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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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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Strong Grip, Strong Life

Getting a Grip on Life

Is your grip strength an indicator of how well you’re aging?

Kettlebell Training is the ultimate grip strengthening tool

Grip strength is a simple but powerful predictor of future disability, morbidity, and mortality. The relation between grip strength and future mortality has been shown, not only in older people, but also in middle-aged and young people. The evidence has been summarised in systematic reviews and in a meta-analysis (Lancet Article).

Let’s address this from a common sense perspective first. If you possess good grip strength, it’s quite apparent that the hands have held, twisted, gripped, climbed, carried, and handled life quite differently than the person who has a rather wimpy handshake. Interestingly, a handheld dynamometer (for assessing grip strength) test is usually part of the battery of tests for professional baseball players at the beginning of spring training every year. As a former pro-baseball strength coach, I can attest to this assessment being utilized as a baseline measure of strength in athletes. I know there’s a strong correlation with grip strength and success in throwing and hitting a baseball. This may sound like a pat on my own back, but the coaches also got to perform the assessment, and yours truly had the second best grip in the minor league spring training camp. I didn’t expect it to be, but after thinking about it some more, I wasn’t that surprised. I’d been a wrestler most of my life, amongst also playing baseball and football, and I had lifted weights in a functional manner most of my life as well. Training with kettlebells (we’ll break it down more later), performing heavy deadlifts, farmer’s carries, and doing lots of pullups over the years had built up a strong grip. This may be a testament to the sport of wrestling, but after talking with several opponents after I wrestled them, they had told me how I was one of the strongest wrestlers they had ever faced. This puzzled me a bit, because I didn’t have an intimidating frame or physique at this time of my life, nor do I today, but strength is very neuromuscular and doesn’t always present itself in muscle size.  

I guess the analogy could be made that if you want to be a successful navigator (athlete) of life, it would appear that possessing good forearm extensors and flexors would give you an advantage over the limp wristers in life.

Grip Strength Greater Indicator of All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Death than Systolic Blood Pressure

Check out these interesting findings from another research article published in the Lancet in 2015:

Findings: Between January, 2003, and December, 2009, a total of 142,861 participants were enrolled in the PURE study, of whom 139,691 with known vital status were included in the analysis. During a median follow-up of 4.0 years (IQR 2.9-5.1), 3379 (2%) of 139,691 participants died. After adjustment, the association between grip strength and each outcome, with the exceptions of cancer and hospital admission due to respiratory illness, was similar across country-income strata. Grip strength was inversely associated with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio per 5 kg reduction in grip strength 1.16, 95% CI 1.13-1.20; p<0.0001), cardiovascular mortality (1.17, 1.11-1.24; p<0.0001), non-cardiovascular mortality (1.17, 1.12-1.21; p<0.0001), myocardial infarction (1.07, 1.02-1.11; p=0.002), and stroke (1.09, 1.05-1.15; p<0.0001). Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure. 

Lack of grip strength and indicator of poor nutritional status

Numerous clinical and epidemiological studies have shown the predictive potential of hand grip strength regarding short and long-term mortality and morbidity. In patients, impaired grip strength is an indicator of increased postoperative complications, increased length of hospitalization, higher rehospitalisation rate and decreased physical status. In elderly in particular, loss of grip strength implies loss of independence. Epidemiological studies have moreover demonstrated that low grip strength in healthy adults predicts increased risk of functional limitations and disability in higher age as well as all-cause mortality. As muscle function reacts early to nutritional deprivation, hand grip strength has also become a popular marker of nutritional status and is increasingly being employed as outcome variable in nutritional intervention studies.

