Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Exercises that you Can Stop Doing

Nice little article (for the most part) by AOL confirming what a lot of the experts are saying against. I don't necessarily agree with what they have to say about the squat completely.

Here is my opinion on the article and the 10 exercises.

  • Leg Extensions: They spell disaster for your knees since it is an isolation exercise and puts a ton of torque on your knees. If you have knee pain-you should NOT do knee extensions and hamstring curls, this is just not the way our muscles were supposed to work. Only if you are a body builder and do nothing else but lift and pose. Just not very functional as well.

  • Lat pulldowns and overhead lifts: I totally agree that you should not pull the bar behind your head due to the fact that it is just (once again stated) not natural. When you lift your spine should always be in a straight or "neutral" position. As for the overhead pressing I approach it like squats. Overhead pressing (military presses, kettlebell presses) and overhead pulls (pull ups, lat pulldowns) are only bad on the shoulders because you are doing them wrong. When pressing and pulling above your head you MUST make sure that your shoulder blades and packed back and down, also your ears must be in line with your shoulders.

  • Cardio: I totally agree with this one. Vary your workout speeds burns way more calories in half the time. Try going with 2 minutes at a pace that you would consider a 5 out of 10 on your exertion scale (10 being all out gasping for air), then do 1 minute at 7/10, then 2 min back at 5/10 and repeat. Here is a good one for ya. 2min 5/10-1min 7/10, 2min 5/10-1min 8/10, 2min 5/10-1min 9/10 and repeat that cycle for 2-3 rounds.

  • Sit ups: you definitely do not want to use those hip flexors to work instead of your abdominals. There are also ways to use tubing or weights to help you master the sit up. For those of you who have back problems there are much better exercises in which you stay away from spinal flexion all together (Like front, side and reverse planks for instance).

  • Abduction/Adduction Machines: I do use the ab and adduction machines for some of my therapy patients to try and get those muscles tuned in a bit, I do make them brace their abdominals and tighten their glutes while they perform the exercise. Once they master the machine (2 weeks tops) then I get them moving onto band walks, lunges, and more standing band exercises instead of machines.

  • I totally agree with side bends and twists. If you need to see some good abdominal exercises Nikki and I have some on youtube. One of them includes the thoracic rotation exercise.

  • Squats: I love doing squats. The only reason you should not do them is if your knees are absolutely shredded. But again, its not the squat that causes pain, its how you do the squat (I quote Dan John out of the book "Enter the Kettlebell" by Pavel). The picture in the article is a true reason that people have pain. When people squat now a days they are what I call "quad dominant" and have glute amnesia. The first thing people do wrong is they bend their ankles and knees to lower and this puts a crapload of pressure on your knees. Think about reaching your butt back as if you were trying to sit in a chair, your shins should not move much if at all when squatting. Another issue is squatting below parallel, if you squat below parallel then you use your glutes to come back up instead of your quads, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! Again, concentrate on pushing your knees out and pulling back and down with your hips into your squat. Hip hinges, bench squats, and face the wall squats are great in improving your squat technique. I will work on some instruction video to help with this.

  • Toe touches: There are much better ways to improve your hamstring flexibility, hip hinges once again are a great way to improve your technique on these and not have to put yourself through all that spinal flexion business.

  • Light weights: This is an absolute truth. If you use too light of a weight then you give your body the ultimate opportunity to use whatever muscles it wants to get the weight up. If you chose a weight that you can only perform 5-10 repetitions then you HAVE to use the right posture and technique (incorporating your stabilizers) to perform the lift correctly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My wife and I would like to wish everyone out there a safe and happy holidays. We look forward to a new year of using this blog to provide you with information on rehabilitation, kettlebell training, nutrition ideas and recipes and so much more!

2009 is going to be a great year for SGHP!

Nikki and I have just finished our first group video together on a circuit Dave Whitley terms "THE ABDOMINAL SNOWMAN!". We will get those videos out in the beginning of 2009.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ab Training

Great post by Charles Staley on Abdominal Training

  • Having A 6-Pack Is About Diet, Not Training
    You can train abs, all abs, nothing but abs, all the time, and still not have a six pack UNLESS- and here's the kicker- unless you're below 10% bodyfat. And probably you'll need to be below 8% bodyfat. The truth is you already have abs- you just can't see them.
    Now of course, you can drop bodyfat through training as well, but not "ab training per se:" instead, focus your efforts on challenging the largest possible muscle groups. My favorites include heavy weight circuits including a mix of Olympic lifts, power lifts, and strongman lifts.

