Archive for 'Exercise Equipments'

Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

Posted on 06. Mar, 2012 by .

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Kettlebells (KB) have swept the mainstream fitness media and they are gaining popularity more than ever. [If you did not already recognize who the guy is in the picture above, it is Lance Armstrong.] This is most likely because of the convenience, effectiveness, and time-saving it provides to anyone who wishes to get lean and strong in as little as 20 minutes a day. So, the common question I get asked is: what are great kettlebell exercises for beginners? or what is a good kettelbell workout? While Youtube is great for looking up videos to answer these questions, it may not be the best source unless you know what you’re looking for.

Being a Russian Kettlebell Certified (RKC) Instructor, I decided to put together a video demonstrating the most foundational kettlebell exercise which is the swing. In this video, I go over tips on how to protect your hand as well as the biggest mistakes when performing kettlebell swings and how to correct them.

Please watch this video before you read the rest of the article:

You may feel that I talk about too many technical points in the video but each of them matters if you really want to do kettlebell swings properly. Doing them wrong can 1) hurt you and 2) make your workout less efficient which means you will burn less calories. If you want to take your learning even further, you may want to look for a Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructor in your local area to critique your form.

One more thing to think about before you perform any kettlebell exercise are the shoes you are wearing. Typically, running shoes are not ideal when performing kettlebell exercises. The thick cushion which running shoes have will basically hinder your feet from making full contact with the ground which may throw you off balance. For instance, if I were to perform kettlebel swings with a thick heel, the heel will make me lean forward to offset the weight of the kettlebell as it reaches shoulder height. So, if the heels were taken out, having more contact with ground will also help us become more stable and more strong for any kettlebell lift.

I showed you several ways you have more variety in your kettlebell workouts even if you just now the beginner exercises like the swing and goblet squat. Now, I’d like to show you a few different set-ups you can do so you can do this at home.

3 Samples of How to Set-up Beginner Kettlebell Workouts

Workout 1: Ladders Style

20 Kettlebell Swings
10 Goblet Squats

Start at the top of the reps at 20 and 5 reps. For each set, you will do 1 less repetition for the swings and doing 1 less repetition for every other set of goblet squats. Do this until you reach 1 rep for each exercise. This is how it goes:

Set 1: 20 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 2: 19 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats
Set 3: 18 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 4: 17 Swings, 9 Goblet Squats
Set 5: 16 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
Set 6: 15 Swings, 8 Goblet Squats
All the way to 1 repetition for each exercise

Workout 2: Interval Style

30 seconds of Kettlebell Swings plus 30 seconds of Jump Rope equals 1 set.
Do 10 sets for a total of 10 minutes.

Note: If you are completely new to doing swings, you may want to start at 5 minutes and work your way up especially because you may get too sore the next few days.

Workout 3: Mixed Style

One set consists of:

30 seconds Kettlebell Swings
30 seconds Plank
30 seconds Forward Lunges
30 seconds Rest

Perform 5 sets for your first workout and work your way up as your strength and conditioning improves.

Just by looking at the 3 workouts above, you can have an idea of how much variety you can have with your workouts even if you only know 1-2 kettlebell exercises. If you actually go and do any of these workouts, you will find just how intense they can get even for a simple set-up like the one I detailed above.

When you’re ready to learn a new kettlebell exercise, watch this video where I teach the Turkish Get-Up (TGU) which is another fundamental kettlebell exercise:

Turkish Get-ups are different from swings wherein you have to really focus on doing each step slowly and carefully. In the RKC community, we call swings as a grinding movement whereas TGUs are more of a strength exercise. So, if I were to add TGUs to my kettlebell repertoire, I would do this at the beginning of a workout separate from the swings when I am still fresh. Then, I would perform any of the above workouts as a finisher.

I hope this post on kettlebell exercises for beginners has inspired you to start working with kettlebells and add more fun, intensity, and variety to your workouts. If you have any questions about the videos or the workouts or about kettlebells in general, please post them below and I’ll answer them when possible.

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3 Best Cardio Exercise Equipments

3 Best Cardio Exercise Equipments

Posted on 17. May, 2010 by .