Link to Study

Kettlebell Training to the Rescue

From a common sense perspective, it’s easy to draw some conclusions about why being strong and having a strong grip could save your life in simply some dangerous circumstances, you know, hanging from a cliff, in a fight-to-the-death match in a back alley, or probably a more common scenario would be possessing the muscle and bone density to absorb and withstand a blow or a fall. It’s easy to see why being strong is advantageous here, but few people understand the profound physiological benefits that exist with being strong, and more importantly, the process of becoming and staying strong. Strength and muscle mass reach their peak in the 2nd and 3rd decades of life, at which point in time they typically begin their war with attrition. Due to the fact that 80% of the population doesn’t adequately stimulate their body’s lean muscle tissue and bone tissue, people who are sedentary quickly become frail and less healthy than their 20% counterparts, who engage in proper vigorous activity to retain what was built in their 20s and 30s, or to gain what wasn’t built in those decades. The two destinations of the vigorously active and the sedentary couldn’t be more different and it’s why we all have that rare breed in the family tree who people just chalk up as an anomaly, but deep down we all know that person did the vigorous work and gets to experience the work’s fruits later in life, not to mention the fruit of it during all phases of life.

This is the part where I sell the snot out of the kettlebell for it being the best tool. Kettlebell training may be one of the most under-researched tools in the exercise science community. Despite all that, it is a tool that possesses a massive amount of variety in it’s usefulness, but of relevance, the ability to develop strength (more directly grip strength) may have it as one the very best fitness tools one could use. Every movement requires the handling of weight in the hands, sometimes in a static sense, like a farmer’s carry, and other times a dynamic sense, like snatching it overhead. It’s important to develop strength and it’s cousin power to best optimize the human body’s performance.  

If the gains can happen to the elderly, it’s safe to assume that the gains would happen in a younger human, and this 8 week study showed just that:

Effects of 8-week kettlebell training on body composition, muscle strength, pulmonary function, and chronic low-grade inflammation in elderly women with sarcopenia

Affiliations 
    • PMID: 30243898

 

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the effect of kettlebell training on body composition, muscle strength, pulmonary function, and chronic low-grade inflammatory markers among elderly people with sarcopenia.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Community center and research center.

Participants: A total of 33 elderly women with sarcopenia (aged 65-75 years) were recruited.

Intervention: The participants were randomly assigned to a kettlebell training (KT) group or a control (CON) group. The KT group received an 8-week training intervention involving 60-min sessions twice a week, whereas the CON group members continued their daily lifestyles without participating in any exercise training. Four weeks of detraining were organized to observe the retention effect of the training program on the KT group.

Measurements: The participants’ body composition, muscle strength, pulmonary function, and chronic low-grade inflammatory markers were measured and analyzed before training (at Week 0, W0), after 8 weeks of training (at Week 8, W8), and after 4 weeks of detraining (at Week 12, W12).

Results: In the KT group, appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) and the sarcopenia index measured at W8 and W12 were significantly higher than those at W0(p = .004; p = .005). At W8 and W12, the sarcopenia index was significantly higher in the KT group than the CON group(p = .020; p = .019). In the CON group, the skeletal muscle mass levels measured at W8 and W12 were significantly lower than that at W0(p = .029; p = .005), and the ASM and the sarcopenia index measured at W8 were significantly lower than those at W0(p = .037; p = .036). Additionally, the measured left handgrip strength(p = .006), back strength(p = .011; p = .018), and peak expiratory flow (PEF) (p = .008; p = .006) were significantly higher in the KT group than the CON group at W8 and W12. At W8, the measured right handgrip strength was significantly higher in the KT group than the CON group(p = .043). In the KT group, the back strength and PEF levels measured at W8 and W12 were significantly higher than those at W0(p = .000; p = .004), and the left and right handgrip strength levels at W8 were significantly higher than those at W0(p = .004; p = .013). By contrast, in the CON group, the left(p = .004; p = .006)and right(p = .002; p = .004)handgrip strength levels and PEF(p = .018; p = .012) measured at W8 and W12 were significantly lower than those at W0. Moreover, compared with the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels measured at W0, those measured at W8 and W12 were significantly lower in the KT group(p = .006; p = .013)but significantly higher in the CON group(p = .005; p = .009). There was no significant difference in hs-CRP, IL-6, TNF-α between the KT and CON group.

Conclusion: For elderly people with sarcopenia, participating in kettlebell training significantly increases the sarcopenia index, grip strength, back strength, and PEF. In addition, the retention effect of the training program continued after 4 weeks of detraining.

