Fxck the Scale

When people begin their weight loss journey or their new approach to a healthier lifestyle they usually begin by weighing themselves. That isn’t a bad thing, I often weigh my Rebells as part of their assessments, as well as body fat percentage and measurements. This is just to get an idea as to where they are starting at before they start training with me. After our first initial weigh in we don’t talk about the number on the scale, we focus more on how we are feeling and what’s changing in our lives.

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The reason I say fuck the scale is because of how little it tells you. The scale shows you a number, it doesn’t take into consideration your fat free mass aka your muscle, bones, organs, etc. it just shows a number. We get so heavily consumed by what this measurement is showing us that we forget what we’ve accomplished. Let’s say you weigh 200lbs and you start training, three weeks later you are now 197lbs, you’ve made progress and you are still not happy, why? The scale didn’t take into consideration the hard work you put in, it didn’t measure the early mornings, the self-discipline you taught yourself, how more energetic you are, and it sure as hell doesn’t measure the strength you’ve gained. All of these great accomplishments are taken away by taking a step on the scale and seeing a number that you were anticipating, but didn’t see. Some benefits that the scale isn’t able to measure is how you can fit into those old pair of jeans again, shirts begin to fit loosely, you gain more confidence in your appearance, and so much more!

There are a number of reasons why we should lose weight and maintain a healthy body composition, but the public is sadly misinformed about weight loss, and believes that it only happens with high intensity workouts and tons of cardio. Weight loss is achievable with strength training, which is often a misunderstood form of training to lose weight. Another popular myth about weight loss is that you need to do fasted cardio to target fat loss. Those concepts hold some truth, but I would like to explain a few things about weight loss. Weight loss happens with strength training, wait what? Weights get a bad rep because people believe that it will make them bulky and huge, and that is a big LIE. It takes years of serious strength training and a big emphasis on your nutrition to get “Big & Bulky”.

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Free weights are a far more efficient way of making weight loss happen. You strengthen the bones, joints, muscles and much more when you begin to use weight-bearing exercises, this also allows for you to build muscle, and the more muscle you have the more calories you burn because your body will be using more energy to move. Incorporating strength training will also help you with increasing your metabolism, your muscles become denser and require more energy to fuel them. As you increase your caloric intake to fuel these sweet new gains, your metabolism will be working harder as well, which means your body will be burning calories faster.

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Using cardio for fat loss is achievable, but to get quicker results you should start moving some weights around. When people think of cardio and fat loss, they believe that fasted cardio is the best way to go. The reason fasted cardio isn’t a good idea is because your body needs fuel to function and move. When the body is depleted of fuel it goes straight to the muscles for that energy. The body takes away from what it thinks it doesn’t need, as much as we wish we could tell our body to use our fat as fuel, it uses the muscles. The body will take away from the muscles because it requires more energy (calories) to have, so it’ll store fat because it’s easy to store and it holds energy. Do your best to avoid fasted cardio to maintain your muscle mass.

Where should our focus be when we want to lose weight, and start our journey to a healthier life? We should focus on what our goals will be, but the most important thing to do is change our mindset in a different direction, rather than being an “ideal weight” or “ideal size”, let’s focus on being the best person we can be for ourselves. YOU ARE MORE THAN A NUMBER!!! No matter what that number says on the scale, it doesn’t determine who you are as a person, again fuck the scale! Your mentality should be on your health, both physical and mental aspects of health. This will allow for you to have a clear mind of what exercise can do for you, it’s not about beating your body up because you want to look this way, it should be about loving yourself enough to make your life better.

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Focus on the journey, look at the small strides of where you started to where you will be in a month, six months, a year, etc. An example of thriving on small strides could be walking up a flight of stairs that used to be taxing and embarrassing because of your lack of breath, but now you have the energy and strength to conquer them with pride! Another example is having more energy to play with your kids, you no longer have to watch from a distance, you get to actually join them! Weight loss will happen when you start strength training, don’t let this amazing journey of self-care and love be consumed by what the scale said, you are more than that. Training should make you feel strong, beautiful, confident, proud, empowered, and so many other great things! When you let go of the idea of this ideal weight, you see what training can really do for you.