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Whenever I walk into my local gym, I notice a bunch of different cardio exercise equipment to the left side of the entrance. Not surprisingly, they are almost always taken and there’s usually a line of people waiting to use it. So, I wondered if these people actually know how to effectively use these cardio machines to their advantage. Unlike other fitness experts, I don’t consider certain cardio equipments to be bad. How much benefit you get out of them will just depend on whether you know how to use them effectively or not. Additionally, one cardio equipment can help you burn more calories in less time compared to others.

Cardio exercise equipments are not made equal. So, I’m going to categorize them into their level of effectiveness. Here they are:

#1 The Treadmill

The treadmill is at the top of my list of cardio exercise equipments. But, not everyone knows how to use them to their advantage. We all know running would burn more calories compared to walking so if you already run on the treadmill, you’re half way there. The common mistake that a lot of people make when they’re on this machine is to either run at a steady, medium speed or hold on to the side handles while walking on an incline. Most people I see commit both mistakes. There’s probably other mistakes out there but these two are very common.

To use the treadmill more effectively, you’d have to give yourself a little bit more challenge by running at different intensities. For instance, you can warm-up at 3 mph for 3 minutes. After warm-up, you can run at a faster pace at 5 mph for 20 seconds then increase your speed to 7 mph for another 40 seconds. You can then repeat this sequence, besides the warm-up part, 4 more times then end with a cool-down.

running_children[I have fond memories of playing and bathing in the rain as a child. This photo of children running reminds me of them.Photo by Neloqua. Above photo by Omsel. ]

This protocol is called high intensity interval training or HIIT and the intensity you will get from doing them will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. Beginners can usually follow these intructions without a problem. After you’ve been doing this for about 2-3 weeks, you can progress your workout by changing your speed, increasing the time that you run at a high intensity, perform more intervals, or decrease your recovery time, etc.

So, the next time, you’re at the gym, use this protocol on the treadmill if you plan to run and want to run more effectively.

#2 The Stairmaster

The stairmaster is a great equipment and it can give you a workout as effective as running on the treadmill. When you’re tired of running, this is a great alternative because climbing stairs is also very easy on your joints. This is also a great equipment for people who have need to watch their knee health due to a previous injury.

To use the stairmaster, think in terms of doing high intensity intervals again. Make sure to warm-up for a few minutes and climb at a faster speed for your intervals. You can start with 4-6 intervals at 20-30 seconds and go up from there. Remember to always cool down by slowing down your speed or move on to the Elliptical as detailed below.

#3 The Elliptical

The elliptical is probably the most popular cardio machine in the gym especially amongst the ladies. A lot of people tend to like it because they don’t have to lift their foot off the ground and they can still watch the television while they’re using it. I put it as the #3 machine because it has its place in a fat loss program. But, it definitely shouldn’t be your #1 choice if you want to lose stubborn fat.

To use the Elliptical more appropriately, I suggest using it after you’re done with your intervals on the treadmill or the stairmaster. Head to the Elliptical for another 20 minutes after your interval session. This helps you burn the fat that was released by performing intervals into your blood system so you don’t end up storing it again. Doing it in this sequence is an efficient way to burn more fat in less time. This strategy is particularly helpful when you’re really close to your ideal weight and want to lose a few extra pounds.

In summary, you can use the treadmill or the stairmaster for your high intensity intervals then use the elliptical only after you’ve done your intervals. Keep in mind that using the elliptical in this way is completely optional. The rule is to only use the elliptical as a complementary device to add to your cardio routine. If you use these cardio exercise equipment as directed in this article, you will see that even your most stubborn fats will melt away.

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How to Choose a Pull Up Bar

How to Choose a Pull Up Bar

Posted on 03. May, 2010 by .

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After writing a post about a home gym for under $100, I thought about editing the post and adding the pull up bar to the list. But, I wanted to create a separate post for it because I own two different kinds of pull up bars and I want to give you a better idea on which model will fit your needs. Also, thanks to Dave for giving me the idea to write about it.

There are two pull up bars that I’m going to compare in this post. For the first kind, you can either mount it on your door frame and for the second one, you can take on/off the door way whenever you like. The other kind of bars that are out there are the free standing ones which are usually more expensive and takes up more space.

