Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

“More isn’t better, it’s just more”

Movement is one of those things that, I feel, is one of the biggest reasons for people giving up on an exercise program. Not the fact that they’re moving, but that they’re moving poorly leading to frustration and eventually abandonment of the noble endeavor they set out on…

Let Me Set The Scene.

I’m at a friends house for a gathering, talking to someone at a function or whatever… and the conversation of fitness comes up. Naturally, someone decides to speak their clearly well thought out opinion of what “working out” should be… clearly they’ve done all the research that Facebook meme’s and YouTube “experts” make available to us…

Here’s what usually goes down.

“What do you have against Zumba”(or pick an arbitrary thing…)

“Honestly, I don’t want to be here all night debating the why’s and why nots of doing certain exercise programs, let’s just say I have my reasons”

“Well, as long as people are moving and doing something that should be enough.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s like saying something like “I know my car needs work, so I’m just going to drive it more and the problem will just take care of itself”

The reason I hate having these conversations, and typically avoid them at all costs, is people haven’t done their homework. I’m far from an expert, but I know who the experts are, and for some strange reason I care about the well being of people I don’t even know or barely know beyond just a few days a week for 45 min of interaction.

When people won’t listen to reason and refuse to look at the results of both sides of thinking criticize you for not seeing things from their point of view, you see the hypocrisy, they clearly don’t know that the research has been done, time was put into a decision of what direction to go, and more research is constantly taking place(in my case to the tune of about 10-20 hours a week at least)

Movement is one of those things that we do as human beings

Some of us do it much better than the rest(athletes), some who can’t move well at all, and then there’s some of us who are…. let’s say in between. And how you move determines the quality of what you do and your ability to continue to do said activities for (hopefully) years to come.

Before we go on…

A part of what inspired me to post this little rant (which will be a 2 parter, this is part 1, part 2 will show specific movements and the why’s and why nots of the how to’s and so on…) is that I recently saw a video posted by a few trainers at a local 24 hour establishment doing some demos of “exercises” to do so you can get in a “good workout” before the holiday gorge fest that is Christmas coming up.

This is a fantastic idea…. except for the fact that they showed, what I think, was bad  technique.(and I’m sure several people would cringe at the sight of this with me if they’d seen it)

Before you consider me “That Guy”

I UNDERSTAND that not every coach can do what some of their clients do, hell, I have a guy who can out-lift me any day of the week, but what he needs isn’t heavier weights, it’s better movement(we literally spent 30 min on stretching & mobility the other day).

Here’s the caviot… these are not “out of shape” or otherwise restricted individuals, in fact, looking at them you’d think they’re quite fit… and you’d be right. The definition of fitness after all is the ability to perform a task. That being said, the more efficiently you perform it, the better your body will adapt, the better (and longer lived) the results.

As someone who has some restricted movement patterns myself, I’m well aware of the fact that nobody is perfect, however, you will never see me put up a video saying “do this” with bad form on the movement.

Here’s why

We’re visual creatures.

Part of how we learn is by watching what others “do”. Personally, I picture how those people look in my head as I’m performing said activity to try and give my brain something to focus on(besides the fatigue 😉 ).

So if you see someone doing something that is a “qualified professional” you would assume that how they’re doing it is the correct way.

Alas, this is not always the case.

In fact, I know there’s things I personally cannot do (yet) but I have students(clients) who can. and I can coach them to do the movement the proper way because of the hands on training I’ve had in the past. But you won’t see me putting up any pictures or videos of me doing a sub-par performance on said movement.

I think I’ve made my point.

We’ll wrap up Part 1 with this little tidbit from Gray Cook on movement:

“…think about it… getting into a good position is probably more important than increasing your strength 10 more precent. Most elite level golfers work on their precision and execution of their posture and movement patterns knowing if they will just get the right biomechanical lines of attack as they swing they will be more efficient. That’s why they spend more time with a golf club working on their mechanics and technical precision than doing bicep curls or kettlebell presses. They appreciate that strengthening their body will help, but no amount of strength in the world is going to make you efficient if part of your strength is used to overcome your own stiffness or work against your own malalignment. The object of efficiency is to be able to reproduce an activity with some degree of technical precision so as not to wast e energy.

