Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cardio without Running by Paul Lyngso RKC II

We are now officially in September! I always enjoy
the cooler weather that the fall brings, it’s a much
needed change of pace after the muggy Chicago Summers.

Fall also brings the one race per year that I actually run,
The Morton Arboretum 5K.

I often then, get the question:

“How do you get your “cardio” if you don’t run?”

The short answer is that my “cardio” is a by product of the way I train. If I had aspirations of being a runner, I would certainly need to work some running practice in so that my body could adapt to that specific stimulus. However, since I’m just a regular guy who wants to be able to run a 5K whenever the mood strikes, my current training will do just fine. Here’s why(the long answer):

I always Focus on Developing Strength and Explosive Power. Simply put, the stronger you are, the less effort each stride takes. Less effort per stride means that you can sustain running longer without fatiguing.

I always Train Total Body Movements. Running requires the use of both upper and lower extremities, with the each leg transferring power to the opposite arm, and vice versa. If you are not coordinated, your running will be very inefficient and much more taxing than it should be. If you train your body as one coordinated unit, each stride will be way more efficient than if you run like Frankenstein.

Finally, my Focus on Joint Mobility, Flexibility, and Quality of Movementallow me to show up for the race, uninjured. Simply put, running is dangerous. In fact, each year about 1000 qualifiers of the Boston Marathon take a medical deferrment, meaning they qualify, but will take a full year off due to injury. And these are folks who know a thing or two about running! If you want to reduce injuries, in ANY atheltic endeavor, you need to focus on the QUALITY of movement (proper exercise form) rather than quantity (45 minutes on a treadmill with horrible posture and your body completely out of alignment). Quality movement starts with healthy joints that can operate pain free through their entire range of motion.

Being constantly injured or in nagging pain is a sure fire way to dampen not only your fitness goals, but your overall quality of life.

I know I haven’t even mentioned heart rate yet. Well here is the deal, when you train strength, such as, say by doing kettlebell swings, Turkish Get Ups, and squats, your heart rate goes up. A lot. Then we rest and let it come back down a hair. And then we do another set, and the heart rate goes up again. This constant up/down makes your heart stronger i.e. more efficient at pumping blood. The more blood your heart can move with each heart beat, the longer you can sustain an activity, such as jogging, with a lower heart rate. Lower heart rate=Less Energy Used=Less Fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Lance Armstrong here when it comes to endurance sports. However, I would venture to say that any of my clients would put a treadmill junkie to shame any day when it comes to a 5K (or most any athletic feat). Just sayin…

Paul Lyngso, RKC II and Owner of Burr Ridge Kettlebells

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Can't Outrun a Doughnut

This article was inspired by Dan John's presentation at NPE's business coaching training last weekend.

You Can’t Outrun a Doughnut. It might not be the first time you have heard that statement and it’s true. There is no way to get the body you want without both exercise and diet. Unfortunately, in my book, diet is about 80% of the battle. Wouldn’t it be easy if we could eat whatever we wanted as long as we exercised? Many people do think that way, and as the owner of a kettlebell gym the ability to exercise without having to watch my diet would be a dream come true. It’s my JOB to exercise and to guide people through their fitness journey, but I still have to be careful what fuel I put in my body.

According to, a 175lb person burns about 1700 calories running a half marathon. That’s approximately the equivalent of three slices of pizza and a milkshake, but do we go out and run a half marathon after every party we attend? I would guess most of us don’t, and those 30 minutes on the elliptical won’t do as much damage control as we would like to think. Don’t get me wrong -I’m not saying to just diet without exercising. Lean muscle increases metabolism and helps us burn more calories. Exercise is also imperative for our hearts and has a plethora of other health benefits, but exercise cannot stand alone in the fat loss battle.

So what diet works? The one you can stick with. There are many different options out there and I lean towards the diets with real foods that require the least thinking. After “retiring” from fitness competitions, I vowed to never do another eating plan that required me to measure anything – and luckily there are plenty of companies out there do all the measuring for you. All you have to do is pick it up from one of the convenient local sponsors’ refrigerators or have it shipped to your door. How easy is that? Having a no brainer eating plan (that happens to taste good too) is the perfect complement to a rigorous exercise program to help us win the battle against fat! Good luck on your journey!

Monday, May 23, 2011

June 25th HKC

Don't miss the June 25th HKC with MRKC David "Iron Tamer" Whitley!
If you havent seen David's show reels, you can check some of his highlights out on this episode of Dragon Door TV where he is Comrade of the Week.

At the HKC, we will cover in detail how to teach and perform the foundation kettlebell exercises: the swing, get-up, and squat. These exercises will make you powerful, strong, and mobile. Everything else is icing on the cake.

If you have any interest at all in teaching kettlebells, DO NOT MISS this workshop. You can register here - early registration ends June 3rd so don't wait!

Train hard but train smart. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Kettlebells?

One of the biggest selling points of Kettlebell training is that it’ s strength, cardio, and mobility all in one
efficient training. Unfortunately, when many people think of those 3 components they think yes, we know
cardio is important to keep us in shape and keep our hearts healthy, being strong is pretty important, but
often they gloss over mobility. “ I don’ t care if I can touch my toes” – well, I don’ t care if they can touch
their toes either. When we in the RKC community speak of mobility, we mean the ability to move properly,
to own the primitive movement patterns we seem to lose when we get stuck behind a desk or in a car all
day long. The mobility that is critical for our health and well-being.