The Perfect Pullup

The first one we’re going to talk about is the Perfect Pull Up which is the one you can attach to your door. This wall mounted pull up bar is great because you can do a lot more things with it. For instance, you can change the position of the bar so that it’s upside down. You can perform body rows at different angles from this position. This brand also comes with a pair of Ab Straps that you can hang on the bar and rest your elbow on while doing hanging knee raises and other ab exercises. It also comes with rotating handles for different hand positions.

Because the bar is moveable, you can also do chest presses, tricep extensions, etc. It’s definitely a versatile pull up bar that you can use for many other different exercises. If you go to this Amazon page for the Perfect Pullup, you will see a video of a guy who’s using this bar for the exercises I mentioned above. The price of this bar has gone down significantly since I first bought it. You can get it for as low as $22 which is a very good deal.

Here is a Youtube video showing more ideas on how to use the Perfect Pullup. It’s an infomercial but you get the idea:

If you haven’t done chin ups or pull ups before, here is a great video by Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training and CB Athletics demonstrating how you can practice your way to your first one:

Iron Gym

The Iron Gym is probably the simplest pull up bar out there. It is removeable so this is great for people who are renting because you don’t have to put holes on your door frame. It comes with a small metal hook that you place on top of the door frame. This hook helps keep the Iron Gym in place while you’re performing pull ups or chin ups. Make sure the you install this hook. Otherwise, you might fall. The one thing I like about this brand is the cushion on the handles. This cushion helps a lot especially if you have callouses. I also like the fact that I didn’t have to install it and the assembly is easy. It can also double as a push up stand when you put it face down on the floor. Using it this way is helpful especially if your wrists hurt while doing regular push ups.

iron-gym-pull-up-bar-
The disadvantages to this bar is that it’s not very versatile. You can only do chin ups, pull ups, push ups on it, nothing else. If you have other gym equipment, this is not a big deal. Unlike the Perfect Pull Up, the Iron Gym is not as versatile. They did come out with an extreme version that allows for different hand positions on the bar but you still can’t do other exercises with it besides the three I just mentioned. You can get this bar from Amazon for $27 to $30.

Please leave any thoughts, ideas, comments below. Thanks for reading!

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A Home Workout Equipment for under $100

A Home Workout Equipment for under $100

Posted on 27. Apr, 2010 by .

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Nowadays, people are looking for convenient solutions to their problems. A home workout equipment is a great way to remedy the problem of not having enough time to go to the gym and/or not having the money to pay for a gym membership. Having your fitness equipment at home is also helpful because you can workout whenever you want on your workout days and don’t have to worry about getting child care if you have kids. Not to mention that you’ll save yourself the trouble of fighting to get your hands on gym equipments if you go to the gym during peak hours.

Lately, I’ve been working out at home and I enjoy all the benefits that I just mentioned above. If you’ve never worked out at home before, you might think that you’d have to spend a lot of money on expensive home fitness exercise equipment like the Bowflex. To be honest, I’ve never tried one of those and I probably never will. Most home gyms cost somewhere between $300 and up and I don’t even have the space to have one at my place. So, I’ve found a great alternative to my dilemma. Today, I get a very effective, full-body workout with kettlebells.

beach_workout [You can even workout outdoors or do a beach workout with just body weight exercises if you don’t have any exercise equipments at home. Photo by Gettyimages.com]

Women usually start with an 18 lb or 8 kg kettlebell while men will do well with an 35 lb or 16 kg kettlebell. An 8 kg kettlebell costs about $63 plus shipping while an 16 kg one costs about $79.95 plus shipping at Dragondoor.com. Either way, both options are still under $100. You might think that you can’t really do much with one kettlebell. I used to think so too until I got a full workout from just one kettlebell while I was training for my instructor certification. Granted that my husband has a 35 lb one but I didn’t use it until I was a little bit more advanced which took me about 8 months of focused training.

Here are some exercises that you can do with one kettlebell:

  • Swings
  • Turkish Get-ups
  • Snatches
  • Cleans
  • Presses/Military Presses
  • Lunges
  • Squats/Goblet Squats
  • Rows
  • Halos
  • Around the world/Slingshot
  • Figure 8
  • 1-leg Squats
  • Clean and Jerks
  • Windmills
  • Bent presses and many more

I mainly use kettlebells for our weights in the bootcamp along with some jump ropes, resistance bands, and body weight exercises. This just goes to say that you can have an effective, full body, home gym workout with minimal equipment without the cost of expensive ready-made home gyms out there. If you think about it, you never have to buy another kettlebell for awhile because these things are so durable that they would probably last for your whole lifetime. Just don’t leave them outside otherwise they’ll get rusty. And, just like with anything in life, in order to really use these equipments to their full potential, you’re going to have to do some learning on your own to perform the exercises well or get a good workout program that is designed to be done with minimal equipment.

