Train like an athlete…move like an athlete

Athletes of all types are using kettlebells to increase their power, conditioning, and overall performance. No other training tool allows movement through all planes of motion, helps improve mobility, and provides such efficient cardiovascular conditioning. For an athlete, the benefits of kettlebell training transfers directly into their sport. Bodybuilders, and anyone interested in aesthetics can also benefit from kettlebells. After all, better-conditioned muscles are able to perform more work during a traditional split routine workouts.

There are arguably four foundational lifts that are performed with kettlebells, in which all other lifts derive: the Swingthe Snatchthe Clean and Jerk, and the Squat. When performed correctly, they force the user to move through multiple planes of motion during each repetition. Traditional exercises with barbells and dumbbells limit the user to simply one plane of motion (usually forward and backward or up and down.) The multi-planer exercises you find in a kettlebell workout (see below) are extremely effective in developing functional strength and aerobic conditioning in a very short amount of time.

Kettlebell Workout
Perform 5 rounds, moving move from exercise to exercise without putting the kettlebell down. Use a kettlebell that weighs between 35 and 55 pounds. Rest for one minute between each round.

  1. 25 Kettlebell Swings
  2. 10 Clean and Jerk (alternating arms)
  3. 15 Snatches (alternating arms)
  4. 25 Goblet Squats

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Increased mobility is an important side-benefit of kettlebell training as well. Too often, you see gym regulars walk around with horrible posture, tight lats and pecs, and poor hamstring flexibility. Regular training with kettlebells can help address these problems. The loading and unloading of the hips/hamstrings/glutes during a Kettlebell Swing will help with hamstring flexibility and postural issues. Proper “fixation” (a slight pause at the top of each repetitions) in the lockout position will help increase shoulder/wrist stability and triceps strength. Attaining full lockout positions with overhead press and snatches will improve shoulder/lat flexibility issues. The dynamics of the movements allow for improved range of motion further extending the potential of the athlete.

Lastly, kettlebells are effective at conditioning the cardiovascular system. Traditional “hamster” cardio sessions — walking on the treadmill at a slow pace — is becoming archaic. Kettlebells can take your heart rate into the 180′s in a short amount of time without the undo stress on the joints (depending on lifting style). This type of cardio is far superior to the low and slow type because it is so difficult for your body to get acclimated to the high intensity. At first, it may only take a few rounds for your heart rate to reach zone 5 or 6, but as you get more conditioned, you will need to work harder since your body can handle more work.

If you want to start incorporating kettlebells into your program, get some tips from a coach who is familiar with them. Don’t be that guy in the gym who uses kettlebells to do concentration curls. They deserve more respect than that.

Kettlebells & Girevoy Sport 101

Blog post from our very own kettlebell instructor Bea Rodriguez

 

Follow her blog here 
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What is a kettlebell?
It’s a ball of metal with a handle. It’s a simple, portable workout tool designed to develop full-body conditioning and fitness. You can use kettlebells to compete ingirevoy sport (GS) or kettlebell sport (more on this later), or to perform various movements to improve your strength, conditioning, agility and balance.  There are several kinds of kettlebells; two of the most common ones are the cast-iron and competition style kettlebells.

What’s the difference between Cast-iron Kettlebells and Competition Kettlebells?
Both kinds have a metal ball, a handle, and a flat base. Which kind you use depends on your goals and preference.

Below is a picture of a cast-iron kettlebell. Made of cast-iron, it’s usually black and and comes in many sizes. The heavier the kettlebell, the bigger the dimensions of the bell. Also, the handles can get thicker as the weight increases. This kind is used for general fitness, most commonly used for hardstyle training. Hardstyle is all about generating power, strength and explosiveness. Each repetition of a move — such as the swing, snatch, press or squat — requires maximum tension, followed by relaxation. A basic principle in hardstyle training is power production, as opposed to power conservation.

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Below is a picture of a competition kettlebell. Made of steel, it comes in different colors, according to weight. Unlike the cast-iron kind, its dimensions and handle size do not change as it gets heavier. The lighter bells are more hollow; they become more and more solid as they increase in weight. This uniform design makes it easier to perfect your technique with a lighter bell; as you “graduate” to using heavier bells, you do not have to adjust your technique to various shapes and handle sizes. Competition kettlebells are used for both general fitness and girevoy sport (GS) training or kettlebell sport. GS style training is all about building power and work capacity, or strength endurance — the ability to work with sub-maximal loads for extended periods of time. This is a key difference with hardstyle training — typically, because of the emphasis on high tension for each repetition, hardstyle lifts are not meant to be performed for extended periods of time. Thus, GS movements are more efficient and fluid in nature, as the lifter conserves power in order to lift for 10 minutes straight, which is the standard time for GS competitions.

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What is girevoy sport?
Girevoy sport (GS), or kettlebell sport, is a power/strength-endurance sport that requires athletes to work under a sub-maximal load, lifting their kettlebell/s for as many repetitions as possible in a 10-minute time frame. Gireviks (kettlebell sport lifters) are not allowed to set their kettlebells down in the 10-minute time frame.

