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How to Use a Chair Like a Kettlebell

What does the recent popularity of the kettlebell teach us about training?

For many, this may seem like nothing more than an interesting new tool for us to work out with. In reality though, the kettlebell simply sheds a light on a different approach to working out. By using tools other than dumbbells, you are not in fact cheapening your workouts – you’re actually making them that much richer and more powerful.

The less ‘conventional’ the type of tool you train with, the more you are able to keep your body guessing and the more you are able to keep developing new muscle control, new awareness and new power. The kettlebell’s effectively lies not in the fact that it is a kettlebell but in the fact that it is an unusual shape and size and this forces us to adapt.

So what else might you be able to use to train? Take a look around your home and you should find that practically anything can become a powerful training tool!

How to Turn Your Chair Into a Powerful Training Tool

Take a standard dining table chair for example. This has a shape and size that makes it quite unwieldy and very unbalanced – perfect for the type of training we’re interested in.

A simple way to use this, would be to grab the back of the chair at the top with two hands. Now, hold the chair over your head and proceed to press it. This is a simple shoulder press movement, with the added challenge of the awkward angle and weight that forces you to adapt.

Better yet, you can use this to perform something akin to a tricep extension mixed with a front raise and bicep curl. In this same starting position – legs pointing toward the ceiling and hands gripped onto the top of the backrest, allow the chair to drop down behind your back so that your arms are bent over your shoulders. Now extend using your triceps, so that the chair is back to the starting position. Then lower your elbows and extend your arms, so that they are pointing out straight in front of you.

To bring the chair back, curl it using your biceps and then pull your elbows up so that they are pointing to the ceiling and the chair is behind your back.

This is a highly complex movement that will train the shoulders, the triceps, the lats, the biceps and more, all while requiring forearm strength, balance and control in order to keep the weight steady.

And of course that’s just one potential move. How about swinging the chair around your head in a ‘halo’ motion?
And the chair is just one example. The point we’re making here is that any item in your home can be used for training. And actually, the more unconventional and awkward it looks, the better it’s going to be for your training goals!

Get creative and think outside the box. Your gains will thank you!

 

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How to Use Hand Balancing to Build Incredible Strength and Control

What is missing from your current training program? Probably just about everything.

When you work out normally, the problem is that you are repeating a simple range of motion to build up microtears and metabolites. This is what stimulates growth and if all you’re interested in is developing muscle size and aesthetics, then that is the perfect way for you to train.

But if you’re interested in improving your actual strength and power. If you’re interested in becoming faster and more agile. If you want to be healthier then there’s a lot missing.

And what’s more, is that this type of training is incredibly boring. Is it any surprise that we struggle to stick at this kind of training when it’s so repetitive and so mundane?

The good news is that the fitness community is starting to wake up to this reality and demonstrate some solutions. One such solution is to use kettlebells. Another is to use hand balancing…

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What is Hand Balancing?

Hand balancing is the forgotten art of… well… balancing on your hands. Simply put, this involves performing movements like hand stands, like planche and like v-sits. The beauty is in the way you transition between these movements and the various different variations you can eventually pull off to demonstrate not only muscle power but also muscle control, balance and precision.

Those who become truly adept at this kind of training will eventually learn to do things like clapping handstand press ups, planche on just two fingers and all kinds of other fantastic feats.

This can also be combined with bar work, as demonstrated by a lot of ‘street workouts’ found on YouTube (look up ‘Bar Starz’ or ‘Bartendaz’). This then incorporates more pulling movements like muscle ups, like one armed pull ups and like levers.

Why It’s Amazing and How to Get Started

So what is so good about this form of training? Well, for starters, this type of training encourages you to be much more present psychologically and to really stay focussed on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. To perform well at this, you need to concentrate hard and this strengthens the ‘mind muscle connection’.

At the same time, like kettlebell training, this form of training forces you to use smaller supporting muscles in order to hold your body at different and less expected angles.

Finally, this kind of training is fun and highly rewarding. Not only do you get a huge amount of reward out of being able to pull off these movements but you also find there is inherent reward in being so engaged with the movements themselves.

So how do you get started?

Actually, it’s very easy. All you really need to get started with type of training is a set of push up stands that will make hand balancing easier for beginners. A pull up bar is also a great tool. As you become more confident and skilful, you can then progress to training with things like parallel bars (cheap and easy to comeby), gymnastic rings and more advanced tools.

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Muscle Groups That Kettlebell Training Works

The Forgotten Muscle Groups That Kettlebell Training Works

In the last few years, the ‘gym bro’ has become an anachronism. Old ideas about strength training are falling by the wayside and more and more, we are experimenting with alternative techniques that ultimately present greater benefits in and out of the gym.

So what is a gym bro? What are these old approaches that have
fallen out of favour?

The Problem With Old Fashioned Training Ideas

Chief among the ideas that are moving aside is the focus on the ‘mirror muscles’. Your typical gym rat in the 00’s was obsessed with the idea of building bigger biceps, bigger pecs and toned abs and had little regard for smaller supportive muscles that helped to develop true ‘functional strength’ that translated to actual performance improvements and better health. If you train only some muscles at the expense of others, then you will develop an uneven physique that places uneven pressure on your body and ultimately leads to injury.

This is why multi-joint exercises and exercises that force you to move your body through a more dynamic range of motion are now preferred by physical therapists and personal trainers.

And the kettlebell is the perfect example of more adaptive training methodology…

Why Kettlebell Training is the Solution

When you train with a kettlebell, you are using a weight that is unevenly distributed. That is to say that the center of gravity can move as you move the weight, thereby altering the angle of the resistance and adding new elements like balance and resistance.

