Friday, June 10, 2011

Burn Fat Three Times Faster

Studies have shown, for men and women, that high intensity resistance exercise will elevate your metabolism for up to 38 hours post workout.   Aerobic training alone WILL NOT have the same effect.  Is this why I see so many joggers that are overweight?   This is nothing new.  Exercise specialists like myself have been saying this for years.    A fairly recent innovation in American Fitness has been the use of the Russian Kettlebell for conditioning and fat loss.   A systematic approach to Kettlebell training truly is the most effective way to shred fat from your body.

Now, the solution is quite simple: TWO HAND SWINGS.   Kettlebell swings are a great and efficient way to condition and burn fat simultaneously.  The Kettlebell is itself a simple piece of equipment and the workouts can be done just about anywhere.  It is also largely portable; on a recent road trip we through a 12 and 16 in the back of the Xterra and we were good to go for 10 days.  The protocols are also pretty straight forward: Set period of time, set intervals, swing “hard style” and your good to go. 
So why aren’t more kettlebellers lean and mean machines?  
Immediately, I think of three reasons:

1.       “Fat-Loss” is not a goal – Okay.  We’re fine with that.  We don’t all need to be walking around with minimal fat levels.  Practically, it’s really not necessary.  Your vanity drives you in a different direction – Awesome.  Seriously – Vanity is a great motivator to stay healthy. 
2.       Strength/Performance is not enough of a focus.   You’ve been swinging Kettlebells for a year and your still swinging the 12kg bell for 10 sets of 20 every single time you workout?  Returns have diminished?  We’re not surprised
3.       “Jogging” through swings.  In my view, this is the biggest obstacle to fat-loss when using Kettlebell swing protocols.  What do we mean when we say “jogging” through swings?  It’s hard to explain explicitly, but most likely you are not doing the following:
a.       Bio-Mechanical Breathing match – There should be a hard in-hale during the back swing, and a sharp exhale at the apex of your swing.  
b.      Lockout at the top/apex of the swing – The legs should be locked out and quads/abs/glutes all flexed
c.       Swinging to the chest – Although there are reasons for low-altitude swings, conserving energy is not one of them.  Maximize the power output for every single swing.  If it’s easy to swing to your chest level go heavier or swing faster.
d.      Sitting back on the back swing – The swing is a hip dominant movement, but there must be knee flexion involved (not forward knee flexion), but at least 15 degrees of flexion at the knee and 45 degrees at the hip

Bored of swings?  Try the following routines:

An unparalleled way to hack off body fat and radically improve your conditioning is to implement kettlebell swings into the classic Tabata interval method, which is merely twenty seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. These four minute tabata blocks can be exceptionally grueling, especially if you accept a decent size kettlebell to perform your swings with (we personally used a 36kg bell). The purpose of this is to break the 1 to 1 work to rest ratio, and to make each twenty seconds of work feel as much like an all out sprint as possible. While swinging the 36kg kettlebell, we were hitting between 12-14 reps consistently for each 20-second work block. Rest assured that if you do this right, you’re heart rate should be through the roof by the time you are done!

Tabata Kettlebell Swing Intervals

Next up is a swing chain. Line up three bells, each consecutively heavier. For our training session today we used a 20kg, 28kg, and 36kg kettlebell. Start at the light bell and bang out five reps. Immediately move onto the middle bell without resting and hammer out another five swings. Again, with no rest move onto the heaviest bell and perform five more two handed swings. Once you have dominated the heaviest bell, drop back down to the lightest and start it all over again. You may either work through the chain for time (see how many times you can get through it in 30 minutes) or you can perform a prescribed numbers of sets and see how quickly you can get through them. Both are effective methods for improving conditioning and promoting fat loss.

Kettlebell Swing Chain

Create a circuit of the following three exercises: Double Kettlebell Press, Double Kettlebell Clean, and Double Kettlebell Front Squat.  Rest minimally between exercises and between sets.  If you are ambitious you could combine all three into a complex.   Perform as many circuits as you can in 30 minutes.     Pick a weight and repetition scheme that allows you to operate at about 80% for the duration.  For example, if you have a pair of 24 kg Kettlebells and can press them 5 times, assign your reps at 4 per set.  However, there is a caveat – don’t do bad reps.  During a given set you may feel like 4 reps is maximal.  That is OK, just stop at 3 reps.   Always leave “one rep in the tank”.

After a session like this your heart rate and oxygen consumption should remain elevated for an extended period of time. 

Press, Clean, and Squat Complex

Please report back.

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