There are 4 main events in kettlebell sport:
*Jerk: Women clean 1 kettlebell to the chest once, then jerk them overhead as many times as possible. Men use 2 bells.
*Long Cycle (Clean and Jerk): Women clean 1 kettlebell to the chest prior to each jerk. Men use 2 bells.
*Snatch: Both men and women use 1 bell: they swing the bell between the legs and bring it to overhead position in one uninterrupted motion.
*Biathlon: This is the combined score of two events: the Jerk and Snatch.

When competing in the snatch or single-arm events, the lifter can switch hands only once during the 10-minute set. A judge and counter are assigned to each athlete, to ensure that only correctly performed lifts are counted.

Several organizations host events locally, nationally, and internationally. Among them are International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF), World Kettlebell Club (WKC), International Union of Kettlebell Lifting (IUKL), and American Kettlebell Club (AKC), to name a few. Each organization has its own ranking tables, which are categorized according to event, gender, age, weight division, and kettlebell weight. For many athletes, the ultimate goal is to achieve the ranking of Master of Sport (MS). For example, using the IKFF Ranking Table, if you are an adult female competing in the snatch event in the 59kg division, to achieve MS ranking you must lift a 20kg kettlebell at least 124 times within 10 minutes. If you are an adult male competing in the jerk event in the 90kg division, to achieve MS ranking you must lift a 32 kg kettlebell at least 103 times within 10 minutes. Here is a link to the IKFF Ranking Table.

Where did kettlebells come from?
Thierry Sanchez, an esteemed kettlebell sport coach based in Denmark, has a great article about the history of kettlebells in his blog. Check it out here.

What are the benefits of kettlebell training?
Some benefits of kettlebell training include:
*improved strength
*incredible work capacity (strength endurance)
*enhanced athleticism (flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, etc)
*weight loss
*mental toughness
*lean and functional muscle mass
*sport and combat applications

Whether you want to compete or not, kettlebell training is great for improving your overall strength, conditioning and athleticism. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Is kettlebells for everyone?
Yes. Whether you are a novice or advanced athlete, you can use kettlebells for fitness and/or kettlebell sport. The key is finding a qualified, certified kettlebell instructor who will teach you the techniques correctly and safely. Here is a link to the directory of kettlebell instructors certified by International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation: http://www.ikff.net/about/find-an-instructor.html

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For future reference, I have added a new page on this blog called “Glossary.” It contains a glossary of terms related to kettlebells and girevoy sport. I will keep updating the content of this page, including video clips that demonstrate kettlebell movements and lifts.

Do you have a question about kettlebells or kettlebell sport? Please reply to this post – I’d be happy to answer them.

xoxo
Kettle Bea

 

Should I join a Crossift gym?

Crossfit is everywhere. From ESPN, to magazines, to your local street corner. “Boxes” are popping up in a similar fashion as Starbucks coffee shops. Your friends are doing “WODs” and you see your co-workers eating paleo approved lunches. Now your intrigued by this fitness movement. You are bored doing the same stuff at the gym and are contemplating about joining Crossfit (enter your neighborhood here). Is this type of training right for you?

What is it?

Crossfit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity); this can be MANY things. From Olympic lifting, sled pulling, ball throwing, bench pressing, and rowing; Crossfit’s umbrella basically covers anything fitness training related. Various reps/sets schemes are implemented to keep challenging the body; nothing new here.

What I like:

1) Supportive environment; there is a large focus on motivating, encouraging, and helping fellow athletes through the workout

2) Focus on full range of motion; just like in Girevoy Sport (kettlebell sport); repetitions must be completed properly in order for them to count towards the “score”

3) Excellent exercise selection; much of the movements used in Crossfit workouts are the same moves that will deliver results (squats, deadlifts, sprints, throws, pullups, dips, etc)

4) Great rep/scheme protocols; every minute on the minute, 30s on 30s off etc

What I don’t like:

1) Not for everyone; while some Crossfit gyms offer scalable workouts and onramp programs for new members the workouts are challenging; folks with poor cardiovascular conditioning will struggle

2) Risk of injury; many movements are very technique based (Olympic lifts, deadlifting) and require much hands on practice (one cannot simply expect to learn all the in’s and out’s of Olympic lifting in a weekend)

3) Risk of training at a high intensity; any training at high intensities pose risks. It’s important that de-conditioned folks properly assess (or be assessed by a professional) to see if Crossfit is a viable option

4) Poor form when going towards full threshold; highly technical moves performed when exhausted is just a disaster waiting to happen. This also poses risk to susceptible areas such as wrists, elbows, low back, knees, shoulders, and the neck).

What are my thoughts on joining a Crossfit gym?

MAJORITY of the people that you see on TV, read about in magazines, or watch on Youtube that perform Crossfit workouts/train for Crossfit competitions were fit BEFORE they got into Crossfit.

