers you a better option than the standard solution of “more cardio”.

Cardio is great, if you are strength training, which almost nobody recommends for fear of looking like they’re recommending everyone look like the next Mr. Olympia(bodybuilding). This is quite the opposite, and in most cases, measurements go down in the right areas and the “muscle” you built gives you an athletic, toned look, not bulky and bloated. On top of that, if you are involved in a cardio based sport, your performance will increase as a result of having a little extra strength to tap into when you need it, adding to your endurance. (this is also referred to as “underspeed training”)

Remembering the body is one piece and should be trained as such(thanks Dan John) you won’t magically bulk up and look like Arnold from touching a weight, unless that’s your goal, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking to melt some extra fat, then training all of your energy systems(not just cardio or just strength) should be included in the “body is one piece” concept. After all, we want everything to work in harmony.

Energy Systems?

Ah, sorry, for those of you not “up” on the cool kid lingo, let me explain(simply) what I’m talking about.

There is 3 ways your body gets it’s energy to “do work”. You know, lifting stuff, moving yourself strange ways, walking/running, etc… first off, the most popular, as per the 1970’s revolution of fitness, is the Aerobic System(aka Cardio) which uses oxygen for activities longer than a few minutes.

Now, the step child never talked about, the Anaerobic Systems, of which there are 2 and they(somehow) operate without oxygen. We won’t get into much besides to say that this is pretty much the energy already stored up in your body and doesn’t need to be manufactured on the spot. Here’s how they basically work(for simplicity sake) one is for short work (less than 10 sec) and one is for slightly longer work (10 sec – 2 min). These are all approximate of course as everyone is a little different, but for guidelines, they work just fine.

Back on point.

One of the great things, that I think most people miss, about Kettlebell training is the fact that we hit a few of these energy systems with every training session, more to the point, with one amazing little move – the swing.

The swing works some of the best “metabolism stimulating” muscles in your body(aka, your butt & hamstrings) while making you stronger all at the same time. The swing is a snappy hip movement similar to a box jump(without the impact) but with all the benefits of sprinting, jumping, and deadlifting rolled into one. It’s basically the closest stimulation you can get to being in a fight without being hit! Throw swings between some strength movements and you’ve hit all 3 energy systems in no time(or not a whole lot of time). In fact, 3 sessions of 75 swings/training a week is enough to melt loads of fat off in just a few minutes of training according to Tim Ferriss’s study in the 4 Hour Body.

My friend Pat Flynn is quite famous for these minimalist workouts that shred body fat, build muscle(that muscle tone thing) and improve your overall general conditioning as a human being. So in case you needed to run from a bear whilst out hiking, or chase down that bike thief you watched take away your prized possession, you most certainly will not be the bear’s lunch and the thief will stand no chance of escape.

Here’s a real simple way to put this all together, and probably one of the best strength/fat burning combinations out there:

Swings x30 sec
Push-Ups x30 sec

Repeat this several times, about 5-10 minutes, either as a finisher(if you’re more “advanced”) or as your only workout for the day(if you’re a “beginner”).

I know, it doesn’t seem like much, but it will kick you in the teeth and leave you wondering who sucked all the air out of the room when you’re finished. Oh, don’t drop to the floor after you’re done, keep moving for a bit(even if it’s just walking around moving your arms about like a Jazzercise warm up), your heart will thank you.

Looking for something more complex? Here’s a few more killer combos for you:

The Eagle
Double KB Front Squat x8
Farmer’s Carry 20 meters
The trick to this, don’t set down the bells until you’ve completed 8 rounds
Ladies, use 12kg(26#), Gents, go for 24kg(53#) bells.

The Coyote
Swings x15
Goblet Squats x5
Push-Ups x3
Do 20 rounds for a total of 300 swings. Good luck.

