Archive for the ‘cast iron strength’ Category

As you continue to swing kettlebells, it is almost inevitable that at some point you will find yourself thinking:
“What am I going to do with all this strength?”

1009-kettlebell-wo[1]A short kettlebell workout (15-30 min) a few times a week delivers a remarkable increase in your level of strength, so it’s not uncommon to ponder what you might do with your strength.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit recently, and thought I’d share with you what I’ve come up with.

1. Push your Comfort Zone: Try a sport or activity that you’ve never done before.

2. Take it to Work:  Let your athletic confidence increase your career confidence.

3. Share it:  Use your strength for a greater purpose, to benefit others and your community.

I’ll briefly explain:

#1… Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  You say you’ve “never been a swimmer”, but might like to try it.  Take a few lessons, attend some weekend swim clinics, and then sign up for a swimming event.  You’ll meet a whole new group of fitness enthusiasts and learn a great new sport.

#2… Take it to work.  Many people find themselves with a “confidence boost” after completing a fitness challenge.  Have you thought about bringing that added confidence straight into the conference room?!  Get involved, speak up, lean in… contribute!  Watch what happens.

Finally, #3… Share it.  Don’t keep your strength all to yourself.  Through coaching and mentoring, you can share your experience and knowledge with others.  Even just simple encouragement between friends goes a long way.  You can also volunteer.  If you like the outdoors, then try getting involved with trail maintenance in your area.  Our national and state parks are always looking for people to help out, and your strength would be in high demand.


Maybe it’s my innate “thriftiness” that brought on my question to begin with, but the way I see it is, if you’ve invested the time and energy it takes to increase your strength, then there must be more you can do with it than just “own it”, right?

Hey… do all three!  The experiences you take away and the people you meet will make it all worthwhile… I guarantee it!

Peace Out,


English: This is a photograph that we have per...In my last post, I talked about strategic fitness planning for the year, marking off your calendar with highlighters, and how to break your races down into 3 categories:  Challenging (A); Maintaining (B); and Fun (C).

Breaking down your races into these categories will allow you to block off the necessary training time for your “A” races so that you can go into them strong and confident.

Then, as you check out your highlighted calendar, you’ll quickly see where your busy weeks are.  This will help you decide where to pop in some B and C races to either maintain your fitness level, or just have fun.  Training doesn’t have to stop during vacation, but you might want to consider this “maintenance time” instead of trying something new and challenging the week you return from your tropical vacation or some other lovely “meant-to-be-relaxing” getaway!

Here’s what my calendar looks like so far:

A Race:  March 24th:  The Big Climb, 69 flights up the Columbia Tower

B Race:  May 19th: Beat the Bridge 8K

B Race:  July 27th: Torchlight 8K

A Race:  August 21st: Swim for Life, 2.5 mile swim across Lake Washington

C Race: September 8th: Athleta Iron Girl 5K… (My daughter is going to run this with me… Go Claire!)

A Race: October 5th: Tough Mudder (need I say more? Click and watch the video if you haven’t already!)

C Race:  October 27th: Run Scared 5K… (I’m hoping both kids dress up for this fun little Halloween race!)


I’ve got less than 2 months until my first A race, so I’m swinging kettlebells as often as possible, running stairs twice a week, going to CrossFit twice a week, and taking in my favorite core yoga class every Monday.  It’s been pretty rainy lately, so I’m running a lot less, but the Big Climb requires more stair drills anyway, so that’s what I’m focusing on.

Happy Planning!


Strategic Planning may sound like something big corporations do… but I’m talking about PERSONAL strategic planning!  And yes, it can bring you happiness!

This time of year, many of us are making New Year’s Resolutions. (In my family growing up, I remember my Dad passing out pencils and we would all sit around on New Year’s Day and write down several things we resolve to do in the new year, usually something that was sure to help improve our lives!  Perhaps just the act of writing them down made them stick more?)

Anyway, for many people, resolutions tend to be diet and fitness related.  For example… “I resolve to stop eating a whole bag of Oreos while I watch reruns of Law and Order.”  Or, “I resolve to go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am.”

I got a bit of a shock last week though when I was listening to a story on NPR about resolutions, and the reporter quoted a statistic that said 80% of the people who buy gym memberships in January because of a New Year’s Resolution will stop working out by mid-February.  Shocking!  Now we know how fitness clubs make their money.  But I have to think that these quitters didn’t have a good plan.  (and maybe they didn’t have kettlebells in their basement either!)

