Happy Thursday to you,
We are now 14% through 2020, how is your health and fitness progressing?
This month I have been focusing on my cross country skiing and my squats with the 30 day squat challenge.
I’m also on target to having an alcohol and coffee free 2020. I do miss coffee occasionally, for the taste, but with chicory as a replacement, the cravings never seem to last for long.
I’ve also been experimenting with some longer (20 hr) fasts. I eat breakfast and a large lunch and then skip my evening meal until a late breakfast around 10am. It’s surprising how easy this becomes once you get used to it.
There is so much positive research coming out about fasting especially just for short periods of time 12-16 hours that I think more and more people will start paying attention soon.
If you want a safe introduction into fasting then eat your last meal at 6-7 pm and then nothing until breakfast. Easy, right?
Missed the squat challenge? It’s never too late, get started here
The Pulling Movement Pattern
This year I’ve been sharing information on the most effective way to exercise using the 5 natural movement patterns:
- Hip Hinge
- Knee Hinge
I’ve already covered the first 3 movement patterns in previous newsletters so today I’d like to help explain the pull in a little more detail.
Pulling movements, just like pushing ones, can be divided into two categories:
- Vertical Pulls (eg. pull-ups)
- Horizontal Pulls (eg. rows)
Pulling is important because it incorporates a lot of postural muscles that help balance out all the sitting and bending forwards we do.
Rowing exercises are particularly important because they strengthen the shoulder blade (scapula) stabilisers which in turn ensures our shoulders stay healthy.
Rowing also works isometrically (statically) into the lower back which ensures that when bending or leaning forwards the back stays strong and doesn’t get injured. This works in conjunction with the core muscles which I’ll discuss in a few newsletter’s time.
Care should be taken when performing any bent-over rowing exercises because just as they will strengthen the back, those with vulnerable backs can also injure themselves too. As always start off light and master the movement first.
Vertical pulls don’t really have a kettlebell exercise equivalent so for the more advanced trainees they should add in a series of pull-ups or chin-ups.
But, just as with overhead pushing, overhead pulling also requires a lot to go right in order to avoid or aggravate injury due to the vulnerability of the shoulder and/or rhythm of the shoulder blades (scapula).
However, most beginners and intermediate exercisers need not concern themselves with overhead pulling when getting started.
One final note on pulling exercises, kettlebell deadlifts, swings, high pulls, cleans, and snatches all use an element of pulling. If you have ever performed a heavier workout using these exercises you may have experienced soreness in your back muscles.
Learn more: 5 Kettlebell rowing variations for a strong back
Here’s an intermediate workout from my 50 kettlebell circuits
- Two Handed Swing – 60 seconds
- Reverse Lunge & Press – 30 seconds each side
- Regular Row – 30 seconds each side
- Goblet Squat – 30 seconds
- Sit and Press – 30 seconds
Here’s a great 4-minute circuit that uses the horizontal row as discussed above. You will also notice how all 5 movement patterns are also included ensuring a balanced workout that uses practically every muscle in your body.
Repeat the circuit for a total of 3 sets, taking 30 – 60 seconds of rest after each circuit.
Probably one of the easiest and most effective ways you can improve your nutrition is by keeping a food journal or diary.
Research shows that just keeping track of what you eat and drink can make a huge difference to what and when you consume.
So if your goals are fat loss or just health improvements in general then writing down what you eat and drink each day is well worth your time.
Another reason why I always recommend food journaling is that it identifies what foods work specifically for you.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Has what you’ve eaten filled you up and left you without cravings for 4 hours?
- Do you feel energised by what you ate or sluggish and drowsy?
- Did you experience any bloating or stomach issues?
- Do you feel jumpy, fidgety, or stressed out?
Keep a lookout for these and anything else out of the ordinary and make a note in your journal.
By a process of trial and error, you should be able to identify which foods work well for you and during which times of the day.
For example, after breakfast, do eggs fill you up for longer than oats? Which gives you more energy? Do you have a rapid energy crash after 2 hours?
Start your food journal today and let me know what you discover.
Shoes for Kettlebell Training
- I rarely wear shoes if I’m training at home and no I’ve never dropped a kettlebell on my foot, not yet anyway 🙂
- If training at a public gym then I wear minimalist shoes that have very little sole and do not elevate the heel (I use Merrell Barefoot)
- Exercising with big chunky shoes that have cushioned soles affects your natural proprioception and effectively blinds your feet from being able to communicate with the floor.
- Shoes that have a raised heel, like most running shoes, put you into an unnatural forward-leaning position that the body has to compensate for.
- Having your heel as close to the floor as possible enables better activation of the muscles at the back of the body including the buttocks. This is especially important when performing hip hinge exercises, namely, swings, cleans, deadlifts, snatches and high pulls.
That’s all for today my friend,
P.S. Missed last weeks newsletter? Read it here