Thursday, October 9, 2008

10 Things You Need to Know About Kettlebells - Part 1

Copyright (c) 2008 Anderson Training Systems

They say first impressions last the longest. In the case of kettlebells, my first impression was way off. I was formally introduced to kettlebells about three years ago by my colleague Josh Henkin during one of our weekend training sessions. My wife got hooked on them and almost immediately started looking for them on eBay. To say I was a little hesitant about kettlebells would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, when I learned that she had purchased a pair of 12 kg kettlebells, I believe my comment was something like, "You can do the exact same thing with dumbbells."

My how things have changed. I now have at least 10 kettlebells in my facility and will probably add a few more in the relatively near future. I also drag around another six or so in my truck for my outdoor fitness camps. I'm sure some of you are thinking that I have gone and drunk the proverbial kool-aid.

No, what actually happened was I realized two things.

1. All of the best coaches that I know use them for many different types of clients. Whether they're coaching for athletic development, fat-loss, powerlifting or hypertrophy, you will likely see kettlebells being used during some portion of a training day. There must be some merit to the implement if all those guys use them with their clients.

2. As a coach and businessman, I can't afford to ignore such a versatile implement. I have a limited amount of square footage and a limited budget so it is important for me to invest in equipment that I can get a lot out of in a small amount of space.

In other words, kettlebells are just too big a deal and too good a tool to ignore. Whether you are a fitness competitor or a powerlifter, there are many reasons you should at least consider kettlebells. These are my top 10:

1. Pound for pound they are the best piece of home equipment you can purchase. Not nearly as expensive, and they take up a helluva a lot less space than the "clothes hanger" err... treadmill many of you have. For a modest investment, you can get a kettlebell, an instructional DVD, and probably one or two sessions with a local instructor - a much more effective start to a fitness program than "some assembly required."

2. Price Point - They say duplication is the highest form of flattery. Well, that must be true in the case of kettlebells. It used to be that you could only get kettlebells at Dragon Door. Now there are no fewer than a half-dozen other distributors out there. Are they all the same quality bell? No, but if you do a little research and ask around, you can find out who is selling the best bell at the best price.

3. Instant Feedback Loop - One of the keys to coaching is having the client/athlete understand the difference between proper and improper technique. With the kettlebell, drills such as cleans and snatches provide clients/athletes with instant feedback. The way the kettlebell falls gives them a not so subtle reminder of their improper technique, and after a workout or two, they won't have any trouble with the technique at all.

4. Teach Olympic Lifts Fast - The bane of teaching Olympic lifting has always been that the lifts are difficult to teach. Kettlebells make an excellent segue. Not only can you teach variants of the Olympic lifts but things can be taken back a notch farther. One of the first things you learn, even in the most basic kettlebell drills, is hip drive.

5. Great for Fat-Loss - I don't know if there is a better, more easily learned drill than a two-handed kettlebell swing. There are so many different complexes available that the opportunities for ass-kicking fat-loss work are endless. If you could do only one drill, this is it because what you need for fat-loss is to move a load for as long as possible. That's exactly what kettlebells allow you to do and you can add some speed as well.

: article by Troy Anderson [ Troy M. Anderson is the owner of Anderson Training Systems, LLC, a fitness coaching business based in Tempe, Arizona. Troy is often referred to as "the MacGyver of coaching" for his unique ability to build effective fitness programs using only the most basic equipment. For more articles and instructional video visit Fitness Ain't Pretty- RESULTS ARE! ]

Monday, September 8, 2008

Top 5 Fat Burning Exercises

If you are going to the gym and spending too much time while not getting the results you deserve, then you probably aren't using the right exercises.

Over my 16 years of training and training men and women for fat loss, I've stumbled across the "Big 5" movements that must be used in a total-body fat burning, muscle-building workout.

The "Big 5" movements are guaranteed to boost your metabolism and help you lose belly fat. If you don't have these types of exercises in your program, then you are wasting your time and money when trying to lose fat.

So I designed this workout around the Big 5, and put them into a circuit to help you get more results in less time. But first, let's go over the Big 5 fat burning exercises...