Goals are important, but if you’re really serious about achieving your goals, then you need a solid plan.  Some people would say it’s impossible to achieve goals without a plan.  I had a boss that would often walk around saying “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”  That was his mantra, and I’m sure he said it to every client that walked in and out of our doors.  Another way of look at that is: “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going!”

I’d like to show you how, when you take a few minutes for some “Personal Strategic Planning” for your fitness, you will find success, happiness and strength!

It’s January.  Time to go to the book store and get a brand new 2013 calendar.  (Yes, I know there’s a calendar on your phone, and another one on your computer… but there’s something very motivating and satisfying about seeing your strategic plan all laid out in a 12-month view, trust me on this one!)

Get a calendar where you can see the whole year on a single page… like this one:


My fitness goal in 2013 is to compete in more races this year (and a wider variety of races) as way to train and prep myself for my most challenging race, The Tough Mudder, in early October.  So I’m going to do a little strategic planning and do my “Calendar Exercise” for the year.  This is a way I can find out how much free time I have to train & compete so that I can plan my races accordingly.

First, I mark off time away from home with a green highlighter.… Vacations and business trips…  These are the weeks I know I will be out of town.  If you travel for business for longer than just a couple of days, this is important.  Sure, lots of people can work out in hotel gyms, but your training schedule and diet will definitely be impacted while away.

Then I mark off all holidays in yellow.  This is especially important if you have school-aged kids, because when they are home from school this will definitely impact your training schedule.  But even if you don’t have kids, holidays can definitely impact diet and training.

(My gosh, the kids just had 2 weeks off over Christmas, and they get another week in February, and then 2 more weeks in April… sometimes I wonder what’s going on around here!)  I’ve marked off the whole summer!

Now I’ve created a bird’s eye view of what my year looks like so far.  This provides a good starting point for planning my race schedule.

The next step is to find a website that lists all the races in your area, and compare those dates to your “un-highlighted” weeks.  I’ve recently discovered a pretty comprehensive site called Running in the USA.

From what I can tell, these guys have spent many hours compiling a variety of races and events all across the country.  I found some great events that match my un-highlighted weeks and I’m excited to get these on the books.

Another popular resource in this area is “Race Center Northwest.”  You can pick up a copy of this magazine most places, or go to their website:

For more strategic planning, I break my races down into 3 categories… A races, B races and C races.

A-Races are challenging, they take a tremendous amount of commitment and training leading up to the event (possibly months), you may consider going on a specialized diet in preparation for these events, and recovery may take several days or even a week.   These are races which stretch your athletic ability and possibly experience.

B-Races may also be challenging, but they are not a stretch of your capabilities.  These events help you to maintain your strength and speed and will push you to perform well, and they’re often used to achieve a new PR.  Different from the A-race, training ramp-up is moderate (maybe a couple of weeks) because they are more on par with your current level of fitness.  Chances are you’ve already secured a few good times in similar events, so recovery is easier.

C-Races are typically short and fun, maybe even social… you run them with someone else, or you dress up silly and have a good time.  (A good example of this is the St. Patty’s day run where everyone ends up at the pub downtown.)  These races can be performed on a whim, recovery is minimal to zero.  Most runners would consider C-races a good replacement for a daily workout.

Now I look for my  “windows of opportunity” and then space out my races according to how difficult they are and how big my chunks of time are.  For instance, if I’ve got a nice block of 2 to 4 weeks, that’s a perfect window to pop in a B-race.  If I’ve got a larger window, consider an A race.  Check registration dates and go ahead and sign up now if you can.  Otherwise, put a reminder in your calendar when registration opens.

Of course… the planning process is JUST the first step!

1. Strategic Planning: mark your calendar and make a weekly exercise plan.

2. Execution: Sign up and start training!

3. Goal Setting: Consider what times you’d like to get for various races and set some goals.

3. Track Progress: How were your times?  Did you meet your goals?  Did you place for your age-group?

4. Expand Skills:  If you’re always running, how about trying a swim race, or a bike race… or even a triathlon?

5. Stay Committed:  Don’t give up!  You’ll no doubt hit some weeks when your energy level is low, or you get the flu, or you pull a muscle… whatever… but don’t let these things get you sidetracked.  Focus on the entire journey and stay committed to your plan.

