It’s been a few weeks since our last school holiday so, in typical UAE fashion, another extended holiday is happening this week. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love holidays and am sure my kid loves being out of school. But as an entrepreneur, these frequent closures make running a business extremely difficult. If I ever get to come back to this earth, I want it to be as a student in Dubai.
While UAE National Day (and the two extra days that will follow it, plus the weekend) is a wonderful holiday to celebrate, you might not be one of the fortunate few who can get away for a mini-holiday. And with the kids at home, you might even feel a little screwed out of your normal fitness routine.
If that sounds a little like you, here’s a little help with your holiday fitness planning.
Holiday Fitness Quickie Planner
You need a pencil, paper and possibly some friends and family members to help. I like to involve my son so he can draw up a nice poster for motivation.
Step 1. Available Equipment
List all your home exercise equipment options. This could include pillows for jump overs, a bench for push-ups, stairs for step ups, a long hallway for walking lunges, a carpet for crawling, etc. Or you could simply skip to Step 3.
Step 2. 2 Minute Brainstorm
List all the exercises you could do with or without any of the equipment you identified. My favorites are push-ups, walking lunges, 180 degree spin jumps, drop squats, curtsy lunges with side squats, long jumps, burpees and plank variations.
Step 3. Chose your format.
Countless ways exist to turn this basic information into a workout session. Here, I’ll give you two easy ones, perfect for holiday days when you may want to get on with other things.
How long do you want to exercise? Lets assume 20 minutes. Next, choose a good work versus rest interval that suits your fitness level.
- 40s work: 20s rest for advanced (total set = 1 minute)
- 30s work: 30s rest for intermediate
- 20s work: 40s rest for starters
Since each set is 1 minute, you’ll do 20 sets of exercise. You can alternate from your brainstormed list in step 2, or simply chose a few moves for today and do those. During the rest portion of your interval, especially at the starter level, keep your rest active by marching. DON’T SIT.
Pick 5 exercises out of the list. Do 10 repetitions of each (on each side as necessary) before moving onto the next exercise. Continue until you’ve done all 5 exercises for 10 repetitions each. Rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 5 rounds or until your time is done. Reduce the number of repetitions as needed to keep good form.
Getting the kids involved in the planning goes a long way in having them want to participate. You can play around with taking turns chosing the exercises, times or format. Pack some water, and head to a local park or green space for a family holiday fitness quickie.
Need extra help or guidance for your at home or gym workouts?
KULT offers both online training and monthly programming packages. We develop a plan based on your preferred training frequency, goals and available equipment, and follow it up with regular motivation and accountability to ensure you are keeping up to your end of the bargain. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Wow! I can’t believe it’s Sunday already and time for a new roundup of great fitness reads. Note that I’ll be away next week in California so unable to give you the week’s review. So I’ll be back the following Sunday with 2 weeks worth!
Top Contenders for the Best Fitness Articles this Week
Two things don’t usually sell well: Truth and Prevention. This is a great overview of some myths that keep showing up in popular media that people really need to stop believing.
This one is for my fitnesspro pals out there and for anyone who was possibly put off by one who promoted what seemed to be an impossibly difficult journey to their “happy island.” Perspective folks. Lets never lose sight of why we became fit pros in the first place, to help people – where ever they are today.
Sheesh, you might think I have a huge crush on Dean for showcasing another of his articles in my top contenders. Maybe it’s because he’s a fellow Canadian. More likely because he’s a super smart guy and I – and about 50% of the entire adult population – has a history of shoulder issues. Admittedly I love anyone who uses a Turkish Get Up for shoulder health! Great read for anyone with shoulder issues, thinks they have issues, want to avoid issues…everyone.
Enjoy your reading!
KULT question of the week
“On your home page, you say you help build better bodies. What do you mean by building a better body?”
What is a better body?
Generally speaking, a better body is one that…
- Stands erect, with good postural alignment.
- Does not hang on its soft tissues for support.
- Moves well, with efficiency and elegance.
- Has a balance strength, flexibility and mobility through all fundamental movement patterns and in all ranges of motion.
- Has high energy levels, to fuel your dreams and ambitions.
