Hi guys. A common thread in my coaching sessions as I travel around our various campus locations helping you with your kettlebell technical practice, is your desire to “try something new and different” with your fitness. It seems that we have all been drawn to the kettlebell because we haven’t tried it before.
When I say “we,” I mean you. I’ve been using girevoy (not exclusively, but regularly) for more than a decade and am quite comfortable with it. It’s not new or different to me anymore and yet, I still find the work challenging and an effective tool in my quest to stay strong. But it is far from being the only arrow in my quiver.
So what is it with this requirement that our fitness be so interesting in order for it to keep our attention? And are we sure that “interesting” is really what we’re looking for? Shouldn’t we be looking for fitness options that are sustainable and progressive, training models that produce results and prioritize our body’s need for attention over our mind’s constant need to be satiated?
When we at The Whole U decided to introduce the kettlebell to you, our family audience, we did so because we knew you’d probably really like it. At the very least, we knew it would be an effective fitness modality for any of you willing to give “the gym on a handle” a shot. We aimed high, of course, and convinced 1,200 of you to give girevoy a go in front of the Guinness Book of World Records folks, and by extension, the world itself. We like to go big.
Now, in addition to continuing to develop your kettlebell work, we’d like you to take another leap with us into the fitness realm and give the concepts of functional fitness and team training a try.
Take a second and study Mike’s and my board. You’ll see a couple of weeks worth of workouts that have either simply kicked our trash, or left us asking each other for help up and down the stairs for three days post. By the way, there are no days, except active rest days, where at least the former hasn’t been accomplished. We hit the box downstairs to train, not sit-and-knit.
Now take another look and see if you notice anything, um, new and different.
Exactly. Almost all of that stuff on our board is old-school playground fun. Very little of it requires any equipment; it’s mostly bodyweight stuff with some heavy lifting mixed in. Each day, we reach into the imaginary hat and pull out a bunch of options. We discuss what we’ve performed over the last few days and pick something different—maybe an alternate movement, or maybe a different sequence, or maybe a different intensity…and maybe all of the above
Each day, Mike does his prescribed mobility work to warm and open his shoulders and strengthen his right leg, which is a little wonky from an old injury and severe arthritis. He has made a habit of favoring it over the years instead of concentrating on its rehabilitation and habituation of proper movement. So each day before he trains, he goes through these exercises. This, I’m sure, bores him to death; I often catch him rushing through it. It’s ten minutes, man! Even the most disciplined among us can be guilty of requiring too much intellectual engagement from our training. Ahem. Husband.
Whatever boredom he wrestles during his mobility work, is more than made up for when we get into the W.O.D. (workout of-the day). Sometimes we will do the prescribed W.O.D. from the Crossfit main site. We are both Level One Crossfit Trainers and should probably be doing the prescribed W.O.D.s every day, but eh, we seem to entertain ourselves quite well using our own imagination as a “hopper.”
Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups. Burpees, squats, box jumps. Squat jumps, atomics, chandeliers. Old school staples. No heavy equipment required; all bodyweight exercises. Any stable bench can be used for box jumps, and a door mount pull-up bar can be picked up at TJ Maxx for about ten bucks.
Sprints, broad jumps, walking lunges, scissor jumps, tuck jumps, high-knees…where do I stop? My point: you got arms and legs? You got a workout.
In our home gym (“the box”) we have lots of stuff, mostly low-tech. Mike uses the elliptical machine or the stationary bike if he’s got a cardio slog on the schedule; I prefer the treadmill. We’ve got a cool, compact Parabody weight stack combo machine that doesn’t see much use except for seated leg presses at high weight. And sometimes I’ll catch Mike using the lat pull-down thing. Otherwise, it mostly collects dust. We’re pretty much using dumbbells, kettlebells, slam balls, and the Olympic (barbell) weights, which are all free—not connected to a pulley system or a tower. Free weights ask the body to respond to all sorts of forces at one time and are great instruments in everyone’s training.