If your complete training paradigm is just complete caloric expenditure, with no regard for accomplishment, then, it doesn’t really matter what you do. You can take someone who’s morbidly obese and moving poorly and just make them move in any number of ways and they will have caloric expenditure. But if you do that often enough, guess what? Their lack of integrity and precision in movement is going ot bring them up against early fatigue, where they won’t really achieve most of their metabolic efficiency and therefore thye really won’t lose weight and they won’t get in shape quick, they’ll just hit fatigue, create lactic acid, go into a poor breathing state, get tired, and go eat. Or, they’ll have an orthopedic issue.

So either way your quest for caloric expenditure should be sidelined and what you should do is create a situation where, even if weight loss is your goal, go for technical precision, movement correction, movement efficiency whenever possible. Make your people as efficient as possible and believe it or not, work levels will become more pleasurable and they’ll be able to do more and at the same time reduce musculakeletal risk of a setback injury as they’re getting in shape.” -excerpt from The Gray Cook Lecture Compendium

Don’t take my word for it, Gray is the head athletic trainer for Reebok as well as the “go to” guy when someone is broken beyond what most people can fix.

In part 2 I will cover a few things on the movement side of it in more “visual” detail. (my favorite, picture story!!)

Until next time… Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

Hipsters & Crossfit

Hipsters & Crossfit

How to Use Seemingly Useless “Trends” To Your Advantage

Two Things I Despise, Yet… Somehow Have Uses For… (Hipsters & Crossfit that is).

Even though the hipster trend has made previously inexpensive and cool things I enjoy – like PBR, my beard, and cool old school hairstyles, into bastardizations(and incredibly expensive in some cases)… It has brought about a few good things – like quality beard oils, home made manly smelling soaps, and more places carrying my beloved PBR(not that I drink beer these days…)

So, although hipsters can be annoying, arrogant, and just plain silly – there seems to be a use for their seemingly useless trend.(Look at the lessons we learned from 80’s trends… more is not always better)

A similar lesson can be found with the cult…. um, I mean, trend of Crossfit…

All joking aside, there is some good to come out of this sometimes seemingly masochistic workout culture.

Crossfit, for those of you who don’t know of it’s existence, is basically Lightweight Olympic Lifts to Infinity(as described by BroScienceLife) combined with lots of cool(and previously useful) body weight and weighted exercises, but with a touch of danger(guaranteed injury) to make them even cooler…

But in all honesty, these athletes put up some amazing weight(at a competition level) and are some of the most “versatile trained” athletes out there…. so to speak.

Now, there are bad Crossfit “Boxes”(i.e. Gyms) out there, with bad coaching which has a strong tendency toward not giving a shit about their clients safety(again, see BroScienceLife “What Is Crossfit” video, he’s pretty close on this).

Unfortunately, there is a few of these locally, but I’ve met plenty of good ones too(the dude at Crossfit Sussex is a cool dude… and cares about his people). Let’s not let a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch, they’re not all bad.

But, I can’t resist at least sharing this….

Okay, done ranting now, so I’ll get back on point.

Part of doing “Crossfit” is being super mobile(and strong) to prevent injury from the high rep, repetitive lifting – usually done for time. In other words, fast, without caring about technique(in most cases)

What’s The Plus Side To This?

angie

Simply? More tools available to make you move better! More mobility drills, more free coaching(most of it good) on how to do olympic lifts – to name a few. And most of these guys are legit Olympic Lifting Coaches(certifications and all), so it’s safe to say they know their stuff.(Do your homework first!!)

There’s also a lot of free content out there(and research backing it) on recovery. Whether it’s from sore muscles, sore joints, or even mild injuries(sprains and the like) and even how to safely train while injured, and when you should cool your jets for a few days…

Again, be careful where you get advice… a local “Box” by me is in the habit of beating the living tar out of their clients, as even visible publicly on the comment section of their own Facebook page!

One of my mentors I’m going to be working with in the new year is HUGE into Crossfit, and claims it gets a bad rap from a lot of sources… I mostly agree with him.

