The Most Valuable Exercise

If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would you choose? As someone who’s obsessed with iron, you’d think I’d choose one of the big lifts or even the farmers walk. The one exercise I’d choose is the sprint. This is one of the most natural human movements. It’s in our DNA. Our ancestors had to sprint to run away from wild animals or to chase something.

Luckily for all of us who don’t have access to a gym, the option to sprint is still available. It’s a total body exercise that requires zero equipment. All you need is the proper clothes and open space. They’re fun too. Sprinting is like riding a roller coaster but you are the roller coaster. The reason sprints are the most valuable exercises is because they can help you in the different areas of fitness.

What’s Your Fitness Goal?

Do you want to burn fat? Sprinting is one of the best fat burning exercises you can do. It works every muscle in your body and will have your heart rate up for hours after. This means you’ll be burning calories even after your workout.

Do You want to build muscle? Sprinting stimulates your fast twitch muscles, the type responsible for muscle growth. I’ve never seen a sprinter without a decent amount of muscle. It’s also proven to increase muscle building hormones like HGH and testosterone.

Do you want to gain strength? Sprinting strengthens your nervous system which increases your strength gaining potential. This makes sense since strength is a function of the nervous system.

Even if you don’t have access to weights, you can still take advantage of all the fat burning, muscle gaining, and overall awesome benefits of sprinting. If you could only choose one exercise to do for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Below are some valuable resources in your sprint training:

The different ways I’ve used sprint training-Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints

Outdoor workout that builds strong and muscular legs-Outdoor Leg Workout For The Ages!

The benefits of hill sprints-My Love For Hill Sprints

Study talking about how short sprints affect testosterone and human growth hormone- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19057403/

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Strength is The Solution

This post is about the importance of strength training in any fitness program

If you have a fitness problem, strength is the solution.  Throughout my fitness journey, I realized that for every challenge I’ve faced, getting stronger has helped me get through it . If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll see that I’m a big supporter of  strength training. Why wouldn’t I be? Strength is one of the key foundations of fitness.

Build Muscle

The stronger you are, the easier it is to build muscle. I agree that high volume work is great for building muscle mass but you shouldn’t forget about strength building. Someone who can bench press 255 pounds for seven reps will have a greater capacity to build muscle than someone who can only bench press 180 pounds for seven reps.

The more weight you use, the more muscle fibers are being activated. Greater muscle fiber activation means a greater potential of building muscle. It’s that simple. Diet and recovery are the other factors that will play into muscle growth.

Burn Fat

Getting stronger also helps with fat-loss. Strength training activates more muscle fibers than any other type of training. Speed work is also in that discussion. Even though strength is a function of the nervous system, you will build muscle as a result of strength training.

You won’t look as large as someone who trains with greater volume but you will notice a difference. This muscle gained will raise your resting metabolism, causing you to burn more calories in every activity you do. A side effect of this is you’ll be hungry all the time!

Another reason strength training is great for fat-loss is it causes a lot of metabolic stress. Any type of training that involves using a lot of muscle fibers will have this effect on your body. The stress caused by strength training takes a lot to recover from. Your body will be burning a ton of calories as it’s trying to recover from training. Strength training should be included in any fat-loss program .

Improve Athleticism

Strength is critical for any athlete. I speak from experience when I say strength training will make you better at any athletic activity and sport. Strength training has helped me improve my vertical jump and sprint speed dramatically. If you look at any high level athlete, they have some strength training in their routine.

Even someone on the opposite end of the spectrum like a marathon runner needs some type of strength training. Their strength training won’t be as intense as a power athlete’s program. Their training volume will also be significantly lower.

Yogis can benefit from strength training as well. I’ve talked about how yoga helps strength strength athletes but the reverse can be true. Having a good strength base will make it easier for you to handle yoga poses like the high lunge and chaturanga.

Feel Better

Strength training will make you feel better overall. You’ll have a natural sense of confidence knowing that you’re capable of doing things physically. You’ll also be happy in your body. When you’re strong, you feel powerful. You naturally feel like you can do great things.

Strength training will also help you with your health. When I’ve had some aching joints in the past, strengthening the muscles around that joint helped me find instant relief. That’s why I’m so adamant about building armor.

Strength training has also made me more resilient to stress. When you’re putting yourself self in a high stress situation like being under a heavy barbell, a lot of challenges you face in life seem less significant.

If you want to increase your chances of achieving any health or fitness goal, strength training will help. You don’t have to be a powerlifter or an olympic athlete to benefit from strength training.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Outdoor Leg Workout For The Ages!

This post is great for people without gym memberships and those who want to spice up their fitness routine.

Following the theme from my previous post,I added an outdoor workout to my routine. I’ll be doing this workout every week and I believe it’ll contribute to my Fitness goals of overall strength, athleticism, and health.