6. Reward Success: Success can be rewarded all year!  I believe in small rewards for each accomplishment and then a nice big reward when everything has finished up for the year.  I usually like to start indulging around Thanksgiving, which is also my birthday, and I continue the party straight through Christmas and the New Year holiday!  Something to look forward to!

We’ll talk more about this as the months roll by, but I hope I’ve inspired you to do a little strategic planning for 2013.  I’ll post my highlighted calendar in a few days once I have my races figured out… but let’s get planning!


What’s an investment worth to you?

If we’re talking about a financial investment, we invest our money into something and we have the expectation of a financial gain.  But with regard to a time or talent investment where we invest our energy into something, we still have an expectation of achieving something… but what is it worth?  When we train for a race, how much is that investment of sweat and dedication worth to us?

To what limits are we willing to go to in order to ensure payoff?

I had not even thought about “my investment” of time spent training when I was injured.  My heels, ankles and calves were sprained and swollen, and the only thing on my mind was how painful it would be to run 12 miles and 26 obstacles.  I was considering bailing on my Tough Mudder team.

Then I got a phone call from my good friend (we’ll call her F.D.) and she offered this advice:

“The hay is in the barn, my friend.”

“What does that even mean?”  I asked.

“You’ve got this.” she said.  “You’ve invested the time.  You can do this.”

I later found out that this expression is commonly used by athletes (runners) when they have completed many weeks/months of training leading up to an event, and they are in the final days before the event when they should be tapering down and resting.

Here’s a little blog post about just that:

Anyway, F.D. was right.  If I bailed now, my investment would not offer a profitable return.  I had to consider the months spent training and the hours I devoted to getting in shape for this race.  (not to mention the six or seven weeks I was on the Paleo diet this summer and stopped drinking wine, beer and cocktails!)  All for what??  To sit at home?  …and mope?  No way.

I will be forever grateful to F.D., T and Miss M., for both reminding me of the importance of my investment… and for their devotion.  They bought spectator tickets to the Tough Mudder and were showing up, come rain or come shine.

But at that moment when she said “the hay is in the barn”, it all clicked for me.  I’m not even sure I could tell you why, but for some reason I finally realized that I had earned my rest.  I had put in the time, and gained the strength, gotten down to my fighting weight, and I was ready.  So even if I didn’t do a damn thing in the days leading up to the race, rest wouldn’t hurt me.  I think sometimes we train so hard, for so long, that we forget that we need to taper down before a race.  I’d been so used to knocking out kettlebells everyday, that the thought of “resting” for a week sounded crazy.

But sometimes our body forces us to rest by way of an injury.  Maybe it’s the body’s way of getting us to slow down and take it easy.  But my Achilles were strained, I had swelling in both ankles, my claves had charley-horses in them… and I could not run even a quarter-mile.  Things were dire. (and this was only 5 days before the Tough Mudder.)  This was more than just a “rest period” or me knowing when to taper off…. this had to be a super-fast healing period too.  How do you tell your body to do that?

Here’s what I did: I took the time to get professional advice from two sports medicine doctors who specialize in overuse and acute injuries.  I did acupuncture, cupping, soft tissue release and massage, epsom salt baths, arnica oil rubs, Kinesio taping… you name it…  I did it all in an effort to get back out there.  Was it the easy road?  No.  But I was trying to cash in on my investment.

In my previous post, I rambled on about how you’ve got to tell your body what you expect from it… but this is the other part.  Work.

About a week before the race, I met F.D. downtown and we walked (limped) over to my favorite coffee shop on 2nd and Stewart.  I lamented about the pain.  Then we walked over to my favorite bakery on 4th and Lenora and she bought me two peanut butter cookies.  (Now, let me digress for a moment, because this is an important part of my story.  These are not just your ordinary peanut butter cookies.  No, no… these are the BEST peanut butter cookies in the whole world!  This little bakery takes two of their homemade chunky peanut butter cookies and adds a smear of peanut butter between the cookies, then they press them together to make a little sandwich that is quite simply: Heaven!)  F.D. bought two of these cookies for me, put them in a bag, and simply said: “Eat these after the race.”

“Oh, you bet I will!”  (but then I figured since I had two, I could eat one before the race and one after… it made sense to me… after all, the hay WAS in the barn, and a peanut butter cookie this special would do wonders for my sprained ankles and Achilles tendons.)

