Monday, September 27, 2021

Kettlebell Exercises Part Two


This past Friday, I wrote about kettlebells in general and today I'll talk about several of the moves one can make with Kettlebells.  I will admit, I kind of started with a more advanced workout simple because six DVD's came with a 5 pound ball.  I ordered a couple other DVD's that include tutorials and beginner workouts.  The beginner workout was easy after having done the more advanced workout but it made a nice one for a down day when I needed to give myself a break.

There are five exercises that are good for beginners.  The first one is a kettlebell deadlift.  Begin by standing with your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart with the feet turned slightly outwards, perhaps around 30 degrees.  The kettlebell should be located between your feet in line with the ankles.  Then you hinge at the waist, gently bending knees, so your back remains straight, shoulders back, eyes facing forward as you lean down, grab the kettlebell with both hands.  Straighten up using your glute muscles until you are totally upright. Then return the kettlebell back to the ground by hinging at the hips, with the back straight.  Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Next, is the kettlebell swing.  Start by standing so your feet are a bit more than shoulder width apart with your feet turned slightly out and the kettlebell located about a foot in front on the ground between the legs.    Hinge at the waist, wrap your hands around the top of the kettlebell, and swing it between your legs behind you.  Once it slows and reverses direction, swing it forward and stand upright as the kettlebell travels up to chest level at which point it will change direction and swings downward through the legs.  Repeat 10 to 20 times.  If you look at the picture above, it shows the kettlebell at the top of the swing.

Then we have the goblet squat.  Place your feet about shoulder width apart while grasping the kettlebell on the sides with each hand, just above the ball.  Hold the ball about chest level as you slowly squat down as far as you can go.  Hold the position for about 3 to 5 seconds before standing up again. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

For the fourth exercise, stand with your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart with feet facing slightly outward with the kettlebell between feet.  Lean over hinging at the hips, grasp the handle with both hands and slowly stand upright.  Bring the kettlebell up in an upright row to just below your chin with your elbows outward.  Then guide the kettlebell down so it is almost down to the ground and be sure to hinge from the waist.  Pause a moment and repeat 9 to 19 more times.

Finally is the triceps press.  Cradle the ball of the kettlebell with both hands and raise it above your head.  Gently lower the kettlebell behind your head, bending your arms at the elbows and slowly raise it again.  Repeat for a total of 10 to 20.

There are more exercises one can do but these five will give you a good workout.  If you want more ideas, checkout Youtube.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Working Out With Kettlebells Part One

I recently started using kettlebells as part of my workout routine.  When I was in Iceland, I climbed a very tall hill.  I thought I was in shape but this sucker was so steep, I realized I could be in better shape. So when I got home, I dug out my kettlebell set and started doing it 3 days a week and after just 2 weeks I am noticing a difference.

A kettlebell is a type of dumbbell that is round with a flat bottom and an arched handle that originated in Russia over 300 years ago..  It looks like a tea kettle and thus its name.  A real kettlebell is made out of cast iron or steel.  The design of a kettlebell allows it to be swung, thrown, juggled, pressed, held, and moved in multiple ways.

A kettlebell is an effective tool to lose weight, tone the body, improve cardio vascular health, strength, maintain joint health, mobility, and flexibility. Kettlebells come in different weights from 5 to 100 pounds. I use the 5 pound one because I'm just starting out.

A good kettlebell workout is classified as high intensity exercise because it gets your heart working and burns 20 calories each minute or the equivalent of running a 6 minute mile. After a 20 minute workout, you'll burn 400 calories.  A kettlebell targets your core because you do squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that focus on the abs and other muscles.  It also targets your arms, legs, glutes, and back.  It is not a low impact workout and it 

A good kettlebell can be purchased for between $10 and $100 depending on the weight of the bell.  With COVID going on, it is fortunate, you can buy a DVD designed for beginners or those who are more advanced.  I picked up a kettlebell and six DVD's in a set when one of the sports stores went out of business locally.  I just sent off for a few more including one for beginners so I make sure I'm doing the moves correctly.

Be aware that all exercises must be done correctly or you could injure yourself, especially if you start with a kettlebell that is too heavy.  The areas most likely to be injured are the neck, back, or shoulders so be careful and if you can, work with an experienced trainer. Although doing a kettlebell workout is a good way to workout, it is not recommended for anyone with arthritis, bad knees, or other such issues.  If you are just starting out, one should check with your doctor before using one.

When you use a kettlebell, always be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you are working out on a non-slip area with the area around you totally clear.  When working out, do it either in barefoot or in footwear with flat, thin soles with space for the toes to spread out. Always use proper form with the kettlebell so you don't hurt yourself.  Finally, if the kettlebell starts falling, let it rather than trying to stop it.

If you wondered which is better - a kettlebell or dumbbells, it depends on what you want but kettlebells can have an advantage.  They provide a much better cardio workout due to all the swinging and extra movement involved in using them. In addition, they activate all the muscles in the back, and since the weight is not balanced, your core has to work harder. Kettlebells are great for improving endurance and getting a good cardio workout.  Although you can mimic many of the kettlebell moves with a dumbbells, dumbbells are much better for building muscle.

On Monday, I'll talk about some exercises you can do with the kettlebell in your house.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gaining Weight When Adding Strength Training.