They did NOT just one day wipe ice cream off their face, stand up from the couch, brush the crumbs off their gut and walk into a Crossfit gym ready to rumble.

They put their time in the gym, in the pools/water, on the field. They already know what dedication means, what “give it your all” feels like, how giving up hurts more than open wounds.

Be careful when planning your training programs (that is to assume that most folks do PLAN their programs which is silly of me to assume)

Crossfit is the next big thing in the fitness industry and IT WILL NOT GO AWAY. Folks need to understand that it may NOT be the best choice to help them reach their goals (right now) but it can help them when they are physically ready.

There is this type of Crossfit

And there is this type of Crossfit

Evofit ice cream sandwiches

From an Evo client; basically took the awesome combination of frozen banana+peanut butter and put them into “cookies” made using my “mud cake” recipe.

Ice Cream Sandwiches (makes around three sandwiches)

For the ice cream:

Blend the following: 1 to 1.5 bananas, 2.5 to 3 ounces almond butter or natural peanut butter (no sugar added), ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk (optional – helps to make it smoother).

Put mixture into cupcake trays to freeze as circles (make sure to spray tray with nonstick spray) or other shape you desire.

For the cookie:

Mix 1.5 scoops chocolate whey protein, 2 tablespoons of coconut or almond flour, 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsweetened dark cocoa and 8 to 10 tablespoons of egg whites (enough to make a thick cookie batter consistency). Separate batter into 6 portions and form cookies on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

For the sandwich:

Place a frozen ice cream circle (best if sits at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften a little) between two room temperature cookies and eat.

PCF= 23/22/17

 

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Cooking fish 101; Evofit style

People are sometimes intimidated by the act of cooking fish. Folks will turn to the oven as their preferred way of cooking , which likely results in an overcooked, rubbery piece of fish.

Pan searing is a simple and quick way to prepare fish fillets. Works well with all types of white fish (flaky..not meaty).

Barramundi fillets are used in the pictures below. Enjoy!

Season fish with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice; if frozen fish is used, ensure that the fillets are completely thawed (best method to thaw frozen fish is in the refrigerator overnight).

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Spray a hot skillet (we use a heavy cast iron skillet) with canola oil (or other high heat oil…NOT VEGETABLE OIL). Sear the fillets for 2 minutes then flip and sear for another 2 minutes. *You will hear the fish “kiss” the skillet the moment you place them in, this tells you that you are performing a proper sear.

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Remove fish from the heat when finished and serve. For this particular meal, we served the Barramundi with garlic white rice and stir fried green beans.

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Kitchen essentials

Before one can even fathom the idea of getting in the best shape of their life (both in terms of health, fitness, and aesthetics); they need to first conquer the most difficult challenge that any body transformation demands; proper nutrition. There is however, something that comes even BEFORE proper nutrition. Does wholesome and balanced meals just appear in your fridge? Do you open our oven to find a perfectly cooked, flavorful, and visually appealing beef roast? Does a high protein lunch with energy providing carbohydrates and heart healthy fats pack itself with you to work? Highly unlikely. Having the proper tools/hardware is important (and essential) to sticking to a sound and results oriented nutrition program. Follow our recommendations below. The “Basics”

  • High quality cutting knives (chef’s knife, pairing knife, serrated knife)
  • Knife sharpener (or a sharpening steel)
  • Multiple cutting boards (to avoid cross contamination; avoid glass cutting boards; if possible opt for colored coded boards for meats and veggies )
  • 1 large and 1 small non-stick skillet (for fish and eggs)
  • Deep metal wok (for stir fry’s)
  • 1 large heavy cast iron skillet (cast iron cookware heats evenly and retains heat very well, also provides much needed iron)
  • Measuring cups and spoons (accurately measure items like cooked rice and peanut butter)
  • Digital food scale (precision portions/measurements is paramount; having a food scale is an easy, effective, and quick way to ensure your portions are exact)
  • Large, medium, and small sized pots (for stock, simmering, and sauces)
  • Multiple baking sheets (commercial grade if possible; for roasting, broiling, baking, etc)
  • Good set of air tight food storage containers
  • Can opener
  • 2 silicone spatulas (large/small)
  • Metal spatula (for cast iron skillet)
  • Cooking utensils (slotted spoon, ladle, tongs, whisk)
  • Lime/lemon juicer (squeeze kind)

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Evofit Chocolate Blizzard!

Ingredients:

1 box SFFF (sugar free fat free) chocolate pudding mix

2 scoops chocolate protein powder

2 cups skim milk

1/2 cup FF (fat free) plain Greek yogurt

1/3 to 1/2 tub of FF whipped topping

Whisk together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until all contents are combined. Pour mixture into two separate containers (glass, mug, bowl etc) and place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Top with a few tablespoons of whipped topping before serving.

Makes 2 servings

PCF per serving= 27/29/7 (made with almond milk and 1/3 tub of whipped topping)

 

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