- Is functionally strong, so you can participate in activities without the worry of getting injured.
- Does not age prematurely through unsupportive lifestyle factors
- Displays good static and dynamic stability and motor control allowing for higher levels of training.
- Has a healthy body composition.
- Supports metabolism.
- Is pain free.
- Exhibits optimal gut health and hormonal balance.
- Has healthy relationship between training and recovery.
- Does not seek every sitting opportunity.
- Is well hydrated.
- Does not require stimulants for energy.
- Feels vibrant and full of life.
- Has a strong and efficient heart & lungs so you can run after children as needed.
- Is stress free, both in the mind and in the soft tissues.
- Displays a strong connection between mind, body, and spirit.
- Is aware of its surroundings.
- Contributes to mental health, acuity and self esteem.
To me, a better body is one that is built to last a lifetime.
And I think it’s worth putting in the effort to make it better.
How do you build a better body?
Building a better body is a journey. A lifelong journey at that. You don’t achieve it overnight. Building a better body is a process that requires consistent and mindful effort. Persistence. Trial and error to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It requires the ability (and will power) to make necessary sacrifices, tradeoffs and supportive decisions consistently, time in and time out. And when mistakes happen, to stand up and keep going. It takes grit, determination, commitment and above all, an acknowledgement that it is important. It also takes love because loving yourself makes the journey more enjoyable and more worthwhile.
I know what you’re thinking…
This sounds like a lot of work!
But before you shut your mind to it, think.
Is it important to you?
Really important for you and your family?
Imagine. Just for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine what it will FEEL like to live in your better body. Not a hypothetically perfect one, but YOUR better one.
Now think of the alternative.
No energy to do the things you love. A weakened immune system susceptible to all sorts of icks. Dissatisfaction with how you move, look and feel.
To me, that’s no way to live.
And that’s why I stay on my own journey and look to help others on theirs. I want you by my side every step of the way!
If this rings true to your heart, then you are ready. Your brain will follow. Lets get started.
Hi, my name is Martine. I am an information junkie.
So to fill my boots when I’m not training, I’m usually at my computer reading. As an aside, I splurged on a perching seat (go ahead, ask me for details on the Focal Standing Seat). Wouldn’t have much credibility asking my clients to sit less from a regular chair now would I?
But I digress. Anyone in the fitness industry with even a mild case of curiosity and desire to hone our knowledge (shame on those who don’t) has no trouble finding innumerable articles, blog posts, newsletters, research reports, emails, videos, etc. that feed our soul. The sheer volume of emails can choke any inbox. And then comes the decision of what to read? There just ins’t time enough in the week to indulge them all. So I usually prioritize based on author credibility – I’ll read from smart people that I respect first. Next is whether what they have is relevant to my students now or does it expand my knowledge so I can do a better job later (filling my knowledge gaps). Finally, is it well written and laid out? Some really smart folks make dumb mistakes in neglecting the impact that design and editing has on making their ‘product’ consumable. Content is king but crap layout may lead to an empty kingdom.
So each week, I’ll be highlighting 3 to 5 of the best fitness articles I have read. Today is installment #1.
Let me know of any particular interests you’d like me to keep an eye out for. I’d love to know what you care about.
Top Contenders for the Best Fitness Articles this Week
Extreme measures you don’t need to take to lose fat. Anthony Deximier
For anyone just realizing that they have an upcoming event, this first read is a good common sense piece to help keep your head screwed on straight.
Anthony reviews strategies that you can avoid: fasting, monodiets, diuretics, saunas, juice detoxes, extreme low-carb diets, protein power diets, count every calorie, and 2 hours of cardio.
Long, Lean Muscles: Oh the Irony. Bret Contreras
I’ll probably get some push back for this one, but Bret has a great way of presenting facts that dispel popular marketing BS.
If Yoga and Pilates practitioners believe that exercise should be based on creating long, lean muscles, then they should be promoting resistance training with free weights since it is better suited for actually lengthening muscles and improving leanness.
* Editor: While I fixed the link to the post, I read the new comments that came in. Lots of good points. Bret reaffirms that yoga complements resistance training (and I’d add vice versa – a Turkish Get Up and elevated Plank Rows are Yoga on Steroids), that the two should not be pitted against each other. I’ll agree with his point however that “most women don’t get a rockin’ booty from yoga.” And well functioning and developed glutes are key to low back health.
