Happy Thursday to you,
Greetings from Snowy Austria!
I’m over here working on my cross country skiing. I’ve always enjoyed cross country skiing ever since I was a boy living in Sweden.
I’ve also got a kettlebell here so I’m working through the 30 day kettlebell squat challenge that we started last week.
If you missed the start of the challenge then it’s never too late to begin, you can just finish a few days later 🙂
Don’t forget, the challenge is not about lifting too heavy, or breaking any records, it’s designed to help you develop a daily exercise habit.
The goal is to finish the challenge, not give up after a week because you’ve overdone things and lost motivation. Just 1 set per day and you’re done.
Any questions you can add them to the comments section on the squat challenge page.
Learning to Push
This year I’ve been helping you understand the essential movement patterns that you should use in all your workouts.
Pushing can basically be divided into vertical pushing, that’s overhead pressing and strengthens mainly the shoulders and triceps, and horizontal pushing, that’s pushing straight out in front and develops the chest, shoulders and triceps.
Horizontal pushing causes a problem for kettlebell training because there really is no appropriate exercise you can use. You could lie on your back and press the kettlebell up over your chest but this is only really any good for rehab because the elbows cannot go any deeper than the floor thus limiting the range.
The best horizontal pushing exercise you can perform is the push-up, which is why you find it a lot in my kettlebell programs. Plus it works deep into the core stabilising muscles too, bonus!
Overhead pressing can causes problems because the shoulder often lacks stability in the overhead position. Those with shoulder issues should avoid taking the kettlebell above shoulder height. Horizontal pressing is always safer.
Good shoulders and upper back (thoracic) mobility is also necessary for overhead pressing to avoid over-arching the lower back and causing additional problems.
Surprisingly many people hurt their lower back lifting too heavy overhead because they lean back to engage the chest muscles to achieve a few final reps. You see this in gyms all the time, keep a lookout 🙂
- Pushing includes vertical and horizontal movements
- Horizontal movements (push-ups) are safer for the shoulders
- Vertical movements (overhead presses) require good shoulder stability
- Overhead pressing requires good shoulder and upper back mobility to avoid lower back compensations and injuries
The beauty of overhead pressing is that they flow well with many other exercises e.g. squat and press, lunge and press, clean and press etc.
Adding overhead presses to existing exercises gets more done in less time while at the same time really challenging your cardio.
Here’s an intermediate workout from my 12 Week Men’s Kettlebell Program
- Single Handed Swing Left – 10 reps
- Push Ups – 10 reps
- Single Handed Swing Right – 10 reps
- Squat Thrusts – 10 reps
Here you can see the use of the horizontal pushing exercise (push-ups) as discussed above. The additional movement of going from a standing to floor-based exercise also encourages a peripheral heart action (PHA) as blood is rapidly moved through the body increasing the cardio output.
Repeat the circuit 3 – 5 times, taking as little rest as possible, but with good form.
Beware the Fruit Juice
Did you know that a glass of orange juice can contain the same amount of sugar as a glass of Coca Cola?
If you drink fruit juice on a regular basis then you need to be careful especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Fruit contains fructose as a natural sugar but just because it’s natural doesn’t make it any better for you. Fructose is still sugar that will rapidly raise your blood sugar levels resulting in the hormone insulin shuttling the sugar away for safekeeping within your liver, muscles and fat cells.
The real problem with fruit juice is that the sugar is extracted without the fibre. The fibre works to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. So you get a very quick rush of sugar into your bloodstream rather than a slow-releasing one.
Quick releasing sugars are a sure way to tire you out and add fat as you rollercoaster from energy highs to energy lows.
So if like the juice from fruit be sure to eat the whole fruit instead.
However, most fruit whether containing the fibre or not is still high in sugar and not great for those looking to lose fat.
I’m not saying to give up on fruit, just be mindful that using it as a meal replacement or overdoing your daily intake can leave you consuming more sugar than you think.
Berries and grapefruit are a great choice as they are lower in sugar whereas grapes and ripe bananas are higher.
As I’m cross country ski training at the moment I’m using very little training equipment:
- Resistance Bands – I’m using bands to work on my shoulder stability, strengthen my pulling movements and also to add resistance to my push-ups.
- Bodyweight – I know, not officially a piece of equipment but great because you always have it with you when travelling? Especially great for core training anywhere.
- Kettlebells – I’ve got my 16kg kettlebell with me for the squat challenge:-) Here’s my guide to buying kettlebells for both men and women.
That’s all for today.
Look out for my newsletter a day earlier next week on Wednesday.
P.S. Missed last weeks newsletter? Read it here
[I’ve included some links above that are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission will NOT affect the original price or the price you pay.]