Do the work, experience the fruit.

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The Kettlebell Workout That Never Lets You Down

The Kettlebell Workout That Will Never Let You Down


This format and these two exercises will have you glowing in only 15 minutes


When it comes to training for maximal benefit per unit of time, you’ll always be hard pressed to find a better solution than utilizing kettlebells. Hopefully everyone knows by now that in order to transform your body composition, one must strength train. Additionally, the use of high intensity intervals while strength training (or call it resistance training if you prefer) creates a metabolic situation that is very favorable to stimulating change for your body. Of course, you still have to do the work in the kitchen and not eat like a cheeseball.

Speaking of cheeseballs, are the Packers going to be any good this year? 

Moving on……

Turkish Get-Up

Why do we love the Turkish Get-Up so much? Well, what’s not to love about them? They not only enhance total body mobility, but they strengthen ranges of motion that are oftentimes neglected in traditional strength training. When performing a Turkish Get-Up, think of it as doing an isometric press, glute bridge, reverse lunge, tricep extension, and diagonal sit-up. You could argue more movements that are blended into that, but I think you get my point. There isn’t much of the human body that the turkish get-up just doesn’t touch. 

Furthermore, the Turkish Get-Up gives you a strength goal to always pursue, and the workout provided will always give you a new challenge despite the format and exercises never changing. How does this happen? Because you’ll always be striving to be able to perform heavier Turkish Get-Ups within this workout, while also striving to perform the workout more efficiently. 

To see a Turkish Get-Up being performed, click HERE.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are the most common and popular kettlebell training exercise known to man. Just because this movement is common and usually the first exercise anyone learns when using kettlebells, doesn’t mean it’s just for beginners. There’s a reason you see some of the strongest people on the planet swinging kettlebells. They have a multitude of benefits ranging from glute, hamstring, low back, and trunk musculature development, and depending upon how you use them, can be incredible for developing total body power and high levels of conditioning. 

To see a kettlebell swing performed, click HERE.

THE WORKOUT

The format of this workout is quite simple. In my kettlebell coaching group, famously known as The Kettlebell Collective, we do some fashion of this workout once per week. It’s a love-hate relationship, but every time someone is exposed to this workout they are challenged more than they thought they’d be, they aren’t very sore the next day, and they can’t help themselves but want to get really strong in these movements and the workout in general. So, without further ado here it is:

10 Rounds:

Turkish Get-Up x 1 each side

Kettlebell Swings x 10

*You have 90 seconds to complete a round, and you use the rest of the time left of the 90 seconds to rest when you’re finished. Then, you repeat. This workout only takes 15 minutes and goes by in the blink of an eye. 

Enjoy, and let’s hear how you did!

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Variety is nice, but the basics pay the bills

VARIETY IS NICE, BUT THE BASICS ALWAYS PAY THE BILLS


“I just don’t want to get bored” is a trap and is limiting your success


If you never learned another movement, you could get incredibly strong, fit, and lean with these 6 kettlebell exercises

As a strength coach for 15 years, I can tell you from in the trenches experience that there are only a handful of really, really good exercises that you absolutely “need” to learn. That goes with barbells, dumbbells, and the same goes with kettlebells. Variety is always nice, and once you’ve become proficient at the basics, progressing to more advanced exercises is a fun thing to do. But never forget, that the basics will always rule, and also never forget how much your can challenge yourself within the basics. 

Here’s an example:

Cindy has a 8kg kettlebell, and she’s gotten pretty darn good with handling that weight with kettlebell goblet squats, kettlebell swings, kettlebell strict press, and turkish get-ups, alternating sumo rows, and kettlebell snatching.  These are the 6 basic kettlebell exercises listed below by the way. Cindy figures that since these exercises are now relatively easy with her 8kg kettlebell, she thinks she needs to move on to more “advanced” exercises. While of course, Cindy can certainly do that; however, what about Cindy bell’n up and using a 12kg with those same 6 exercises? Moving up 4kg may not seem like much, but I promise you, it is a humbling experience no matter who you are.