My Concern with Kettlebell Enthusiast Fitness Professionals. Nick Tumminello
Since I poked a little fun – and hopefully instigated some curiosity and debate – with the last read, I’m sending my own folks under the bus with the next one. Internationally recognized trainer to trainers Nick Tumminello discusses his issue with over enthusiastic kettlebell fit pros that seem to take themselves and the tool far too seriously.
In our defense what Nick misses is that in our particular school of strength (not that he named us or anyone else), it’s not about the kettlebell but the principles of good technique. We would apply the same principle to different tools since we know it’s how we get the best result. You’d never catch an SFG doing a sloppy dumbbell press.
Now as you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to narrow the field down to “best” articles since everyone’s best is different.
But I hope you’ve found some value in these three as I mentioned above.
And please let me know what type of stuff you’d want me to include!
Losing fat is a complicated process, but simple at its root: energy in versus energy out. Yes, because we are individual humans it’s more complex than that, but for the sake of taking action, it’s an almost foolproof place to start.
How will kettlebell training help you lose fat?
So how does kettlebell training fit into this? Energy out, that’s how. Once you’ve learned the basics of safety and technique, which can take less time than you think, kettlebell training delivers one of the most powerful energy output workout you can get. It’s important to note that we’re talking not just about a tool, but a system for training that uses that tool to deliver awesome results. Here are five ways kettlebells training helps you lose fat by boosting energy output.
- Big muscles, more muscles means more energy
- Cardio and resistance training in one session is efficient and effective
- Burn calories after you finish your training
- Variety of moves and combinations help increase your volume
- Supports metabolism and your lean body mass
- Fun boosts commitment and consistency
Use more muscles, use big muscles: burn more calories
It is really hard to waste a small amount of energy with a kettlebell – especially with hardstyle training – because you have to use your entire body to lift them and to stabilize yourself. Not only do kettlebell exercises fire up your big energy eating muscles, they also recruit tons of subtle but important stabilizers that keep you moving well. That’s the kettlebell’s secret (apparently not secret any longer): use as much of your body as possible instead of one individual muscle, because you burn more energy. And as we’ve said, fat loss is about burning more calories than you are eating.
Faster fat burning: resistance and cardio all in one
A commonly stated obstacle for getting fit is a lack of time. Kettlebell training is perfect for high intensity interval training (HIIT) since we can focus on maximal power production with perfect form for shorter work intervals interspersed with fast and loose active rest to rid the body of nervous tension. It’s a completely different kettle of fish going into a long endurance set knowing you have to conserve energy versus a shorter power set that stops before form gets compromised. What does that mean? Firstly, you’re working hard getting your heart rate and muscles working. Next you are recovering just enough to ensure good form on your next set. Plus, you get your training done in less time. Finally, HIIT boosts EPOC.
Burn more calories while you sleep
I’m going to get fancy here. EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. In English, that means that when you train hard, for about six hours afterwards (some studies have quoted up to 38 hours), your body burns more calories than normal. Why? Because it is trying to recover from that exercise by repairing all that muscle tissue that was broken down. Remember that when you exercise, you aren’t building muscle, you are actually destroying it… when you rest, your body repairs itself to be stronger than before so it doesn’t get destroyed again. That costs you energy in the form of calories…EPOC!)EPOC, helps to increase the calories you burn just by living – and sleeping! So while you might not think that an extra 20-50 calories per day sounds like a lot, it can be the difference between gaining and losing over 2.5 kg per year.
Variety as a means to increase volume
Using creative combinations of kettlebell movements can boost your calorie burn by keeping you somewhat distracted with regard to your training time. From swing progressions, complexes, ladders and pyramids to double kettlebell work and interspersing bodyweight exercises between sets, set a 30 minute timer and go. Rest just as needed. As you get fitter, your rest will naturally reduce. Go hard but stop before anything gets ugly. Use different moves to rest parts while you work other ones.
