It's Harder For Women To Gain Muscle With Kettlebells

FROM YOUR COACH

Lift Kettlebells

Although you might gain a little muscle over the first few months of any progressive resistance training program, however especially if you are a woman, you will plateau with gains and it will be very difficult to continue putting on more. Your body will balance at a point and UNLESS you are eating to gain, you won't gain.

Scientifically there is no need to worry about growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger muscles. This is due to lower testosterone and higher estrogen.

The reality of that is rather difficult to do, especially as a woman. Again, when someone does not train for a long time, or has never trained in their life, and then begins a progressive resistance training program an increase in lean muscle tissue is going to happen and is very common. Ultimately this is a very good thing because with increased muscle comes a higher metabolism, increased strength, and increased overall energy... all good things!

Our workouts at Synergy Kettlebell Training are balanced with the big picture of the week. Some have a more upper body focus while others have lower and others still have core or cardio.

Our workouts are also designed for Strength Endurance being our primary big picture goal. We do this in 3 phases over a 3 month training cycle. Ex. Month one's focus is Power [shorter sets, 5-10 reps], month two's focus is Strength [moderate sets, 10-20 reps], and month three we focus on Conditioning [longer sets, 30+ reps], etc.

Depends on the day, but if someone comes at least 3 times a week they will experience a variety of focuses and every 2 weeks we change up our workout theme so that the training cycle continues progressing each trainee in a way where the body adapts positively, but does not ever plateau. It's also a much more fun workout and entertaining training experience that way too!

Warmups & Workouts

WARMUPS & WORKOUTSWhat is the best warm up before a workout? Is it stretching, foam rolling, cobra poses, or what?

Synergy Dynamics

Make the warm up the workout is what my colleague Coach Dan John would say. An example of what he means by this is if you going to be squatting in your workout, you should be squatting in your warm up. All you need are a few light sets of 15, 20, or so reps is typically sufficient. Since we change up our workouts at Synergy Kettlebell so much we try to include movements in our warm ups that are moving all the joints and "prime mover" muscles.

synergy_dixon

But is that enough? The answer is: usually yes, but sometimes no. Most of the time what studies have shown is a few brief minutes on the foam roller and some gentle stretching/mobility will do. This is precisely why we have our Synergy Dynamics mobility drills positioned at the front of all classes first and then any weighted movements we do are a bonus, but not necessarily required.

Stretching has received a few bad marks these past couple years, but stretching in the right capacity has always been useful and good. If something is tight, I think you should stretch it. That’s also what Dan John and other top coaches would say.

Yoga pose

But what about correctives, and all that functional movement stuff? Great question! Most of the time we build correctives right into the workouts and you often times see them in between sets. They are a good way to keep rest periods productive (aka active rest), without sacrificing precious energy, and sometimes even regenerating it, like a health pack in a video game.

1 up

It can be, however, a mistake and of course a waste of time to do 30 minutes of warm up or corrective work, like leg raises, bird dogs, and ankle rolls before a workout though. Then all your time and concentration has been sucked right out of you. Do only what you need before you lift to prepare you for your workout and then save the rest for afterwards if you still desire to do those things.

3 Things That Make or Break My Workouts

Bob Garon OCR Training 2There are 3 things that I most always do and when I do I feel the benefits from them in my workout performance and recovery. If I alter even one of these 3 I almost immediately begin to feel the effects of that variable change.

2014-05-19 11.54.33 1) The first is after every single workout I always have a green smoothie. Green smoothies are essentially a dark leafy green with 1-3 fruits on top of that. The fruit masks the flavor of the dark leafy green and you receive all the nutritional benefits from the greens and fruit to begin working in your body to increase recovery. Just by that green smoothie inflammation is reduced in the body, energy climbs, hormones balance (cortisol & estrogen lower, testosterone spikes), and muscle heals.

One of my favorite recipes is simple and so nutritiously good! Big handful of spinach or kale Cup of blueberries 2-3 ripe bananas 1-2 apricots Blend and enjoy!

