Archive for May, 2010

BIG MO!

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Trump has a book titled “Think Big and Kick Ass”.  I admit I bought this book because I liked the title.  (I also have acquired an odd compulsion over the last 20 years or so to buy a new business book every time I’m in a bookstore.  I just can’t help myself, I am a non-fiction junkie!)  But anyhow, with a title like Think Big, Kick Ass, I figured Trump’s advice could be applied to all aspects of one’s life:  personal, social, fitness, etc…  not just business.    

Chapter 7 is titled BIG MO!  It’s a quick 20 pages about the power of Momentum.  Aside from the fact that swinging a Kettlebell up over your head takes a lot of momentum, it’s also an important element in a good training program. 

My 30-day Kettlebell challenge was such a great experience not only because of the results it brought, but also because it created a level of momentum in my training that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.   Mid-way through my challenge — about 14 days in when it truly became a habit — (ref. Steven Covey) my momentum really took off!   There were days when I really had to find my strength to get through a workout, but because of the momentum I had created I was able to get through some of my tougher workouts.  The days when I might have been tempted to skip a workout, it was nearly impossible to quit.  I had the momentum rolling, and couldn’t stop.  This is true for business too… read Trump!

But here are two great things I took from Trump’s chapter “Big Mo”:

1.  To get momentum, focus on a specific goal with passion and intensity. 

2.  To keep momentum, keep challenging yourself. 

I’m working on the latter one now, because I’ve finished my 30-day challenge, I’ve experience a level of success (ALL my summer clothes fit!!), and now I’m tempted to rest.  I’m tempted to hang out, if you will, on that plateau.  But as we know, inertia is not a good thing.  Especially when we’re talking about fitness.  Change is constant and I’ve got to keep challenging myself to keep my momentum up. 

I’ve got my second trail run of the season coming up this weekend in the northern Cascades.  It’s a 10K, single-track with elevation gain and it could be hot… all these things create a good challenge.  Must be time to swing some kettlebells… !

’till next time,

Peace,
k.

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Seattle Sun Breaks

Posted: May 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

One the best things about living in Seattle, besides the coffee, is the weather.  The cool mornings are just amazing… and perfect for a little outdoor kettlebell activity during one of our many sunbreaks.  There’s no humidity and the air is fresh and then the sun bursts through the clouds and warms up the earth for a few hours… it’s just perfect, really… and then it cools off again at night.  After living here for 6 years I can say that I’m in love with the Seattle weather (it’s no where near as bad as it’s reputation) and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  That week I went to Boston and the Cape, I went out for a run at about 7:30 in the morning, and the humidity was so bad already, it was so hot and stuffy first thing in the morning, I had forgotten all about that… wow, and it was only the beginning of May!  It just reminded me how lucky we are to be in the Pacific Northwest and how fabulous it is here. 

So, today is one of those mornings… so I’m off to have some kettlebell fun outside in the yard.  I’ll do a few warmup swings, then I’ll work on 4 sets of 25 two-handed releases, and then cool down with some hand-to-hand releases. 

*Don’t forget to pull up on the quads, lock knees and tighten glutes for a better workout!

Peace,

k.

I heard this quote tonight and immediately knew I had to include it in my Kettlebell blog.  Think about it.  Whether you’re talking about academics, business or athletics… competition is what improves your game.  It’s what ultimately gets you off the dime and pushes you to do better.  That’s why we play in tournaments, run races, sign up for marathons or triathlons… we ultimately need competition to drive us, to get us to the next level.  Even if we’re only competing against ourselves, it still pushes us to do better and work towards improving ourselves.  Without competition we risk complacency.  (But that is a topic of discussion for another night…)

k.

After swinging kettlebells for two years now, I can say with 100% confidence that “Kettlebells are Best Everyday!”

After my 30-day kettlebell challenge was over, I needed something new.  I was looking to create the perfect weekly training schedule that involved all my activities in the best combination.  So I tried alternating days between running, lifting, kettlebells, yoga, etc… until my head was spinning trying to keep it all straight.  My calendar was a mess!  I tried doing kettlebells every-other-day, every third day, everyday except Pilates days, everyday except hill-running days, everyday except race days, everyday except gym days…and on and on.  Let me tell you, it is all a scheduling nightmare.  It was such a headache trying to keep track of it all.  I would try to figure out what sort of things I should be doing on “off” days… and then what I needed to fill in with on my “kettlebell days”.  Nothing felt right.  Here’s my conclusion:

Kettlebells are best everyday.

The main advantage is that you don’t have to try to remember “is this a kettlebell day?”  because everyday is  a kettlebell day!  And, truly, kettlebells fit in with everything else just fine. (30 days straight might not have been ideal from a “rest” requirement standpoint, but it did great things for my metabolism.)

Here’s the deal: we know we need to give our muscles time to recover from a strength training workout.  There’s enough research out there to convince me that taking a “day off” can do wonders to pack on the muscle by giving the muscle a chance to break down and rebuild itself.  But that said, this is why we have different size kettlebells!!  At this point, the yellow kettlebell feels light to me (8KG is about 17.6 pounds) so I have decided that this will be my “day off” kettlebell.  I will still do 20 or 30 minutes of kettlebells, but if I use the light one, I will get more of an aerobic workout and still be giving my muscles a break… overall.  Then, the other days I’ll push it with the green kettlebell (12KG = 26.5 pounds) and focus on the “tear down”.