Supports your lean body mass and metabolism
Maintaining lean body mass is critical to your longevity since without mindful exercise we start to lose muscle every year after about 40. This is the leading cause of middle age weight gain since muscle is your fat burning machine. Add to that our decreasing ability to deal with stress due to fluctuating hormones and we’ve got a recipe for expanding waistlines. Training with kettlebells supports your lean muscle mass and metabolism and is a great antidote to what people think is the inevitable spread. It isn’t. Boost your metabolism, use more calories to keep your metabolically active tissues functioning – even while you sit on the sofa or drive in your car – and melt some fat in the process since fat, as a source of energy, is preferentially burned when you are at rest!
Fun so you can go longer, or more frequently
My one regret since I decided to specialize in kettlebell training some 7 years ago is that I didn’t record every new student’s reaction to their first set of kettlebell swings. The rest as we say is history. Nothing beats the amazing feeling of a ball of iron swinging through your legs with a powerful hip extension and full tension standing plank. It’s just plain fun! Since it doesn’t require any type of special coordination, it also appeals to the dance-challenged. Plus programs can be tailored for strength without size, fat burning, sports performance and for all ages and fitness levels. And because they are so fun, we want to train more – either longer or more frequently. Consistency is the key to sustainable fat loss. Now you know. Kettlebells make you lose weight because they make you burn more calories. They make you burn more calories because they require you to use your whole body, thereby supporting your metabolism. So more energy leave your body than if you just did an isolated exercise or steady state cardio that only uses part of your body. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter if it is a kettlebell or burpee or pushup. What matters is that you’re burning more calories than you’re eating on a consistent basis. But kettlebells’ cardio and resistance training combo blasts fat faster, encourage you to combine moves for variety which help you go longer. Plus they are fun! Remember you need to eat a minimum amount of food each day to be healthy, and that means you need to find a way to burn more energy than that minimum amount of food you should be eating if you want to lose fat. Kettlebells will do just that because they will burn the most amount of energy in the least amount of time. Want to get started with kettlebell training? KULT Fitness offers several ways for you to learn the fundamental skills and start burning fat.
Body transformation challenges: 4 keys to success
Been on any social media platforms lately? Hard to miss the countless body transformation challenges out there. For the record, I respect coaches who guide their clients to achieve fantastic results through hard work, discipline, commitment and dedication. I am not however a fan of any extreme challenges, where people are undernourished and pushed to physical limits far removed from healthy behaviors, maintainable lifestyle choices, and common sense. That’s not a challenge. That’s purgatory. Good transformation programs usually succeed because they give the hopeful three keys to success: a deadline, motivation that change will happen and sound advice. The fourth key really shouldn’t need to be mentioned but I will: YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK. Few things in life magically appear regardless of how hard you wish it into existence.
What I notice when looking past the fancy marketing and packaging from one challenge to another, things are rather similar. Drink more water. Cut out refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Limit your treats. Eat more leafy plant food. Exercise more – and hopefully smarter. Track. That’s pretty sound advice. And honestly, after the usual 8 to 12 weeks, folks that followed the advice are transformed. I’m always so very proud of my students when we create these opportunities for them.
But what about those on the outside? People who can’t fathom having 12 uninterrupted weeks to metamorphose? Given our kids’ school holidays in Dubai, such stretches are near impossible. Are these people doomed to “if only” and “I wish”? I don’t think so. The answer lies in our interpretation of transformation. Small changes in the right direction are still changes. So how do we marry small changes with the success keys of challenges?
Get your fitness started in 21 days?
Today’s question is whether you can impact your fitness in just 3 weeks? My resounding answer: YOU BETCHA. You can make a difference in your fitness in just ONE day, since every decision that you make towards a healthier you is a difference. Every little positive decision builds the foundation for lasting change. Now you didn’t get out of shape overnight, so you aren’t going to reverse that in a day or a few weeks either. But here’s why 21 days is a great time frame to get your fitness started:
- It’s close enough to light the fire under your backside to get started. Deadlines are critical to achieving goals since, without them, goals are just wishes. So you’ve got only 3 weeks to build momentum on habits that will fuel your future fitness.
