Archive for the ‘strength’ Category

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Whether you’re a cyclist, swimmer, runner, skier, paddleboarder, kayaker, CrossFitter…whatever your sport… kettlebells will make you a stronger one.

I’ve been swinging kettlebells for over 5 years now, mixing it in with all my other activities, and I can absolutely say that they have improved my game across the spectrum of activities I’ve taken on (which has been all of the above).  Due to the pure simplicity of them, anyone can work a few minutes a day into whatever else they’ve got going on.

As many of my readers know, when I’m not blogging about kettlebells, I’m usually rambling on about some race or event I’m training for. Whether it’s the Big Climb or the Fat Salmon, the Tough Mudder or the Alcatraz Swim, kettlebells will enhance your sport, guaranteed.  And I don’t say that lightly.  In the last five years I’ve noticed one HUGE difference:  I say yes!  I’m up for a challenge.  You know what I’m talking about… someone says “Hey, do this race with me” and in the past I would question whether I was up for it or not.  But not anymore.  Kettlebells have given me the confidence to say yes. With the right amount of training, I’ll be up for it!  I can’t tell you what a great feeling this is… and it has added benefits:

When we find ourselves saying yes to experiences we never thought possible, our lives become fuller and more meaningful. (my next post!) But with those new experiences we have the opportunity to meet new people.  (Take swimming, for example.  I just started swimming seriously two years ago, but I have found this to be one great community of people!  Especially those that call themselves “wild swimmers”.  These guys swim in the lake or the ocean, often year-round in any kind of weather.  They are tough and exceedingly inspiring!  They are also down to earth, quick to laugh, and they love to have a good time.  What more could you ask for?!)

So what new sport or activity have you been wanting to try? Just add kettlebells! What activity would you like to perform better? Just add kettlebells!

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Let’s get going!!  Here are the 10 basic movements I started with years ago that got me hooked:

1. Two-Handed Swings

2. Single-Handed Swings

3. Hand-2-Hand Swings

4. Clean and Press

5. Goblet Squats

6. Side Rows

7. Around the Worlds

8. Figure 8’s

9. Walking Lunges

10. Stage 1 Get-Ups

If you’ve been swinging kettlebells for awhile, and want to get stronger at a particular sport, focus on those muscles used most in that sport.

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Since we’ve been talking about swimming, let’s use that as an example.  Most of my races this summer were open water swims so I selected a few kettlebell movements that would help my lats and delts:

Overhead Tricep Lifts while lying on the floor (engaging my lats)
Bent-Over Side Rows
Power Plank Rows
Suitcase Swings
Turkish Get-Ups (to standing, adding presses into each stage of the get-up.)

Even just these few movements helped my stroke become more powerful and I was able to move more water out of my way.  When you’re racing in the open water, especially with significant chop, moving water is the name of the game.  But it’s also a mind game: You have to trust in your ability, or you will fail.  An athlete who adds kettlebells to their training will have the added confidence in their core power and will be better equipped to overcome not just the physical demands, but the inevitable psychological obstacles that crop up in open water.  (Yes, that’s probably another post right there!)  But whatever the demands of your sport, you can’t go wrong with added core power.

So work a few kettlebell movements into your exercise routine, and no matter what sport or activity you take up next, you’ll be stronger and better at it!

Peace,

Kate

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.

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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,

Kate

Boston-Marathon[1]

It started as a perfect day.  Blue skies and 50 degrees.  Perfect running weather for the Boston Marathon.  But 24 hours later I’m sitting here at my computer looking for answers.  What went wrong?  Why did this happen?

As a runner and an athlete, I am trying to figure this out.  I’m not sure we’ll ever know all the answers, but in my effort to sort things out, I am reminded of the Atlanta Olympic games.  A bomb exploded in the “town square” of the Olympics, and there were thousands of spectators.  Well that sounds familiar.  Then the President (Bill Clinton) denounced the explosion as an evil act of terror and vowed to do everything possible to track down and punish those responsible.  Again… a bit of a deja vu.

“Damn It!”  I say out loud.  “It’s Athlete Envy”.

Instead of celebrating an athlete’s achievements and dedication to the sport, we often find envy and jealousy.  In both Atlanta and Boston we had people who were competing in a sport who were at the top of their game.  They were strong, enthusiastic and physically fit.  All enviable qualities.  There’s a fair amount of research on jealousy related to both individual and team-sport athletes.  It’s become prevalent in high schools and universities.  It’s possible this was the impetus to strike back on athletes and their families.

Am I paranoid?  Maybe.  Am I over thinking this?  It’s possible.  Here’s the hitch… the winner finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 22 seconds.  But the first bomb didn’t even go off until about 4 hours into the race.  Now I’m confused.  To simply qualify to run the Boston Marathon you need to show a qualifying time of under 4 hours.  (with a few exceptions… 4:10 for men over 65).  So if the bomber was going after elite athletes, then the timing was all wrong.  But the race draws in about half a million spectators.  So now we’re back to the families… the innocent bystanders.  And now my heart breaks thinking about 8 year-old Martin Richard, may he rest in peace.

Was it athlete envy?  I don’t know… but I’ll sign off with these words from the Bard:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”   -William Shakespeare

In Peace,

Be safe, stay strong and keep swinging…

Kate

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:

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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. http://www.runningintheusa.com/

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: http://www.racecenter.com/race-calendar/

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!

Peace,
Kate

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,
Kate

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!

Peace,
Kate

You already know how I feel about yoga and kettlebells.  Yin and Yang… perfectly matched, each one helps achieve a higher level of success at the other.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few things from my yoga practice.  At the start of every yoga class we’re always asked to set our intention. Our intention is something that will resonate through our practice.  It’s quite often something we want to work on… and then we are reminded to think of our intention throughout the class.

