Monday, March 30, 2009

Fat Loss Plateau? by Alwyn Cosgrove

Nice piece written by one of the best in the business (Alwyn Cosgrove) about getting stuck during your fat loss progression. Makes good sense. Click the title above to see his article.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My take on P90x

I have had a lot of people ask me about P90x. I will have to admit that Nikki and I purchased the p90x and did the workouts for about 60 days. This was well before we were introduced to RKC style of kettlebell training.

If you have not heard about p90x, it is a set of 12 DVDs that contains strength training, yoga, and plyometric workouts. It comes with a diet & workout plan. The plan is pretty well thought out and the exercises are pretty good. You use tubing or dumbbells for the training DVDs. Right now to purchase the DVD set it is around 150 dollars including shipping.

My thoughts on the P90X.
  • The P90x plan is 150 dollars but there are more costs involved, we ended up buying a pull up bar, 2 sets of powerblock dumbbells, tubing, yoga mats and ended up making a subscription to team beachbody (they suckered us in and then tried to keep charging us a quarterly fee for it, which we had to call them about 4 times to get them to stop taking money out of our account). All in all it cost us closer to $500 dollars.

    Power Blocks

  • The DVD's themselves are good, you get a great workout. The sessions can last from 50 minutes to 90 minutes! That is a long time to find to workout. Most people don't have that kind of time in a pinch so they will just ditch the workout in all.
  • Some people are imbalanced and this type of training can put what Gray Cook calls "fitness on top of dysfunction". This means that if you are imbalanced you will be doing the exercises with the wrong set of muscles, this leads to micro trauma, and that leads to injury.
  • It got too easy for us to not do our workouts. I got tired of the same person cracking the same jokes by about week 4 of the series. I got bored and I will admit lazy.
  • I did not see the results I wanted. I did not lose any weight from the program although the workouts stated that I was burning around 800 calories per workout.
It wasn't until about 5 months after trying P90X that I went to the Functional Movement Screen Seminar hosted by Gray Cook and Lee Burton. Gray spoke about the functionality of the kettlebell and how well they helped to clean up movement/muscular imbalances. Someone thankfully asked the best way to get started and he stated to look into the Russian Kettlebell Challenge by Pavel Tsatsouline.

Now Nikki and I had trained with kettlebells in the past and I really didn't see the advantages of them very much. We went to target and got the Iron Core kettlebells/Go Fit (I am ashamed to say that I got a 15 pound one for myself and Nikki got the 10 lb.) We worked out with them now and again but did not use them very much.

This time I researched and was blessed to find out that I was so fortunate to have a Senior Kettlebell Instructor (RKC) here in Nashville named David Whitley (who is also familiar with FMS). When we first met he told us we were using way to light of a weight and bumped us up almost immediately. The reason for this was a point reflected by David and Gray that if you use too light of a weight you will not get the correct muscular firing pattern. The body will "cheat" sort of speaking.

Since last October 2008, I have had my eyes widely opened to the Hard Style method to training. We love it.

Kettlebell Training the RKC method advantages
  • Cost-for the cost of one set of my power blocks, Nikki and I got a 12kg (about 25 lbs) and a 16kg (about 35 lbs). That was all we needed to practice and get a terrific workout at home. Also for the price of buying the P90x we worked out for one month, 3 times a week under the direction of a Senior RKC.
  • The dragon door kettlebell has an offset center of gravity and a thick handle. This requires you to use the correct movement patterns to build strength. The kettlebell actually speaks to me on what movements I am doing incorrectly. I was shocked when I could feel the difference, it was amazing. Ask anyone who has trained with kettlebells, if you want an example. Check out this blog from Mike the Machine Bruce.
  • Time - Nikki and I can get a terrific workout in any type of time frame. Whether it be 10 minutes or 50 minutes. You will be amazed with what type of workout you can get in 10 minutes.
  • I was still getting in the 800 calorie burns like I saw with P90x, but we did it in less time and I was getting so much stronger and felt way more cardiovascular benefit from the interval training I was exposing myself to.
  • Results - Since beginning the Kettlebell bootcamp and working out with Nikki at home with our set I have lost almost 20 pounds of fat. I began around 207ish and am now 189. I am way stronger than I ever had been before. I began bootcamp doing a turkish getup with a 16kg kettlebell and a few weeks ago was able to do a turkish get up with a 40kg kettlebell (that is around 88-89lbs).

My attempt at a turkish get up with the 108 lb. kettlebell. David Whitley, Senior RKC spotting.

So there you have it. All in all I would like to say that any workout is a good workout rather than sitting on the couch, but would that be the case if you began a workout with a movement imbalance and then ended up with an injury? Then you would end up back on the couch and in pain....??????