Pavel’s Simple & Sinister Challenge
5 Minutes On The Minute, 10 swings per side(total 100)
Rest 1 Minute
10 Minutes On The Minute, 1 Turkish Get-Up(total 10)
Ladies, “Simple” Swings 24kg, Get-Ups 16kg/”Sinister” Swings 32kg, Get-Ups 24kg
Gents, “Simple” Swings 32kg, Get-UPs 32kg/”Sinister” Swings 48kg, Get-Ups 48kg
Again, the best of luck to you(comrade)

Armor Building
Double KB Clean x2
Double KB Press x1
Double KB Front Squat x3
Repeat as many as possible in 15 minutes.
Ladies, use 12-16kg. Gents, use 20-24kg.
For a bonus “ass kicking” factor, add sets of 10-20 swings between sets of armor building until you reach 300 swings. Plan on taking the rest of the day off… and being hungry.

Hill Sprints & Swings
(This is for you endurance athletes)
-Find a hill. (One you can maintain a decent pace up without face planting…)
-At the bottom of the hill, perform the desired amount of swings(I’d say 25-50) then sprint up the hill.
-Rest 3-5 minutes and repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 sets.
If this seems easy, increase the weight of the bell/grade of the hill or increase up to 75 swings.
(Honestly, a 24kg bell and a decent sledding hill will keep you busy for a while, if not, you’re a pro or you’re doing something wrong)
Feel Free to substitute other fun things like Front Squats & Sprints, Front Squats/Overhead Squats/Kettlebell Swings & Sled Pulls, or any other fun variation that involves some type of strength movement followed by a quick(very quick) transition to something “explosive”, like a sprint… (I’d leave the bike alone for this as the transition would take too long to gain the benefit of the protocol)

These are just a few awesome ideas of what we call Complex’s(a “workout” where you don’t stop or put down the weight unless you are losing form, never lose form…). Complex’s draw from multiple energy systems and typically involve some type of explosive movement, putting the weight overhead(at least once), and ideally incorporate all of the movements you can do as a human being.

Add these in 2-3 days a week to a strength training regimen, or 1-2 days a week for endurance athletes, and you will see loads of fat come off in no time at all. As a side note, you will probably hate life(and me for suggesting these) by the time you’re part way through the session.

We have more complexes than listed above in the “Secret Stash” area of our website, which gives you access to all of the workouts we’ve done as well as a few programs I’ve written over the years for clients/friends/challenges, and they’re all FREE. I’m hoping to be adding a video section soon, so keep checking back for more updates!

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

How To Survive The Holidays(Without Gaining 1,000 Pounds)

How To Survive The Holidays(Without Gaining 1,000 Pounds)

In-laws and crazy family members aside, the next worst thing for you this holiday season has to be the amount of food that we end up consuming as a result of “emotional eating”.

Some of us have it better than others, while in a lot of cases(at least from what I hear) some people’s families actually drive them to drink copious amounts of “adult beverages”. I’m talking the amount normally reserved for college students on spring break…

Apart from the obvious advice of not bringing as much of the substances in question along to aid in the ritualistic overconsumption we call holidays, I have a really simple piece of advice you can use for these and other such occasions, to alleviate some of the guilt and stress associated with the consumption meant to, ironically, cope with stress…

Go To The Gym and Work A Little Harder The Next Day.

I’m not talking about the treadmill here… those extra 500 steps on your FitBit aren’t going to cut it…

You have to really work hard.

Here’s some of my prescribed “routines” to burn a few of those extra holiday calories your family helped you jam down your throat so you could avoid saying what you really wanted to in reaction to their inappropriate comments:

Metabolic Training: This is a bit harder to describe, but for simplicity, Kettlebell complexes seem to work amazing for this. One of my favorite(and I’m sure is your’s too) is Armor Building (2 double cleans, 1 double press, 3 double front squats) plus 300 swings. Just this little guy will burn upwards of 1,000 calories, if you pick the right weight that is…(don’t go light!)

Heavy A$$ Lifts: Back Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Overhead Press, anything that requires every single fiber in your being to move the weight would be appropriate for this one.