It’ s a matter of fact that the American Society as a whole lives in flexion. We sit and do work at our
computers, behind the wheel, on a couch – and even our children are growing up playing video games
instead of playing outside. Many in our society cannot move the middle of their spines (the thoracic spine)
in order to stand up straight. I have seen countless people who have no thoracic spine mobility say “ But I
can stand up straight” and then they move from their lower back. It’ s no wonder that back pain is the most
common ailment among Americans. Or maybe someone says “ But I can stand up straight” and then they
move from their shoulders. Either way, they are compensating with poor movement pattern and making
things that much worse.

Even many “ gym people” who are a step ahead of the sedentary spend their time looking in the mirror
working their biceps, and pecs, and then what happens? They build up the front of their bodies and neglect
the backside. They too, end up in flexion. The problem guys who "can’ t put their arms down" have because their "lats are so
huge" (a "disorder" that some lovingly call ILS - or Invisible Lat Syndrome) is more likely caused by an
immobility in their thoracic spine rather than bulging muscles.

What’ s left is a society with poor thoracic spine mobility, no shoulder stability, weak and tight hip flexors,
and no glutes - well, no strength in the posterior chain at all. As fellow RKC, Paul Lyngso said "We look like a group of Mr Burns' from the Simpsons!"

The beautiful thing about Kettlebell training is that it addresses all of these issues: regaining the rolling,
standing, kneeling primitive movement patterns as well as training the posterior chain making us mobile,
strong and powerful. And the best part about it is that good practice can take only 30 minutes (or less) only
a few times a week!

Basic, Basic, Basic. If someone is proficient at the two foundation Kettlebell exercises: the swing and the
get-up, they will more than likely move better, perform better, and feel better than most of the population.
The swing is strength and cardio in one exercise; the get-up is strength and mobility in one exercise.
Everything else is icing on the cake. "Magic" happens with the other exercises when the basics get better.
In one particularly busy month last year I stopped all training except, MRKC David Whitley's Furnace,
twice a week. What happened? I set a PR on my military press without training presses. The WTH effect
in full force. As taught in the CK-FMS course, we need a solid base of mobility and stability before we can
even think about piling strength on top of a bad foundation.

So why Kettlebells? The foundation Kettlebell exercises teach us to move properly and counteract the
damage we do by the postures we live in. They train our bodies to work as a unit and have the composition
we are made to have - and the exercises are so efficient and powerful that it takes a fraction of the time
many are accustomed to spending on their training.

Dragon Door TV

Check out my favorite Dragon Door TV episode - with my good buddy, uh I mean "Mate" Andrew Read!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How it All Began

On January 16th, I posted that it was my 5 year kettlebelliversary. Fellow RKC, Mark Snow asked for a blog post on how it all began. Here it is:

In 2004 when I was living in Atlanta after graduating from Georgia Tech, I had a flexible outside sales job and a long distance relationship. That combination meant that there was a lot of free time that I needed to fill. I chose to occupy my free time with frequent trips to the gym. I quickly became addicted and found myself spending 2 hours a day, 6 days a week in the gym. That's TWELVE HOURS of gym time each week. I thought that I had to go that often to get enough cardio training, plus strength and flexibility training.

Fast forward and I am living in San Diego, working a 55 hour a week job and trying to balance life and a relationship at the same time. Needless to say, no matter how much I rearranged my schedule, I didn't have the 12 hours that I was used to spending at the gym anymore. That is when I heard a local radio station talk about a gym called Iron Core that used these things called 'kettlebells.' According to the people interviewed, kettlebells dramatically decreased your time in the gym since the workouts were cardio, strength and flexibility all at the same time. It was too good to be true. I had to check it out for myself.

So, I went down on a Saturday morning for a 'trial class' and was amazed at what I discovered. The workout was intense and very different from what I was used to. It was some serious cardio without the boredom of the 'hamster wheel' (AKA the treadmill) and strength training without the monotony of isolated repetitions such as bicep curls. It was strength stretching without the endless poses of yoga. The workout was not only comprehensive and intense, but it was a lot of fun! And the trainer who, to me, was "just the guy at the gym down the street" was someone named Brett Jones (you may have heard of him.) I had NO IDEA at the time what a gold mine it was to be able to train with him multiple times a week!

I went from going to the gym 12 times a week, to taking three 45 minute classes, and yet somehow I found my strength and body composition improving. I wasn't getting those bulky, beefy muscles that you would think would accompany strength gains, but was getting long, lean lines and definition - all while spending 1/3 of the time in the gym!

I knew within a month that I wanted to be certified to teach and be able to share kettlebells with others. I attended the September 2006 RKC - back when they were only held in Minneapolis. Iron Core was nice enough to let me teach some classes after work and then a year later I decided that it was time to move back to Atlanta and open my own place.

When Condition opened, I was the only class instructor and Katie Bigelow (Now RKC2 and Z-Health Master Trainer) helped me out in the intro workshops. She went through the RKC 6 months after Condition opened and now almost 3.5 years later there are 12 HKC's or RKC's who teach here on a regular or substitute basis. I'm proud of all of them as they all have full time jobs outside of kettlebells and got certified because of their love for the training - just as I did.

I cant imagine a time where I won't train with kettlebells. I love the efficiency of kettlebells because with less time spent on my own training, I now have more time to do other things: like teach kettlebells, write about kettlebells, or read about kettlebells, or blog about kettlebells.... ;)