Moral of the story?  We need to remember our committment, our investment, and honor that by doing what it takes to follow through and compete.  It takes work… but this is your investment after all… are you just going to throw it all away the minute a little pain surfaces?  No!  Figure out the pain… seek professional advice and get back out there!

We also need good friends around us who truly understand us and the things that motivate us.  (Who knew what a little peanut butter cookie could do?)  But seriously, more than that, a friend’s dedication to your success is a powerful thing.  When you have people in your corner, rooting for you… there is no stopping you!

The sisterhood may not be dead… although I am always a bit cautious… but when we find someone (or several someones) who understand us… this will charge us up!   People who understand what it means to put the time into something… and how important it is to accomplish what we have our hearts set on… that’s power!  Surround yourself with support, cut those with envy or unkind words out, and you cannot fail.

Be well,

Peace Out,

I’m increasing my intake of protein this week to 188 grams daily.  It’s my last full week of hard-core training before the Tough Mudder… so I’m trying out a little “pre-race protein-loading”!

Usually, an easy way for me to figure out how much protein I should get is by multiplying 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  This is a good rule of thumb for active people.  For me, this is 125 grams of protein per day.  However, during this week of highly intense exercise, I’m bumping it up to 1.5 grams/per pound, which is now about 188 grams of protein a day.

In the US, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets an RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).  For most adults, it’s only about 50 grams.  People on high-protein diets obviously increase this number… and some body builders will even increase this amount by six to seven times this number!  I recently read an article where one guy was taking in 350 grams of protein a day (I’m not sure how), but perhaps he was a lot heavier than I am, and when you do the math at 1.5 grams/per pound that’s what it could be.  He was having good results with it (lost fat, gained muscle definition) but he definitely cautioned that not everyone would get the same results he did.

Anyway, from my research on protein, lean meat generally provides about 7 grams of protein per ounce.  So an 8 oz. steak would have about 56 grams of protein.  I’m getting 31 grams of protein in my egg white shakes, and my breakfast of kale and eggs only provides about 15 grams of protein (though rich in other nutrients).

Between the steak, the shake and the kale and eggs, these three things are constant in my daily diet.  Add all that up, and I’m still only getting 102 grams of protein.  Dang, that’s only double the RDA, and in my mind, the RDA is always set low, and is certainly not set for athletes in training.  I need to find 86 more grams of additional protein from somewhere to make my number.

Beans and lentils are not allowed on the Paleo Diet.  Bummer, because they are rich in protein and good for you too.  I will do a few “tweaks” in this diet once the race is over to allow this sort of thing.

In the meantime, I’ll add in a spinach salad with nuts and seeds, some broccoli, and snack on canned sardines, tuna, salmon jerky (a Seattle favorite!) or even some smoked oysters.  But I’m beginning to appreciate the high protein content in the convenient protein bar.  Just bought one today with 20 grams of protein… and I didn’t step foot in the kitchen!  Awesome!!

My other trick is to add a scoop of protein powder to everything I eat!  How about pancakes?  Here’s a new recipe I’m going to try out in the morning…

Add vanilla protein powder to blueberry pancakes.  Hey… it’s still on the Paleo Diet… I’m using a sweet potato and egg white protein!  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Time to bake my sweet potato for tomorrow…



I’ve been practicing the pistol squat over the last few weeks, and unfortunately I think I might have strained my left quadricep in the process.  It was either doing the pistol, or maxing out on my squats at the gym… but I think it was definitely a squat.   (The pistol squat is the one where you squat down on one leg, with the other extended out in front, holding a good-sized kettlebell all the way down, and back up again.)

Anyway, I’ve been limping around for the last few days expecting to feel better… and though most quadricep strains will heal on their own, I tend to be a bit impatient with these things.

So when I was outside doing some basic kettlebell swings and feeling the strain on my quad… I got out my old yoga block!  I stood on one foot, leaned forward and got myself into the “Dancer” pose.  (I love this anatomical drawing!)

The technique is to push your foot back into the palm of your hand, keeping a steady pressure into your hand (but giving back resistance at the same time).  Plus, with adequate height on the lifted leg, you will engage your quad into a really great stretch.

I probably just had a grade 1 strain, meaning that only about 10% of the muscle fibers were torn.  (Grade 2 and 3 are more serious injuries… and will take much longer to heal depending on the percentage of torn muscle fibers.)

The next morning??  No Pain!!!  I walked down the stairs without hobbling, and that was a marvelous feeling!

Moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the power of yoga!

Now back to the pistol squat…

Peace Out,

English: Arthur Saxon performing a bent press....

English: Arthur Saxon performing a bent press. Français : Arthur Saxon effectuant un dévissé à un bras (bent press). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been swinging kettlebells since 2009, so why return to the fundamentals?  Fundamentals enable advanced skill development.  Without the basics you can’t expand your abilities or perfect your game.  If you think about it, sports and music are similar in that they both take dedication, commitment and frequency of practicing skills and drills to expand your talent.

So when my kettlebell trainer, Dr. Dan Nelson, mentioned that he was going to start a new 8-week kettlebell class focusing on core skills, I was in!  (By the way, he was recently certified as one of 12 Advanced Kettlebell instructors in the U.S., so it was time for him to spread the wealth of his new-found knowledge!)

The class was small (only 7 or 8 students) so we had lots of personal attention, and we were also able to partner up for a few drills, which keeps everyone working hard.  It was a 75 minute class, and focused on a dozen or so core kettlebell movements.  We would start with about 10 or 15 minutes of warm-up exercises, then we’d learn a few new movements, and then start the “circuit of the day” which was often grueling!

Warm ups are something I usually skip in my workouts, so it was good to get an idea what I should be doing.  My tendency is to jump right into my workout without spending too much time warming up.  I know it’s important (and in a class environment, this is especially true) but on a day-to-day basis, we know what we’ve done throughout the day and if we need to spend time on a warm up or not.  The other day I went for a quick 15-mile bike ride… so I figured that was my warmup.   But you know your own body.  You’ll know if you need 10 or 15 minutes of floor exercises.  But I like the idea of mixing kettlebells with other activities, so typically I’ll do a morning yoga class and then come home and swing a few kettlebells immediately afterward.  Or, a few days ago I went for a longer ride (about 40 miles) which was my main workout, but I supplemented with some kettlebell lifts for triceps when I got home.  Today we did a hike in the mountains, and again, mostly a leg workout… so it’s tricep time!  (lying on your back, kettlebell positioned on the floor over your head… hold the ball part of the bell and lift up keeping elbows by ears.  This is my new favorite.)

But I digress.  The fundamentals class reminded me of how pure and perfect these exercises are… and the effectiveness of these core movements for cross training, injury prevention and rehabilitation.  Building core strength will help you in all areas of your life… for the rest of your life… it is the key to everything else we do.  I am still amazed at the power of kettlebells!

Look for some videos soon of some new fun stuff… coming soon!


It’s mid-70’s and sunny this weekend in Seattle… so just a reminder that when the weather gets nice, bring the kettlebells outside, and practice the swings and releases.  The worst that can happen is you get a few divots in the lawn… just watch your toes!

Here’s a good workout for today…

Warm Up:
Around the worlds, feet together, 20 reps, switch directions, 20 reps
Around the worlds, single leg, 20 reps, switch leg, 20 reps, switch direction and repeat.
Two handed swings: 12 reps
Single handed swings: 12 reps per side
Suitcase swings: 12 reps per side


Hand to hand swings: (letting go when you switch hands) 12 reps
Double-handed swing and release: (release and catch at peak) 12 reps
Swing-Flip-Catch: (this is a new one I just picked up… I’ll try to post a video of it later)

Water break… repeat… then get the grill rolling!

Enjoy the weekend,
Peace out,

Happy May Day!  It’s great to be back!  Wow, time flies… it’s been over a month since the Big Climb and I just realized I didn’t post my race results!   I took some time off to recharge my batteries and spent a few weeks on the east coast soaking up some sun on the beaches of Cape Cod and North Carolina. (well, not too much sun on Cape Cod yet… but still lovely!)Anyway, the big news is I beat my time from last year with a 12:57 finish!

My final results shake out like this:

Top 7% overall women
Top 8% women in my age group
Top 20% overall men and women

But even landing a spot in the top 8% still didn’t put me in a top 10 category (or even top 20) for my age group. (I came in 26 place out of 312).  Turns out that there are lots of fit women ages 40-49!  So next year, I have new goal… how about top 5% in my age group?

