Fitness

Change the Way You Look at Working Out

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Instead of working out, let's practice!?!

You have said it a million times, "I have to go workout". It sounds dreadful, you have to drag yourself to the gym and it's the last thing you really want to do. Psychologically, you're already defeated because you feel like it is something you have to do, instead of something you want to do! What if instead you said, "I'm going to go practice kettlebells".

Many things like yoga, martial art, kettlebells and sports require practice to improve. It just so happens that during these practices, you burn body fat, build strong lean muscle and even increase your cardio capacity. Of course, it is the program that you follow that will get you your desired results.

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What does programming have to do with anything?

Kettlebells are being used for a wide variety of reasons, and depending on your goals, the programming of your kettlebell practice will be different. One important thing to consider is work to rest ratios, if you are training for fat loss, strength or power these will be different. While it is true that kettlebells train all these areas, your specific program will dictate maximum results in each category. At The Kettlebell Project, we train in 12-week phases, that include a foundation phase, endurance phase and maximum strength phase. Each phase can be scaled to your ability and goals. We teach proper form, as well as tension and breathing techniques that will also play a huge part in the level of your success. The program principles you will learn at The Kettlebell Project will be something you can use for the rest of your life.

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Is kettlebell training right for me?

I have trained people with kettlebells from ages 8-80. From the most novice to highly athletic individuals. The movements done with a kettlebell can be very fundamental or creative, either way the challenge of training with a kettlebell burns body fat, builds strength and improves cardio endurance unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

For people with back pain, kettlebells are a safe way to strengthen your core to help alleviate the pain. if you have or have had a knee injury, the kettlebell swing takes the pressure off of the knees, since it is based on a hip hinge and utilizes the glutes and hamstrings instead of the quads. Have a shoulder issue? Windmills and TGU’s will stabilize and strengthen the entire shoulder complex as well as increasing the range of motion. I have worked with all of these types of clients and have witnessed the incredible results they get.
 
Kettlebells are fun, difficult, wonderful tools that create a passion and becomes a part of your lifestyle.

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One last thing.

Would you like to receive weekly fat melting kettlebell POW's (Practice of the Week) delivered right to your inbox? If so, I will also include access to my Six Foundational Kettlebell Movement instructional videos, plus 3 bonus videos!
Just CLICK HERE to get access to a lifetime practice that will help you become the best version of yourself!
 

Mid Week Motivation

We all know the feeling, we open SugarWOD, excited to see tomorrow's workout, and then our stomach drops. Snatches! Overhead Squats! [insert least favorite movement here]

It's easy to become intimidated by the movements we hate or haven't yet mastered. It's easy to see the workouts we don't want to do and decide to make that day a rest day, but these are the days when showing up is most important. These are the days when we swallow our pride for the sake of improvement. These are the days when we battle frustration, knowing the eventual satisfaction will be worth the struggle. These are the days we make breakthroughs and do things we never thought we could.

Embrace these days, you'll be better for it in the end.

Training Frequency

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“How often should I becoming in?” “Am I doing too many classes? Not enough? I’m not really too sore…”  This is a great question, and a notable concern.  You want to succeed in your health and fitness goals, but not burnout. Whether you have been training for years, or you are trying our Project Move intro class, and anything in between, gauging how often to workout can be challenging. It can be especially challenging because it will change as you gain experience, improve fitness levels, and with your evolving goals.  There are a few factors to consider when deciding on frequency, and maybe you change your frequency in a month - that’s ok! It’s your journey. Keep talking to the coaches and we’ll figure it out together.

OK, let’s break this down.  Here are the main considerations: gym experience, how long have you been active, intensity, age, availability, and avoiding burnout.

Let me start with a story: I worked with a woman a few years back.  She reported that it had been nearly 15 years since she had worked out consistently.  She became very motivated to start working out again at the age of 50. We were both pretty pumped to start working together.  But, she was too eager. For the first month she worked out twice a day. I had to tell her to calm down, do less. She resisted but eventually complied, but still maintained two-a-days a few days a week.  I warned her that she would hurt herself, weight loss takes time. I even turned her away for a training session. She eventually changed trainers. She was noticeably tired, more sore and even becoming indifferent toward exercise.  She came in fewer days, and eventually she wasn’t coming in at all. She burned out after just a few months.