The culture of the movement leaned more toward “Hardcore Athletes” at the beginning(X football players, Ex-Military, Wannabe Military/Athletes…) and has shifted to accommodate the general population as the years have went on…

This is where some good has come in.

But be warned. If you’re thinking Crossfit is starting to sound pretty great, you may be in for a shock…

With a mere Crossfit Level 1 Certification and $4k a year, you can open up your own “Box”….

And then things like this happen –

A Crossfit Level 1 Cert is the equivalent of asking your average 1st year med school student to perform a quadruple bypass surgery on you – they might understand the concepts, but have no real understanding or experience to perform the procedure with a high chance of success.

In fact, most states the powers that be(and insurance companies) do not even recognize a Level 1 Crossfit “Coach” as an actual trainer anymore… so be careful where you enter.

I am bias toward the Kettlebell training, it’s my thing…

I follow the work of Pavel Tsatsouline, Dan John, Gray Cook and the like myself. Mainly because injury resistance and a healthy distance from trainers(coaches, whatever) jacked up on too much pre-workout, BCAA, Protein Shakes, and God knows what else.

The proven track record of Kettlebell training’s results and injury resistance for over 700 years(older in other countries) is good enough for me to not switch to a 10 year old fad for my main training style. But, I’ll take any good things that come as a result of it – even if it’s just learning what not to do…

In whatever you do, be smart, don’t take just anyone’s advice, and for Pete’s sake, don’t flail around whilst exercising! An instructor of mine once said “Speed is a great way to hide bad technique”. It applies to martial arts, and fitness just the same.

Until Next Time – Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin Green

Home Workout DVDs…. Are They Doing More Harm Than Good?

Home Workout DVDs…. Are They Doing More Harm Than Good?

Is Your Home Workout DVD Delivering The Results You Want?

Chances are, no.

My parents are huge fans of these DVDs and literally have stacks of them in their basement, no lie. Which is great, because it keeps them active – 5 or 6 days a week! But here’s the catch, last week, my mom blamed me for hurting her back… To be fair I told her to use a heavier kettlebell for her workouts(5# doesn’t really do anything for anyone). But essentially my mom hurting her back boils down to the fact that she had no one helping her make sure her movements were correct at home. No one was there to watch her, to answer any questions or concerns she might have. Basically her injury, small as it may seem, happened because DVD’s do not effectively demonstrate how to become more fit.
(Check out this video of the correct technique for the Kettlebell Snatch – supervised by Pavel Tsatsouline)

Don’t take this to mean all of them are bad. There are some who actually have benefits worth your while, but chances are your favorite infomercial celeb trainers are not all they’re cracked up to be.

One popular program (which shall remain nameless) claims to add muscle, burn fat, make you fly… well, maybe not the last one, but they make some pretty bold claims. The only problem with those claims is that they are based off a handful of carefully selected results. One study of this particular 90 day transformation program tested out on several people of various ages and body types ended with a surprising result…. they all increased their body fat %.

Now I know what your thinking… and just bare with me here. Everyone knows or thinks they know that if you workout you should essentially, with enough determination, get rid of fat. Or at least that’s all we’re led to believe. Right?

Doesn’t working out get rid of fat??

And herein lies the truth… High Intensity, Low Weight, High Repetition Exercises INCREASE the amount of fat you will retain. And that’s not always a bad thing, but if it’s not your goal, I wouldn’t recommend it.

We won’t delve into the technical details here, but the main reason is that you are putting your body into a physiological state that retains body fat. Your body does this for use in future activities, such as working out preforming the same workout. It’s similar to running in this sense (but slightly better for you). This is especially a problem if you’re part of the average crowd of “Lean” people trying to get leaner and add some sexy “toned” muscle to your physique.

Which brings us to the next issue…

Time to start that diet
Time to start that diet…

Doctors(yes, damn near all of them – I call them the “smart ones”) recommend not starting these high impact, extremely cardiovascular based programs if you are more than 30# overweight. Yup, just 30#… which really isn’t a lot of extra poundage if you think of it. But the amount of extra stress those “few extra #” adds to your heart and joints is more likely to cause damage instead of do good. The chances of injury skyrocket with this simple type of typical exercise done at home, and this is the demographic that so many of us fall into. (more on this in the future)

Who The F*** is watching you do this stuff?