In the meantime… there are other stair climbs!  In fact, when I was visiting Cape Cod, we went to one of my favorite places, Provincetown, and it turns out they have a stairclimb up the Provincetown Tower… Run to the Top, May 5th, 2012, up the Pilgrim Towner.  It’s a benefit for the Cape Cod Firefighters and EMS Cancer Relief Fund.  Wish I could be there… maybe next year.  Hmm… but perhaps Chicago?  NY?  It is hard to think that I have to wait a whole year to run stairs again.  Road trip…!!

Pilgrim's tower - Provincetown - Cape Cod - Ma...

Pilgrim’s tower – Provincetown – Cape Cod – Massachusetts – USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m 20 days away from my next race, Beat the Bridge, and I’ve started a new kettlebell class with Dr. Dan.  It’s every Wednesday, my first class was last week and I was sore for days afterward… it’s Awesome!!!  I will write more about that class and the exercises we do in forthcoming posts… but for now… it’s time to put sliders on the grill…



Backpack (Photo credit: slgckgc)

One week before race day and I am 3 pounds over my ‘fightin’ weight’.  This may not seem like much, but when you’re running up 69 flights of stairs, every extra pound you bring with you makes a difference.

As punishment, I packed a backpack with 10 extra pounds (to add to my extra 3) and put that on my back as I ran 1500 steps in a training run yesterday.  Now I’m taking 13 extra pounds up each set of stairs!  I was definitely breathing heavy.  When I was finished, I took the backpack off and ran up 150 stairs and timed myself at 45 seconds.  I felt light as a feather!

The race is 1311 steps… so if could possibly maintain a pace of 45 seconds/150 steps… that would put me at a time of 6:55.  Totally unrealistic!  My time last year was 13:30, and I am hoping to beat that… but cutting my time in half is nearly impossible!

Anyway, if you’re fighting those last few pounds before race day (blame it on the green beer for St. Patty’s Day), just add some weight to your training runs and see how light you feel when you shed the backpack!

Keep swinging… Tuesday is TGU day.  Get ready!


The Big Climb is 2 weeks away (from yesterday).  This is the week to pull out all the stops.  Bust out the heaviest kettlebell you own and knock it out!  One of the best ways to train for climbing stairs… is climbing stairs.  Surprised, right?!  But the SECOND-best way to train for this race is to swing some kettlebells!  For me, I take the stairs 2 at a time, so balance is key.  I’ve torn both ACL’s, so I’ve got to keep strengthening all the other surrounding ligaments and muscles around my knees.  My goal is to keep them strong and engaged as much as possible so I have the balance I need going up the stairs in a few weeks.

Probably one of the greatest side benefits of kettlebell training is that your balance will improve tremendously.  This is why I’ll keep mixing in kettlebell workouts everyday till the day before the climb.   Here we go…

Tonight’s workout:

I started with a good heavy weight for my warm up, and grabbed “Big Red” (16KG) for the Around the World’s standing on one leg.  Reverse direction.  Hard… but great for balance training.

Next, I went to TGU’s (Turkish Get-ups) I alternate these with getting up to standing, as well as up to side-plank, and up to kneeling.  These are all great for balance too.

Add in some double-handed swings, suitcase swings, clean and press, and figure 8’s.

I finished off with my favorite duo of a series of kettlebell situps rolling back into yoga plow stretches.

I went to the wall of CD’s tonight and pulled out a slightly vintage C&C Music Factory album (remember them? Gonna make you sweat!)  The first four songs on the Ultimate CD last awhile (the second track is close to 10 minutes!) so this was a good one for tonight’s workout.

Back again tomorrow…


Adding a few details from my last post, here are some suggestions for the gym.  By the way, most people save the hot shower/sauna/hot tub etc. for the end of their workout, but in the winter time I like to jump right into the hot tub first.  It’s a great warm up for my cold muscles in the morning.  Try it, it’s lovely!

I started with 12 minutes on the stair climber.  That’s how long I’m hoping it will take me to get to the top of the Columbia Tower during the Big Climb in March, so I’m practicing indoors.  I did 68 floors at an average of 90 steps per minute.  The actual climb is 69 floors and 1,311 steps.  I’ve got 2 months to work on getting faster.

After that, it was all abs and upper body.  As far as my ab workout, here are a few things to try:

Start with about 5 minutes of Around the Worlds.  Stand with your feet together and then try standing on one leg.  Alternate legs, this will help with balance and obliques.

Head over to the mats with a kettlebell for a series of sit-ups and crunches:  Take no breaks, do all 7 sets for a total of 125 reps, and consider the crunches to be your “rest time”.  (Start and end with crunches, mixing in the kettlebell sit ups.)