Still, you can get a great workout using nothing more than your bodyweight and your own imagination. If you browse over our board again, you’ll see that most of our work is bodyweight work; you’ll see that we do a lot of the same stuff in varied order; and you’ll see that in two or three weeks worth of work, we have not repeated a single workout. Even when things look similar, changing the sequence of things gives a different challenge to the body. Sometimes, your legs will get particularly fried and sometimes your lungs feel like they may burst. Sometimes you’ll assemble the same four moves you did two days ago in a different order and you’ll find abdominal soreness tomorrow that you didn’t have yesterday. Or maybe you pick five movements and set a time limit to get the work done–intensity changes everything.
So where am I going with all of this? It’s simple. Being strong is not supposed to be optional. It’s a necessary thing. Our bodies are the vehicles that carry our minds, and our abilities to good in the world. If we want to live optimal lives, we have to be strong and well. We already know this. But many of us think we don’t know how to do this.
Focus on the “doing” and not the “thinking” end of things for a half-hour each day. Just make a simple decision, each day, to move your body in a way that challenges it. It’s not rocket science. And to prove it’s not rocket science, I, the most rocket-scientifically-challenged amongst us, am gonna help you.
How? Well, my fitness philosophies are mostly built around the concept of balance, or maybe “exchange” would be a better word for it. The physical efforts we put forth should result in gains. Benefits. Rewards. Abilities. Growth.
Yesterday, one of my athletes said, “I work out so I can eat.” Yep. Benefit. I mean, she can eat anyway, but what I think she meant was that she can eat what she wants—maybe sweets, maybe larger portions. Wine. Beer. Chocolate. You know, the basic food groups.
Occasionally, rare as it may be, I hear, “I just like the way I feel after a workout.” That, is a reward in and of itself, but it probably means that her workouts have broader benefits than just immediately after she trains. I identify with this one, sort of, because I know that if I train every day I don’t engage in negative self-talk– something that is a real battle for me. My workout somehow frees me from being disappointed in myself for that day. (Let’s try and not psychoanalyze me right now, mkay?) In general, liking the way you feel after a workout can have both physical and emotional manifestations. Rewards!
Husband, by far, is the most disciplined person I have ever met. He has a bomb-proof temperament, intense intellectual and professional focus, and an insatiable penchant for Diet Coke and chocolate, which he has managed to turn into a discipline of its own. He will tell you that he works out in order to neutralize the consequences of his vices, but it’s not the whole truth. Mike likes knowing he can.
He can do everything you see on the Never Bored Board. And then some. On average, he’s knocking out a hundred squats a day, a hundred pull-ups a week, two-hundred push-ups a week and four-hundred sit-ups a week, PLUS whatever else comes out of the hopper for each day’s workout. He does a heavy lifting day of deadlifts or back squats or thrusters every week and sets a one-round-max on all of these once a month. He swings a 45 lb. bell, slams a 40 lb. ball and rows 500 meters in under two minutes. His abilities are incredible, particularly for someone nearly 65 years old. His gains in ability and growth are astounding.
We self-train. And so can you.
Here’s a way you can get all sorts of gains, all while training at no expense–no gym or membership required, and you can do it with your friends and colleagues during your downtime at work, never interrupting your responsibilities at home. How’s THAT for “exchange?”
And who knows, between setting up your own workouts and creatively adding your own flavor to them and meeting, interacting, and engaging others, there might be something “interesting” in it for you “I need something new and different” types, too.
JOIN ME FOR A TWO-DAY SERIES ON THE BASICS OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS AND TEAM TRAINING
Here’s what’s involved:
“We’re better together.” Form a team of four individuals, and pick a team name and a team captain. If you don’t have a team and would like us to assign you to a team, we will make introductions and help you get started. Don’t be shy; we will work thoughtfully to connect you to a group that’s a good fit for you.