One of the programs I highly recommend if you want to do full kettlebell workouts is Kettlebell Burn by Master RKC, Geoff Neupert. I mentioned to Geoff that we named our programs the same and he said that “great minds must think alike.” So, if you know about my kettlebell e-book, just be sure that you don’t confuse mine for Geoff’s new program. His program lasts 16 weeks and it comes with a training log and a nutrition guide. After buying Kettlebell Burn and reading through it, I immediately decided that I’m going to follow it for the next 16 weeks. Geoff has designed it so that I make progress in every workout. It is a solid program.

Last note, kettlebell exercises can be technical so make sure that you take some classes with a certified instructor. The cost of paying for classes versus paying for a gym membership will be a lot cheaper in the long run because you don’t need to be paying for instruction or classes forever. Compared to a gym membership that you have to pay month after month, getting a home gym is the way to go in terms of cost and time as long as you know what you’re doing.

If you’re doing a kettlebell workout, please do let me know how it’s going in the comments section. Everything else on your mind or questions, please leave a comment as well.

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How to Measure Body Fat

How to Measure Body Fat

Posted on 14. Feb, 2010 by .

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As I got ready to enter the Turbulence Training transformation and took my starting measurements, I realized that I haven’t written a post about how to measure body fat. A lot of people tend to base their progress on the bathroom scale, the tape measure. or the body mass index but body fat is probably the most detailed measurement of progress that we can take. When we measure our body fat percentage, we can tell how much of our weight is from body fat and from lean mass or muscle. This becomes important as we take our second set of measurements at about 2-4 weeks apart, we can then tell if we are gaining muscle, losing fat, maintaining muscle, etc.

Note: the picture above the post does not have anything to do with it but I thought it was so cool and calming.

While hydrostatic body fat testing is the “gold” standard in measuring body fat, Dr. John Berardi at Precision Nutrition came up with something that’s pretty close. Most body fat measurement manuals only use 4 sites but Dr. Berardi’s system tests 7 sites for more accuracy.

The 7 testing sites are as follows:

  • Abdominal Skinfold
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Midaxillary
  • Subscapular
  • Suprailliac
  • Thigh

Before you panic and tell yourself that you don’t know half of these sites, let alone pronounce it, I actually have a document with pictures and instructions for you. You can download the Body Fat and Girth Measurement Guide by Precision Nutrition here. This guide includes step by step procedure for measuring body fat and girth (circumference) measurements. In order to use this guide successfully, you would need:

The Accu-Measure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester and

accu-measure

The MyoTape Body Tape Measure

myotape1

You can use other brands but I have found Accufitness products to be easier to use. The other ones I’ve used before were bulky and awkward to use. You would also need another person to measure your body fat sites. The girth measurements are easier to do with the Myotape but there’s no way you can measure your body fat on your own (if you find a way to do that, let me know…lol).

Inside the guide you will find that the formulas are way too difficult to calculate and very confusing. So, I created an Excel file for both men and women so that all you need to do is enter your information. After that is done, the worksheet calculates everything automatically for you. You can track up to 12 weeks worth of measurements (spaced 4 weeks apart) in this worksheet.

Download the Men’s Results Tracker here.

Download the Women’s Results Tracker here.

Before you enter your information in the Excel file, make sure that you save a blank version first so that you can use it again for the next set of 12 weeks, and so on. These are the tools that I use when I want to get myself measured and when I measure my clients. I hope you find these tools as useful as I have.

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Shape Ups or Easy Tone: An Alternative to Working Out?

Shape Ups or Easy Tone: An Alternative to Working Out?

Posted on 19. Jan, 2010 by .