The main difference here is that w/a crunch, only your head and shoulders come off the ground.  If these are easy for you, go to the rack and add a 10 or 20 lb. plate behind your head.  (I’ll try to get pics of these).  With the kettlebell sit ups, you are coming all the way up, holding the kettlebell cradled in both hands in front of you, and lifting it high above your knees.  (Again, I know pictures would help.)  roll back down, one vertebrae at time, until you are all the way back on the floor and the kettlebell is just above your chest.  Here we go:

1. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

2. 15 reps: kettlebell sit ups

3. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

4. 15 reps: kettlebell sit ups

5. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

6. 15 reps: kettlebells sit ups

7. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

Then go back to your obliques with a few more kettlebell twists.  You can try these sitting and standing.  Hold the kettlebell at different levels on each set to work your entire torso.  Next, do some twists on the Captain’s Chair.

Finally, end your workout with a few sets of the low Figure 8’s with the side lunge.  You’ll need to be low and in a good side-lunge position to effectively work your abs.

By the way, if you don’t feel this in your abs the next day, then bump up your weight and reps.  You should roll out of bed the next morning and get a good reminder of this workout!

Tomorrow I’m off to burn a bunch of calories on the slopes at Crystal Mountain… then back to kettlebells on Sunday.


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!


Ever wonder how much weight you’re swinging?

Here’s a conversion chart from kilograms to pounds:

2 kg (4.4 lbs.)

4 kg (8.8 lbs.)

6 kg (13.2 lbs.)

8 kg (17.6 lbs.)

10 kg (22 lbs.)

12 kg (26.4 lbs.)

14 kg (30.8 lbs.)

16 kg (35.2 lbs.)

18 kg (39.6 lbs.)

20 kg (44 lbs.)

22 kg (48.4 lbs.)

24 kg (52.8 lbs.)

26 kg (57.2 lbs.)

28 kg (61.6 lbs.)

32 kg (70.4 lbs.)

36 kg (79.2 lbs.)

These days it seems that everyone is “busy”.  Too busy, in fact, to take the time to understand things at a deeper level.  I believe we have reached the tipping point on this “busy” excuse because it’s starting to impair people’s judgement.  Whether it’s politics or exercise, everyone has an opinion… I just wish people would “seek to understand” a bit more than they “seek to be understood”.

I stumbled upon this quote “Don’t reject it just because you don’t understand it”… and it immediately resonated with me.  I found this just when I needed it (don’t you love it when that happens?)   Here’s the deal, a few days ago I had a bit of a dialogue with someone who was fervently against kettlebells.  As passionate as I am about them, he was against them… and with great anger.

This was upsetting because it was obvious he hadn’t taken the time to understand:
1. The origins of the kettlebell,
2. The efficiency of the exercises, and
3. The sheer perfection of the movements. 

If he had, he would understand why kettlebells are enjoying a resurgence, and rightfully so!

He dismissed them as a fad (never mind that they have been around for centuries!) and as someone who has been swinging kettlebells since “before they were cool”… I reject this premise!  Dismissing something because you simply don’t understand it, or perhaps feel threatened by it, is doing yourself a disservice.  And then jumping on the “it’s just a fad” bandwagon is a cop-out.   Are we all really “too busy” to take the time to understand things at a deeper level?

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, because we are all kettlebell fanatics… but this topic is a bit timely with election season starting up for 2012!  The rejection of ideas without fully understanding them will be in full swing soon with Republicans and Democrats at each others throats… wow, but I just never thought I’d see such passionate hatred for a kettlebell!

Peace Out,

Cape Cod beach at sunset, Race Point Beach

Image via Wikipedia

OK, we’re counting down to the beach… 2 days left!

I had a nice hill run this morning which was a good warmup for an abdominal workout when I got home.

Here’s a list of a few of the exercises that make up my “crunch time” to the beach:

1. The Plank

2. Kettlebell sit ups

3. The Plow

4. Russian Twist  (some people do these standing, other sitting…)

5. Bicycle Sit-ups.  (If you’re not sure what those are, ehow will show you how:)

Here’s the routine:

Start with a good stretch into a forward bend.  Then step back into the plank pose and hold that position for 60 seconds.

Roll onto your back, grab the 8KG kettlebell and do 20 kettlebell situps.  Repeat these two exercises, alternating Plank and Sit-ups.