My Workout:

My workout was very simple. I found a short and moderately steep hill and did some hill sprints. The purpose of this workout was to build leg power. Since I do leg work at the gym too, I made sure my total volume was low.

Five sets of two hill sprints. I rested two minutes in between each set. After the hill workout, I did isometric lunges for one minute on each leg. I did two sets for each leg with a minute rest in between.

Benefits of This Workout:

Safety: There’s some form of risk with every workout you do. It depends on a number of factors like your mechanics, pre-existing injuries, and how much you recovered from previous workouts. I believe the rewards of this workout outweigh the risk since there’s no external load involved. Also, the sprints you’re doing is on a hill so won’t be moving fast enough to pull your hamstring or put your ligaments at risk.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Recruitment: By doing hill sprints with an emphasis on speed and power, you’ll be recruiting a lot of fast-twitch muscles. Fast-Twitch muscles are the muscle fibers that produce the greatest muscle growth.

Fast-twitch muscles also make you a better athlete. The explosive movements you see in sports and in the weightroom involve the usage of a lot of fast-twitch muscles. The isometric lunges also recruit fast twitch muscles due to the fact that you have to activate as much muscle fibers as possible so your legs can stay stable. Doing them after hill sprints makes me work that much harder.

Fat-Loss: Every time I’ve had sprints in my training routine, I’ve been my leanest. It makes sense when you think about how hard your body is working to move fast. There’s so much muscles involved in the movement. Now imagine the extra work you have to do to run up a hill as fast as possible. Sprinting is an aerobic workout too. When I did this workout, I was breathing heavily. My heart was moving faster than a stampede of buffalo. The image below is the aftermath of this workout.

Joint Health: This goes hand in hand with the safety aspect of the workout. Safety aside, I believe this workout makes your joints healthier. I’m speaking from experience when I say that hill sprints have helped me improve my joint health.

My ankles and hips have gotten stronger as a result of running hills. When I first started running hills, I experienced soreness in these joints as a result of the intensity of the movement.

The isometric lunge part of the workout also contributes to joint health. In order to hold the lunge position, your joints have to be stabilized. They also build muscle endurance, which is critical for injury prevention. Most injuries happen when the muscles are fatigued.

Closing Thoughts: If you want to get outside of the weightroom and hit your legs a different way, this article is for you. It’s a fun way to mix up your workouts. So remember, Hill Sprints are awesome and the world is your gym!

The Magic of Supersets

This article is about how supersets can help you build muscle and burn fat. Article also includes a sample workout routine.

Is it possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time? From my experience, it can be done. There are many factor involved with building muscle and burning fat simultaneously such as diet, training, and sleep. One method that has worked for me is using superset.

What Are Supersets?

Supersets are when you do two different movements consecutively. The key is two do two movements that work opposite  muscle groups. An example would be push ups followed immediately by rows. A bad example would be bench press followed by push ups. Supersets don’t always have to be done with opposite movements as long as the 2 movements don’t work the same muscles.

There’s a number of reasons why supersets are great for building muscle and burning fat at the same time. The muscle building benefits are obvious as you’re lifting a weight that’s challenging enough to build muscles for a good amount of reps, preferably 6-10 reps. This is the typical rep range used when building muscle. Since you’r working different muscle groups for each movement, you’ll still be in the muscle building range for each movement. Supersets work for fat loss because by being in constant motion, you keep your heart rate high for a longer duration. This is similar to when you’re doing an intense form of cardio.

Another benefit of supersets is that it saves you time. By doing two consecutive movements, you get more done in less time. The more you can incorporate supersets in your routine, the less days you’ll have to go to the gym since many muscle groups will be hit in each workout. I like to do this for my accessory lifts because the main lifts like squats bench press, and deadlifts require more energy and concentration.

 

Sample Workout

Below is a workout I added to my routine when I was focused on building muscle and burning fat. I believe this workout set a good foundation for me as I’m currently focused on building strength.

1. Back Squats–  With the back squat, I like to make the eccentric or lowering of the weight slow. The eccentric portion of a lift is when the most muscle tear occurs. Muscle tear leads to muscle growth once you recover. Once I reach the bottom position, I pause at the bottom for 3 seconds. You can also replace the back squat with the deadlift for this workout.

3 sets of 7 with a 1.5 minute rest in between each rep.

Set 1:

2. Legs and Back Superset: Bulgarian Split Squat and Bent Over Row

Bulgarian Split Squat– 6 reps

Bent Over Row– 7 reps

Rest for 1 minute

Repeat til you complete 3 sets

3. Physioball Hamstring Curl.

3 sets of 30 with a 1 minute rest in between.