My friend Sergei Boutenko recently conducted a study on the effects green smoothies have on our bodies, mainly on athlete bodies. He studied runners and Crossfit athletes. What he found in the results of his 6 week study were pretty amazing. All the athletes did was add in one green smoothie every day into their diet. In fact, he didn't want them to alter anything else so they can clearly study the results from the introduction of the green smoothie. Check out his documentary called: Powered By Green Smoothies.

wpid-wp-1400705674759.jpeg 2) The second thing I do is always ensure I very thoroughly warmup and cool down. Without scheduling and spending the time to warmup and cool down I feel my body take longer to get into the workout and perform at the level I intend for it. Often times, during my strength training workouts, I spend more time warming up and cooling down than I do with my exercises for the workout. That's how important this part is. I also have been injured in the past, actually not too long ago and I posted about it too, and so I know how important it is for me to ensure I not only do this, but lead my Kettlebell and running students to do the same.

Here is the exact warmup and cooldown mobility drills and stretches that I practice before and after every single workout. I call them "Synergy Dynamics".

2014-03-11 17.31.153) The third thing is every day I make sure I get the right amount of sleep. This is probably THE MOST important one of the three. This can sometimes be a challenge as I get wrapped up in work or watching a Netflix tv show marathon, but sleep is rivaling its importance with good nutrition. Often times I feel the sleep I get is even more important than the food I put into my body. I eat for performance, for overall health & longevity, and also for recovery from workouts. No matter how I eat, if I don't get enough sleep my body will never fully heal itself and because of that, my performance and health will then suffer.

During sleep our tissues repair themselves and hormones balance. In studies, it is found that when we don't get enough sleep our stress hormones are spiked and this also jeopardizes our immunity on top of that. One way to help us get our 7-8 hours of sleep a night is to turn off or dim the lights around us. This includes our TVs, computers, phones, tablets, etc. The ambient light stimulates our brains to want to stay awake by not producing the melatonin hormone which helps us initiate our Circadian Rhythm.

I hope these 3 things help you and by practicing them every day I know you will experience increased health, strength, body leanness (aka fat loss), and longevity. Overall you will be happier with yourself and how your body works. Well either do the above 3 for that to happen or we could just add my favorite bonus #4 which is to eat dark chocolate. That alone can accomplish everything!

4 Race Day Tips When Running An Obstacle Course Race or Mud Run

Bob Garon Indy Spartan Sprint 2014 Every weekend somewhere there is an obstacle course race going on and thousands upon thousands will run the race and overcome the obstacles. While prepping for the race we can get all excited and forget some pretty important post-race things to do. I have a quick checklist for you so you will go home like a champ.

FOR THOSE OF YOU RUNNING A SPARTAN RACE, TOUGH MUDDER, WARRIOR DASH, OR ANY OTHER CargoZoneOBSTACLE COURSE RACE (OCR) THIS WEEKEND HERE ARE SOME RACE DAY TIPS FOR YOU:

1) Bring a change of clothes, flip flops, 1 trash bag, damp wash clothes in plastic baggies, and 2 towels with you in your car to the race. One towel is to take off excess dirt and water from you post race. The other towel is to put on the seat for when you drive home. The trash bag is to put your dirty clothes and shoes in post race back at the car when you are changing.

2) Use the damp wash clothes to clean off your face, hands, and any other body parts still needing attention. Change by the car with the door open. While one of you is changing a friend (gotta be a really good friend LOL) can hold a towel up so no one sees your diddy doos. LOL!

3) Have coconut water or regular water, and some fruit in the car for you to eat on the way home. Gotta get that energy back up!

4) Have a spray bottle of peroxide ready to go when you get home. Have someone, your spouse or significant other is probably best, to spray you down head to toe, in the nude, with peroxide and GET IN ALL CRACKS N CREVICES. Just stand there and let that sit for 5 minutes like that. This will ensure any potential poison ivy gets neutralized right away. The oil in poison ivy will be deactivated by the peroxide. You will also KNOW where all your cuts and scrapes are too. Ha ha!! Shower after that with strong anti-bacterial soap so any debris gets off.

