Top 3 Reasons Build Strength With Kettlebells

If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and bikes are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to store it & use it? Total gym style machines always feel awkward: the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone else’s body (pro tip: they also aren’t very effective). So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle. They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course, a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

    • Carry Over To Life
    • Add Variety To Your Training
    • Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Life

Kettlebell swings have a tremendous carry over to athletic goals and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back, as well as a tight core, will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found a strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health

Swings will also improve your performance with the Olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high-intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swing is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight

For some strange reason, American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self-worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there. 

The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams…

What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight. 

What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead, try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own!

Measurements

Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!

Habit Tracking

One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of vegetables, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long-lasting transformation.

Performance Metrics

Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals (objective) than solely for aesthetic purposes (subjective). Coincidentally, this is how we measure progress when you get started at a CrossFit gym! If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves!

How You “Feel”

Based on appearances this may be harder to measure than the others: “How do I know if I’m feeling better?” However, you will find that when you focus on your daily habits and performance metrics that you will, without a doubt, begin feeling better. There is still another way to measure this that you need to experience to believe: what other people say. When you get started with CrossFit, you will be shocked by what other people say after even a few short weeks of training. “Have you been doing something different recently, you seem to glow!”, “You seem so much happier” or “I don’t know what you are doing but keep doing it. I wish I felt like that!” (click here to read how this metric helped give birth to Southpaw!)

Conclusion

Is it “bad” or “wrong” to track weight? Absolutely not. It is part of your journey. But as we approach a new year – after a chaotic 2020 – it is important that we recalibrate how we measure and view success. What we have found at CrossFit Southpaw is that focusing on these 5 metrics allows you to feel happier, experience success, and build the life of your dreams.

Interested in getting started? Click here to schedule your Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation today!