Collected Kettlebell and Calisthenics Workouts!

100 Free Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts on

Here are a bunch of fun kettlebell workouts - most of which are admittedly rather advanced - they can be scaled down if necessary, feel free to ask questions.   Any excuse to talk more about exercise is a good one :)

Adrienne Harvey kettlebell row

100 Little Things Kettlebell OODA Loop Workout, Neuro-Grip Challenge is in Paperback!

100 Little Things OODA Loop Inspired Kettlebell Workout

First off, this is going to be brief. It's one of those weeks. And with the PCC in NYC coming up this weekend I've got quite a lot of stuff to finish up before heading up there.  But I've been sitting on this OODA loop workout for too long, and want to share at least the basics of it with you. It's from a strategy portion of an upcoming project that I'm finishing, so putting it here will serve a dual purpose.

In the process of teaching someone who already has a high level of fitness and general endurance the kettlebell snatch, I came up with a fun little approach. For the most part, the person in question usually does great kettlebell snatches, but will sometimes get in an old habit pattern mid-set, and need a mental reset.  This idea came to me as I was wanting to play with a little more endurance in my own kettlebell workouts as well.

Then there's the whole business of doing the SSST (Secret Service Snatch Test) about twice a year, a requirement I put upon myself for basically no real reason at all. But it's 10 minutes of snatching and I would rather not do that by myself.  If someone else is there working through something, even if it's something different, during that time frame, I tend to perform better on the test. For vanity, I like to be able to get at least 200 snatches done in that time. I mention this, because the other purpose of creating the "100 Little Things" workout is the ulterior motive of getting this person up to speed for a 10 minute all out to do along with me. I did admit this motive and this person is actually really psyched about the idea. Cool.

So, the first iteration of this workout is NOT timed at all, but involves 100 reps of something, in this case one arm swings, RKC Hardstyle high pulls* (video at end of post), and kettlebell snatches. The person I was working with had learned kettlebell snatches without a backswing in a large group fitness setting with very light weights--which is fine and dandy but wasn't going to be helpful for doing 100 of them in five minutes down the line with an appropriately sized kettlebell. To cut down on the stress and emphasize the "learning" aspect, I had this client use one size below what would have been their RKC test weight. We can set world records later.

The swings are chosen to remind us to do the backswing, the high pulls are chosen to remind us to tame the arc and "pull the elbow back", the snatches are there to check to see what we've learned. So, after each round I'd choose what the extra reps would be, given the previous round's performance. Hince Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. I'd be the "ODD" one since the client was in charge of the Acting. HAHA bad joke. After I saw how much fun this was, I did this at home later, using a kettlebell one size HEAVIER than I would test with at the RKC to give myself a neat challenge and to "keep myself honest".  With the fit beginner, I allowed for rest and short q&a between rounds. When I did the combination at home, I did not allow myself to put the kettlebell down until all 100 reps were completed.

Here's a straight through example:

NOW... let's assume during the sequence the snatches start looking like the arc is waaaay out there... in the next round I would substitute more high pulls instead of the swings.  Likewise if the trainee was forgetting the back Swing and/or hip power, I'd substitute more one-arm swings instead of high pulls.

When working through this myself, I'd change them real time instead of waiting to the next round - which does require a fair amount of focus and decision making under duress if you've chosen a heavier kettlebell. But, I like those skills too...

In other news, Jon Bruney's The Neuro-Grip Challenge is now available in Paperback! There's a launch discount too - so go ahead and get it now. I'm proud to have been in that photoshoot alongside Robert Miller. It was challenging indeed. If you already have Neuro-Grips and want to do even more with them, then absolutely get the book. If you're curious about taking your grip strength and over all body control to the next level, get some Neuro-Grips and the book. They've been part of my training since Dragon Door added them to their website back in 2013! Now, I do crazy stuff like burpees with them!

*How to do Kettlebell High Pulls - old video but a decent demo, and well I look the same now anyway!! :)

21 Kettlebell Workouts from Master RKC Dan John, Valuable Programming Tips, and What to Do After Your HKC Workshop!

HKC logoJust a quick note here for you to check out Dan John's new post on the RKC Blog.  Basically he outlines the importance and power of the one-day HKC workshop for trainers, instructors, coaches, and yes even serious fitness enthusiasts!

Then he goes on to describe 20 days of workouts to be done after the HKC experience to really help cement the training, understanding, and to bring about some very positive physical changes too.

I can't overstate the importance of this post from Dan John and hope that you enjoy reading it and putting parts of it into practice today!

Want to attend an RKC workshop led by Master RKC Dan John? Click here to register for the San Jose RKC in February of 2016.

500 Kettlebell Swings for 500 Youtube Subscribers! Hurrah!! A Dan John Workout and More!

WHEW! Finally!  Though admittedly I have not been especially aggressive about growing the youtube channel... (and that may change) I am SUPER proud of the 500+ youtube subscribers I have earned so far... and what a great excuse to try out this awesome simple but no joke workout from Master RKC Dan John!  Check out his recent article on here: The Whys and Hows of the One Kettlebell Workout for more variations, ideas and things to keep in mind with your kettlebell training and overall long-term programming.

500 swings for 500 followers

The video is rough cut and was originally livestreamed. My phone running wirecast also likes to erase my nose and make everything behind me look great but wash out my face in ways that I haven't seen since awkward 1990s family photos. But... it's all there.

In case you don't feel like finding the workout in the video, it is simply the following for 5 rounds:

Because I'm planning on doing some low rep heavy strength stuff later today I opted to stay light and did the whole thing with my trusty ol' 14kg kettlebell. This is also the same weight I'd use for the RKC snatch test, so it wasn't just an arbirary pick.

Hope you like the video and check out Dan John's awesome article, it's full of inspiration and super useful for people training at home or on the go... all you need is one kettlebell after all! :)

A Challenging Workout For A Time Of Less Thinking

Zach Even-Esh Book and Warmup

There's a lot more to write and a lot more adventures to share, but I wanted to put this little workout here to tide you over.  It's an appropriate interlude since it was designed to help out on a day when I figured that at least one member of the kettlebell small group (including myself) would be experiencing or approaching "decision fatigue".  It's just that kind of week, so when I get that feeling its time to stack the deck in the favor of good outcomes and default situations of an optimal nature.  Also wanted to choose something that would "self-scale" to everyone's abilites and energy levels.  Since the people showing up all really know what they're doing, I can count on them to know when to really dive in, and when to back off.  This workout allows for that nicely.  This sort of workout was originally inspired by some of the workouts Mike Krivka has in Code Name: Indestructible some of which are smart/sane versions of AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workouts.

We've recently added some extra fun to our outdoor warmups too.  After going to Zach Even-Esh's Underground Strength Coach certification workshop a few weeks ago (speaking of things I want to write about asap!) we've added in an abbreviated form of his basic warmup right after our mobility drills. One of the things I loved about the workshop (and Zach's book) is how adaptable the programming is.  While the cert and book may LOOK like they're best for high school or collegiate athletes, all the programming is easily adapted and customized to any situation. It's fast, fun and has a kind of sports-team feel to it that tends to lead to some smiling and laughing... which is always a great way to start a workout I think.  The distances chosen for the moving drills will also depend on what else we're doing that day, and how much clear, obstacle-free space we have.  We also make sure to do this together so that if we look silly, we'll look silly together as a kind of bonding experience.

So after our mobility drills and the CC2 Trifecta, we started in with the following in a set short distance free of holes or tripping hazards:

That's not always the order of things and sometimes more is added but that's the basic idea.

Next, I set the time for 20 minutes and set out the box of poker chips so that everyone could keep track of how many rounds they did this time--when we repeat the workout in a few months it'll be fun to see how much we've progressed.

A fun and somewhat simple challenge, but definitely a challenge.

Following a brief water break we chose a kettlebell to use for either 1 arm swings or snatches and did the next little interval routine for a total of 4 minutes:

Finally we ended with some pump stretches (similar to up dog, down dog) some crawling and mobility.  Good stuff!

A Fast and "Foxy" EMOM Workout for Kettlebells and Bodyweight

In the course of working on a top secret special video project (hinted at the other day on social media) I've recently reintroduced the sumo squat back into my regular workout rotation. For fun, I decided to add it into this little 12 minute EMOM workout - I basically did it as a break, as there is more workout to come this evening with some skill and more max strength work. BUT I felt like doing a couple of other things first between some work tasks.

I also knew that the gray foxes might come around this time of night and I wanted to try and see them. The other day near dusk, one of my training clients and I saw one, though I didn't get a good look at it (I was watching my client after all).

Two gray foxes had the good manners to show up right in the middle of the EMOM workout, so full disclosure I did half and then pressed pause to watch the foxes run along that back of the yard where the wild persimmons are now dropping, and where I've also seen some rabbits. Makes sense that the foxes would be there since according to the NC wildlife website, they like to eat both of those things.

Can't blame them to be honest. I enjoy persimmons and roast rabbit. Raw rabbit? Not so much, the foxes can have all of that for themselves. This was a long winded way to say if you want to take a short break after round 5 or 6, then I can't blame you.

After doing a mobility warmup inside, and attempting to record a video of a very strange pullup variation, I started in on the workout. For simplicity, and because I knew it was rapidly going to get dark out there, I only brought my RKC snatch test weight kettlebell, the 14kg. Also, I'm doing some heavy stuff later anyway.

SO! Set your interval timer to chime every minute on the minute (EMOM) for 12 minutes (or more if you feel like it) and do the following in order at the top of each minute:

Upon remembering that I was first RKC certified around this time of year SEVEN YEARS AGO (!!!!!) I was remembering a favorite "Pavelism" from that time. It was a joke about "when do you get to rest?"  A brief synopsis of the tale was that basically a bunch of guys from the Russian army were digging a ditch and were told that they could rest when the dirt was flying in the air. So, if you really shovel hard, you can rest a few seconds longer. That absolutely applies to the EMOM workout. Do all the reps well, but do not dilly-dally and you'll have enough time to compose yourself between rounds, even if you do not take a break to check out the local wildlife that's wandered into the yard.
Twelve minutes of this workout will give you some pretty good numbers: 24 pullups, 120 kettlebell snatches, 60 sumo squats. Not bad at all. If you are wondering, I'm planning to do more pullups tonight along with more practice towards the "dragon pistol", some heavy long presses, and maybe another calisthenic skill item. We'll see.

A Great Excuse to Drag a Bunch of Things Out to the Park - Workout and Skill Practice

On somewhat of a lark it seemed like a fun idea to drag a variety of favorite "toys" out to the park today.  A friend met me for this challenge and I also wanted to borrow her slackline.  Because mine is SO stretchy I'd been having to hang it so high between trees that when I was jumping or falling off of it with the usual frequency it was starting to stress out my achilles tendon in that "this is why we STEP DOWN from high box jumps" way.  And I'm not about to shred up my achilles tendon when I can just borrow (and my new one is arriving tomorrow) one that we can hang lower and avoid the repetitive potentially damaging landings.  Also, over the past few months it's been a lot of fun to experiment with adding slackline into a workout given its VERY mental and neurologically challenging.  In leu of a slackline, and/or if you're not yet at the point where you can walk the full length of one without an issue (normally) then it might be a good idea to choose something like a balance beam, or other safe/gentle balance challenge.  If anything it's best to err on the side of "too easy" as this sort of thing can get surprisingly challenging depending on the rest of your circuit.

After unloading the car and making a corner of the park look like it was the domain of  very strong, very spoiled child, we began this version of our slackline workout experiment

(in the past we've played with heavy kettlebell swings and slackline--the theory being that it's somewhat like the challenge presented by the Olympic Biathlon event... go go go go go then focus while dealing with an elevated heart rate).  I think that this kind of training will eventually help with focus under various stressors in real life, but if not, it's also just really fun and interesting.  So far I feel like there's been a decent amount of interesting learning (as in... CAN I focus on something like this while recovering from a near maximal HR set? or How fast can I switch between physical tasks requiring different thinking, different approaches to motor control etc.) It's been fun and more than just a little humbling.   This sort of experimentation is NOT for ego-building that's for sure!

Today's Experiment:

Primal Move warm up, Trifecta (bridges, L-sit or wherever you are in the l-sit progression, twist)

Then as a continued warm up, we decided to do 100 16kg or 18kg kettlebell swings (Breaking it up in any way ie: 50, 30, 20, 10 or 100 in a row or 25, 25, 25, 25 etc.)

Next was the circuit, and I'm ashamed to say we got into it and didn't write down how many times through, but I suspect it was somewhere between 4-6...

After all kinds of laughing, sweat, and self-observation we cooled down with Primal Move and a few extra little mobility stretches.   Definitely need to do this one again, might swap out some different challenges, but it was a whole lot of fun on a beautiful day outdoors.

I need to make some new slackline videos, and this one was done as a kind of silly joke (we don't usually walk on them carrying anything) but here's basically what happens with slacklining the way we do it:

A Kettlebell Workout, a Busy Week, a Visitor, and MORE!

It's been a great week, but as you can see from my personal lack of article posting here, a BUSY ONE too!    The good news is there's tons of new content on the way for you very soon.   In the mean time, here's what's been going on:  I switched up the schedule for Kettlebell Small Group - the now very exclusive class I teach - and this was a great thing to do because we had a much better attendence AND since no one had to really crush their schedule or commute to get here, the energy and enthusiasm was even HIGHER.   Of course, it also helped that the brains behind and soon-to-be-HKC-candidate, Janelle was visiting Florida this week too.   She's been able to join us for a couple of classes, and also a fun impromptu session at my favorite park last weekend. Read MORE!

She also gave me an INCREDIBLY thoughtful gift - a box of custom-made "Girya Bar" You Bars from (to order your own box of the exact bars Janelle designed, use reorder code w3vb6 also, use the coupon code GiryaGirl for 6% off your order - no matter what you choose to buy!)   BUT... the reason these bars were extra special is because Janelle actually created the bars using only ingredients she has seen mentioned on!  Can you believe that?! SO COOL!!  Not to mention, she's also on the GiryaGirl Beyond Organic team too!

There's a video in the works that will show you a little more about that too.   AND some handy hints about the kettlebell Swing (in a Qdoba parking lot...).   That will be posted hopefully over the weekend.   There are so many videos in the works that I have hired a few people to help me, so look forward to better editing than my "smash-n-grab" style here soon.

Small group really rocked this week- we have adjusted our schedule and attendence has already improved. 

Anyhow, ever leaning on the shoulders of giants, I was inspired by one of Geoff Neupert's infamous kettlebell complexes (usually done with double kettlebells, but I wanted to break it down a little, so we did a single kettlebell version to review our form on the ever-relevant RKC basic exercises.)   Then I added some other "fun stuff" as well:

We of course warmed up with joint mobility - as inspired by Super Joints - though soon we will be incorporating more Primal Move (I need more practice coaching it - more on that later)

Three rounds of:

I had a variety of kettlebells available for this, but they were told to choose a kettlebell they could comfortably press 5-8times in a row, but alternative kettlebells were available if it was either "too easy" or "too hard"

After a short break, it was time for some quick intervals...

2 rounds of:

Little break, kettlebell swap out and then....

4 rounds of:

We ended with a small review of the long press (working towards the push press soon - since they were really quite done with pressing for the day, this assured that the long press was more legs as it should be!) and a little combo for three rounds:

*Video coming soon!

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A Monkey Bar Monday WORKOUT with Video!

Those who train with me know how much I love finding a new "fit trail"! Imagine the delight in finding a fit trail AND a large open field full of mostly soft grass, but not chemically treated to the point of the local soccer fields (those make me itch and that's freaky... and scary because... chemicals!).  While this requires a little "scouting" to make sure no hands end up in ant hills, I always scout out the ground where I will be flinging myself around anyway.  No nasty surprises, please...

Monkey Bar Monday Workout!

Anyway, in honor of "Monkey Bar Monday" below is a workout video that I finally got around to editing for you! The circuit includes pullups, kettlebells, cartwheels, and of course the monkey bars!

It takes courage to do cartwheels as an adult... watch how bad they are on my non-dominant side! HAHAHAH!!!

There's 3 rounds of this in the video! :) Hope you enjoy!

4 rounds of:

So, why cartwheels? After Kirsty mentioned them in our recent podcast, I decided to give that a go! I had been really stalled on my freestanding handstand practice, but since adding cartwheels, and letting my brain know that cartwheeling OUT of a handstand is a definite possibility, my progress has skyrocketed.

Amusingly enough, this extra practice has also even further proved my theory that the handstand is not really a strength move... it seems to take more strength to do it incorrectly than to balance it up! Of course it requires a "requisite" level of general strength, which is soon surpassed especially if you're already conditioned to reasonably heavy-ish overhead pressing with kettlebells, barbells etc. You will also need to take some time for your wrists to adapt. But the requires strength is really not as much as you may think, and though it may have some crossover to other things, handstand pushups against a wall ARE however a much better move for raw upper body strength.  But keeping the arms locked out? Nah... I mean, how many of us take a break and catch our breath during the kettlebell snatch test with the kettlebell locked out overhead? Same thing.

It's a weird sensation when the balance is right, it's completely weightless and I almost feel like someone is pulling upwards on my toes... anyone else get that? It's very strange. Either way, I've been able to work on handstands daily along with my normal heavy-ish power-based workouts and have had no issues at all. Going to be very happy to get long freestanding handstand holds and walks into the regular anyday, anytime, anywhere repertoire.
What are you working on these days?

Healthy Skoop SaleALSO!!!!  Big sale over at Healthy Skoop! Their stellar plant-based protein powder is 25% off with the code STRONG25 . While I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, this protein powder is so good that I love it anyway! :) One of my ovo-lacto veggie clients absolutely swears by it, and is probably in the process of ordering a case worth of it right this second. HAHA! :) 

A Sunday Funday Workout Outdoors with Kettlebells, Ultimate Sandbags, and a NEW? Ab exercise (with Video)

After doing a whole lot of computer-based work this past weekend, on it was time to catch up with a little Sunday Funday type workout.   It was going to be fairly advanced, but that's not a bad thing...

After a Primal Move warmup we got right into it by setting a timer for 5 minutes and grabbing the appropriate kettlebell for the RKC kettlebell snatch test-- 100 snatches in 5 minutes... check out the particulars for the updated RKC testing requirements.  It's fun to remember years ago being really nervous about the test, and thinking about how much steady progress I've made since then, even when I weighed into the smallest class, I would completely stress out about the test using the 12kg.  That's not to say that the test is not formidable in any way, because it is... a hand switch could go wrong, or nerves could get you, it's always best to be prepared, and not to underestimate it, but it no longer freaks me out like it used to.   It's also good to know that I can do it with the correct kettlebell for my weight class now (14kg) as essentially an--admittedly intense--"warm up".

Following that exercise in sweat (this is Florida after all) we got out the Ultimate Sandbags and worked through some basics with the somewhat light "Power" bags to get in the right frame of mind:

We took a short break to review the infamous rotational lunge (one of the two "Evil Cousins" of the kettlebell swing as described by DVRT creator Josh Henkin) at different speeds so that we could adjust the next little circuit as necessary:

Five rounds of:

During the next water break I started playing with some ab exercise variations on the same parallel bars and had the idea for the "Pass Around" exercise in the video below.  We're using the tiny 10lb kettlebells for a reason!

The final circuit was basic but fun, and during that part it seemed like a whole lot of people came out to walk their dogs, one lady seemed like she wanted to join in the fun too! I took the larger of the sandbags we had (the "Strength" bag with 50lbs) to the start of our measured out "Farmer's Walk trail" and paired it with a nearly matching but not quite 24kg (53lb) kettlebell for a just over 100lb total weight farmer's walk.  I was amused when my friend seemed suprised that she was easily carrying around 100lbs without really realizing it (I call that a TOTAL WIN). The walk was an "out and back" at the midpoint we just simply put both items down and turned around before picking them back up in order to "switch hands"

We did 3 rounds of this last circuit:

Finally it was time to finish up with a Primal Move cooldown and pack everything back into the car.   Good times!!!

A Traveling Kettlebell Workout with Variety!

Typically for a Friday we had a couple people missing from class - and since I am not one to mope, I saw this as a fun opportunity to do something a little different.   Around the neighborhood I've found some fun places to do things like fingertip hangs, pull ups, clutch flags, etc. and what I personally like to do sometimes is to tote a moderate to light kettlebell around for a few blocks for swings, and sift in some powerful bodyweight drills ( hurrah Convict Conditioning ) too.   This is also a fun thing to do at a park that has a parcourse or if it doesn't you'll need to stretch your imagination.   Imagination is a great thing, and as adults, we need to be sure NOT to lose touch with it!  A topic that sometimes comes up with my friends and I is the importance of play - especially in terms of exploring movement, coordination, balance, etc.   Anyway - here's what happened today - think of this as an example of how you could put together a workout that's effective, but a lot of fun too.   You may want to have a small (hands free) tote bag or backpack with you for water, Gymboss timer, phone, small towel, first aid, etc.   That's the other thing - safety should be of the utmost concern.  Just because we're mixing in a little fun doesn't mean that form and safety get thrown out!  

As always, we began with joint mobility - then we grabbed one moderate kettlebell each (use your judgement - but 12kg and 16kg were the popular choices, it was best to err on the side of light though!)   Switching hands as necessary, we lugged one kettlebell each down a few blocks, switching hands when necessary.  The goal is to make it to the destination without having to stop - and we did it!  If you need to stop and rest though - please do.  Once at my secret favorite I-beam of pull up and leg raise goodness, we put the kettlebells down and checked the overhead iron beam for rough spots or jaggy edges.   Then we begain this circuit:

3-4 rounds of:

Then, after a little rest and water, we picked up the kettlebells and trucked them back to our training area - and out came the battling rope!  Next circuit:

3 rounds of 30 seconds per exercise, 30 seconds rest/transition/extracredit

For fun, we found a great little spot to practice the neat "walk up the wall" drill that Frank DiMeo taught us at the Super Human Training Workshop last weekend - get in a push up position, but have your feet pressed FIRMLY into the wall.   Carefully walk your feet up the wall, as you slowly walk your hands back towards the wall - you'll end up in an almost handstand position.  Then carefully walk back down.  This is a GREAT drill - it helps people to overcome their fear of being upside down (it's strange when you're not used to it!), and if it gets to be too much, or a little freaky - then just calmly put your feet back on the ground.   At first, don't walk up too high on the wall - get a feel for it and always always be safe.   We took several minutes to practice those then ended with 1 hand swings - 5r-5l-5r-5l straight through for fun.   If you have extra time and energy, see how long you can go without sacrificing form.

Then it was joint mobility time - with some extra wrist drills (bridging and handstands.... you know how it is!).   I hope these ideas might inspire you to come up with a blended workout - let me know if you do!

A Triplet of Circuits for Kettlebell and Bodyweight

Given that the rain had blown into the "hardest core gym in 32789*" aka my large covered parking spot, we moved class to the unused corner of the courtyard, bringing along an assortment of relatively light kettlebells for guys and gals (I'd suggest multiples of 8kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg), and taking advantage of the nearby concrete benches.   We had a few people join us who have been away for a little while so I decided to make a Monday workout that they could slow down or speed up as necessary, also the snatches could be swapped out for 1 arm swings etc. etc.   These circuits are also another great opportunity to practice and improve your kettlebell swings, squats, and snatches.  There's no excuse for sloppy or unsafe form - take a break and/or swap out for a lighter weight.   And I know it's been said 1,000 times, but since we have an influx of new readers, I can't stress the importance of finding a good RKC or HKC in your area to teach and coach you through the kettlebell movements if you're a beginner.  Even if you're not a beginner, its great to check in with an RKC.  Sometimes a bunch of us RKCs, HKCs, etc. will get together, critique each other, help each other out, try new coaching techniques, and have a whole lot of fun learning and sharing.  Yes, we do this stuff for fun on our weekends too - we love it - so why not?!  Long story short - check in with a trusted pro from time to time - it's always worth it!


Back to the class... we started out with our favorite Super Joints inspired joint mobility exercises then started right in with the first circuit:

Repeat 3 times, resting as necessary, but always keep moving!

Circuit #2 - Again, repeat 3 times

Circuit #3 - Guess what! Repeat 3 times!


Finish up with some farmers walks, racked carries, or overhead carries - and of course your favorite joint mobility exercises and plenty of water.

*Still unchallenged!  We have built in "ab stations" perfect for dragon flag practice, beat that!

A Workout Adjusted for Chaos - and More Praise for Code Name Indestructible

I've been chatting with Mike Krivka, lately about his awesome eBook Code Name: Indestructible. If you've been wondering if Code Name: Indestructible is for you or not, I've made a simple Venn diagram for you that should clear up any confusion.   Those of you who happen to meet all three conditions, then seriously... buy it before you end up like that guy in the classic David Cronenberg movie Scanners...

With that in mind, I prepared one of the workouts in the book to the unique circumstances and abilites of our local kettlebell small group class.  Unique circumstances meaning... it was raining on and off so we couldn't be in our usual gorgeous outdoor location, plus the fact that everyone is working to up their pull up reps.  Doing multiple rounds of a combination that included 5 strict pull ups wasn't going to fly with them just yet, so here's what happened.   Stay tuned at the end of the workout for the version I did at home after their class.
We started out with our usual Primal Move warm up (with option of standing Joint Mobility), then went right into a little bodyweight combination:

Next was our modified for circumstances and abilities version of the Code Name: Indestructible workout  (grab a moderate kettlebell or a small collection of 'em  We had multiples of the following sizes available: 20kg, 16kg, 14kg, 12kg):

21 Minutes total - as many rounds which can be performed with accurate and safe form resting with necessary.  (my small group is well trained at this point to know their limits, couldn't be more proud of them for this... the changes and progress they've made has been a little bit staggering)

After a brief active rest and water break we worked on bridges, neck bridges, handstands with the wall.   Finally ending with more Joint Mobility.

When I got home, I did a version of the workout adjusted for my abilities and indoor circumstances:

21 minutes of....

Followed by some free form Primal Move explorations, bridging practice etc.

*Said couch is "Danish Modern" and kinda low...

A Workout Heavily Inspired by Zach Even-Esh's The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning

The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and ConditioningAt the last minute, I ended up having a coffee break with a friend today and toted along Zach Even-Esh's brand new Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning.  She's also an aficionado of incredibly challenging workouts and in addition to being a member of our kettlebell small group, is almost always up for a "Hey, I have this crazy workout to test, want to try it?" situation.  Like the time this past Memorial Day when we did a version of the Murph Hero WOD for fun in the park.

Getting a review copy of the book was a real treat as Zach not only shares tons of cool exercises, approaches to programming, and example workouts, he also shares his own personal story.  This is absolutely fascinating stuff, and in some weird way, makes understanding his "no rules" "underground" approach that much easier.

tl;dr take me to the workout

I'm a big fan of questioning the mainstream (a glance at the music I've collected for the past 25+ years will also attest to that). Also, many times I've been let down by "what you're supposed to do" in terms of "women's fitness".

Several years ago my frustration had gotten to such a fever pitch that I am now and have been ACTIVELY SKEPTICAL of anything fitness related that's labeled as being "For Women".  The models all usually looked the same, or were of that particular build that seems to sell "women's stuff." But that didn't bug me as compared what I'd usually find inside the books... the same old boring light-weight, low on technique drivel. The stuff that I had actually tried and had dedicated a lot of time to, only to get mediocre results--if I got results at all.   But still the nice ladies on the covers in their color coordinated outfits, and possibly photoshopped slim legs and arms grinned back as though they couldn't possibly understand why this couldn't possibly be working for me.

Finally I wised up in my frustration. And in my refusal to do "nice girl workouts" that involved stair steppers, stretching, running, stretching, cute outfits, more stretching, and little weights that wouldn't cause alarm, I decided to see "what the boys were doing".  I've been keenly interested in "what the boys are doing" for quite a while now.  In first grade I really needed to know "why boys like He-Man" and conducted a survey of my male classmates. By the way it's NOT A DOLL, it's an ACTION FIGURE. Heehee... ok guys, calm down. (I probably mentioned the findings of this survey in a previous blog post, but it's still worth noting that I still hear the same ideas from my male fitness friends now. Thankfully the guys were--and are--more interested in getting muscles and an unstoppable winning streak like He-Man, and not getting that He-Man man-bikini outfit or hairdo).

Guys like heroes (as do women). But I was reminded of this type of heroic inspiration when reading about how Zach was so inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger's book, Education of  a Bodybuilder he found when he was in high school. (More on that specifically in an upcoming highly detailed interview with Zach, by the way.)  Essentially, "I want to be awesome like that, and I want to go for it!" That's a sentiment that seems to be human in nature... and not restricted to any gender.

So with the feeling that I was somehow sneaking into the "Boys' Treehouse No Girls Allowed!" back in about 2009, I started poking around Dragon Door and looking at their awesome and mighty manly-man books.  I soon discovered that YES this stuff actually works for everyone, and oh hey, this Kettlebell Goddess DVD is not easy AT ALL!  Pleased to say that the women's items on there truly are as the old slogan goes "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman". FINALLY, some RESPECT.

After the workshop at Zach's gym in Manasquan, NJ

Zach's book has a similarly rugged feel.  ANYONE can benefit from the ideas in Zach's book, but I have noticed (even/especially) at his workshop that there are a lot more men in attendance... and while the demographic at this particular workshop was skewed towards male coaches for mens high school and collegiate sports, there was also a fitness contingent there, and a few very fit, very dedicated, and very cool women.  It was super cool to watch how one young lady started the workshop in a kind of "tagging along with my guy" role, but ended up getting positively electrified by the information.  Towards the end of the workshop you could have thought it was HER idea to go, and that her boyfriend was tagging along for fun!  That's what I'm talking about!

So while the book is a combo guy-coming-of-age autobiography followed by extensive information on Underground Strength and Conditioning as demonstrated by young male athletes, it is by no means restricted to guys.  If anything, I see stuff like this as a "OH YEAH?!?! I can do that too!!!" challenge. I hope more women will take a bold stance and try these fun workout ideas that really can be done anywhere.  Zach started training athletes in the garage, in parks, and in his parents' backyard!  The sky is the limit.

Ooof that was long winded. 
Here's what we did today which was heavily inspired by the workouts in Zack's book on pages 310-311:

We warmed up with our fun Primal Move drills, the Trifecta, and some straight bridges (from Convict Conditioning). The warm-up continued with a set of 20 moderately heavy kettlebell swings.  THEN 5 rounds through this very fun Zach-inspired circuit:

We took a little break before moving onto another self-timed circuit - 4 rounds of:

Finally after a brief break they did a little combo of rows and mace swings - mainly because it's a lot of fun, and seems to effect everyone's posture and shoulder mobility in a positive way:

Following a Primal Move cooldown, some of us proceeded to immediately drive to--and nearly devour whole--a local Mediterranian deli.

The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and ConditioningI will be talking more via video about Zach's book especially its emphasis on success strategies for life very soon.  In fact, click here to check out this cool article from him about success that went live yesterday. Good stuff all around.

Ab-Focused Kettlebell Workout - Home Edition and an Unusual Shake Recipe: Bloodthirsty Goji Dragon!

I've had a lot of requests for home workouts from various clients, friends, and kettlebell small group participants for when either I'm out of town, or they're on vacation, or when schedules just don't work.   The following is a simple favorite that doesn't take much "brain power" but will remind you just how much kettlebell swings involve the abs when done correctly.   A moderate to heavy kettlebell works great for this - be safe and use good judgement as always.   This is a good one to take to the park or the beach - all you need is a kettlebell and a mat of some kind, though I've been known to flop down on pavement on occasion too.   More than just aesthetics - working on our abdominals helps to protect our backs not only during training of any kind, but in life as well. 

Ab-Fab Home Edition:

3 rounds if HEAVY kettlebell, 4 rounds if moderately heavy
  • 30 seconds Hollow position - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds heavy kettlebell swings - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds "tuck ups or v-ups" - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds heavy kettlebell swings - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds RKC Plank - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds heavy kettlebell swings - 30 seconds rest/transition
  • 30 seconds goblet squats - 30 seconds rest/transition

And as promised, another unusual but simple protein shake recipe chock full of nutritional goodness.  As usual, it has a weird and absurd name, but you know that's how I roll:

Links to my preferred providers of the above-mentioned ingredients:
Rishi Organic Jasmine Green Tea
Navitas Goji Powder
Reserveage Grass Fed Vanilla Whey Protein
Super Plasma Protein from Protein Factory
Psyllium Husks Powder
Triton Nutriton MCT Oil

Speaking of food... there's a BIG 20% off sale going on over at Dale's Raw Protein Bars... really good stuff - check it out!!!

Abracadabra - a Slightly Core-Focused Kettlebell and Friends Challenge!

Small group had FUN with this one tonight - it involved many of our favorite "toys": kettlebells in a variety of weights (12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 24kg), a Battling Rope, and the infamous "evil wheel" (aka the $12 of pain, ab wheel).

We began with a Primal Move warm up, then 5 minutes of get-up practice (alternating sides) with a comfortable kettlebell - the focus was for form and a continuation of the warm up.  The size you might use for an RKC kettlebell snatch test may be appropriate for example.  When in doubt, go lighter, this isn't the time for PRs.

Then it was 3 Rounds of......... ABRACADABRA! (We did this in "stations" the different size kettlebells were distributed around the stations as well - if you found something light, you did 1 arm swings, if it was something heavier, then 2 arm swings...)

*Don't have an ab wheel?   Practice the hollow position, the hollow rock, OR even a meaningful RKC style plank

(this is the wheel we used)
This could work too!


**No battling rope? Oh that's really too bad... sounds like burpees time instead.

This is a battling rope!

We cooled down with some milling around, a few downward dog/ up dogs then our Primal Move cool down.  Good times!!!

Advanced Partner Workout - It's Also Scaleable!

Admittedly, this advanced partner workout borders on just a little bit silly, but it is also a whole heck of a lot of fun.  It works well for people who are fairly close in athletic abilities, but it is super easy to adapt it for very advanced or intermediate partner possibilities. 

Also, there's a somewhat excessive amount of cool fitness toys in this one, and that's mainly due to a "just because we can" situation -- all in a blissful airconditioned space with multiple pull up stations etc.  (Granted if you had seen us after this workout you might have thought we had been outside in the 90 degree heat with 100% humidity...)

We warmed up with our favorite joint mobility exercises and the Trifecta from Convict Conditioning Vol 2 (bridge, l-sit, twist).  Warm-up time continued with 20 kettlebell swings - any kettlebell but they must be good swings.  All swings must be good swings, but that's another blog post for another day...

Then my friend and I staked out our dueling pull-up stations and had a nice friendly game of I-go-you-go pull-up ladders.  You can flip a coin or play paper-rock-scissors to see who gets to go first and be "the leader".  For the sake of avoiding failure (and because I knew what else I had in mind for the rest of the challenge, we capped the ladders at 5)   Here's how it went for us:

Artsy Pull Up Photo

Let's assume I was working out with a friend who wasn't quite able to get those rep ranges on full pull ups... they can always do any of the variations such as Aussie Pull ups, or jack knife pull ups, etc.  Alternately if you're super fit, you can always use this fun game/pattern with dead hang muscle-ups, advanced pull up grip variations (the towel variety is a killer, here's Corey Howard talking about grip and towel hangs on the PCC Blog).  You could skip pull ups all together and do this with push ups or any push up variation too.  Anyway, back to the workout.

Originally I had planned that we would rotate through the following circuit (one person started with ab wheel roll outs, the other started with rope throws) for 5 rounds and then a little ab circuit at the end, but we were having so much fun, that we decided to just keep going for 10 rounds (?!?!!?).  Mind you, we are not especially sane sometimes... (and that little ab circuit will surface on another day).

Of course this circuit can be changed around to what you do (or do not) have at the gym.  All 4 items could be replaced with bodyweight exercises, kettlebell exercises, sandbag moves, or any combination thereof.   My idea in the circuit was to STRONGLY encourage good abdominal engagement, serious power output, and a high heart rate.  Mace swings added a circular element and some gentle shoulder mobility.

We cooled down with some mobility drills and another go at the Trifecta.   Good times!

Battling Rope in the dojo

An Exercise in Adaptation / Regression of a Classic Pavel Plan for Kettlebell and Bodyweight

There was some mention on the Dragon Door forums of "Pavel's Force Recon Workout" and of course I had to check it out.  After digging around and following a few links, then comparing them to make sure everything matched up - I found quite an evilly difficult little gem of a program.  VERY advanced - and the weights suggested were obviously not meant for me - as much as I hate to admit something like that, but it is what it is.  As in the past when working with my strength coach, RKC Level 2 Tim Shuman, we'd take the suggested weights of a "big man" workout and basically cut it in half.   Of course I also sent it to him under the usual guise of "am I nuts" and I was thinking cut the weights in half... right?   Admittedly, what originally attracted me to the plan was the mix of exercises - many are favorites - and many are very much NOT favorites - but they are put together in such a way that it's about 50/50 and the integrating of snatching into the last parts of the workout has been really helpful to continue my endurance (something else I am not a fan of... remember, I'm of the "me pick up big rock once, me climb on stuff" people*) with 16kg snatching.   BTW it's now not a problem.  YAY!

Done on MWF only - and the A and B workouts are alternated (A Monday, B Wednesday, A Friday, B the next Monday etc.  3 weeks on, 1 week back off)

The original, attributed to Pavel Tsatsouline:


  • Weighted Pull Ups 5x5
  • Alternate Pull Ups with Double Cleans and Presses - 5x5 (sugg 2 x 24kg)
  • Rock Bottom Front squats with 1sec pause 5x5 (sugg 2 x 32kg)
  • Kettlebell snatches 5 sets, hard but not to failure (suggested 32kg)
  • Alternate sets of snatches with strict hanging leg raises - 5 sets


  • One Arm Clean and Jerks 10 Minutes - pay attention to managing fatigue (suggested 32kg)
  • Heavy Abs 5x5
  • Pull Ups 100 Total
  • Alternate the pull ups with front squats, sets of 10 (sugg 2 x 24kg)
  • Kettlebell snatches or swings: sets of 10/20 then 100 yard recovery jog.  As many sets as safely possible.

Obviously I'm not going to be using the suggested weights there - I'm 5'3" and approx 125lbs and while strong, its just not gonna happen.   Here's what I've been doing, which I've renamed the "Lady Recon" no use of hot pink necessary in that title, and warning, it's been scaled to my level which is moderately advanced - I am using it to increase general strength:


  • Weighted Pull Ups 5x5 (I'm attaching an 8kg kettlebell to a dip belt, next week it goes up to 10kg if I get one soon enough)
  • Alternated with double 12kg kettlebell clean and presses 5x5 (upping this to 2x16kg next time)
  • Rock Bottom front squats w 1 second pause double 12kg kettlebells 5x5 (upping this to 2 x 16kg)
  • Alternate sets of 16kg kettlebell snatches (I was doing 15r/l, 15r/l, 10r/l....) with 5x5 strict hanging leg raises (I'm doing ankle to bar)


  • One Arm clean and jerks for 10 minutes with 16kg kettlebell (going to 20kg next time)
  • Heavy Abs 5x5 - have been cycling through things like hanging upsidedown sit ups, evil wheel, dragon flag progressions (I only do dragon flags 1-2 reps at a time, so stepping back to achieve 5 reps), strict hanging leg raises.  Slow leg raising into headstands.
  • Pull Ups 100 total, dropping it down to 50 because of time constraints on occasion :( alternating with 10 kettlebell double front squats (2 x 16kg, or 14kg and 16kg and swapped halfway through the set to keep things balanced)
  • Snatches or swings with 16kg kettlebell and 100yd recovery jog around the inside of the courtyard, much to the annoyance of my neighbors :)


If you're not there with some of the strength drills, or just have a couple kettlebells at your disposal, or you don't know how to do a full hanging leg raise or clean and jerk, DON'T DESPAIR!   Here's a scaled version I did for the small group!  They haven't learned clean and jerk yet, some can't do more than 1 or 2 pull ups yet, are working on the early progressions of the hanging leg raise.  They also need to work more on swings than snatching right now.  So, here's an example of how this workout can be further adapted to another skill level.  I love the way it's structured, so why not!