Being strong is something everyone should feel; this is possible with a health mindset of knowing that the scale is not determining who you are. You should notice how day to day tasks are getting easier, carrying groceries is not as hard, you can put a shirt on pain free, tying your shoes without having to prop your foot up for support, these are the key winners here! Training is caring enough about yourself to take care of your health, not being a certain size. I am not against weight loss, I am all for it, but only if it is done safely and with more intent on improving the quality of your life.

Strength Training for Runners

Let’s clear this up right now, strength training and running go together, it’s not one over the other. Many runners avoid weight training because of the fear of being bulky or decreasing their run time. What they need to know is that strength training can improve your run time and increase your work capacity. As much as you work your aerobic capacity your anaerobic capacity should be complementing your aerobic training.

 

Why- Strength training can increase your muscles work capacity, which can improve your running technique. You’re less likely to fatigue when your muscles are stronger, they are able to maintain proper mechanics for longer periods of time. Maintaining stronger muscles will decrease the likability of fatigue during a race, also you will be able to increase the type 2 fibers that are the fast twitch muscles. Being able to focus on the big five areas of running will make strength training less daunting. The big five are knee, hamstring, glute, trunk, and back dominate exercises. These are the major muscle groups utilized when running.

 

Glutes- Glutes are your key muscle group when you look at the mechanics when running. The glute medius will be the main focus, this muscle is the rotator cuff of the lower body. It’s the first muscle to contract quickly when you move, it stabilizes your body when you are on one leg. Running is a unilateral activity, meaning, there is a single leg that is in motion, this is why it’s crucial to strengthen and stabilize the glute medius in unilateral exercises.

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Hamstrings- These bad boys are what strengthen your lower back. They are also the reason your knees flex, which is a repetitive motion used when running. When you look at the mechanics of running, your heel should be reaching your glutes during the back swing motion, this allows for greater power output when running. The stronger you are through the hamstings, the greater force output you will be able to produce when you are running. Having strong hamstrings will complement your glutes, having these two areas strengthened will prevent low back pain and allow for your running to become less strenuous on the posterior chain.

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Quadriceps- Runners usually have over developed quadriceps, but this doesn’t mean it’s not worth training. The quadriceps are responsible for two major movements in running, the first movement is knee extension and the second action is assisting in hip flexion. These actions are important because they cause the leg to swing forward when running. The insertion of the quadriceps is located on the tibial tuberosity, the boney projection below the knee, this is essential because having stronger quadriceps will assist in maintaining the knee in it’s position. One of the muscles in the quadriceps is known as the vastus medialis, which helps with stabilizing the patella and the knee joint during your gait when running.

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Trunk-The trunk is a fancy word of saying the abdominals, the trunks main role is to maintain your posture, it keeps you upright. When we look at running we want to maintain a tall position, making sure that we are as tall as we can get, will allow for us to get a greater range of motion through the hips. We will not be able to maintain that tall position when we run if our trunk is weak, being able to focus on strengthening the abdominals will allow for greater stability. When you strengthen the abdominals you are able to reduce the wobbly feeling you have when you run, if you are wobbling form side to side when you run you will have an energy leak, which will slow you down.

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Back-  The back is the last key player when running strong, the back piggybacks off the same role of the trunk which is keeping your body upright. Having a stronger back will help with retracting the shoulder blades back, which prevents the shoulders from rolling forward. Good posture is what carries over to proper mechanics when running, if you find it difficult to maintain your posture then you will need to improve your back strength. The way you are carrying your arms are affected by how strong your back is, a strong back is what can prevent energy leaks through the upper body. A strong spine that is complemented by both mid and lower backs help to stabilize the spine and the pelvis.

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Apply- Now that you have a better understanding of why strength training is important to running let’s talk about implementing it in your program. I have included a three-day program that revolves around the areas that are important when improving your running with strength training. Allowing yourself to strengthen these important areas will allow for you to begin making big strides in your sport of running. Focus on the importance of strength training to not only to reduce your race time, but to also reduce your potential risk of injury.