Your team will meet with me twice to learn a few essential functional fitness movements and do a workout together. Plan to be with me for 45 minutes of your lunch hour those days. Your team can pick a Monday and Thursday instructional series or a Tuesday and Friday instructional series. We will plan to gather in the “Garage Gym” at noon each day. The dates are as follows:
Monday, April 21 and Thursday, April 24 (FULL)
Tuesday, May 6 and Friday, May 9 (FULL)
Monday, May 12 and Thursday May 15 (FULL)
Tuesday, May 13 and Friday May 16 (FULL)
Register here. After your instruction series is complete, your teams are encouraged to meet three days a week and drill the movement skills together in a new workout each day that will challenge you in a new order and you might add a new element…just for fun. Each team of four will decide on a mutually agreeable date, place, and time to perform their training. You can work with just your team, or you might like working with another team and challenging (with love and encouragement of course) the other team for dominance.
If you’re up to the task, and ready to commit to your fitness and to your team for the summer, the Summer of Function Fitness Challenge officially begins on June 1st. Sign up for early registration here.
In the days to come, we’ll make sure you have enough information to spark your interest. All fitness categories are welcome to participate, so make sure your cycling friends, your running buddies and your acro-yogis hear about the challenge. Everyone is encouraged to join us, no matter what you do to stay active. Form a team of four, name it, pick a captain and commit to exercising together three times a week from June 1 to August 31. Cake, right?
The Summer of Function Challenge ends August 31 and training logs are due on September 8. Team captains will be in charge of the training logs and your team’s submissions. The Whole U team will supply instructions and support along the way. Stay tuned for a full outline of the challenge!
Once the challenge is complete and the accounting is done, all teams will be acknowledged and certified. Teams meeting the minimum criteria of participation will be rewarded in a creative way of my choosing (barbeque at the house, maybe?). We will definitely want you to share your team’s stories with the group, so polish up your public speaking. This series is for you, by you. It’s all about you. And, if I know Lauren, Assistant Director of The Whole U, she’s probably already chasing down lots of awesome swag and goodies for you.
Of course, Mike says he’ll join if there’s chocolate. Good grief.
Somebody asked me today to give some definitions for the acronyms and funny-names on The Never Bored Board.
BWDL: Body Weight Dead Lift (might say @50%, meaning 1/2 of your body weight). This movement really should be taught properly… I suppose we better find a way to get into the ICA and teach this movement.
GHDSU: Glute/Ham Developer (apparatus) Sit Up (in the absence of a GHD rig, these sit-ups can be pretty well accomplished by having a friend hold your feet really tight to the ground while you sit up really hard with straight legs).
Atomics: A sit-up wherein you balance on the fat of your butt, shoot your legs and body out straight and then bring them back in with power, never relaxing the abs.
Chandeliers: lay on your back holding onto a standing friend’s ankles or the bottom of a couch, a closed door, or other stationary object, while you bring your feet (straight legs) straight up above your face. Return them to the ground without actually touching the ground.
WTD: this is just an abbreviation for “weighted.” Weighted sit-ups, weighted squats, whatever.
OLY: if I use this abbreviation, it denotes that we are lifting with the Olympic bar (barbell), which is a standardized weight of 45lbs. Unless you’re adding bumper weights onto it, in which case I’ll usually just total the weight and write something like, “OLY 65.”
Push Press: these are free-weight presses using dumbbells, unless I decide we are using the OLY bar. Push presses start with the bells at the shoulders (bent arms) and drive to full extension above the head (straight arms). You want to drive through the heels and glutes to assist the dumbbells’ velocity. Remember, your legs can go all day- might as well us ‘em. Don’t let the dumbbells crash down onto your shoulders on the way back down. Guide them down in a prepared mindset.
Thrusters, Cleans, Push-jerks: these movements really shouldn’t be experimented with without a watchful eye on you. Let’s skip this one for now (but anybody who wants a clinic on these movements, shoot me an email and we’ll figure something out). They are important, but they are advanced.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE PROGRAMMING ASSISTANCE, please email me and I will help you think through your goals and how to make sure you’re well-rounded and safe…and having fun.