  • 5x5 Inverted rows (get under a waist height bar, or as suggested in Convict Conditioning, a big heavy table will do - just be safe)
  • Alternated with 5x5 double cleans and presses - choose an appropriate weight - and focus on technique - (class members used double 8kg and double 12kg)
  • As low as safely possible double front squats with appropriate weights, again technique focus 5x5.
  • 10 1 arm swings per side - challenging but safe weight and maintain form, alternated with hanging knee raises, or whichever Convict Conditioning progression you are on for the hanging leg raise 5x5


  • 10 minutes kettlebell swings 30 sec on 30 sec off, reasonable weight, form focus!
  • Heavy abs - depending on ability, leg raises from the ground, power breathing crunches 5x5
  • Inverted Rows, under max sets, but trying for sets of 10 alternated with double front squats with a safe weight.
  • 1 arm swings 10/side relatively light weight alternated with 100 yd recovery jog 3-5 rounds if there's time


The cool thing is - the last version can really be done by a group with multiple fitness levels - just make sure everyone knows what they should be doing and are maintaining good form.  I just can't stress that enough!

Let me know if you come up with any of your own variations, and how you're doing this New Year! :)


*So, if in a social situation (and this happens at least once a week) you say to me that you want to "get fit like me" and then explain your plan to go to spin class 6 times a week and eat nothing but water and rice cakes, you should then understand why I'm looking at you as if you've suddenly sprouted additional arms and legs.   Seriously... I workout 3-4 times a week, 45 mins to 1 hr on average.  Truth is - some days the "workout" is so integrated into the day's tasks (GTG pull ups, qigong, mobility, heavy carries, skills practices) that I don't even consider it "working out"   And I can't remember the last time I ingested any of those styrofoam-like rice cake things.   Might not even agree to do that on a dare at this point, same with endless mindless cardio.   Seriously... eat good solid whole foods, do meaningful workouts - it doesn't have to take over your life.

An Under 25 Minute Stacking Kettlebell Workout! Intermediate Level

Sub 25 Minute Stacking Kettlebell Workout on

There's always a few interesting moments in a stacking workout - the first is usually a false sense of security, or the quickly fleeting thought that you might have chosen a kettlebell that's a little too light. Cherish these moments, because a few minutes (or for some, seconds) that same kettlebell may feel mysteriously waaay heavier.

Because I wanted to go straight though, and because recent Dan John articles have inspired me to think up more "one kettlebell workouts" I ended up doing the workout below with the kettlebell I would use for the RKC Snatch Test, the 14kg kettlebell - that is unless I hit another bogo sushi night with the neighbors then I might need to start using the 16kg. But with a stacking workout, when in doubt, go light!

The high pulls were added in there because I'd forgotten how much fun they are, I'd taught them to someone earlier in the day on their route to snatching here soon. While they are regarded sometimes regarded as just a lead up drill to kettlebell snatches, I enjoy working with them in their own right as well, they still teach a lot and are a fun challenge.

At first the 30 second rests may seem unnecessary, I use them to get set with water, fans, etc. for the first few rounds. Later on I typically use one of them to crank up the AC in here.

So, after more than a fair amount of joint mobility exercises, I picked up the 14kg kettlebell and fired up an interval timer app and got to work:

After a short break I did a few get-ups, weighted and then unweighted to finish up the workout.  Definitely a decent amount of work in a short period of time! Let me know if you try it! :)

Another Challenging Element to Try with Neuro-Grips, and Two Workouts

Until today, it hadn't occured to me that I'd always used the same grip with my Neuro-Grips... even at the Neuro-Grip Challenge book photoshoot... It's always been with the stem of the grip between my middle finger and ring finger. (Upper left in the photo below.)

Alternative Neuro-Grip grip positions from

The only reason I figured that out today was that I'd "buddy taped" my left ring finger to my left middle finger earlier before going outside and playing in the yard--uh, I mean working out... Now, while there's nothing especially wrong with my left ring finger, I'd jammed it pretty bad a little while ago doing some silly stuff and I wanted to just make sure it stayed in line while I did even more other silly stuff today such as throwing logs up the hill. So, if you have been only using the Neuro-Grips one way, carefully try a few of these different grips, a few of them are downright nutty!!

"It's LOG it's LOG!"

Not sure why, but throwing these logs is a whole lot of fun. When safe lifting techniques are habit, lifting, carrying, and then attempting to throw large odd objects is a lot of fun. I'm going to try a few more ways to throw them, but my current favorite is like an angled push-press from my dominant side. That seems to get the most height/distance. There's a video below showing some of that below. And yes, flip them over and check for ants and other creepy crawlies before just putting your hands all over nature stuff. Seriously...

So, here's some highlights of my time outside today including log throwing, throwing star throwing, and Neuro-Grip experiments - one of which I almost chickened out on but still managed to do. Below the video is a recap of the actual workout afterwards:

The Short and Fun "Workout":

It's log, it's log!I warmed up with some joint mobility exercises indoors then enjoyed carrying and throwing some of the short logs from down the hill. The fire pit will be rocking this weekend to be sure.

Next I decided to get out the throwing stars to focus a little more before it got too dark. I forgot that I'd done a fair amount of pull-ups the night before* until I did a short set of them on the rings. Oops.

I wanted to just do a little bit more today, and to spend some quality time with the Neuro-Grips, especially after playing with different grip patterns. I switched around the grip for each set of Neuro-Grip push-ups below.  NOW, if you're not yet doing the top rep range, or aren't comfortable with the Neuro-Grips yet (which is totally understandable, you know, I've been training with these things for over 4 years now) feel free to substitute your favorite type of push-up that you can do well.

That fun little combo felt great in the cool air as the sun set. I also earned a good 150 kettlebell swings and 42 Neuro-Grip push-ups, which isn't too bad for a short session after throwing logs around for fun :)

*Here's the workout from the night before - since I knew I'd be goofing around in the yard today, I kept the volume within a reasonable range for my current level, so I only took five chips for each color/activity. It's written out under the image below in case you can't read my awful handwriting :)

After of course some joint mobility exercises, I got out the box of poker chips and counted out 5 of each color. Choosing the chips however, I completed the following. It's always fun to see how that goes when I introduce people to these workouts, some people choose the exercises they love the most and do all of those first, some save their favorites for the last, some work down the line evenly, others choose at random. All the while I have to make sure I'm not saying, "Hmmm! INTERESTING!" out loud around the participants.

Poker chips workout

Black chips = 5x pullups (your choice of pull-ups, chin-ups or like the great suggestion from Zach Even-Esh, use a different grip for each set!)

Red chips = 5 Right, 5 Left hover lunges with or without a kettlebell. I used a small kettlebell for these to help me balance while getting the full range of motion on the exercise. Hover lunges and the movements related to them are oddly difficult for me -- even though I can do and have done pistol squats for ages!

Blue chips = 25 kettlebell swings (I chose a different kettlebell for each round, and because I knew I'd be doing more swings today)

Yellow chips = 10 right, 10 left kettlebell snatches - I used my test weight kettlebell (14kg for these)

Green chips = L-Sit for time. I made sure to hold a strict L-sit on my awesome custom paralettes from Ryan Pitts' Stronger Grip for a minimum of 20 seconds each time.

Best part? With this use of poker chips, YOU ALWAYS WIN.

Another EMOM Challenge AKA Oops I Did 200 Kettlebell Swings and 40 Pull Ups at 10PM

kettlebell and AdrienneThe subject of EMOM workouts came up on the Dragon Door forums recently and of course that made me immediately want to do one! It was late at night but I figured I had 20 minutes to spend wisely. After a short joint mobility warm up (feel free to throw in some light weight or no weight get-ups) I set up the interval timer app (I use Interval Timer Pro from Deltaworks) on my iPhone to chime on the minute every minute for 20 minutes. I had a 22kg kettlebell handy and decided to use it because 1. I really like the finish on that one, it's kind of slightly grippy and dry 2. Wanted to use something reasonably heavy for these short sets of swings--but wasn't feeling the need to set any world records. I was doing this at 10PM after all.

OK! Here's what I did - it's simple, but it added up! I paused the timer in the middle for a water break but other than that, this is a great challenge to do all the way through. It's also easy to scale things on this model.  You can always use another pulling movement instead of the strict pull-ups (example: Aussie pull-ups aka bodyweight rows).

Every minute on the minute I did:

Which didn't seem like a lot each go round, but which added up handily! 40 pull-ups, 100 tuck-ups, and 200 kettlebell swings... not bad for a short little late night workout... filing this one away for other busy times.

The key to coming up with good combos for EMOM workouts is understanding the role of time in the movements you choose, for example kettlebell swings are "faster" than snatches just because the distance the kettlebell travels is greater with snatches--which also have a pause at the top. If we were to do this EMOM example with snatches, I might take them down to six reps per round instead of the 10 kettlebell swings. It's also important to not choose too many things to do each round, you need to build in a fair amount of "rest" within each set too. It's a fun puzzle to solve (and feel free to modify and polish your EMOM creations the first time you try them, it's a great learning experience).

Another great use of EMOM workouts is for single or doubles of very difficult exercises. I like to use the same timer settings to do single reps of weighted pull ups for example. Each rep will be great because of the timed rest... it's a great strength and habit builder.  It's also fantastic for building confidence on challenging lifts or moves. :)

I hadn't given the EMOM workout format much attention until I was helping Mike Krivka with his cool ebook, Code Name: Indestructable.

*In response to Gerri's question below, here's also a video with tuck-ups and some alternatives too!

Another Workout Inspired by Code Name: Indestructible...

Code Name: Indestructible Book CoverIn Code Name: Indestructible, one of the cool workouts that Mike created and included has a really neat rhythm to it -- Admittedly, I've been making a whole lot of little workout variations with this same pattern *click here for another*.   I've even made a little set of them for a distance client looking for some "metcon" style fun.   If you're short on time, equipment, and attention-span these can be especially useful.  As always, great form or you're done.   As Mercedes Benz says, "The best or nothing" (useful phrase for cleaning out closets as well).  The same thing applies as I say AMRASP (as many rounds as sanely possible).  Keep it safe people, injuries are things to be avoided!

Here's what we did - first we had our Primal Move warm up, and Paul Wade's awesome Trifecta (Bridge, L-sit--or variation thereof, twist-stretch).

Then because it was "cold" outside (for Florida) we did  little mini "tabata-timing-inspired" circuit to "stay warm" HAHAHA.

4 rounds of:
20 seconds kettlebell swings, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds sprawls, 10 seconds rest

That helped us get toasty enough to get rid of our sweatshirts at least.  For the next 21 minutes had us not wanting to deal with any extraneous encumberments:
Again... AMRASP for 21 minutes:

After we had a brief rest, we finished up with the backwards version of the Primal Move sequence and our beloved Trifecta.   Good times! *Mike Krivka demonstrating Sit Outs. I need to show you my version sometime as they involve this kind of funny looking "karate kid kick" thing going on and are a little slower.

**Aussie pull ups are when you're "down under" the bar -- some people call these bodyweight rows, or other various names.  The way we do them the bar is approx waist height, and we are underneath in a strict plank position, it's fun!

Another.... 300 Workout

I couldn't resist making this silly graphic - that's my computer science / digital arts degree WORKING HARD FOR YOU!  (...must not have class shove neighbor's car around the parking lot for the next '300' workout...)

Start out with joint mobility of course, we did a little extra here and there because it's Monday and people seemed a little tired or stressed or something thing...   I had many kettlebells available and encouraged people to switch in order to be challenged but also to not sacrifice form.


Three rounds of:

20 2-Hand Kettlebell Swings - heavy if you can
10 Heavy if you can - kettlebell military presses (5 per side)
20 Leg Raises (they did these on the ground, back pressed  into ground, grabbing onto the stationary poles of our HIGH TECH* ab stations, lowering legs carefully and with tons of abdominal tension)
20 Push Ups
20 Kettlebell Deadlifts with Upright Row (2 distinct movements)
10 Kettlebell Round the Worlds - AKA "Slingshot" (5/side)

Rest as needed

Practice -
5 Turkish Get Ups Each Side

Finish up with your joint mobility!

*I am being sarcastic, these are large metal pipes firmly cemented into the ground.  Alternately, these can be performed with your hands next to your body, pressed into the ground, making sure to keep your lower back also pressed into the ground while slowly and carefully raising your straight legs off the ground.   If you're working up to this, a bend in the knees (held rigidly!) is a good alternative.   Check out the leg raise section in Convict Conditioning for an excellent progression towards one of my favorite exercises of all time - the hanging leg raise.  The good news is the first progressions can be done anywhere.

Barbarian Track Day - Another Silly Sounding But Challenging Workout

Silly faux heroic pose with very awesome Stronger Grip MaceThe photo at the left here is my silly attempt at a heroic pose with a very serious piece of exercise equipment from Ryan Pitts of He makes some incredible stuff of fantastic craftsmanship, which if you haven't checked it out, please do so. This exercise mace is down right formidable and while I've gotten better with it (with weight added in the globe) it always manages to keep me on my toes.

It was time for another challenge, so I wrote up a particularly interesting one, and participated in it as well. Self-scaling elements and variations included (these are always in my notebooks where these ideas get scrawled then tested on real human beings before getting shared here).

Won't deny it, I'm not a fan of running, even though I've been told that I'm pretty ok at it, and that I'm reasonably fast.  I do like to sprint on occasion and just go all out for a short period of time, preferably up hill.  At that point its more of an act of defiance than an athletic feat.  Also, at any given time I like to know that I can go and keep going very fast for at least 1/4 mile at a time, far enough to get to or away from something (zombies? regrettable live music?) if necessary.

Like most "track day" challenges this is something only done occasionally, and may or may not fit into the larger "plan" other than as a benchmark or casual assessment. 

It's also fun to find out what can and can't be done in a particular period of time.  And to train with the maces - we brought out the big heavy one from Stronger Grip as well as a 10lb one, which was a good thing, I started out with the heavier mace but had to switch down about half way.  The other thing we brought out was my portable pull up bar, that isn't perfect, but serves it's purpose well enough for dead hang pull ups, chin ups, knee raises, leg raises.  Definitely not recommended for anything with even a hint of momentum.  The pull up bar has this bizarre nearly magnetic effect on some people as we soon learned.

After a joint mobility warm up and some various crawling drills (with the added "excitement" of dodging the odd sand spur) we started right in with the challenge -
four rounds of:

walking lunges with a small mace

We ended with a joint mobility cooldown, chatting with a friend from a while back and then, because it was in the trunk of my car, we played around with the Trideck my friends invented.

Now for all the talk of the asterisks above:

*5 dead hang pull ups is nowhere near my max, and that's on purpose, the point of the pull-ups in this weird circuit is by the 2nd or 3rd round everything seems to be a lot more challenging.  I wanted us to experience successful very well executed pull ups under reasonable exhaustion.  Other rep ranges may be appropriate considering the situation.  My workout partner chose to do 3 reps for example.  People who haven't worked up to solid pull ups would do well to work with bodyweight rows (TRX, waist height bar, rings...) in sets of 10 if appropriate

**Any variation, they just have to be GOOD push ups!  I did mine from the feet with feet together, but other options include feet shoulder width apart, or with hands on a riser, or even very well executed push ups from the knees.

***Bored? Add a kettlebell and make these goblet squats.  I was going for maximum range of motion with these.

****Somewhere around round 3 I decided to try full straight leg raises, that made running the next lap unbelievably difficult afterwards, but a very interesting challenge.

This was not easy, and it very quickly pointed out a lot of weak (but also strong) points.  Again while I'm not a runner, and don't enjoy it, I was amused to swap the order of the lap around the track and the pull-ups for one of the rounds.  While I was out of breath from going almost all out running, I was still able to do the pull ups without much more than the usual effort.  It was a very odd feeling, but encouraging in some way I'm not entirely able to describe just yet. Won't bore you with it here, but I'm working on a few almost mental experiments related to moments of pure focus. 

Sometimes I wonder if I write these challenge workouts to reach those brief instances and observe them. That sort of... focus--apply--overcome... then the obvious next question: where else in life can that same concept be applied?  A few weeks ago, someone that works at coffeehouse I use as my "work at home break room" told me about the elaborate preparations he was making for April 1st, and how it was all planned out over a month ahead.  This is someone who otherwise is incredibly disorganized.  I asked him... can you do an experiment for me? When you're finished planning the pranks for April 1st, take that same approach and apply it to something in your life that has always been a struggle. I saw a light bulb go on and while I'll probably hide out as much as possible for April 1st, I'll be curious to see what good things happen for him if he tries the experiment...  Ok sorry for all the vagueness on my side of the mental experiments, but at least this post hasn't yet degenerated into references to obscure directors and 70s music. Just know that some interesting things are about to begin!

AND this is definitely something to look forward to:

The Dragon Door Health and Strength Conference!!!

It's in August, but don't hesitate to sign up now! I'll be there - will you be? Can't wait to meet up with all these authors and leaders! Click here to download the full 29-page brochure about the Health and Strength Conference!

Bizarre But Useful Kettlebell Workout: The Puppy and the Beast v2.0

Tested this one with an advanced friend... it's actually the 2nd version and I like it the best so far.  We had a couple of odd social type interruptions but overall it went very well (and it got rid of my headache). 

Also, I have now seen in public doing swings with both the smallest kettlebell and the largest kettlebell that Dragon Door makes... hence the name of the workout, as we've nicknamed the 10lb micro-kettlebell the "puppy" since the 48kg, 106lb kettlebell is officially called the Beast.  This workout has a portion that is a really interesting brain-twister where you perform swings with a VERY light kettlebell then a very heavy one... its one of those where you are learning something which is not always easily expressed in words, but that you can feel happen.

Here's what we did:

Primal Move warm up (or joint mobility), the Trifecta, then a funny "you crow, I headstand, let's see who can stay up longest" faux contest.   I'm into the elbow headstand as presented by Al in Pushing the Limits right now, and my friend is rocking the crow big time.

Then it was time for 4-5 rounds of....

We finished up with a little more Primal Move then the same sort of crow/headstand "contest" and I was amused to find that my focus had improved by leaps and bounds... enough to PR in the length of time in an elbow headstand.

By the way...  if you haven't already seen it, Al Kavaldo's new book Stretching Your Boundaries is very worthwhile... not "just another stretching book", Al has curated a list of useful stretches for the calisthenics enthusiast (or beginner, or instructor, or advanced practitioner... you catch my drift...) with not only how to do them, but WHY to do them and what exercises they'll assist.   It's really great if you're finding yourself "stuck".   It's also presented in a fun way, which is a rarity among books that approach things which sometimes cross over with yoga...

Carrying On: a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

The Cover of Convict Conditioning Vol 2 Signed by Danny and Al KavadloThe weather has finally started to get really nice in Florida, so we took the small group workout to the park today.  The soft grass there is just fantastic for Primal Move, the Trifecta from Convict Conditioning Vol 2 and more.  Truth be told, we've been doing an experiment and have been adding the Trifecta to our workouts for the past month.   It's been so fun, and has been helping everyone—myself included— so I think it's become a permanent addition to our training.

Here's what we did:

Primal Move warm-up and the CC2 Trifecta (bridge, l-sit, twist).   We grabbed appropriate weight kettlebells and did a total of 10 get ups, alternating sides.

Next was a "relay" - I won't call it a "race" since there's just one team, and because racing this sort of stuff wouldn't be the greatest idea.  A variety of kettlebells were available, and variations were encouraged.   Before it began, we chose a safe path for the racked carries out and back.  It was approx 35 yards out and back for a total of 70 yards each round.   After 5 rounds, this meant we'd walked a total of 350 yards with racked carries (or a combination of racked and overhead carries if we opted for the variation)

We did 5 rounds of:

Last was a little timed combo, four rounds of:

And we finished up with the trifecta and of course more Primal Move.

Blooming tree near where we work out

Choose Your Own (Kettlebell) Adventure Workout

An amusing episode from my fitness-boot-camp-leading days was when a particular camper very loudly and emphatically warned the other campers NOT to try and bargain with me:

"OMG you guys, STOP IT, seriously, DO NOT try to bargain with her - it will NEVER end up in your favor... JUST DO THE BURPEES. Trust me this could get SO MUCH WORSE..."

 Which always sort of puzzled me - the alternatives I would provide on occasion or the choices were always ...reasonable... oh sorry, are the horns poking up out of my hair again today?! 

The concept of the following workout would probably cause the above-mentioned camper to run screaming for his car (maximal cardio?), but you will probably enjoy it.    It's made with options so that you can have a small group of people of different skill levels (other than absolute beginners), strengths, etc. all working out together.   And they get to move around to different "stations" which always seem to appeal to people.

Set up the following stations, or tailor the sizes (heavier or lighter) to fit your class/situation/etc. at a minimum, have the following available:

Here's where it gets fun - you don't need to put them in order (keep the pairs matched though)... its better if you don't - we want an element of chance - a little of the ol' chaos.

Warm up with joint mobility and some 2 hand kettlebell swings then.....

Let your participants choose where they start - but don't tell them what they'll be doing!!!  They will have choices - and if necessary, YOU tell them what to do - in order to maintain form, safety etc.  Don't let their egos put them in danger of injury (sorry guys, but you tend to do this sometimes), be a leader and be smart.  Also - be sure to enforce strict form with the light kettlebells as well - this is a great time to practice.  Make sure everyone moves down the line between intervals -

Fire up your Gymboss timer and set it for 45 second intervals...

THREE rounds! 

  1. Choice: Double kettlebell swings or Double kettlebell deadlifts (single if necessary)
  2. Choice: Single kettlebell Around the World (slingshot) or Hot Potato (plank instead if necessary)
  3. Choice: Double kettlebell Front Squat or single kettlebell goblet squat
  4. Rest

After a little rest - we worked on some parts of the TGU, small 1 minute Q&A session then... back to the stations!  Everyone must start at a different pair of kettlebells...

45 second intervals on the Gymboss.... Three rounds:

  1. Choice: kettlebell snatches - single, double, or if too heavy, 2 hand swings
  2. Push Ups - variation is up to the participant - feet, knees, 1 leg... 1 arm! :)
  3. Single kettlebell 1 hand (switch at 22 sec) or 2 hand kettlebell swings,
  4. Plank - variation is up to the participant!
  5. Rest

Finish up with joint mobility - and of course plenty of water.

Core Torture, the Insidious Kettlebell Swing Practice Workout

After reading a good bit of Bud Jeffries new book, I Will Be Iron (currently out on ebook format, soon to be out in paperback), I was more than just a little bit inspired.   One of the things I like about his book is the real world focus on simple but effective workouts with just a few crucial tools.   He also pairs drills very well - I'm even futher convinced that I need to get a tire for the small group to flip - that or we may have to work out something and meet up with our friends at The Jungle for a special workout event... who knows!   A full review of I Will Be Iron will be live in a few days, but I am really impressed with it so far - especially since Jeffries also includes talk about his Qigong practice and mobility.   Likewise the start-stop swings were included so the small group could practice their hikes - the start stop Swing is explained in great detail in Mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing - but, the basic gist is that you reset/re-hike between each and every Swing.   Try it - you'll see!

Following our joint mobility warm up, they did 20 2 hand swings - then everyone chose a moderate kettlebell for the next combination - 45 seconds of 1 hand swings, switching every 5 reps, then 15 seconds rest.   More rest taken if necessary - three rounds.

Next was the review of the "hollow" position - this was one of the really neat things that we touched on at the RKC2 this past summer, and then also at the Bodyweight Workshop in October - this is a basic, but difficult exercise in tension and awareness - and really should be in everyone's practice.   Following that review, I decided to gently introduce what is known as "The Evil Wheel" - you know, that little goofy gadget to the left of this sentence?  Used properly it can really be interesting.  ALWAYS remember to keep your abs fully engaged the whole time, or you'll end up using your back - and that's BAD.   Also - only roll out as far as you safely can - it's never a contest - and again think of starting in that hollow position while kneeling (pad those knees too).   They alternated using the wheels and practicing the hollow position - 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest+switch for 2 rounds, then pump stretch, 10 2 hand kettlebell swings and then 2 more rounds of hollow and wheel.

Next we got out the ropes for a bit of fun - 2 groups - one group had a moderate to light kettlebells and were doing one hand swings, switching hands each Swing (D.A.R.C. swings), while the others were doing a fun battling ropes drill I learned from Laurel Blackburn of Tallahassee Kettlebell a few weekends ago - alternate arms up and down while walking towards and then backwards about half the length of the ropes.   VERY interesting and VERY challenging drill.   Both groups repeated each station three times. 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest+switch.

Finally - one group did kettlebell deadlifts with heavy kettlebells, while the other group did 2 hand start stop swings with a moderate weight kettlebell, just 2 rounds 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest+switch.

We finished up with joint mobility and plenty of water.  

The fun thing about this particular workout is that it drills the crucial elements of the the kettlebell Swing while still maintaining interest.  We emphasized staying square and hand switch technique with the first segment of 1 hand swings, we reinforced engaging our abdominals with the hollow and wheel practice.  The D.A.R.C. swings again emphasize coordination with hand switching, and the start stop swings really drive home the importance of the hike and deceleration.   Fun stuff!

Have a great weekend and please let me know if you try any of these drill combinations!

Courthouse Calisthenics Workout....

So, I was called in for jury duty, which of course caused me a whole lot of tooth-gnashing and concern... would I get stuck on something for days and days (my greatest fear), or would they let me go?   The good news - after making me and about 900 other people sit around for most of the day, they ended up not needing me.

Considering the proliferation of snack machines and disturbingly large sugary baked goods for sale, I could see that most people were using this as an excuse to fall off the wagon.   None of that business going on over here, thank you very much.   I packed a protein bar and a bag of almonds and pecans along with a whole lot of books and my iPad - they thankfully had wifi available so no one went completely berzerk.   After sitting around in what was kind of like an airport without airplanes, we were given a lunch break.   I just hopped across the street to Terrace 390 and found they had a 10oz prime beef burger... so I ordered it without bun but with extra lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, dijon mustard... and a slight splurge, my kryptonite: sweet potato fries.   I only ate about 1/3 of them, but they were especially good - with well spaced chunks of sea salt and all that.  And of course a very serviceable double espresso.   After a little bit of digestion, it was time to feel a little better before having to sit sit sit sit sit some more and who knows for how long...  So I found a deserted corner of the courthouse courtyard (wow that's redundant) as to not attract more attention than necessary and did the following moves from Convict Conditioning with minimal rest:

Small texting break

Then it was time to go back inside.    With a little creativity, and willingness to pay a good bit for a decent lunch, I managed to make things ok!

Cruise Control Kettlebell Swing Workout Inspired by Dan John

Cruise Control Kettlebell Workout

Before we get into it, please be sure to check out my recent interview with original Battling Ropes System creator, John Brookfield! I was surprised at more than a few of his answers - and am that much more psyched to attend the upcoming Battling Ropes Instructor Certification workshop!

OK! So, once again I revisited a favorite Dan John article to read up on a particular pattern. While Dan had already made several variations of this workout pattern in his article and even more so in his book, The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge (recommended). The original version is 10 swings, 1 goblet squat, 15 swings, 2 goblet squats, 25 swings, 3 goblet squats, 50 swings, rest.

Don't get me wrong, I like the original version a whole lot. I use it and enjoy it.

And I wanted to use it with a particular client, except there was one problem... that last set of 50 swings. While I have no doubt that this particular person could absolutely do the 50 swings, we were at a different point in our training. Also, I wanted to get him to do a whole lot of swings in one session without a whole lot of physical (or mental) fatigue that can sometimes come with 50 heavy swings in a row. But, in our next session, I wanted to basically coast through doing 200+ swings while practicing a few other moves (squats, pushups, etc).

I like building psychological victories into sessions and this particular pattern--assuming you have enough time and have chosen an appropriate kettlebell for your feat--can be used to do a pretty enormous amount of swings. For example, I did the original version (using hand to hand swings--one arm swings, switching at the top of each Swing) with an RKC snatch test size kettlebell to knock out 500 swings in a short period of time.  With the "cruise control" version, it's best to aim for 200-300 swings depending on how much time you have, and what kettlebells you've chosen to work with that day.  Heck... sometimes I've been known to throw a single round with a heavy kettlebell into the middle of a workout at random! :)

So, below are a couple of examples of how I've used "Cruise Control" personally and with others. At the end of the article is a video where I've used the kettlebell Swing pattern around stacking rocks between the sets. While not the most efficient use of this pattern, it's a pretty fun way to stack rocks and still get some swings in while you play.

Cruise Control Mini Grind:
(Choose a heavy-ish kettlebell for this one, but all reps must be awesome, no t-rex arms at the top of swings. That looks silly and you're cheating yourself out of grip training!)

Warm up with joint mobility exercises and one slow but solid get-up on each side (go for more if you have time). The first round is almost identical to the original Dan John version, because it is awesome.

Repeat TWICE (or three times if you had a good breakfast...)

Cruise Control Variety Pack:
(I 2 hand kettlebell swings for the duration. Weights given are the ones I used, adjust accordingly.)

(I just got the infamous "Ab Pavelizer" and decided to use it for the last round! Feel free to do any other intense but low rep ab exercise here instead, though I can recommend the Pavelizer... holy moly!)

That was quite enough for one day. I finished the workout with joint mobility then ate a lot of tasty food.

Finally, here's one last version... which is somewhat more true to the idea of the original (as the goal total is 300 swings). This advanced client is working on strength endurance but also I wanted to check in and see how they were doing on various movements. I added the handstands in at the 2nd round almost as grip training relief - which is why you will also see crow stands and slow push-ups sometimes paired with heavy farmers carries in my other workouts. If you train with me, during those times I may say something on the order of "now, let's flatten our hands back out..."  I saved the high pulls for the last round, as these were a technique training moment and I knew we'd go light with these. The person I was training is not keen on them, but by the last round I knew she'd be very motivated to just knock them out. And she did. We used a variety of kettlebell sizes and swapped them around through each round, and as appropriate to maintain awesome form.

Strength Endurance and Form Practice Variety Pack

As promised, here's the video of one round using a 24kg kettlebell for the swings and stacking rocks between the rounds.  Needless to say, this is not a version to be done for too many rounds! :)

Descending Ladder Kettlebell and Sandbag Burpees Workout With How-To Video

Originally I wrote a version of this sandbag and kettlebell workout for one of my very fit clients. Halfway through her session, I realized I was envious and would be doing a version of it myself that very evening!

Descending Ladder Workout with Kettlebells and Sandbag Burpees!

Descending ladder workouts are a lot of fun AND they let you get in a ton of high quality, strict form reps. When I write a descending ladder workout for someone, or for myself, I choose a rep range that allows me to perform each with precision, even if the last few get a little challenging. The idea is that since each round drops off either one or two reps, you never get to the point where you're sacrificing good form just to get in the numbers.

While I'm more than happy to stop a set if I feel like things are not going to go well for the next rep, some personalities out there are resistant to that idea--and all too often well meaning group fitness trainers, or mainstream fitness folks will just push people to get the numbers - no matter how ugly the reps end up looking.  WELL, that does NOT happen on my watch... I'd rather someone build good movement and strength habits than just complete an arbitrary number of reps at any cost. BTW "someone" also absolutely includes me.

Sandbag burpees are somewhat of an intermediate-advanced move, so feel free to swap those out with sprawls*

Taken on it's own this is a pretty short workout (I'd been working on pull-ups throughout the day...) but a lot of fun. Next time I try it, I might see how long it takes me to complete it all correctly, then try to beat the time the time after that--again only with good reps.

For the workout below, I chose a medium-light sandbag - the Ultimate Sandbag "Power" bag with about 25lbs of rice in it. (50lb bags of Thai jasmine rice had been on sale, if you toss the bag too roughly on the ground, the smell slightly wafts through the seams and you'll want to go out for Thai food after the workout...) I also chose a reasonably heavy kettlebell 32kg in fact for the short sets of swings, and a pair of 14kg kettlebells for the double kettlebell thrusters. I also like to alternate descending reps with a few constant sets too as you'll see below. That works well with this particular workout to make it a good use of time.

OK before the workout, here's a short video about how I like to do sandbag burpees. After the workout, there's a video about burpee scaling and alternatives like sprawls.

I did more than my fare share of joint mobility exercises then got to work:

Let me know if you try any of this - it's lots of fun!

*Sprawls and scaling sprawls and burpees video!

**Go slow and controlled with the hanging knee raises and you're basically doing bar hangs at the same time. Speeding through these would be a waste, don't give up a bonus chance to train your grip!

Double Kettlebell Drills, Grip Ball Farmer's Carries and a Tasty Prize!

Thanks to I am now the proud owner of several fun new things.   One of which is a set of the very interesting and multi-useful Grip Balls.  They are steel with a heavy duty hook welded on.   Last night I hooked them onto a pull up bar and was getting QUITE the challenge.  They can also be used for some seriously challenging farmers walks (as pictured by my eerily disembodied forearm on the left there).  You can also use them to make your hands look like those lion claw feet on antique tubs or chairlegs to impress your soon-to-be-bewildered friends.   Anyhow - check out all the great stuff Ryan has at there are so many nice and simple additions to your kettlebell practice.  And remember, you don't have to make it complicated—its best to keep it simple!

I am also proud to say that one of the small group members has been working extremely hard and showing up to class at every opportunity - and she earned the surprise great-attendance-prize (you know, other than the inevitable prize of getting stronger, more skilled, and more fit).  This prize was one of the bars that I have Peterbrooke Chocolatier make especially for me (72% Cacao Chocolate and embedded pecan halves) PLUS a bag of some of the world's best Chia seeds from Australia!   This can be a fairly advanced and intense workout if you want it to be - but adjust to your own abilities and always be safe.

We started with joint mobility exercises, and 20 2 hand kettlebell swings.  Then - it was time for some ladders!  Choose your double kettlebells wisely for 2 descending double ladders:

Next, choose a kettlebell you are comfortable snatching many times - but which is still challenging - we're going to work on your grip!

10 kettlebell snatches, right side, 10 kettlebell snatches, left side (OR if you're feeling adventurous, 10 double snatches, but use the Return of the Kettlebell method for bringing them back down, its like bringing them down from a press)

THEN, grab 2 kettlebells and take a hike for 20-40 yards then turn around and come back.  Take a rest then repeat 3 times.    We chose to do our farmer's walks using the new grip balls, so the weight of the kettlebells was a little less than what we'd normally use for carry exercises.  Always remember, shoulders are down and back, abdominals engaged and be aware of your surroundings.

We experimented and practiced some 1 leg deadlifts with 1 and 2 kettlebells, then reviewed some subtlies of the hike (GET IT WAY BACK THERE).  This culminated in some low rep VERY heavy swings (32kg, or 48kg if you can).  Very strict focus on form - and this of course is always swiftly rewarded with a good old fashioned heavy Swing - you can't cheat these, can you?

If you have time, practice some get ups, then finish with joint mobility.

Down by Twos... a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

This is another fun "benchmark" workout that definitely let us all know where we are with our conditioning.   Amusingly, the Primal Move warm up, Convict Conditioning Trifecta, the sequence and then the Primal Move cool down took about 40 minutes.  According to my Armour39, during that 40 minutes, 409 calories were destroyed.  That wasn't the goal, but it does explain why I eat so much sometimes.  Anyhow, here's what happened:

Using Google Maps, I measured out a 30 yard straight run in our park, then grabbed a selection of kettlebells, so there'd be choices!

We began of course with Primal Move and the Trifecta (bridge, l-sit, twist) then

Then we staggered around for a while with our water bottles while smiling and saying "whew!!!" a lot.  There's something oddly rejuvinating about running around in nicely manicured grass while barefoot.  It's something we don't do very often as adults and when there's a nice, clean, safe place to do it, then absolutely give it a try.  Definitely makes me feel like there's something to that "Earthing" thing after all....

We did the Primal Move cool down (backwards!!) then called it a day!

Down the Ladder Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

Ladders, ascending, descending make for great workout structures.  I like to use a descending ladder when going a little on the heavy side, so that each rep is super high quality every round.  The following ladder workout is a little different since each round is has some unchanging "bookends".  Each round begins with 20 kettlebell swings, and each round ends with one handstand practice attempt and hold (thanks again for those awesome handstand blocks, Kirsty Grosart!)

Down the Ladder Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

The fun thing about this full body combo is how much it can be altered - I chose a "medium heavy" kettlebell for the 20 swings (a 26kg I happened to have indoors already) and a medium weight for the presses and thrusters (a 16kg).  Decided to use the 26kg for the goblet squats though - and that was fun.  I could go heavier on both kettlebells, but allow for more rest between rounds, OR I could go lighter on both and challenge myself to complete the ladder with the best possible form--but in the least amount of time!  Let me know if you decide to try it, and if you make a cool modification of your own!

I warmed up with some floor mobility exercises - ankle circles, shinbox, bretzel, plow, light kettlebell armbar, and a few kettlebell halos from half kneeling.  For fun I did a couple of kettlebell getups with the 16kg then... the ladder fun began.

In the case that there's any confusion with the image version of the workout above, here's the whole thing painstakingly written out for you!

Cooled down with a little more mobilty work, and that was enough for one day!

Fry the Abs on Friday - a Kettlebell and Friends Workout

I'm still working on the review of Convict Conditioning 2 that I wanted to post last night, except that I of course got sucked back into the book when I was referencing specific parts for the review and ended up just reading it all over again.   Did I mention it's really good?   Anyway..... in celebration of doing clutch flags in the the park yesterday, I made a fun Friday circuit workout with a little bit of focus on the lateral chain.  

Always start with joint mobility - In addtion to the moves in Super Joints, I really like the warm up sequence in the HKC manual - and will be further reviewing that over the weekend.

Since we focused on some pieces of the get up on Monday, we put it all together today - and did some intense practice - when you're in the right mental state, practicing get ups without weight, and slowly, can be a real challenge.  One of my favorite challenges, interestingly enough.

I like to make Friday a day with a little more "variety" so out came the Battling Rope and the weird little 20lb sandbag along with a selection of what I like to call "moderate" kettlebells.. for women who train with me, this usually means 12kg, 14kg, 16kg - for guys usually 14kg, 16kg, 20kg  but definitely adjust to your ability, or if it feel heavy or light to you.

Get out the gymboss... set it up for 30 seconds work, 20-30seconds rest (advanced: shorten the rest period!)

Do 2-3 rounds of:

We then did a quick review of 1 arm swings and did a couple sets of 10 per hand and a few "slingshots" (aka "around the worlds")

Then... out came the Battling ropes!  We split into 2 groups:

Two rounds of:

Next, we alternated between 30 seconds of Russian Twist (with kettlebell) and RKC style plank for 3 rounds total (of both)

Finish up with intensive practice of the get up - they switched between the seven moves (in order) as "narrated"  Those new to the moves had time to process the info and follow along, those who were already very familiar with the get up had the added challenge of a slower get up - which is it's own interesting drill. 

End with joint mobility and plenty of water!

Fun in the Park: An easily adaptable individual or group workout for kettlebells and bodyweight

We had access to a different area today for my beginner's class - and took full advantage of it.  I had actually written this particular workout for them several weeks ago - but wanted to post it AFTER they got the chance to try it out first (and because some of them read this website, and I didn't want to spoil the surprise).


We started out with our joint mobility warm up, then went to the edge of a very nice soccer field.

They began with 20 2-hand kettlebell swings, then a moderate run to the other edge of the field (not long-ways) and back.   We did this three times.

After that we "hung around" (haha) with timed hangs from the sides of a monkey-bar set up - 3x30 seconds with a short break between each 30 second hang.   For a more advanced challenge, hold an L-sit position during this hang - and be strict about it.  OR hang from one hand and do two 30 second holds for each hand.