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As I watched t.v. on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I saw a bunch of ridiculous weight loss commercials. But, the 2 ads that stood out the most for me were those for Skechers’ Shape Ups and Reebok’s Easy Tone. Both companies claim that wearing their shoes will help you burn calories and give you more toned legs and a rounder butt. The price? These shoes cost as much as $110! Aside from the ridiculous claims, they also come with a ridiculous price. These claims stir up some anger in me – just imagine me looking angry with smoke coming out of my ears.

If you haven’t heard of these shoes, here is an ad for Shape Ups that I found on Youtube:

If you go to Skechers’ web site, you will find that they have testimonials and “research” that back up their claims. It says that wearing Shape Ups is like walking on sand – takes more effort which therefore burns more calories compared to walking on pavement. I’m not saying that you won’t burn more calories with these shoes. But, the calories burned just won’t be enough to make you see the results that they’re suggesting you would get. You want a cheaper alternative? Just go to the beach and walk/run there. No, seriously, here is a better alternative…

A Strategy for a Rounder Butt: Kettlebell Swings

You probably know by now that I am a big fan of kettlebells. The reason for this is it’s cheaper than a lot of fitness equipments out there but it is also very effective in giving you a great total body workout at home (or anywhere you wish). They’re definitely cheaper than these shoes that will not deliver on their claim and longer lasting as most kettlebells are probably indestructible.

Want tighter glutes and sexier legs? Do swings instead and eat less.

Here is a video that I created that demonstrates what good kettlebell (KB) swings should look like:

After putting my class through their very first workout of just swings, they report being sore for days at a time. This is not unusual as most people since a lot of us forget how or don’t know how to really squeeze or activate our glute muscles. Of course, this soreness goes to a more normal cycle of about a day or 2 once you’re used to doing swings.

From my experience, I saw that my glutes got much tighter and looked a lot better in my skinny jeans ever since I did KB swings as an alternative to my high intensity intervals. But, I didn’t see this right away. It took a good 3-5 months before I even saw a difference. I used to think that a person is born with a nice butt but I think that most people can achieve a nice, rounder looking behind if they just consistently worked on targeting them on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that target training is effective either. This kind of result can only be achieved with overall fat reduction. Reduce the fat on top of your butt muscle and exercise that muscle for that “toned” look. This is the only way results happen.

By now, I am immune to infomercials for ab equipments but I see these commercials for Shape Ups and Easy Tone as another generation for exploiting the public’s need for immediate gratification. I wish having a beach body was way easier. Believe me, I would be the first person to tell you about it but it just isn’t. I know that eating less and moving more doesn’t sound very sexy compared to just walking your way to a leaner body but doing these two things will definitely save you time, money, and heartache in the long run.

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Why Do You Need to Be Flexible?

Why Do You Need to Be Flexible?

Posted on 10. Jun, 2009 by .

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Ever seen those weird looking white, round foam equipment lying around in your gym? Maybe, you’ve even seen people use it from time to time. They’re called foam rollers and it is an excellent tool for performing flexibility exercises.

I’ve always known that stretching is an important part of any fitness program. But, I didn’t know how beneficial it really is to my overall well-being until I studied flexibility training in more detail and experienced how much better I feel after doing it regularly. Now, I’m not talking about the regular stretching exercises that people usually do before and after a workout. Those are helpful too but there’s nothing like a good stretch that a foam roller provides.

Ok, I’m going to be a bit more technical for a minute and I hope I don’t confuse you in the process. Flexibility exercises that are done with foam rollers are called Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). The process is basically done by applying gentle pressure on “tight” muscles.

So, how do muscles become tight? When you perform exercises regularly, carry out repetitive movements (i.e. sitting at your desk), or simply have bad posture, your muscles tend to be overworked. Your muscles will eventually tear or form adhesions and ultimately repair itself. The problem happens when they repair and they don’t go back to their normal state. The muscles stick to each other which causes them to be stiff. Imagine a scar forming after being wounded – the skin is not as supple as it once was and it’s now replaced with hardened scar tissues. When this happens to your muscles, your movements, in exercise and everyday tasks, will not be as efficient as they once were.

Self-Myofascial Release is Like Deep Tissue Massage

Ever heard your masseuse say that your muscles are tight in some areas? Self-myofascial release basically deep tissue massage and does the same thing a massage would do to your muscles but it’s a cheaper alternative (although, I highly recommend getting a massage regularly especially for those hard to reach areas like the shoulder muscles). When done regularly, the pressure from the foam roller against your tight muscles will force them into their natural, straight alignment.