My suggestion is to find a personal trainer or RKC that can screen you correctly, train your movement patterns and teach you how to perform workouts correctly so that you can do them at home. I am not much of a DVD workouter per se. I would rather pay a little more money and see someone in person. More variety in the workouts, I push myself harder when an actual human being is telling me what to do.

If you really want to workout at home then that is fine by me, but at least get screened (doesn't cost much) and meet with a qualified personal trainer or RKC once per month to make sure you stay on track. I would really suggest you attend an RKC workshop, they are such a benefit. The last workshop I attended I realized that my swings weren't as crisp as I thought (even after doing them for 5 months). Another gentleman that drove over 6 hours to attend the workshop and only did kettlebell training to DVDs went from a beginner to a well rehearsed individual in the foundational kettlebell exercises.

Let me know your thoughts! What do you think of this post good or bad?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Turn Your Protein Shake Into A Super Shake

Nice ideas on how to make your shakes taste better and have more nutrition value.

Women and Weights

Nice little article on Womens Health Magazine about women losing weight by using weights.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Training for Runners for Improved Performance & Injury Prevention - Part 4: The Plan

This piece is about setting your goal and developing your training plan. My wife has always trained for her races using Hal Higdon's programs. I like the way she approaches her races cause she plans everything well out in advance. She decides which race to run and how much time she needs to train.

Training for that race all depends on how experienced you are at running. Hal's 12 week training regimen for a 1/2 marathon begins with short runs at 2 or 3 miles and then progresses to the 13.1 race. If you have not run 2-3 miles on a regular basis or not at all then you need to have more time to train. My wife took the best approach by planning 24 weeks ahead of time. This way she began with a 5 k training program to help her prepare for the 1/2 marathon training program. The next thing she did was to plan out her week to see which days she would have available to perform her workouts/runs.

Hal Higdon's Program Runs Like This

Day 1-Stretch and Strengthen

Day 2-Run

Day 3-Run or Cross Train

Day 4-Run and Strength

Day 5-Rest

Day 6-Cross Train

Day 7-Long Run

This method seems to work on the running aspect and I am very pleased that Hal put in time to work on strength training.

My suggestions would be to make sure that you perform some other form of training on your cross training days other than running. This is time for you to work on your cardiovascular endurance without putting the wear and tear on your joints that long distance running does.

Ideas for cross training:

  • Elliptical with a high stride or incline (don't use an elliptical that has no adjustment to the stride length, this will hurt your running form)

  • Stairmaster or Stepmill (I love the step mill, does not let you cheat!)

  • Kettlebell swings (you know I would throw this in here!)

  • Walking on a treadmill (chose an incline over 5.0 and really work on good form!)

  • Versaclimber (provides a terrific workout!)
You should try to Running intervals on at least one if not both of your shorter runs. This is a way to push your aerobic threshold without the wear and tear once again on the joints. This will help you to be able to push through when you hit your "wall" on your long runs.

Start by running at a level of 3-4 out of 10 on your exertion scall for 2 minutes, then perform 1 minute at a 7-8 out of 10. Keep with the 2/1 ratio until you feel yourself needing more of a challenge then go with a ratio of 1/1 and then move on to 1/2.

Please oh please make time for strength training! You will be surprised about the type of results you get when you perform at least 10-20 minutes of strength exercises 2-3 times a week while you are training and how much it will help your runs and also staying injury free. I will work on this more in the next section.

Here is the important point that most of you runners are going to hate. Your running form is more important to you than your time. So during your long runs if you hit your wall and your running form gets "sloppy" take time to walk and really work on recovering and working on your form. This will allow a little time to recover and allow your body to remember how to properly run. When people keep running during those sloppy moments is how bad habits develop. This will slow you down and set you up for injury.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know or send them to

March Madness Workout

I was fortunate enough to have the morning off of work today and have a perfect opportunity to watch some of the March Madness. I got my brackets beside me, my highlighter and pen in hand, fresh veggies & hummus for my snack and my Diet Mountain Dew.
For those of you who were fortunate enough to take the day off the next few days to watch some basketball I have a suggestion for you. Why not get a workout in during commercial breaks?

Here are some suggestions. You all know how much of a kettlebell junkie I am, but I have not converted all of you yet. So this workout will be bodyweight only.

1. 5 push ups
-not good at push ups? Then perform push ups elevated against the couch

2. 5 supine bridges (double or single)
-squeeze glutes!, if doing single leg do 5 each side

3. 5 door rows
-wrap a towel around a sturdy door, bend knees, place feet flat on ground and perform a row to the door.

4. 5 couch squats
-feet straight and shoulder width apart, stand up and squeeze glutes as hard as you can, then reach back with weight on heels and lower hips back to couch (try to keep shins vertical), reset and repeat.