In essence, these basics will always provide results. Get very, very strong in them. Of course mix in variety and advance your movements to more complex ones, because not only are they fun but also beneficial. Just do not mix in variety at the expense of not getting strong in the basics.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

One of the foundational exercises of using kettlebells, is the kettlebell goblet squat. This basic exercise is ever-challenging as you increase the amount of weight over time. Be sure to keep your weight distributed on the outside edges and heels of your feet. Keep your chest proud and back flat. Take deep breath, hold through the descent, and exhale hard as you return to the top of the squat.

Kettlebell Swing

One of the foundational exercises of using kettlebells, is the kettlebell goblet squat. This basic exercise is ever-challenging as you increase the amount of weight over time. Be sure to keep your weight distributed on the outside edges and heels of your feet. Keep your chest proud and back flat. Take deep breath, hold through the descent, and exhale hard as you return to the top of the squat.

Turkish Get-Up

Imagine you’re in your 80’s and you’re able to do this movement. Don’t you think you’ll be a pretty bad (and by bad we mean good) senior citizen if you’re able to pull this off even without any external resistance?! That’s how you have to look at movement and how your treat your body. If you don’t use it, you lose it. We look at the Turkish Get Up as the ultimate “don’t get old” movement. The Turkish Get Up takes a little getting used to, so be sure to watch this video as much as you need and practice getting up and down, first without weight, and then ever so slightly add progressive resistance to it.

1-Arm Strict Kettlebell Press

Overhead pressing is sorely underrated and oftentimes placed below horizontal pressing like floor presses, and pushups. This isn’t the case. The ability to press things overhead, when you think about it, is quite a bit more functional than horizontal pressing in every day life. Don’t minimize the overhead strict press. It builds strength in the shoulders, triceps, upper chest, and trunk. It is a very humbling exercise and being weak in it will hinder progress with many other kettlebell lifts.

Alternating Kettlebell Row

Alternating Sumo Rows One of our favorite horizontal pulling movement is the Alt. Sumo Rows. It presents a very functional movement pattern that we do in daily life when bending over and pushing/pulling something from the ground. This exercise of course builds the mid back and arms, but it also isometrically works the pressing muscles of the arm pushing the kettlebell through the ground while the other pulls. Additionally, it is a great trunk exercise by stabilizing that rotational force. And, because you’re in a sumo stance, of course your lower body is having to work as well, making this, like most kettlebell exercises, a total body exercise.

1-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

Perhaps the king of all kettlebell movements is the 1-arm kettlebell snatch. While it obviously looks cool, it is one of the very best power developing exercises, but with the kettlebell as you tool, also gives this exercise a powerful fat melting component when used for conditioning. There’s a reason the Secret Service uses the kettlebell snatch as one of their gross physical capacity tests to make sure they are fit for service. We would recommend that you know how to perform a 1-arm swing, clean, and high pull before moving onto the snatch.

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What Age Can My Kids Begin Using Kettlebells?

What age can my kid begin training with kettlebells?


With proper guidance and programming, strength training can be incredibly safe for children as young as 7 or 8


Building healthy habits early in life

This article hits close to home for me and probably will for you also if you have children of any age still in the home. What makes this such a challenge for parent to instill in their children is because more often than not, they do not possess the habit of daily exercise either. We don’t know about you, but it’s convicting when you’re parenting your children on anything that you don’t currently do yourself. Take cussing for an example. We think it is safe to assume that no parent wants to hear their child dropping “F” bombs. However, if “F” bombs make their way out of a parent’s mouth too often, that parent really doesn’t have any ground to stand on when parenting their children to not say that word either. 

“Our actions speak so loud that they cannot hear what we say”

Look, this isn’t intended to be a parenting article, but as coaches who have worked with a lot of kids over the years, it becomes quite apparent which kids have a healthy lifestyle emphasized and modeled for them at home, and which ones do not. May we encourage all parents to model this for their children so we can reverse some really unhealthy trends happening in our culture.

The earlier healthy habits are instilled in life, the greater the likelihood that those habits will stick for the rest of one’s life. In an article from the NIH (National Institute for Health), it stated that, adopting new, healthier habits may protect you from serious health problems like obesity and diabetes. New habits, like healthy eating and regular physical activity, may also help you manage your weight and have more energy. After a while, if you stick with these changes, they may become part of your daily routine.