- Sort of the reverse of number 1, it’s not so far away that you have time to mull things over, over analyze and procrastinate. DO IT. I’ve made it easy with three weekly action sheets so you know what you need to do every day for 21 days.
- It’s long enough to build supportive habits – and to start to break bad ones. I’m a firm believer in having the strength to make tough choices for the things that are truly important to you. You’ve got good time in 3 weeks to also get rid of sabotaging habits. Don’t kid yourself – it’s your habits that make or break your fitness. Invest time replacing bad with good and the tradeoff will become easier the more you do it. Go ahead, try me.
- Twenty one, shmenty one. There’s nothing that says that you can’t extend it to 28, 35 or more building on all that you’ve learned in the first three weeks.
- 21 days = 300+ opportunities. When we consider the 15 to 20 daily opportunities to make a positive and supportive fitness choice, 21 days actually becomes over 300 actions. Each one brings you closer or farther away from your goal…choose more positive ones and find them getting easier. Simply being conscious of the fact that these are your CHOICES goes a long way in supporting your mettle. And be grateful for actually having a choice to make. Practice makes permanent. Practice well.
T minus 3: Your 3 day preparation countdown
Now before the countdown clock starts, I’ll give you three days to figure some stuff out and put you solidly on the starting blocks to success:
- Journal or Notebook. GET ONE. USE IT.
- mood, sleep, stress level?
- exercise & physical activity: walking, playing with kids, dancing, whatever.
- how did you feel after your exercise?
- supplements: i.e. vitamins, Omega, D3, etc.
- water consumption? # glasses
As for food, I want you to know everything that crossed past your lips, how much and when. This is often most useful as a breakdown per meal of the following:
- beverages: what? quantity?
- vegetable servings
- fruit servings
- protein servings
- sweets / treats servings
- complex carbs (bread, rice, pasta, grains, etc.) servings
- For example: Breakfast 7am – 3 egg white + 1 yolk omelette cooked in 1tsp butter plus ½ cup broccoli, ½ a red pepper, 4 mushrooms. 2 cups black coffee. (Yes, really.)
- Get your fitness clothing and footwear ready to go. Pack a towel and water bottle (which will become your new best friend).
- Get your schedule out and plan when you will exercise, and if appropriate, where for the entire 21 days. Even if it’s just a quick 10 minute fast pace walk, schedule it. 7 days a week. While you are at it, plan when you will do some preparation for healthy meal choices…cutting veggies for snacks, cooking larger batches of chicken breast, making soup, whatever.
- Go shopping. Get what you’ll need for your meals for the next 3-5 days. Don’t over complicate things. It’s ok to have food re-runs, especially when we’re on a 21 day time crunch! Remember, you can have it all, just not all at once. Plan ahead so you can’t fail.
- Involve your family. Explain to them what you’re going to do and have them help you…get them excited about taking walks, bike rides, at home fitness time, preparing food and eating well.
- Recruit a buddy. Next to having a deadline, having an accountability system is another huge success strategy. No one can lose here, well…other than for a few pounds, some negative self talk and unhealthy habits. You’ll both benefit.
Reality check: what was your reaction to T-3 plan?
If you rolled your eyes at the T-3, I’d say you are likely not ready for a change just yet. It does not make you a bad person. It simply indicates that it isn’t really that important or you may not yet trust yourself to make difficult tradeoffs. Save this plan then for when you are ready. I’ll still be here.
Your 21 day action sheets
FEED YOUR BODY
Using these three weekly actions sheets is easy. You’ll need 7 of the week 1, 7 of the week 2 and, obviously, 7 of the week 3 action sheets. Some of you may ask “What’s a portion size?” Well, look at your hand. For ladies it’s a fist size for fruit and veggies, and the size of your palm for protein. Men, you can double that. You’ll note that I didn’t mention anything about carbs. You’ll be getting plenty of them with your veggies but I don’t want you to necessarily limit your starches, other than perhaps choose the best quality and most whole food ones you can (sweet potatoes anyone?). Start with veggies and protein at every meal. Then if you have room, eat a serving of starchy carbs (about the same as a veggie serving if not a little smaller). See how it goes. If you turn really nasty – eat more. How to use the sheet? Just tick off the boxes that apply. For example in week 1, I’m asking for you to drink 8 cups of water per day – that’s 2 litres. I’ve given you an extra 2 little cups there for bonus points. Come 6pm if you see that you’re short on water or veggies, EAT/DRINK. Don’t worry about fruit and don’t eat more protein than with every meal – you have 5 little egg cups there, but if you only eat 3 times, that’s all you need to tick.