Repeat that circuit until the basketball is back on. Getting tired or form is getting sloppy? Then take a break!

Perform that 1 time through for 6 commercial breaks that will be 30 reps of each!

Enjoy the tourney everyone! I am currently working on the workout portion of exercise for runners.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UPCOMING WORKSHOP! May 8th: Kettlebell Training for Improved Athletic Performance and Injury Reduction

When: Friday, May 8th, 9am-1pm
Where: Centennial Park, Nashville, TN (click for map)

Who is this workshop designed for?

This course is designed for anyone working with clients &
athletes and would like to encorporate kettlebell training into their rehabilitation and/or strength and conditioning programs.
The workshop will breakdown the fundamental exercises and variations of
kettlebell training to allow you to learn, practice and be able
to demonstrate those exercises to your clients/athletes.

What is Kettlebell Training?
Kettlebells are large cast iron cannonballs with a handle
attached to the top. Kettlebells have been used for
centuries in Russia in improving strength and endurance of
their soldiers and athletes.
Kettlebells are unique to any other type of strength training
device due to the fact they have a thick handle and an offset
center of gravity. This makes the body use its stabilizing
muscles in a more functional way like is was supposed to
be. Just like athletic movement.


• Kettlebell Training for Athletic Performance
• Warm up the Hardstyle Way
• Kettlebell Deadlift Variations
• Kettlebell Swing Variations
• Turkish Get Up
• Kettlebell Press Variations
• Kettlebell Row Variations

Cost: $250
Sign up at
Eligible for 4 NATA CEUʼs under category D

Interested? Email

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Recipe-Burgers

Here is a burger recipe that Nikki and I both love. We use turkey burger, but feel free to use whatever you like.

1 lb of turkey burger
1 jalapeno finely chopped (seeds included for spicy, remove seeds for medium spice)
1/2 onion (medium) finely chopped
1/2 green pepper finely chopped
2 Tbsp feta cheese
Olive oil spray
salt & pepper or favorite burger seasoning (we love Tastefully Simple Moroccan Sea Salt or Lawrys)

Very easy recipe. Take the vegetables and burger and mix with your hands in a large mixing bowl. Once completely mixed, form into the shape of 6 patties.

Get the grill or pan up to medium high heat and let it get good and hot before using. Spray the burgers with the olive oil spray and cover with your favorite seasoning and let it sit for a few minutes while the grill/pan is heating up.

Add the burgers to the grill/pan and (I am thinking 4 min per side, but we like our burgers medium). Let sit for a few minutes to keep the juiciness of the burgers.

We usually eat the burgers one of two ways. Chopped up on top of a salad or (OUR FAVORITE) use flatbread as the bun. We usually take NAAN flatbread, spray both sides with olive oil and cover with garlic salt. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, cook for 7 minutes and then broil for another 2-3 minutes. Let cool and quarter. Makes 2 buns!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Exercising with a history of back pain or back surgery

Here is a post I received from one of my friends who is living up in the Northeast. Thought I would share it and then comment more on the subject.

Hey Snowman!
I love the blogs you've been writing. I've been working out myself for the past 6 months or so, taking sporadic breaks. Last year I had back surgery for a ruptured disc that I had been dealing with for quite sometime. Since the surgery I'm scared to death of doing squats and I saw that you no longer recommend leg extensions. So I'm wondering what type of leg exercises you would recommend for me. Right now I'm doing leg press, leg extensions and hamstring curls. Would lunges be an option? I'm curious about your thoughts and your recommendations.

Here is what I replied to him:
The important thing after back surgery is to work on exercises that stress the core but keep your spine in a neutral position (the way it was designed to be). Any crunches or weighted back squats can be problematic for your back.

I will get some videos up on hip hinges, deadlifts and front squats. This will help. Lunges are terrific if you can keep your spine in neutral. Leg presses can be hard on the spine and extensions and curls just aren't very functional.

Another good suggestion would be to get your hands on the book by Stuart McGill
titled: Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance Book.
Dr. McGill has extensive knowledge of working with athletes who suffer from back pain. He even states that the leg press may not be a good option due to the fact that it increases pressure on the lumbar discs. I also feel that the leg press may be dangerous is due to the reason that the exercise does not require any trunk stability which is vital to the back.

To begin, in the opinion of someone who has a background in sports medicine, performance enhancement and injury prevention, I would get you performing exercises that keeps your spine in a neutral position (no more weighted crunches) and works on the muscles of the hips, trunk and scapula to help support your back.

I think it would be in everyone's best interests to first and foremost see a Functional Movement Screen Certified Specialist and get screened to see if any imbalances may exist within your body that may have been the reason that the back pain/surgery resulted. They can clean up your movements so you can work on functional strength without the fear of re-injury.