Why do I not want tight muscles?

Tight muscles can cause many problems like:

  • Increased pain from muscle soreness
  • Muscle spasms during exercises – this used to happen to my calves a lot especially while I’m running
  • Movement compensation – you won’t be able to practice full range of motion during exercises because your tight muscles are preventing you from doing so.
  • Further muscle imbalance – when some of your muscles are tight while performing any type of movement, the other muscles that participate in that movement will compensate for that muscle causing further harm to your posture and exercise form. In technical terms, this is called the Cumulative Injury Cycle

How does Self-myofascial Release work?

When you apply pressure to a tight muscle or “knot,” you decrease the activity of the muscle spindles and stimulate the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO – no, not Pontiac GTO…lol). Muscle spindles lie parallel to your muscle and they are sensitive to the change in muscle length and how fast (or slow) that muscle is lengthening while GTOs are sensitive to muscle tension and how fast (or slow) the tension is being applied. When muscle spindle activity is decreased and the GTOs are activated, your muscles relax. It is only at this time when you can “straighten” your muscle.

How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release

Basically, you can apply tension on any muscle by rolling on top of a foam roller and using your body weight to create pressure on that muscle for 20 to 30 seconds. How I wish I can demonstrate these to you myself through pictures or a video but I don’t have a photographer at the moment. But, here is an article from perform better which shows some examples of how they should be done – “Self-Myofascial Release Techniques”.

Foam rollers can be purchased from places like PerformBetter.com or Amazon.com. I suggest you get the round ones and not the half ones so that you can roll it around.

EVA Foal Roller

Currently, I’m doing 3 muscle groups a day, 3 times a week on days when I don’t workout. Most people would probably be better off doing more muscle groups at a time when they first start doing SMR but starting with just a few muscles makes it more manageable. I have to tell you that it can also be very painful especially if you have a lot of tight muscles. This may discourage some people from doing it on a regular basis but knowing the benefits that it can have on your posture and overall movement may just give you enough motivation to want to do it. I promise that you will feel better in the long run.

Lastly, most people forget that dynamic and efficient movement starts with proper posture. When your posture is not correct to begin with, your muscles will suffer in the long run which may lead to pain and injury.

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How to Use Lifting Straps

Posted on 27. Jan, 2009 by .

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When I first started lifting weights, I used 15-lb dumbbells for most of my workouts including squats, forward lunges, bulgarian split squats, etc. However, as I got stronger, I can lift heavier weights when I do these exercises. While being able to lift heavier weights is a great acccomplishment, I also found that my grip gets weaker after I have done 1 set of an exercise with heavier dumbbells in each hand. For instance, one of my workouts involve doing a superset with reverse lunges and inverted rows. I would use 35-lb dumbbells for the lunges and I won’t have a problem with the first set but my grip wouldn’t be strong enough to hold on to the bar for my inverted rows. So, what happens is I have to switch to beginner inverted rows for the last few repetitions for that exercise.

My Schiek DLS

My Schiek DLS

I was sure there was a solution to this problem and so I searched for answers until I eventually came upon the lifting straps. I used to think that I would have a difficult time putting them on because I work out at the gym by myself. So, after much research and asking questions in the Turbulence Training forums, I found the perfect pair for me. I use the Schiek 1000 Dowell Lifting Straps (DLS) which you can see in the picture to the right.

These straps are different from other brands/types because of its simple design. It consists of a sort of belt that wraps around your wrist with the strap hanging in front of your hand. Attached to the end of the strap is a dowel that acts as a wedge between the dumbbells (or any weight that you’re lifting) and your hands. You can see this demonstration in the picture below.

Basically, you wrap the strap around the weights so that the dowel ends up on the palm of your hands. One trick to learn, but it gets better with practice, is to be able to wrap the strap tightly enough before you enclose the weights with your thumb. Here is link to the video which shows you how to use them. I made an amateurish video in an attempt to demonstrate how to use but the quality is a little blurry. But, it should give you a basic idea of how to use lifting straps. Here it is:

If you want a clearer video with audio, click on this link for more instructions on how to use it.