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Four Simple Steps Towards Your First Kettlebell Swing

 

Kettlebell swings are one of the most popular exercises you can do with a kettlebell. The kettlebell swing is the foundation of almost every kettlebell exercise. The thing with the swing, is that if you’re not working with a coach you’re probably not doing it right. In this article I will be providing the step by step approach I use to getting down your first kettlebell swing.

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 1. HIP HINGE- Begin with the feet shoulder length apart and imagine as if you have a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you up, this way you can be as tall as you can get. Have a slight bend in the knees, think very minimal bend but enough so it isn’t locked out. Imagine as if you are a can crusher, the can is placed at your belt line, you then push your hips back and crush the can with the hips and lower abdominals. Lastly keep your back as straight as you can by pulling your shoulder back, finish the hip hinge by standing up tall by locking the knees out and squeezing the glutes.

 

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Clean Up Your Hinge- It is very easy to squat the hinge (where you use more knee bend than hip bend) make sure that every time you perform a hip hinge you feel a good pull on the back of your legs. Using a dowel will help you with maintaining a straight back you will make sure that you keep the three points of contact (head, middle back between the shoulders, and lower back) in mind while hinging. The reason we want to avoid squatting the hip hinge is because we are not using the knees in a swing, we are using the hips to produce force. Maintaining proper alignment by keeping a straight back through the swing will help with avoiding injury.

 

2. Deadlift- The deadlift is the exact same set up as the hip hinge, but you are now loading up the hinge. Place the kettlebell between your feet so the handle is in line with your toes. Hip hinge down and grab onto the hand, when you grab the handle make sure that you try to break the handle in half that way the back of your arms are tight against the ribs. Pinch your shoulders back, sit back on the heel and stand up tall. Make sure you finish by squeezing the glutes very tight by trying to crack a walnut or break some pencils.

 

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Clean Up Your Deadlift- If you find yourself sitting far too back onto your heels where your toes are coming off the ground try this, punch your feet into the ground and imagine as if you are going to be pulling grass with your toes. Make sure that as your pulling the bell from the ground that you are keeping the elbows as straight as you can. Finish strong, make sure that you are embracing the abdominals and the glutes at the top of your position. Avoid arching your low back at the top of the deadlift, this can lead to low back pain. Explosive Deadlift– Once you’ve owned the deadlifting technique move on to the explosive deadlift. The explosive deadlift is the same as a regular deadlift except you are finishing the deadlift quick and powerful.

 

3. Hike Pass- The hike pass is done at the bottom position of your hinge. Place the bell about a foot or two away from you and tilt the bell towards you, it is crucial that you tilt the bell towards you to help the bell pass. Break the handle in half and sink the shoulder blades into your rear pockets. Imagine as if you are a football player and you are going to hike the kettlebell behind you, make sure that as you hike the bell behind you that you are getting the bell as far back as it can go, finish by placing the bell in the start position where it is tilted towards you.

 

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Clean Up Your Hike Pass- As you hike the bell behind you make sure that the triceps are in contact with the ribs. The hike pass needs to have the hands go high into the thigh, make sure that you are attacking your zipper with each pass. Inhale through the nose as you tilt the bell towards you and hike it back, as the bell comes back exhale through the mouth. Make sure you are maintaining a straight back while you are bringing your chest out in front of you as you hike the bell.

 
4. Swing- Finally the swing, we are now going to piece together steps one through three for your first kettlebell swing. Place the bell a foot or two away from you and get into your hike pass position. Hike the bell behind you and perform your explosive deadlift to propel the bell in front of you. The hands are meat hooks and the arms are ropes, the arms do not bring the bell up, it is the force generated from the hips that raise the bell up to the chest. Allow the bell to float down and hinge for you, park the bell and repeat the motion as singles until you are ready for continuous swings.