I said this before and I’ll say it again… Billy, Shawn T, Jillian, Tony, none of these people are actually watching you do the work! They’re relying on your keen sense of self-awareness as to how your body moves, which, if you’re anything like me(or most human beings out there), it’s sometimes off kilter, even if it’s just a bit. My personal observation from the near 1,000 or so people I’ve trained over the years is that (most of us) don’t typically move as well as we should or think we do and yes – I’m definitely included in this.

Jillian-MichaelsSo how can you correct these movements? Is there a “protocol” for even correcting movement? Do the trainers even know how to do this stuff themselves? Well, check out the pic over to the left here… and if you think you could swing a 100# Kettlebell like that and walk away with your back in one piece, congratulations – you have the world’s strongest back. Unfortunately, the rest of the population does not share in your natural gifts…
(Check out the correct swing technique demonstrated by this barbarian fellow on the right)

Correct Swing Technique
Correct Swing Technique

Be Careful What You Fall For

Back to my point of – who’s watching you. Remember when I mentioned how my mom hurt herself swinging a kettlebell wrong?

Sorry Mom, but your workout DVD showed you how to do it the wrong way. What they showed her as a “Snatch” looked closer to some jumpy squatty thing with a pressy-ish thingy than the actual movement.

Obviously, my Mother is welcome to come work out by me any time she desires, but just hasn’t because of unknown reasons. 😉 Although she may change her mind now that she’ll know DVD’s aren’t all they’re hyped up to be.

Now, this isn’t the first casualty, and there will be more. It seems (like almost) everyone owns some or a similar at home workout DVD and they all claim in the DVD to show you their own “Proven System” to do the impossible task of _____ in just _____ minutes a day!!!

Don’t fall for this! Yes hard work = results, NOT some work=results.

Where To Go From Here…

First thing’s first – Find a Professional
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It doesn’t have to be me(but I can be a good guy to work with… just sayin) or even Dawn(nutrition extraordinaire), but it does have to be someone who knows what they’re talking about. It should be someone who has the experience in the field and is educated about how you should be working out.

For starters, if they promise you the workouts alone will take care of the fat loss/results, they’re lying… DIET is king. I’ve seen(and met) people with six packs that have never “worked out” a day in their life, because diet is that important! If you remember the old saying Garbage In = Garbage Out(You are what you eat). It has NO exceptions.

Look for someone who has some formal training in nutrition. Not someone who has just had a weekend seminar or 20 minute online course. Do your homework.

Same goes for trainers – make sure they have True Functional Training Experience and Knowledge!  Check out Gray Cook if you need help. It’s an excellent resource with great tools to help you in your search for fitness. f they don’t put an emphasis on the Quality of Movement over Quantity, then you’re at the wrong gym…

There are good resources, one of my favorite “at home” tools is actually a book by Tim Ferriss. It’s called the 4 Hour Body. (Check out Tim’s Blog fourhourworkweek.com )

Pavel Tsatsouline also offers some great material at www.strongfirst.com, my favorite new “minimalist” workout is Simple and Sinister – The book is only $17.

Do weekend workshops like my friend Ryan Toshner offers at his gym (www.tntperformancetraining.com)

Or just youtube some of Elliot Hulse’s videos, this guy knows his stuff and owes no loyalties to any brand or style of working out. He’s all about becoming the strongest version of YOU, not doing some blanket workout designed to essentially only make money off of you.

You can always contact me too, I do a free consult and 2 week trial for everyone. If it doesn’t work out for you, no problem – take what you’ve learned and move on. If you do stay, then I can help you from there… Otherwise, we have a “secret stash” of workout programs on this site if you know how to find it…(Our Facebook page would be a good place to start).

In short, do homework and don’t believe all the hype that these companies have out there. They’ve stuck millions of dollars into advertising this stuff so it’s “top of mind”, but that does not always ensure “top notch material” Remember Quality over Quantity. And think critically when making decisions regarding your health.

Most of all, enjoy the process of whatever you do, and don’t push yourself too hard. Just do what you can, and focus on small improvements instead of 12 week transformations. Not everyone can do this Biggest Loser type program and sustain it. Just stay the course and enjoy the ride!