  • The Main Function Of Your Abs Is Not Force Production
    Although the abdominal muscles can and do function to flex and rotate the trunk, I'd argue that their primary function is to prevent unwanted motion. Specifically, strong abs help to protect the spine in two ways:
    1) They create intra-abdominal pressure which helps to counteract compressive forces resulting from axial loading (e.g., squats, deadlifts)
    2) They help to prevent forces that take the spine out of its preferred neutral position. More on this in the second installment next week….


Anyone interested in getting in a great 60 minute workout the day after Christmas? Nikki and I are hosting a Post Holiday Bootcamp at the UNO Dome at 10:30am. Only fee is that you will be required to go to UNO Campus Recreation and pay a $5.25 guest fee to workout. THAT IS IT!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mark Update

March 2nd, 2008

December 19th, 2008

Just a quick little post to let everyone know how my training is going. For those of you who like to read what we are doing in bootcamp, I will post those as soon as I get time (I know I am behind).

My weight is right at 200 pounds, lowest I have gotten is 198. Not discouraged with what the scale has said due to the fact that my body fat is down 2% since starting kettlebell bootcamp. You know what that means: less fat & more muscle.

No longer wearing XL shirts since they just hang off of me, down to L. Pants are all to big for me. Energy level is doing great. Still eating healthy and trying to get a lean protein and a vegetable or fruit in with every meal. Trying to cut back on processed carbs unless it is right before or right after a workout.

Getting very nice compliments from everyone at work, and my biggest compliment is the sexy looks I get from my wife who enjoys looking at my arms and lats now. Very cool. I feel stronger than I have ever been in my life.

  • Pull ups are easier,

  • I just cleaned and pressed a 28kg kettlebell with my Left arm and snatched the same weight as well on both sides last night before class started.

  • I can do a standing full squat below parallel without cheating.

  • My FMS went from a 14 with imbalances to a 17 with no imbalances.

You should see my wife! She is so strong now! Our little "wrestling matches" when I used to dominate are now getting to be more evenly matched. Her strength has sky rocketed in only 9 weeks.

I will have to admit that I am a lifer to Pavel's Hard Style of training. Thanks for opening my eyes David....and for transforming me from a piece of mush into a piece of iron.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #27

Wednesday Evening Class 12/17/08

I know it has been awhile since I last posted a bootcamp. Sorry about that. Things are really taking off for us here.

Warm up included the spinal wave, side lunges (push knee out to side you lunge and point opposite foot to ceiling), body weight squats and the pump.

Began our workout in high gear with a circuit of push ups, body weight squats, snatches on L side, snatches on R side, and v-ups. Then repeated for 3 rounds. ( I am guessing we did around 30 sec each session). THIS WAS AN AWESOME WAY TO START A BOOTCAMP!

Then we revisited the ABdominal Snowman! Hot potato with KB, thoracic rotations with KB, sit ups to double arm overhead lockout with KB, and planks. 3 rounds of that as well at 30 seconds a pop. (I will try and get a video of this ABdominal Snowman, it is a killer workout)

Then we did swings with Tabata protocol, 20 sec on/ 10 sec off. About 10 rounds.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NEW DVD OUT! Metabolic Training by Alwyn Cosgrove

Alwyn is very successful and getting the most out of your workouts and burning the most amount of calories to help you with your New Years Resolution to lose body fat. You can order the DVD through perform better. Click on the banner to the Left to get to the perform better site, then under "shop by departments" click on "books and videos" by author. Alwyn Cosgrove will be your first choice.

It covers several different types of metabolic training. To learn more about metabolic training. Check out his article; The Hierarchy of Fat Loss.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shout Out From the Iron Tamer

Received a nice shout out from my Kettlebell Instructor, Dave Whitley about his knee. Thanks Dave.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #23 (perfect reps)

Hello everyone.  Hope all you readers out there are doing well and working towards their holiday shopping and looking forward to being with family and friends.  Maybe even consider reaching out to someone you have not seen in a long time.  Also forgiving those who have hurt us as well, I am going to try to do that as well.