Please share the link to my article here along to anyone you know will benefit and leave me a comment to me know how you do at your race! -Bob, Girya Warrior

Bob Garon has both participated in and prepared people for Tough Mudder events, Spartan Race events, Warrior Dash events, Skyrise Chicago Willis Tower 103 Floor Climb, 5k, 10k, 15k, triathlon, marathon, cycling (crits and century ride) events to successfully complete each one with great results. If you would like a custom program for your event contact him below and he will design one for you.

Contact Bob Garon by email here:  bob@synergykt.com.

What Are The Best Kettlebell Exercises?

PhotoGrid_1358133699541 I often get asked what the best exercises are and which Kettlebell exercise is the best. I say to always stick to the basics because the basic always work.

They are swing, snatch, jerk, long cycle clean and jerk, some front (aka rack) squats, TGUs (turkish get up) are good too.

Turkish Getup

Don't forget to include some body weight exercises such as pullup variations, dips, pushup variations, lunges, jumping squats (with or without a KB), and heavy tire flips or deadlifts FOR SURE! These will all engage your core so much more than any abdominal specific exercise ever could.

Each of those movements tie directly into the body's 8 primal movement patterns. So stay focused on the basics because the basics will never steer you wrong.

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Ask Bob Anything About Supplements

Bob_Garon_Ask_Bob_Anything_Supplements Learn what supplements I am currently taking and what supplements I recommend because there's A LOT of crap out there on the market.

Did you know that some multi-vitamins contain gluten in them? You might be gluten free in your food choices, but the same symptoms can continue to persist in your body simply because of the small amount in a supplement.

Lisa will also be doing her video on this same topic. I'll post as soon as it's ready.  

MEN: Purchase Mike Mahler's "Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster", the real deal that actually works here: http://www.bobgarontraining.com/store-gallery

Spartan Race Workouts Are A Bad Program & Can Kill You!

  Team Synergy Life 2I love competitive events. I love to run. I also love obstacles and challenges. Put those together and you have Spartan Race. I have ran my share of Spartan Race events and plan to continue to in the future. I thoroughly enjoy their events and also enjoy the goal they give me to train hard in preparation.

I've been asked me recently by a few people what I thought about the Spartan Race workouts of the day ("WODs") and if they are any good.

MY SHORT ANSWER

No, no, no I do NOT think they are good and in my professional opinion they are some of THE WORST program design of any recommended workout I have ever seen. I am not sure who is writing their programs, but just because a few challenging exercises are tossed together with a few distance run intervals does not make it an acceptably competent program. Honestly I personally feel the programs they are publishing publicly is quite irresponsible of them.

MY LONG ANSWER

Here is a recent Spartan Race WOD (workout of the day).

Spartan Abs 2 workout of the day

Allow me to break it down for you. In case you have not yet ran a Spartan Race, or are unfamiliar with their race distance lengths, here is the breakdown.

Spartan Sprint- 3+ MILES / 15+ OBSTACLES Super Spartan- 8+ MILES / 20+ OBSTACLES Spartan Beast- 12+ MILES / 25+ OBSTACLES Source: http://spartanrace.com

So in the above Spartan Race WOD, if you intend to train for and run the Spartan Sprint race you should perform this particular workout 1-2 times through. If you are intending to train for the Spartan Super race you should perform it 2-3x and if you are intending to train for the Spartan Beast race you should perform it 4-8x.

Seems legit right? The longer and tougher the Spartan Race event the more you have to train above and beyond it correct?

1) Someone who is training for the Spartan Sprint would then be performing up to 60 crunches, 30 hanging knee raises, 8 minutes of planks, and 4 miles during their workout. Not too bad right?