MOVE YOUR BODY
I’ve provided a daily workout suggestion. You have a bunch of 10 minute increments that you can check off for your planned exercise. Aim for at least one tick EVERY DAY and between 2-3 ticks 3x per week.
Let me know how it goes. While I’d be very happy for any fat loss you’ll achieve, I’m really interested in whether you now consider yourself a little fitter than when you started? Consider this your 21 day kick in the pants, compliments of me!
You’ve heard it before. Perhaps you’ve even said it. “I just don’t have the time to exercise.” Now I get that some days are really over the top busy with family, children, work…everyone wants a piece. But have you considered whether you are getting easily wrapped up in the merely urgent, rather than staying focusing on the truly important?
It’s not about more. It’s about better.
Obviously the first step to that is deciding what is important to you and then scheduling time for it. Not only is it a mindset, it’s a habit…the more you do it the easier it gets. Health. Stress relief. Setting a good example. Eating more healthfully. Moving better. Getting stronger. Is living a fitter life important to you? No ‘buts’, this is a yes or no question. How will you feel when you are doing it? If your answers are yes and better, then you must make time for it. Your family and work life will benefit more than if the washing is done. And in fact, it’s not a question of having more time. It’s a matter of using the time we have more wisely.
In the simple yet mindful act of deciding that your fitness is important, the merely urgent loses a bit of its power over you. But just deciding it doesn’t make it so. Only action makes it a reality.
That’s where smart training comes in. It’s all about making the most out of the time you have. It’s about being effective AND efficient. It’s about working on your weaknesses to improve your overall performance, endurance and capacity. It’s about making you proud of your commitment to your health and the example you are choosing to give to others. It’s also about having MORE time (not to mention energy) to enjoy your favorite activities and hobbies, time with friends and family, quiet down time for yourself. It’s about helping you work towards your physical potential without spending countless hours doing less effective exercise.
I admit it – being an instructor makes me biased. However, the proof is in the proverbial pudding: training with kettlebells will drastically decrease your workout time because it’s more efficient and more effective than any method you’ve used before. That makes it very smart training. No more slaving away at the gym for hours or pounding the pavement – unless you truly enjoy it. For those that do, two to three short kettlebell sessions per week will make you better at it. Just think how much more time you can spend with your family or do the things you love yet still reach your physical potential. Kettlebells are proven to increase strength, decrease body fat, increase bone density, BMR, flexibility, glucose tolerance and aerobic capacity. A kettlebell routine can also increase human growth hormone (HGH) naturally. HGH, which declines markedly after the age of 50, is responsible for fat burning, muscle building, increasing metabolism, improving the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, better immune system, increased sex drive and reduced risk of heart disease. Who doesn’t want an all around better quality of life? And do you know what the best part is? You don’t need to get all fancy either. In properly trained hands, simple kettlebell movements pack a great fitness punch. Remember not to mistake ‘simple’ for ‘easy.’
5 Smart and Simple Kettlebell Workout Routines
The following routines are deceptively simple as they combine only two movements. Done with a challenging kettlebell weight, they’ll deliver fat burning, strength & cardio endurance all at once.
1) 2 Hand Swings & Goblet Squats – declining repetition ladder.
Start with 10 swings and immediately follow it up with 10 goblet squats. Without rest, switch back to 9 swings and 9 goblet squats. Continue until you are all the way down the ladder and finish one repetition of each.
2) 2 Hand Swings & Push Ups – on the minute
Do 10 swings followed by 5 push ups on the top of the minute for 15 minutes.
3) Heavy / Regular 2 Hand Swings – for 15 minutes
Complete 5 heavy kettlebell swings immediately followed by 10 swings with your ‘regular’ weight. Rest as needed.