Then, from the sit up position, roll back into a shoulder stand inversion, legs straight up, and then throw back into the Plow position just for fun!  This should give you a good hamstring stretch.  Scoop belly and suck navel to spine as you go into the Plow to protect your diaphragm.

Then try a good oblique exercise with the kettlebell… The Russian Twist.  Do at least 50 of these.

Then knock out a set of 20-40 bicycle sit ups.

After this, start the routine all over again to really pop your abs!

Good Luck!


Kettlebell 55

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s one that I haven’t done in a while… the SOTS press.  I don’t know how I let this slip out of my regular routine, but this is:  One… Fine… Exercise!

Try it tonight…but if you haven’t done this one lately, start light.  And don’t try this with injured or stressed shoulders.

It took me awhile to find the right music, but I finally landed on Incubus… starting with “If Not Now, When?”

Tonight’s post-workout snack… warm leeks, sautéed in butter, over cold salad greens with some raw sunflower seeds.  Nothing quite like it… mmmm

Here are the steps in the SOTS Press:

1. clean the kettlebell
2. squat down (as deep as possible)
3. press the bell (still squatting)
4. stand up and return to the clean position.
5. repeat, 10 reps per side.

It’s been over a year since I last blogged about this… , so I figured it was about time this resurfaced.



Manduka Lyrics cork yoga block

I’ve just discovered that if you stand a yoga block up on its end, it’s the same height as a kettlebell.  This is great news for doing push-ups using kettlebells, because you can match the height of one of your kettlebells to the block, and then use them both to stabilize yourself when going down.  This won’t help you if you’re going to alternate push ups with rows, but it is useful if you only have one or two kettlebells at your disposal that are different heights.  In fact, I’ve seen some kettlebell push ups done with one hand on the floor and the other on a bell, and I would advice against that, especially if your shoulders give you any trouble, that’s a recipe for disaster because it puts your body out of alignment.

Try the block, and get it ready for my new workout coming soon… Yoga and Kettlebells together.  (I’ve been promising it for a while, but i think it just needs a few more tweaks…!)

I tried my first “Pilates Mat” class the other day.  I’ve done GTS in the past, which is kick ass… but I had no idea what to expect from a mat class.  Do you ever have days when things just seem doomed from the start?

As I was walking to class, I almost got run over by a little Prius going way too fast.  A few minutes later I discovered it was my Pilates instructor.  Wow, welcome to Pilates!  She smiled and apologized, but all I could think about was how I had to spend the next hour taking instructions from this idiot who forced me to leap out of a crosswalk to save myself.


Yes, some things are just doomed from the start.

But here’s the real downer: the class was easy as hell.

The 60 minutes I spent on the mat would have been much better served swinging kettlebells.  In fact, if you add up the time spent getting to and from class, I easily wasted 90 minutes and I could have spent a fraction of that time getting a better workout in my basement with my kettlebells.

Here’s the deal:  Kettlebells work your core on every exercise.  It’s the design of the bell, coupled with the dynamic and ballistic movements and the sheer power behind every swing… it’s a full body workout you just can’t replicate.  Your core has to work hard on every exercise in order to stay balanced and stabilize yourself.  There’s no way you can swing a 16KG kettlebell around (35 pounds) without a developing a tremendous amount of core strength.  And again, I have to say that I spend less time getting a better workout with kettlebells.  If you’re not sweating in the first 5 minutes, give me a call!  After 20 minutes of kettlebells you’ll be fully into an amazing strength and cardio workout.

I don’t think I’ll be going back to Pilates anytime soon… especially from the speed demon, but I am about to put on some Fatboy Slim and do 200 Figure 8’s to a hold.  Time me… it will be faster than a mat class!

Peace Out,


*Update on the 200 reps:  It took me 15 minutes (or 3 Fatboy Slim tracks) and 1/6 of the time I wasted the other day.  Here’s the workout:

Kettlebells used: 8KG, 12KG, 16KG (yellow, green and red)

Music: Wonderful Night, Right Here Right Now, The Rockafeller Skank

The Movement: Figure 8’s to a hold on each rotation

20 reps warm up: 8 KG

200 Reps: 5 sets of 20 reps, start with 12KG

water break

5 sets of 20 reps, again alternating between heavier kettlebells

20 reps cool down: 8KG

240 reps total, 15 minutes

Two days later you will still feel all the muscles in your core (in a good way!)