The first thing to consider is what is reasonable for you, and sustainable.  Maybe you have the time to come in five times a week, but will you keep that up?  Give yourself rest days, especially if you are new to working out. Sustainable training is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If your classes are super intense, go to fewer classes a week and buffer the other days with lower intensity workouts.  If you prefer less intense exercise, do more throughout the week. Intensity and frequency are inversely related: the higher the intensity, the lower the frequency, and vice versa. Please consider this to avoid burnout.

Are you new to this whole working out thing?  Or was is once a past life time? You’ve been active, but trying to bump it up notch.  If you are completely new, or have taken a decade hiatus, try two to three days a week.  You will experience muscle fatigue and soreness, which you may think you can work through, but your brain is actually really working as well.  At the beginning of any new program, you are learning lots of new skills and movement patterns, your central nervous system is in overdrive.  Your brain needs to recover, too. So ease into it. OR, you’ve been at it for a few months, you feel good and confident. Add a day a week, see how you respond and go from there.  

How old are you?  As we get older, our recovery mechanisms take a little longer.  So if you’re 22 and new to working out, you still may only need a one day rest.  But if you’re 50, maybe two days to rest. Everyone will be different, but especially if you’re unsure start conservatively.  When you find yourself in the gym consistently for a few weeks (or months) your recovery time will improve. So consider your age, and your experience with the movements.  

How much time do you have? This may seem obvious - but your frequency will also depend on how much time you can allot to the gym.  However, don’t make it an excuse. Make time for your physical health, set a schedule so you actually maintain it.

We want all of you to be successful in our gym.  If you feel overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, talk to a coach.  As I said, everyone will be a little different. Start with these considerations to determine a starting point and adjust from there.  See you at the gym!

Emily Kulakowski

NSCA, CSCS

YSS™ Coach

Pn1

Why Do You Train?

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"What is your Why?" seems to be a popular buzz phrase lately. I hear it being asked in the fitness industry quite a bit.

And not without good reason.

Flat out, if a person's only purpose for wanting to train is, "I just wanna tone," they will fail. Period. Maybe they'll stick it out for a while, and maybe they'll even see some results. But, once they hit that first plateau, or a deadline comes up at work, or January magically turns into February, they'll fall off the wagon.

Why?

  1. Training hurts. For many, working out is a form of self-inflicted torture, and even the most sadistic of us sadists would have a hard time continuing to voluntarily undergo bodily harm for no reason.
  2. Committing to a program takes time and dedication. We're all busy, and we all want immediate gratification. It's true, planning our day around going to the gym can be tricky, and not seeing the results you're looking for may very well be the most frustrating thing in the entire world.
  3. Gym memberships, personal training, nutrition plans, supplements...the list goes on. And as it does, your bank account takes a hit. Most of us don't live in homes that smell of rich mahogany, so it can be easy to cut the training expenses when funds are running low.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but they're the most common examples of the excuses we all face at some point. It's when our list becomes longer than usual, or our justifications for taking a leave of absence start to sound too good to pass up, that we have to make a decision: to train, or not to train? Here's where our respective Why's comes in handy.

Your Why is that deep seeded, hidden, and sometimes painful, motivating factor that keeps you moving regardless of the body aches, time, or cost. It's the source of that voice in the back of your head that chimes in when your lungs start burning, saying: "You can't quit. Quit and you'll never forgive yourself. Quit and you'll be letting down the people you love most. Quit and you'll always be a quitter...too weak and too afraid to become the person you want to see in the mirror."

Your Why is your emotional tie to the training process. It's the meaning behind the sweat and the soreness; it's the purpose of your efforts.

Maybe you do it to set a good example for your kids. Maybe you were bullied growing up, and you've vowed to never feel that helpless again. Or maybe you won Silver at the Olympics four years ago, and you'll be damned if you come home with anything less than Gold this time around.

We all have our reasons for training, and they're never as simple as we think. So dig. Get passed the images of six pack abs or dat booty, and figure out why the hell you want to change so badly. Or you never will.

What's your why?

Operation Squat Like a Baby

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I've always been a good athlete. Picking up movements has always come pretty naturally for me. And despite a good number of injuries, I enjoyed a fairly successful athletic career. So, I share this while sitting down to a rather monstrous plate of humble pie.

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This glorious picture is my sorry attempt to sit in the bottom position of a squat. As you can see in comparison to my friend the baby up there, I'm almost there!! Except not really. Not really at all.

In truth, yesterday is the first time in a long time, I've actually assessed my own mobility. And in breaking down my positioning, I've realized I have a lot more work to do than I thought.