4) 1 Hand Swings & Kettlebell Long Press (thruster) – on the minute
Do 10 1 hand swings followed by 5 kettlebell long presses (full squat into a press) on the top of every minute. Each minute change hands. Continue for 18 minutes.
5) Kettlebell Snatches and Turkish Get Up – for 16 minutes
Do 10 kettlebell snatches on the right. On the last repetition, descend with a TGU, change hands and ascend with a TGU before continuing with your snatches on the left. Continue as long as your form is good for up to 16 minutes. Use the TGU portion of the movement as your rest so be mindful to control each stage.
Enjoy. I’d love to hear about your experience with any of or all of these workouts. Comment as you please! If your are new to kettlebells and want to learn, I’d love to help.
Ok I get it. I have a marketing background so I know how it works and have written my fair share of them: headlines that grab your attention and make you want to invest time in reading further – and usually buy something as a result. (Note here that if people did a little less reading and a little more smart training, they wouldn’t need to spend so much time reading). So again I got an email from a reasonably good blog on the best exercises for abs. Now once and for all people, “best” is relative to your goal and even before that, to your ability in performing fundamental movement patterns. While it’s great to look good, the main job of your abs is to help stabilize your spine and effectively transfer energy from your lower and upper body. If you are at all deficient in that you are at risk of incurring an injury due to inefficiencies and compensations. You’re not moving well. Address that BEFORE you focus on how your abs look and you’ll get better, more sustainable results that translate both in better looks and in better performance. Find an FMS in your areas to get help with this. <Rant over.>
So lets say that you’ve now addressed movement dysfunctions and asymmetries and are moving well. You’re likely seeing some improvements in your athletic performance and even lessening of aches and pains as a result. So now we can consider your other goals: appearance or functionality? Let me set the record straight:
- Your abs don’t own the fat that sits on top of them. You can’t decide from where you’ll lose fat by working that area ‘harder’. Work your whole body.
- To see your abs you need to have less fat. To lose fat you need to burn more calories than you eat. Put the fork down and move.
- Nutrition will be at least 80% responsible for any appearance related goals. Eat well.
- Countless crunches will make very little impact to your abdominal appearance or functionality. Your abs DON’T work in isolation so why are you training them that way? Appearance of work doesn’t mean it’s working.
- Feel ‘the burn’ doesn’t mean you’re getting any closer to your goal. You aren’t burning away your ab fat.
- Having ‘strong’ abs isn’t as important as having abs that fire at the right time to stabilize your hips and spine. Train your abs to contract fast (note that this is the same for other stabilizer muscles like your rotator cuff).
- Training smart is the best way to work your abs to perform the job they are designed to do. Full body movements are more effective and efficient in training any body part than any isolation movement if you’re looking for anything but puffy “looks only” muscles. Train smart.
- Doing 5 perfect repetitions will always beat doing 30 crappy ones. If you need more volume, do more sets. Focus on form.
OK, “So what?” you might still be thinking, waiting patiently for what to do for better abs. Here are my top tips for getting better abs (obviously assuming you’ve already addressed movement pattern issues):
Top 7 Tips for Better Abs
- Fix your eating habits.
- Learn how to do a real, full tension plank – and do them anytime, anyplace. 20 seconds while you are making breakfast, lunch and dinner is better than none at all.
- Learn how to do a full push up – and do them anytime, anyplace. 1-5 perfect pushups while you are making breakfast, lunch and dinner is better than none at all.
- Incorporate more full body movements into your training program (deadlift, squat, pull-ups/chin-ups, pushups, mountain climbers, etc.).
- Substitute at least 2 of your regular ‘cardio’ workouts for more intense interval sessions.
- Practice perfect form in all movements. Bad form will just make you better at doing things badly.
- Fix your eating habits.(Yes, I know it’s the same as #1. It’s that important.)
And as a little BONUS dose of reality. Consider this: talking about having better abs, reading magazine articles (or just looking at pictures) about great abs, remembering how your abs used to fit into your clothing before kids, exercising a lot and not seeing any changes and drinking wine/eating pizza or cupcakes…well none of these things are working for you are they. Doing nothing gets nothing. The good news: there’s so much that YOU can do to improve your abs. But you need to actually DO it.