Actually, let me clarify something. The Big 5 are not specific exercises. Instead, they are specific movements, but this allows for a huge number of exercises to be used, and therefore a lot of variety in your workouts. And don't forget, variety is one of the 3 main principles that explain why the short, burst exercise workouts work so well.

Here are the Big 5 movements, starting with the most important of them all.

1) Squat movements

This could be a barbell squat to a dumbbell squat, it could be a deadlift because that's the same type of movement, or it could even be a kettlebell or dumbbell swing, which is becoming a very popular exercise these days.

Kettlebells are becoming more popular for fat-burning because it's just that movement of pushing your hips back, bending you knees, and dropping your body. You're moving your entire body there.

The squat movement allows you to do a lot of mechanical work which is one of the keys to burning a lot of calories. So that's the first movement in the "Big 5". Always start your Big 5 workouts with a squat.

Please note: Lunges and split-squats also qualify as a "Squat-type" movement, even though you will also be able to use them in the Single-Leg Exercise category below. Sometimes the lines blur between movement types for such great multi-muscle exercises.

2) Pushing exercises

The next exercise to use is any type of push-up or dumbbell press or bench press or even standing shoulder press. Again, very large amount of muscle to be used in those exercises that burn a lot of calories.

Plus, using the "non-compete" principle of the short, burst exercises, by using a pushing exercise next, we let our leg muscles recover (and often our grip strength too, depending on the first movement used).

3) Pulling exercises

The next movement is any type of pulling exercise, so it could be rowing or pull-ups, dumbbell rows, seated rows, anything in a pulling motion is going to work a lot of musculature so a lot of your upper back, some of your arms, your lats, and even a little bit of your lower back if you keep that - by holding yourself in that static upright position.

This is a powerful fat burning, muscle-building movement. You could even use the deadlift at this time because it is a pulling movement. Again, often the lines blur between movement types for such great multi-muscle exercises.

And at this time, you'd have gotten about 80-90% of your results. So if you are really crunched for time, you could stick to only the first 3 movement patterns. But if you want to put the finishing touches on your body and rev up your metabolism even more, then you'll need the last 2 pieces of the Big 5 circuit.

4) Single leg exercises

This could be a dumbbell lunge or split squat or a reverse lunge or a single leg squat, anything that works one leg at a time. Because you're using the lower body, it's a lot of musculature.

This is a tricky movement to do right after the Pulling movement, because your grip strength will be fatigued from the rowing or chin-ups or whatever you did. So try to use a bodyweight only single-leg exercise, such as the 1- leg squat or 1-leg lying hip extension.

This would also be a great place for a single-leg stability ball leg curl, or a single-leg exercise holding the barbell across your back. If you must use a dumbell exercise, choose the Bulgarian Split Squat or DB Step-up because less weight is needed than for lunges or split squats (and therefore less competition for grip occurs).

5) Total body ab exercises

The final movement in the Big 5 circuit could be anything from a mountain climber to a stability ball rollout, it could be using the old infomercial gadget - the Ab Wheel since that works great - or it could be a hanging knee raise. Alternatives include cable chops and cable crunches if you have access to cables in a gym.

But you'll notice these aren't just basic crunches. Instead, you're working your arms, legs, and torso. That's why you must use a total-body ab exercise to finish off the Big 5 circuit workout.

Those are all the exercises that you could use for the Big 5 movements.

Fortunately, you have an endless variety of exercises and set-ups that you can choose.

If you did those exercises, you would have a total body workout, you'd have an incredible muscle-building, fat-burning, metabolism-boosting training session and if you did that type of stuff 3 days per week and maybe did your interval training after each circuit you'd lose a lot of belly fat. Man, it would just melt right off!

That's my Big 5 exercise movement system for building a better body.

If you want to burn fat, you want to build muscle, and you want results that are absolutely guaranteed, implement the Big 5 into your workout today.

To recap, here are the Big 5 Movements:




Single Leg Exercise

Total Body Ab Exercise

: article by Craig Ballantyne [ Discover the 5 cardio fat loss mistakes preventing you from losing fat at Get your free report on the Dark Side of Cardio from Men's Health Expert and Turbulence Training creator Craig Ballantyne. ]