One thing that is iron clad that we see as coaches who work with kids is the confidence level and mental health of kids who consistently engage in regular strength training. All physical activity and forms of exercise are great and should be encouraged, but the profound physiological and psychological benefits of strength training are undeniable, not only scientifically, but certainly anecdotally from a coach’s perspective. 

Is it safe to begin strength training before puberty?

The short answer is yes. If you look at a kids on a playground jumping on and off things, climbing things, and pulling their body around, while this is certainly a child at play, their bodies are already experience forces at or greater than they will be experiencing in strength training. And yes, kids should still be kids and play as much as possible outside, scrape their knees and elbows up, ride their bikes, swim at the city pool, and play pick-up games of football, baseball, street hockey, etc…..

According to an article in kidshealth.org, kids and teens who are ready to participate in organized sports or other activities such as baseball, soccer, or gymnastics usually can safely start strength training. Kids as young as 7 or 8 years old can safely do strength training if they have good balance and control of their body, follow instructions, and can do the exercises with good form.

A child’s strength-training program shouldn’t be a scaled-down version of an adult’s weight training regimen. Kids who strength train should learn proper technique and know how to use the equipment safely.

Can my child get injured strength training or using kettlebells?

Again, the short answer is yes, with a caveat. A kid can get injured riding their bike. They could get injured by having a line drive hit them. They could get injured by falling off the jungle gym at the local park.

For perspective’s sake, what’s more risky or injurious to a kid’s development, strength training or sitting on the couch in front of a screen for hours every day?

In another article research article published in Sports Health, the researchers concluded:

Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can successfully and safely improve their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. Trained fitness professionals play an essential role in ensuring proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety in this age group.

A proposed solution

We said at the beginning of this article that this one hits close to home. We’re creating a kid’s kettlebell strength program called Well Built Kids, where we introduce kids as young as 7 to participate in. When we say “we,” I’m referring to my son and I. My son began training with kettlebells as early as 4. Why? Because he wanted to due to seeing his dad train with them. Hence the whole parenting paragraph in the beginning. When the parents get on board, the whole family transforms, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. My son’s been doing pushups, pullups, chin-ups, kettlebell swings, kettlebell goblet squats, kettlebell overhead presses, kettlebell 1-arm rows, and a few other exercises for years. We haven’t done anything fancy or “drill sargeanty.” I just exposed him to what I refer to as “daily doses” or “micro-dosing” of strength training most days of the week. What this means is the training session is very short, very doable, and the repetition that occurs because it’s done frequently throughout the week, the strength, coordination, and confidence soon follows. 

So that’s what we’ve done in this first 6 week program called Warrior I. We’ve taken all of the guess work out of it so the kid could follow along on his or her own, but as we’ve encouraged before, we hope that the parents engage with this also. The technique is laid out visually both in photo and video format, which is how kids learn best. Heck, most humans learn best by watching and then doing. They will be led by another kid performing the movements so they can see that one of their peers is leading the way, and not just another adult barking orders. The program is laid in digital PDF form so it’s accessible and easy to follow. The sets and reps are also laid out for the 6 weeks so there’s no guessing on how much to do. The warm-up is laid out as well. All one has to do is find the 15-20 minutes to do the warm-up and knock out the 4 strength exercises. In fact, there may be many days where the response to the session is, “that was quick and easy.” Yep, that’s exactly what we want. We want the habit to form. Just like you brushing your teeth first thing in the morning, warming up and getting your body primed for the day can become a habit as well. We also provided some basic nutrition habits to help your child implement as well. These tips are nothing fancy, but they can make all the difference in the world. 

When the days come where you’re fighting your kid to get their daily dose of Warrior I, because trust us, it will come, be very cognizant of how their attitude changes when they do the training session, even when they don’t want to. It’s magical. And one of the most important gifts that we can impart on our children is to teach them to honor their bodies, develop grit, and learn to do hard things, especially when they don’t want to.

