Choices choices…..

Plan B
I was planning on doing a pretty intense Kettlebell workout tonight. I am in week three of five of the 10,000 swing challenge that I have already mentioned. It turns out my Daughter Ava had alternative plans for the evening. In between writing these sentences, I am keeping a close watch on a little girl who has been crawling for about a week. She is lightning fast and keeping me on my toes. I’m not going to have the energy to do the workout planned for tonight.
This is where the beauty of a plan B comes into play. I have got a quick 12 minute workout that I do in place of my original plan so that I keep the consistency going. Doing something is better than doing nothing and sometimes life does get in the way of your great intentions. I could have worked out this morning, but Ava (A.K.A M.s non sleep) had us up at midnight and then 4. Safe to say, I wasn’t feeling like knocking out 500 swings.
So having flexibility with your plans is important. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or inconsistency with an all or nothing mentality with your workouts.

Inspire through action.

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I went to the park to complete my workout today. It was an intense session complete with kettlebell snatches, chin ups and dips. I was focused on the session and really enjoying my workout. When the first person of the session said hello to me during my workout. He was an elderly man. i would guess he was into his sixties. “Well done” he said as I struggled and strained through a set of chin ups. 

About five minutes later it happened again. “Keep going” the next observer commented as I completed my set of kettlebell snatches. Later on, a couple of boys were making their way towards me kicking a football between them, as they made their way closer to me, I saw them stop and watch me for a little while. They then waited until I had finished training on the chin up bars and decided to make their way over and have a go themselves.

These little exchanges reminded me that sometimes it’s watching someone take action that inspires us to take some for ourselves. Those boys were intrigued and interested in what I was doing. As a result they wanted to have a go at doing some chin ups for themselves. I wonder how many times they have walked past that bar without stopping to try. I hope that the man who saw me earlier on in my workout decided to do something a little more active that day. It’s not always what we say, but who we are and the actions we choose that can inspire others.

Post 018: Training for a new dad.

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My training has had to change since January since my daughter Ava has been born. Because she is so demanding I messaged my trainer Chris Lopez and asked him how to maintain my training through this busy period of my life.

His reply was to keep sessions short, regular in frequency and focussed on strength. I then decided to split my week into 5 sessions a week that last only 15-20 minutes including warm ups. This has been helpful because it means that I can get the practice I need each day without burning out my central nervous system. Keeping up with my training was important because I want to improve my health and don’t see having children as an excuse to not workout due to lack of time.

I am using kettlebells and practicing my technique in a number of lifts including: the swing, snatch, clean and press and front squat.

For cardio, I am going running once a week and incorporating skipping into my strength sessions. These little tactics are helping me to stay consistent during a time in my life when I cannot guarantee a structured time schedule and regular sleeping pattern.

The main principles for me at this time are:

Try and fit some training in at some point during the day.

Maintain freshness throughout workouts and deliberately leave some energy in reserve to avoid burn-out.

Don’t attempt to break any records or hit personal records in this period. Focus on perfecting technique.

When things do calm down at home, I am going to increase my cardio regime and decrease my number of sessions so that I can push myself harder during those sessions.

Post 009: Why I don’t bother with the gym.

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I Love Kettlebell training!

For years I used to go to the gym on a regular basis. When I lived in Liverpool, I lived near an amazing gym where I used to go and workout using weights, kettlebells and cardio equipment. The experience was always great but there were issues. One of the key issues was the time it took to travel to the gym, get prepared to work out, set up my weights and everything else. It was quite a list. When my son was born, the time pressure increased and so I found myself trying to fit workouts in after work when in reality I wanted to be home spending time with my son. I know that successful people have to sacrifice certain things to get what they want, but missing out on time with my boy in his early months was something I didn’t agree with at all. I had to make adjustments. I wanted to work out and be in good shape, but didn’t want to do it at the gym. This was when I got seriously into Kettlebell training.

For those unfamiliar, Kettlebells have been around for centuries and although the origins are argued over, most people believe they were created in Russia during the 17th Century and were used as a device tio measure goods for ships.

They were later used as a means to develop strength with strong men and circus performers using them on a regular basis. During the early 20th Century well known strongmen like Arthur Saxon, Edgar Mueller and Eugene Sandow used kettlebells in their strongman shows.

Fast forward to today’s time, and kettlebells are popping up every where. I have seen them being used in video footage from commercial gyms, many sports teams and athletes use kettlebells, and they are very popular as a training tool in the world of Mixed martial arts.