Next we did 3 rounds of the following circuit, 45 seconds of work, 15-30seconds rest (some of the stations were farther away than others, and travel time factored in):

End with joint mobility and plenty of water.

Good Mojo in the Dojo, a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

The weather was supposed to be completely terrible - so we made plans to have the kettlebell small group class meet at the venerable martial arts hub known as East Coast Martial Arts Supply on Colonial.  This store has been there forever, and recently we've begun a very nice friendship.   Earlier in the week, I had a very fascinating intro to Systema lesson there and plan to continue training.   The place has a great feel anyway - and lots of great books, stuff, and those super simple "Kung Fu shoes" that I always seem to need to have around.   Seeing as we didn't want to splinter the nice heavy duty wood floor, I opted to stick with our lighter kettlebells, but designed a fun program that we would enjoy indoors.   Everyone brought their mats and lost their shoes (on purpose).   Arriving early, I was having a whole lot of fun using the open space to practice some of my favorite Primal Move combos and of course the rolling.   We would end up using one of the simple rolls as a transition in a later bodyweight combo. 

The feeling of this particular dojo is very good, it's a surprisingly larger space than it would first appear.  I love the vibe of a space where a whole lot of learning and mindful practice has taken place.   All ages have trained here in many many different disciplines, and today we had the honor of adding ours.   We're planning a special Saturday kettlebell seminar, watch for more details as soon as possible.  For now - here's what we did:   (brought multiple light kettlebells - 8kg, 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, and 18kg some of which are pictured above - I took that photo after moving some of the kettlebells out of the main area where we'd be doing our Primal Move warm up).  Everyone worked at their own pace - the emphasis being on form, breath and intention.  This seemed a little easier given the influence of our surroundings.

First we warmed up with Primal Move and made full use of the very fun floor. 

Next was 3 rounds of:

Next, we spent about 10 minutes very focused on practicing get ups - with or without weight as appropriate.

Last an unusual little bodyweight mini circuit for fun, we performed this three times at our own paces:

Finally we finished up with Primal Move - a children's karate class had arrived early and were amused and curious about our kettlebell and bodyweight drills!

Half Beginner Half Advanced - A Kettlebell Workout and Practice Session

Small group consisted of some of our most advanced people on Monday, so it was time to learn something not only new, but fairly advanced.  When he came back from the Return of the Kettlebell workshop, Tim Shuman RKCII showed me the ever so nifty double kettlebell snatching technique in the book and as practiced at the workshop.  We had pairs of the following kettlebells available so that everyone could use something practical and trade around too: 8kg, 12kg, and 16kg.  Since there was a learning component, we'd be keeping things relatively light.

We began with joint mobility, and a few deadlifts and swings.

Then we revisited an old friend - the twisted ladder of goblet squats and swings (which is a great workout combo for beginners - it's amazingly intense and you get LOTS of Swing and goblet squat practice).   This is also a great "I want to do something but I don't know what to do" combo:

Grab an appropriate kettlebell and go to town on:

Make sure to rest as needed, but when resting ALWAYS keep moving.  Fast N' Loose, Comrades!

After some water and milling around, I introduced the double kettlebell snatch.  They then took turns trying it out - we alternated between doing light double kettlebell snatches for 5 reps, and moderate double kettlebell swings for 5 reps.  This helped to reinforce the idea of the explosive hip snap.   We followed up with a few of our beloved "pump stretches" (feel free to go all "prying cobra" if you wish... I love those).  Then it was time for the last combo of the day.  We did 3 rounds of the following:

Then, since some people missed the "walking up the wall" fun on the previous Friday, we reviewed how to do that, and practiced a little bit before finishing up with joint mobility.   Lots of fun all around.


All of that counting to five and doubles work inspired my own workout that evening which consisted of 5 rounds of:

I finished up with some fun review of my tai chi teacher's videos - I once had a certain Yang style short sword (Gim) form committed to memory and I will make that happen again!  Its fun, looks neat and well swords are COOL! :)

Hanging around with Aleks Salkin - and an interesting workout

So, I have to finish up some other projects today first, but know that a really fun partner kind of video montage thing is on the way.   I grabbed Aleks Salkin who you may recognise from some previous articles for some fun "anywhere" workouts during a break at the Marketing Mastermind Intensive (MMI from here on out) this past weekend.   The video should be cool, but in the meantime here's some stills.   But before we get to that, here's a workout I was inspired to do at home last week.  The workout was a further exploration of the little weighted pull ups challenge he had come up with (that I really liked and completed as well - 20 minutes, 1 weighted pull up on the minute, every minute.  I used a 12kg kettlebell on my foot, worked GREAT!!)

For a different version, I used a 30 minute time period and chose 2 intense exercises to practice over a period of time, and kept some heavy kettlebell swings in there to make sure I stayed awake (this was one of my infamous late night workouts).  OK, so cycling through each exercise here's what happened - 10 heavy kettlebell swings on the start of minute 1, the next minute started with 1 bodyweight pistol strict and as close to perfect as possible on each side, then 2 very slow and very strict hanging leg raises (straight arms, ankles to the bar) on the beginning of the minute.  I continued this rotating cycle for 30 minutes total while tidying up and organizing little things during the remaining parts of each minute.   Fun stuff.  At the end it meant 100 heavy swings, 20 hanging leg raises, and 20 pistols.  Not bad for a late nighter.

First off, I want you to know that we don't take ourselves too seriously - and that not every take is a good one.  Those flowers tasted TERRIBLE btw.

Other than that we are really cool... :)

Go Team!

Happy July 4th Everyone - Some Celebration Workout Choices!

Hope you're having a great July 4th!   Got inspired to create an interesting workout with an American flag theme!

In text form:

Also -

Remember to visit our friends at (sales benefit service dogs for soldiers -- also see and on Facebook, they shared a cool photo of me, so we started talking about July 4th WODs. 

Here's one of their favorites - it's a Hero WOD, aka Murph
3 Rounds for Time: 400m run, 21 Kettlebell Swings, 12 Burpees

:)  Enjoy your 4th!

Heavy Duty Hand to Hand Kettlebell Workouts

The two versions of this workout are a lot of fun, but should only be attempted if you're VERY comfortable with the 1 arm Swing.  They also should be performed outside or in a safe area, especially if you're trying 1 arm swings with a heavier kettlebell than usual.   Make sure to always keep your form, stop before things get sloppy.   You will need to use a strong hip hinge/snap to make this work - as well as NO twisting of the torso (if you find you have to REACH to switch hands with the kettlebell, you're probably twisting!)

We warmed up with joint mobility exercises, a few 2 hand kettlebell swings, and some deadlifts.

Moderate Kettlebell version:

5 rounds of:

Heavier Kettlebell version (challenging if the right kettlebell is chosen, but be smart!)

5 rounds of:

*no Mace in your collection?  You're missing out - BUT, feel free to substitute kettlebell halos at this part.

We followed up with some variations of other challenges related to double kettlebell swings, and a few beast swings.   Then completed the sessions with our favorite joint mobility exercises and a LOT of water.

Heavy Stuff.... A Workout with Laurel Blackburn RKC Level 2 at Tallahassee Kettlebells

Good friend and fellow RKC Level 2 Instructor, Laurel Blackburn and I had a whole lot of fun this past weekend at her gym.    She'd had a HUGE week - when she donated a training session to the Tallahassee Police TAC team - they showed up and apparently so did the press, and the local news, and and... it sounded like if someone had showed up with a food truck, Tallahassee Kettlebells could have considered itself a small city.   Anyhow it was super cool to hear all about it - and how the TAC team really did well learning the kettlebell Swing, squats, etc.  Needless to say, if you're anywhere near Tallahassee, you know THE place to train with kettlebells.   This also means that there are a TON of kettlebells of all sizes there - up to... THE BEAST.   In a previous post from this weekend that I wrote haphazardly in a sleepy fog (need to go back and possibly make some grammar corrections!) I'd mentioned doing some beast swings.    Having tried it and liked it the previous day, it was time to turn it into a little workout.   Even if you don't have a 48kg kettlebell, choose something very large for this if you're ready for it.   If not, that's cool too - but here's what I did on Sunday (after practicing random things on gymnastic rings, and some of the MovNat climbing skills - gotta love those...):

10 Beast Swings, 30 battling rope throws  - 4 rounds

Then starting with the heaviest kettlebells, I did 10 swings of each size (and she has all the in-between sizes too... aahh!!!) so it went 48kg, 44kg, 40kg, 36kg, 32kg, 28kg, 24kg, 20kg, 16kg, and 12kg - which by this time felt so weird it was surreal.  

Amusing Sidenote: doing the heavy swings has actually had some kind of bizarre psychological effect on me - its like... the spell is broken or something, I know what to expect and now EVERYTHING feels so much lighter.   Today I knocked out some very solid swings with the new 32kg kettlebell I brought back for my collection (and for the class), and it wasn't a big deal to me.   Look out world... LOOK OUT.

Sidenote #2: kettlebells at the yet-to-be-disputed hardest-core gym in 32789 now include multiples of: 8kg, 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg, 32kg, and 36kg  Literally something for everyone - come here if you want to learn RKC Hardstyle kettlebell lifting!


We caught a lot of this on video as well as some random fun things.   Including an exercise that Laurel and I think may not have been captured on video yet - at least we weren't able to think of anyone who had done it - and we were pretty sure... a search of youtube turned up a similar lack of this particular combination thing.    But you'll have to wait until I get all the video clips put together.   Of course it was a very good thing that we had snacks with us, I had quite a bit of high protein yum things from Ostrim and Perky Jerky - this kept us sane, but we still ended up eating an amazing amount of eggs, bacon, beef and bison over the weekend too.... GOOD TIMES! :)

I Go, You Go, We All Go Kettlebell Swing Crazy: A Partner Workout

This was a whole lot of fun.   I did this workout with a friend who had been out of the "Swing of things" (haha) for a couple weeks.   As you'll notice there are a few Swing variations that sometimes we use to help "correct" the kettlebell Swing form.  In the case of this particular workout, they were chosen mainly for fun, but also to remind my friend about a few particulars.  The importance of a good hike is of course stressed with the start-stop swings, and 1 arm swings switching at the top of every swings will teach you VERY quickly to keep your shoulders square and not twist.   If you do twist, you can't reach the kettlebell

For some fun and variety, I mixed in some advanced abdominal exercises.   I was pleased to note that the Hollow Rock was covered in the "Extras" section of the brand new Hardstyle Abs DVD (watched it last night in fact - "official" review forthcoming!).   The ab circuit portion of the workout below can be changed up depending on the ability and skill of you and your partner.   For example, you don't necessarily have to do the rocking portion of the hollow rock - you can use the time to practice a good solid hollow position instead.  Likewise with the "evil wheel" which is very intense and requires some skill - if you're not ready for it yet, no biggie, choose to practice a few power-breathing crunches (great demo on the Kettlebell Goddess DVD) or another favorite but intense abdominal focused drill.  

Likewise, this workout can work for people who are at different strength, skill, and fitness levels - have a variety of kettlebells available.  We went on the slightly heavy side (for us) having the "default" kettlebell be 16kg.   For the start-stop swings I had 20kg, and 24kg also available for us.   I used the 16kg for the 1 arm swings, and Russian Twist, and the 24kg for the start-stop swings.

Here's what we did:

We started with our favorite joint mobility exercises, 10 easy (but strict to form) kettlebell deadlifts, and 10 kettlebell swings.

5 rounds of 5 "I go, you go" start-stop swings*.   While I'm doing my 5 kettlebell swings, my partner is resting (but still moving around, fast n loose style... RIGHT, Comrade?!)

Next the little ab fun portion... we did three rounds of:

The last portion was a "no twist" then twist combo designed to remind!

4 rounds of:

After our joint mobility cool down, I demonstrated some of the Primal Move items from this weekend - and amusingly enough, both of us left sweat prints on the ground.   Mine looked like a beta fish!!!


This is just here for a laugh... and because we need to go tire flipping with small group again soon...

"OK, we will have to work quickly, before any of those bossy adults catch on... but see, this tire is nailed on there, if we can get these free, we can start flipping them.... I saw it on TV, we will be the most ripped todders ever.  I can do this, I got my little blue Chucks on today and everything!"

*Start-stop swings or "dead swings" are like regular kettlebell swings except that you re-hike from the ground for every Swing.   As always, form is PARAMOUNT.  This is a great drill to really help you root into the ground and understand the importance of a good strong hike - a bad hike makes a bad Swing after all.

I was a guest on the Red Delta Project Podcast, Plus a Bodyweight Only Workout, and a Video

The Red Delta Project PodcastA few days ago I had the honor of being the first ever guest on PCC Team Leader, Matt Shifferle's Red Delta Project Podcast. Once again, as when he was recently the guest on MY podcast, we had a ton of fun discussing some of our favorite topics, calisthenics, the PCC, great food, training strategies and more.

At the risk of bragging, it seems like we get around to some pretty powerful stuff in conversations. Hope you enjoy this episode titled "Tackling Bodyweight Training with Adrienne Harvey"! And did I REALLY divulge a fat loss tip? Yes indeed!

Listen to The Red Delta Project Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from his website.

Shortly after he attended the PCC quite a while ago, I interviewed Matt for Dragon Door and instantly realized how creative, cool, and skilled Matt is, so be sure to check out his extensive website, podcast, and substantial YouTube channel!

Black Heart 500mL BKR bottleSo, in the spirit of the episode's bodyweight focus, I decided to share this next bodyweight-only workout with you. I was *planning* to keep this one to myself until adding it to a special edition ebook based on my extended trip to NYC and the many classes I was able to guest teach while I was there. (That was SO much fun... already want to go back!)

But,  I have been playing with and modifying this little workout for about a month now, and trying it out on different groups of people and with a workout partner too (it's funny we stagger the sprints so one person is doing the combination near our heap of phones, keys, sunglasses, notepads, ipads, laptops, books, and my ridiculously "luxe" water bottle. Won't belabor it, but I don't regret getting a 500ml bkr bottle for my Mom and myself for Christmas.  I hope she's enjoyed hers as much as I have enjoyed mine.  It's great to have a nice, easy to carry, glass bottle without a huge opening on it... I no longer unintentionally get water all over myself anymore and given how much I hate drinking out of plastic things, this little bottle is just perfect.  And given its expense, it's been easy to keep track of it, maintain it and keep it clean.  Weird and backwards, but who cares, it works!

Even if you aren't trying to take turns guarding a collective heap of important personal effects, it can be fun to stagger the workout with a partner or with small teams. Here's the 4th version which is for an outdoor area with a nice flat field or running track.  It is designed for sprints so a flat, safe area like a football or soccer field or running track is best to avoid stepping in a hole, ant hill or something worse!

We warmed up with our favorite joint mobility exercises, the Trifecta from Convict Conditioning Vol2. Then we ran through this little combo that I'm currently mildly obsessed with:

10 times through this sequence:

Here's a video of this exact sequence described above!

When I did this for a few small group classes, we would take a short break after the 10 times through, then continue with some more short bursts of conditioning challenges like the ones below:

4 rounds of:

Big rest, then...

4 rounds of:

Finally we cooled down with joint mobility and a quick run through of the Trifecta.

*Typically we start with jump squats, then as fatigue sets in we transition to bodyweight squats

Intermediate to Advanced Kettlebell Circuit Workout From Favorite Moves!

Kettlebell favorites workoutAfter a last minute sudden location change (rain poured down from NOWHERE a full 2 minutes before small group), we carried on with the full workout you see here -- I'll also write it out in case the little graphic is too difficult to read for any reason. Also, clicking on the image will make it full size... which is huge.

With the inclusion of the 5 minutes, 100 snatches after a significant warm up, you'll notice that this kettlebell workout clearly isn't for everyone--as written.  Possible alternatives include 130 one arm swings with an appropriate weight, praticing snatches in the same time period but without a hard rep goal, or for a beginner 30:30 - thirty seconds 2 hand kettlebell swings, thirty seconds rest for the five minutes.

As for the circuit itself, the kettlebell deadlifts can of course be done with any weight kettlebell you have handy which is appropriate.  Also, instead of archer push ups from Convict Conditioning, you can choose whichever push up variation is difficult for you at a rep range of 8-10 (but note that we are only doing 5 push up reps per round).

This one was surprisingly a lot of fun and a nice way to get in some practice on a whole lot of kettlebell favorites.  Lately our training has featured a lot of weighted carries, which are fantastic, but it was nice to get back to some of the basics and some of the benchmarks like the 100 kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes test right there near the beginning of the workout. I was pleased to see that my own progress had rendered that formerly formidible test to be not a big deal.  In fact I was hardly taxed by it, and it used to practically destroy me just a few years ago. I think this is somewhat due to improvements in general conditioning but also the reality check of the SSST workouts we had been trying earlier this year. 

I had made a point to do all the snatching with the weight that I would be required to use for the RKC snatch test.  Those requirements have been updated a little while back, so if you haven't looked at it in a while, click here and read carefully

Dragon Door Health and Strength Conference- Register Now!

So for those of you who would rather read it out in text here we go:

We began with a rather comprehensive joint mobility warm up (very similar to the one that's actually spelled out in the current upgraded HKC and RKC manuals...).

The Convict Conditioning Vol 2 Trifecta is simply a few reps of a bridge, an L-sit, and a twist.  We each do these at our current level in the progression (or regression) both of which are very nicely outlined and taken into the stratosphere in Convict Conditioning 2.  In fact, I actually leave a bookmark in the trifecta section of the book for that reason.

Then each person selected an appropriate kettlebell for doing 10 alternating get-ups in a row. Beginners (or anyone really) can also opt to do these thoughtful, not-rushed, get-ups without any weight at all.  At that point I'd recommend really taking full advantage of the pauses between each of the 7 segments to find where you really fit into the movement and vise-versa.

I set an interval timer to chime on the minute every minute for 5 minutes, since this can be helpful for learning or adjusting a pace for kettlebell snatches.  It's also helpful for anyone who might be doing a different variation while we're snatching.

After those 5 minutes we made sure to get some water before discussing the following circuit:

4x through this circuit (we went a little bit over our usual allotted time, so if you are pressed for time, 3 rounds might be more appropriate):

Bonus Round:

Finally, we cooled down with our basic joint mobility moves.

Hungry after all of that? Look what arrived yesterday from Space Girl Organics!

It's Not Summer Until... Plus an Interesting Kettlebell Workout

As a child in the 1980s, I formed some interesting ideas.  For instance, it seemed every Summer, a pitcher would be endlessly filled with Crystal Light lemonade... with it's persistent lemon flavor, and odd bitter edge that would persist even though your cousin splashed a good gallon of chlorinated pool water at your face and right into your mouth.  Seeing as I'm not into chemical flavors anymore, I found that slicing up a thoroughly scrubbed organic lemon into nearly "wafer thin"* slices and chucking the whole business into this fabled pitcher with some filtered water actually fit the bill.   Here's the fun part - the bitter edge of the lemon's pith seems to fill the bitter edge requirement as well - no scary 1980s faux sugar necessary.   If you really want some lemony goodness, squeeze a fist full of the lemon slices in the top of the pitcher.


My trusty Richmond Artiflex made quick and accurate work of this large lemon - and the sharpness of the knife assured lots of lemon juice made it into the water.




There. Now it's Summer.  Officially.




Also stopped in at the local organic co op today and picked up some incredible Florida mangoes, some zucchini squash (which I crave on a regular basis - turns out they're high in potassium - which is something to be mindful of when we're working out in the heat).  But as you can see, the weekend is fairly typical - lots of Beyond Organic goodies plus local organic produce from the co op (and tasty things like quail eggs too).   The scary looking bar of chocolate was a fun find in San Diego - the infamous "Do Not Eat This Chocolate" ghost pepper chocolate bar as mentioned by the Du Cane family.  So of course I had to get at least 2 of those bars. 

Granted, I will eat more than just what you see pictured, but it's a good start.  These are definitely some favorite items—and I wanted to somewhat dispel the local rumor that I only eat things grown in—or somehow fed—gold dust.  One of the big projects for the weekend is to put together what may be the largest opportunity meeting that Winter Park has ever seen.   It's going to approach epic, and people are flying in and driving in to help present the program, the food and of course the incredible opportunity.   That's not something I talk a whole lot about on the site, but do know - if you're serious about creating a residual income, then check it out.   There's a brand new, powerful and repeat-able system now for building your business and helping your community improve their health at the same time.  Best of all - it can be used by fitness professionals as well as people in any field.  So if you don't feel like you know all there is to know about healthy eating, then don't despair, the system will work for you too.  If you're local, show up.   If you're NOT local, that's ok too, some of my most active team members are located in different timezones!  Let's eat well and turn this economy around....

Enough about food.  Let's work up an appetite.

Fridays are becoming infamous for some pretty serious, pretty advanced workouts—a friend of mine might refer to this as "extreme rambunctiousness." Because it's Friday, attendence is low enough that I can participate too... so things can get serious pretty quick.  This is also a great time for partner drills etc.   Last week we did a version of the daunting DOE Manmaker, today had more of a strength focus, but there was still a good bit of "travel" involved too.  

We started out at GiryaGirlHQ and did our joint mobility warmup,  We then grabbed 1 kettlebell each - RKC snatch test weight if possible (for me this now means 16kg), or lighter if necessary for the press ladder section.   We have a place in the park that is just perfect for extreme step ups and/or box jumps so we started there

8 rounds of 20 seconds box jumps or alternating step ups (this platform is HIGH) and 10 seconds rest (4 minutes total).  I start with box jumps for as many rounds as feels safe then switch to step ups when my jumps get too low (I LIKE my shins the way they are, thanks.)

After that "bonus warmup" we took a very short water break and began 2 rounds of:

 Another water break, and briefly shaking our heads at the bad pop-psych lecture some woman was giving to an unfortunate little boy (be strong, little guy...), we started in with 3 rounds of:

Then it was time to review the interesting "figure 8" drill.   Just a few in either direction, then our joint mobility exercises because after all, we did have to actually walk back!

Good fun, but with the summer heat, even in the shade you can feel the sweat drip off of your own earlobes.   Time to refill the lemon pitcher for sure.


*Kudos to you if you got that as a Monty Python reference...

Kettlebell Circuit Workout - Kinda Oldschool Style

This past Thursday we revisted a new version of an older workout on this site.  In the course of assessing what needs to be upgraded on here (don't worry this is only going to ADD to the experience, not subtract from it), I've been having fun looking at a lot of the older content, seeing what needs to be updated etc.  Also, after finding out that over 1/3 of you read or visit the site via mobile devices (phones and tablets) I'm taking that into account for the next rendition of ! :) It's pretty exciting stuff, and I've been having a lot of fun picking some of the best minds in the business about this--from the nerd and coding side... there's a lot that's different about this site from the architecture side than most "fitness blogs" out there, and the new version will be a much greater expression of the immense power lurking "under the hood" so to speak.

Anyway this quasi-vintage number has been updated to suit a mixed-levels (intermediate-advanced) while keeping timed sets.  How we use timed sets = getting quality reps in, while we all finish sets at the same time as a group.   This is especially good for mixed levels as no one gets left behind and no one gets ahead (and bored).  This workout does well with 2 kettlebells, one a little lighter (for halos, crush curls etc) and a moderately heavier one for swings and goblet squats... 

Side note -- the work/rest time ratios can be changed to suit beginners (longer rest periods 30 seconds work, 30 seconds+ rest) or more advanced (shorter rest periods like the 30 seconds / 15 seconds shown below)

Here's the new version of this old pal:

Primal Move warm up then the Convict Conditioning Trifecta (bridge, l-sit, twist progressions at appropriate levels for each person)

We did 5 rounds of:

After a brief break, and some kettlebell swapping, 3 rounds of:

Finally just a little more fun and an excuse to get some more swings on, a short ascending/descending ladder with kettlebell swings and push ups:

Last but not least, two runs through this:

Primal Move or Joint Mobility Cool Down, CC2 Trifecta.


Kettlebell Small Group Workout for Adding in a Fit Beginner

Considering the skill, time, and practice required to really get good (and safe) with kettlebell swings, a challenge that surfaces many times for instructors, trainers, and coaches is in the form of someone I call a "fit beginner".  In other words, this person may come into your gym with a high degree of athleticism, already in shape, and with great strength and endurance.  But they are coming to you because they want to learn the skills necessary to take their training to the next level - or because of their gym experience they know they need your help as an RKC or HKC instructor to learn about kettlebells the right way first.   YES, the Fit Beginner does exist, I've trained several of them (and they're awesome!).

First off, always congratulate your Fit Beginner on having the smarts (and humility) to seek you out--there's no doubt that their success in the gym has taught them that spending time with an instructor or coach is time well spent.  But it's time to teach them the skills!  You'll want to make sure your OWN skills as a coach and communicator are up to the task as well.  The Fit Beginner runs a risk of getting frustrated with this skill which might be the first thing that's been difficult for them for a long time!  Just remember to take breaks as you would for a complete beginner -- the Fit Beginner needs to process this info too, but might end up asking you specific technical questions instead of recovering from a new level of exertion.  The Fit Beginner may also have a number of automatic habits or patterns related to the speed of reps, etc. just be aware of it, some might be very useful, some might not be compatible with kettlebells.  There's also a good chance you may learn something cool about another exercise modality as well.  Winning All Around!

That being said, below is a small group workout that was designed to add in the Fit Beginner into the circuit.  He had already trained one on one and was good to go with practicing swings.  I wasn't ready to just throw him big sets of swings yet, as we wanted to make sure to "program in" those new movement patterns. Here's what happened:

We warmed up with a Primal Move sequence, a little bit of extra joint mobility, and the infamous Trifecta (participants work at their own level) from Convict Conditioning Vol2. Then while the "regulars" continued their warm up with 100 kettlebell swings (their choice of kettlebell, their choice of straight through or broken up into sets), I went through a quick review of the hip hinge, kettlebell deadlift, and Swing with the Fit Beginner (these were the most helpful movements for his situation). We then worked on the sequence he would do while the others wer perfoming their sets of swings in the next circuit.  (while they did 20 swings, he would do 5 hip hinges--using the dowel and three points of contact guide, 5 kettlebell deadlifts, 5 more hip hinges with dowel, then 5 kettlebell swings.  I've used this sequence to help people really "program in" the Swing before, though sometimes depending on their past experiences in habits, we have to swap out a move or add an extra one... it must be tailored to your Fit Beginner!)

After a quick water break we all revisited our old friend the goblet squat, and did a decending ladder of them with a moderate to light kettlebell - 10 reps, then 9 reps, then 8 reps..... all the way down to 1 rep, resting as needed.

Finally it was time for the circuit which we repeated 4 times:

We cooled down with Q+A and joint mobility.  Good times for all!  You may also find that some of your regulars will enjoy throwing in the Fit Beginner sequence to dial in their kettlebell swings on alternating rounds, it can be fun and great for group morale as well.

Kettlebell Strength and Mobility Workout with a Pump Stretch Prying Cobra Demo Video!

Once again I'm working with a fairly tight schedule with hard deadlines, self-imposed deadlines, productivity goals, catching up from the move (seriously the glass doors on the cabinets need to go up TONIGHT aggh!), and I'm now taking a 1.5hr Systema class twice a week.  Needless to say I am working on reconfiguring my training.  On the plus side (BIG plus) not sharing a floor with someone's ceiling means training inside at home is now "guilt free".  Woohoo!

Pump stretch - mobility and kettlebells workout

It was Monday night and after taking Sunday off from training (other than some slacklining) I really felt the need to do SOMETHING. This is kind of a bare minimum kettlebell workout, and if you have the time and/or inclination you could absolutely run through it more than once, adding a different mobility exercise between the sets of swings. Note that I punctuated the sets of kettlebell swings with a long time favorite mobility move the "pump stretch" so popular with RKCs - its similar to an up-dog, down-dog, and I also like the "prying cobra" variation especially if it's been a day at the desk. Scroll down a little, I made a video for you too :)

So here's what I did:

I started with a basic joint mobility sequence (recently realized it's very close to the one that they teach at the HKC and that's in the manual... the HKC manual rocks btw... I've been certified as an RKC-II since 2011 and yet I still regularly reference and love ALL the manuals. Likewise, as much as I love the PCC, I adore the SCC manual...)

I did a total of 6 "slow mo" get-ups (alternating sides) with no weight. I've been really focusing on the form so that I can go heavier and heavier.  Last week's 24kg on each side with relative ease was super inspiring.

Then it was time for four sets of 30 Russian twists with a 14kg kettlebell

THEN... 5 rounds of the following (with my trusty 24kg kettlebell)

Like I mentioned before, you don't need to stop there, if you did another 5 rounds, you could choose a different mobility drill to use for active rest. Something like the RKC hip flexor stretch would be great to really remind your hip flexors of what they need to do!

I cooled down with some cross patterning drills (crawl in place, 1 hand/1 foot lifts) and one more unweighted get-up per side.

I have a simple mobility sequence both written out and on video included with the NYC workouts ebook. Check it out!

AND there's some very powerful kettlebell mobility warmups from Master RKC Phil Ross today on the RKC Blog. And if you're wondering about that "bottoms up crescent Swing" mentioned in his blog post, then check out this video where Phil teaches me how to do it! (there's other fun goodies there too).

Kettlebell Workout As Inspired by the Super Human Training Workshop

Taken from my workshop notes, and the really cool programming ideas in I Will Be Iron, this workout is surprisingly simple but as the participants in yesterday's kettlebell small group will tell you, VERY intense.   For that reason, everyone was encouraged to take rests when necessary - of course - keep moving when you take rests.

Always begin with joint mobility - and a few warm up swings and deadlifts with a moderate sized kettlebell.   The first section is pretty serious stuff - it's a wicked combo from Bud Jeffries.   Choose one kettlebell that's relatively heavy, and one that's relatively light.   For example - some people chose a 20kg kettlebell for the heavy one, and a 8kg or 12kg kettlebell for the light one.   You can be a little creative with this - I took today off except for some active recovery, but I'll try it tomorrow.

For the next 10 minutes (beginners may wish to choose to try this for 5 minutes, advanced can go up to 15 minutes or more), they did as many rounds (SAFELY and with good form) of the following:

They then took a sizable break while I set up the following 4 stations.   They rotated through the stations, performing the given exercise for 30 seconds and resting 30 seconds for the first round, then 45 seconds work, and 30 seconds rest for the second round.

After another brief break, we did a 4 minute combo of basic swings (2 hand or 1 hand - your choice!) for 20 seconds, and 10 seconds rest

Finally some racked holds and walks, and some overhead holds and walks all with moderate to light kettlebells.   We focused on safe movement, keeping elbows locked out in the overhead walks, and the kettlebell rack position in the racked walks.  The walks are great opportunities to get comfortable with both of those essential positions.

Of course we ended the session with joint mobility and called it a day.

 *Bud Jeffries talks about sprawls in I Will Be Iron - they're burpees minus the hop, minus the push up, and adding a cooler name.


You can now get the  Super Human Training Workshop experience on a 13 DVD set!  Go check out the promo video and see if you recognize anyone! :)

Kettlebell Workout: As Above, So Below

Until now, only a few people know that some of my better small group workouts begin as ideas scrawled on the back of coffee shop receipts in a post-espresso maniacal blur.  Most of these ideas are legible only to other people who have terrible handwriting like me, and when I go back to review and refine them, it's not without some degree of amusement.  By the look of my terrible handwriting, I should have gone to med school.   The small group version of this particular workout was a little on the experimental side and uses a drill which I'm not comfortable sharing here yet (it's best described in person and is from a yet-to-be-published source).   I was afraid that the original receipt (on the other side is evidence of a triple espresso and a pint of local kombucha) had been lost.  On a recent trip to NYC for Al Kavadlo's Raising the Bar book signing party, I'd found this particular receipt in my backpack and "put it somewhere safe".  Which was apparently also "safe" from me too.   Thankfully while reading a book I'd taken on the trip, I got to a certain page and it came fluttering out.  HURRAH!!!  Here's the "public" version, which is still a lot of fun:

We started with a Primal Move warm up of course!

Then we grabbed 2 kettlebells - one light (8kg, 12kg) and one moderate (16kg, 20kg) for

Four rounds of:

Ideally, it's cool to perform each round only putting the kettlebell down to switch from light to moderate at that short rest. 

Next an interlude:
Three rounds of:

Another interlude which everyone did on their own time:

Five rounds of:

*Example combos - 16kg kettlebell for swings and 8kg for snatches, 24kg for swings, 12kg for snatches, 32kg for swings, 14kg or 16kg for snatches.  Big guys might want to use this as an excuse to bring out the 48kg "Beast" for swings and use their testing snatch kettlebell or one size larger.  At some point I'm going to try this with Beast swings and at least a 16kg for snatching - actually I might have to do that today for fun.... hmmmmmm

Finally, ending the theme we did some interesting walks for distance.   Kettlebell sizes were carefully chosen in the moderate range, each person used just one kettlebell for these walks so that they could work on keeping their bodies aligned.

Finally we ended the session with a Primal Move cooldown.   If you haven't yet tried the Primal Move evaluation backwards, it's fun and an interesting brain teaser too!

Kettlebell Workout: The Short Stack, and a New Book From Danny Kavadlo

So... I hate to admit this, but back in the day (mid-late 90s) many of us would enjoy a post-club trip to the ol' IHOP.  My standard food order was the "Short Stack" which wasn't a completely obscene number of pancakes.  They'd still sit like rocks, but it was a good time with friends that mattered most at that time.  You may be amused to find out that I was never too keen on sweets and would usually just add butter and no syrup to my pancakes, a habit that persisted for several years until I just stopped eating pancakes all together.  I just feel better avoiding those kinds of meals. But anyway.  I wanted you to know the origin of this workout name!  The Short Stack!  The other HUGE (and more important) influence for this sequence was a workout I recently saw from Senior RKC Chris Holder.

Depending on where you are with your fitness level (or stress level that day!) be smart when choosing your kettlebell for this one.  I went with the kettlebell I would use for my weight class for the RKC kettlebell snatch test (14kg), but you may wish to use one above or below your chosen kettlebell.  The next time I do this one, I will be challenging myself with either the 16kg or maybe even the 18kg! WOOHOO!

The Short Stack Kettlebell Workout

It goes without saying that doing a great mobility warm up and cooldown sequence is always a good thing.

New Book: Danny Kavadlo Strength RulesHuge congratulations to Danny Kavadlo! His new book, Strength Rules debuts today on and if you go over there RIGHT NOW (and/or on/before November 30th) there are some bonuses available for quantity purchase that are frankly TOTALLY BONKERS.  Like BONKERS... on my own scale... which is like 10x regular people's concept of "bonkers".  For example, if you get 10 copies of the paperback (one for you, and one for each of your best clients) you get a consultation call with Danny and a free ticket to and HKC 1 day kettlebell certification workshop OR an SCC 1 day calisthenics certification workshop (including the one with ME scheduled near Houston, Texas in April!).  If you want to really get a deal, with 25 copies of Danny's awesome book (one to keep, and one to give to new and existing clients? or Staff? or Both? Oh hey, the holidays are nearly upon us...) you actually get a free ticket to the RKC or PCC 3-day workshop of your choice.  That's nuts!!!!

But enough about that, let's talk about the book!  Danny's Strength Rules focuses on how to build amazing strength only using bodyweight exercise. He starts from the absolute beginning and guides you all the way to some extreme moves.  Example training is there along with Danny's sensible (and effective) approach to food.  Danny's a little older than me, and in his early 40s... so FINALLY here's someone talking about food who isn't some little 20-something with a monster metabolism.  I've also witnessed first hand Danny's skills with the grill and smart food prep.  Danny is the real deal and shares a lot of himself with you in this book... and it is actionable!!  Oh and I'm in a couple photos in there too!  Fun stuff!!

Let's Heat Up the Gym! (a Kettlebell Workout)

Heat the gym advanced kettlebell workout from GiryaGirl.comRecently one of the most faithful attendees of our small group requested to work on stamina...

Not a problem!   Also, for Florida, since it dipped under 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) that meant everyone was running around freezing, or were gleefully wearing any and all of the "cold weather clothes" that they never get to wear.  Seriously, you would have thought a bizzard was on the way, or that the ski lodge was next door.   I understand though, unless Floridians travel at all during the winter, we don't get to wear any cold weather things.  I'm sure people with fireplaces are hastily firing them up... A much more sane approach would be to check out the workout(s) below.

This certainly raised the temperatures across the board:

We warmed up with Primal Move then timed how long it took to complete 100 kettlebell swings (participants chose their kettlebells - both chose a moderate weight).  I am proud to say that everyone was able to do it in a single set, which is always nice to see.  It also means that next time they'll want to choose something maybe a little heavier? :) HAHA.

Now for the circuit -- 5 toasty rounds of:

They were instructed to rest when necessary and if they needed to break up the moves into sets that was ok too.

After a brief rest, we did a descending ladder of the infamous kettlebell "long press" with a moderate to heavy kettlebell  (a lead up drill to kettlebell clean and jerk, but more closely related to what some people call a "thruster"):

These will make you hungry, it's uncanny.

Finally we cooled down a little with a little more joint mobility, and dashed to the cars!!!  Brrrrrrr!

If this workout doesn't sound like your cup of tea, here are a couple more heat-generating workouts on that you might enjoy:

The Combustion Chamber Workout (Kettlebell only, "Furnace" workout variant using kettlebell snatches, infamous snow/bikini workout video is linked at the bottom of that page too. HAHAHAH!)

Home alone with just one heavy kettlebell? Gotcha covered with the "Ab-focused" heavy swing workout.  YOU MUST engage your abs to Swing, especially when swinging a heavy kettlebell.  This workout will absolutely remind you, relentlessly and without mercy.

Let's Talk About Designing Kettlebell Workouts....

There was a LOT of interest—we were babbling about it excitedly on Facebook, twitter, the Dragon Door forums, possibly even Pinterest?!—the ebook edition of The RKC Book of Strength and Conditioning came out yesterday.  Judging from my own reaction and the reactions of others about this "can't put it down, ooo look what's on the next page" book, it's already an "instant classic."    It's a great resource not only for instructors, but for the dedicated enthusiast working on their own.   Because of all the workouts which I have shared on this website, people ask me how I come up with them, or how to start working on creating their own workouts or programs.  

My answer is to study and dissect the logic and reasoning behind the proven workouts of others - and I usually point them towards Geoff Neupert (kettlebell complexes), David Whitley (Furnace), Jon Engum(Deep6), and many many others.   David Whitley's pdf 101 kettlebell workouts (I need to look up the link, but am pretty sure that it's still available from his site at is a great basic tool as well.   With the introduction of this new book, we see a LOT of variety in terms of goals/outcomes/approaches.   All are well within the scope and knowledge of the RKC as well. 

I can't overstate the importance of this new book (I saw mention on the forum that it will be available in paperback in a couple months?) if you are looking to hone your workout/program creation abilities.   Or honestly, how to get out of a rut, it's great to switch things up if you've been stuck doing the same variants over a long period of time.   Something really exciting is the inclusion of Karen Smith's program—it shows exactly how she went from recovering from injury all the way to conquering the Iron Maiden Challenge (you bet I paid CLOSE attention to THAT!) Check out that book, you won't be sorry.  


And while you're pondering that, here's the Small Group's workout from yesterday, keen observers of this site may recognize that it's a modified hybrid of 2 previous workouts, and adjusted for inclimate weather - thankfully our "indoor" workout area is temporarily larger this week, so we were still able to use the battling rope for a little fun.

We warmed up with joint mobility and some moderate kettlebell swings then....