Have a Strong Day!

~Justin Green
Owner/Fitness & Martial Arts Coach
PostFit Fitness & Wellness Center
justin@post35.net
262-951-6317
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Stop Doing Cardio(It’s killing your progress!)

Get Off That Bike, Stop Running On The Treadmill – Stop doing Cardio!Cycle_Class_at_a_Gym X

Okay, well at least in the traditional sense…

First it would probably be good to understand what “Cardio” is exactly… it’s not so straight forward as everyone would have you believe.

Let me give you a few examples as they pertain to a majority of the population.(High rep channel surfing doesn’t count, in case you were wondering)

Slow Burn Cardio (Pure Aerobics)

These are your long runs, cycling classes, Jazzercise, Zumba, what have you. BE WARNED, even though some of these programs claim they have a strength building aspect, it’s just a marketing gimmick, they don’t create enough stress on your muscles to create any type of “strength”(hypertrophy) response that is require for any type of true strength.

These are more endurance based workouts, which is good if your goal is just pure endurance, and burning as few calories as possible for the time/work invested. But for most it doesn’t “get the job done” as they like to say, although I have no idea who they  are. Typically the cardiovascular(aerobic) system is the main target, hence “cardio”, and don’t give you much otherwise besides if it’s for your own enjoyment.

Strength Training(Weightlifting)

usarmy_tireflip_benmurphy_parentathleteThat’s right, you can get cardio out of just lifting heavy objects. My favorite example is bodybuilders, you wouldn’t catch these guys dead on a treadmill or stationary bike, or running for that matter. So how do they look so “ripped” all the time, even when they’re not at 2% bodyfat.

The simple answer is High Reps/High Sets. See, anything you do over 6 reps is technically “cardio” because of the different energy systems in your body work differently at different levels of intensity. Anything 6 reps or under is considered, for the most part, pure strength training(see Greasing The Groove) because your body uses just the stored up energy in your muscle tissue. Once you exceed 6 reps you’re essentially doing cardio. Once the energy in your muscles are depleted, guess what, you have to borrows it from somewhere else – the aerobic system. This is the most efficient way for your body to create useable energy fast.

Metabolic Training

This is my preferred style of cardio, which is something I typically only do 2 days a week. Any more than that and you start doing more harm than good(too much of a good thing… like chocolate cake)

How does this differ from the other 2?

lanceswingingkettlebell_web

Think of it like this, a very wise lady by the name of Jen Sinkler was once asked what she did to stay in shape to which she answered “I lift weights”, they proceeded to ask her what she did for cardio, and she answered “I lift weights faster.” Put simply, that’s what metabolic training is. It taxes different energy systems and muscle groups in the body in very intense short ,usually 15-30 minute, sessions. (Think of it in terms along the lines of Run, Throw, Carry or Grind, Ballistic, Loaded Carry)

This method is how I typically run my group/private trainings. It usually goes something like Warm-up = Mobility/Light Strength Work, Movement Prep.(if required), First Round = Metabolic Complex, Second Round = Strength Work/Cool Down.

This is my preferred method introduced to me by one Pat Flynn(great guy!) who is a genius at doing just enough to get the job done(doing more with less). In fact, most people that come work out with me on my Metabolic Training Days have commented they get more work done in 20 minutes with me than in an entire week of going to the gym. Makes me wonder why they still go to the gym…

So to clarify, to get the most benefits out of a program keep out as much (garbage) as possible, train strength often, mobility every day, brisk walk daily(fasted), and high intensity less often. Your body will thank you when you hit 35 by not falling apart and allowing you to train this way until your 90.

Seriously check out some of the programs from Pat and Jen if you are not able to come in and train with me directly, the have spent years putting together things that have been fine tuned and perfected to get you to move as well as humanly possible!

Have a Strong Day!

~Justin

Looking for more?? I’ve got just the thing – drop me a message in the form below and let me know what I can do to help get you going(or keep you going) on your journey to be fitter, happier, and more productive!