 

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Clean Up Your Swing- One area that many people have issues with is the timing of the hip hinge with the swing, as the bell is coming back down, WAIT for the bell to hinge you back, this is again attacking the zipper and keeping the hands from going below the knee. If you feel that you are using your upper body to swing, a quick fix for that is using a heavier bell, it is very difficult to muscle up a heavier bell up. If you are squatting your swing, revisit your deadlift and own that skill before you are swinging the bell again. BREATHING is very important when it comes to your swing, make sure that you are sniffing the air at the bottom of the swing and exhaling through the mouth at the top of the swing.

 

Putting It Together for Training- Now that we have all the right steps to perform a swing it’s time to put a plan together for it. Take a week owning each skill, apply three to four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Do not move on to the next progression until you have fully mastered the prior technique. Learning to swing does take time, but the benefits are well worth it.

Kettlebells: The Swiss Army Knife of Fitness.

Kettlebells are one of the most universal tools that build strength, endurance, mobility, power, rehab injuries, and anything else you can possibly think of. Not only are these tools universal for training, but they are easy to use anywhere. These cast iron bells have made a huge impact in the fitness industry. Being able to utilize a single tool with so many different purposes has given it the name Swiss Army Knife of Fitness.

 

Strength- Kettlebells have been known for the “What the Hell Effect” which is phrase used after using kettlebells for some time and seeing the carry over to other exercises. The strength that can be built with using kettlebells can carry over to barbell lifts, bodyweight exercises, strongman lifts, and sandbag exercises. For example, I have taken away all barbell exercises for 10 months now and have just focused on kettlebells and natural movement, to retest some strength I went and did 315lbs for 10 repetitions on a back squat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BLhWRf7FHbl/?taken-by=restoredstrength ). Kettlebells may not seem sexy like a barbell with 10 plates, but they build the same amount of strength.

 

Endurance- Swings, that’s all you need to know about endurance training with kettlebells, well there are other awesome exercises, but mainly the swing is the trick here. Being able to produce high volume swings with minimum rest is the bread and butter of endurance training with kettlebells. A popular method used when training endurance work with kettlebells is the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) method, this allows for high intensity work with a short amount of recovery. Kettlebells have proven themselves worthy overtime as to how swinging the cast iron can improve your endurance by cutting seconds to minutes off run times.

 

Mobility- “If you are tight you are weak” is a statement made by Pavel Tsatsouline, this statement holds true to the idea that restricted ranges of motion prevent optimal use of strength. Kettlebells have this unique way of helping us fight this ugly disease of immobility and tight muscles. One of my favorite exercises is the halo that assists with thoracic mobility, but then also using the side bent sit position with a kettlebell to open up the hips. Mobility work and kettlebells go hand in hand by providing the user with a tool of strength with new found ranges of motion.

 

Power- The ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements is defined as power. Using exercises like the swing or the snatch, kettlebells have the ability to build a large amount of power. The amount of tension, speed, and force needed to complete a swing or a snatch is very high, thus carrying over into the production of power. Kettlebell exercises have been known to carry over in aiding athletes to improve their performance in their sports by increasing their power output.

 

Rehab- Seriously what can’t these things do? If you were to look up “Kettlebells and back pain” you be flooded with information on google, this is because kettlebells when used correctly can fix lower back pain. The kettlebell arm bar has been shown to improve strength and stability in the rotator cuff which is a commonly injured muscle, using this exercise can be used as injury prevention. Lastly kettlebells have been proven to fix glute amnesia which is the inability to activate your glutes, which can lead to lower back pain.

 

Putting Your Swiss Army Knife to Use- Now that you have a better understanding as to how many different ways you can use your kettlebell, it’s time to put it to use. Each category can be used to your advantage when training. It’s simply up to you as to where you want to put each category and how it will fit into your goals. I have provided a sample program of implementing each category into a sample day-one program. This is just an example as to how you can use kettlebells. The first colored box is to have the exercises paired together, and repeating with each paired set. Hopefully this can help you to start using more kettlebell exercises in your training!

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Day One