Archive for November, 2011

I wanted to revisit a topic I blogged about last year… lifting your quad to get the most out of your swings.

Two-Handed Swings and Single-Handed Swings are core Kettlebell exercises, and if your technique is perfect, it will do just about everything you would want to strengthen your body for everyday life.

But first… a question: Why do you work out?  Most people would say for the physique.  But another important reason we strength train is to ensure that our physical fitness will protect us from injuries, and we can continue being active and do the things we love!  Skiing?  Look at Warren Miller… he’s closing in on 90 and still carving up the slopes… and I hope I am at his age!

But even more than enjoying the athletic activities in our lives, let’s take a look at some of the things we do everyday without even thinking about it:  Working in the yard, lifting groceries, loading stuff onto the roof of your car, moving a couch, hauling dirt (or a screaming 3-year old), bringing in firewood, shlepping luggage at the airport… you name it, I could go on and on… but these are all examples of movements we do everyday and yet most of us don’t think about how we might better train in the gym to do them without pulling a muscle or tweaking something.  One wrong move, and we could be out of commission for a week or more, and those of you who have done this know what I’m talking about!

Strengthening your core will protect you from injury in these everyday movements.

The reason I am such a kettlebell fanatic is that I have gone from a state of injury after two separate skiing accidents and losing both ACL’s, my leg muscles atrophied and I lost all muscle tone… to then discovering kettlebells and getting back into the best shape of my life.  I now have a base-line fitness level that allows me to take on practically any new activity without questioning if I’m up for it.  Kettlebells have given me the confidence to say YES!  Yes, I will run that race, go on that trail run, tackle that hike, etc… you get the idea… it’s all thanks to kettlebells and that’s why I do them nearly everyday.

But I digress (as usual!)  …try out this tweak next time you do swings:

Lift the Quad!

Yes, that’s it… that’s the simple tweak!  Make sure when you snap up to standing that you lock knees and pull up on your quads and keep your heels flat on the ground.  In the beginning, you’ll have to focus on really lifting your quad muscle, but you’ll get the hang of it to where it’s second nature and your swings will become much more effective.

Peace Out,

Today marks the mid-way point of my 30-day challenge and, surprisingly, it’s getting easier to pick up the kettlebells everyday.  I’ve definitely moved myself from inertia to inspiration based on the results I’m getting.

Yes, every muscle in my body is screaming at me, but in a mere 15 days I’ve already noticed a difference in my abs, quads, delts and biceps.  That’s enough to keep me going another 15 days.  After that, I should be set to coast through the holiday season eating as much Christmas stolen from the North Hill Bakery as humanly possible!  Ha!  Those of you who know me understand that this is a heavenly indulgence for me.  In fact, it’s right up there with homemade bread pudding and cognac.

Anyway, I digress…

Tonight, I’m keeping it simple… I’m doing the same exercises from last night, but to avoid compromising my form and fatigue on the last few exercises, I’m going to switch the order.

Thought I’d start with a one-minute headstand, and then go right into abs.  Here goes… I put on some Usher tonight.

(Same as last night, do as many circuits as possible in 30 minutes.)

US Marine recruits performing push-ups: in pro...

Image via Wikipedia

12 KG Kettlebell sit ups – 15 Reps

Plank Push-Ups to Pop-Ups – 15 Reps

Figure 8′s – 15 Reps/each direction

Get Ups to side plank – 10 Reps/side

Around the Worlds, standing on one leg – 25 Reps.  Change direction – 25 Reps  (remember to lift quad of the standing leg)

Around the Worlds, standing on other leg – 25 Reps.  Change direction – 25 Reps

Clean and Press – 10 Reps/side

Double-Handed Swings – 20 Reps

Hand-to-Hand Swings – 30 Reps

Single-Handed Swings – 20 Reps/side

Repeat the fun!


Today is day 14 of my 30-day challenge.  Almost half-way there!  (i think i need a steak… !)  Anyway, I ran to yoga this morning and the studio was closed (no heat in the old building)… darn!  So I had to jump right into my kettlebell workout with no yoga warmup… how sad!  Here’s the sweatstorm.  Put on a good playlist that will last awhile…

As many circuits as possible in 30 minutes:

Double-Handed Swings – 20 Reps

Hand-to-Hand Swings – 30 Reps

Single-Handed Swings – 20 Reps/side

Around the Worlds, standing on one leg – 25 Reps.  Change direction – 25 Reps

Around the Worlds, standing on other leg – 25 Reps.  Change direction – 25 Reps

Kettlebell sit ups – 15 Reps

Plank Push-Ups to Pop-Ups – 15 Reps

Get Ups to side plank – 10 Reps/side

Clean and Press – 10 Reps/side

Figure 8’s – 15 Reps/each direction

Repeat.  Happy Sweating!