Three rounds of:

Then we set up 3 stations, 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest/transition and did 3 rounds:

We finished up with joint mobility and putting all this awesome stuff away.   Concerned that I had someone mistakenly grabbed the wrong kettlebell on Monday and hadn't actually done 32kg 1 arm swings, I had to try it again - and found out that I can actually do them for very low reps.   It's a great way for me to make sure I am still applying all the intricacies of the 1 arm Swing form, it also shows me exactly how much weaker my left hand is in terms of basic grip strength.   Good to know.... now its time to fix it.

Considering the high humidity, we practically had to mop the area afterwards...

Mayhem in the Park Workout - Kettlebells, Maces, Battling Rope, optional Hawk and Poker Chips

Sequence for walking lunges with exercise mace as demonstrated by  

Last night I shared the amusing Armour39 results from the circuit described below.  Once again, we invaded the field with the very soft grass, which was suprisingly resilient considering all the traffic it received from the art show last weekend.   Should have taken a picture, but after unloading the following it looked like we were going to have some kind of homegrown version of the Highland Games out there.  In other words, it was looking pretty mighty and I am proud to both own and use this stuff (the list is excessive, the workout can be done with much less, this was a "just because I can" and "let's bring out all the toys!" type of thing)

  1. Stronger Grip full size mace/core club, 6" dome (11lbs empty but I've added an additional couple pounds of bbs which are happily rolling around in the dome.  At some point I will shake the thing and make silly maraca comments.  Shaking it for any extended period of time is pretty difficult and reminds me of the "Primal Shaking" exercises we have enjoyed from Neuro-Mass... maybe I can talk Ryan Pitts of Stronger Grip into making some gorilla-strength musical instruments for us at some point...)
  2. Onnit Steel Mace (10lbs).  A lighter, smaller cousin of the other mace, it still holds its own and can be used for more endurance type movements... I brought out both to compare and also to justify the fact of owning 2 different kinds of maces.  It does seem excessive, but whatever.   The Onnit Mace is very valuable for exploring movements that I wouldn't necessarily try with a loaded up Stronger Grip mace, also as the workout progressed I switched down to this one a couple times to preserve movement quality.  This is a really great mace though, not just for beginners... the low price makes it a good entry level "do I even like to do this?" option.  Unfortunatly the weight cannot be adjusted up or down like the Stronger Grip Mace, but both also have their advantages.   And both make you look super cool when you use them.
  3. Battling Rope - I love the official "Battling Rope" brand ropes AND the heavy duty ones from Muscle Ropes.  As you may remember, Muscle Ropes sent me a really nice one for indoor use, which we love, but were not about to take out to the field.   Instead the 50' 1.5" Blue battling rope came out to play, and I anchored it on the.....
  4. Beast kettlebell from Dragon Door.   Amusingly enough, even though it's 106lbs, we managed to drag it around with our rope slams.  That makes me proud.
  5. More Dragon Door kettlebells: Pair of 12kg, pair of 14kg, one 18kg, one 20kg 
  6. UnderArmour Armour39 Heart Rate Monitor and iPad (large display so you can see the crazy numbers happen and use them as a good reason to take rest when necessary).  According to where I regularly top out, and according to those rather inaccurate "projected max heartrate charts" I'm apparently 17... which might not be too inaccurate, while I'm 37, I feel and occasionally act 17 so maybe that's it.  It's a lot more fun at 37 though... no rules! WOOOOOOOO!  Wait... maybe that explains the strange teenage boys that made that pterodactyl scream from their car at us?  I took it to mean that we were still "youth culture releveant".  Silly boys... is that "a thing" now?  Because that was a very high-pitched not-so-masculine sound there, buddy, and we laughed at you.
  7. Poker chips (optional).  I am notoriously bad at counting rounds, so brought along some poker chips that were brightly colored and wouldn't get lost in the grass if things got crazy.  For some unknown reason it's extra fun to complete a round and put a chip in the "done" stack.  No idea. But it's fun so we do it.  These are really great for intense workouts where you might forget what round you're on (it happens to us a lot) or for clients who just don't want to think about reps or rounds so much... because they're so focused on the form.  No problems with that.   During the recent podcast with Mike Krivka, we even came up with a fun variant of putting the completed chips in a bucket on the far side of the workout area, thus making a built in "active rest walk" between rounds--beginners could stroll it if necessary, and more advanced folks might choose to run/walk or jog it.  The possibilities are endless!
  8. Hawk.  No, not short for "mohawk." (For the record, I've had this 90s "undercut" hairdo--not a mohawk--for over 10 years now... so that's not what we're even discussing here.)  I'm talking about a bird of prey!!   While we were loading things back into the car, a giant hawk swooped down just 30-40 yards away to try and snag one of the large, overfed squirrels in our park.  It wasn't successful at this, but it was a sure reminder that it was dinner time in the forest.  After this workout it was definitely dinnertime.  Thanks, hawk!  Not sure why, but we tend to get visited by wildlife during workouts (hawks, owls, various large birds, random people's toddlers...) so what we are doing must look interesting.
Onnit Steel Mace

Here's what we did:

Primal Move warm up, CC2 Trifecta, then another weird "contest" of crow vs elbow headstand...

Here's the circuit that we did for 5 rounds (hince the 5 poker chips each, which were actually helpful)

  1. 10 reps of our odd variation of battling rope burpees - throw the ropes, pop down to knuckle push ups (while still holding the rope ends... this is for the soft grass field only... have demoed in slow mo on concrete but do not recommend) do a GOOD push up, jump up to standing, throw the ropes... etc etc... these made me hungry.
  2. 10 alternating walking lunges with mace.  Because of all those socially acceptable photos in womens magazines of stick women holding pink micro weights doing walking lunges, my "Napoleon-complex-for-her" demands that walking lunges can only be done with some kind of battle implement: maces, kettlebells, some kind of Zercher-hold variation, or rotational movement with Ultimate Sandbag... you get the idea...  Walking mace lunges challenge the grip big time, coordination, breath timing, core engagement, some legs, besides they're really fun, especially if you growl a little bit.
  3. 10 double kettlebell swings
  4. Then one double kettlebell clean and 5 double kettlebell front squats.
  5. 3-5 "pump stretches" aka "up dog, down dog"

Sequence for walking lunges with exercise mace as demonstrated by

After a little water and chill out break we played with doing a weird ab combo in the soft grass--alternating timed rounds of tuck ups and Primal Move style x-rolls.   We were surprised at how intense the rolls became about halfway through.  I've rediscovered a real love of rolling on the ground lately.  Finally we finished up with another crow and headstand practice and a Primal Move and joint mobility cool down.  Then we watched the hawk.

Mega-Swing Monday: A Kettlebell Workout and Swing Practice

Mega Mondaaaaaayyyyy or something like that!   This workout is a good example of how you can make a workout out of "just a bunch of kettlebell swings" without it being boring.  Personally I don't find swings to be at all boring, but I'm thinking about each and every rep.  You should be too.

This is an intermediate-advanced sort of thing so, don't dive into it if you're not ready.   Practicing swings at a moderate weight is still totally effective.   BUT here's how we mixed it up today!

We started of course with our joint mobility exercises, and warmed up with a few moderate weight kettlebell deadlifts and 2 hand swings -not too much though, because we'd have plenty of swings happening.

You know that one kettlebell you are comfortable doing 2 hand swings with, but can only press a few times on each side?  We went one size up from that and did 5 sets of 20 2 hand kettlebell swings, resting as needed and paying strict attention to our form - you shouldn't be cheating anyway, but the extra weight will make sure you don't cheat!

Oh and try a few towel swings with a light kettlebell to make sure you aren't cheating either.  This drill is covered at the HKC, and in Enter the Kettlebell.  It's a great way to fine tune your form.  For fun, we did 2 sets of 10.

After a water break it was time to use our brains.... double swings with mis-matched kettlebells.   Choose one moderate weight and one lighter.   Do 10 double swings then switch the kettlebells and do 10 more.   We did a total of 4 rounds.   This will really work your brain.  Try to make both kettlebells Swing in the same way and to the same height.  CHALLENGING!

Next - Choose a kettlebell you are comfortable pressing a good bit - it might be on the lighter side - do a set of 20 1 arm swings where you switch hands at the top of each Swing (sometimes these are called DARC swings, if you remember the acronym, please let me know).  After the 20th one, do a single snatch then take a stroll, keeping the elbow locked out - go about 50 feet then put the kettlebell down safely if necessary, OR go ahead and switch hands by doing another 20 DARC swings, ending with 1 snatch in the other hand.  Walk back to the starting area.   Then do it again, because it's FUN!

Then, we did a neat drill that Mark and Nikki Snow presented at last year's CK-FMS workshop - making sure you can turn your head at each step of the get up.   Choose a light weight for this, so you can focus on the movement and alignment.  And also because if you do this drill with me, I'll "narrate" very slowly - which is it's own challenge.   Do at least 1 on each side, and keep it safe.

Finally we reviewed the "Hollow" position (really great notes on this from last year's Bodyweight Workshop... and if you have any gymnastics in your past, you know this position) and the infamous "plank taps" from Laurel Blackburn of Tallahassee Kettlebell before doing a grueling rendition of:

4 times straight through:

We finished up with farmers walks taking everything back to the storage area - and "how long can you hang by your fingertips from this ledge" funtime before ending with Joint Mobility. 

Did I mention... drink plenty of water!

Monster Monday Kettlebell Workout - with Optional Sandbag

Monday's small group class was really inspired by the fact I brought them some "presents" from my visit to Tallahassee's Laurel Blackburn, RKC Level 2 AND Dragon Door distributor for the Southeast USA. Read about the first day of that visit: Girya Girl visits Tallahassee Kettlebell Day 1 Anyway, true to form I brought a few things back for them - a 28kg, 14kg, and a "women's" smaller handle 16kg (which was admittedly purchased for selfish reasons). The guys were amused at the way the kettlebells were packed - external strapping x4, double boxed, bagged, tagged and further immobilized with styrofoam. Which works great to protect them in shipping and is all fun and games until you have to unpack 6 tons or so of them before a workshop (admittedly, that can also be fun in a weird way).  I brought down a few pocket knives and we unwrapped them together before class, and unloaded my car from the beginner's class I had held earlier in the day off-site.   By the time we were done there were kettlebells of all sizes in a big happy cluster off to one side.  Fantastic weather yesterday probably also inspired the "kicking it up a notch" aspect - the guys were feeling good and ready to burn off the weekend.

We started out with our joint mobility exercises, a few warm up swings, and a quick intro to Power Breathing.   Maybe its my interest in Tai Chi and martial arts, but I've always been intriqued with Power Breathing. At the Chicago RKC, I had the opportunity to ask how to help one of my small group participants who occasionally gets lightheaded (he sometimes forgets to keep the full body tension OUT of his head - and I really watch him on this...) and Power Breathing practice in front of a mirror was the recommendation given by Pavel and John Engum.  I also use the "relax your face" cue to help clients from putting their own heads in a veritable internal vise-grip!  Its VERY important not to hold your breath or to keep tension in your head/neck.  Following up, at Andrea Du Cane's Ageless Body Workshop, we learned more details about Power Breathing and the Power Breathing crunch from the Kettlebell Goddess herself.   After this tutorial and the valuable Q&A from everyone I finally felt comfortable demonstrating and teaching this great practice.   We practiced our Power Breathing and Power Breathing crunches - something you don't need to do a ton of - if you are ABLE to do a ton of them, there's a chance you're not really doing them correctly - they are THAT intense.

The guys were inspired by the new kettlebells, and when I told them to pick something on the heavy side, they were more than happy to oblige.  The spirit of CHALLENGE was in the air, after I told them we'd be doing a version of the Sissy Challenge, they suggested that we throw some sandbags into the mix and make it heavy kettlebell swings and sandbag burpees... thus Monday became MONSTER MONDAY!

Without further ado:

Take breaks when necessary this can get really intense, but always keep moving - "Fast and Loose as Pavel would say!

After a short break, lying leg raises using the super high tech "ab stations" (I am being sarcastic, we grab onto some conveniently placed poles anchored into the ground) and performed very strict leg raises - feet flexed, lower back crammed into the ground - if it pops up, you're done, stop and start over!  

Last but not least, heavy single kettlebell carries - really focusing on keeping the shoulders down and back, thinking of pinching the scapula together to create what Andrea Du Cane amusingly calls "Back Cleavage" - a funny, memorable cue that NEVER seems to fail.

Finally we finished up with joint mobility.

It was a great MONSTER MONDAY!


Additional interesting info about breathing - you have to do it anyway, right?

Really good tutorials about Power Breathing are in Pavel's classic bodyweight exercise program The Naked Warrior and a great live demo of both Power Breathing and the Power Breathing Crunch (the ONLY crunch you will catch me doing EVER... btw) are on the Kettlebell Goddess DVD


My Not-So-Secret Secret Workout Protocol...

Not always a big fan of crowds, so when my neighborhood gets overrun with partiers I usually end up hunkering down and getting a lot of work done. The cost of this is at some point I need to really jump around and burn off some extra energy. Since I’ve been developing recipes I wanted to work up a good appetite to try them too.

This past week I had the opportunity to teach a very cool lady (out of town) how to use the DVRT system and Ultimate Sandbags, and of course this got me even more excited about them in the process. I could tell she would have REALLY liked to have bought one or both of them from me that day, but NOPE MINE MINE MINE!!! Besides, they’re both set up for “learning” right now, being not-so-sloshily filled with (glorious smelling) Thai jasmine rice (it was on sale in 50lb bags…). Readers of this blog probably already figured out I don’t eat much (if any) grain, but I will admit to the occasional sushi rice and if it’s been a particularly crazy day (or a workshop) I will eat at least half of whatever Thai jasmine rice is brave enough to sit on a plate with meat and veggies. It’s mainly the smell though.


I've been using a strength bag (matte black in the photo above) and a power bag (photo to the left. My power bag is a hilarious pink color, which is amusing when I use it, but I have also noticed that many people respond to that particular bag very positively. As a helpful side note, after I saw that the shiny pink material had somehow picked up some black paint from other equipment (not sure if a kettlebell or one of the maces is to blame), I was able to remove the black marks that previously seemed impossible to remove with a soft sponge and little bit of Goo-Gone. So, not only is the friendly pink sandbag friendly and pink, it also faintly smells of clean citrus. This means everyone will want to clean and press it. The strength bag is loaded to approx. 50lbs, and the power bag I loaded to about 25-26lbs. I found these sizes/loads to be a fairly good idea for beginners (myself included) who have a good bit of strength from other modalities like kettlebells, calisthenics, traditional weightlifting etc.

The following workout follows a fun protocol that I found myself just gravitating towards, and now I sometimes use purposely to create workouts for myself or others. Admittedly this will work best for intermediate/advanced exercisers who have some time on their hands…

Here’s the “protocol”:

  1. Warm Up
  2. Test Something Out (or go for a PR of sorts)
  3. Maybe warm up some more or work on a mobility challenge
  4. Practice technique and skill-based moves
  5. Strength work
  6. Spazz-out (intense circuit that includes some max cardio)
  7. Cool down with some skills and mobility

You may see how what I did basically fits into that pattern

Did this three times, chose a different bridge variant each time:

Did this 4 times because… just because:

A brief break for some social stuff then…
20 sec work, 10 sec break for 4 minutes (similar to that interval named after Dr. “Tabata”):

*That smaller sandbag gets heavy fast with rotational lunges....

I ended with some more mobility work and backward rolling drills.

Here's a random behind the scenes picture from a recent photoshoot, but it illustrates hanging knee raises:

New Book From Paul Wade, Memorial Day Murph Workout and

First off, super excited that Dragon Door has released (only in eBook form for now, but the paperback will be coming soon!) a brand new book from Paul Wade of Convict Conditioning fame: C-Mass: How to Maximize Muscle Growth Using Bodyweight-Only Training.  On the cover you'll probably recognize our pals, Al and Danny Kavadlo, as you'll also see them throughout the next info-packed 130 pages.   The book features a lot of fun photos too -- from bodyweight strength greats of the past, to photos from PCC workshops, and of course some never-before seen pictures of the Kavadlos and friends doing what they do best all over the world.   Book also features immediately usable workout plans and routines, an extensive q+a section, and a bonus chapter about hormonal balance too.  So if you're a guy looking to bulk up, or a lady that wants to achieve mighty-goddess status (bodyweight training won't make you gross, it just makes what you have better and better...) then check out the new eBook, especially since the launch special price puts it at $6.95?!??!!!???

In other news, came up with MORE kettlebell-themed shirts and tank tops--and sent them just in time for this past weekend.  WODdawg is really cool as their sales benefit K9s for Warriors, a program that helps wounded soldiers get service dogs, especially for PTSD.  Really like how the program focuses on mental health issues as well as physical issues our soldiers may have when returning home.  Service dogs can be such a powerful, helpful influence in someone's life.  These dogs are rescued from shelters, then trained at a special center in Florida before veterans come to get aquainted with their service dog.  All around, what a neat program!

These are the women's tank tops, but there's shirts, guys shirts, and even shirts for dogs too! With that in mind, and with Memorial Day it seemed appropriate to participate with so many others who would be attempting the infamous "Murph" hero WOD (workout of the day) from CrossFit.  Since I'm not much of a runner, I took a cue from fellow RKC-II Laurel Blackburn in Tallahassee and substituted 300 kettlebell swings for the beginning and ending run of the original workout.  I am also going to show you a "before and after" to prove that not only are the WODdawg shirts comfy and stylish, they also stand up to a heck of a workout AND still look great after you sweat straight through them.  I'll also include a HRM screenshot so you can see why I was inspired to eat so much afterwards...

Before (note color of shirt... and face):

"Murph"* Workout (we did everything with very strict form):

300 kettlebell swings (traditionally this is a mile run)
100 Pull-ups (we don't kip, so we substituted the "Aussie" pull ups aka bodyweight rows from the PCC)
200 Push-ups (even doing super strict knee push ups was aaaggghhh EVIL)
300 Bodyweight Squats (why oh why do I always take the stairs???)
300 kettlebell swings (again, the original version is a mile run)

After (note color of shirt... and face)

It should be noted that I'm not a big endurance high-rep person by any stretch of the imagination, so doing this kind of thing is a rarity, and not something I plan to do more than a few times a year... but that aside... look what the Under Armour Armour39 had to say about the whole thing:

So...  THATS what it takes to get a 10 out of 10 willpower....  good to know... whew.... right. ok. yeah.  

*I was especially interested in giving this hero workout a try, since I'd recently finished reading Lone Survivor and had read the account of Navy SEAL lieutenant Michael "Murph" Murphy's extreme bravery, service, and incredible courage under fire.

Now We Get to Act Like A Bunch of ANIMALS... a kettlebell and bodyweight workout!

So much inspiration and creativity stemming from the recent visit to NYC, Nimble Fitness, Equinox, and of course Al Kavadlo's Saturday Morning class.  This particular workout's "warm up" was directly influenced by the warmup from Al's class I attended.   Lacking access to Thompson Square Park, I came up with a simple circuit punctuated with our favorite 2 hand kettlebell swings (I had a variety of kettlebells available so the exercises could be performed properly with the right amount of weight etc.).


We chose a nice shaded area with a large concrete pad, did our favorite joint mobility warm up then proceeded to traverse down and back on the large pad with the following:


1. Bear Crawls (keep hips high, be conscious of what all limbs are doing at any given time.  Growling encouraged, no whining allowed!)

2. Traveling Inch-worms with push up and tuck jump—these need a name, Al might have mentioned something about a bull frog?  Feel free to "ribbit."   Basically start from standing, walk out on your hands to push up position, do a push up then jump your feet up between your hands.  Stand up with a hop and repeat.   These are fairly advanced moves, so be safe and know your limits (in terms of mobility/flexibility especially)

3. Crouching Monkey Kinda Thing.  Wide stance, similar to the Cossack Stretch for those of you familiar to the fab DVD Resilient.  The heel of the bent knee can come up - you stay low and then travel to the other knee so that it bends.   Hop the legs in the direction you want to go.   I need to do a video for this.   Get the hang of it and you'll feel like a cute little spider monkey or a hulking fierce gorilla—maybe a jumping spider!


On to the kettlebell circuit.  Do this 2-3 times, depending on what kind of time you have available.  If you are doing only 2 rounds, please choose challenging weights.

Cool down with joint mobility, or if you're like a particularly motivated client of mine, ask to borrow the super cool mace and do some swings THEN your joint mobility cool down.  FUN!!!


*Thanks Alicia Streger for showing me this super cool move... start in a "crab walk" or "table" position, then carefully reach for the opposite side toe!

No one is usually this happy about doing these, but I am conditioned to smile in photos—old habits die hard.  Besides, I've just been to Whole Foods and I like these shoes a whole lot.


Orlando HKC Inspired Kettlebell Workout

Really great experiences all around at the Orlando HKC this past Sunday, and so much valuable info.   We had 12 participants, with Senior RKC and all around awesome guy, Franz Snideman leading and teaching.   Chris Davis organized the event, Tim Shuman and I showed up to help, and Ryan Blackburn and Super Strong Nana, Laurel Blackburn stopped in for the first half. 

Some very strong and promising people worked hard for their HKC certifications.  As I am sure you know, these aren't just handed out, they must be earned.   Anyway before I get going too far into the recap, I know you want to check out the workout.   I'm working on a full article about the HKC experience for tomorrow.

Begin with Joint Mobility - there's a great mobility complex they teach to HKCs and I was so pleased with it I made sure to get a written copy.  More on that later.

The following workout is for your "moderate" sized kettlebell or if you are RKC-bound, the kettlebell you would use for the snatching portion of the test.  Always remember, there's no harm in starting a little light and moving up, likewise if you're in over your head, switch down a size.  The quality of the movement is what matters most.

Warm up with 10 kettlebell deadlifts and 10 2 hand swings.

It's "I Go, You Go*" time.  If you have a partner or group split into "A" and "B" groups.  While you are swinging your kettlebell, your partner is resting (but moving around, Fast and Loose style!)  I'll denote that below with "A" and "B" as this is great with small groups too!   Always remember to be safe though - and rest extra if necessary - but always keep moving.

Set your gymboss timer for 10 minutes - and repeat the following until the victory beeps sound:

After that 10 minutes - we did a few pump stretches, reviewed a few of the main points of the goblet squat (PULL yourself down, don't just fall down) before beginning the NEXT "I go you go" segment.  When you see the low rep range, realize once again - looking for quality of movement, and it's not a limbo contest to see "how low can you go."  You want to challenge yourself, but if squat depth comes at a cost of form, safety etc. then stop higher up.

Set your gymboss timer to chime after 5 minutes, and by chime I mean beep in that annoying way.

During a brief rest, we reviewed a few parts of the get up - there are a couple of very new people in class who haven't learned the full get up yet, so it was fun for everyone to break it down and really focus while keeping elbows straight, wrist straight, kettlebell location etc.   Between doing 30-45 seconds (I lied to you guys in small group a couple times, you went longer than 30 seconds, but I made it equal for both right and left sides - saw some learning happening and wasn't about to interrupt it).   Choose a light kettlebell, balance your shoe on your knuckles, or my old favorite "Invisibell"(Adrienne-speak for no kettlebell at all)

Finally last little bit of fun, be sure to switch hands!:

Go for 8 total rounds! :)

Cool down and do your favorite joint mobility exercises.  We added in some extra wrist/finger mobility stuff at the end - or as I like to say "OK it's 'Karate Kid' time!"


*If you are practicing alone, just keep the rests as short as you safely can

**Again, if practicing alone, bring out your books/notes/etc and review the standard of the mov

Outdoor Workout - Repurpose Your Local Fit Trail!

I'm technically "between programs" right now as I figure out the next strategy other than the usual general physical maintanence, get stronger, etc.  That plus having too much fun with the Convict Conditioning progressions (got past my mental barrier with the walking down the wall bridges, and of course am now totally addicted to doing them), and being introduced to MovNat a couple weeks ago had me thinking that it was time to "take it outside."   And while other parts of the country/world are experiencing a dismal gray slush or oppressive rain, here the weather was gorgeous and absolutely perfect for a day in the park.   This past week a friend of mine mentioned that she wanted to find a fit trail and "climb on things" and that was all the encouragement I needed.    Besides, I wanted to help her with her kettlebell Swing, and let her try out the Battling Rope my classes have been enjoying so much.

Fit trails are so much fun - and you can really do a lot with them - I decided to carry along my trusty 16kg Dragon Door kettlebell the whole time we were there, thankfully the fit trail is in a loop so you can start and end at the parking lot.   Being as I've decided to never cut weight again for the RKC Snatch Test (Read why here: Strength Trumps The Scale), I carried it around with us because of that whole bonding thing.  Also, I wanted to do some random swings, pistols, presses, snatches etc in between our fit trail fun. Besides, my friend needed to work on some swings too.  And an extra 35lbs switching hands whenever isn't that big of a deal anyhow - especially after we drank all four bottles of Beyond Organic water.  They really need to make bigger bottles - sorry guys, but we can work up a thirst down here in Florida.

So here was the basic plan - we started with the pull up and parallel dip bar station - where my friend knocked out some of her very first real-deal pull ups ever - can't tell you how proud I am.  I practiced some pull ups, straight leg raises, and a few of the things from MovNat involving pressing up from the top of the bar. We then did dips, L-sits, and generally climbed around like a couple of crazy kids.   Next was a stop at the "monkey bars" station where we took turns traversing the monkey bars - each bar, skipping a bar, changing directions etc. and super setting with kettlebell swings, pistols & snatches.

a few 10ths of a mile down the trail we found some ab station things (large platforms with a raised bar) - which were great for dragon flag practice, straight leg raises, and interestingly enough - push up variations - make them easier by raising your hands, or harder by putting your feet up on the bar!   And more kettlebell swings, snatches etc - then a longer walk to the balance beam area - where we traversed them forwards, backwards, standing, on all fours, etc.  And my friend discovered that she has excellent balance!  Between all this, more swings, squats, some bent press practice, then it was back to the car to drop off the kettlebell and swap it out for the Battling Rope.

Using a small piece of rope I carry with it, we attached it to a tree and proceeded to make a big racket - crushing leaves and of course laughing too - so much so that we attracted the attention of a woman pushing a baby carriage who decided to give it a try too.  She quickly saw how fun (and heart rate raising) it was.   After taking some funny mid-air pictures, it was time to eat...   That's right... steak and guacamole!!!

While we were walking etc, my friend and I had some great discussions - as adults, some of us have lost touch with the essential element of non-competitive "play" and how it can not only contribute to our fitness, but how it can relieve stress and bring us closer to friends and family.   Our "workouts" don't always have to focus on duration, PRs, reps, time intervals etc. sometimes its just good to go out there and figure some things out - work around obstacles, find hidden strengths/abilities and of course unknown weaknesses to work on as well.  Have you experienced joy in your workout lately?  I recommend it!

How can you use found items like a fit trail to mix up your workout?  Let me know what you try!

Pitch Black: A Workout for Kettlebell and Friends

My small group class and I are not pleased with the time change - it makes our 6PM class take place in some darker circumstances and while I have some really neat, environmentally conscious and at the same time very useful lighting on the way, it hasn't yet arrived.  We did find a much better lit area in the mean time, but I wanted to boost morale a bit and of course that involves a little goofiness (at least if I have something to do with it).   A few days ago, over a cup of mid afternoon espresso it came to me.... a workout somewhat very very loosely inspired by the early 2000s movie Pitch Black... GET IT?!  (One small group member assumed the workout was 'based on my favorite color, Adrienne' and not the movie - HA!)  Now, whether you like him or not, this was my introduction to Vin Diesel and well - I think the little teen girl in the movie was WAY off base because whatever getting weird eyeball chrome things, let's talk about your upper traps and deltoids instead, Mr. Diesel.  

Goofiness aside, it was fun to try and remember the movie in terms of movements... lots of running (we'll do kettlebell swings instead), hanging onto things, jumping, pulling things, climbing out of things, and at the beginning carrying things.    I can work with that... and since we have a variety of fitness levels in my class, and some people coming back from long vacations, we'll use timed sets and have some options as well...   Yes, it's a weird premise, but if you want to know how I come up with workouts sometimes it's this sort of thinking process - at least this is not as bad as when I made a joke about designing a partner-based bootcamp workout on the original Saw movie, right?  

Start up with your joint mobility routine and get ready - we have to get away from some monsters... and well - let's be ready to move.

First circuit - 4 30 second rounds of:

Review and practice kettlebell cleans and presses - double and single - moderate weight, this is a focus on form, Q&A time.




2nd Circuit 4 30 second rounds of -


Hollow Position discussion, Q&A, and practice (Yes, I know ever since the Bodyweight Workshop I have been nuts about this)

Finish up with Joint Mobility and fly home in your spaceship (or Audi or Honda or whatever)


*kettlebell attached to the middle of a battling rope - get into a plank position and carefully pull the kettlebell towards you by grasping the rope, maintain proper body alignment - (put the kettlebell on a towel or wrap something protective around it if you are on a hard surface)

Quick Workout for Hectic Times, Kettlebells, and Battling Rope!

I'm still working on editing a fun video for you with an especially interesting circuit (there's some highly functional but silly looking parts to it, thanks to my general appearance, some kids at the park gawked at what I was doing, but were unsure if it was "safe" to openly mock me.  Thanks, hairdo!)  Anyway that is still in the works. Look for it this weekend, so you can try it and hopefully not get laughed at by kids at the park as you work though this unusual combo! 

It's been a fairly crazy week... (click here to skip the yabbering and get to the workout) Here's some sampling of the odds and ends of the past several days... fist-bumping my now-vintage studio monitors that I absolutely swear by, sweet potato muffins I made while waiting for a video to compile, landing a tiny nanodrone on a yoga brick, resistant starch cold lentils, reading from and writing stuff in the gray workout Moleskine of doom for myself and small group, buying your Granny's unwanted Limoges, 3d printing, and Counter Culture coffee.  And that's just the stuff  can show you, it's not the writing, editing, calls, interim sysadmin responsibilities, and scores of other tasks.

Instagram Recap....

In order to "earn" the 5 visit package of cryosauna treatments I paid for earlier this week, it's been a fairly hefty workout time as well. I owe you a detailed review of Keith Weber's stellar Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout DVD Vol. 3 which is especially awesome, instructors will want to both do the workouts and then use pieces of the workouts for their classes. The review will include some examples of how to do this, and how to step some of the things down a notch when necessary.

It started raining towards the end of this workout, and that was just fine with me... please note that this is intermediate-advanced.  I used the infamous RKC kettlebell snatch test as some weird mean form of warmup. Sure is nice to not even be slightly intimidated by that thing anymore!  If you are struggling with that test, in the case of this workout, it would be appropriate to use a lighter kettlebell than the one required by an official RKC test.

I started with some basic joint mobility drills then...

RKC 5 Minute Kettlebell Snatch Test! Grabbed the test kettlebell for my weight (14kg... which is a nice size to have anyway) and knocked out 100 snatches in about 4:30. I dont like to go much faster than that, and this felt great!  This is also a good opportunity to work on your rep break down strategy. For example I did this one with 20 right, 20 left, 15 right, 15 left, 10 right, 10 left, 5 right, 5 left.  I could have gone for a more aggressive approach, but I am also limited to things that are easier for me to keep track of... I've done versions starting with 25/25 but then it kind of confuses me for the rest of the counting for some reason.

Battling Rope and Heavy Swings Tabata... Next, before the rain (and because I wanted to wind it up nicer so that it fit in the trunk better) I grabbed my 50 foot 1.5" battling rope and a reasonably heavy for me, 32kg kettlebell. I set my interval timer for Tabata protocol intervals (20sec work, 10 sec rest, 8 total rounds for 4 total minutes) and prepared to go all out.  Beginning with battling rope throws allowed me to get my heart rate up...way up... fast which made the 32kg swings all the more intense... and made it possible for the "all out" magic that is what makes this protocol work.

30:15 Intervals Mish-Mash Kettlebell Review. I grabbed a moderately heavy kettlebell for me, 20kg and decided to check in with some of the kettlebell basic drills... this is kind of a benchmark portion of the workout:

Finally I went back inside to get organized and finish up with a...

30:15 Intervals Mish-Mash Bodyweight Quasi-Cooldown!

That's quite enough for now... stay tuned for a fun podcast episode tomorrow! :)

RKC Level 2 Inspired Workout, A Get Up Video, Mace and Kettlebell simple combo

So much fun checking out the newly revised, updated, and improved RKC Level 2 curriculum this past weekend and cheering on my fellow RKCs!   People showed up literally from all over the world.   Anyway, I was reminded of a great drill and stand alone exercise that was absolutely perfect for the skill level of my small group classes - the Long Press.   I had been wanting to teach them the push press and eventually the clean and jerk, but we had been running into problems (those forgetful hips....).   The Long Press is a POWERFUL full body exercise that teaches the sort of feel one has at the push press without creating some bad habits.

Here's the workout (with hip hinge added in to make sure the hips don't get forgetful!)

Warm up with joint mobility, a few swings with a moderate kettlebell.

We did some halos with a light kettlebell before moving on to.... light to medium kettlebell doubles (12kg, 14kg or 16kg but when in doubt, try lighter at least for the first round)

5 rounds of:

The long class and express class then had varying workouts of interval hand to hand swings, kettlebell sling shots, and push up variations.

In other news, I'm playing around with video again - here's a kettlebell get up recorded from 2 separate angles!  Going to have more and more fun with this kind of set up too.   Some exciting things are in the works!

Between classes I had some fun with the mace from alternating a few practice swings with 1 arm kettlebell swings: again 5 rounds of:

Good fun!!!

Saturday in the Park Workout

Normally, the kettlebell small group doesn't meet on Saturday, but a client had rescheduled for that afternoon, and since the weather outside was so nice, I sent out a quick message to see if anyone wanted to have a group workout the previous hour.  Figured I'd go out there anyway - and do my own thing if not.   Amusingly, several messages came in immediately and so - a group workout it was!

We started with our Primal Move warm up then.....



3 rounds of:


Following a brief break and explanation of the next few exercises, we did the following for time - as in "as many good form reps/rounds as possible" in about 12 minutes.

We concluded the workout with more Primal Move and of course more enjoyment of the weather!

Short On Time But Craving Power: The Joy of 10-Round Simple Workouts

This week I created two different "10 round" workouts for two different people--at two different levels and who have different sets of challenges. Then of course after seeing how well they both did, and while remembering how much fun I have with these types of things, I had to do one too! power workout kettlebells, tire flips, push-ups

10 round workouts are a funny thing, and I like them a lot. Completing them results in both a good use of time and a sense of accomplishment. While not everyone is ready to do them, they're great to use for intermediate to advanced students/small groups/classes. For those still building up their capacity for intensity, endurance and power generation, going for 5 rounds and then a rest before either continuing or moving on to something else can also be extremely effective.

The other day, as evidenced in the video below, I was attempting to do a couple of things. I wanted to work out but was short on time, wanted to try livestreaming from the backyard again, and really wanted to make sure I had a good appetite for dinner. A 10 round workout is fantastic for that.

Here's what I did in the video below (the live stream had a lot of connection issues, so I edited a LOT of those out for you--unfortunately this resulted in some skips and jumps where the reps just don't add up.)  Thankfully the little "bonus move" at the beginning (doing pullups on a dowel threaded through a single gymnastic ring) mostly came through. I need to get a better stick for that since a wider grip would be an insane--and insanely fun--challenge.

After a fairly intense mobility warm up (done indoors... there were bugs)
I simply went through the following combination 10 times with as little rest as sanely possible--while also ensuring that every rep was a good rep. Otherwise, really what's the point?

I find that depending on how much time is available (and the conditioning of the workout's intended participants), that doing 2-5 different exercises per round seems to work best--while keeping the rep ranges low to preserve good form.

If I've had a rough day and just want to smash something, well, ten rounds of the following is a very reliable attitude adjuster for me. While it might not solve the problem, afterwards I am usually too worn out and flooded with endorphins to care for a little while.

Ten rounds yields an impressive 100 solid swings with the "beast" kettlebell and 50 tire flips - both of which, when performed correctly, are great power and power endurance builders.  Depending on the tire, this could result in many near-max effort flips.  I need a heavier tire than the one you see in the video below, I like it for teaching others and for "high rep" grinds like 10 rounds of 10 flips but I'd be happier with a heavier tire, more power generation and fewer overall reps to be honest.

As for the workout in the video, the Spiderman push-ups were chosen as much as a "time to flatten out my hands" as they were for doing actual push-ups. This is a great way to prepare for flipping the tire next, then of course gripping the kettlebell again in the next round.

Do you like to do workouts that have a LOT of sets? Did you try one of these or a variation? Leave a comment!

Short on Time Kettlebell Workout Variations...

It's been humid... REALLY annoyingly hot and humid for this time of year.  Unfortunately I keep forgetting that. Last week a friend and I decided to go and do a favorite kettlebell challenge, the SSST (Secret Service Snatch Test) and it was so humid that it even tore up her hands which I previously thought were made of some kind of teflon material.

Quick Kettlebell Workout Ideas

As for myself, I could feel my hands start to suffer so I just took down the pace.  Stayed within the 10 minutes, but did not even nearly approach my goal of getting past 200 total snatches which I have previously done and exceeded many times. This drove me NUTS...  Fortunately the SSST was just the first 1/3 of what we were doing that day so there was plenty of time to redeem myself to myself, but it still was nagging me...

THEN I saw Phil Ross's cool post which included a neat workout structure that worked out to 200 kettlebell snatches.

While all the hand switches would require extra time, it was another way to do 200 total snatches total. It was one of many "pyramids" on the page and worked out to 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 9, 9, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1.  This was especially interesting because I usually only like to do either the 5 minute or 10 minute test outdoors... I've never dropped or thrown a kettlebell by accident but I certainly DON'T want to have that risk indoors at home.  The smaller sets in Phil's pyramid seemed very safely manageable for indoors without the threat of "spontaneous home renovations". Normally if I do either test the first set will be 15, 20, or 25 and I go all out in some regards. With Phil's set and rep ranges it was really interesting to observe the new point where things got "interesting" and how the regular "cruise control" pace I use normally wouldn't really apply.

I should also add that this same set/rep scheme could be applied to one arm swings if you're not up for snatching yet.  Shorter pyramids are great for presses, etc. as well. It's a neat challenge.

The other "short on time" workout I've been doing here and there has been a warm up with mobility, then set a timer for 25 minutes and "see what happens".  At that point I am looking at my list of long and short term goals and using that time to either see where I am or how much work I can do towards those goals. The most recent example was last night, where I decided to use some of the time to get in 200 swings with a 24kg kettlebell (in sets of 20) AFTER I had done a few sets of single presses and pistols with it.  I was also practicing weighted pull ups with a 12kg kettlebell hanging from a dip belt... while this is quite regressed from where I need to be doing pull ups, I am working to rebuild the base of my weighted pull ups so that I can really nail that irksome part of the challenge.  I've had 2 out of 3 of the Iron Maiden Challenge in the bag for years now... and frankly it's just time to finally knock it out.  Part of the reason I ordered a 26kg kettlebell during the Dragon Door sale is that I want to make 26kg the "new normal" for the lifts that I've been able to do for years, and to make the 24kg feel "light" on the day of... Also... seriously that weighted pull up has got to be nothing short of spectacular. I don't want to just barely make this.

Other ways I've used the 25 minutes of "what happens" or "just because I can" is to run through any drills that I am usually called upon to demonstrate and teach. The easier ones I do for reps, the max drills I do for singles.  Many times I will work through them almost like a drop set, starting with the most difficult and intense drills then move down.  An example would be how I like to train for human flag - after warming up I'll practice singles of the chamber press, and lowering slowly and under control with one leg straight and the other bent. On the last BEST single rep of each I'll just work on chamber holds, then move down to the same hold, but pulling my toes up from the ground in a (limited by gravity at this point) shorter range of motion.  Then I'll move down to clutch flags for time (I usually just count), and any lead up drills that I may need to demo for others.

