Author: Brandon LaRue

The Benefits of Weighted Hiking

Weighted hiking & Fitness

Is weighted hiking the ultimate blend of the yin of the weight-room and the yang of the outdoors?

Admittedly, I’ve fought the “cardio” angle of fitness due to my preferred training modalities and the scientifically superior benefits of resistance training in all it’s forms. 

But I’ve recently had an epiphany about weighted hiking. You see I love to be in the great outdoors. Who doesn’t? Without knowing it, while pursuing the passion of hunting and trout fishing, where I often need to hike in quite a ways to get to the destination oftentimes carrying 20+ pounds of extra weight in gear, I realized……this is weighted hiking! 

I’m not sure science will ever be able to truly explain the incredible benefits of being outside in nature and just wondering around and moving our body, but I sure know that it feels awesome when I’m hunting and fishing, so I decided to start doing some weighted hiking with the Kettlebell Backpack. I’m able to use a lighter weight kettlebell on longer hikes or if I just want some active recovery, or I can put in a heavier kettlebell if I want some extra resistance for a shorter hike, or just want a higher intensity workout. 

Hiking, as opposed to walking, especially if you’re venturing off the pavement and into the wilderness where there’s hills to climb and uneven surfaces to careen, is more athletic in nature than walking. Hiking is more multi-directional and not just movement in one plane (straight ahead).

It’s likely that while doing weighted hiking, you’ll have to do the following:

  • Lunges (multi-directional)
  • Step-ups (multi-directional)
  • RDLs
  • Calf Raises
  • Dorsiflexion 

The more athletic qualities (strength, balance, multi-planar movement, work capacity, just to name a few) a human can enhance or maintain across their lifespan, the higher functioning human they will remain. 

In short, I guess the lesson is to take something incredibly beneficial, like strength training, and merge it with another thing that’s incredibly beneficial, like hiking in the outdoors, and merge the two for multiplied benefit!

So whether you consider it a ruck or a weighted hike, just get outside and build your athleticism, and if you just so happen to have a kettlebell with you, just imagine all the outdoor workout capabilities you now have at your disposal 😉

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Minimalism Meets Maximalism

MINIMALISM MEETS MAXIMALISM with the kettlebell backpack


ARE YOU REALLY A MINAMALIST IF YOU’RE A MAXIMALIST


LET’S DISCOVER WHO YOU REALLY ARE!

There’s a growing trend out there of people seeking the “minimalist lifestyle.” I must admit, I kind of like it. In a culture where there’s constant bombardment of MORE, MORE, MORE, people are growing tired of chasing more and are experiencing more happiness with less. Less stuff means less expenses. Less stuff means more space. Less stuff means less need for more income. Less stuff means less trying to keep up with the Joneses. Less stuff means more happiness.

Funny story, when my family moved a couple years back, I tried to convince my wife that we should buy 40 acres of land out in the country and build a mini-house. Despite my best salesman efforts, she held her ground and we bought a home in town, but it’s got a huge garage, so there was a compromise ;).

As an entrepreneur, I’m seeking avenues that not only have less overhead, but also have maximal impact for the people I want to serve. 

As you can see, this minimalist perspective can be very valuable. Heck I even shop for clothes now that I can use for multiple purposes. If I can workout in the same pants that I can also throw a nice shirt on with and look like somewhat fashionable or just wear when I’m bumming around because they are super comfortable, I’m all in for the 3-for-1 approach to pants. Now let’s look at this though the lens of your health and fitness. How can you become more of a minimalist? Here’s a few questions to ponder:

  • Well, do you go to a big box gym? Do you really use all of the amenities to justify spending as much money as you do? 
  • How much time do you spend at the gym or working out in general?
  • What does your home gym look like? Do you have a treadmill, peloton bike, squat rack, cable machine, and a rack of dumbbells? Do you even use half of that when you workout?

It’s fascinating what someone will spend on something that will easily wear out, or the FAD will quickly fade, or to feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. What if you could accomplish more with less? What if you could nearly always have access to the minimalist pieces of equipment you needed to get the most transformative workout sessions? What if you could spend 1/3 of the time exercising that you’d other wise spend (assuming 90 minutes of time commitment at gym). 

What if you could carry anything that could ever need in a backpack for your health, fitness, and travel?

  • Kettlebell? – check
  • Gym shoes? – check
  • Ab wheel? – check
  • Mobility tools? – check
  • Jump Rope? – check
  • Resistance Band? – check
  • Gym shorts? – check
  • Extra pairs of undies and socks? – check
  • Toiletries? – check
  • Shaker bottle? – check 

What if you could also carry this with you wherever you could want to go, and you could also use it as a rucking pack as well? Sounds pretty minimalistic doesn’t it!? But it also sounds quite MAXIMALISTIC doesn’t it!?

It’s like having a swiss army knife in backpack form. 

check out these 4 images to gain minimalistic maximalism

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Goblet Bicep Curl

Who says you can’t train biceps in isolation with kettlebells!?

The Goblet Bicep Curl acts much in the same as a hammer curl with dumbbells. We’re not really sure what a dumbbell is, but we heard about them at one point in time and apparently they can also be used to get in shape???

Pick up a kettlebell, grab it by the horns, and curl that sucker until your biceps light up.

As always, start light, do it right, and progress from there.

The Exercise That Everybody Loves to Hate

The exercise that everybody loves to hate

if you’re likely to skip leg day, it’s likely you’ll skip turkish get up (tgu) day.