It's time for a total system override.

At first glance, it appears that my hips are the limiting factor in attaining optimal depth, while also maintaining an upright torso. And it's true, my hips don't lie - but unlike Shakira's, mine tell a story of neglect and abuse. That being said, my hips are not my biggest concern as I begin to fix my squat.

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The source of my movement woes exists downstream. Following the Stability-Mobility Continuum, my problems all stem from the instability of my feet. At its simplest, the Stability-Mobility Continuum states that impaired function of one joint - say, insufficient stability in a joint that ought to be stable - results in reduced function in the joint upstream - i.e. inordinate amounts of stability in a join that is meant to be mobile.

In my case, because I lack stability, primarily through my mid-foot and big toe, my ankles have been forced too overcompensate. This overcompensation leads to excess stability in a joint that should be mobile. Decreased mobility through the ankles, leads to reduced stability in the knees. In an effort to protect my knees, my hips jump into action, working overtime to maintain safe posture throughout the squat. Bingo bango: tight hips.

So what's a retired and broken athlete to do? I'm glad you asked! For the indefinite future, all my other training goals are taking a back seat while I address my movement mechanics. Starting from the feet and going up, I am going to reset my motor patterns in an attempt to squat like a baby again.

One hour a day. I've got a long road ahead of me. Road trip, baby!!!!

Quick Snatch Tips

The snatch is the pinnacle of kettlebell movements. The object is to bring the kettlebell from between the legs to overhead in one fluid, uninterrupted motion. The power of the snatch is generated from the hips and then guided above the head with accurate positioning of the hand and arm.

The ballistic swing of the snatch does several things that improve athleticism. When done properly and with enough force, it can make a kettlebell feel four times its weight. Strength is developed in your grip, your back, core and legs. Power is increased for running, jumping, and anything athletic thing you do. Studies at the University of Wisconsin (Click Here) showed that snatching a kettlebell not only burns 20 calories per minute, but can be the equivalent of running a 6 minute mile!

The set up is your first rep. Before touching the kettlebell, position your feet hip with apart and hinge your hips back, keeping a neutral spine. With the kettlebell set up 6-12 inches in front of your toes, reach for the handle and pull it toward you, keeping your shoulders square. Engage your lats, breathe in thru you nose, brace your core and hike the bell aggressively between your legs, keeping your hips down. When the bell is all the way between your legs, squeeze your glutes to drive hips forward and up. When your hips are fully extended, let out a full exhalation of breath. As the bell rises, keep your elbow in close to your side and guide the bell up the midline of your body. When the bell is above your head, it should feel weightless. Relax your grip and punch your hand up to the sky, allowing the kettlebell to rotate around and land softly on your wrist. 

Own the top position by pausing briefly with your elbow locked out, wrist straight and strong, keeping your shoulder packed and your ribs down.

The descent must be active, aggressively flip the bell over your wrist, as the bell descends, pull your elbow back to your side and pull the kettlebell back between your legs, taking a breath in thru your nose, returning to the start position after the hike. Do 5 reps on each arm every minute for 7 minutes until it feels natural, then add one more rep until you can easily do 10. Now, its time to increase the load and start over at 5.

The kettlebell snatch develops athleticism by increasing strength, power and endurance. Try a class taught Monday - Friday at 9am and 5:30pm by one of our professional coaches and experience it for yourself! 

Try a class today! 

Building Bigger & Stronger Glutes

Do you want bigger, rounder glutes? Do you want to improve your squat, your deadlift? Have more power? The glutes are designed to extend the hip or pull the leg behind the body. If your glutes are underdeveloped your speed, power & strength will take a hit. 

This movement can greatly increase your performance in any sport, backpacking, hiking, walking, running and getting up off the toliet. :)

Before we start hip thrusting, I want to challenge you to go heavier here. Your glutes are huge muscle and are stronger than you think. Play around with different weight. 

Try a set of 8 to start. 

If you can do 3 more reps with ease at this weight, increase weight. If your struggling to finish the 8th rep wirh proper form, decrease weight. If its just right, challenging enough at the 8th rep(can't complete 3 more) stay at that weight. 

Rest for 1 min 

Find the right weight for you and do 4 sets of 8 to start. 

You can play around with reps, sets here. 

For example, you can work towards a heavy set of 5, 3, 2, 1. 

Have fun and happy thrusting! 

Coach Emily