You have been working hard on getting fit.  You'd added the cardio, the resistance, and now you are adding strength training because you don't want to be breaking bones when you get to be 80.  Unfortunately, you step on the scale and you notice you've gained some weight so the first thing you do is panic because you are trying to lose a few pounds. 

First of all, your weight does not reflect your fitness level, your body composition, or the type of workout you do.  When you begin strength training, you will gain weight for several reasons.  

With strength training, you may gain weight because your muscle mass is increasing and your level of body fat is decreasing. Muscle is always more dense than fat and takes up more space in your body. The change in the ratio of muscle and fat does not happen at once.  It will appear you are gaining weight for the first couple of months before the ratio begins to change and it becomes noticeable.

When you begin strength training, you are putting stress on your muscle fibers. This stress causes micro tears and some inflammation and your body responds to this.  When your muscles suffer micro tears, it causes the body to retain water which causes a weight gain. Your body is actually retaining fluid to help heal it.  The changes are short lived.  In addition, you may experience soreness in the next 24 to 36 hours. 

The other reason for gaining weight has to do with the increased fueling of muscles.  Your body converts glycogen or sugar to glucose which provides energy to your muscles. Glycogen has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel your muscles and when the body stores water, you appear to gain weight. 

As your  body becomes accustomed to exercise, your body requires less glycogen to produce the same amount of energy.  At this point, your body will retain less water and you'll begin to lose weight and over a period of several weeks or months, you'll lose the initial weight you gained. 

Although you will gain weight at the beginning, you will be able to lose weight over time. When you increase the amount of muscles in your body, you will burn more calories, thus losing body fat and eventually your weight will begin to decrease. It is strongly suggested that people ignore the numbers on the scale at the beginning since it is totally misleading. In fact, it is recommended people do not use scales at all.

The important thing to remember through this whole situation is that the volume of muscle takes up more space than the same volume of fat and muscle burns more calories than fat so you want to increase your muscle mass.  Without a scale, you will notice the weight loss when you put on your clothing.  Your jeans will fit better.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 20, 2021

What Is The Optimum Number Of Steps Needed Each Day?

It's funny that the idea of walking 10,000 steps per day originated as a marketing ploy by a company in Japan who needed a way of marketing their pedometer.  Over the past few years, it become to go to marketing for many walking programs.  I have at least three DVD's labeled with a certain number of steps covered if one completes it.  I tried using a pedometer but I kept loosing it and gave up on monitoring the steps I took everyday.

Recently, there have been some studies done on the effectiveness of 10,000 steps per day.  According to the CDC, most adults need to aim for this number per day since walking is considered a low impact exercise of moderate intensity and it has few risks.  The accepted conversion rate is 2000 steps per mile so 10,000 steps equals around 5 miles. Unfortunately, most Americans only walk 3,000 to 4,000 steps which is considered sedentary and doesn't provide enough movement.

Although walking may not seem like it provides many benefits, it actually does.  It improves muscle strength, range of motion, blood flow, flexibility, balance, joint stiffness, sleep, mood, and breathing.  To experience the most benefits from walking, one needs to take at least 5,000 or more steps per day.  In fact, one study from last year, found that if a person takes 8,000 compared to 4000 steps per day, they decreased their chance of dying from any cause by 51%.  If a person increases the number of steps per day to 12,000 per day, the chance of dying drops by 65%.

Another recent study indicated that any number of steps over 4000 helps a person's level of fitness. For instance, older women who consistently walk 4,400 steps per day have lower death rates than those who only walk 2,700 steps per day.  In addition, the range of 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day provided the maximum benefits for most people. 

It is important to remember that not all steps are created equal. If a person wants the best situation for exercise, think about making some of it going up hill.  When a person walks up hill, it activates three times more muscle fibers than walking on a flat surface thus improving the workout. Now if you happen to live in a flat area where its hard to go up hill, there are other ways to accomplish it.  Think about climbing stairs as most towns have buildings with multistory buildings or you might be lucky to live in a two or three story home with steps you can run up and down.

You could also use a stool or an exercise step to step up and down for a set period of time or maybe you want to walk quickly around the block multiple times or add ankle or wrist weights so you have to work harder. If you focus on an object in the distance as you walk, it can increase your walking speed by up to 23%. Or you could try Nordic walking with requires you to use poles as you walk which helps work out the upper and lower body.  This explains the number of people I saw using poles as they walked in Sweden and Iceland.

The nice thing is that the steps do not have to be done all in one go.  It is possible to spread them throughout the day. If you work in a multistory building, take the steps up to the floor you work on.  If you are say on the 35th floor and are a bit out of shape, take the elevator up to say the 32nd floor and walk up the rest of the way. As it becomes easier, add a few floors to climb the stairs and continue.  At lunch, get away from your desk and walk around with some friends.  

At work, think about taking breaks from sitting and walk to a bathroom or conference room that is located on the other side of the building or park at the back end of the parking lot so you have to walk further. If you work downtown, park at a lot that is further from your building or get off one or two stops before the one you need. 

The bottom line, is to aim for at least 7,000 steps per day but if you manage 10,000 to 12,000 steps each day, you are more likely to lose weight.  In other words, keep moving.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.