As a student of movement and also a student of human psychology, especially as it pertains to doing hard things, it’s no surprise to me that people “hate” turkish get-ups. Most people hate doing difficult things, and since TGUs would fall under that category, they default to hating TGUs.

What’s even more interesting is that the more people tend to hate a particular exercise, the more beneficial that exercise tends to be. This is not always the case, but more often times than not, it is. In fact I know this feeling all to well, but I’ve just disciplined that emotion and learned that I too typically dislike things I’m not particularly good at. What’s even more interesting is that once you get past sucking at something, you seem to hate it less. Then, once you get proficient, you start saying nice things about what you once hated. And alas, the time comes when you become good at it, and now everyone should do it!

There’s a little lesson in humans-not-liking-things-they-suck-at psychology 101. This should be a high school and college course by the way. Not joking.

Onto the Turkish Get-up………

Executing the turkish get-up without any weight presents challenges for most of the chair-bound, desk jockey society we’ve turned ourselves into. Don’t take offense, I’m sitting in a chair, staring at my computer, and only corrected my posture because I’m typing about it. Now, talking about adding weight to this movement really makes a person feel like they’ll never be able to get good at the movement. 

Turkish get-ups require good hip mobility, shoulder mobility, trunk strength, shoulder strength, and leg strength in order to perform them correctly. TGUs are a great assessment tool for what people lack. Lacking things isn’t generally what people want to hear, but it’s what they likely need to hear.

If I told you that I could help you increase your “core” strength, leg strength, shoulder strength, improve hip mobility, reduce back pain, and build muscle with one exercise, you’d probably spit your drink out in excitement and tell me, “heck yeah man, tell me what it is and I’ll do it!”

Well, the exercise is called……..drum roll…………..turkish get-ups! (cue the anti-climatic music)

If you want to learn how to do this magnificently beneficial exercise for your entire body. Spend the 5 minutes watching this tutorial below:

When learning this exercise, give yourself some grace and be ok sucking at it for awhile. Work on the areas where you feel limitation. If you can feel that your hips are too tight to perform this exercise well, then you probably need to do some mobility and flexibility work on your hip flexors and glutes. If you feel like your shoulder can’t get into position, it’s likely you need to work on your thoracic spine mobility and shoulder mobility, which may require some pec stretches and soft tissue work. If you can’t even get off your back, your trunk may be incredibly weak and you need to spend some time doing some basic “ab work.” If you feel like you possess the mobility to do the exercise, but can’t stand up because your legs are too weak, then you need to spend some time developing some very basic leg strength.

All in all, if you’re able to do this exercise with good technique and some weight over your head later into life, just imagine how much more vibrant your life will be than the rest of your peers with only a butt print on their couch to show for their efforts.

Get strong, and then stay strong.

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1-Arm Rows

1-Arm Rows

This classic strength exercise becomes even more functional when done in a 3 point stance like in the video.

Keep the back flat, chest up, and elbow tight to the body while rowing the elbow high and pulling the shoulder blade to the midline of your body.

This is great exercise for developing the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, and biceps.

Hollow Holds

Hollow Holds

This is the cousin to the front plank. The hollow hold is a great core stability exercise and it’s a great teacher of how to activate the trunk. It’s also an easy exercise to progress, similar to the front plank, in that all you have to do to make it more challenging is to extend the levers.

Basic physics really 😉

In other words, you can begin hollow holds in a fetal like position (only you’re on your back) and as your trunk strength/stability improves, you can “open up” into a longer position (like in the video).

Give it a shot.

Body Saws

Body Saw

The body saw is an excellent progression from standard planking. Outside of just holding a plank longer, most people don’t progress that movement to get functionally better. Body saws are a great step up from the planks. The varying length of the level makes this exercise much more of a strength exercise, rather than just a stability exercise.

Start on your elbows first, as in the video, and another progression from there once the elbows get easy, is to go to a pushup position to the perform the body saws.

SLDL

SLDL

One of the best hamstring and glute builders is the single leg deadlift, otherwise known as the SLDL. Not only is this a great hamstring and glute strength builder, but it’s also a great way to gain strength at length in the hamstrings and reducing hamstring injuries.

This exercise feels more like a stretch than a strength exercise, but you’ll feel the soreness the next day if you’ve done these correctly and loaded them appropriately.

Med Ball Push-Ups

Med Ball Push-ups

This variety of push-ups offers a challenging blend of progression and stability. Due to the instability of the med ball, the upper body and trunk is required to stabilize the ball while performing the push-up.

Additionally, the pushup needs to be performed more like a close-grip pushup due to the hand positioning, which is more challenging variation of the regular push-up position.

Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups

There’s something very primitive about pull-ups. It’s almost as if it’s one of those exercises that if our ancestors couldn’t do, they probably didn’t get out alive.

Pull-ups are an exercise of frustration for many. Like most things, you may suck at them before becoming good at them. Remember, most people in America can’t do a single pull-up, so you’re not alone, but you may not want to be in that company.

Having a good body composition and have a relatively healthy weight is a good pre-requisite to being good at pull-ups. So the best advice to getting better at pull-ups is to get better at nutrition.

Getting good at pull-ups is like a skill. It takes consistent practice. It can start with eccentrics, or lowering yourself as slow as you can from the top down. Another thing you can do is use assistance bands to reduce the amount of weight (you) to have to pull-up.
In any case, the ability to do a few pull-ups is a great fitness goal to set if you can’t do any.

Trust us, you’ll feel so empowered when you can do them.