Great bootcamp today:
-Warm up using the spinal wave.
-Split into groups of 3, 30 sec on/30 sec on/30 seconds off to rotate, 3 rounds (12 min total)
    -push ups first 30 sec, then front plank next 30 sec
    -static lunges, switch sides after first 30 seconds
    -one arm rows, switch sides
-Swings (10 minutes total, Dave did a combination of work to rest ratio that would equal 1 min)  sometimes we did 30/30, sometimes 50/10 or 10/50, ended on 1 minute total swings.

One thing that I would like to point out that Dave said that I believe is very important, he stated that he wants us to get as many perfect reps as we can within the time frame, but that does not mean we have to go continuously.  He wants our attention to be towards working hard and doing the lifts correctly, but not at the expense of us doing the form wrong and getting hurt. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Exercise over the holidays/2009 goal

Hey everyone! Nikki here. This is my first ever blog post and  I figured it's probably about time.  We went home back to Nebraska over Thanksgiving.  It was great to be home to visit everyone and see family and friends we haven't seen in months.  

One thing I noticed, though, when we got back to Nashville, I felt really sluggish and it was hard for me to get my mind and body back into my workout routine.  I'm sure many others have felt this way about the holidays and being around all that wonderful food and possibly alcohol.  Not to mention the fast food we ate on the drive there and home.  Mark and I made sure to workout while we were home and I don't think our workouts were even that bad.  I just think my body was not used to some of the stuff I was putting into it.  

Sometimes when we go on vacation it tends to be a free for all and we have a hard time sticking to our diets.  We still work out, but we don't eat (or drink) that great.  That's going to be my big goal for 2009.  We like to travel a lot so I'm sure we'll be doing some of that next year. I really want us to focus on trying to enjoy the food and drink of different locations but to not go overboard.  

My first test at this will be when we go home for Christmas.  We are going to be home for about a week.  Our plan is to bring along healthier foods for the car ride and then hit the grocery store for meals during the week.   It's the holidays, so I'm a firm believer in at least enjoying a little bit of the good stuff around you, just as long as you don't overindulge.  If I want a Christmas cookie, I'm going to have it. I'm just not gonna have 5 of them!  And I'm going to make sure to keep my workouts consistent as they have been.  We've been making such progress over the past few months and I want to make sure that we keep that consistency going over Christmas break.  It's going to be a great time to see family and friends but not an excuse to eat junk for a week!  

If anyone has any helpful hints they use while traveling, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #22 (Newbies are coming on strong)

More newbies today that I brought from work.  All are very strong willed, female certified athletic trainers.  All will do well if they stick with it.

Had 12 total participants today in the morning class, no problem for Dave.  
  • warm ups including the "spinal wave"
  • split into 4 groups of 3, each group had one station: v-ups, push ups, squats, and renegade rows (in deadlift position) for time, 19 seconds rest in between sets, did 3 rounds
  • then the carousel of pain, everyone grabbed a different sized kettlebell and we did swings for time 30 on/20 off and rotated to the next kettlebell.  Smallest size we had was a 12kg to the largest being a brand spanking new 28kg kettlebell.   very impressed to say I saw 2/3 of the class swing with the 28kg, while the others did deadlifting with it.  Remember, out of those 12 people, 3 were men.  So don't believe that bullshit that women can't or should not lift heavy weights!
Going to do a post later about making a financial commitment to your health.  You either pay for it now and enjoy the benefits, or pay for it later and be miserable.  Either way you end up spending money.  How much is your happiness worth?

If you are going to miss a workout…

by Rachel Cosgrove

Setting Your Priorities when it comes to Fat Loss
The majority of women I work with are extremely busy. Many of them are moms and/or career women and don’t have much time to spare. When it comes to their fat loss we have to prioritize their training to make sure their time is being used effectively and they are going to get the best results they can in the shortest period of time. 

#1 Priority when it comes to Fat Loss is….

• Metabolic Resistance Training

Benefits: Builds lean body mass, increases metabolism and burns calories
What is it missing? Nothing. 

Metabolic resistance training including using circuit style training with full body exercises. The Art of Strength workouts are a perfect example of Metabolic Resistance Training. These type of workouts build strength, increase lean body mass and boost your metabolism for the next 24-48 hours along with burning a good amount of calories during the actual workout. This type of exercise is the MOST effective for fat loss. 