Olympic Lifts (barbell): Not an area of my “expertise” but I’m told this is a very good way to work up a sweat. Do some On The Minute training or a complex (similar to a kettlebell complex). Push yourself a little harder than normal.

Sprinting: Sprints are a great “no equipment required” workout, pick a distance that will take you about 20 or so seconds to run, or grab a timer and sprint for 20 seconds. Sprint 5-7 times resting only 10 seconds between sprints then rest a few minutes(at least 3…) between series. I’d recommend only doing this about 3 times. Want a challenge? Take the sprints “vertical” and go up a hill with them. Need more you say? Add a set of 8 kettlebell or barbell front squats beforehand, rest about 3-5 minutes between sprints, repeat 3 times. (don’t forget the rest…) Kettlebell swings and a hill work well too I’ve been told(about 30-50 swings before you sprint)

I could go on, but my girlfriend might get mad at me for working too much on a Sunday morning when I’m supposed to be drinking coffee and playing this new game I’ve introduced her to called “grab ass”, apparently she likes it, and I’m a fan myself.

So to sum it up, take the moral highroad and don’t eat the junk(especially the booze, sorry). When that’s too much mental and emotional stress, don’t stress, work a little harder tomorrow. Probably not the best nutritional advice in the world, but I’m told it works wonders for you soul.

Have a great holiday season, and Stay Strong My friends.

~Justin

 

Embrace The Tension

Some of you may have seen the Instagram post from last week of just water bottles with the question of “what the heck do these have to do with kettlebells?”img_20161013_124720

And if I had to guess at your guess you probably thought the water bottles were a representation of the amount of hydration you need throughout the day if you’re training hard(I mean there was a lot of them…).

However, if you guessed that, I’m afraid you’d be wrong.(Nice try though)

The water bottle is a handy little tool we use to create some more tension while doing a military press. The Spark in the background doesn’t hurt either, but for the purpose of this little post, we’ll focus on our ol friend the water bottle!

When you do the one arm press it’s a lot of stress on just one side of your body, this causes a slight “imbalance” in muscular tension on the non pressing side, so we fix that. How? By grabbing the water bottle and squeezing it, you know, like Mindy from the Animaniacs when she found a new “pet” to torture(remember that show? Thought not, oh well…4608217553_7d54179ba2_b)

906545-9f12e492-3db3-11e4-a57a-52576a558724This builds massive amounts of tension on the opposite side of the pressing arm and gives a nice audible “crunch” sound so you know the timing of said tension, and your breath, is spot on with the start of your press. Honestly, you could probably use this principle for almost any one arm exercise…

By creating more tension throughout your body you actually get a little more “power” than if you would just try to “lift” the weight without bracing the rest of your body for the load.(you know, squeeze the thighs, brace the abs, cramp the glutes) On top of the extra horsepower you’ll gain, you reduce the risk of injury due to lack of stability in the shoulder.

I picked up the water bottle trick from my friend Ryan Toshner some time back and have used it with great success. It has helped not only in my own training, but many of my students push past what they could do previously. Hardstyle Planking is another way to work this same type of tension principle, a little trick I picked up that from my team leader Ric Garcia at my StrongFirst cert, and has also worked wonders for the press as well as the squat, swing, pull-up, heck, everything!

These are just a few of the several tricks I have in my arsenal, and I have so many in fact, I may actually chose to hand out tricks instead of treats this year for halloween… we’ll see how generous I am.

Since we’re on a “strength” cycle currently(trying to improve our personal bests) I figured this was appropriate…

Like I said, there are so many tricks to creating tension I couldn’t possibly fit them all in one post.

john_gill_-_one_arm_lever
1 handed front lever, probably the best demonstration of how to hold tension out there(most extreme version of a plank!)

So I won’t even try.

I’m going to sprinkle them throughout several posts over the next few months, so keep an eye out if you want some more tips on how to push past a barrier and crush your old “best performance.” Until the next one, keep working that press and see if you can’t push beyond your current limits and smash your old record!(I’m going for 5 reps with the 32kg myself)

Have a Strong Day!

