How Kettlebells Can Help You Live In The Moment
It’s so easy to forget about what you’re doing right now, at this very moment. Social media makes it far too easy to focus on what other people are doing rather than what’s happening in your own life.
But what’s the big deal and why should you care?
Living in the moment can lead to increased:
- And Creativity
On the contrary focusing on the past or future can lead to:
- And Illness
So naturally you should ask yourself, “what are some ways I can live in the moment?”
- Strenuous exercise
- A walk in the park
- And unplugging
Are some common ways, and while I’ve talked briefly on meditation and the need to unplug every now and then, as a strength coach I think it’s appropriate to focus on the very first point – strenuous exercise.
How Can Strenuous Exercise Help Me Live In The Moment?
The term “strenuous” can be very subjective. What’s strenuous for one might be a warm-up for another.
Let’s dive into why strenuous exercise might help you live in the moment first before going over some preferred methods of exercise.
The term strenuous means, “requiring or using great exertion.”
Again, this is subjective but assuming you’re participating in a strenuous activity the following is probably true:
- You’re likely breathing heavily
- It’s not sustainable for pro-longed periods of time
- You’re likely laser-sharp focused
In order to participate in any activity that requires those traits of you, you must be living in the moment!
Do you think for example an Olympic Athlete is wondering what to post on his or her instagram page while running the 100m dash? Probably not.
On the flip side us general population folk can benefit greatly from strenuous exercise not only from a mental standpoint but a physical one as well – duh.
Bouts of strenuous exercise can almost be considered a form of meditation (you knew I’d sneak it in there somewhere didn’t you). They allow you to “go to your happy place” or better yet often times require you to go to your happy place in order to complete the training session.
From a benefit standpoint we’re looking at increased:
- Mental clarity
- Stress reduction
- And Happiness
Not to mention the health benefits such as:
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Decreased resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased lean muscle mass
- And decreased body fat
So, what strenuous activities are Evolution-approved?
Training With Bells
Could you see this going any other way?!
All joking aside, kettlebells really are the best way to:
- Train strenuous, while
- Minimizing your risk of injury, and
- Making the most of your time in the gym – or outside, in your living room, etc.
I don’t hang my hat on them because they’re badass (well I kind of do) – they really are the one-stop-shop when it comes to many things health and fitness related.
What’s the best thing to do?
Well consider the kettlebell snatch.
Burning a whopping 20.2 cal/minute the kettlebell snatch is easily your best option for efficient, strenuous exercise. To put it in perspective that’s the equivalent of running a 6-minue mile pace.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and snatch away!
That’s all fine and dandy if you know how to snatch, but let’s not fool ourselves, the kettlebell snatch is one of the most difficult lifts to learn – so let’s reverse engineer the snatch and find out where to start.
Swing Before You Snatch
The snatch is the tip of the kettlebell hierarchy. If we were working our way down, it would look something like this:
- 1-Hand Swing
- 2-Hand Swing
- Hinge Pattern
As you can see there are a number of things the lifter must master before getting to the actual snatch. Starting from the bottom, everything simply builds on top of one another:
- Your hinge is your deadlift
- Your deadlift becomes your swing
- Your swing becomes your 1-hand swing
- Your 1-hand swing becomes your clean – and
- Your clean becomes your snatch
Deadlifts are great, and while then can be strenuous with heavy loads, let’s assume you don’t work with heavy loads, or maybe you don’t have access to heavy loads where you train.
The 2-hand swing can most certainly fill the void of a snatch while getting you closer to actually snatching at the same time.
In the kettlebell world you have two types of lifts:
Ballistics and Grinds
Ballistics are your speed and power movements, examples would be:
- Swing and swing variations
- And Snatch
These lifts are done with a moderate mass at a high rate of acceleration.
Grinds are your maximal tension lifts, this would be:
- And Getups
These lifts are done with a high mass and low rate of acceleration.
Together the two form a yin/yang relationship of everything an athlete or general population client needs to develop strength, power, speed, and endurance.
Let’s get back to the swing and how it can help you live in the moment.
Swing For the Moment
Did anyone catch my Eminem/Elton John reference there?!
There are a number of ways you can learn how to swing; the first however has to start with the hinge.
Using a wall, you can learn how to find your hinge.
- Start roughly a foot’s-length away from the wall
- Reach back with your butt until it touches the wall
- When you touch the wall take a small step forward
- Repeat until you’ve reached a point where you can no longer touch the wall yet don’t fall over as well
- Take a small step back to where you can touch the wall – this is your hinge
When done properly you should feel tension in your hamstrings and maintain a neutral spine. Your eyes should be on the horizon rather than looking up or down in front of you.
Once you own your hinge pattern you can start deadlifting, once you own your deadlift you can start swinging.
Let’s assume you can safely swing, in which case it’s time to crank up your hear rate and perform some strenuous exercise.
Turn Up The Volume
Since the bell won’t be traveling overhead you won’t burn quite as many calories per minute as you would in the snatch – but as we discussed already – a great swing transitions it’s way to a great snatch, and you’ll certainly burn some calories in the process.
- Drive your feet into the floor
- Grip the ground with your toes
- “Pull your knee-caps up” – squeeze your quads
- “Bite your pants with your butt” – squeeze your butt cheeks together
- “Brace for a punch” – contract your abs
- Pull your shoulders down away from your ears
- “Grow tall” – think of standing to attention
- “Smile” – relax from the shoulders up
Put these all together and you’ll have a powerful, crisp lockout in your swing.
My tip (and the way the way I was taught): focus on just ONE of them every time you do a set of swings.
There’s simply no way you can perform a set of swings with such intent and not live in the moment.
- It will demand focus
- It will demand attention
- It will demand living in the moment
And it will make everything after your training session so much better!
Let’s assume the amount of power your typically swinging with is somewhere around a 6-7 on a scale of 1-10. With your full undivided attention, aim to crank up the volume to 10-11!
Once you’ve got your swing dialed in you can play around with all kinds of rep schemes.
On the minute work is a great way to perform strenuous exercise in a time efficient manner. Set a timer for 10 minutes and perform a set of swings at the top of each minute. Rest for the rest of the minute and repeat for the desired time.
Don’t feel the need to stop at 10 – OTM work with 15 and up to 20 minutes is great too! Make sure you check with your doctor before doing so however as this is very strenuous.
Example: 10 swings on the minute every minute for 15-minutes = 150 swings in 15-minutes
Ladders are a fun way to at some variability to your training session. You can play around with reps, weights, and rest periods. A ladder looks something like this:
Set 1 is 5 reps, set 2 is 10, set 3 is 15, and set 4 is 20.
You can start at the top with a lighter weight and work your way down to a heavier one, or, stick with the same weight and run through the rep ladder.
20 swings – 20kg
15 swings – 24kg
10 swings – 28kg
5 swings – 32kg
Timed sets allow you to work with a little bit of everything mentioned above. Simply set a timer and perform as many swings as you can in the given time period.
For example, set a timer for 15-minutes then perform sets of swings, simply rest when needed. Write down your total number at the end.
You might also include a ladder within your timed set and repeat the ladder throughout the 15-minutes.
20-15-10-5-20-15-10-5 and so on and so forth.
You might get tired and work down like this:
As you can see there are plenty of different ways use the swing as a means of living in the moment.
My recommendation, hire a coach who can watch you and make sure you’re performing your swings properly, then work your way up the hierarchy to 1-handed swings, cleans, and snatches!
Once you can snatch, all you need is 5-minutes and you can thoroughly burn through a boatload of calories. Until then,