We give you Well Built Kids: Warrior I

3 Core Kettlebell Training Exercises You’ve Never Done Before

3 core kettlebell training exercises for a strong, lean mid-section


we must progress beyond the plank


Windmills

The 3 exercises we are laying out in this post will not only challenge your core in ways it likely hasn’t been challenged, but it will also challenge your body’s mobility. You see, your core, or trunk as we like to call it, is designed to be able to transfer energy while your limb’s and joints move around it. You’ll begin to understand what we’re talking about as soon as you begin learning how to do windmills in your kettlebell training. If your mobility is good, you’ll feel the tension and strength stimulus applied to your obliques and entire lateral subsystem, which is incredibly important and often neglected. If your mobility is poor, you’ll quickly realize how limited your range of motion is in this movement pattern, and if you are very limited, imagine just how limited your core’s function and strength is? 

As you can see in this picture below, this movement, while incredible for your trunk, will require hip mobility, hamstring mobility, and shoulder mobility.

After watching the video, I’m sure you can tell this isn’t a walk in the park kettlebell training exercise. This typically develops a love-hate relationship with the kettlebell slanger, but what they learn to love about it is how much stronger and mobile they feel as they improve in this lift. You can get remarkably strong with consistent practice of this movement, and you can imagine which muscle may begin to show more because of your consistent effort.

Gladiator Holds

Any kettlebell training exercise that has the adjective “gladiator” attached to it must be tried, am I right? This core exercise is a piece of the gladiator get-up kettlebell training exercise that is awesome as well; however, it is the sequence that we are focusing on right now. Once again, the lateral subsystem of the core is forced to work hard in this position. You likely know what a side plank feels like, and perhaps you’ve mastered that movement. Well, it’s time to move on and advance the movement and add some resistance and abduct (lift) the leg from the stacked position. Check out the video:

As you’ll soon realize, the difficulty quickly amplifies once you abduct the leg off of your other leg. Not only do you feel the increased stress on your obliques and lats, but you’ll also feel your glute medius fire up like no tomorrow!

Like many kettlebell training exercises, we can also take this exercise one step further by holding this position from our hand with our arm extended, and if you’re truly crazy, add a kettlebell to the top hand for some added resistance. 

As you’re beginning to see, this is how kettlebell abs are formed.

tick tocks

The first two kettlebell training exercises were more static in nature, which after all, stability is the main function of the trunk, and while tick tocks will seem more like a motion based trunk exercise, the trunk is largely stabilizing and resisting motion in the rotational plane. Check out this video and pay attention to the mid-section:

As you can see, the trunk stays relatively “quiet” in this movement. Some key cues are to “keep your shoulder blades glued to the ground” and “own the movement, don’t let momentum own you.” The goal in this movement isn’t to flop over and touch the ground with your legs and try and bounce back to the middle. No, no, the goal is to control every inch of this movement. Once again, you’ll feel your mid-section get ripped up in this kettlebell training movement.

wait, this isn’t how i’ve traditionally trained my abs!

Exactly.

Bring Your Kettlebell With You Everywhere

Why you should bring your kettlebell with you everywhere


Find a few quick hitting single kettlebell training sessions below


From Weekend getaways to business trips to vacations, bring your little iron friend with you.


Remember the iconic movie Happy Gilmore, starring Adam Sandler? You may already see where I’m going with this, but watch this little clip below, fast forward to 2:30 if you want, but the entire scene is classic:

So, you’re future response to the question, “Do you always carry a kettlebell with you,” which you’ll surely get from time to time, is “yeah.”

You may be thinking this isn’t practical, but I assure you it can be done, and since when does something have to be practical? When it comes to being healthy and fit, you better learn to become a non-conformist, because you’re swimming upstream with the abundance of unhealthy bodies in our society. Now, if you’re flying somewhere, I’m working on a super secret project that may make this possible, but if you’re flying somewhere, just do a little research beforehand to see if the hotel or resort gym has kettlebells. If they do, you’re all set, if they don’t, do a quick gym search in a 5 mile radius around where you’re staying. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a CrossFit gym or some other gym that has them that you can frequent while on vacation. Heck, perhaps they’ll even let you rent them while you’re in town.