The importance is when you lift to have the ability to brace your abdominals like you were about to get punched in the stomach.

Here are some examples of leg exercises that I would give in order of difficulty. I want to emphasize the importance of keeping a neutral spine with all activities. This is just good practice for everyone, especially those recovering/suffering from a bad back.

First and foremost-MOBILITY

You need to have mobility before stability. So if your hip flexors are tighter then tight. You need to spend time on them and get them to open up. Think about this. If you squat and you feel pain in your back, then more than likely your hip flexors are tight.

Frog Stretch

This exercise is a doozy, but really has helped with my
kettlebell swings and squats. My problem was that I
lacked hip mobility. Didn't matter how many times
I performed the exercise, I had to have good hip
mobility to take stress off of my other joints.

Stability Exercises

These exercises will require you to have the proper mobility
and also make you kick in your stabilizers.

Hip Hinges
This exercise is a great start to learning how to hinge with
your hips instead of using the motion in your ankles and
knees to perform a squat. Great to work on the eccentric
loading of the glutes and hamstrings for proper hip

Quadruped Training/Supermans
Leg lock bridge

Hamstring Bridge

Reactive Neuromuscular Training/Complex Lifts
These exercises help to program the body to use the mobility
and stability you just achieved to work together to train the
body to be more functional.

Reverse Lunge


For all of you who believe that the deadlift is one of the
worst things you can do for your back I am here to tell
you differently. If you perform the deadlift incorrectly
yes you very much can put too much pressure on your
back (But on the other hand, you can also do that with
the squatif performed incorrectly).
Hip hinges are a great place to start, then move onto
using tubing, then onto a weight like a plate or a
kettlebell. Use enough weight to make sure you fire
your trunk, too less of a weight will only make you
use your back extensors and that may be the reason
you are here in the first place.

Gray Cook has a terrific YouTube video on the
deadlift that is much worth watching. Gray Cook and
Brett Jones have teamed together to makea "Secrets
Series" DVD set. On one video they speak about
training the backside using the deadlift.
Brett loves to deadlift and he had a previous back
surgery as well and he can now perform a Turkish
Get Up with a 108 lb. Kettlebell.

So there you have it. I hope that this provides some idea
of how to train your legs after suffering from back
pain/surgery. Get screened 1st and foremost, clean up
any imbalances that exist, then work on mobility and
stability, then tie everything together by using your
stabilizers in unison.

The only thing that I did not cover in this post is
squatting. But I believe that you should be able to
deadlift first before you even think of squatting.
Improving your squat I am going to save for another post.

Questions? Comment on the blog or email me at

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Healthy Flat Bread Pizza Recipe

Recipe of the Week: Flatbread Pizza!

Come on! Everyone loves pizza, just not the feeling you get afterwards when all that grease has hit you full force. My wife Nikki and I LOVE pizza and have found a way we can have it and keep it delicious and healthy.


Naan Flatbread (can be found at Costco or Harris Teeter

Breakfast Turkey Sausage-1oz

Lean Turkey Burger-3oz

Turkey Pepperoni-9 pieces

Green Pepper-1/8 cup

Red Onion-1/8 cup

Spaghetti Sauce-1 tbsp

Olive Oil Spray

Begin by preheating the oven to 375. Next bring a medium to large pan up to medium heat and brown your turkey sausage and turkey burger. Feel free to add any type of seasoning that you love.

Next pull out a pan and take one of the Naan Flatbreads and spray both sides with olive oil spray (I find that the sprays are cheaper than true olive oil and this is a good way to keep the calories from the olive oil down a little? then place them on the pan. Add a spoonful of spaghetti sauce and rub it all over the flatbread until it covers the majority of the flatbread. You can use as much as you feel is necessary. Then cover your flatbread with as many toppings as you would like. Nikki and I usually use about 4 oz of the turkey sausage/burger mix, 10 turkey pepperoni and then stack the rest of the pizza with the onion and green pepper. Sometimes we use broccoli or green beans as well. Then cover with 1 oz of mozzarella cheese and place in the oven for 10 minutes. One thing we love to do is after 10 minutes we then broil the pizza for another couple minutes so that the cheese and bread get a little brown.

Then pull out of the oven and enjoy!

The beautiful thing is that you can make any type of pizza you would like. Like Mexican pizza? Add taco seasoning to the meat and replace your spaghetti sauce with salsa and fat free refried beans. Want a barbecue pizza? Then replace your tomato sauce for barbecue sauce. The pizza combinations are endless!


1 whole pizza





As compared to 2 slices of Pizza Hut Supreme Pan Pizza





Kettlebell Training in the Nashville News