This forces you to brace your body and balance yourself in ways you wouldn’t have to with something like a bicep curl and that is what allows you to bring in the involvement of your smaller supporting muscles found throughout your body.

So what supporting muscles are you training in particular?

Here are some examples:

Obliques: The obliques are the muscles that run down either side of the abs and are used for bending from side to side and also twisting the torso (applying toque). They are very useful for a range of different movements and are great for aesthetics too – actually making the abs look considerably more impressive.

Serratus Muscles: These muscles are found on the sides of the pecs and are used for extending the arm forward when straight. Again, they can create a more ripped physique and actually provide considerable extra force when engaging in pushing movements.

Forearms: One of the most important muscle groups trained by the kettlebell swing and other movements is the forearms. These include your forearm flexors and extensors which allow you to grip and release things. By improving your grip, you gain a firmer hold on any weight or tool you’re training with and thereby greatly improve your performance.

Erector Spinae: These are two muscles trained by the deadlift as well as many other movements. Their job is to help you stand up straight and keep the spine erect. They can help to combat back problems as well as giving you considerably more lifting power!

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Old-Time Strongman

How to Train Like an Old-Time Strongmankettlebell

When setting out to get into a shape, a good starting point is to find role models. Who are your fitness heroes? Whose physique would you like to emulate? Whose training philosophy most closely resembles your own?

Get this right and you can find yourself with a blueprint to follow and ample amounts of inspiration and motivation. Get it wrong and you’re asking for disappointment and frustration.

An example of a ‘wrong’ fitness role model might often be found on YouTube. While there are some great personalities on YouTube in the fitness community, there are also some destructive forces that you must contend with. In particular are those who spout unhelpful training advice and use steroid-driven physiques in order to sell us on its merits.

They tell us we can look like them by training like them. What they leave out is the chemical assistance that helped them get there, or the crippling back pain that is the cost of developing all those ‘mirror muscles’ and approximately zero ‘functional strength’.

Why Old-Time Strongmen Are Great Fitness Heroes

So who might we choose to look up to instead? A good alternative might be one of the legendary ‘old time strongmen’. These are individuals who trained long before we had protein shakes – let alone steroids and yet they achieved physiques that are well beyond many of our modern YouTube stars!

What’s more, they could actually use that strength and would be able to do incredible things like bending iron bars and lifting huge amounts of weight. These strongmen trained using completely different tools and methods and the results more than speak for themselves.

So if you want muscle that’s not just for show and that has an amazing historical heritage, that is a much better way to train.

How to Train Like an Old Time Strongman

So with all that said, how do you go about training in such a manner? What tools and techniques did they use that you could replicate?

The first trick is to use functional tools that train your body from multiple angles and that require you to use supportive muscles and balance in conjunction with brute strength. These force us to use our bodies as intended: as a single unit, working in unison. This is how we are able to generate the most strength and actually use it in ways that are useful.

Some tools that you can use to train this way include kettlebells, Indian clubs, ropes and barbells with especially thick bars. Training with one handed movements is also a particularly useful exercise, as well using more unconventional lifts, like the Turkish get-up and ‘anyhow lift’.

Another tip is to make sure that you are training your grip. This is the secret weapon of any old-time strongman and anyone interested in building truly functional strength needs to give it serious consideration in order to ensure no energy is wasted and that all of it is directed at moving the wei
ghts.

Finally, combine this with a protein rich diet and if you want to go truly old-time: lots of raw eggs!

(Although maybe a little cooking to avoid a biotin deficiency… not everything was better back in the day!)

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Why Kettlebell is the Only Weight Loss Tool You’ll Ever Need

Kettlebell To Lose Weight

 

Want to get inkettlebellto lean, slim, toned and sexy shape? The only tool you’re ever going to need to complete this goal is the kettlebell. Let’s take a look at why this is the perfect solution for those particular training goals and what you need to do to make it happen.

Enter: Resistance Cardio

The first huge advantage that training with a kettlebell has is that it allows you to use what is known as ‘resistance cardio’. This basically means that you’re combining resistance training (this is the term used to describe training that requires muscular force to push or pull a heavy object) with cardio (any exercise that continues for an extended period and thereby gets your heartrate up and helps you burn fat).

By using a movement like the kettlebell swing for 70 repetitions for example, you’re going to be forced to lift the weight while also repeating a rapid movement that will mean you have to burn calories stored as fat.

When you combine these two different training modalities, you are building muscle and you are burning fat at the same time. This is great for getting an attractive body because you’re not going to simply become skinny (or worse, ‘skinny fat’). Rather, resistance cardio will allow you to tone and burn at the same time. The fact that you’re engaging muscle means the muscle will be protected from deterioration as you’re training.

Moreover, resistance cardio will allow you to burn more fat in a shorter space of time than you could otherwise. This is because you will be forced to apply more effort in order to complete the movement, thereby taxing your system more and burning through more calories!

The Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing

The other great thing about building muscle while performing a cardio workout, is that the more muscle you add, the more you increase your metabolism. If you have lots of muscle, you will burn more calories even while you’re sleeping! At the same time, each workout that causes muscle damage will trigger the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone that actually increase the rate of fat loss.

The kettlebell swing is a particularly useful move because it targets the entire posterior chain – the muscles in the legs and back involved in jumping. These are some of the largest muscles in the body and thus this results in a massive flood of hormones and a lot of effort on your part.

And finally, for women who are looking to get toned buttocks and legs, the kettlebell swing is ideal because those are the exact muscles that it trains. This is the same combination of muscles as those used in squatting and if you do a Google search for ‘women who squat’, you’ll see that they are famous for having particularly round and firm glutes. If that’s the look you’re going for, then there are few moves better than the humble kettlebell swing!

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