The dowel is in between the Kettleble and my palm

The dowel is in between the Kettleble and my palm

Of course, it’s always good to develop your grip strength. So, what I do is I don’t use the lifting straps during the first set when my hands are not tired yet. Then, I put on the straps for the second and third set. This way, I am still training my grip instead of neglecting it for the whole exercise.

I would be writing about some of exercise equipments or gym must haves in the future so be sure to never miss a post by either subcribing to the RSS Feed or through e-mail. If you have any comments, feedbacks, topic suggestions, burning questions or anything under the sun, please don’t hesitate to use the comment form below. I look forward to hearing from everyone!

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What is a Kettlebell?

Posted on 14. Jan, 2009 by .

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If you don’t have a clue what a Kettlebell is, here is a picture of the ones that I own (right).

8 kg and 16 kg Kettlebells

8 kg and 16 kg Kettlebells

Kettlebells (KB) can come in different colors but it is basically a round ball made of metal, usually cast iron, with a thick handle on it. Their weight can either be measured in kilograms or pounds and can go from 8 lbs and up. KBs originally came from Russia which they have been using to train their military branches way before KBs were introduced in the United States by the Russian strength coach, Pavel Tsatsouline. I can talk about the history of KBs in more detail but I think that the benefits of using it will benefit you more.

The Kettlebell is fast becoming one of the most popular training equipment in the fitness and entertainment industry because of its versatility. Ironically, I first heard about them while I was reading Reader’s Digest (yes, I read them…haha) in an article interviewing Katherine Hiegl (who is hot by the way). Hiegl was asked what she does to stay in shape and she mentioned that she works out with kettlebells twice a week for 20 minutes. I remember going, “are you serious?”

So, the curious creature that I am, I Googled the word “Kettlebell” and I landed on the
Dragon Door Publications web site. Back then, there were only a handful of retailers selling kettlebells and sometimes their sales people (try the kitchen section?) did not even know what the heck I was talking about. To make the long story short, I bought two Kettlebells one is 8 kg. and the other one is 16 kg. I also bought an instructional DVD entitled, From Russia with Tough Love, by Tsatsouline. I know, it sounds corny but it really is tough love. I highly recommeng this DVD too because Tsatsouline goes over all the basics in every excruciating detail to make sure that you train safe.

Beginners usually start with 8 kg (~ 18 lbs) for women and 16 kg (~ 36 lbs) for men. This is a good guideline to follow because even if you’ve been lifting for awhile, Kettlebell workouts can be tough. Unlike traditional strength training or weight lifting, KBs can give you a full body workout because you are incorporating several muscle groups in one exercise. Some examples of these exercises are the KB swings and the Overhead Presses. Side note: If you look at my video from the third Turbulence Training challenge, I was doing both exercises somewhere in the middle of the video. Some other excercises that are reserved for more advanced KB users are jerks, snatches and the Turkish get up which I haven’t even done yet.

Here are some great benefits of KBs and KB workouts:

  • Builds strength and endurance which can be great for sports training or just doing everyday activities like lifting heavy objects, etc.
  • Builds core strength due to the use of your stabilizer muscles
  • The KBs compact size makes it easy to travel with. It’s like a mini-gym in a ball.
  • They can be a fun, cheaper, and more effective alternative to boring cardio
  • You can look cool (or weird) doing some exercises because no knows what the heck you’re doing (that is, if you work out in a public place)
  • KBs can double as a lethal weapon…j/k but be careful with them if you have pets or kids…haha

So, now that you’ve had your introduction to the kettlebell, I’d like to leave you with my “light” day workout. It’s not necessarily light because I sweat profusely after this workout but it is a quicker workout than my regular ones. Here it is:

Warm-up: 50 repetitions (reps) with 8 kg KB swings

Workout circuit:

30 reps with 8 kg KB swings
20 reps with 16 kg KB swing
10 Burpees
3 Eccentric Chin-ups (lowering part only for 7 seconds each time)
I took a 1 minute rest and repeated the circuit 3 more times.

This workout usually lasts for about 20 minutes but boy those are 20 minutes of hard work! The good thing about this workout is I always have fun doing them. It never gets old because there are many other KB exercises to choose from which are just as tough, if not tougher. I can almost feel the fat melt off of me when I do these!

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