I always appreciate this part of class because it forces me to focus on something and be very present.

Today my intention was strength and compassion. I often feel like those are the yin and the yang of life.  I merge these two into a single phrase I can repeat: “Be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions.”  If there’s one thing that resonates true for me it is this and it goes for everything… in your business life, in your social life… and, yes, at the gym!  If there is room for doubt, explore it, and then decide.

I’ve complained in past posts about the “busy” excuse. People are too busy these days for their own damn good, and quite often to their detriment. If we don’t take the time to understand people and issues at a deeper level, not only are we doing ourselves a disservice, but we’re quite often cutting others off as well with our “too-busy” attitude.  But this soapbox I’m on goes for understanding oneself as well.

How can we remain strong in our convictions if we don’t truly take the time to understand ourselves?  Understanding yourself well enough to be strong in your convictions takes time, dedication and courage.   It’s worth it.  Once we have achieved a strong sense of self, then we are not shaken by others opinions.  We wake up, we look in the mirror and we know who we are.

My New Year’s resolution last year was to attempt a deeper level of compassion, and learn how to do a free-standing headstand for 1 minute.

With help and encouragement, I accomplished the headstand.  I’m thrilled and have made it part of my daily routine to stimulate my 7th chakra with a headstand.  I think it has helped inspire my thoughts and my writing.  Compassion is back on my list for 2012.

As the yoga class comes to a close our instructor says: “Let the fruits of our practice benefit not just ourselves, but benefit all of those around us.”  So here it is… be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions!   On the mat, we learn how to breathe through some difficult poses.   As we emerge from the studio, I believe we are better equipped to navigate difficult situations.  Breathe.  The fruits of your practice will follow you throughout your day.

Peace Out,
Kate

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!

k.

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!

Peace,
Kate

Friday evening I met my kettlebell trainer, Dr. Dan, at the park and he showed me a few new exercises and we did a few new drills.   My favorite drill from yesterday was the “Low-Squat, Shot-Put Throw”.

Here’s how it went:

Start at one end of a football field or a long stretch of grass.

1st: Hold the kettlebell like this:

Then, squat down really low, hugging the kettlebell into your shoulder like you would in a clean.

Next, in one single dynamic movement, stand up and throw the kettlebell as far out in front of you as possible.  You’ll be throwing the kettlebell up and out.

Then run as quickly as you can and pick up the kettlebell and squat down low again, starting the rep all over again.

Dan and I did a few races, because we’re competitive like that… and yes, the old man beat me every time!  (But I’ll be practicing… and just you wait!)

Try this out… 200 yards of “Low-Squat Shot-Put Throws” without stopping and alternating hands.  (It might put a few divots in the football field, but let me know how you feel at the 50-yard line.  Then let me know if you make it the rest of way to the end zone and back again.)

Whew!

Peace Out,
Kate

p.s. You know how you usually feel a workout the next day?  I felt this one within the hour.  Literally, I got home and took my shoes off and felt it.  I’m sure it was a combination of all the new exercises we did, but I put the blame largely on this one.

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:) http://www.ehow.com/how_459600_do-bicycle-situp.html

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!

Peace,
Kate

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… https://kettlebellhell.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/170/ , so I figured it was about time this resurfaced.

Peace,

Kate

Here’s a taste of what’s to come in my new “Yoga meets Kettlebells” workout:

Try this tonight… it’s a great way to increase your strength and balance on the mat.

Get yourself into the dancer pose:  (from a standing position, bend your right knee, grab your right foot with your right hand and press back and up.  Press your foot into your hand, keep hips facing forward, and slowly bring your right thigh parallel to the floor as you raise your left arm forward to balance.  Stay in this position… or if you feel good, lift your thigh higher while staying true to your hips.

Now it’s time to bring in the kettlebell: Place the kettlebell by your standing foot.  Lean forward and pick up the bell, and bring it up to standing.  If you want to do a clean and a press while you’re here, do that, and then bring it back down to the floor pressing your lifted foot into your hand as before, stretching the quad.  That’s one rep.

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.

Awkward.

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,
Kate

 

*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!)

It’s a beautiful day here in Seattle… finally.  Here’s a great workout for a sunny day…

Get outside!  Put on some Snow Patrol or Train and do an easy run… (2 to 4 miles).

Drink some BCAA’s when you return, and then mix up a green banana smoothie with kale, swiss chard, 1 bunch of parsley, a little coconut water and some protein powder.  mmmmm….

Get outside and garden.  Plant those cherry tomatoes anywhere and everywhere you have space… (you’ll thank me in August!)

Then knock out some kettlebells… in the yard!  Now’s your chance to do the two-handed releases, which I always save for outside (just in case).  If you’ve forgotten what those are, check out my previous post:

https://kettlebellhell.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/the-two-handed-release-outside/

In the evening, fire up the grill.  Then peel an orange, lemon and lime and throw them all in the blender with a little tequilla & ice and enjoy your night!

Peace,
Kate

In my last post I talked about the benefits of Pyramid Training.  I forgot to mention that if you decide to embark upon this for the next 30 days with me, I would make sure you get some good Branched-Chain Amino Acids.  I am a big fan of the MRM brand because their products are all natural.  No food dye, artificial flavor,…etc. and they sell them at our local organic Co-op!  Good stuff.  You will be going through a pretty intense cycle of breaking down and rebuilding muscle fibers, so I feel like BCAA’s are key to this process.  Especially if you take them diligently for the next 30 days, and then taper off once you’ve eased up on your pyramid training. 

Here’s the link to MRM’s website:

http://www.mrm-usa.com/v2/index.php