The problem is many women have their priorities backward and make this their last priority and get their cardio in before they lift weights. They think that if they are going to miss a workout, they will miss their resistance workout. This doesn’t make sense since resistance training has the most benefits when it comes to losing fat and keeping it off. This type of exercise is what will give you the definition and lean you out to look the way you want. 

How much? With metabolic resistance training there is a limit to how much you can do and still recover. You should do up to 4 of these workouts a week. More than four of these workouts a week would be more than you could recover from and get the benefits. 

For most of the clients at our gym, this is all the exercise they do. A metabolic resistance training workout three days a week and that is it. 

#2 Priority when it comes to fat loss training is….

• Interval Training Cardio Workouts

Benefits: Increases metabolism and burns calories
What is missing? Doesn’t build muscle

Once you are doing 3-4 Metabolic Resistance Training workouts a week and you have extra time for more workouts you can add in an interval training session. This is a cardio workout but push yourself at a high intensity really getting your metabolism revving. Add these types of workouts in 2-3 days a week. But keep in mind, you should always take 1 day completely off every week. These workouts will burn calories during the session and will boost your metabolism for the day. 

How much? These workouts are tough. I think in addition to resistance training you can really only do up to 2 effectively per week. 

And Very Last Priority for Fat Loss…

• Steady State Cardio Workouts

Benefits: Burns calories during the workout and that is it!
What is it missing? Doesn’t build lean body mass and doesn’t increase metabolism. 

So as you can see steady state cardio has the least benefits when it comes to fat loss. Why is it that the majority of people that want to lose fat usually start with steady state cardio? It doesn’t make sense. Basically if you are doing 3 resistance training workouts a week, 2 interval training sessions and you want to add a steady state cardio session in you could but it should be your very last priority. 

If you are going to miss a workout skip your cardio and hit the weights! 

Rachel Cosgrove co-owns Results Fitness and Punch Gym Santa Clarita located in southern California. She has also been featured in Women’s Health, Oxygen Magazine, Shape Magazine, Muscle and Fitness Hers, Fitness Magazine, Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health. Check out their gym website at or Rachel’s female specific site at 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #21 (Always good to start back from scratch)

12/3/08: Very good bootcamp today and all we did was the swing and turkish get up.

There were 5 new people who had little to no knowledge of the kettlebell and its exercises tonight. David introduced all of us step by step how to perform the kettlebell deadlift (essential to learn the swing), the kettlebell swing and the turkish get up.

We practiced right along with the newbies. You would think that Nikki and I would get bored, but I learned some new cues to improve my technique on my swing and especially my turkish get up. I found out that I was not performing the first part correctly and it actually made my getup more productive.

We ended up doing around 6-7 rounds of swings as well in 30 sec on/ 30 sec off. Had the heartrate monitor on today and still got the HR up to 175. And burned over 350 calories.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #20 (Week 7)

Sorry I have missed a couple of workouts. Nik made 2 workouts last week and I made only 1 and we had a short week due to Thanksgiving.

  • Warmup including spinal wave and the pump.
  • Split into 2 groups and did alternating ladders of goblet squats with the other group resting in the bottom of the squat, and push ups with other group resting in the top push up position (plank like hold) - did about 5 rounds
  • Stayed in groups and performed clean to press ladders with other group resting
  • Again stayed in the 2 groups and performed kettlebell swings for 30 seconds while other group rested. I believe it was 10 rounds
  • 40 minutes later and 513 calories we were finished and exhausted. Great workout

Monday, December 1, 2008

What the heck is the thoracic spine? By Michael Boyle

Mike is a stud when it comes to injury prevention and improving human performance.  If you have an ipod and are into fitness, you should be listening to his strengthcoach podcast on itunes.  He is brilliant and covers many important topics.  His website has terrific articles on it as well.  You can see his link on the blog page to the right if you would like to read more.  He has free articles as well.  

His latest post talks about the importance of mobility of the thoracic spine.  If you suffer from neck, low back or shoulder pain you should definitely read this.  Click the title above to go to his post. 

Hope all is well and I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving and have taken the time to appreciate all that they are thankful for.  I sure have. 

Kettlebell Training in the Nashville News