If you’re not flying however, a kettlebell can roll with you in your car, camper, or on the handlebars of your bike. Just kidding about the 3rd one. I can see the headlines now, “Cyclist injured in bike accident by carrying kettlebell on handlebars per the suggestion of kettlebell coach.” Moving on, there’s something interesting that happens when you begin to empower yourself in these situations. When everyone else is just “relaxing,” you’re up early, enjoying the great outdoors, swinging and snatching a kettlebell with the fresh air, and heading back to make a wholesome breakfast. It only takes a couple times of doing this for the person to say to themselves, “why haven’t I always been doing this?”

When you feel that good, it’s easier to look around you with fresh eyes and realize that you’re the one that is relaxing. While everyone else may be lying around on a floatie and beer in hand all day (there’s room for this in moderation too) guess who is the one truly relaxing and who is the one merely taxing their system? Are you relaxing or taxing? That’s an original catchy questions right there, may want to write that one down.

Grind out these fun, challenging single kettlebell training sessions while out of town


“PUMP THE JAM”

20 Minute EMOM:

EVEN MINUTES: 1-ARM SNATCH X 10EA

ODD MINUTES: PUSHUPS X 10 – 20

 

“LEGS FEED THE WOLVES”

ASCENDING/DESCENDING LADDER:

KETTLEBELL SWINGS X 1 – 5 – 1

KETTLEBELL GOBLET SQUATS X 1 – 5 – 1

*REPEAT 5 TIMES, REST AS NEEDED

 

“STEADY EDDIE”

15 SECONDS ON 15 SECONDS OFF PROTOCOL

1-ARM THRUSTER – RIGHT

1-ARM THRUSTER – LEFT

SLDL + ROW – RIGHT

SLDL + ROW – LEFT

*SET INTERVAL TIMER AT 40 ROUNDS OF 15 SECONDS OF WORK AND 15 SECONDS OF REST.

NEED A KETTLEBELL?

Depending upon your fitness level and experience using kettlebells, here are some quick recommendations on sizes.

Men:

  • Beginner – 16kg/35lbs
  • Intermediate – 20kg/40lbs
  • Advanced – 24kg/53lbs

Women:

  • Beginner – 8kg/18lbs
  • Intermediate – 12kg/26lbs
  • Advanced – 16kg/35lbs

CLICK HERE IF YOU NEED KETTLEBELLS

How do I progress with kettlebell training?

How do I progress with kettlebell training?


In strength coach land, we refer to the plan of getting better as periodization.


Learning to train instead of just working out

There’s nothing wrong with “punching the clock” and getting a mindless workout in. We all do it, and let’s face it, even consistent, mindless workouts are far better than couch sits and 12oz curls that most people are doing. Consistently working out is a very healthy habit that everyone should strive towards, but there’s a difference between working out and training. There’s seasons in my own life, where I rely on a “punch the clock” mindset with my training routine to make sure I’m at least maintaining what I’ve worked so hard to build over the years. But then there’s time to put the pedal to the metal and train hard and purposeful with my kettlebell training. This can also apply with your nutrition as well, as your nutrition should match your training goals. But let’s stay on the topic of planning for progress with your kettlebell training. 

“Belling up”

I’m sure someone else has said it before me, but if not, I’m coining the term “belling up” in kettlebell training. This means that if you got through a particular training session and you know you could have gone heavier with your kettlebell selection, then the next time you train you pick one bell size heavier and do the same kettlebell training session. In other words, you “bell up.” 

I’ve done this particular kettlebell training session I call “The Standard” for several years, and I typically do it on Sundays. Like most of my kettlebell training sessions, this one only lasts 15 minutes and it is comprised of turkish get-ups and swings. It goes like this:

Every 90 seconds for 10 Rounds (15 Minutes) Perform:

Turkish Get-Up x 1ea

Kettlebell Swings x 10

* Rest the remainder of the 90 seconds and repeat for 10 rounds.