Speaking of the RKC blog, there's another great post this week - even if you are already very experienced with kettlebells, this is a really good, really detailed breakdown of the kettlebell goblet squat from Senior RKC Mike Krivka.  And you know what, the pyramid set/rep pattern can get very interesting with these too!!

Simple Kettlebell, Bodyweight, and Sprint Ladder

I helped out at a friend's boot camp this past week, and was further inspired by her workout (reverse ladder of drills punctuated with a short run to different exercise stations) to create one of my own.  Also brought in an idea from one of RKC Dr. Michael Hartle's football conditioning workouts, the basic formula: kettlebell drill, sprint, walk back (active rest).  Before beginning, make sure to scout out your sprinting "runway" (approx 30 yards, but adjust for your ability) and clear it of rocks, slick spots, etc.

Of course, warm up with your favorite Joint Mobility routine - my small group's routine is based on Pavel's Super Joints DVD plus extras that are beneficial to our specific tasks on a given day - and often things we just like to do (everyone loves the "pump stretch").

Choose a moderate sized kettlebell, and remember to take breaks as necessary, and feel free to slow down the sprint if you're a beginner.

Start with:

Continue with 11, 10, 9.... down to 1.


Be sure to cool down with more joint mobility and drink plenty of water!   Let me know how it goes!


Simple Snatching Practice Kettlebell Workout

The small group learned and/or reviewed the RKC Kettlebell Snatch - so I wanted to create a workout that would allow for plenty of practice - both for the new members of the group as well as the more experienced.   We also wanted to get in some time with the Battling Ropes for variety. 

Beginners use light kettlebells for the snatching portions of the workout - the main point of this is to get in some good solid practice - not to get bruises or become unsafe in the form. 

More experienced participants may wish to do this with their RKC snatch test sized kettlebell... for the "heavy" kettlebell, bring out some of the largest ones you have at your gym, scaling of course to the participants abilities.

Joint Mobility warmup, form review, 20 2-hand swings with a moderate sized kettlebell then begin:

Five rounds of the following, resting as needed for beginners, resting minimally for intermediate-advanced:

Exercise Rep Range - Beginner Rep Range - Intermediate
Kettlebell Snatches 5 Right, 5 Left 10 Right, 10 Left
Heavy 2 Hand Kettlebell Swings 10 swings or 10 deadlifts 10 swings


I try to have a variety of kettlebells available so participants can switch up or down when necessary.  

We then got out the ropes and had MORE fun - 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, switching stations during the breaks:

Depending on the number of participants (and number of battling rope set ups you have) you might need to add stations or fix the rotation a little to accomodate everyone.   Be creative, but always be safe.

Cool down with more Joint Mobility

Simple Workout With Classic Kettlebell Moves

Sometimes it's a very good thing to keep it simple, and often with kettlebells and bodyweight you'll notice that there's a great power in keeping things simple.  The same is overwhelmingly true as described by Marty Gallagher in his most recent post on barbell training over at the blog.  And while I don't personally do a whole heck of a lot of barbell training, Marty's barebones simple approach is one to understand, acknowledge, and implement--regardless your prefered fitness tools.

That being said, on any given day if you just don't know what to do with yourself workout wise (and that shouldn't really happen because I hope you're following a coach or program, but the "real world" is in effect...), a good solution is to revisit our old favorites the Swing and the get-up.   The following variation on that theme uses the RKC 5 minute snatch test (I like to do it from time to time and make sure I'm continuing to maintain/progress my conditionioning).  For the details of the 5 minute test, and the complete testing requirements of the new upgraded RKC, please click here... I'm tired of seeing people debate the requirements online when they can just GO TO THE SOURCE on and read the most current, updated facts.  Sure, that's not a dramatic solution, but it sure saves time and frustration.   I don't have time for needless arguments and neither do you! :)

Here's what we did for a simple but interesting workout:

Warmup with Primal Move and the Trifecta from CC2.

After a few warm up swings, it was time to set the timer for 5 minutes and choose an appropriate kettlebell for our "faux test".   For my current weight that would be the very fun size 14kg kettlebell.  While I've done the test with 12kg and 16kg, the 14kg actually seems incredibly appropriate for my size/conditioning requirements etc. I can remember a few years ago being incredibly stressed out about testing with even the 12kg and while that was a long time ago, and my conditioning has drastically improved, so has my technique.   Alternately if you're still working on your technique or have not learned how to really snatch a kettlebell yet, a fun challenge (for anyone really) is to see how many very good 1 arm swings you can do during that same time period.

Following a short break, I lined up several kettlebells in order of size - 8kg, 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 18kg, etc.  Beginning with a bodyweight only "naked" get up, everyone then progressed through the ladder of kettlebells--paying strict attention to form, and noting any compensations etc. pointed out as the weights got heavier.  Asking for a spot from me was also encouraged... as was stopping before things got silly.  Depending on your ability, energy, and kettlebell collection, it can be a really good learning experience with several rounds through something like: bodyweight, 8kg, 12kg, 16kg.  Adjust for your abilities of course--a large, well trained guy will probably want to lift much heavier kettlebells in most cases.  Though I'd remind him to try it with a light kb or with his shoe balanced on his fist (no thumb) for the fun and learning opportunities of it.

Following our trek through the kettlebells, we had a little bit of time left for a few rounds of this fun and simple circuit:
30 seconds jump rope, 15 seconds "rest/transition"
30 seconds battling rope throws (the 1.5" 50 footer), 15 seconds "rest/transition"
30 seconds heavy kettlebell swings, 15 seconds "rest/transition"

We ended with the heart-rate friendly Primal Move eval performed backwards.

Sloshy Times... A Workout for Kettlebells and Sloshpipe

Some of the head honchos over at Savage Race train with us, and one brought along some special gifts today. Now... these are the guys who create some of the wickedest, most mean looking mud runs around... this is NOT a race for sissies. Some of the obstacles are downright sadistic. There... I said it. Anyway if you are up for an extreme challenge, go check out their site and register for a race in your area, and train HARD in the mean time. So... a sloshpipe is a long piece of thick pvc pipe that has been sealed at both ends with a quantity of water inside. The water sloshes around inside the pipe... hence the name. So, assuming you have a 9 or 10 foot pipe that's 3", 4", 5", or 6" in diameter, you have something very very wicked to walk around with (be careful, this gets intense FAST). The sloshpipes he made were 3" and 4" and weighed only 25lbs and 40lbs approx. Not much until you consider the off balance sloshy action. We kept it basic as the use of sloshpipes were new to all of us, myself included. But what a FUN addition!

Here's what we did:

Joint Mobility warm up, some moderate kettlebell deadlifts and swings to continue warming up.

5 Rounds of:

Following a short break, we talked about the kettlebell high pull and how it relates to snatching, taming the arc and timing.  Then we did a little practice circuit for fun:

Then we couldn't stand it and had to play with the sloshpipes some more - experimenting with different exercises, moves, holds, and generally having a good time safely trying new things and cheering each other on.

We finished up with some Primal Move practice - really pleased at how well everyone is progressing with everything.

Strength Pyramid: A Simple Kettlebell and Calisthenics Combination

Strength Pyramid Workout

Couldn't resist using this neat photo of the pyramid at the Louvre. Having recently become 41, I remember seeing this interesting structure during its construction (I was VERY young, maybe 7 or 8 at the time). The massive excavation was fascinating, and I would only see the completion of it many years later in the late 90s. "Oh, so that's how it turned out!" The sense of scale is lost in photos.

We all know that a pyramid is a very strong and stable structure. The shape can also inspire challenging workouts. Unlike a ladder format, where the reps build each set, the pyramid adds reps, reaches a pinnacle then subtracts reps from each set. I like to use pyramids in my own workouts and programming and also for my clients. Particularly with interesting and reasonably challenging moves like upper body pulls and presses (though usually not at the same time).

Pyramid workouts are not just for strength moves either, Master RKC Phil Ross has a formidable pyramid of kettlebell snatches that is humbling to say the least. You may be tempted to try and add up the total reps for the workout before attempting it, but I'd encourage you to wait until you've completed it first! (While there's a warm-up and particular context for his workout, the basic gist is to start with one kettlebell snatch on the right, then one on the left, two on the right, two on the left.... all the way up to 10 and then back down. While that doesn't necessarily sound too bad to those of us well acquainted with the RKC kettlebell snatch test, I can assure you that 2nd set of 9 reps on the way back down is a meanie.)

I had a little bit of time between tasks recently and felt like not just training pull-ups but also getting in a fair amount of kettlebell get-ups too. It's been SO cold outside (it was down in the teens the other night, which for me is new and interesting) that I haven't been able to train much outside. Thankfully I've kept a big part of the living room open and free of furniture so that there's plenty of space for oodles of kettlebells (they line the walls in a few places to be honest), the Dragon Door pull-up bar, an Assault Air Bike, and other fun things like Neuro-Grips, etc. So, after some joint mobility moves I went right to work with this pyramid built on a submaximal rep range of pull-ups (I can do many more than six. If you're curious about trying the workout for the first time, cut your max pull-up reps in half and aim for that "size" pyramid.). Basically, what you can do--and how much time you have for the session--will determine the "height" of the pyramid. On this day, I only had the time to go to six as you see below. tomorrow I feel like really going for it after training someone in the morning, so that could be interesting.

It's also interesting to note how the pull-ups feel a little different on each side after the get-ups! :)

I liked this combination so much that I modified it for a client who's current max pull-ups is seven.  So, while this made a kind of short pyramid, she went through it twice, which proved to be challenging in almost a whole new way with the two pyramids both peaking at three pull-up reps.

If you're not quite at 6-7 pull-ups, this same workout structure can be plenty challenging with Aussie pull-ups (aka bodyweight rows) in place of the traditional pull-ups. The angles will be a bit different, so make sure you do a timed hang or two during that same session.

Let me know if you try the workout or come up with your own variation!

Recent interviews at Dragon Door (There's more on the way too, but you need to check these out in the mean time):

Speaking of Dragon Door, their sale items category is still going strong. Lots of great stuff in there including the Pavelizer that I've been enjoying--and that I still owe you a video for!

Also of note: THE PODCAST is coming back! Look for a new episode landing on Tuesday, February 6th. Look for upgraded audio quality and an improved format too. It's a work in progress, as is everything and I welcome your feedback, especially if you've been listening since I started it back in 2014 (not a typo). You can listen here on iTunes, Stitcher, RSS, or right from the podcast's own site.

Stress Buster: A Two-Part Workout For Kettlebells, Sandbag, and Pull Up Bar

Ultimate Sandbag Overhead PressStill finding the time to tell you about the adventures of the past few weeks (wow this is getting embarrassing!!!) BUT in the mean time I'll share with you a really fun workout from last week.  It was first intended as a stand alone for home, then a friend wanted to meet up and just blow off some steam after work with a little "cardio".  Put together this combo is a neat collection of strength/skill practice then a slightly SSST-inspired cardio "finisher".

Either piece can be a workout on its own, but it was a fun thing to do together.  It's very adjustable depending on what weights are chosen and which pull-up, push-up variations are used.  I chose standard pull ups (with the low rep range it was another good opportunity to practice the very high pull ups I've been into lately... there's a devious plan for those btw), and standard push-ups (very strict with feet together).  I used a lighter Ultimate Sandbag (the Power shell) since when I use the bigger/heavier one I tend to like to flop it on the floor for that satisfying thump sound... not always appreciated by downstairs neighbors... The kettlebell used for the low rep swings/squats was the 22kg I tend to keep by the couch.   For the cardio portion, I walked down to my friend's house and we did that part outdoors. We used her 12kg kettlebell and 25lb Power Ultimate Sandbag -- more about that later.

At home, I started with 5 rounds of the following with as little rest as possible:

Over at my friend's house, I set a timer for a 2min 30sec work set, followed by 30 second rest/walk/swap.  We repeated the items below twice to make for a total of 10 minutes work time.  There was no slacking.  Considering this was a lighter kettlebell and lighter sandbag than would be used for either the DVRT 5 minute clean and press test, or the RKC 5 minute snatch test, we decided to make sure every rep was perfect, that we used the entire 2:30mins full force, full speed, and that we exceeded the rep ranges that would have been required of either test:

It was a fun variety thing to do, and considering the weights used were very much sub-max, a good time to work on perfect form over MANY many reps in a short period of time.  Looking forward to playing with heavier variations soon.

Originally I had written a little ab circuit to go with it, but totally forgot about it!!  Will save that for another day.

*I don't know why, but there's something very satisfying about doing DVRT style sandbag snatches, its like you get to fling something from the ground overhead.  It's a powerful feeling movement even with a light bag.  Definitely give it a try sometime!!

Speaking of pull ups, the other night Swiss Love, a very cool bar calisthenics athlete posted a neat video combination of a modifed Barbarians routine he put together for a strong lady who showed up to their practice.  Even though I'd already done a whole lot of pull ups before shooting this video, I decided to give it a try because it was such a cool sounding combo, you'll notice I do seem tired.  This was shot around midnight when I was in a goofy mood (so what else is new) so I do some silly things in there as well... Am also breaking one of my own rules, I HATE IT when people record video long ways, but did so in this case because I was in the midst of chores and didn't want you to see all the dishes drying on countertop! LOL!!!!

Stress Destroyer Workout for Kettlebell and Pull Up Bar

It'd been a "Monday" for sure, and a friend of mine was definitely up for a challenge so we headed out to the park a good bit later than originally intended, but that's ok.  I'm not opposed to occasionally (or somewhat often) working out somewhat late at night.  Hince the silly owl graphic there on the left. 

This workout was heavily influenced and inspired by Zach Even-Esh's Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning... there was a fair amount of modifcation, but I've found that the structure of his workouts and what I'm aiming for are often very wonderfully aligned.  Besides, if you're in a situation where you don't want to (or can't) purchase much or any fitness equipment, then Zach's book is for you.  There's a whole chapter on training with ROCKS for goodness sake (I love training with weird stuff like that... and rock stacking is also fun too... but that's for another blog post). That being said it was the kind of night to go tear it up in the park a little bit, and I wanted to work on some specific things too... which will be pretty obvious below:

Here's what we did:
Primal Move warm up and CC2 Trifecta
Then we did a little "I Go You Go" (your workout partner rests while you press, then switch!) kettlebell press ladder with a reasonably heavy kettlebell, but with the idea that each rep must be excellent - 2x

Next - 100 kettlebell swings (rest when needed, choice of 2 hand, 1 hand, mix, whatever the goal was to do 100 swings)

Finally we wrapped it up with another 100 kettlebell swings using the same rules as above, then another round of the trifecta and Primal Move cooldown.

Good times, even in the dark!!!

Stuck Indoors? Here's a Bodyweight Only Coordination, Strength and Cardio Workout!

Indoor or Travel Bodyweight Only, No Equipment Needed Workout

As much as I hate to admit it, when the weather outside gets below freezing, I'm much less likely to work out outside.  Then, one of my clients emailed asking for an indoor alternative to her regular outdoor activities. This workout is one that I created for a small Upper West Side Manhattan gym where I led classes for a week pretty much for the heck of it. (I wanted to get out of town for a bit, and my friend up there needed an extra trainer... While I had no intentions of moving up there and taking the job, he accepted my offer of leading most of the group classes for a week so he could interview people).  Finally, I was able to spend a big chunk of time in NYC, have fun, visit friends, and most shockingly of all... break even. That's the story of the "NYC Workouts eBook" which is a collection of all the group sessions I led up there during that time.

Anyway, here's one of the bodyweight only workouts you can do indoors and which is essentially self-scaling. If this looks "easy" to you, make sure you're working hard enough! :)

Warm up with joint mobility exercises and the Trifecta from Convict Conditioning Vol. 2 (Bridge, L-Sit, Twist)

Strength Flow Sequence:
Try to maintain a challenging but safe pace for 10 times through the sequence.

  1. Begin standing tall, walk hands forward (ok to bend knees if necessary) until in a plank position.
  2. Do 3 push-ups.
  3. After adjusting to a wider stance, leave feet in place on the ground, and walk the hands back, letting knees bend so that you are in a squatting position.
  4. Do 4 bodyweight squats, staying down on the 4th rep.
  5. Under control, reach back and transition to a crab-walk position.
  6. In the crab-walk position, walk forward and backward for 3 steps.
  7. Reach forward and transition back into a low squat position.
  8. Stand and begin the next repetition of the sequence until 10 are completed.

Bodyweight Tabata Time:
Go all out on the work sets for the Tabata protocol to work its calorie-torching magic.

4 rounds of:

Rest and water break

4 rounds of:

Short Circuit (or set up stations):
Repeat for 4 rounds

Pump-Stretch 3x:
(Down-dog, up-dog [turn and look back at each foot for an additional stretch.])

Abs Mini Circuit Repeat for three rounds:

*Sprawls are burpees without a pushup and without a jump.

**Partial squats = choose a challenging part of a bodyweight squat and stay within a few inches of it. For a whole lot of fun, pick a different squat depth each round!
***Sitouts (video is cued up to 2:47 for sitouts):

Let me know if you try it, or if you've come up with a variation of your own! :)

Sunday Night Practice Variation on Program Minimum Plus

It's Sunday night and I have spent a good part of this weekend doing (other people's) website work, reading, fielding an unbelievable number of text messages on a variety of subjects, chasing down FedEx, and honestly reviewing a WHOLE LOT of Beyond Organic goodies.   Add to that feeling insanely jealous of my friends attending the Marketing Mastermind Intensive out in San Diego... so feeling a bit restless... plus having a bit of a stiff neck from sleeping weird on an old pillow... blah blah blah blah.   It was time to do something about all of that.

Started it all out with a slow run through my favorite qigong warm up from waaaay back, and that started helping my neck be not so angry on that one side.  Followed up with some favorite joint mobility exercises, and doing that great trick I learned at the CK-FMS workshop about seeing if you can turn your head both ways in a variety of positions during the get-up.    A friend of mine on Facebook had posted a link to a somewhat interesting workout, but I felt it needed a little jazzing up.  Some "Zazz" if you will.*   Besides there were a few kettlebell basics that I felt like reviewing since I'd been troubleshooting for a lot of people this past week and now its MY TURN!

Decided to grab my trusty 16kg kettlebell (or whatever is the size you would use at the RKC for testing).. and did the following.    If you are unable to do the full strict non-kipping tactical no thumbs** pull up, one of the great regressions from Convict Conditioning should do the trick (example - for the pull up, get under a table and pull up from there, keeping body supported, abs tight etc like in a plank - this is such a great drill from CC.)  Take your time with this, it isn't a race, its time to think about every movement and how to make each one better than the one you did previously.  ENOUGH BABBLING let's work!



And continue the pattern down to 1 rep...

I ended the workout with some bridge practice, pump stretches and of course a little more joint mobility.    Let me know how you do!


*Message me if you know what that's from.

**I have had to be very specific lately

Super Scaleable Three-Move EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) Workout for Home or Anywhere

Those of you following along on Instagram today you may have noticed at the end of one of the videos I kind of... attack a bowl of pepperment bark at Williams-Sonoma while on an otherwise innocent errand to pick up a box of Mavea water filters. Long story short, I might have had a little bit of a sugar rush when I came home, but I also wanted to get some reps in, and some small chores done too.

EMOM Workout, Every Minute On the Minute

Enter the EMOM workout... Every Minute On the Minute.  I set the interval timer to chime on the minute every minute for 30 minutes--which is a pretty ambitious time frame for an EMOM workout usually, but I had planned to keep the reps low on this one.  I did a mobility warm up and set up everything before pressing start.  Earlier today I brought up an Ultimate Sandbag "Strength" bag that is filled with about 50lbs of delicious smelling dry jasmine rice (50lb bags of Thai style jasmine rice were on sale the day that I went to the Asian market looking for a giant bag of rice).  I wanted to clean the outside of the bag anyway so why not grunge it up with some of my sweat beforehand?  Also, I love doing little combos with it.  For tonight I felt more like "doing things" than "thinking" so an EMOM workout sounded like the right idea.  FIRST, a basic ground rule: every rep must be good, if questionable reps start happening, then the game is over. 

Here's the version I did and the little video I didn't think to shoot until I was about 3/4 of the way through the workout...

And considering I had to set up the webcam during the rest periods it might have actually been farther along through the workout by the time I hit "record".

Every Minute On the Minute:

At my pace, which was not by any means fast on purpose, it ended up being about 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest.  So in 30 minutes, I did a reasonable total number of very high quality reps: 60 dead hang pull ups, 60 sandbag clean and presses, 60 sandbag squats.  Certainly, this was nowhere near my max, but it was a nice fun challenge and provided a pleasantly elevated heart rate.  The movements also have a pretty balanced push-pull ratio in a few directions.

Here's the funny little video from my webcam and the Hallway of Strength:

While telling a friend about this I realized how many different ways this combination could be scaled: with less time, with a lighter (or heavier) sandbag, and with a different pull up variation (door frame pull-ups for the beginner, Aussie pull-ups, regular pull-ups, super advanced folks could even use a muscle-up if they were quick about it!)

The possibilities are endless... as usual! :) Let me know if you try a version of it!

EMOM Vid Still

The "38 Special" Birthday Kettlebell Workout

Birthday Workouts are so fun to make - its one of the really fun things I learned about from local friend and fellow RKC, Alicia Streger.*    Anyway - one of my small group participants turned 38 this week - and in honor of her birthday (and to help her recover from the sugar-riffic cake supplied by well meaning co-workers) I designed this workout for her.   There's also a top secret scaled back version that the beginner's group used, so there's a whole group of people who DON'T even KNOW her who are... well... wishing she had just been celebrating 18 years.   Oh well!!  

Read through the workout and choose an appropriate sized kettlebell for your ability and the intensity of the day.  Beginners go light ("naked" get ups if necessary), and everyone... we want to strive for perfect reps!  Rest as needed to manage fatigue and continue with the best quality movement.**

Start out with your favorite joint mobility routine and jump right in with:

 Double kettlebell fun time (add it up, get it?!) - Again, rest as needed, I designed this so that they'd get lots of good practice with the loved and loathed Clean and Press.  (Personally I love cleans, but becaue I have struggled with them - need more time with your cleans?  Check out this other article/workout: Tough Love for the Kettlebell Clean)

Now... break this up however you would like in terms of sets/reps:

Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift - 38/per side

Kettlebell Rows - 38/per side

We then finished up with an intro/review of the RKC Plank and why it is mega-effective even though you won't win any plank duration contests with it ever.  Can you make 38 seconds at full effort?  It'll be tough - if not, you're not doing it correctly!!!!

Don't forget... joint mobility and water!


*Attn group fitness pros, Alicia and Carrie have some great examples for fitness boot camps (non-kettlebell) and entire programming plans, etc. in some nice info products: Complete Boot Camp Workouts and Advanced Boot Camp Workouts Consider checking these out before you commit to a restrictive franchise contract... these can get you started just as well.

**Don't make me make that weird Kafka reference here - I've got this whole thing going on in my head about mindful repetition over time and once its less nebulous, it'll be unleashed but... not yet.

The "Check In" Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout... and an Introduction to Hylete!

It was time for a benchmark workout yet again.  Small group had been working very hard over the past few weeks.  We've been working out indoors in airconditioned comfort these days and the concern was raised that maybe we were losing our edge.  I am proud to say that we most certainly aren't.  But now we know that the extreme sweat earned is actually earned... not from the oppressive swamplike Florida heat, but from what we're doing--with the added benefit of us being safe from heat and mosquito-related health risks this summer (which as we all know means 10 out of 12 months per year in Florida).   This benchmark workout is not something to necessarily be done for time but more of seeing how we're doing in terms of form, which kettlebells we find ourselves using, and what kind of breaks we need to take in order to maintain peak form.

Here's what we did:

Primal Move Warm Up, The Convict Conditioning Vol2 Trifecta, a little practice with crow and/or headstands then:

Then after we caught our breath, we did three rounds of the following for fun:
30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest/transition:

Finally we did a Primal Move cool down, the Trifecta again, AND checked to see how our balance held up with just a little bit of crow stand practice.

It's also the last page in the infamous red Moleskine notebook... at some point when I started that little book of workouts I thought of making it into some sort of prize, not sure yet, because its difficult to read my bad handwriting... hmmm.

In other news, I recently ordered some very fun items from Hylete, and they just arrived.  here's another goofy "unpacking" video.   If you like what you see, check out and get 25% off your first order with this discount code: giryagirl25  You'll also get 20% off for life too!

The "Garage Band" Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

Long ago, when I was a teenager, kids would get together with various musical instruments, take over the family garage or basement and (usually) make a terrible racket. Sometimes decent bands would form this way, or decent enough bands.  Though much like the style of exercise many of us do, the value was in the practice, and there might ultimately be no great competition or "performance" at the end of it all. Sure, you might open for some college kids' band, or maybe get to play out at a dive bar, but the real "gains" and experiences seem to happen right there in the garage.

Garage Band Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

Note that in this case "garage band" is to be taken literally and not meant to reference the Apple program. Not that there's anything wrong with Garage Band, it just doesn't suit this metaphor.  Any other Gen-Xers out there who had a musical project (terrible or otherwise)? Tell us about it or link to it in the comments if you dare! :) 

Anyway, I'd had quite enough of of computer related work yesterday and had a little bit of time. I chose 4 kettlebells (drums, bass, guitar, keys? HAHA) and decided to throw down a little in the car port.

The newly installed circadian-interruptingly-bright lights on the building are perfect for this... Though I did my joint mobility sequence (including those fabulous RKC Armbars with a very light kettlebell) indoors before heading outside for the following sequence.  Please adjust the weights to suit your level. When completed, the workout contains a total of 100 heavy swings, 50 sprawls (burpees without pushup or jump)*, 50 goblet squats, 50 pushups, and 50 double kettlebell thrusters.  I aimed for minimal rest between sets because in addition to strength and power, I was wanting to get a little incidental conditioning as well.

5 rounds:

After all that I staggered indoors for a bit of a joint mobility cool down and timed bar hangs.  And a much needed snack.

*Here's a how to video about sprawls and other burpee variations and regressions:

The 300 Nightmare Kettlebell, Battling Rope, and Jump Rope Workout

It was time to step things up a notch early last week.  My approach to conditioning is very similar to my approach to abdominal training... it just kind of happens (very well) in the course of our general training.   For instance with the kettlebell Swing, there's skill, timing, acceleration/deceleration, strength, and conditioning components just to start.  There's also a whole lot of abdominal involvement.  Performed correctly, kettlebell swings really take care of a LOT in and of themselves.  And while I like to do things like play with battling ropes, etc. for some reason it never mentally registers as "cardio".   So I forget that I've been working on conditioning all along, only realizing these after habitually running up several flights of stairs two at a time with both hands full of groceries and not getting out of breath.   Then there's the days that it's fun to find out "what we can really do." 

There are several workouts I think of as conditioning "benchmarks":
1. The RKC 5 minute kettlebell snatch test
2. Any form of "Sissy Test"
3. Any form of DOE Manmaker or variant
4. Any form of the somewhat innocent sounding thing I generically label as "track day"
5. Some of the better versions of "300" workouts we do in small group for fun.

Since I was still enamored with the Under Armour Armor39 heart rate monitor—distinctive winner of the "I have NOT felt the need to tear this off of myself in rage mid-workout" award for chest-strap-based heart rate monitors—I thought it would be fun to gather some data.


It was benchmark time again, and a weird mood prompted the 300 Nightmare.  After a good warm up featuring Primal Move, the CC2 Trifecta, and some light kettlebell get ups it was time for 10 rounds of... (active rest as needed, safety and form first always)

It's easy math, but at the end of it  300 swings, 300 rope throws, and 300 jump rope turns have happened—which is pretty darned cool!   This image below includes timing from loading the car, taking it 2 blocks to the park, and unloading the car (plus warmup etc etc), then reloading the car, so the actual workout was less than the recorded time, but as you can see things got intense and there was definitely a reason for a substantial dinner:

The 6PM Shred Kettlebell, Bodyweight and Battling Rope Workout

On a lark I decided to try the 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge from Josh Hillis - I needed some variety and direction with the conditioning portion of my personal workouts - and thought it looked like a whole lot of fun. I'll be varying the program a little to make room for my favorite bodyweight practice items that happen throughout the day, but should be staying true enough to the program in order to write an experience-based review at the conclusion of the challenge. A regular reader of started the challenge on Sunday and it just sounded like too much fun not to join in, in my own modified way. OK - now...

Seeing also as my very cool 50' long Battling Rope finally arrived, it only seemed fitting to add a little bit of that in too - not much, but a sort of mini intro to see how everyone may or may like some variety.  The first portion of the workout is heavily borrowed/inspired by the 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge, so if you are wondering what the workouts are like, this is one of the lengthier ones - as part of what I like so much about the challenge is the minimal time it takes to complete your daily requirement.  OK!  On to the workout - if you don't have a battling rope, you can still perform a version of the workout by replacing the rope drills with either Russian Twists, or if you want to be crazy, burpees.

Start out of course with your favorite joint mobility warmup - then....

Start in with the following bodyweight exercises:

Shake it out a little then.... grab a favorite moderate to moderately heavy kettlebell and its time for swings for 30seconds, then active rest (keep moving!) for 30 seconds - go for a total of 8 minutes.

I had them take a brief water and short walk break before coming back for Get Up Practice / Get Up Questions/Answers time.   We did a minimum of 1 Get up per side 3 times - the beginners practiced without weight, but the final time they used a small 5 lb plate held firmly with a straight wrist to see what the future would hold! :)

Then we got out the Battling Rope!   I made 3 stations - 1 with the anchored rope, 1 for step ups and 1 mat for the super strict execution of the RKC Plank (OMG, Planks are difficult again! Love that....).   They performed the given exercise and then switched stations.  First time through, everyone did up/down waves with the ropes, the 2nd time through side to side waves, and the final time through alternating waves.   

The battling rope was a huge hit and they liked the variety - so - I am certain it will be appearing in future workouts - everyone left in need of a shower, but smiling too.   That's what we're after!


The Attitude Adjuster Kettlebell Workout

If you've followed this site for even a short period of time, you know how much I focus on form, and the constant improvement thereof.  Today was no exception, this was a collection of a few ideas from various places (the dead Swing I-go-you-go ladder was inspired by the Chicago RKC this past year).   This workout mainly focuses on the total basics - swings and get ups, with a small variety circuit.

We began with a solid joint mobility warmup, ours is a blend of moves from the classic Dragon Door DVD Super Joints, and the warm ups presented at the RKC and HKC workshops.

After that, we did a few warm up swings with a moderate or "regular" kettlebell - (choices were 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 24kg).   Next, everyone either kept their "regular" kettlebell or chose one slightly heavier (this next drill is actually a really fun one to go towards very heavy with...).  We split into 2 groups, they did small ladders of dead swings aka "start-stop" swings.     This type of Swing requires that you re-hike and reset on every Swing.  It's great for practicing a proper hike of the kettlebell and the control and deceleration at the end of the Swing.   These are two things that people sometimes neglect - and while they can sometimes "get away" with doing that with a light or moderate kettlebell - cheating the hike or deceleration of a heavy kettlebell just simply DOES NOT WORK.   So get in a good habit by practicing start stop swings every now and then.   As Pavel would say lift a light weight like it's heavy and a heavy weight as if it's light.  

We did 5 rounds of the following:

Try and repeat straight through (but be safe)

Next we practiced get ups, with moderate to light weight kettlebells, 5 per side (alternate), being sure to slightly pause at each of the 7 steps of the get up

A variety of kettlebells came out for the next part (the attitude adjuster - the inclusion of heavier than "normal" kettlebells seems to make everyone more confident, and break up some mental plateus) - 20 seconds of swings, 10 seconds rest/transition to the next station.  We did 8 rounds.   Our stations were:

2 8kg kettlebells, 2 12kg kettlebells, 1 16kg kettlebell, 1 24kg kettlebell, 1 36kg kettlebell, 14kg kettlebell  

If someone ended up with a kettlebell that was too heavy to Swing safely, they performed deadlifts instead.  Double kettlebell swings were encouraged, but not required - and some people chose to do alternating 1 arm swings for variety.   1-2 times through is a LOT of fun - the short intervals allow for low pressure on trying just a couple heavy swings if someone is ready.

Finally we change it up a bit with 2-3 rounds of a small circuit.  Set your Gymboss or other timer for 45 seconds (work) and 30 seconds (rest) and grab kettlebell you can press 5-8 times comfortably:

We practiced the balancing fun of t-push ups, basically exploring that movement for just a few moments.   Then ended class with joint mobility and carrying all that stuff back to the storage area!

The Great Outdoors... A Stacking Workout Circuit

Should issue a warning to my friends/workout partners and small group whenever I start reading about things like SEALFIT or am in the early chapters of Lone Survivor and learning all about what those guys go through in Indoc and BUD/S etc.   It warps my own sensibility in terms of "difficulty" when I push myself through a challenge.  Now, there's this terrible little voice in the back of my head saying stuff like "Tired? Seriously? You're not getting sprayed with water or covered in sand!  This is NOTHING!"  While it's definitely not NOTHING, and our intermediate/advanced circuits are nothing to sneeze at, it's a good reality check too.  A recalibration of self-awareness, some serious inspiration, and hopefully a little bit of leveling up.   Similarly it's fun to look back both as an enthusiast and as an instructor to think about how much more I can do and teach now as opposed to just a few years ago.

It's also fun to think about how long I've been able to sustain and enjoy this kind of lifestyle... and it's wonderful anti-aging effects (at least from what I can tell) on body and mind.   I've been thinking a lot about trying to find the point or the transition point where the "lifestyle" became self-sustaining, and no longer a struggle... mainly to help describe that for others.   Yesterday on a call with Helder Gomes (we were recording some podcast audio for you) we talked a little about how important it is to define and determine your reason for wanting to be fit.  This was echoing a previous conversation with a friend who was questioning her own "why" in regards to a particular type of training.

Long story short, in order to work for the long term, what you are doing and why you are doing it has to work for you.  The good news is, "what and why" are never carved in stone.   We evolve, change etc.  Never forget that changing one's mind isn't a crime... and sometimes things run their course and need to be adjusted.  It's all good in this not-so-black-and-white world of ours... especially when dealing with the multi-variable, multi-dimensional things known as the human mind and body!!! Your training is about you. Period. Life is too short to play along with someone else just because of peer pressure or fast talking.  What is the training that you love and that serves you best? Do that.   Sure, not every exercise that I personally practice is my favorite, and there are some things I have to "make" myself do, but the REASON I do them is so worthwhile to me that it isn't much of an issue at all.   Popular media doesn't necessarily encourage us to spend time in introspection, which is all the more reason to do it.  Find your "why" and find your "what." It's fun and inspiring.  

Helder talks a lot about being prepared, I agree with that concept too.  Possibly because I've heard the same refrain from my Dad (an Eagle Scout as is Helder) when I was growing up.  So yes, if I travel there's some extra items I always have with me, a couple bandaids (that came in handy recently), some antiseptic, a tiny needle/thread set, some chocolate, etc.  Nothing major, but all of these items have helped make trips easy, worry free, and more comfortable--effortlessly.  I like the idea of being "good to go" for just about anything at anytime, I won't be missing out on any adventures because I'm too tired, too weak, or unprepared in some preventable way.   That's motivating.

So with that in mind, the following circuit was created for a friend who wants to be fully ready to take advantage of an adventurous outdoor vacation where anything goes--in high altitude too.   Since we don't have hills in Florida (at least not around here) we made due with creating a small running "trail" that involved the 2 sides of a very dried up, somewhat steep retention pond.  Part of the challenge was maintaining speed while dealing with the soft, shifting, sandy ground in places, and jumping over the occasional ant hill.   Again, not something I'd do with a class... but a whole lot of fun with someone who's ready.   The circuit also involved "stacking":

After a joint mobility warm-up, some small tests to determine max # of pull-up reps we each could do (calibrating another project), and some general climbing around on things.... We took minimum rests while completing the stacking circuit below:

First Round:

Second Round:

Third Round:

Fourth Round:

Fifth Round:


We finished up with some various moderately heavy swings and explorations of the pressing pattern... then of course joint mobility and some surprise fresh organic watermelon!  WIN WIN!

The Power of Simple At-Home Workouts... Example: Sandbag and Pull Up Bar

At home workouts can be super challenging, here's a cool one

Impatient people can click here to skip to the workout and video

A pattern I've seen for years (and have also personally experienced) is that the more advanced you get, the less you really need. While there's always a seemingly human-nature-fueled thirst for gadgets and gizmos, and while new stuff can be motivating and a lot of fun (and I certainly have a first class collection of workout goods) it's important to remember that we can do a whole lot with less, or next to nothing. I can remember a time when I thought I needed specially timed meals, protein shakes and a whole gym full of machines and treadmills to be in shape. Of course the funny part was I always felt like I was still missing something--no matter how many "for women" fitness articles (and watch out, guys... there's plenty of goofiness in your media too) I read or how many times I tried the polite pretty workouts contained within.

Often the photos were more about selling clothes or a fictitious lifestyle than teaching people how to get fit. Those were not tutorials, they were modeling spreads. Until I knew any better I kept thinking, "Well I guess nothing works" because I wasn't getting the results I wanted from these needlessly complex, time-wasting and still somehow lightweight workouts. Little did I know that I could have been getting a great workout at home with just bodyweight instead of going through a long boring series of weight machines doing 3 sets of 12 reps on each.  I remember once I had actually worked up to moving a full stack on one of these machines... which was supposed to be a "butt toner". So here I was, totally able to move the whole stack of something like 180lbs (with one foot) and yet I still was not getting real results. I knew something just wasn't right.  And the terrible mainstream pop music blaring in the air sure wasn't right either.  YIPES!

Fortunately I learned about kettlebells, and even more fortunately I found an RKC instructor to teach me. In 2008-2009, what I thought I knew about kettlebells (I thought I had taught myself well) was generally in the right direction, but ultimately all wrong.

I remember coming back from that first session knowing that I had reached a very important crossroad.  I could start over and learn things correctly, fix my movement patterns, and eventually get back to lifting what I was lifting (which I thought was a lot at that the time). It's funny to think back to what I thought was "heavy" back then... it wasn't, especially not compared to now... I mean I could do about 5 decent pull ups, but didnt know I could be using my whole body to do so, and I would also balk at the idea of swinging a 32lb kettlebell.  Actually I should try to find a picture from just after that time for you, it's very funny, because I have my old dreadlock hairdo and am obviously completely freaked out by the fact that I'm swinging a 32lb kettlebell.  I Swing the beast now and I really hope they bring at least one or two of the new 60kg "Monster" kettlebells to the Health and Strength Conference so I can try to get it in the air.  

But I digress. I thought I knew it all just from a couple of (at least I got the right ones) DVDs, and online articles.  Literally, I had to "get over myself" which is something you always hear people say to each other with terrible results. Coming from a technology and self-taught ___just name it__ background (the range of things I've learned from library books is surprising... includes how to use a wood lathe and how to anodize reactive metals back in the day) this was a surprisingly tough thing to deal with.  These days many people think that a couple google searches somehow makes them an "expert" on any given topic, at least I'd given it about a year of my own study... and thankfully hadn't picked up TOO many bad habits.  I did have to unlearn a lot.  BUT, as much as this might have damaged my already ailing ego (long story) at the time, I knew that it must be done.  I was hitting plateaus too often, and there was always that nagging idea that something was missing.

Working with then-RKC Tim Shuman helped me get that all straightened out. Not a lot of people want to or are willing to train this way and it's a shame. Modern humans seem to want instant gratification, yet the real value and transformative powers of the kettlebell and bodyweight training only really come out with practice over time, and by actually having to use your brain. Before you tell yourself that you'll just learn it from a youtube video or a couple google searches, ask yourself how many know-it-alls in your life have actually accomplished what it is they profess to know so well? Do they exhibit actual success in their life? Or are they just over there giving you unsolicited, often harmful, discouraging advice? Over lunch last week, a friend of mine from school and I both lamented that "acquiring actual skills" seems to have fallen more out of favor with the mainstream (if it was ever really there in the first place).