Last week I went to Power Vinyasa Yoga for the first time, and it was good!  The temperature was set at 90 degrees, rather than the Bikram 105, and I found it much more tolerable.  It was level 2, and the yoga instructor had us put our foot behind our head.  Wow, I had no idea I could even do that!  Talk about limbering up before kettlebells!  So I’m off this morning for another challenge… same class, same instructor… let’s see what we do today:

Update from Friday: We all did a headstand in the middle of the room!  No walls!  The trick, evidently, is all in your abs.  Funny, I thought, that is the trick for so many things, even kettlebells!  Every time I think to bring navel to spine in my kettlebell workout, I get a much bigger bang for my buck!

Here’s my workout from yesterday:

1. I started with one arm swings

2. Then I moved to the swinging kettlebell squat lunge: Ouch… watch out for your inner knees on this, I just banged the inside of my right knee real good because my feet weren’t far enough apart. (Arnica massage oil to the rescue for that welt.)  But here’s the deal, when you step back into the lunge, your feet come closer together, so when you step forward into the squat make sure you widen your stance.  This morning I’ve got a huge goose egg on my knee.

3.  Next, double-handed Clean and Presses

3.  Add in a few snatches… do as many as you can without compromising form and banging your wrist.

4.  Now try a new one:  the “Bottom Up Clean”.  check out Mike Mahler for this one:
And by the way… this shouldn’t be easy!  If it is, bump up to a heavier weight.  You really work your hand strength here and this is where you’ll see a discrepancy between how strong you are, right arm vs. left arm.  (Whichever side is weaker, add 10 reps)

5.  Don’t forget sit ups and oblique twists with the kettlebell.  This is a great way to finish your workout.

Music was Kanye West, “Stronger”.  This is the BEST song to get motivated…try it!  The rest of the Graduation album is good, but I find myself always going back to harder, better, faster, stronger…

Kanye West

Image via Wikipedia

Have a great workout!

Peace out,


Posted: November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

November Kettlebell Masterclass at Energie Fitness 

How could I have forgotten about Turkish Get Ups??  These are on my list for tonight’s kettlebell hell.  I’m on day 10 of 30 days straight, but I took it easy during the first week, so I need to get more serious now.  I’m feeling great after this morning’s stair run, I got all the kinks out… the sun is shining…  and now I’m motivated for a good workout tonight!  If it stays nice, I might go outside for a few shot-put throws and two-hand releases, so stay tuned for details!


Week 2…

Posted: November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
Flip Flop Pattern

Image by lincolnblues via Flickr

My days wearing flip-flops may be limited… I looked out my window yesterday and saw fresh snow on the Cascades, which means it’s going to get chilly down here at sea level before too long.   Cold weather means I’ve got to do a whole lot more stretching to warm up my muscles.  I am feeling it today, and I’m only one week into the 30-day challenge!

Here’s today’s routine, I’m taking it a bit easy:

I start with a few yoga inversions to get the blood into my 7th chakra… (specifically, two 30-second head stands.)

Next, I do a quick kettlebell stretch.  Basically, I stand feet together, with a kettlebell positioned about a foot in front of my feet.   Then I do a deep forward bend, holding the kettlebell while standing on tip toes.  Hang out there for a bit, and you should feel it in all of those back-body muscles that we don’t use as much.  After a few of those, try a wide-leg stance and do it again.  I usually do this between every few exercises.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s kettlebell routine, short and simple:

Start with the basic “100 Swings”:

Two sets of 25 double-handed swings
Two sets of 25 hand-to-hand swings (I count 1 each time I switch hands)
25 single-handed swings, right and left side.

Next, I move on to “Figure 8 to a Hold”.  (Can you guess this is my favorite exercise?  I do this one every day!  It works your bum, your abs and your arms… well, it works just about everything… but what could be better than hitting those three areas in a single exercise??)  Let’s do 2 sets of 25… count 1 each time you complete right and left sides coming up to a hold.

The new thing tonight: I’m mixing in a shoulder exercise that I got pinged on, I tried it out, and I like it.  it’s called The See-Saw Shoulder Press.  check it out:

Music tonight — a little Marcus Miller, Silver Rain album… the second track, Bruce Lee, will get you going!