~Justin

Get In Shape In Time For….

Get In Shape In Time For….

“Do This” To Get Fit In Time For Summer!

You’re in luck!  It’s not too late…

Now is the absolute best(worst) time to get in shape for that thing coming up in (insert fast approaching deadline here).

Don’t fall for all of this nonsense.

Expect any lasting transformation to take at minimum 1 year. Let’s face it, it took you how many years to get your body to the point it’s at now? It’s more than a little silly to think that you can look better than it ever has within a few weeks/months(and get it to stick).

You’re Probably Used To This Shtick:
Want bigger muscles in 12 weeks? (Steroids or inject oil into your muscles anyone?)
Want to lose a sh*t ton of weight fast? (You know Liposuction or starvation and laxatives)
Want any other benefit of working hard for something and want it now? There’s bound to be a quick fix out there.

There’s always a quick fix… usually followed up by a rapid relapse to the state you were previously in(or most times worse). This isn’t anything radical, it’s common sense, and (in all honesty) you’ve known this, but choose to ignore it…

The truth is, if you want your results to actually stick around, you’re going to have to work for them. I know, it’s terrible, right! But here’s the good news – once you have it, it’s easy to keep it – and even easier to go beyond it.(Lose more weight, gain more muscle, move even better, get even stronger)

Now that we have all that canned nonsense out of the way…

The cold hard truth about trying to get your body into the state you would like it to be in is this…
If you truly want something and you want to know how to work for it, you’re going to have to do a few things.
FIRST: Find a program that is scalable(built in progressions)
SECOND: Have a list of principles to train by.

Here’s a little list of things I’ve (kind of) recently put together, to make sure you get to your destination. There really shouldn’t be any modifications here, this will leave you no wiggle room for excuses. Here you go:

 

This should be enough to get you on your way to spectacular results(and a sexy new you). If you’re looking for a good training program to follow, check out Strong First’s Blog – they have a TON of materials on there, including some written by close friends(who happen to be masters of everything fitness).

Along these lines – get some mentors. THere’s always people willing to help you out somewhere(whether they know they’re helping or you’re just “stalking” them, like I enjoy doing 😉 ). But seriously, you’d be amazed how much free advice you can get in Facebook Groups(Strong First has Training/Practice Groups for kettlebells, bodyweight, and anything else in between). And the cool thing is, you get advice from people who normally charge, at minimum, $90 for training in person!

I do have to admit, real quick, that I did borrow the above 10 commandments from some friends and mentors (actually, from the people who got these friends started). Gym Jones and TNT (Ryan & Derek Toshner). These guys are at the top of the game, and I could think of no better places to draw inspiration for my list of commandments. I’ve trusted Ryan & Derek with furthering my own training(Ryan has been a great mentor over the course of my kettlebell and business journeys and I even have referred family members to him for training).

Lastly, no matter what you do, make sure they person/people you find are competent and have actually produced results – not just for themselves, but other people in what they do(don’t pick the out of shape instructor with no idea how it feels to lift something over 2x their own bodyweight off the floor while claiming to be a lifting coach…. he has no true insight on every aspect of the training). People that have “done”, even in some capacity, are always better teachers because of their passion for what they do. If they lack that, they really can’t help you(no matter how “motivational” they are). It helps too if you see they’ve been able to transfer that knowledge to other people too!

Anything above and beyond this, you know how to get in touch with me, justin @ post35.net. Or stop by our awesome historic building downtown Hartford, WI. We’ll be glad to help in any way we can.

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

P.S. A little update here… as of Mid April 2017 we will be running a little challenge for ADVANCED trainees to help push through plateaus they’ve hit in their training. You needn’t be familiar with kettlebell exercises, although some proficciency in the deadlift is a huge bonus.

This challenge will be a 4-5 week program and involves a minimum of 4 training days per week. There is no charge for the program, just a commitment to the process. Contact at the email above for details. Serious inquiries only please, I’m limiting this to 5 people.