Mainstream methods yield mainstream results... I don't know about you, but I am not content with "good enough" when it comes to my health and fitness. This is why its very easy for me to NOT eat crummy junk food or sugary sweets (though too much sugar has always repelled me a little).  The concept of "oh well you know you gotta eat cupcakes, drink wine/beer, and watch tv because that's what everyone does" does not fly with me (substitute whatever with cupcakes, wine/beer, and tv with whatever is relevant).  A long time ago, a friend looked in my kitchen cabinet, wrinkled her nose and said, "Don't you have any normal-people food?!" I said, "Do you see any normal people living here?"

I don't care about what's trending, I care about what works.

And now for a "get off my lawn" moment.  Hurrrrrrrrrr. For some folks of my generation the phrase "trendy" "trend" etc. has a negative connotation. To use it means "faddish" or just something that everyone is mindlessly going along with and that will disappear soon enough.  There was even a cd compilation series that was aimed at us called "Never Mind the Mainstream" and while it was ironically put out by MTV, that phrase is still pretty relevant when you might be evaluating some new possibly goofy thing that like OMG all the celebrities are doing omgggggg.  Do what works. Never mind the mainstream. 

What's so awesome about bodyweight exercises, certain martial arts practices (Tai Chi and Systema especially come to mind), kettlebells, sandbags, and basic lifts is that you can do them for your whole life!  Do you think anyone is still using their "thighmaster" religiously every day?  Yeah I didn't think so either.

Enough of this navel-gazing here's a fun combo I was playing with recently.  It's so great to realize I can just work out at home with some of my simple gear or really nothing at all!  But because I have a pull up bar and an Ultimate Sandbag Strength package handy, I decided to use those. 

In case you don't want to watch the whole thing (hey, it's short!) here's what's up:

After warm up and mobility I do 5 rounds of:

I may do a short chore (match up a couple pairs of socks, or rinse out a dish) between rounds.  That's it!  While this isn't the greatest thing to do every day, if I find myself at the end of the day with extra energy, or in the middle of the day feeling antsy, this is one of MANY of my "go to" workouts.

Here's what it looks like and an explanation of the 1.5 pull up:

Remember, no matter where you are and what you do or do NOT have with you, there's always a workout you can do! If there's one big lesson you can take from the PCC or Convict Conditioning, then that's it!

The Scorcher: a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

For whatever reason it seemed like we all had a bit of extra energy to burn off this week, so I planned a real fun one.  Part challenge, part skills, part mobility, with a little extra dose of extreme cardio (it is if the kettlebell swings are heavy enough).  I am super proud to report that my little band of kettlebell buddies are so advanced at this point that everyone who showed up on Tuesday did their heavy swings with the 32kg. And we ONLY do legit swings on my watch, so the amount of sheer power generated by this small training group is very off the charts.

I really can't brag on them enough -- they're a force of nature at this point. We work out in a very private gym, so they're really kind of in a vacuum.  The frame of reference is very skewed, but when one went on vacation and was pretty much unstoppable at high altitudes, then the idea started sinking in, "I'm able to do more now in my 30s than ever before..."

The same is true for me.  The other day I was giving myself a hard time about some arbitrary metric I'd set for myself and took a step back.  These "problems" are a blessing to have.  While preparing for an RKC-II recert recently it was very fun to reflect on how all this started (you can find the now-somewhat-embarrassing detailed account of my very first RKC workshop on this site under "workshop experiences" an area that is in drastic need of updating!) and how much progress has happened since 2010.  Some of it is physical, most is confidence. So, if someone has told you that it's too late for you to make a healthy change, or that "it all falls apart after thirty" I can tell you with complete confidence that neither of those situations are true.  OK!  Enough babbling!

Enter the Scorcher:

We began with a simple joint mobility warm up, followed by the Trifecta from CC2. To complete the warm up, we did 50 2-hand continuous swings with what I'd call a "moderately heavy" kettlebell (for me that's about 18-20kg).  Following that we did some fingertip push up HOLDS (From the knees or the feet, be safe!  I did these from the knees and that was plenty).

First circuit was "on your own time" four rounds of:

Second circuit "on your own time" five rounds of:

Finally, a little timed circuit 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest/transition (we did 3 rounds):

Last we did our Primal Move cooldown and a little bit of troubleshooting too.

After you saw us, you might of thought we had worked out outside in the 95 degree heat!

The Thundergod Workout - for Kettlebells and Optional Sandbag

This is a fun one - earlier it was storming outside and that inspired me to write up a workout for the small group that would keep us off of the potentially wet ground - and well - to keep the kettlebells low (remind me to tell you a story about this time I was practicing kettlebell snatches and the timing of a far off clap of thunder...) Anyhow, back to our workout...


You may wish to have a few kettlebells of different sizes available - I put out a full selection for my small group today - 8kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg so that they could adjust as necessary, or as I suggest (HEY! That's too easy for you! or WOAH put that down it's throwing off your form! Use good judgement - some old wise friends of mine used to say - if you've got something to prove you'll wind up in 1 of 2 places - jail or the hospital.)


Always start with your favorite joint mobility exercises - and a few that AREN'T your favorite too - since those are probably the ones you really need to be doing.  Warm up with 20 kettlebell swings with a moderate kettlebell - THEN.... grab a heavier kettlebell and knock out the following with your best form:

Repeat the following 3 times:


Thundergod circuit!  Repeat 3-4 times best form and best time - rest as necessary

Finish up with some random fun - we revisited kettlebell carries at the Ageless Body Workshop this past weekend - and so of course we did those in class today - I'll write more in detail about it but suffice it to say - if you want to get some crazy rhomboids like mine (pull ups and farmers walks are the secret) add in some farmers walks.   Make sure to keep your shoulders down and back, squeezing the scapula together, stabilize your abdominals and keep your shoulders squared up.

Finish up with joint mobility.


The Wanderer... Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

It's no secret that I'm nuts about the Convict Conditioning series of books and DVDs from Dragon Door - and of course totally hooked on kettlebell training too.   Here's an example of a fairly (you can adjust the difficulty to meet your own needs) advanced workout that involves a great deal of variety.   The real fun is derived from it's variability - it can adapt to whatever step you're working on with your bodyweight exercises.

Of course, always warm up with some joint mobility exercises and a few kettlebell swings.  

This workout was originally designed for a moderate kettlebell and rather heavy kettlebell.  Choose wisely when considering what that means for you.

Part 1:

Three Rounds Of:

Something I didn't tell you is that we carried the moderate weight kettlebells to a nearby park and back for this part, so that some of the participants could use the benches for box-pistols.  If you aren't wandering around in search of "found" gym equipment, consider some farmers walks at the beginning.

Part 2:

Handstand and bridge practice 2-4 rounds of:

Then we performed a few of our favorite pump stretches and walked back to where the heavy kettlebells are - and finished up with:

5 sets of:

We finished up with a few practice mace swings for fun, and of course our favorite joint mobility.


This Workout REALLY Made Us Eat a BIG Dinner...

It was really "one of those weeks" last week and I used that as an excuse to justify shoving a sled around for what happened to be 3 days in a row (I didn't realize it until now...).  Needless to say I was feeling very good in some respects for doing that, and was as always taking dinner very seriously. One of my advanced small group members was up for an extra "partner challenge" so we did this VERY MUCH inspired by Zach Even-Esh's The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning circuit workout together.  It's reasonably scaleable (let me know if you'd like more specifics on that in the comment section below). 

In this relaxed state I often think up the most intense workouts.  (The "chill out chair" is a fun take-away I found out about from the Salt Room--click here for blog post about it.  It's a so-called "Zero Gravity Lounger" and usually lives folded up under the couch.  I take it out for chill out time, reading time, and occasionally movie watching.  Sure it looks funny, but you'll stop laughing when you try one.  This particular model is from Amazon and most of the negative reviews are from people who have used them as an actual pool deck chair.  Considering this one will probably never go outside, I wasn't worried about it rusting.)

Some of this circuit got intense QUICK...

We warmed up with some Primal Move and the Convict Conditioning Vol2 Trifecta then after I made sure we were both on the same page with all the exercises (and possible substitutions) we got right into it with FIVE rounds of:

Cooldown with some farmer's walks and then a little mobility work.

At home I "invented" a paleo ground-lamb and cauliflower based shepherd's pie which I will share with you after standardizing the recipe (this was entirely made from leftovers: ground lamb cooked the night before, pulverized cauliflower mash, roast root veggies, and pre-carmelized onions.  Come to think of it, I should share all those recipes then link them to what you can make from the leftovers... the shepherd's pie! If there's just one or two under your roof, this might be a new favorite approach.)

*It's a lead-up drill to some more advanced RKC-II kettlebell activities, but for some reason I've taken to using it in our small group when the "old timers" are present.  Clean two kettlebells, keep them in the rack position.  Squat, then as you stand up, allow the momentum and power driving up from the ground starting though your heels to carry through and get those kettlebells overhead.  This isn't an "arm or shoulder exercise", the arms are just transferring the power from your legs.  This full body combo really works a lot at once, especially as a part of our little evil circuit above.  Do not attempt that drill without proper coaching or experience, it's difficult and requires intense immense core strength too.  It will also make you work up a MASSIVE appetite for some reason!

**My workout partner works as a systems administrator, and as a fellow "old timer" in that field, we have a lot to rant about... mostly to do with faster computers not being all that fast because of operating systems designed with needless animations, and bells&whistles we think are unnecessary annoyances.  LOL!!! GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.  So we take it out on the sled! RARRRRRRRRRR!!!!

Tough Love for the Kettlebell Clean Part TWO - a Practice Workout

Having just returned from the San Diego RKC, I had plenty of scribbled notes, new cues, and fun combos for my kettlebell small group class... and don't worry, Wednesday people, your time is coming! :)

One of the TOUGHEST kettlebell exercises to learn and to teach can be the clean.  But, it's incredibly worthwhile to persist with it, even though it can be frustrating.   I like to sandwich it into a workout to make sure the practice stays true without excessive frustration.

We started today's workout with a Primal Move inspired warm up,a few deadlifts and swings.  Moderate to light kettlebells were chosen so we could focus on our form.  

We then reviewed the cheat clean, the dead clean, and interpersed practice of these drills with dead swings.   The practice session continued with this combo inspired by the San Diego RKC Grad Workout (I changed it up a little bit... at the cert, the purpose for the workout was different, and a bit higher intensity) :

Repeat for 3 rounds

Next we took turns trying various bodyweight moves on the parallettes - participants NOT on the paralettes practiced 2 hand kettlebell swings with a variety of kettlebells, or practiced basic mobility moves.

After a brief break, we reviewed the long press, and made sure to do some very good single kettlebell reps on each side. (This is advanced class day, and they are working towards push presses)

And of course... more swings (2 hand, 1 hand, alternating 1 hand!), some super strict RKC style planks and a Primal Move cool down...


In my personal life, there are a lot of very cool things coming up, and because my mental and physical performance is absolutely critical with them (and because I want to finish writing a few special books for you), I'm considering a sort of "challenge" to make it all happen.   Ultimately (and if it can be figured out before the 1st of next month) it might be something that YOU might want to do too!  It'll be a challenge focused on AWESOME STUFF, btw... no goody two shoes deprivation nonsense.


What are parallettes? Check them out!  These were custom made by Ryan Pitts of

And for the curious, here's the other Tough Love for the Kettlebell Clean post

Turn Up the HEAT! Sissy Challenge Revisited a Short but TOUGH Workout

Turn Up the HEAT kettlebell workout from

Working from home is great if you have the personality for it. I'm very grateful to have been able to have this level of autonomy for such a long time. If we want to get technical, I've been in charge of my own schedule for the past 17 years (remember, I'm 40 and all) as an entrepreneur, consultant, and fitness instructor. A great trick to have up your sleeve no matter where you work is a quick, intense, nasty little workout that will get a whole lot done in a short period of time. Kettlebells are especially suited to this kind of activity.

Way back in 2011, I met a couple of people at my first ever RKC-II workshop in St. Paul Minnesota. Unfortunately their website seems to be defunct now, but they used to hold this contest called the Sissy Challenge. It was essentially doing a twisted (and how twisted it is) ladder of 25 kettlebell swings and 25 burpees.

25 swings, 1 burpee,
24 swings, 2 burpees,
23 swings, 3 burpees,
... keep going down to ...
2 swings, 24 burpees
1 Swing, 25 burpees

Told you it was N A S T Y. Psychologically you might think you're making progress as the number of swings declines, but ohhh what a mean mean lesson... those burpees add up super duper quick.

Here's my original post about it, and I remember first trying it in a friend's backyard in the middle of a hot Florida summer... after my face turned purple, my friend stopped her gardening and came over to see if I was actually ok... Don't do this in the summer outside in Florida, ok? At the least you'll scare your friends, at the worst, you might keel over.

As originally written with 25 swings and 25 burpees, this workout is really best for people who are super solid in their kettlebell swings and have the necessary proprioception and abdominal stability to pull off a whole heck of a lot of burpees while protecting the lower back etc. It is also essential to "know thyself" and know when to take a break and walk around some.

All of that being said, ever since 2011, I've made use of several modified versions of this twisted ladder Swing/burpee pattern for other situations. First of all, you can easily vary the intensity of the swings by choosing heavier or lighter kettlebells. Remember, whatever you choose, make sure that it's a kettlebell you can Swing with excellent form.

When working with a small group, or if I have a particularly motivated and competitive client who wants a quick workout they can use at home, I offer the following variations:

Go for 10 reps. To be honest, I do this version myself at home whole lot for a quick high intensity cardio hit if I need to get rolling for a tough computer-heavy day. I may do the 10 rep version earlier in the day and then do a more raw strength or skill workout later in the day.

You can also swap out the burpees for sprawls (burpees with no push up and no jump) or remove the jump from your burpees. These variations are great for less conditioned folks or if you're using push-ups, advanced push-ups, and or plyometrics in your main workout and don't want to burn them out during burpees time.

As I discovered just now, the following 10 rep version (that's one of my absolute favorites to do with a 24kg kettlebell at home) can raise the temperature a little in the living room. It's now a toasty 68 degrees in here and I didn't do that by turning on the heater. And because it's me, and the reps were low I did these with very strict burpees with a full, strict push up and high jump (well, the jumps started high)

10 24kg kettlebell swings, 1 burpee
9 24kg kettlebell swings, 2 burpees
8 24kg kettlebell swings, 3 burpees
... all the way down to ...
1 24kg kettlebell swings, 10 burpees

When doing the 10 rep version I try to do it straight through (though I do take about 2-3 short water breaks). It makes it a fast, gnarly, little high intensity cardio workout. It also clocks in at a total of 55 swings and 55 burpees. While there are more swings in my plan for the day, I feel very happy with the cardio challenge.

Variation on Program Minimum

We have more beginners at the Friday 6pm class here in Winter Park, so its a great day to focus on the basics (which is really something on which EVERYONE should be focusing).  Since everyone could stand to review and continue to progress with their basic kettlebell Swing and get up, I designed a very basic plan using a variation of the Enter the Kettlebell program minimum as presented by Dan John on a forum (will try to remember which one!).  Here's what we did:


Joint Mobility Warm Up then....

In 10 minutes as many rounds as possible with PERFECT form, or striving towards it - this is never a race:

Brief rest/water

10 minutes kettlebell swings 30 seconds swings, 30 seconds rest

Brief rest/water

10 minutes Get Ups (with or without kettlebell - beginners used bodyweight only) alternating sides 1/1

Cooldown, Q+A, Joint Mobility

Basic but effective!



We *Can* Stand the Heat.... Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

It's been a crazy few weeks... full tilt.  If you noticed for a while there I was kind of collecting selfies with people you may know from the underground strength and conditioning world... then I came back home and hit the writing-ground-running so hard that one of my neighbors actually said, "Oh you're still here!? Good!! I thought you moved away!"  Oops.  In reality, I had changed up the schedule a little bit and hadn't seen her and her dog as much because of it, but still yes. VERY full tilt over here, and soon there will be a whole lot to show for it. 

YAY pistols! (with 10lb Hyperwear weight vest)
Pistols aka one leg squats performed with a 10lb Hyperwear Weight Vest

In the mean time, even though I'd been exercise snacking with some skill work, a near-max of 12 dead hang, no thumbs pull-up reps (staying on the bar the whole time... shouldn't have to specify that, but in this internet age you know how that goes.  For reference my all time PR for that is 13-14 reps and I plan to exceed that shortly), and various other fun things (playing with the Neuro-Grips in an attempt to nail down an L-sit with them).  BUT... given a brain-heavy week and a new battery in my Under Armour Armour39 HRM, it was time to burn off some cobwebs and tear it up a bit.

Summer is officially upon us (in Florida...) so we waited until after 8PM as it began to dip under 90 degrees at that point and some of you already know how I feel about the sun... LOL.

That aside, there's a nice little "fit trail" in College Park which has a perfect portion of sidewalk next to a set of double pull up bars.  This advanced workout was designed for that kind of set up, and also seems to really get my heart rate up in portions.  Kettlebells chosen were the ones used in the RKC certification testing... so for me right now (130lbs or so) that means a 14kg kettlebell

The other reason for the somewhat maximal/nearly all-out nature of this workout was that I was planning to continue shredding through work this weekend and punctuate it only with meals, exercise snacks, slacklining, and bodyweight skill work.  It's different for everyone, but I find if I start out a heavy work time with an all out workout the day before then my brain just seems to work a little better.  Find what works for you though... we're all different in some respects :)

An advanced friend and I started out with a Primal Move warm-up, the Trifecta from Convict Conditioning Vol 2 then....

Using that somewhat-light-for-swings test weight kettlebell, 100 1-arm swings in a row (I just did 20 r, 20 l, 20 r, 20 l, 10r, 10l because it was easy to count...) without putting it down as a little warm up.

Next we practiced pull-ups (improvise to work at your level) and pistols at our respective levels:

Three Rounds Of:
Me: 6 Dead Hang Pull Ups, 6 pistols each side (last roud I did 3r, 3l, 3r, 3l)
Friend: 1 Dead Hang Pull Up and VERY long flex hang, Assisted Pistol Practice (with pole as needed).

Oops. I got so excited about pull ups and pistols that I forgot the 3rd component of that circuit so we just did them on their own: I go you go style:
3 sets of 10-20 Hanging knee raises or hanging leg raises.

Then it was time for the cobweb killer:
10 snatches per side, then a sprint/run/jog/stagger out and back to a point approx 50 yards down the sidewalk.  

We start this type of combination in a staggered way so that someone can always be "with our stuff".  And I've found that this distance tends to match up well enough to keep the tag-team concept going.

Five rounds of this 20 snatches then running = 100 snatches and a lot more running than I can usually be tricked into doing.  The SAID Principle was certainly in effect for me as I could feel myself actually RECOVER during snatches as opposed to the running. LOL!

Considering it was now pitch black outside, we decided to end with some Primal Move (ramping down from more intense to less intense) and called it a night.

Here's an older article about other ways to use a fit trail at your park in different ways

Wednesday's Wicked Circuits - Kettlebell and Optional TRX Workout

Another drizzly day yesterday, similar to the one which inspired the Hanging Gardens of Babylon Workout some weeks ago.  Which the participants really seemed to enjoy - one even requested "more workouts like that one!"   For whatever reason, my group seems to like circuit workouts that require them to move through a few different "stations"   We bring out a large assortment of kettlebells, a big piece of indoor-outdoor carpet (thanks, Costco!), a TRX (which is great for a mixed level group like mine, everyone can make the necessary adjustments by varying their angle, foot position, etc. quickly).   Since my participants seem to lose their short term memory quickly (things get intense, what can I say? quotes like "omg I can feel the fat burning off of me right now aaaaa!" are often heard.) I decided to write the exercises on these bright yellow notecards which also denoted each station.   Amusingly enough, it didn't seem to help much - but what can I say, we're an intense group and I suspect SOME of them ask an extra question or two to get a few more precious seconds of rest.   (I've been onto you for a couple months, guys.... sorry.)  Enough babbling.  


Grab your usual kettlebell and if you wish, one heavier and one lighter than usual to scale up or down as needed.  Also necessary, your Gymboss Timer or a stopwatch, and if you've got it - a TRX Suspension Trainer (alternative exercises are included below)


Warm up with Joint Mobility and a few swings - 10-20 with your moderate kettlebell.

First Circuit - spend 1 minute at each station, SAFELY doing your best - stop and rest when your exercise form begins to suffer.  Walk around and keep moving!  You have 15 seconds to switch between stations, so stay alert.

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times depending on your abilities and time available then.... move on to circuit 2! 

Again, 1 minute at each "station" and with 15 seconds to switch.

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times again depending on your ability and available time.

Cool down with some mindful Get Up practice (light or no weight if you wish) and joint mobility.


Always remember to manage your fatigue by continuing to move around during the rest periods, as always, take extra rest if you need it.


*If performed correctly this is such a great almost full body exercise - and its REALLY FUN to do for some reason.

Weekend Kickoff Workout in the Carport

For the 2nd time this week, I've had sweat literally drip off of my face (nose and/or chin) onto the ground, usually there's plenty reason to perspire anyway, but it doesn't usually splash on the ground.  The first time this week was due to the beast Swing challenge initiated on facebook plus some Primal Move related crawling around afterwards. 

"Uncle Iron Tamer" came up with: "How Many Times Can You Swing the Beast Kettlebell in 30 minutes"  I scaled it down due to some other Convict Conditioning related things I had to do - plus... I didn't honestly want to Swing the beast kettlebell quite that much.   I shortened my version of the challenge down to 10 minutes, and was pleased to get a somewhat respectable 105 swings in... due to the humidity grip was quite an issue - to the point of which I had to get out the much-loathed chalk.  RKCs from all over participated in one way or another and posted their comments, rep numbers etc. in various places on facebook, so that was a whole lot of fun really.   I love swinging the beast - I only outweigh it by about 20lbs, so anything else I Swing after it feels like it's made of styrofoam.


Yes, it's been incredibly humid here in Central Florida, but... that's not an excuse to skip working out.  Obviously.   The questionable weather is also no excuse... hence the carport workout.    The building's beams, poles, and i-beam ridge on the bottom of the staircase provide some great additions as well.   Remember, when using found structures for your workouts (no matter what they are) always check them for stability, strength, safety, etc.   I also make sure that there's no extraneous grunge or poisonous spiders lurking.  

Normally I don't have a class on Friday, it's become a (weather permitting in the soft grass) group Primal Move practice day, or when the ground is muddy or, the weather threatening, a sort of challenge workout day.   And it gets ADVANCED, but a lot of learning and discovery seems to happen at these times—for everyone involved, and we make sure to always keep it safe.

Here's what happened today (with less intense alternatives in brackets, when in doubt, go lighter, don't be silly)

Joint Mobility Warmup, 20 2 hand swings to continue the warm up

4 Rounds of:

After a short rest and incoherent babbling we moved onto a final circuit:

3 rounds of:

We ended our session with Joint Mobility and a WHOLE LOT of water.   And I should probably rinse out the carport tomorrow...

Woozy Caveman Wednesday... Simple Does NOT Equal Easy

Brutal heat and humidity today.... a few participants left looking like we'd had a water balloon fight and not a workout....  I'm serious.

Begin with a joint mobility warmup - ours uses a lot of the great drills from Super Joints.

Use a kettlebell that's heaver (a little or a lot!) than your usual :)

First circuit - Repeat 3 times

Part 2 (still using heavier kettlebell)

Part 3 - repeat at least twice :)

Cool down and joint mobility...

Workout Wednesday with a Kettlebell Technique Tune Up, Workout and Single Kettlebell Combination!

Workout Wednesday #WorkoutWednesday

So... it's "Workout Wednesday" all around the internet... or at least that's what the popular Twitter hashtag would have us believe.  All of YOU know that we don't just work out on Wednesday, but hey... its a good enough day as any to talk about it.  And we certainly have a lot of fun things to talk about today!

First of all, if you haven't already checked out the new RKC Blog Post today from Senior RKC Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner (who is actually a really mellow dude... despite that nickname) then go do that right now by clicking here.  He's also included a neat video.  Not content to do things as they are written, I took what he had there and made it into a special workout for my small group, who like every collection of human beings (myself included) could always stand to work on and practice the kettlebell snatch. Steve uses a couple of nerdy metaphors, one of which is from the 1984 classic movie The Karate Kid.  Yes, I did jokingly say "Very good, Daniel-san!" to someone in class. And yes they did laugh. Fortunately I made sure to say this when they were NOT holding a kettlebell.  Safely first, people, safety first.

SO! Now that you are back from reading Steve's blog and watching his video, this next part should make perfect sense to you!  Here's the version we did to really drill down with our technique while getting a great workout at the same time:

We warmed up with some joint mobility then got right into a warm up circuit to get us into the right mental state for Steve's plan...

Timed Circuit, 8 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest... remember "where you are" in the sequence so you can keep going after the rest time is over (use a moderate kettlebell, I used one size up from what I'd be required to use for an RKC snatch test, so for me that means 16kg):

After that I explained Steve's cool "paint the fence" drill and we practiced that a little while enjoying some water, taking a break.  Then everyone selected a "reasonably heavy" kettlebell (for small, highly trained women this means something like 24kg+, but whatever is comfortable, but also heavy enough to really make you work on low reps!) and a kettlebell that was either appropriate for their level, or the one they'd use in a kettlebell snatch test situation. Here's more about dead swings, aka "dead stop swings" in case you need a refresher! We did two rounds of Steve's circuit, adding the "paint the fence" drill in at the end:

Next we did a "fun" variation of the plank row using ONE kettlebell (this gave the added challenge of an uneven push up!) Push up position, but with one hand on the snatch test size kettlebell, do a push up, then (with feet spaced wide if you need to) do a row with that same kettlebell.  That's one rep for that side.

We did a descending ladder:
5 on the right, 5 on the left
4 on the right, 4 on the left
...all the way down to...
1 on the right, 1 on the left

We ended with some heavy kettlebell carries, rack position right, then rack position left, then one hand at a time farmers walks.

Joint mobility cool down and we all rushed off for showers and dinner!!!!!

As promised here's another small combo that you can do with a kettlebell. It's also a video that I recorded when I was in Providience, RI this past weekend.
Be on the look out for MORE new videos! I recorded a ton -- the cool crisp air and overcast weather were awesome!

Hodge Podge! Hot N Heavy Workout, a Link to 533 Photos from the PCC and 12 Seconds of Coffee Break

Super hot outside and during yesterday's "walking errands" much fun and adventure was had. Check in on my Instagram account to see some weird trees, a mutant cardboard creature and other relevant items. In other news... The PCCProgressive Calisthenics Certification Workshop Photos are LIVE!!!!! Dragon Door posted all 533 photos from the recent PCC workshop we had in St. Paul, MN -- check it all out on Facebook! And LIKE the Dragon Door page if you haven't already, lots of good things happening there. Likewise it appears the SLEEPING Dragon Door on Twitter has awoken, so follow there too!

Hot and Heavy - a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout... nearly rained out, but we moved it to under the building! HURRAH!!!!!

We warmed up with Primal Move then..
5 minutes of practicing alternating kettlebell get ups. 
Before scrambling to throw everything back into the big garden wagon (capacity 700lbs) and team push/pulling it. (you can skip this part if it does not rain on you.)

Everyone grabbed a heavy kettlebell and a lighter kettlebell for this circuit (example: one strong lady participant had a 22kg and a 14kg at her immediate disposal)

3 Rounds of 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest/transition (for a slightly "easier" time 30seconds on 30 seconds rest can work too... always active moving rest.  ALWAYS)

Following a rest and a whole lot of water, and being very thankful for the bottle of natural bug repellent a local merchant (more on them soon) loaned me... we proceeded.

Finally we finished up with some joint mobility, handstand practice, and getting some folks closer to a 1 arm handstand for fun.  Good times!!!

Here's a snack from earlier:

As promised...  12 seconds of coffeebreak, and my fun but not so willing barista (you are a good sport, and I appreciate that) making a very fabulous iced Americano, which is something I was previously snobby about, but like now.  It was over 90 degrees out today for gosh sakes... Make sure you listen to the sound on the two videos, it's very silly.

Other goofball things that happen throughout the day - this was before they let me taste test 8 different local hot sauces (all of which were very good, and 2 of which are still in the prototype phase) Here's 12 seconds of what happens when I go on a break... Part 1: Part 2:

*Frog hops as demonstrated by the Man of Steel himself!

Kettlebell Workout Inspired by the Chicago RKC Workshop

RKC Workshops are ALWAYS inspiring - even if you're there running around as a sober theoretical lovechild of Barbara Walters and Hunter S. Thompson. (I was interviewing people at the event - which was a fantastic experience I hope to repeat).    During a few moments of resting/observation/backing up files to my computer I managed to catch a few of the lectures and brought home a little "recap workout" for my Winter Park Kettlebell Small Group.  


Have you tried the "Dead Swing" aka the "athletic Swing"  the "hardstyle" Swing?  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please check out this cool new DVD from Mark and Tracy Reifkind (husband and wife RKC team!): Mastering the Hardstyle Swing: The Ultimate Exercise for Fat Loss, High-Yield Cardio and Explosive Power (review forthcoming - the program is over 3hrs long and I want to make sure I dish on the details for you)


OK! On to the workout, after some joint mobility, I showed the guys how to do the dead Swing - basically you set the kettlebell down and re-hike before every Swing.  This was a great opportunity for us to work on our hikes, our hip hinges, and our flat back posture.  In Girya Girl's gym you don't get away with sloppy form... so practice makes perfect and this type of Swing is fantastic practice.   The group was split up into A and B - we did several "I go you go" ladders, taking minimal rest - when one group is swinging, the other is resting:

Repeat this cycle to suit the conditioning of your group - and once they know what they are doing, don't be afraid to make these HEAVY SWINGS.   Personally, I'm using it as an excuse to buy a couple more heavy kettlebells from Dragon Door, ASAP.  I've got a big guy in that group and would like to see him really challenged with these.


We then took a good solid 10 minutes to review and practice Get Ups both with and without moderate weight.


OK - this next part is very similar to the grad workout designed by the FIRST Beast Tamer EVER - Senior RKC, Shaun Cairns:

Choose a moderate to light-ish kettlebell - you're going for 6 rounds - try and do all of this straight through!

 Finish up with joint mobility and always make sure to get plenty of water!  ENJOY!


Trial Tabata Thursday....

Location is undisclosed at this point until papers are signed etc etc, but I was scoping out a new gym this past Thurs as a possible place to offer group classes, small group, and one on one training.   It's a non-traditional sort of gym and I get along well with the similarly non-traditional owners.   So - in addition to stopping in that morning I wanted to see what the "vibe" was like at a time that would theoretically be directly BEFORE one of my alleged classes.


WOW.  That's a seriously popular place where there's a lot of meaningful, productive practice going on.  No half-efforts going on in that gym - which is a really nice thing to see.   In the course of checking out the conditioning area I did a few somewhat random things, to test the space -

and because it was THURSDAY...

Tabata protocol - 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest - repeat for 4 minutes

First 4min Tabata: - one hand kettlebell swings, moderate weight (16kg for me), alternating work sets

2nd 4min Tabata: - one side at a time kettlebell clean and jerks, moderate weight (16kg), alternating work sets

Active "Rest" was wandering around to find a fan then idly flipping a tire they had out - seemed to be approx 250-300lbs, since it was a little more difficult than the small one at another local gym, but not so heavy that I had to put a knee up to flip it.

After that, some 5x5 strict tactical pull ups (was "light day" for pull ups) with a little wandering around between sets taking inventory of the place alternated with variations on the kettlebell pistol squat (working on them with the kettlebell in the rack position - which is really quite a bit of fun) Hope it works out with this gym there's a lot of potential for the kind of training that really gets the job done, and our goals/aesthetics are similar.   Climbing those ropes next time... absolutely... tempted to go there tomorrow to ah "scout" some more and ummm "test" those climbing ropes out - you know... to ummm "make sure they're ok" right????? :)

Variation on another Iron Tamer Idea....

Modified another great Master RKC David "Iron Tamer" Whitley idea to suit my small group kettlebell class tonight.  Grab your Gymboss timer and a moderately sized kettlebell for this one!


They did 3 rounds of the following:


Practice your Get Ups - at least 3 per side.   I then taught them the Viking Push Press and the Hollow Rock position.     What you could do is 30 seconds on 30 seconds off Viking Push Presses for 4-6 minutes - alternating arms.    Hold the Hollow Rock position for 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 2-5 minutes.



A Celebration of (Kettlebell) Swings

The Friday before Labor Day Weekend always seems to have everyone in a festive mood - that plus the amazingly good weather we had today - there was even a breeze!   We took a variety of kettlebells to the little grassy field: multiples of 24kg, 20kg, 16kg, 12kg.   One participant mis-heard me and treated himself to an extra "farmers" walk by going to the courtyard and not the field - we had fun hollaring and wondering where he was hiding -  he's stronger for it too. 


SO!  After doing your joint mobility warm up, we started in with the first timed circuit - choose a moderate kettlebell for this:

Repeat 3 times total

Now its time for 2 hand kettlebell swings - choose a heavy or heavy-ish kettlebell and go to town with your best form: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest - 5 rounds.

Rest as necessary then its "intermission time"

Choose a moderate kettlebell again for this circuit:

Repeat this circuit 3 times total.


20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest - 4 minutes total:

One hand swings, choose a moderate to light kettlebell and alternate hands on each work set (example: 20 one hand kettlebell swings right hand, 10 seconds rest, 20 one hand swings left hand, 10 seconds rest, repeat.)

Then - for as much time and as much energy as you have left (within reason) pair up with a partner for I-go-you-go short descending ladders of heavy goblet squats, when one person is squatting the other is resting:

Person 1: 3 kettlebell goblet squats, Person 2: 3 kettlebell goblet squats

Person 1: 2 kettlebell goblet squats, Person 2: 2 kettlebell goblet squats

Person 1: 1 kettlebell goblet squat, Person 2: 1 kettlebell goblet squat

Finish up with joint mobility (and in our cases, farmers walk back to store the kettlebells) and have a great weekend!


P.S. Those of you who chose to slack off and not show up today really missed out as this workout was specifically designed to work with newcomers as well as more advanced participants.  

A Get Back Into The Groove Adjustable 300 Kettlebell Workout

Promise, this is not just another excuse to use that incredibly silly graphic - but I just couldn't help myself.   This particular "300" variation was made for client who was coming back after being out with the flu for about a week and a half - so he stuck with *relatively* light kettlebells for these exercises - going heavier with the deadlifts, because after my visit with Laurel Blackburn at Tallahassee Kettlebell the previous weekend, I had a bunch of big bad new kettlebells to bring out for the workout.   So this time he deadlifted them - next time... we all Swing heavy - if we're ready - there's no sense in rushing.   As a general side note, never push yourself or your clients to go heavier until they are super super solid with their form.   Because the second you add more weight, and the form isn't there - that's when injuries can occur.   We don't want that!

So here's a "get back into the groove" 300 workout for you - by varying the length of rests (or taking rests at all) along with the weight of the kettlebells you can make this more or less difficult.

Start with your favorite joint mobility routine, warm up with 10 easy kettlebell deadlifts, 5 "slingshots" (aka around the worlds) in each direction and then.....

5 Rounds of:

If you've got anything left - then practice your get ups with or without a little bit of weight - something I've been seeing a LOT of recently is people having their heels pop up when transitioning from high bridge to half-kneeling-windmill.   So be extra certain that your foot stays planted during this part.

Finish up again with our favorite pump stretches and joint mobility.   Have a great weekend!  I think we're going to play in the park again - at least I know I AM! :)


*they won't turn you into a dude unless you started that way, don't worry.

Another Manic Monday Station-Based Circuit......

Another fun station circuit for the small group - we have an awesome new member who joined us over the weekend and I am proud to say she is already raising the bar - in other words...LOOK OUT GUYS.

Start out with your favorite joint mobility exercises of course

Repeat 5 times, resting minimally, but as necessary -

Get some water then knock out a two hand Swing tababa - 8 rounds of 20 sec on, 10 seconds off.  Your gymboss timer will make this easy for you... RIGHT????   Go heavy if you can :)

Finish up with joint mobility, we did a little extra for wrists etc.


Assessment and Mis-Matched Kettlebell Fun

After writing a blog post about how I will no longer try to weigh in at 123.5lbs for the 12kg kettlebell when performing the RKC kettlebell snatch test, I figured it was a good time to see where I stood with the 16kg test.

Start with joint mobility of course -

Open ended fun time - 100 snatches with a 16kg to "see what happens" and how long it takes

Mis-matched kettlebell decending ladders (didn't feel like going to the storage closet for the other 16kg kettlebell and braving the weather/mosquito attack) - I used one 12kg and one 16kg, adjust the sizes to suit your level, this wasn't meant to be an especially difficult workout, I just wanted to do something after the snatches.  Use only the strictest of form, rest as needed, preferably minimally:

Descending Military Press Ladder:

Descending Front Squat Ladder (same structure as above, substitute strict front squats)

Convict Conditioning full bridge practice, joint mobility, random dancing around because I liked a song that was playing, and strategy session on how to train to do that whole "if you can do 40 TRX Atomic Push Ups and 40 TRX Low Rows at a convention, we will give you a free one" thing, because I want another one for my small group class - winning one is more fun than buying one.  See how much I love my clients?!


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon Workout

It had been a drizzly, booming in the distance messy rainy day - but the Winter Park small group was not to be deterred.  Instead of our accustomed field, or the dismal and occasionally very greasy parking structure, I opted to surprise them a little by moving our workout to the left half of the rock garden under the building.  You can't tell from the photo - it was much lighter and brighter out during our workout - but there is a nice wide concrete walkway behind it - that NO ONE seems to ever use.   So we did.   Also - the other surprise was that I hung a TRX Suspension Trainer for them to try a few new exercises with - as part of their circuit.


We began with our joint mobility exercises then warmed up with some 2 handed swings - then - I got out the dreaded Gymboss Timer  - set for manual intervals - since we would need to move around a little bit between some of the exercises:


Repeat the circuit 3 times:

Next Circuit, repeat twice:

Finally a little bit of ab work - some of the participants need reminding to keep their abs tight during kettlebell exercises and these drills seem to get that mental activation dialed into the mind.

Repeat 3 times:

Cool down with joint mobility and extra stretching if necessary - the group really enjoyed the variety in this workout.

He called it "Woozy Wednesday"

My kettlebell small group members are a lot of fun, and one of them in particular seems to have a knack for coming up with little slogans.   Yesterday's workout was hince named for the day of the week, which will forever be known as "Woozy Wednesday" because well - some of them got a bit woozy and had to walk it off from time to time.   No cookies were chucked thankfully.

Want to get woozy yourself?

Warm up with joint mobility - then....  taking breaks as needed see how quickly (but with strict correct form!) you can do the following:

After a very brief break we did a few abdominal exercises since SOME participants were not standing up to the tough love... remember... every time you even TOUCH a kettlebell those abs need to be tight - protect the back.   If I chop your tummy during a Swing it shouldn't be all soft!

3 sets of 10 kettlebell sit ups, then

Repeat as necessary for time or to really really help remember where your abdominal muscles are and how to active them :)

Monday Mayhem Kettlebell Circuits

Choose moderate to heavy kettlebells for these circuits - being sure that the renegade rows are performed with heavier kettlebells because of their larger bases (this keeps you more stable) be sure to perform these on solid level ground.  These circuits are great opportunities to fine tune your

Do your usual joint mobility warm up, a few warm up swings and then.......


Three Rounds:


Intermission! 3 Get Ups per side - practice slowly and with the strictest of form


Three Rounds:

Remember to cool down!!!

Quick Celebration Workout....