There are many reasons why I love kettlebell training and why they may be useful for you to. Let me list some for you here.

1: They are simple to use.

The most useful kettlebell moves have the same starting point and travel through similar ranges of motion. This means that focussing on form reaps huge rewards and benefits.

2: They work the whole body.

Kettlebell work involves the whole body. With moves like the kettlebell swing and snatch, the body’s chain of movement is all engaged simultaneously. Basically speaking, your body works harder than if you were doing isolation moves like bicep curls and leg extensions.

3: Anyone can use them with correct instruction

The range of kettlebell weights is so vast that anyone can be taught how to use one with a weight that is appropriate to them.

4: They can be used anywhere.

This one is so important to me. Kettlebells allowed me to spend time with my family and get in shape at the same time because I could work out at home. I would train in the back yard, sometimes in the cellar. Sometimes I would throw the bells into the car and workout after work in the park before driving home. They are versatile, portable and fit in beautifully with a busy lifestyle allowing you workout exactly when you want.

5: Workouts can be short and effective.

Sometimes less is more. One of the kettlebell coaches who I follow (Geoff Neupert) is a huge fan of 15-20 minute workouts on a more frequent basis as opposed to the marathon workouts that people believe they must do to get results. My workouts are rarely longer than 30 minutes when I factor in warm up and training. This frees up much more of my time to do other things that I enjoy like reading, writing blog posts, teaching children and spending time with my family and friends.

6: You feel bad ass using them. In other words they build your confidence.

There’s something cool about taking a cast iron ball and being able to press it over your head or to be able to swing the kettlebell with one hand and swap the bell in mid air. You start to gain in confidence and belief. Then before you know it, you are ready to work out with heavier weights or double kettlebells.

7: Kettlbells encourage consistency.

Having the kettlebells allowed me to become more consistent. I schedule in when I plan to train and try and stick to that, but when life happens and you need to make adjustments, it’s easier to do that on your own terms rather than being a slave to the opening times of your local gym. Consistency is what I strive for now more than new workout programmes or equipment.

8:They encourage natural whole body movement.

With the Turkish get up for example, most muscles in the body are used.  This is important because it teaches you to move in a more efficient manner.  I found when using kettlebells, it allowed to move much easier and with increased athleticism and agility. I have eliminated my niggling lower back pain, have much stronger legs and my chronically sore shoulder is now much stronger. My cardio ability is also improving from using kettlebells.

9: You can do workouts that improve strength, increase cardio, or target both in one workout.

Kettlebell training has a wide variety of lifts that promote ballistic lifting (Fast explosive movements) and grind patterns (Slower strength based lifts). This allows you to target different energy systems within your body and allows for you to train with higher frequency by alternating between the two.

10: Having kettlebells around at home means my son is already getting interested in exercise.

The other day I caught my boy trying to lift one of my kettlebells as he has seen me lifting them every now and then. Because he is seeing exercise happening in his environment, he will hopefully come to see exercise as part of his day to day life. This influence was not really that present in my early years and I do think it’s important to instil the values of physical exercise early in life. I’m blessed that Nathan loves the outdoors, running throwing balls around and jumping. Maybe because I value it I’m trying to make sure he does to. I digress, but the point remains that Nathan seeing me exercise is inspiring him to be really active.

There are many more benefits that I could list, but ten seems like more than enough to write about.

If you have been looking for a new way to exercise and improve your health and strength, then kettlebells are an excellent option. They are just a tool like any other, but the principle I’m following is that you reap what you sow. Kettlebells allow me to workout out consistently which will allow me to reap the rewards far better than I have found with other forms of exercise. I do supplement my training with early morning walks and jogging as well as being conscious about my diet. These three things for me mean I can improve my health and fitness in a way that’s enjoyable and fun for me.

If you are interested in getting involved with kettlebell training, my advice would be to look for a certified coach who can show you correct technique and execution of the main lifts. If that isn’t possible, there are books and resources online that you can look to that can help you with learning proper form and technique.

Google search these guys for more on kettlebells as I’m no expert. All I can comment on is my experience. These guys are certified kettlebell professionals and will take your understanding forward much better than I can.

Pavel Tsatsouline

Mike Mahler

Chris Lopez

Steve Cotter

Geoff Neupert

Marianne Kane

Girls Gone Strong. G.G.S is a brilliant website that promotes health fitness and well being to women everywhere. They don’t focus specifically on kettlebells, but I’m sure you find some stuff there.

Till next time

Shaun