I really like this new plan, and for the next 30 days I’m going to see how feasible it is with my schedule.  I’m packing so much into each day lately, it has to be a no-brainer for me, otherwise it won’t work… because here’s what happens:  Let’s say I’ve set aside one hour for a workout.  Before I know it, I’m already into my hour.  Time is ticking… now I have 50 minutes and I’m still deciding what music I need for this particular workout.  Unless I have something I know I can jump into and honestly focus on, it is so easy to waste that 50 minutes.  As I said earlier, sometimes just scheduling the time on your calendar is a feat.  So now that you’ve done the hard part, commit to really dedicating yourself to that workout.  Clear your mind, don’t think about anything except what muscle you are using.  Visualize that muscle moving, and see it getting stronger.  Your mind and body are connected in a very powerful way that no one completely understands yet… but we do know that visualization works, and your mind can tell your body what it expects from it, and your body will listen.

And on that note… here’s a pet peeve of mine I’ve seen around the gym:  You can’t read a novel on the leg press machine and expect your legs to become stronger.  Honestly, you just can’t!  You can’t read a magazine or watch Oprah while you’re on the treadmill and expect great results.  Your mind is not focused on your body.  It’s really as simple as that.  If you’re watching Oprah, your muscles are watching Oprah.  Put the focus where it needs to be, and the results will surprise you, I promise.

It feels good to be back… I threw around the kettlebells at 10pm tonight and had a great workout.  Finished the evening off with a salad created entirely with various lettuces from my garden and a homemade blackberry ginger balsamic.  Perfection!

peace,

-k.

(one final note… I realized I forgot to mention BCAA’s in this post.  If you have committed to doing kettlebells everyday for a period of time to get fit and enhance your physique, consider adding in a Branched Chain Amino Acid supplement to your daily diet.  Your muscles will thank you!  I have been very happy with the MRM brand, mostly because they make all natural products which contain no artificial flavor or color (muy, muy important!!) And they also seem to tailor their products to bodybuilders… so I like that and I’ve been very happy with the results.)

My final workout: Day 30!

Posted: May 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Snatch:

I finished off my 30-day Challenge with a visit to Dr. Dan, Kettlebell Trainer Extraordinaire!  After a brief chiropractic adjustment which felt wonderful, we moved on to Kettlebells.  Primarily, we worked on the Snatch, which is a very difficult movement to perfect.  When you do this exercise correctly, the Kettlebell should “glide” around your hand and land softly on your wrist when you “punch” your arm up to the sky.  Unfortunately, when I do them, the entire weight of the Kettlebell slams into my wrist.  After enough reps, my hand, wrist and forearm all begin to go numb.  I am sure this sort of suffering is not endured by the Kettlebell champs and they have figured out a way to  make it glide.  At this point, however, after attempting 40 reps, my technique is still no good. 

 I would be tempted to drop this exercise from my routine entirely if it weren’t such a core Kettlebell movement.  There are plenty of others I enjoy and do well.  In fact, I think the high pulls are a very good substitute.  However, I have been told that “the Snatch is a key movement” and that it “should be practiced by any serious Kettlebell lifter.”   Humph.  I guess I’ll keep working on it.

I did have a few small breakthroughs though.  One of the things that helped my technique the most was standing facing a wall less than an arms length away.  If you care about your wall, this prevents you from swinging the bell too far out in front of you.  This made a surprising difference for me.  Next, if possible, think about lifting your elbow towards the sky and punching the Kettlebell straight up over your head. Also, focus on locking your elbow and gently “gliding” the bell around your wrist. 

This is one of those movements that definitely requires lots of repetition to get it right.  My brain just needs my body to do this particular exercise over and over again to imprint a muscle memory. 

Well… enough about the Snatch.  Once I had hit the wall (almost literally) Dan and I decided to move on and focus on my final workout of my 30-day Challenge! 

My Final Workout:

Dan asked me if I wanted to take it easy or push it hard.  Yep… I had to push it hard!  After all, I was going to spend the next 6 days away on vacation, thousands of miles away from my Kettlebells… (is there such a thing as “Kettlebell Withdrawl”?)… so I figured I really had to blow it out!!

Music selection was key.  I chose Melissa Etheridge, because I love the bass lines in her music and I knew I would need somebody yelling at me in order to get through my last workout.  Here’s what Dan “custom designed” for my grand finale:

35  Two-Handed Swings: Green
25  Hand-to-Hand Swings: Green
20  Clean and Press: Yellow
15   High Pulls: Yellow
10  Snatches: Yellow
5     Jumping Push-ups

**Repeat the above 4X/No Breaks!!

It looked pretty hard on paper as I was standing there in his office, and not surprisingly it was even harder to perform later that evening.  By the third set I was so tired it almost felt easy… do you know that feeling?  But by the last set I was completely drenched in sweat (you really wanted to know that, right?!) and I was really struggling.  I had to take a few breaks. (short ones, Dan, I promise!) I wasn’t able to keep the reps up in the end either.  At this point, I did each exercise to all-out muscle fatigue. 

In the end, though… it felt great to power through!  I know I’ll be back for more!!  How about you?  🙂

I’ll be back after vacation!

Peace Out,
-k.