For nothing short of a little pride and vanity, I wanted to make sure that the first kettlebell class that I led after becoming an RKC Level 2 instructor was one of my own.   With less than 24 hours to go - before substitute leading a friend's boot camp and kettlebell class, I had to think fast.   The workout is not for beginners, and is a super quick one, but it was a lot of fun today and I am thankful to everyone who showed up - one drove for almost an hour to participate, another brought a bottle of my favorite kombucha (even remembered ginger flavor!!!)  Fantastic on both accounts! :)


After introducing a few new concepts about the windmill we did the following variation on a Master RKC David "Iron Tamer" Whitley (I was on Team Whitley at the RKC2 ) workout (use a pair of moderate sized kettlebells)

Do 3 rounds of the following:

While everyone was taking a little rest, I introduced the Viking Push Press and explained how it worked.  Since I would be leading a kettlebell boot camp for my friend later, I had an assortment of different size kettlebells with me - I spaced them in matched pairs and singles in a line - and then the participants went down the line - safely spaced and either performed 10 swings (if the kettlebells were appropriate), or 10 deadlifts if the kettlebells seemed too heavy.  Everyone traversed the line twice - because of time, but this could be easily increased.   At the RKC Level 2 we did a similar configuration with double kettlebells of increasing size for clean and jerk practice.  It can be a lot of fun and gets people to use different size kettlebells in a safe way.

Double Kettlebell Fun Time - Hotel Parking Lot Edition

I got dragged out of town for a family event this weekend and well, had some frustration to work out about it - especially since it meant missing a fun time open house at Crossfit Firebase (complete with Paleo food demos and samples), as well as a very cool car show too (10th Anniversary of Concours).   But it is what it is, so I put myself up in a nice hotel and met up with some old friends in the area - of course I brought along some kettlebells as well - the rental car has these little wells in the trunk that were just PERFECT for holding a pair of 12kg kettlebells oddly enough.   

Doing my joint mobility warm up in the hotel room (that whole hip thing... yeah... love that part in Super Joints where Pavel says "do these in private, Comrade"!) I went down to the car with my trusty Gymboss timer and knocked out 2 rounds of the following (I don't usually workout on Sunday, so this is kind of a weird medium intensity kind of thing):

(set your timer for 30 second intervals)

Repeat at least twice

I then went upstairs and practiced bridges and RKC style planks.   Its time to hit the shower and eat all the bacon off of the breakfast buffet downstairs...  YAY!!!



**I did these Return of the Kettlebell style - double snatch up, then bring them down like you've pressed them up there - don't just double drop them.  

Simple Workouts that Can Travel with You Over the Holidays

Hope the season is bringing you maximum joy with minimum frustration!  Was just thinking about all the magazine articles and blog posts out there which will be offering up all the usual holiday advice for surviving feasts (or not giving yourself a hard time for indulging--that seems to be a new theme this year), and well meaning, but often over complicated holiday workout plans. 

I think the cliche of "no matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch" is a good think to keep in mind during the holidays.   Mainly, making an effort to stay reasonably active and keeping portion sizes reasonably appropriate.   One year, my folks and I were on different but similarly low carb eating strategies - and while our plates were just as full as everyone else's, the choices of what we chose to eat (plenty of meats, green vegetables, one small dessert) ensured that instead of passing out on the couch, we decided to take a fun walk on the beach.   We also didn't have that painful "omg I am going to explode" feeling either.   AND by eating the good things we wanted, and plenty of them, we didn't have to deal with anyone giving us a hard time.   They just failed to notice in our joyous heaping plates there wasn't any mashed potatoes or sugary items.  So this is also a great approach for side-stepping any "well meaning" passive aggressive attempts to derail your healthy life choices.  

As for working out anywhere, if you're into calisthenics and/or Convict Conditioning then you've already got this one figured out, so carry on!   If you are looking for something a little different and have a moderate to light kettlebell or Ultimate Sandbag at your disposal you can put together a short list of exercises and follow the AMRASP* approach during a set amount of time.  Here's a kettlebell example my small group did last week:

We warmed up with Primal Move and Paul Wade's Trifecta before setting the timer for 21 minutes and doing as many rounds as safely possible of:

  • 20 Kettlebell Swings
  • 10 per side Renegade Rows
  • 5 in both directions "around the world" aka "slingshot"
  • 10 per side one leg deadlift (optional kettlebell)

Or just set a timer and practice meaningful get ups - with or without weight or a kettlebell.   Be safe with this, but doing get ups with odd found objects can be a lot of fun too - Ultimate Sandbag of course is just perfect but you can also be creative with items ranging from a flat soled shoe, a partially loaded duffle bag or backpack, or whatever may be at hand.

And if all else fails...  fire up the interval timer on your smartphone to the tune of 8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off and do some burpees.... NOT right after lunch though, and repeat as necessary

Have a great holiday and even if you do overindulge, one meal does not mean the end of the world.   Get back on that horse.

*Yes, I did just make up "AMRASP"  It means As Many Reps/Rounds As Safely Possible.  Keeping good safe form in workouts allows maximum results, and can prevent injury, embarrassment, and inconvience during the holiday season - and ALL the time really.

Circuit for Kettlebell, TRX, with a bonus Tabata finisher

A little Monday fun for my small group - their skills are developing very nicely, but I wanted to test them on the press a bit - we used moderate to light(ish) kettlebells for this (for instance, one small woman who has recently come back to class used a 8kg and 12kg kettlebell - using the 12kg for the two hand swings and goblet squats.  One of the guys was using a 16kg and 20kg kettlebell in the same way)

Don't forget your Joint Mobility warm ups! (and don't forget to read my mildly humorous but informative review of the Dragon Door classic Super Joints)

Do 4-5 rounds of the following, taking breaks as needed and using perfect form on all reps.

Take what you've got left and put it towards regular good old Tabata protocol 2 hand swings:

Remember, Tabata protocol is 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, for a total of 4 minutes (8 rounds).  I use a Gymboss time to keep track of this so I can make form corrects and otherwise help my small group participants.  If you are training alone, the timer really helps you to focus on your form and not on constantly checking or setting another kind of clock.

Friday 'Funtime'

A little random Friday Funtime to keep everyone on their toes.  A tough and crazy week for a lot of people, so its good to stay sharp with a nice workout, right?  A range of "reasonable" kettlebells was available for my small group to use for the different exercises - typically going heavier with the 2 hand swings and swapping out as necessary.  


4 Rounds:


10 Mins Get Up Practice- Windmill at top   (new people performed the Get Up with no weight and the "low" windmill, advanced people did their Get Ups with weight and choice of windmill: low, high, or both!)


4 Rounds:

They all dripped sweat onto the ground so I was convinced that they could start their weekend....

Hanging Around at Home - Kettlebell and TRX Workout

I sometimes make the joke that my apartment, or the surrounding fields, the parking space etc is the site of some of the most intense training in town - not entirely sure if that's true, but its fun to say, and well - until someone proves differently, I'm going to keep saying it.   Its extra fun to say because for whatever reason we've had two verified celebrity sightings nearby over the past few days (Paul McCartney, Tyra Banks).  There's also a very good chance that Tyra saw my business card. I have yet to get a call from her, I'm assuming its because she has heard I'm a tough trainer and is still working up the courage to make that call.  LOL... you realize I'm being a goof when I say stuff like that - though there is a VERY good chance she's seen my card.   ANYWAY - to live up to this odd reputation means I also need to train as hard if not harder than my clients - who are extremely dedicated - some of them work out so hard that they walk home in a sort of exhausted daze. 

Anyhow, inspired by the workout I made for them today, I put a little twist on it to accommodate my at home indoor training (with the active rest of the occasional chore or dish to wash)

I set up 3 stations - TRX in its usual place suspended from the pull up bar in the hallway, 24kg kettlebell on its triple reinforced cardboard square (another plus for Tropical Traditions products - they ship the jars of coconut oil with these on either side - BONUS!!), pair of 12kg kettlebells in a v-shape on the rug.

Start with joint mobility exercises and a few of those fantastic pump stretches (my small group guys call these "Pavel Stretches" and they LOVE them)

Circuit time!

Repeat 3-4 times

Start some eggs boiling - throw a small hand towel over the pull up bar and help your grip by hanging from it while counting - remember to keep shoulders packed and abs tight too!

After the eggs have come to a boil, remove them from the heat and start your 10 minute timer.  Use this countdown to time some 1 arm 1 leg planks - 45 sec each side minimum. 

More pump stretches and joint mobility to cool down.


Leg Attack! Workout with Kettlebell and Sandbag

Lots of fun in the car port of pain today - keeping out of the rain and getting a whole lot of work done...

Choose a moderate to heavy kettlebell (everyone had several to choose from, and made weight adjustments as necessary during the workout), and if possible, at least a 20lb sandbag.   We used the nice little handmade ones I have - they're triple stitched and made to be abused.  Which they were.  Some of the participants seemed to enjoy throwing them on the ground for some reason. Hmmmm.

Start with your joint mobility warm up, and 20-40 two hand swings or a short jog.

Then its time for....   a little bit of stacking workout fun:

Rest as needed

Rest as needed

Rest as needed

Rest as needed

Joint Mobility cool down and additional stretching as needed.

*sandbag burpee (at least the way WE do it...) sandbag is on the ground in front of you, you get down and do a burpee, keeping hands on the sandbag, do a push up, grab the sandbag after you jump your feet forward in a wide "sumo squat" position, stand up and bring the sandbag up to shoulder height.  Great for a little grip work!

"Bikini" workout - its in 2 pieces - get it?!

Now that I have your attention... hahaha.   Simply called because the workout was broken up into two small pieces to fit a crazy schedule - I do this a lot actually - some days so much so that it becomes more a GTG (Grease the Groove - more on this concept later).  Anyhow here's what happened:

Using your accustomed kettlebell for snatching - OR if you have something a little too light, do this for time - maintaining your proper form of course (or it doesn't count!!!!!).  If you have something a little heavier than normal, take necessary breaks.

Remember your joint mobility warm up then...

For good measure I then performed 10 total Get Ups, a few Convict Conditioning style Full Bridges, and this weird headstand ab thing I like to do that once I figure out what it is called I'll share with you - its oddly powerful, especially when you keep it slow and controlled.


Later that day it was decending ladder pull ups time:  starting with 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 .... down to 1.  Resting between sets as needed, or until whatever small chore I was doing was done.   If you are not this far along in your pull up journey, feel free to substitute with another intense full body strength exercise - like a strict push up, very well done bodyweight or kettlebell squats etc.  



Double Trouble III - Let Me Give You a Complex - Kettlebell Workout

It was one of those "what am I missing" kind of days - I had been doing GTG* pull ups and tension exercises at random between household and computer tasks, but... it wasn't enough, I was getting antsy so I opted to just head out to the field next to my building with a pair of 16kg kettlebells and "see what happened"


Here's what happened - feel free to follow along if you know what you're doing with a pair of moderate to heavy ish kettlebells.  

Farmer's walk from the storage closet....

Started out with joint mobility warm up, and some warm up swings then...

(single kettlebell) 16kg kettlebell 20 snatches/side before I realized in absolute and total soul crushing shame that the *unmentioned offbrand* 16kg kettlebells that I have absolutely positively MUST be replaced by some Dragon Door kettlebells before I lose my mind (and the skin off my left hand).  I texted my most awesome strength coach, Tim Shuman, RKC2 about borrowing one for a couple days until I get some shipped here.  Because I just can't stand it anymore.  The Dragon Door ones I have in multiples in 8kg, 12kg, and 24kg have forever spoiled me for all the others.  The secret's out... there's no compare. Thankfully I had the good sense to stop with the snatching before any damage to my hand or ripped calluses etc. 

Time to begin!

Repeat 4 times, rest extra if necessary

Intermission - Decscending ladder kettlebell (I used one 16kg kettlebell) pistols 3/3, 2/2, 1/1

Repeat 5 times total:


Kettlebell L-sits, CAREFULLY using the kettlebells in place of parallettes.  Don't try this with anything too small or light as the base of the kettlebell will be too small and you will wobble or fall.

Joint mobility and for a cool down... farmer's walk back to storage closet...


*GTG = "Grease the Groove" = over the course of the day doing a few reps here and there, it all adds up in the end - this works.  REALLY works.  Walk past the pull up bar?  Do a couple.. carry on with the day, repeat.

MMA Inspired Kettlebell Workout - FURIOUS Friday!

After talking with several MMA fighters and especially with RKC Team Leader Tommy Blom recently, I was inspired to make a workout following the timing of an MMA fight.  Especially since several of my Winter Park small group members are fans of the sport.  MMA fights are 3 rounds at 5 minutes per round - and well - as in video editing or public speaking we all know... 5 minutes can be a VERY long time.

Warm up with joint mobility and some swings, but save plenty of energy.  You want to minimize your rests during the 5 minutes, because as I enjoyed telling my class - if you're just standing there, that means SOMEONE could be hitting you in the face!!! (All joking aside though if you need to take a break, take a break but keep moving - no sitting down, no napping!)   If you have one, set up your Gymboss Timer to run in 30 second intervals.  Don't pause between exercises unless absolutely necessary - move quickly, but move safely and correctly.

First circuit - repeat 3 times:


Chill out with some carefully executed get ups with no weight - concentrate on your form ALWAYS.  


 2nd fight, erm I mean circuit, again, repeat this three times

Be sure to finish up with joint mobility and get plenty of water.

Curious about Tommy Blom's fight training strategies?  Check out his recent article on Dragon Door: Kettlebells for Increased Abilities in Fighting

Maniacal Monday - a "300" Workout for Kettlebell, Bodyweight and Optional TRX

I realized we hadn't done a "300" workout in a while - so it was time to write up a nice mean one for us all to enjoy.   Always begin with your joint mobility exercises - then we warmed up with 20 two hand kettlebell swings.


Do 3 rounds of the following to add up to 300 (perfectly executed, right?) reps in your best time possible - resting as needed - but always standing and walking around while resting, RIGHT?!?!?

Bonus Plank Complex:

45 seconds side plank each side, 45 seconds Russian twist (with kettlebell), 1 minute regular plank (with option to lift one foot for 30 seconds, and the other for the remaining time)

Finish with joint mobility cool down


Ferocious Friday: Kettlebell Lower Body Focus + Mini Core Circuit

I really wanted to focus on legs a bit today with the small group - especially after making them do snatches right after clean and press practice on Wednesday - it was little mean, but it was the result of Coach Tim Shuman, RKC Level 2's new "Honey Badger Workout" (that's his deal, don't ask...)


Ferocious Friday should always begin with joint mobility exercises and some warm up swings  - then get to it!

Do the following for your best time, resting as necessary, with the best form possible for 4 rounds with a light to moderate weight kettlebell - or switch between sizes as necessary:

Take a brief water break, and set up your TRX if you have one - its timed mini core circuit time!   Don't try and rush the reps on these - this is focused practice time -

Try and go for 2-3 rounds if you have time.   Don't forget your joint mobility!

12 Days of Christmas Stacking Challenge, Christmas Past Blog Round-up, Quick Workout Alternatives

FLASHBACK!!!!!  Originally posted last year, but I found it (Thanks Facebook Memories) and then thought, let's get it out again! :) :)   Let me know if you try the challenge! :)

Did you eat too much turkey? Pie? Ham? Mashed potatoes?  Maybe your aunt made that infamously irresistable mac n cheese like mine did this year.... maybe you got a crispy corner piece of it like I did... Needless to say that plus some black coffee got the creativity going along with the need to get moving... So for the 2015 Christmas post on here's the brand new, UNTESTED (normally I test stuff out on myself and others before posting) 12 Days of Christmas Stacking Challenge!

12 Days of Christmas Stacking Workout Challenge

Be safe of course and also make sure to use regressions when necessary!  If you need ideas for regressions, please post in comments below.  Obvious examples are instead of full, dead hang pull ups, try Aussie Pull Ups or any of the lead-up steps in Convict Conditioning.  Same with Pistol Squats, etc. Be creative and have fun!  I chose these particular exercises in their particular order for a reason - let's hope it works as intended!!!  If you try it, let me know how it goes for you! :)

UPDATE: Realized that there's been some confusion about this workout challenge -- just like the "12 Days of Christmas" song, this also stacks - I wrote this out for someone in the comments, but here's the whole thing explicitly written up as intended:

Fore reference, that last round ending with the 12 deadlifts got very interesting, I just used the two largest kettlebells I happened to have indoors (the 24kg and 26kg, so approx 110lb together, which isn't even my bodyweight). While it normally would not be even interesting to deadlift that weight, I could definitely tell it was using a lot of energy at the end of the workout, and while doing them straight through - I did a quick hand switch to even it out but with as little rest as possible. Shower afterwards was not optional.

Here's some past Christmas posts you might enjoy:

If you're short on time, and have access to your kettlebells, the good old fashioned classic of set the timer for 10 minutes and practice get ups (or really slow ones without weight is an interesting drill too), then set the timer again for 10 minutes total of 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest.  If you don't have access to your kettlebells, check out this everything with nothing workout.

A 500 Challenge - With provisions for enclosed spaces

My intensive small group participants are really starting to have fun with their workouts - and just as exciting you can really see the healthy changes happening almost right before your eyes.   They've all lost between 3-8 pounds each or more without any super drastic changes to their diets - mindful portions and avoiding junk food.  Nothing extreme.  

So tonight was a make up session for the Monday which was rained out - the weather again looked bad so we made plans to check out the courtyard if we needed to - thing was, we wanted to be sure not to cause any property damage (one of the participants is employed by the property!!) or other problems.   I came up with a challenge workout that would have options for non-ballistic movements if necessary, and that would mostly keep us up off the ground.


Do 4 Rounds of the following in your best time:

A Count to 100 Kettlebell and TRX Workout

It's a Monday after a holiday weekend - a holiday notorious for various forms of overindulgence here in the USA... I didn't, but many people did. I did however get my sleep schedule all out of whack (which has the fortunate side effect of helping my writing/proofreading/editing abilities). A more unfortunately side effect is the endless stacks of books/papers/etc all over the place - not to mention the near avalanche of books which were delivered from Amazon from various carriers all day today. Something simple and mind clearing was in order...

We started with a Primal Move warm up

then simply knocked out 5 rounds of:

This had the desired effect of 100 reps of each before finishing up with more Primal Move and a nice walk to get some dinner!

My good friend, Amber Lee has started a fun series of "exercise snacks" a term I heard (and we all practiced) at the most recent Marketing Mastermind Intensive.  Remember - exercise doesn't have to happen all in one big block, small but meaningful practice throughout the day can keep you sharp at work, and help you keep active.

Here's an outtake photo from Al Kavadlo's upcoming book, Pushing the Limits! Just seconds before this was snapped, I discovered at age 35 that I have some issues with heights (actually had to close my eyes to pop up into the bridge postition). Al is creating an incredibly fun body weight book - from what I've seen so far, it's very impressive and you will need to add it to your collection! :)   And in case you missed it, the super cool DVD version of Al Kavadlo's Raising the Bar was released early last week as well.  Highly recommended - I've watched it and love it!  If you're ready to take your pull up practice to the next level, then check it out immediately!

A Mind Bender Workout for Cardio, Strength, Power, and Grit

So, I have a weird habit of taking on (or creating) a smaller project to break up a larger project. It means I basically do "work" as a "break" and is part of the reason I get a lot of various things done in a small amount of time. Many years ago I discovered that I don't so much need or want a "break", it's more that I need a change of subject. A mental flavor changer...* One such project I have right now is for a friend who is very gifted with the tough love and real world motivation. This project has had a very welcome side effect of being very motivating.

Real workouts ain't purty. That's right, folks, workout photos aren't always pretty.

Now, I'm a self-starter, always have been, but we can all use some help. This has inspired me to get a little more organized. At the same time I'd been listening to James Altucher's The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth on Audible (here's a free trial and two free audiobooks)... so it all kind of converged over the holiday weekend. I like that book because it seems to support some of my odd behaviors and life choices. That's nice for a change.

Anyway, after eating not one but TWO slices of my friend's gluten free (but not free of anything else) delicious peanut butter pie on Christmas, along with a whole lot of leg of lamb and smoked turkey, I really felt like I needed to get out and put those calories to work the next day.  I also wanted to mess with my own head.

Normally, I write workouts that go for 5 rounds and usually one part of that round will be 20 kettlebell swings... I like each workout to usually have at least 100 swings in there total after all is said and done. Though that wasn't going to cut it for what I had in mind. I wanted to push the boundaries a little - all the "get comfortable with being uncomfortable" quotes had collected somewhere in my body and were snickering about the peanut butter pie which to my credit was made by a NASA employee who is also a triathlete. I will admit that that plus the fact that it was delicious were factors in having that second slice.  The other day while doing chores I'd noticed that a random 10 sets of 30 swings was a quick and easy way to get 300 kettlebell swings in... I hadn't done it for time as it was more like... walk past here, do 30 swings.  I'd noticed that a funny thing would happen around rep 20 and rep 25... my mind was in the habit of ending the set and it took some concentration and extra presence to complete the longer set.  This happens a little with sets of 50-100 swings, but at that point it's expected and part of the whole point of it. For it to happen at 30 swings was a surprise.

In the spirit of all that, last night I drove up to the top of a favorite mostly deserted parking garage (its ok, Mom, it's secure, in fact, security came up to see what the heck I was even doing a couple times) and knocked out the following:

TEN rounds of:

With minimal rest and just a few text messages that part was completed in about 25 minutes or so.

Decided to finish up with some loaded carries, that was also a nice excuse to do a one 24kg kettlebell press on each side (choose whatever is a 2-5 RM for you if you want to adjust this to wherever you're at) while reasonably fatigued. I like to be able to do that press anytime anywhere at least once on each side. So to finish up, this happened:

I finished up with some joint mobility exercises.  Good times! :)

Do you have a favorite workout that also messes with your head in a constructive way? I'm always looking for ideas to do more of these types of challenges and would love to hear your ideas too.

*Which oddly enough this same concept can be a tool for folks who snack too much - they don't so much need a big snack, just a small change of flavor... so a small piece of fruit or xylitol gum can sometimes fit the bill instead of a high calorie disaster.  Or as my Mom once said to me as a teenager after hearing me open then shut the refrigerator door for what must have been the 1,000th time, "are you hungry or just bored?" Sometimes you just need a glass of water to get on about your day.

A Stacking Workout with Tim Shuman, RKCII of Fitcamp

Tim had a brutal little plan for us today - check out this seemingly simple but extremely effective workout:

Each round adds an exercise - soooo fire up your gymboss timer for 30 second intervals:

30 seconds rest


30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest (whew!)


30 seconds rest

30 seconds (or a little more) rest

30 seconds (or a little more) rest

30 seconds to 1:30 rest

Then do some much needed cooldown and joint mobility exercises.

Told you, we don't kid around! :)



Check out for more info about Tim Shuman's Fitcamp, small group training and one on one training. He helped me prepare for the RKC for over a year and I can personally vouch for his awesome coaching skills.

A Sunday Practice Time Workout

Friday night's class was rained out!  But we made up for that today - its basically a twist on program minimum with a couple extras thrown in for fun.

Start with your favorite joint mobility exercises then

On your best time (just taking breaks as needed) do 5 rounds of the following


THEN - because they just learned how to snatch last week, it was practice time - we started out reviewing the form, and everyone did a few so I could check.   Next was the following:

For advanced - aim for the RKC Snatch Test result - 100 snatches in 5 minutes

For beginners (which is what the class did) aim for a minimum of 50 snatches, doing 10 per minute - taking a break when necessary and asking form questions, making corrections etc.


Finally, 10 minutes of Get Up practice - then joint mobility exercises/cool down

A mish-mash workout with a good friend

A good friend of mine, and fellow kettlebell enthusiast joined me today for a lunchtime workout.  She has taken a new job which requires a LOT of heavy lifting (of people) in a medical setting - and had missed some heavy kettlebell lifting, as well as some intense cardio.   Here's what we did:


Short-style "Das Kettle"

1 Get Up each side

10 2 hand swings

1 clean, 5 presses on the right side, 1 clean, 5 presses on the left side

1 clean, 5 front squats on the right side, 1 clean 5 front squats left side (or 10 goblet squats)

5 snatches each side

Do this with your lightest bell, then move up, and up, then up again if you can.  For example here's what we did:

She started with 8 Kilos, then 12 Kilos, then 16 Kilos (and had not snatched 16 Kilos before - but did BEAUTIFULLY, I am SO PROUD!)

I started with 12 Kilos, then 16 Kilos, then 20 Kilos (push pressed then negatives on the presses)


After that bit of fun, we eached grabbed a small-ish kettlebell that we were comfortable doing high rep snatches with (8K, 12K) and started on a micro mini version of the DOE Man Maker workout:

50 snatches (25r, 25l) then jog for 1/4 Mile

We did this sequence twice, then walked it off on the way to the pull up and dip bars.   After this, we nearly devoured an innocent subway restaurant.

Here's an article about the real DOE Man Maker Workout

A variation on the "Deep Six" Workout - practice all six RKC exercises in one compact package!

I absolutely love the "Deep Six" workout originally developed by Senior RKC Jon Engum, but wanted to modify it for a few of my newer clients, for our extreme climate here in Florida, and for a shorter time expendature too.

Originally the Deep Six is in the following order and run for 5 rounds, you start with the right hand and keep it until the Get Up in the middle:

- 5 swings
- 5 snatches
- 5 clean and presses
- 5 front squats
- 1/2 Get Up (starting from the top down - then when on the ground, you safely switch hands and Get Up - the kettlebell is now in your LEFT HAND where you complete the

- 5 swings
- 5 snatches
- 5 clean and presses
- 5 front squats

(end of round 1)

Rest for 30sec to 1 min between rounds.


The version we practiced today was run for three rounds, with some slight differences - I wanted to make sure we practiced some great cleans in a row for instance:

5 one hand swings

5 one hand cleans

5 presses

5 front squats

5 snatches (on the fifth, leave it locked out overhead)

1/2 get up from the up to the down - switch hands safely on the ground, get up with the kettlebell in the left hand and begin the

5 one hand swings

5 one hand cleans

5 presses

5 front squats

5 snatches


Rest as necessary - run for three rounds, or continue for 5 if you wish.

This workout is a great way to review all the basic exercises, and to really challenge your conditioning - if you've never done the workout before, I would recommend going with a relatively light kettlebell - practice with acute focus on the form of each exercise, and always always pay loads of attention to safety.

Another Look at a Stronger Grip Favorite, An Unconventional Strength Challenge Partner Workout, and More "Tone and Drone" Antics

After an eagle-eyed Instagram follower asked if the little hook ball items on my home pull up bar were Stronger Grip GripBalls, I remembered that I hadn't talked about them in a while and did a short video about how they can be used for a variety of grip strength and coordination challenges.  In addition to the pull up variations in the video below, many people use them to pull sleds, etc. Always be sure to do some extensor work after grip training--especially if it is this intense!

Click to get your own here! (Choice of 3", 3.5". 4") sold as a set of two.

This past weekend a friend came over for one of my infamous challenges. She's recently learned the joy of tire flipping. We were both looking for a nice strength and power-based workout that would challenge us, so I wrote up the following open-ended monstrosity:

Joint mobility warm up

Convict Conditioning Vol2 Trifecta (bridge, l-sit, twist)

100 swings with a moderate kettlebell (the goal is to do them in one uninterrupted set, which we did. It's funny how even a 16kg kettlebell can become a super grip challenge starting around rep 70!!)

We did a short "crow practice" to stretch our hands back out before preparing to do the following partially "I Go You Go" Partner workout:

We managed a good solid 4 total rounds which is harder than it might sound!  And of course cooled down with joint mobility and putting all of this stuff back into the storage area!

About to flip this giant tire!

Here's another completely unedited livestream of a "tone and drone" hahahahah session...

Pitch! Roll! Yaw!! Pullups! LOL...

Borrowing an Idea From Tim Ferriss - Five for Friday... and Another Poker Chips Workout

5 Things 4 Friday

Every Friday Tim Ferriss sends out a 5 bullet points for Friday email/blog post. Considering his wide range of subject types these bullet subjects also are fairly wide ranging... however I'm going to make my own version for you here (at least for THIS Friday, I'm still working on an "editorial schedule" having postponed my own "Strategy Wednesdays" for far too long).  That being said if you feel strongly about the 5 things for Friday post (either pro or con) please let me know in the comments below this post! I'm about 50/50 on it at this point, but we'll see... so let me know if you're into it or not.  Unlike Tim I will probably change the criteria each time until I settle on enough variety or whatnot.


Five Awesome Things For Friday:

1. Older workout/post that someone linked from facebook at random, and then a bunch of people started talking about it:
2. Recipe that is totally getting made this weekend:
3. Interview I'd done a few years ago that surprised a friend of mine:
Interview with internet fitness personality Zuzka Light
4. Forum to check out:
Dragon Door's Forums are now mobile friendly!
5. Awesome Blog Post from someone else:
Paul Britt's RKC Kettlebell Snatch Test Preparation Plan

As promised, A WORKOUT!!!  It's a "poker chips" kettlebell workout (here's a calisthenics/bodyweight only version from a little while back).  These poker chips workouts started out as a little joke. I bought a box of poker chips for counting rounds of things because I'm so into the exercises themselves, that I am not so great at counting.  But then I noticed that buying a bigger box of poker chips allowed me to give everyone in the small group color coded stacks of them (and a key to the colors/exercises*) to work through.  At that point they can experiment with the timing and order of the different exercises and some interesting learning happens.  Sometimes they'll do all the stuff they like most first, or they'll get the stuff they don't like over with first.  I can't help but wonder at the personality insights sitting here! HAHA!

Here's what happened last night:

Warm up well with joint mobility and the CC2 Trifecta 3x(bridge, L-sit, twist--wherever you are in the progression of each)

Then each person received 5 poker chips in each color, meaning we all did 5 rounds of each of the following:

Red = 25 2-hand kettlebell swings (moderately heavy)
Black = 5/5 kettlebell clean and presses (moderately heavy kb, mine was about 70% of my 1RM so 20kg) being sure to re-clean between each press, it's like a mini break in some ways and then very much not a break in other ways!
Green = 10 kettlebell squats (goblet or front squats)
Yellow = 10/10 snatches with RKC snatch test weight kettlebell
Blue = Heavy clean 1 kettlebell and take a walk, swapping sides at the midpoint

Staggering around and then a cooldown with more joint mobility before going home!

I also like to use the poker chips to count any "GTG" reps done during the day.  I'll get out the small box of 100 chips and spend the day moving them one by one from ont half of the box to the other as I complete 100 reps of something difficult during the course of the day.  It's a fun and easy way to keep track.

*The other funny thing about the papers I write up and hand out with the color code is what happens to the papers afterwards.  Some people can't hand them back to me fast enough as in "Get this thing away from me! ENOUGH!!!!" while others are carefully folding it up and tucking it into their bag to use for an at home workout some time in the future.

Bruce Lee Birthday Celebration Workout

The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” – Bruce Lee

Today would have been Bruce Lee's 72nd birthday - his influence on martial arts, fitness and entertainment continue to this day without showing any signs of slowing down.  Bruce Lee's approach to training is an inspiration to my own training in an odd indirect sort of way, most of which is summed up in the quote below:

Above all, never cheat on any exercise; use the amount of weight that you can handle without undue strain.” – Bruce Lee

 So, with that in mind, we each chose 2 kettlebells - 1 which could be pressed well for reps, 1 which was moderately heavy.

We began with a Primal Move warm up, a few kettlebell swings and deadlifts before beginning, we tried to keep breaks between exercises to a minimum if possible:

5 Minutes Get Up practice - alternating sides, using the lighter kettlebell or no weight.  Either way, a very mindful approach is necessary to maintain proper form.  Then we returned to....

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. ” – Bruce Lee

We then did a very short but intense little ab circuit (who can forget those Bruce Lee abs!) a few times.

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at. ” – Bruce Lee

We finished up the workout with a few extra joint mobility exercises as our cool down.   Have you been inspired by Bruce Lee?  Share your story - or let us know if you came up with an workout too.


Also, today an article by Lauren Brooks came out on about women and intermittent fasting, I am honored to be included in the list of people she spoke with on this subject.   You'll probably recognize the other people featured in the article - many of who I look up to and have looked up to for some time. 

Cool combo workout with RKCII Tim Shuman

Really interesting session with Strength Coach and good friend Tim Shuman, RKCII yesterday - turns out, due to extra strength and consequentally a slight change of shape with my lats, I need to adjust my position and work on my flexibility when doing double kettlebell work in the rack position.   Not entirely surprised about this as things had been feeling ever so slightly odd lately - so ok, more stretching is in order to offset my odd pull up obsession (Further fueled by the looming prospect of the Dragon Door Iron Maiden Challenge and Pavel's Fighter Pull Up Program) - not a problem.   It's just another great excuse to break out with the TRX flexibility/mobility exercises - which can be a lot of fun too.


Note from Tim: the workout is an excerpt from Kettlebell Muscle by "Captain Complex" Geoff Neupert Master RKC.


Here's the double kettlebell combo that we did (after a joint mobility warmup and warmup swings) - all the while making form corrections and observations (don't speed through it...)

5 Double Kettlebell Cleans

5 Double Kettlebell Presses

5 Double Kettlebell Front Squats

5 Double Kettlebell Push Presses

5 Double Kettlebell Front Squats

Repeat this combo 5 times.


Remember.... if it's worth doing.. its worth doing CORRECTLY!

DVRT with Josh Henkin, Website Direction, a Little Challenge...

It's been a whirl-wind lately...

After learning more about Josh Henkin's DVRT system and Ultimate Sandbag during a recent photoshoot (Josh's DVRT book will be published by Dragon Door in April) I was intrigued to say the very least.   So this past weekend I braved the cold of NYC to attend the DVRT level 1 and 2 workshops right in the heart of Manhattan.  What a great trip!   I'll be doing a full write up of both days shortly, but wanted to let you know what's on the way.  

In general, if you're already (or aspiring to be) an HKC, RKC, or PCC instructor the principles of Josh's DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) system will be a very good and occasionally familiar fit for your training, and your instruction of others.   During both the level 1 and level 2 workshops, he repeatedly emphasizes that the DVRT isn't about the sandbag, but that the sandbag is the best expression of his system.  In other words you might have used some of these principles already in your kettlebell or bodyweight training, however, adding this wobby, moving, and occasionally UNCOOPERTIVE (more on that later) sandbag to the equation can ramp up the intensity and the neurological adaptions even more.   Needless to say, it was time well spent.   The previous Friday I had time to hang out a little with Al Kavadlo too, and hear all about how the recent Australian PCC went (it went great!)   Al's not a coffee drinker, but he sure does know the best places in town to recommend (Everyman Espresso was fantastic!) and where to find some of the best omelets in the East Village.  


Should also add, it was a VERY fun surprise to see that upon returning home, Josh Henkin's interview with the Wall Street Journal about DVRT and Ultimate Sandbag was published!  Above is a shot of the article in the printed WSJ, and here's a link to the online version you can easily read.   It's great to see that this effective system is getting exposure in a publication like the WSJ! :)

In other news, I want to apologize a little, I got swamped with awesome cool stuff to review (not a bad problem to have...) and feel like I've possibly thrown off the balance of the site here recently.  While I've tried to continue including workouts and blog posts etc. I think that there might have been too many product reviews recently, and while I have plenty more wonderful items to share with you, I will be trying to space them out more so that you can be confident that you can come here to get useable information for your own training, and for the training you may do as an instructor.   Please feel free to leave me some comments on how you feel about product reviews and what you'd like to see more of on this site.   I'm working on some new fun strategies that will hopefully benefit YOU more than anything else! :)

All of that being said, here's a little fitness challenge we did at small group yesterday, and while it has a little bit of a "CrossFitty" (is that a word?) feel, do know that only good reps count, and risking injury to "win" is the ultimate way to lose.   Unfortunately a few precious seconds may have been added to our time as a VERY aggressively annoying group of people doing yet ANOTHER "scavenger hunt" in our park area would not leave us alone.  I nearly had to stop being polite, but one of the more astute members of their "group" was able to finally get their obviously self-appointed "leader" to finally leave us alone long before I felt the need to be overly... direct.   "Pushyness" is not a solid, long term leadership quality... Anyway enough preaching. 

After a nice Primal Move warm up and a visit with our old friend the Trifecta we decided to see how long we could hold a crow stand (or frog, depending on where we were in the progression).  Following a quick sip of water, the stopwatch was set to see how long it would take us to complete 5 rounds of.....

Yes, that got some sweat going, and was fun too!

We finished up with some alternating timed sets of holding the hollow position and the "superman"/freefall.  I call that combination the fish flop as inevitably when we approach the later rounds, people tend to roll over in the transitions and go flop if they've been applying themselves!   Its also kind of fun to do that in a weird, "get rid of the tension between sets" kind of way.

If you've been on the Dragon Door website or get their emails you've no doubt noticed that there are some VERY exciting things happening.   And I am very happy to report that I've been busy interviewing some of the upcoming leadership.  These are some very exciting people who seem like they will bring a whole lot to our RKC and Dragon Door community.  Can't wait to share their stories with you, as I have found talking to them has already been incredibly inspiring.

In the mean time, here are some recent reads you may have missed:

*Love these, thanks to being introduced to them in Mike Krivka's Code Name: Indestructible
**I used 18kg which would be on the heavier side of "moderate"

Double Trouble II A Small Mixed Bag to Practice Double Swings, Cleans, Presses etc.

Typical joint mobility warm up, 20 swings with one kettlebell to continue that warm up THEN, with 2 kettlebells of moderate to light weight -

Set Gymboss timer for 5 sets of 30:30 (both intervals are 30 seconds)  Double swings for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, repeat 5 (or more!) times

Double kettlebell cleans practice for a few moments if these are new - remember to always keep cleans in close, don't throw them out in front of you. 

3 rounds of the following exercises for 30 seconds each:


Finished with Get Up Practice for at least 10 min, and Joint Mobility.

Double Trouble Workout - short but not easy

It was finally nice outside again today, my little dog and I decided to go to the park so she could chew on toys and dig holes, and so that I could workout...

Do your joint mobility warm up exercises you hopefully learned from your RKC instructor, do 20 good two handed warm up swings with one kettlebell, then set your handy Gymboss timer for:


10 rounds of 30 second intervals: so that you can do the following:

Double kettlebell swings 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off (5 work sets)

For the last set, feel free to use 1 kettlebell as some kind of strange cooldown


Take a 1-2 minute break then restart your Gymboss and do:

Double Kettlebell Cleans 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off (5 work sets)

The final set swap out with presses


Take 1-2 minutes then do 10 minutes of Get Ups (try for 8-10 total)

If you haven't had enough at that point, 50 wipers should do the trick! :)   Cool down and joint mobility then go home and take a shower!


Why was this workout so short?  Mainly because during the time that my bootcampers were running laps around the track I was doing various kettlebell and calisthenic exercises while I was waiting for them this morning.

Finding Even More Value with the Bottom-Up Kettlebell Get-Up (and a Workout)

This past Thursday the class focused on strikes. Now, it may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am not in the habit of going around and hitting people. It was an interesting psychological block to work though, which I am now thinking is very important. If I need to hit someone, I have a lot less qualms now.  Granted, I have made it 40 years without having to hit anyone, and here's hoping that continues. All the straight-wrist kettlebell training definitely kept in handy, but making the mental connection (intellectually of course it was already there) was a fun challenge.  Needless to say I decided to do more bottom-up get-ups the next day.
Bottom-up get-up and H2H kettlebell swings workout

Since I wanted to take my time with the reps, I chose a modest weight, the 10kg kettlebell. The handle is thicker than the 8kg, so there's more to grasp, but the lighter weight allowed me to go super slow. I also wanted to get my heart rate up, so I added in some swings.  Here's the simple workout I did, which could be easily scaled up or down, or done for a longer time as well.