4. Finisher: To end this workout, I usually do the jump rope or punching bag finisher that I mentioned in my previous post Finish Strong and Burn Fat! . You can use the kettlebell finisher too if your hips aren’t too tired from the squats and split squats.

Photo on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a>

 

Get an Awesome Body With Kettlebell Swings

This article is about how kettlebell swings will transform your body.

If Kettlebell Swings are the only movement you do for the rest of your life, you’d have a functional and attractive body. I’ve heard stories of people losing several pounds and dropping layers of fat just by doing 10-20 minutes of Kettlebell Swings per day. The kettlebell swing was a key movement in Tim Ferris’ book the 4 Hour Body. It’s also held in high regard by prominent strength coaches like Dan John and Bret Contreras.

As you know I’m a big supporter of sprints  Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints. Unfortunately, some people aren’t well suited to perform sprints whether it’s due to injury, problems, or other reasons. Kettlebell Swings provide the same benefits as sprints minus the risk of hamstring pulls or joint strain. In fact, when I had a knee injury four years ago, I relied on Kettlebell Swings as my form of cardio. The Kettlebell swings actually contributed to my recovery due to the work it did on my posterior chain. They allow me to get a great cardio workout during the winter.

Kettlebell Swings and Fat Loss:

The kettlebell swings are so effective for fat loss because they work every muscle in your body. From the posterior chain muscles like glutes and hamstrings to the upper back and shoulder, the kettlebell swing is the total package. To reap the fat loss benefits of kettlebell swings, it’s best to do a high volume. You can also use kettlebell swings as a super-set with other exercises.

Kettlebell Swings and Performance:

Fat loss benefits aren’t the only benefits of swings. Since the posterior chain ( the backside of your body from upper back to calves) are critical to sprinting and jumping, kettlebell swings can make you a better athlete. By strengthening these muscles, you’ll also improve in various lifts especially the deadlift. The kettlebell swing is such a major complement to the deadlift for a number of reasons. The kettlebell swing is a hinge movement just like the deadlift. The kettlebell swing strengthens the same muscles that are highly utilized in the deadlift. The kettlebell swing teaches you how to move your hips in an explosive manner. Explosive hips will allow you to have a more fluid motion on your deadlifts. The kettlebell swing will strengthen your grip due to you having to hold the weight for several reps while still moving at explosively. Your core will get a good workout too because you have to stabilize your spine throughout the whole movement.

Kettlebell Swing Workouts:

I’m usually on and off with my usage of kettlebell swings but I plan on making a conscious effort use them at least once per week. There’s one protocol that has worked for me. I learned it on t-nation.com. The protocol involves doing 20 swings followed by a plank in which you’ll do ten deep belly breaths. Then you keep repeating this til you do at least 100 swings. There’s no rest in between.

Another protocol that I want to incorporate takes 5 minutes. In this protocol, you’ll do as many swings as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds on rest. You repeat this sequence til the five minutes are up. I like this protocol because it holds you accountable. You can’t just settle for a certain number of reps. By being timed, you’re challenged to get up as much as possible, making the workout more intense. I plan on going back and forth between this protocol and the one I learned on t-nation.com to keep my body guessing.

 How To Do Kettlebell Swings:

The first thing I’ll tell you is that the kettlebell swing is not a squat.

  1. Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. There will be a kettlebell in between your legs.
  2. Pick up the kettlebell and grip it tightly with both hands. Your palms should be facing your body.
  3. Lean forward while maintaining a neutral spine. Slightly bend your knees and hips.
  4. Your forearms should be in contact with your inner thigh in the bottom position.
  5. Drive your hips forward when pushing the kettlebell forward. All your momentum should be from your hips and hamstrings. Your knees and hips should be straight at the top position and the kettlebell should be at shoulder height.
  6. Keep your arms straight and your core braced throughout the movement.

There are countless videos on YouTube if you want a more visual instruction.

Bonus: If you want to take the kettlebell swing to another level, do a partner assisted kettlebell swing. This variation makes the move a lot more difficult. The way it works is when you’re at the top position, your partner will push the kettlebell down. The challenge comes from taking the momentum of the downward swing and quickly moving the kettlebell back up. The partner assisted kettlebell swing will give you a significant boost in athleticism. Craig Marker of StrongFirst states that the partner assisted kettlebell swing can provided similar benefits as the depth jump. If you don’t have a partner, make a conscious effort to make the eccentric portion of the swing as explosive as fast as possible.

Source Link: https://www.strongfirst.com/get-benefit-depth-jumps-without-jumping/

If you want a lean muscular physique in addition to greater athletic performance, add the kettlebell swing to your routine. The swing will make you look good and feel good. Always remember that it’s important to have good form.