[contact-form to=’greenjustin12@yahoo.com’ subject=’Stop Doing Cardio!!’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

“Greasing the Groove”, how to build safe strength

“Training to failure is training to fail”

Unfortunately, there are many trainers that run their programs with this mentality.  “Feeling the burn” isn’t something you should aim for in every workout.  Sub-cultures of fitness buffs, like Crossfit for example, promote this style of training. However, they cannot be totally to blame.  There has long been a history of overtraining whether in sports or just training in general.  And this style of training does work, in a small amount of cases, but more often than not training to failure ends up creating more problems than it solves.

There is a simpler way to build strength and stay fit without injury. The best way to accomplish this is with low reps, pushing yourself to 85-95% of your maximum effort(some of the time) and never training to failure, it’s often referred to as “Greasing the Groove”

Greasing the Groove

Greasing the Groove (GTG) is based on a very simple philosophy, your body is adaptive.  When considering how the body works it makes sense.  If you sit all day and all night the chances of you becoming a world class athlete are, well, it’s not going to happen.  However, if you invest your spare time in to lifting & pressing heavy things or practicing a particular skillset, you will get better regardless of the natural talent you have to begin with. The more times you body performs a pattern the better it becomes at recruiting muscles to perform said pattern.  So, if you want your upper body strength, work on pushing & pulling motions with increasing difficulty until you achieve your goal.  It would be just plain silly to think that because you can squat 500# that you could bench press the same amount by just working your squat.

So how exactly does GTG apply to you?

In reality the only way to build strength and improve with anything is practice.  And if you would like to be exceptional, or at least be able to continue uninjured for long periods of time, make that practice perfect.  The old adage of practice makes perfect does not hold true, perfect practice makes perfect.  So in essence if you train to fail then, you guessed it you have been “training to fail.”  Think about it, why would you want to teach your body it can’t do something, or how not to do it?  Everything should be practiced with intent of perfection.  Will you accomplish this… hopefully!  Or at lest as perfect as humanly possible.  So while pushing yourself is a good thing, your body remembers only one thing from your entire session… Your last rep!  So make them all count.

One quick example of how to effectively GTG:

We will use the overhead press for example, grab a weight you are comfortable doing 3-5 repetitions with.  Press it once on each side.  Repeat once daily, check after about 4 weeks to see if you need to up the amount of weight your pressing.  This method promotes success with your training!  By limiting it to 1 rep you are teaching your body it can perform the press, you will not feel the need to complete a set beyond your means, and by using something heavy, your body takes it seriously.  So no 2# barbie weights please…  This is the method I used to take my press from 4-5 reps with a 14 kg to 5 reps with a 24 kg kettlebell in under a year.

Stick with practicing, after all it’s how you get better at anything!

~Justin

Get More With Less

How to become a Minimalist.DSC3586_just_500px

Do you really need to spend hours in the gym?  I didn’t think so, and you don’t have to.  Now typically what happens with most new gym goers is this 1) All the fancy equipment is sold to them as a benefit  2) Sign up is made easy because of the ridiculously low rate, I’ve seen some for $10/mo.  3) They have over a million locations to “better serve you”.  But what’s the real benefit?  You have to spend way more time on the machines to get even nearly what you can with just $100 worth of iron.  Honestly, $100 well spent at a sporting goods store on a decent set of kettlebells or barbell set would be more beneficial.  The discipline to follow through on your workout is the same no matter how cheap or how centrally located they are.

So why do they set up their gyms this way?  It’s simple, they want people to think more is better.  By cluttering the space with equipment that does everything the hard way, they have given the otherwise open air in the space “value”.  For example, I don’t need an espresso maker in the trunk of my car and I doubt I would use it, even though I love espresso.
Why am I telling you this??  First off, my previous life as a full time martial arts instructor, I learned through observation of the owner, and several very awkward selling tasks, what I didn’t want to do… Be a salesperson.  I just enjoy helping people.  Part of that is to educate as many people as possible what fitness is really about.  I like to keep things simple, I don’t like overly complicated doodads or shiny workout routines with no direct benefits.  I prefer using equipment that gets better results for a fraction of the cost, and in a fraction of the time.  The basis of any good program should be mobility (function before fitness).  There are a few basic motions you need to have to accomplish this; pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, loaded carry.  That’s it…  Like I said, I like to keep things simple.  Here is an example of a basic strength program using a Kettlebell:

crossfit-strong-dallas-kettlebellsMilitary Press (push)