For the hand to hand (H2H) swings, I chose a fairly moderate weight - 16kg. Hand to hand swings are just what they sound like - they're one hand swings, and the hands are switched at the top.  I like to keep my mind engaged by sometimes spinning the kettlebell at the top of the Swing, and sometimes not. If you're just starting out, keep it simple, and do it outside where you can't break stuff if the kettlebell goes flying.

The other thing with H2H swings is to make sure that you are fighting the temptation to twist at the waist. Keep the shoulders square and fight that rotation... at the rep ranges I have below, you may feel like you did some work with your obliques the next day. Woohoo! :)

I started out with joint mobility and a few crawling, cross-core coordination drills-and a get-up on each side without weight. Then it was time to get down to business:

I did 4 rounds of the following (go for 6 if you've got the time/energy/inclination!)

Four rounds add up quickly to 200 swings, which is a pretty decent number in a short period of time.  Later that night I did many short sets of pull-ups since that's the one movement pattern we don't seem to hit and hit and hit and hit in class. And obviously, pull-ups are just way too fun. I continued with a cooldown composed of a few exercises, drills and mobility moves that will be featured in an upcoming blog elsewhere... stay tuned.

As soon as it stops raining in a few days, I want to make a bottom-up kettlebell get-up video for you!

In completely unrelated news, I finally managed to get myself a soldering station that I've wanted for a very long time, and then proceeded to livestream assembling a Velleman Minikit (hilarious little light seeking electronic "bug") while babbling on a number of topics. Skip ahead for the moment of truth... it's always a little nervewracking assembling and soldering a kit together while livestreaming... then hoping it works once the batteries are installed!!

Functional Kettlebell Boot Camp Workout

Not too confident with your kettlebell Swing, clean, or snatch?  Bought a nice shiny new kettlebell from Dragon Door and you're just itching to use it but don't want to hurt yourself or get a bad habit in place before your training appointment with a certified RKC instructor?  (This workout does assume that you are familiar with some common fitness exercises and are willing to do a little research on some new movements.)  No problem - here's a demanding workout I used with my fitness boot campers who haven't been initiated into the rite of the kettlebell yet.   YET.... 

Required Equipment: kettlebell, jump rope, Gymboss timer


As always - remember whenever you even touch that kettlebell, your abs must be tight in order to protect your back, never round your back when using or even moving kettlebells around - seriously!  Be smart!  Not sure about something?  Ask - or better yet, show up to one of our Forte Fitness Boot Camps in Orlando and try it under our supervision! Tell them Adrienne from GiryaGirl sent you.


Warm up with some light stretching or preferably your favorite Joint Mobility exercises, do 100-200 turns of the jump rope then get to it!

4 Sets of the following:

Set your timer (Gymboss is the most convenient for this, but use what you have) for 2 intervals - one minute and 30 seconds

Assume a push up position with one of your hands gripping a kettlebell resting on the ground and perform 4 rows with that side, switch to the other hand (I leave the kettlebell on the ground and walk over 1 step on my hands) do 4 rows (this is essentially a "Renegade Row" but with one kettlebell) on the other side then immediately get into a plank position - hold the plank (stay straight, don't let that rear come up, and definately don't sag in the middle!) for the remainder of the 1 minute interval then rest for 30 seconds - move around, stand up shake it out, no napping!  repeat.

3 Sets of the following:

Set your timer for 30 second intervals

30sec: Kettlebell deadlift + upright row*

30sec: Kettlebell Halo**

30sec: Kettlebell crush curl (standing)***

60sec: Jump Rope

30sec: Rest

* Feet shoulder width or slightly wider, kettlebell between your feet - squat down (sit waaaay back, keep torso upright - this takes some doing and some flexibility so be patient with yourself if this is new) and pick up the kettlebell - stand up straight keeping your shoulders back and abs tight (pinch those glutes at the top of the movement!) then do an upright row with the kettlebell

** As described in Pavel's Enter The Kettlebell which should already be in your library anyway... RIGHT?

*** Stand w/ feet shoulder width, hold the kettlebell by pressing your hands firmly against the "ball" part of the kettlebell trying to "crush" it.  Make sure to keep your chest open and shoulders back - its easy to get into the crushing part and end up all hunched in.  From this position, curl the kettlebell up and down slowly like a sort of bicep curl.  This is the closest thing you will ever see me to to regular bicep curls.  My toned arms came from kettlebell exercises,  pull ups and occasional crush curls, not barbell or dumbbell curls in the gym

3 Sets of the following:

30sec: Kettlebell Pull Overs (switch to a lighter kettbell if possible/necessary)

30sec: Push Ups - STRICT FORM!!!!

30sec: Full sit ups (use your arms over your head when flat out if you must)

30sec: Russian Twist (with or without kettlebell)

30sec: REST


2 Sets of the following:

30sec: Burpees

30sec: Hot Potato*

30sec: Wipers**

30sec: Jump Rope

30sec: Rest

*Stand with feet shoulder width, hands at shoulder height in front of you, holding the kettlebell by the ball portion (handle pointing at the ground) keeping your abs and core tight, pass the kettlebell from hand to hand (this is a very small movement - think of the kid's game "hot potato") Oddly effective core exercise

** Lay flat on the ground, kettlebell held by the "horns" overhead (be very careful with this) arms locked out.  Raise and lower your straight or mostly straight legs in a controlled fashion - being sure to keep your abs engaged and your lower back firmly pressed into the ground.

Finally, 3 sets of the following:

45sec - 1 minutes each:

1.  Regular Plank

2.  Pulsed hip bridges (count of 1-3 at the top), OR if you can do them, a few well executed and briefly held full bridges in the given time


Be sure to finish up with light stretching and hopefully your Joint Mobility exercises.  Drink plenty of water and take rests where necessary!

Kettlebell Double Trouble Combo Two Ways

Kettlebell Combo Workout - TWO WAYS!

Once again, I wrote a workout for an intermediate client, then felt the need to write a version of it specific to my own needs. I'll present both of them to you here. I can't get over how much fun it is to train outside with kettlebells and rocks.* While I ended up doing my version of the workout indoors (it's been getting dark so early... and it's easy to lose the kettlebells on the ground out there and create tripping hazards), this particular client was lucky enough to be able to schedule the session during the few hours of daytime that work for both of us.  You'll see that we're working on different things as expected.

And for me some of those different things were also small "tidying up" chores. VERY small, like 30 seconds of "put the tea boxes back in the cabinet" or "put the dry silverware back in the drawer... but just the forks this time, spoons next break..."

So here's the first version, you'll see it bears some resemblence to a complex from Geoff Neupert's Kettlebell Muscle book from a while back (check out this oldy goldy blog about that). The workout below was done outside with the goals of kettlebell form practice with doubles, along with general strength and conditioning.

We began with joint mobility exercises, including several that are goal (and person) specific. While everyone's joint mobility warm up will have a few standard items, everyone who trains with me has their own personal, evolving mobility warmup. My own is no exception!

Next, 4 rounds of the following with double kettlebells one size down from RKC snatch test kettlebell (remember, our focus was on form with doubles):

Then, we brought those double kettlebells over to a nice, stable flat part of the ground and added a 20kg kettlebell as well for five rounds of:

Lastly, because I found a new favorite light-ish rock (30lbs approx) just perfect for Russian twists and partner sit ups (partners sit facing each other soles of the shoes touching, both sit up, one has the rock and hands it to the other partner as both reach the top of the situp).
Two rounds (though do more if you have the time):

Gosh... all of that looked like so much fun, that I wanted to do a good bit of it myself later in the day. There were some other things I had on my "fitness to do list" however, so I adapted the workout and added in a new "friend" freshly assembled the other night. A fan bike. What? An EXERCISE MACHINE? In YOUR house?! Yeah well... let's just say there's a reason the infamous Assault Bike does not have a magazine holder or drink holder. I don't plan to use it for any long duration steady state stuff. In fact, I got it  mainly for burnouts, a meaningful Tabata set of intervals or two, or as I did today, short fast sprint, recovery, repeat for about 6 minutes then pedaling in a daze as a sort of cool down for the last 2 mins or so before wandering around in the kitchen like a stuck video game character. But more about that later.**

So, I did my personalized joint mobility warm up, with a little extra focus on hip flexor stretches and torso twists (too much sitting today). I also did a slow 16kg kettlebell get-up on each side to continue the warmup. Then it was time to get serious with five rounds of:

After I finished five rounds of that, which if you don't put the kettlebells down at all between the exercises, it goes pretty fast, I found my heart rate monitor to do some more testing with the Assault Bike. Since this was basically just a fun little burn out and I'm still learning about the fan bike and myself (now that I can reach the pedals like a grown-up), I decided to do 10 second all out sprints on it, then pedal/push more slowly to recover before the next sprint. It's nuts how this thing will get even my heart rate up in the hummingbird range, and it's not like I've been slacking off with my training...

After about 8 minutes and 22 seconds of this special sort of "fun" I called it a day by wandering around in a slight daze before doing a little more joint mobility and finishing up chores. According to the questionable math of my HRM, it reported that I had scorched through 100+ calories in that 8:22. I'm skeptical, but post workout snack time was pretty serious - considering this was done after my fairly involved double kettlebell work.

*Rock burpees anyone? Here's another high intensity experiment from the other day

**Ever since Marty Gallagher and Dr. Chris Hardy brought up the fan bike in the Strong Medicine blog a while back, I'd been more than curious. Seeing videos of a bunch of tough guys looking near tears after spending a good 30 seconds of quality time with something that looked like a heavy metal version of an old 80s home exercise bike got me even MORE curious. What was this mean thing that looked a whole lot like the fan bike I'd seen as a kid at a friend's house... that we then took turns trying to ride so we could use it to dry our dolls' hair. By the way, that's a terrible use of a fan bike, especially when you're too short to reach the pedals, but we had fun trying. I also wanted a little variety for when the winter here starts getting serious and hill sprints up the driveway become icy and ill advised. And it would drive one of my clients bonkers, and well. OK fine I just wanted to get it, ok?

Kettlebell Workout with Alicia Streger, RKC of

Alicia and I work together at her boot camp company - Forte Fitness and after showing up with a bunch of paperwork etc for her, I decided to stick around and workout with her kettlebell class.

Here's what we did:

Do this with as little rest as possible and its a nice little highly portable workout!

Kinda insane workout... for January 1, 2011

It started out as some kind of "oo I want to do this and this and this and this and this" workout and turned into something that reminded me of the title of this classic comedy sketch from Kids in the Hall... "I Darn Near Puked". But I didn't... so its all good, right? I was inspired by the 10,000 Swing Challenge which Lisa Shaffer started today and decided to punctuate the workout with bouts of 50 swings... using the lighter 12kg kettlebell - I figured I'd do some of these straight through, and others I'd break up into 2 sets of 25 etc. Then I also remembered I wanted to play around (a teeny tiny bit) with a 24Kg kettlebell in preparation for the Iron Maiden Challenge, and then I also wanted to get used to the neat TRX my partner in Bootcamp leading gave me for Christmas. Ooo and look at this awesome tree I am using for the TRX... what a great branch for pull ups! I think you can see where this is going, right? Yeah, DOWNHILL. Here's what happened (don't try this at home, or if you do, don't hold me responsible):

Joint Mobility Warmup


Yeah that was a little nutty.... but it was fun.... Program MINIMUM happening tomorrow, that's for sure....

Pushmi-Pullyu Workout for Kettlebells and Bodyweight Exercises

Pushmi-Pullyu kettlebell and bodyweight workout

This wasn't just an excuse to make a silly graphic, I promise.

Forgot to share this one from a recent advanced fun session -- we did this one with fairly heavy kettlebells, but never compromising form. 

We started with a Primal Move warm up then went through the Trifecta from Paul Wade (good stuff -- bridge, l-sit, twist). Did a quick 20 swings with a moderate sized kettlebell the proceeded with 5 rounds of this interesting combo, resting as necessary:

Since we happened to have a little energy left at the end, we did a few rounds of 5 burpees and 10 swings--being sure to stop before form degraded.

After some active rest, we finished up with the Trifect again and some favorite joint mobility exercises.  Good times!

Revenge of the Franken-Workout!!

Revenge of the Franken-Workout

These past couple of weeks there have been a number of really cool ideas out there in the kettlebell and advanced fitness world. These combined with the need of the kettlebell small group to work on technique inspired me to create this intermediate-level full body kettlebell workout with a middle portion that focuses on fine tuning technique for kettlebell swings and snatches.  There's some extra stuff added in to make this a full body workout including an "extra credit" mini circuit at the end.

First, inspired by an RKC blog post from Master RKC Andrea Du Cane*(I have been known to say this about her: "Just stand near her for any length of time and you WILL learn something..."), it was time to bring dead stop swings to class.  If there's ever any question about your kettlebell Swing, a short set of dead stop swings will surely point out what's wrong so you can fix it.  By having to re-initiate the Swing from the ground you also get plenty of practice starting and stopping swings safely--and the conditioning factor can be VERY significant since you can't start on cruise control with momentum.  I think of dead stop swings as being the same sort of "technique practice" technique as when I was getting used to driving manual transmission again--I found a residential street with a low speed limit that had stop signs on nearly every block. Start, shift, stop, start, shift, stop... a few trips down what normally would be an extremely annoying street improved my skills rapidly over the course of just a few hours.  Dead stop swings can do the same for your kettlebell technique.  As Andrea's article points out you can also practice snatches this way too.  I wanted to really drill the small group (they're pretty advanced by now) on both one hand and two hand swings.  So after we did a joint mobility warmup and selected our kettlebells (RKC kettlebell snatch test kettlebell, then one twice the weight or heavier.  (Someone chose a 12kg kettlebell and a 24kg kettlebell, someone else took a 16kg and 28kg, I had some fun with a 14kg and 32kg other combos heavier up the line included 20kg and 40kg...)

Five rounds, minimal rest but each person at their own pace:

After we finished with that, I set the timer to chime on the minute, every minute for 10 minutes. I was reminded of the extreme fun, built-in rest, and self-scaling capacity of "on the minute every minute" circuits by Senior RKC Mike Krivka, who has included a few of them in his fun workout ebook, Code Name: Indestructible (I am pestering him to release a 2nd volume!! If you know Mike, be sure to pester him about it too! HAHA!) For this next circuit, ee each selected a kettlebell that was RKC kettlebell snatch test weight or a little heavier if desired.  At the chime, the following happened...

On odd-numbered minutes:

On even-numbered minutes:

Next, it was time to do some pressing... we each selected a reasonably challenging kettlebell (but that we could press for at least 5 reps without compromising our form - for me this is about 20kg for example) and completed a short reverse ladder with minimal rest (but resting as needed to maintain great form for EVERY rep on EVERY set... that's the point here):

Last but not least, was the optional extra credit circuit for 2-3 rounds:

Finally, we finished up with some joint mobility and some much needed water... many good hearty dinners were eaten after this I am very sure.

In other news, check out this brand new interview from Italian Street Workout Athlete and PCC Instructor Daniel Cirilli, he shared some very interesting info with me in the course of the intervew then sent some jaw-dropping, gravity-defying photos to go with it!  Don't miss it!!

*You can meet the original kettlebell goddess herself (Andrea Du Cane) and hear her speak at the upcoming Dragon Door Health & Strength Conference in August!  Click here to learn how you can hear from her and 12 other Dragon Door authors.  The networking alone at this event will be out-of-control awesome.  Hope to see you there!

Simplicity Workout

Monday I decided to give the beginners group a mini intro to the much beloved or hated (depends on the day and who you are...?!) Sissy Challenge.  They went on the moderate/light sized kettlebell side of things, but if you want to ramp up the "fun" use a heavy kettlebell for this one:


Start with your favorite Joint Mobility warm up exercises-

We then continued with the new form of the quick kettlebell warm up from strength coach and good friend Tim Shuman, RKC2:

This also allowed me to do some minor form correction and a little "ok, I see we forgot a couple things over the weekend" review.

It was then time to start the ascending/descending fun times:

The beginners group then learned the specific joy of the RKC style plank - and why they will never ever win a plank contest doing it that method.   :)   One, a Pilates enthusiast, was really happy to be able to ramp up her plank practice with the intensity of the RKC principles - it means more bang for the buck time wise as well. 

Finished up with joint mobility - a good time!!! :)

Stack Attack!

Here's another variation on a kettlebell stacking workout - though there are a few different drills for variety, I also chose these particular exercises to not overwork my kettlebell group on some exercises we had really hammered the previous session.  A more traditional approach can be seen here: another stacked timed sets workout

Stacking workouts are great ways to really ramp up the intensity of a workout - make sure you take rests where needed, but be sure to also do your best.  Choose a moderate weight kettlebell for this workout, beginners will need to rest more - no big deal!

30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest

30 seconds rest


We finished up the set with overhead carries, Russian Twists and side planks

The Sculpture Garden Workout: Large Stone Stacking, Kettlebell Swings, Mace 10&2s, and more!

Those of you following me on social media already know I've been having a lot of fun coming up with outdoor workouts recently--and that I've found a bunch of smooth stones to play with too.  After finding a good selection of them in various weights (though I am not sure how heavy the largest one is yet, but am fairly sure it weighs a little more than I do) 100+?, 100, 60, 40, etc. I decided to make up a game-like workout that included the challenge of lifting, carrying, then stacking the stones.

Sculpture Garden kettlebell, stone stacking, and mace workout

If you try this type of challenge, safety is extremely important--both with using safe lifting techniques with odd objects, and by making sure to stay safe around stacks of rocks.  As you may notice from the video or photos, I like to stack them in daring ways, and that means I have to be that much more mindful when adding new stones to the stack or even when walking near the stack.  I also make sure to take down the stack of rocks after I'm done, I don't want them to crush a neighbor's foot or the neighbor's dog!

In the workout I wanted to accomplish a few things:
1. Full body strength challenge
2. Some conditioning, including at least 100 swings
3. Some mobility work/challenge

Using the mace was a great way to challenge the shoulders a little but also keep them from getting too tense during the course of the workout.  A lower mobility challenge along with some strength in a different vector was accomplished with the cossack squats.

There's a complete video of the workout I did below, but I also wanted to write it out for you too.

I started out with a basic joint mobility sequence, then made sure there were no ants or spiders on the rocks!  Since I wanted to do at least 5 rounds, I made sure there were at least 5 stones (for fun I stacked some extras as "cool down" after the workout).  Those of you who've trained with me in "real life" know that I like to think of workouts as being punctuated with either a movement, drill or challenge--especially since it helps me keep track. Stacking one large stone each round is the punctuation here, and rest assured I will be doing many many more variations on this super fun theme--there are so many ways to modify the workout below and endless variations. (Let me know if you need a variation or recommendation in the comments section below.)

Five (or more if you're up for it) Rounds:

The Stronger Grip Short Mace is loaded with about 2lbs of copper bbs which has a surprisingly heavy effect as they slosh around in there. If you're new to mace work there's no harm in going super light - there's actually a lot of value going light with maces in general too.

Two Quick Weekday Workouts for Kettlebells and More!

Short on Time Kettlebell Workouts

This past week was crazy busy, but now that I've got a little bit of time, there's two quick workouts to share!  One was indoors, the other outdoors, but both were fun in their own way and combined strength elements with a little bit of HIIT too. I've continued to enjoy using the fan bike for 8 all out sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest at the end of workouts. More about that near the end of this previous post.

For the first short workout, I'd been meaning to spend more "quality time" with a pair of 20kg kettlebells, so the workout is essentially centered around them. I find that getting in a fair amount of reps of standard presses with a 20kg kettlebell seems to really help my 24kg press and beyond. I need to get back into pressing the 28kg to be honest... I haven't tried in a while but I'm sure it's still fairly close if it isn't already there at least for one on a good day.

So, after a joint mobility warmup (very similar to the one included in my little eBook of random workouts I led in NYC last year) I continued the warm up with a bodyweight get-up on each side immediately followed with a single 20kg kettlebell get-up on each side. Get-ups are not only awesome to include in workouts, but I like to add a couple as part of a warm-up to "get everything working together" for lack of a better term.

Next, I did a descending ladder of presses with as little rest as possible:

Then it was time for some double kettlebell fun in a similar pattern with both 20kg:

Lastly, I spent a good 4 minutes of quality time with the air bike as discussed. Whew... that thing is serious and I'm afraid that it plus my usual kettlebell, bodyweight, and random throwing of heavy things is going to bring up the grocery bill around here. Oh well.

Here's another workout that I did outside. The goal was to quickly combine a good bit of power along with a little bit of strength, focus and grip. So, after a warm up of alternating sets of high knees and then squats with the various "training rocks" I have in the backyard (ranging from 20lbs up to 130lbs approx... though I chose the ones in th 40-60lb range for this) it was time to get down to business... I did 5 rounds of the following, and for the first 3 sets did the 10 reps of Neuro-Grip pushups in complete unbroken sets. After that I'd do 6 then rest a little, then finish the remaining 4 etc.

I did 5 sets of the following with as little rest as possible:

After that I went back indoors for a 4 minute interval set on the air bike for "fun" HAHA.

Combining the very opposite moves of tire flips and Neuro-Grip push-ups was a really interesting experience that I will want to repeat. One requires a lot of full body tension, focus, grip and balance, the other generating full body power. Would recommend! I do need a heavier tire though, towards the end I focused my intent and was flipping it in one move with no pause and possibly getting it to catch air!

Workout Wednesday: Workout Videos, Two Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts & Skill Training For Active Rest

Even with all the rain lately, I've managed to write (and do) quite a few really fun outdoor workouts


While working out in a gym or indoors (the living room here is pretty much a gym at this point) is nice, especially in the summer, working outdoors is always a special treat, even in the 90-something degree NC summer. It cracks me up though, since moving here how everyone likes to remind me that "oh well it gets hot here too!"  Yeah well, kinda... but it's been nothing like the past two brutal summers in Florida with the unrelenting humidity (heat AND humidity even at 3AM) and even more unrelenting tourists. Needless to say I can handle the low 90s... not even a problem. There's some semblence of seasons here, I'm very very grateful.

I've always enjoyed trying and making up little non-stop sequences with kettlebells and calisthenics. A few years ago I used to teach and certify others in a program that very heavily focused on creating these types of sequences and part of that has always been in my training. Depending on the exercises chosen, this can be a real brain teaser too!

The next day I had a few people over to train and decided to bring out the Dragon Door Bodyweight Master for the day - while this awesome pull-up bar is not designed for outdoor use, I've found a way to partially disassemble it to easily take it outside for the day then easily bring it back indoors.  I've also been known to stash it in one of the sheds if I feel like I can't beat the rain. I'll make a video about the partial disassembly at some point, but the short answer is simply remove the four bolts holding the top bar on, then remove the 4 bolts holding the back brace to the frame.  It's not something I'd want to do daily, but it's a nice option to have.

After training someone with a similar flow-style workout circuit I decided to make one of my own featuring a few moves I wanted to work on, too.  I warmed up with joint mobility, a few mace swings, and then got into it (the video below is a demo of what I did, complete with a silly timelapse section for LOLs). I did the workout with my trusty 24kg kettlebell.

I like to do these sequences for a minimum of 5 rounds, but 10 rounds gets really fun and challenging! As a "finisher" of sorts I did a few tire flips and then some dead hangs from from the gymnastic rings in the tree.

Since it's "Workout Wednesday" according to the internet, here's another workout! This one happened on a day when I dragged a TON of kettlebells out in the yard, I put together a sequence that would do well with a short carry/walk at the end of each round... so, here's presenting the:

Bringing Everything Back Inside "It's Cleanup Time" Circuit Workout
I didnt' have too much time, but wanted to make the most of it - so after warming up, I set the timer for 20 minutes and the mental goal to go through 4 rounds of the workout (this would allow me to carry a total of 8 kettlebells to the fence while doing a total of 20 very strict--I slowed these down on purpose--pull-ups, 12 double 20kg kettlebell clean and presses, 12 double 20kg kettlebell squats, and 100 kettlebell snatches with my weight class's RKC snatch test weight (14kg) since I added two extra per side on the last round.  

Afterwards I carried the rest of the items to the fence as part of the cool down.

Needless to say it was time for a break, so today I decided to just do some skill training as active recovery. I'd recently realized that I'd been neglecting free standing handstands which have always been annoyingly difficult for me. Annoying because I've been able to do strict handstand pushups against the wall for a while now.  Fortunately this backyard is great for handstand practice, and doing some random handstands and cartwheels the other day encouraged me to start working on them again. So far so good!  Knife throwing has been pretty difficult for me, but every time I seem to get a little better. I just have one of the better sets of throws in the video below :)  This is totally a "highlights reel."

Really looking forward to a delivery tomorrow - a set of throwing stars from Cold Steel! I'm planning to do an unboxing video too :)

33 Degrees of Happy Birthday - a Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workout

It's always a lot of fun to make up a little birthday themed workout for members of my kettlebell small group classes. Yesterday was no exception - though odd numbered ages are always an interesting challenge.  The participants in yesterday's advanced class were told to get 2 kettlebells - one on the heavy side (for 2 hand swings, the ladies chose 20kg and 24kg—told you this was an advanced class...), and one on the light side (able to press continually for moderate reps).

Since everyone loves Primal Move, we used it as our warm up, and a few extras to get us going.

Then it was time to get it done!


First Circuit:

Three Rounds of:

Part 2 with lighter kettlebell, each round done straight through if safely possible

3 (or more if you wish) rounds of:

Last but not least:

4 non-stop rounds of:

We then finished up again with Primal Move drills.  This was a great time!!

Sidenote - this is a very cool - the Convict Conditioning Log Book - all kinds of interesting extras in there as well. Even though I can't wait for it to come out in print too, this will give the ability to print extra log book pages down the road. I have to go to kinkos today anyway, having used my original CC book so much, I'm having to get it re-bound. Convict Conditioning Training Log:

A Carousel Workout - for Kettlebell and Bodyweight exercises

More affectionately nicknamed the "Carousel of Carnage" by our "knack for nicknames" guy at kettlebell small group, this circuit of stations presented some interesting challenges in the un-relenting Florida heat yesterday evening.  In addition to bringing some ideas from various other related projects to the mix, I also brought the grip balls from to further mix things up a little.  The hooks are a little on the small side for some kettlebell handles - we used them with the thin handle "women's" 16kg kettlebells from Dragon Door (which I love btw - they are perfect for some of us with small hands - even though I like to Swing the thicker handled ones just as much, it's great to have all the options.  Also, if I am doing high rep snatches, or the RKC snatch test, this is the kettlebell I always use.)*

Onto the infamous "carousel."  I searched the internet far and wide for that scary carousel monkey picture there, so I hope you appreciate it! (Photo by Bradley Gordon, CC license) Next, 4 stations (because for reasons I can't seem to figure out, if you make a circuit that involves people moving around to stations, it seems "fun and different." And yes, it has this effect on me too.  Hey, whatever works!)   We chose to do 30 seconds work, 20 seconds rest/transition/setup, with a longer rest at the end of each complete rotation of the (hahaha) "Carousel of Carnage" - which rotated a total of three times.  Rest can be increased if necessary, or if the stations are far away.

We finished up with a quick review and short descending ladder of goblet squats 5-4-3-2-1 with a pump stretch break in the middle for fun.

Finally, we ended the workout with our joint mobility exercises and called it a day!

*I need to get creative at the hardware store - a carbiner and a short piece of chain could be attached to the hook, so that any kettlebell could be carried (at least for a short while) with the grip ball.

Tough Love for the Kettlebell Clean Plus a Practice-Based Workout

Unlike some exercises, many of the kettlebell movements have a learning curve and need to be practiced.   Trendy fat-loss focused "kettlebell trainers" will seldom lead a group or individuals in properly learning the kettlebell clean.  Admittedly, it is a difficult move to teach (to be fair, the RKC Manual says "The clean is one of the easiest exercises to do... and one of the most difficult ones to do right").  Unfortunately, I have seen kettlebell trainers introduce it once, gloss over it, quickly moving onto the more familiar territory of the press and even looking the other way when a client performs an especially bad one.  One particularly popular tv trainer has even gone so far as to "redesign" the kettlebell itself to allow for further bad form with the kettlebell clean.   This is a terrible shame as the kettlebell clean is a foundation exercise, the best way to get a kettlebell into the crucial "rack" position (necessary for military presses, front squats, etc.)  It's also very useful for a variety of sports, general wellness, and even tactical applications.   I've been studying up a little bit on MMA and various martial arts lately - since considering leading a group class at a fight gym here in town - and in tandem with the powerful hip drive required for ballistic kettlebell exercises (Swing, clean, snatch), the shock-absorbing learning that occurs with the kettlebell clean is extremely valuable. 

Two very helpful articles on about kettlebell clean technique:


At the meet and greet at the RKC Level 2 Workshop last month, I saw a really compelling video clip showing a military application of certain parts of the Get Up - the extreme shoulder stabilization required to properly perform the Get Up really seems to help maintain your accuracy when firing a machine gun while you are moving. (ever the party animal, I saw a laptop and was nosy) This reminded me of my rural friends and their shotgun range out in "the sticks." One of them trains with kettlebells and is going to be the unwitting subject of a little human experiment.  I've been thinking a lot about the stability (bracing with muscular tension in this case) and shock absorbing skills taught by the kettlebell clean...  Some say that kettlebell training done in the RKC Hardstyle method is similar to learning to take a hit or a kick without actually having to endure an actual hit/kick.  

Again... crucial that the clean is performed correctly. As with the Swing, all the power comes from your hips, the arms just direct where the kettlebell goes, don't throw the kettlebells out in front of you on the way up or the way down, "dump" them close to your body then throw them behind you at the last possible moment to "hike" and reload your hamstrings - as they come back up for the next clean, punch your elbows behind you to flip the kettlebell to the crook of your elbow.  Always make sure your shoulders stay square and there is no twisting of the spine (you see this happen with single kettlebell swings a lot and it makes me hurt to even watch it.)  All this of course makes much more sense in person - so train with me, won't you?

As promised here's the little workout - the participants on this particular day were having problems with the clean - and we discovered that one of them would do much better cleans when he had 2 kettlebells - so we tried to build a habitual pattern of success, then switched back to singles, etc.   Back and forth a bit - and at the end "hey you know those abs you kept forgetting to use?  Yeah, its one arm plank time..."  Betcha their memory improves...

Start with your Joint Mobility warm ups

  1. I go, you go - single kettlebell cleans and presses 3 reps then the partner goes - keep a good pace going - moderately heavy weight, but focus on the form - that's the whole point here.  10-12 minutes total
  2. I go, you go - double kettlebell cleans and presses 3 reps then the partner goes - keep a good pace going - moderately heavy weight, but focus on the form - that's the whole point here.  10-12 minutes total
  3. Tabata double cleans - medium to light weight - focus on all the power coming from the hips, if not you'll be toast in no time 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest 4 mins total
  4. Tabata double swings - medium to light weight - again focus on power from the hips, striving for perfect form with NO backwards leaning at the top - totally everything tense at the top of the Swing, tight abs, glutes, kneecaps pulled up.
  5. 1 minute plank with right arm lifted, 1 minute plank with left arm lifted (keep it square, don't even think about shifting your weight onto that other side!)
  6. 1 minute plank with right foot lifted, 1 minute plank with left foot lifted (keep it square, don't even think about shifting your weight onto that other side!)

Joint mobility cool down and form discussion q&a  


I congratulate the person in the photo for having the flexibility and mobility necessary to perform this bizarre and possibly useless "kettlebell exercise." I would encourage her to focus on kettlebells of a real weight, basic POWERFUL movements and to save the dancing around for the nightclubs, the dance studio, or other social engagements.  While this move may look "pretty" and not so intimidating, it is also not particularly useful.  Sure, it makes a great picture... great pictures sell things like magazines, gym and boot camp memberships, workout clothing and those horrible little rubber coated kettlebell-shaped paperweights people pedal to women.  Be wise.  DO THE REAL THING.  Find an RKC Certified Instructor in your area.

A 300 workout...

After the movie 300 came out there was a lot of buzz in various magazines, blogs etc. about the 300 Workout which the cast of the movie was purported to have used to get in marvelous shape.   Rumors formed, theories abounded blah blah blah.   At the end of it, a lot of people were inspired to make up their own workout of 300 reps... and today I came up with one myself.   Adapted from one I saw online while clicking around... I changed out several of the exercises to make it more kettlebell focused.

Do three rounds as quickly (BUT SAFELY) as possible, resting when needed (keep MOVING during rest-taking... your heart will thank you).

Use your favorite kettlebell.   Because I was testing it out, I used my trusty little 12 Kilo kettlebell.   It went pretty quick so I think its going to have to be the 16 Kilo kettlebell next time...


OK... do this for 3 rounds:

20 Push Ups

20 Snatches

20 Clean&Presses

20 Swings

20 Front Squats (10/side) or Goblet Squats


For extra credit take 2-3minutes rest when you're done, then finish up with 10 Get Ups (5/side)

Somewhat Advanced Park Workout - Bodyweight and Kettlebell

Do you remember the feeling you'd have as a kid after a good hard playtime at a park?  After climbing on things, chasing your friends, swinging on the swings, trying stunts on the balance beam, etc?   I experienced it again yesterday - and demolished the last half of a bottle of Amasai and a large bowl of crockpot borscht because of it.  


Inspired by the Dragon Door Bodyweight Workshop, MovNat, and the RKC, here's what I did -

Swap out your own progressions and just have fun practicing!

Up for a Challenge? Aww its just a little "Sissy Challenge" :)

My super cool friends from The EDGE Team Performance Center and Kettlebell Club in Dayton, Ohio in have started a facebook event called The Edge Sissy Test Invitational it's a fun conditioning workout test that you can do infrequently to check on your progress.  No idea why it's called "sissy" because it's anything but!

Here's the scoop - I did it backwards - accidentally on purpose* (choose a moderate sized kettlebell** - or one that you train with regularly) and:

Start your timer - I just used the stopwatch function on my handy-dandy Gymboss Timer.

With the heavy kettlebell, and a fun friend making me laugh from time to time, I managed this in 1hr, 4:08mins    Do your best but stay sane, take breaks when you need to, remembering to stay upright and moving.  Drink tons of water too, no matter where you are.

*Wanted to make sure that the form of the swings would not suffer - so I started with the higher repetitions being the swings, then working down. 

**I was in a weird mood and wanted to further bond with my 24KG bell so I chose that, the burpees portion felt like a "break" which is probably not what they were going for with this.  General guideline - beginner ladies, use your 8KG kettlebell, more advanced ladies go with 12kg or 16KG or be a nut job like me and go heavy!   Guys consider a 16KG or heavier if you feel like it.  No matter WHAT kettlebell you choose, keep your swings strict, hardstyle, and intentional for a fantastic workout challenge.

Visiting Fitcamp - a Workout for Cold (Florida) weather!

Much fun was had last night at Tim Shuman, RKCII's 6pm kettlebell Fitcamp...  first off, it was cold (which is probably laughable to people up North, but I am personally optimized for extreme heat, if it gets below 60 degrees I need a jacket), which to me is 50 Degrees F or below.   And girl genius here had ran out the door without socks on.  Fortunately I got there early and ran into the tennis pro shop... 


After our standard Fitcamp joint mobility warmup, we were more than happy to grab the cold handles of our kettlebells and do a quick 20 swings so that we started to literally get warmer.   (Lately, I have been taking a kettlebell with me to the bootcamps I help lead, so that if the campers are running a lap on the track, I can do some swings or snatches and stay warm too).    Tim had us all start with a great little combo - ascending/descending ladders of Goblet Squats and Swings - here's how it works:


10 Goblet Squats, 1 Swing

9 Goblet Squats, 2 Swings

8 Goblet Squats, 3 Swings

etc. down to 1 Goblet Squat, 10 Swings

It is well known that I quickly lose my ability to count under these circumstances, but that just means I do extra... one day I will learn.  OR NOT.


Following that, Tim distributed even MORE kettlebells to each of us - it was DOUBLES TIME!!!!!!!    We did 5 sets of 5 double kettlebell cleans and presses, all the while troubleshooting our various form difficulties, we then did 5 sets of 5 double kettlebell cleans, 5 sets of 5 double kettlebell swings, 3 sets of 3 double kettlebell snatches (yeeeeaaaah!!!) .    An interesting note is that we did these Return of the Kettlebell style - meaning that it was like a regular snatch on the way up, but we brought them back down from overhead as if we had cleaned and pressed them.  Please comment if you need me to explain further.   This really necessitated a properly executed backswing etc to generate enough power to snatch the two kettlebells up again.   I was using two 12 kilo kettlebells for this, which is approx 44% of my bodyweight for this exercise - which was fun and intense to say the very least.


Last, we took our kettlebells to the nearby field and lined up - we picked up one kettlebell and did 10 slingshots in each direction then cleaned both kettlebells for a farmer's walk.   This was repeated about 6 times - with of course no one allowed to get sloppy!    No one was cold at this point!

The Leg DESTROYER - A boot camp workout for when you forgot your kettlebell....

YOU FORGOT YOUR KETTLEBELL?!?!?  Shame on you... seriously, like big time... or maybe you're on vacation and had to fly there?  For whatever reason, get your Gymboss timer out because its time to atone and tone.


First off, make sure to warm up well with some light stretching and/or joint mobility.   Take a little jog or do some jumping jacks, mountain climbers etc.  Get your heart rate up a little bit, then do a few body weight squats, keeping your weight in your heels, and sitting WAAAY back.


First Circuit:

You will do 3 sets of the following on EACH LEG - so a total of 6 sets.  Start with the left leg and do

10 lunges to the front, 10 lunges to the side (lateral lunges), 10 lunges to the back, then 10 alternating walking lunges.  Do 10 MORE lunges to the side but at a quicker pace.  Then and only then do you immediately switch legs. Rest as needed, but keep it to a minimum.

After you have done this sequence 3 times for each leg, take one whole minute and jog in place with high knees.


Fun with Wall-Sits

Find a wall... do 3 sets of 45 second wall sits :)  Rest between these sets as needed, but try and keep it to a minimum.


Circuit 2

Set your Gymboss timer for 30 second continuous intervals and

30 seconds body weight squats

30 seconds alternating lunges

30 second "Hindu Squats"

30 seconds quick pulsed squats

30 seconds rest

Repeat three times then, do 1 minute of mountain climbers at your best pace


Outer Thigh Burnout

Lying on your side, elbow directly under your shoulder, and with both legs straight, lift the top leg completely from the ground upwards, keeping your toe pointed downwards (remember Buns of Steel from the 1980s?) Do this leg lift 30 times, on the 30th rep, keep your leg at the top and pulse down halfway for 30 more counts.  Flip over and do the same with your other leg.   If you are a cheeky monkey you should do this sequence twice with each side.

Do 1 minute of high knees jogging in place


Tabata Burpees for the Win

What? Still got some left? OK!!!   Tabata time - which means, set your Gymboss timer for two intervals, one at 20 seconds the other at 10 seconds, and make it for 8 rounds.  The less you have to think on this the better! :)   Do your burpees for 20 seconds, rest for the 10 precious seconds.  Repeat the cycle 8 times for 4 minutes of fat blasting fun.


Oblique Oblivion

Normally I'm not a huge fan of direct ab work (except for Convict Conditioning style hanging leg raises, and those hanging from the knees Rocky montage style sit ups), but it has a good place in outdoor boot camp workouts that you can do anywhere.  Besides, its a decent cooldown and your legs are probably mad at you right now if you have pushed yourself properly....   so here you go.  Set your Gymboss timer for continuous intervals of either 30 seconds or 45 seconds (depending on how you feel) and get ready:

Side plank, Right side of your body facing the ground, immediately flip over so that your right side is facing up, your knees are bent and pointing towards the left and crunch up on that oblique.   Repeat for the left side - side plank, oblique crunch.   Do at least 2 of this sequence per side.


Remember to cool down, stretch out and get plenty of water.