When I first began doing this workout, I was using a 24kg (53lb) kettlebell for both movements, and in fact, I recommend only using one kettlebell when doing this training session. After 3 or 4 times using the 24kg in this training session and the training went from pretty challenging to much easier, I decided to “bell up” to a 28kg (62lb) kettlebell. This changes the stimulus of that workout altogether and it became very hard all over again and I could feel my body getting stronger as a result of that. After a few more weeks, the 28kg kettlebell was starting to get much easier, so once again, I decided to bell up to a 32kg (70lb) kettlebell for that particular kettlebell training session. As you’re already predicting, this made “The Standard” very challenging all over again, and my body had to make the physiological adjustments to handle this new weight in my kettlebell training. After about 4 weeks of using this kettlebell weight, what do you think I did?

“You belled up didn’t you?” Says the reader. 

“Yes I did,” the writer responds.

I’m probably beating a dead horse here, but this made “The Standard” very hard all over again and my body had to make more adjustments to the now 36kg (80lb) kettlebell I was now using in my kettlebell training session.

This simple example of periodization continued until I got to the 44kg (88lb) kettlebell, at which point in time I haven’t purchased a heavier kettlebell yet. This process is so simple, but it’s missed by so many people because they just continue to use the weights they have and “punch the clock” in their workouts with very manageable weights that don’t continue to challenge their body’s physiology to make adjustments. This all fine and well if you’re happy with where you’re at, but herein lies the distinction between “working out” with your kettlebells, or truly kettlebell training. 

Other ideas for periodization

The simple model I explained above within “The Standard” kettlebell training session is called linear periodization. This type of periodization is well, linear. You just continue to use heavier weight over time. This works well for those who are relatively new to any kind of strength training, including kettlebell training. This is a fun time in anyone’s training career, because it just seems like you’re going to get stronger forever! Of course, this isn’t the case, but it sure is fun for awhile.

There’s all kinds of periodization models, but the key thing to keep in mind is that you are manipulating a variable that challenges your body to continually force it to change. Let’s use “The Standard” again as an example. Let’s say you’re stubborn and cheap and won’t buy a heavier kettlebell, which is a mistake, but you’re already know you’re stubborn and cheap, so here’s the stubborn and cheap make progress. They perform the workout with less rest. A plan for progress in their kettlebell training may go like this:

  • Every 90s for 10 Rounds (weeks 1 -4)
  • Every 80s for 10 Rounds (weeks 5 – 8)
  • Every 70s for 10 Rounds (weeks 9 – 12)
  • Every 60s for 10 Rounds (weeks 13 – 16)

You could also increase the volume within the kettlebell training session by adding +2 swings every 4 weeks and keep the every 90 seconds for 10 rounds theme the same.

Another idea is to train like an athlete does throughout the year. Professional athletes have a pre-season, an in-season, and an off-season. Obviously if you’re a competitive athlete, this model works great, but it can also work great for those life athletes that just want to maintain elite levels of fitness and health and by using this model, it creates opportunities to focus on different health attributes. Here’s some ideas:

  • Pre-season (8 weeks)
    • Training frequency: 5 day/week
    • Start with volume high (higher rep ranges) and decrease throughout, while increasing intensity (using heavier weight as volume decreases).
  • In-season (16 weeks)
    • Training frequency 5 days/week
    • Train at high intensities (undulating) intensity
    • Increase additional rest for optimal recovery
  • Off-Season (12 weeks)
    • Reduce training frequency to 3-4 days/week
    • Low to Moderate intensities
    • Include more outdoor and recreational activities to keep daily activity levels high, but reduced stress on the body.
  • Punch the clock (12 weeks)
    • Climb frequency back towards 5 days/week throughout this phase
    • Train however you feel like that day (punch the clock or freestyle workouts)

Summary

The key take-away from this article to change your mindset from one of just “punching the clock” year round to training with purpose and intention towards a specific goal. This isn’t to detract from those who consistently “punch the clock,” as they are miles ahead of those doing nothing more than scratching and sniffing, but it is to bring awareness to the concept of periodization and training with a plan to accomplish something specific within your kettlebell training.