Pull Up (pulling)

Swing (hinge)

Goblet Squat (squatting)

Turkish Getup (loaded carry)

Do as a ladder 1,2,3,1,2,3 of each movement daily.  Don’t worry, you won’t over-train any of these patterns just because the frequency is high.  The main reason this works is because the volume is low.  Repeat for several months and increase the weight slightly once the weight you started with feels “light”.  Don’t get me wrong, you do still need cardio as well.  You can add the movements in to or before a Kettlebell complex.  Or simply starting up biking, running, swimming(weather permitting!) or a sport you’ve always wanted to or used to do.

So all the equipment in your local health club and hours spent there can be replaced by a few pounds of iron and 10-15 minutes a day.  Find some space and make sure it’s clear of breakable
things!(ex: lamps, mirrors, small children, animals, you get the picture)SONY DSC

Keep it Simple, Stay Strong!

Justin

Progression

Progress.  It always seems slower than most of us would like.  Ability-is-Limitless-Fitness-Quote

This is why it is important to constantly re-evaluate your goals and plan to achieve them to make sure you’re on track.  One way to do this with anything fitness related is to follow simple progressions, and not to rush it.  The push-up for example is something most don’t think of this way, but there are a ton of crazy, cool things you can do with calisthenics in general.  One hand push-ups would be a desired end result, but you don’t start there… you start with wall push-ups.  You may be wondering why, and it’s simple(this will lead into my ultimate point soon…).  Even though you can crank out 5, 10, 20 in the standard position doesn’t mean you’re ready to move on(close grip p.u.).  There are certain muscles and patterns that need to be developed before moving forward, so if you skip a step, you will find yourself hitting a wall.

Fitness in general works the same way.  Most of us want to have the beach body, 6 pack, and toned like those Jersey shore guys.  The only problem is it never comes fast enough!  So stepping out of the world of  “I got this body in 8 short weeks” and back to reality.  Not all of us drew from the same lottery that is the gene pool and gained the ability to drop weight like a ton of bricks off the Empire State Building.

Here is a great system that my Dad & I came up with, my Dad named the steps:)

PreFit

Just starting out your fitness journey, great things lay ahead.  Spectacular goals that, with proper coaching, will be all yours in a (relatively) short time!

Fit

You have started to get the hang of things, dropped most if not all of the unnecessary weight from your frame and added some functional, lean muscle.  This is the point where most people have precieved they have accomplished their goals and stop from there.  But wait… there’s more!  You have to maintain what you have, and let others bask in the glory of your great accomplishments!

PostFit

Cute right, I love how my Dad worked that in, he is genius!  Back to my point… This is a level most people don’t get to, I compare this to a black belt in any legitimate martial arts school.  You know the one’s where they make you work for it, not just hand it to you.  Just like the 1 hand push-up would be a great goal to have, what about 1 handed handstand push-ups, or plyo push-ups and all the fun variations, you get the idea.  This is the level where you take your new-found strength and play with it!  Do something new & exciting, take up rock climbing or biking or obstacle course races.  Seriously, the sky is the limit.  The only person stopping you IS you!  

Never stop, quit, give up, or doubt what you can do.

 
Keep pushing forward & stay strong!

~Justin

Function of Kettlebells, “what can they be used for?”

 

The “Function” of Kettlebells.

I know I continue to go on and on about these fantastic little hand-held gyms, so I would like to address a few concerns that have popped up about the legitimacy as a strength training tool as well as a cardio(aerobic capacity) tool.kettlebell-evolution-28kg-shop

First “Strength Training”.

Yes, you can build some crazy “functional” strength with Kettlebells. If you are looking to build size, then yes, you can put on size with Kettlebells. Are they the most effective tool for this type of training, well, yes & no. I can only think of a few other training tools I would use to build functional strength, however, when it comes to “bulking up” kettlebells will do, but they are not the best tool for the job. Realistically you could bulk up with body-weight training if you so desired, it just isn’t as efficient as pumpin the ol iron(i.e. Barbells). Keep in mind training with any significant weight will increase size to a point, it is more a case of how it is used. Kettlebells tend to build lean or wiry muscle, sometimes(if you are somewhat inactive) they add back the muscle you were supposed to have. But again, it comes down to how you train them.