2) Spartan Super racers would need to perform 90 crunches, 45 hanging knee raises, 12 minutes of planks, and 6 miles.

3) Training for a Spartan Beast? Good luck because you will need to perform up to 240 crunches, 120 hangining knee raises, 32 minutes of planks, and run 16 miles. Oh and don't forget to stretch at the end BECAUSE you are going to need it!

Here is another one of their recent WODs.

The Spartan 100

Usain_Bolt_2012_Olympics_1Do you see those numbers?! At a minimum Spartan Sprint race level of 8 times through you would have to perform 80 pushups, 80 jumping lunges, 80 pullups, 80 burpees, 80 squats, and 240 crunches. Plus on top of that you would have to perform the 3,000 meters of sprints. That equals to just under 2 miles of sprinting. If you are training for the Spartan Beast you will need to say some prayers in order to get through your 16 rounds of pure Spartan hell. WOW!! Good luck performing 160 pushups, 160 jumping lunges, 160 pullups (are you insane?!!), 160 burpees, 160 squats, and 480 crunches. Plus on top of that you would have to perform the 9,600 meters of sprints. That equals to just under 6 miles of sprinting. 6 miles of sprinting... ummm... not sure Usain Bolt does that much during his workouts!!

In my professional opinion, twice through this workout should be the Max and anything more than that is just over-training and plain stupid. Yes and then definitely do the cool-down stretching because you will certainly need all that you can get to help you cope with your next 2 months of soreness.

Illogical Design

spock logicSpartan Race's logic seems to be to do much more than what's expected during their races, so that when you are actually there running the race, it will be easier. Makes sense right?  Well... not exactly and it doesn't translate from training to event performance as you might think.

What they fail to see is every single one of their workouts suggest that each workout will compound upon the last. Sorry to say then the people who are blindly following their daily workouts believe they will improve. Think about the sorest you have ever been from any workout and then continue working out and still training like that each day. Your body will not have time to recover, to heal and catch up, and your immune system, nervous system, and hormones will greatly greatly be effected in a drastic way.

Fitness Experts or Fitness Farce?

Spartan Race's subscribers believe in them as "fitness experts", when they are most certainly not, simply because they can throw together some burpees, crunches, and a run fabricated into a WOD, posted on their Facebook, Instagram, website, and email blast list. These "workouts" will directly lead to over-training within the first week or two and then, if continued, the body will never catch up.Trail-Running-vs-Road-Running

Authentic Program Design

Most all the other sport performance and fitness performance training programs suggest a much different program design than Spartan Race. I'm sure they will have you believe that they are attempting to storm the market with their elite level force to blast through races with superhuman-like participants. I think not! The human body responds to certain types of training and their's is an excessive extreme that will quickly hurt somebody and regress them rather than progress.

Think about it like this, when a runner trains for a marathon, how often do they ever run 26 miles or more during their training? Typically that's not at all. What they will do is they will get close with a 20 or 22 miler, but very rarely or never the full distance depending on the program design. During the training process the human body does not need to go the full distance because it will have been conditioned enough to run it at a faster pace with a spartan_race_slapshorter distance trained. If it is a good program even intervals, short distance with a higher intensity, will be part of the process.

This is the same exercise and training science for other sporting events where fitness is involved. When I train for Kettlebell Sport events we very rarely performed during training what we were going to be doing on the platform in competition. We built up to it and got close for the sake of conditioning and confidence. This is so that the body does not over-train, is able to recover, and to continue progressing directly due to the workout setting the body up for progressive recovery.

My Final Thoughts & Advice

Spartan Race doesn't seem to pick up on a sort of logical program design that is conducive to the way the human body responds to training, recovery, and progress. I personally do not advocate following any of their workouts until they do. Yes I personally will continue to participate at their events, bring my Spartan Life team to their events, promote their events at my Synergy Kettlebell Training gyms, talk about their events on social media because I thoroughly enjoy the events themselves; however I will not participate in or support their daily workouts whatsoever.