Second Cardio.

There has been a lot of studies out there, not all of them were well put together, on the supposed benefits(or lack thereof) of Kettlebells for cardiovascular training. The best unbiased one I’ve found is by Jonathan Asher Falatic(The Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity, 2011). So let’s put this in to context… Used properly the Kettlebell is a great cardio tool, whether you are doing a GC(general conditioning) program or you are conditioning for a sport. Your best bet as always with sports is to build your sport specific endurance and spend only 10-15% of your time on GC. So make the best of your time and use a tool that delivers maximum results in minimal time. Remember, there is no substitute for practicing the actual movements specific to your end goal. So for GC the Kettlebell is a great tool, your core is forced to work harder than working with other types of free-weights or machines and they are great for low back strength. They will not help you with your 3 pointers, but you will stay on the court longer and get down court faster than your competition!

Do some research for yourself and find out what is best for you before you get yourself in to a program. If you are looking to get in great shape, build strength, and invest minimal time Kettlebells are for you! If you want to look like Mr. America, stick with hours in the gym with free weights & machines isolating muscles to make them “pop”.

I am not saying Kettlebells are the best tool for everything or that they are for everyone, the programs are not as easy as following a routine on a DVD, in other words, it’s hard work!  Kettlebells are certainly for anyone, especially if your goal is to increase stability, functional strength, or performance. Kettlebells have been my main tool for increasing my performance in Martial Arts, in addition last year I used only Kettlebells(no running) to train for the warrior dash and shaved several minutes off my time from the year before! There are a great many athletes that use the Kettlebell for training in sports that require functional strength from short explosive movements to outlasting their competition, so take a page from their book and improve yourself the best way you can!

 

~Justin

 

Why you should move like your 3

“You have forgotten what every 3 year old knows”Screen-Shot-2013-06-25-at-2.47.32-PM1

A great quote from Gray Cook, founder of the Functional Movement Screen.  Gray’s philosophy is simple, find the weakest point in the fundamental patterns that every toddler has to learn on their own and correct them.  It is essentially “weakness training” which most avoid like the plague, seriously, who wants to work on things they’re not good at?

Mobility is a huge missing component from our current culture of hunched over postures gazing at computer screens from 9-5 and filled with tablets, smart phones, laptops & other goodies once we get home.  The rudimentary & fundamental movements that are present in more primitive cultures are no longer necessary.  While this makes our lives easier and more convenient, it does not necessarily make them better.  We are plagued with carpel tunnel syndrome, bad backs, sore necks and all types of problems that were uncommon even as little as 20 years ago.

Here’s the good news, it can be fixed.  The next best thing to “going tribal” is to start moving like you’re a 3 year old.  Seriously… if you’ve watched even a toddler you notice there are a ton of things they can do that most of us adults cannot.  Squatting & lifting technique is well executed, not because they were coached by someone, but because they have to move that way! Start simple, pay attention to the way you lift, even little things.  Use your legs(squat down or hinge at the hips) not your back.  Start cutting back the time you spend sedentary after work and take up a hobby or activity; walking, biking, hiking, anything you enjoy and cut back on TV & cruising the internets for hours on end.  If you have a laboring job do something that takes you outside your day to day motions and pay extra close attention to how you lift heavy objects(loading a lift is the best way to enforce how you do it, don’t make it a bad habit).   This will prevent repetitive stress injuries, tight muscles, and chronic pain.

The best part of this is the more physical activity you add in to your life the more energy you will have, you will sleep better at night, and you won’t feel so “stiff” all the time.  It’s not easy, but nothing worth having is.  Embrace true functional training, not just while you work out but through your day and get rid of any unnecessary “junk” in your life(food, exercises, you get the idea) and enjoy the benefits!

Justin Green NCCPT

 

Justin Green is a Certified Personal Trainer through the N.C.C.P.T. and holds black belts in TaeKwonDo & Hapkido. He has spent the last 11 years instructing martial arts much of which requires correcting “Bad Habits” to improve his students abilities.