Happy Thursday to you,
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was working on a stretching article for you with a total of 50 stretches for the entire body.
I had hoped to have finished it for you by now but sadly my designer and all her family were struck down with ‘the virus’ so it’s taking a little longer than planned.
Fingers-crossed, everything should be ready for you soon.
OK, today I’d like to talk to you about building strength the smart way…
Building Strength Effectively
Did you know that strength is a skill?
In other words, you can get stronger just by refining your technique with consistent practice.
Many people are under the illusion that the only way to get strong is by building big muscles.
I can happily perform the Turkish Get Up with a 32kg kettlebell and I’m by no means big or heavily muscled like a bodybuilder. I’m only 5′ 9″ and 75kg.
Why can lift the 32kg so comfortably?
Because I’ve practiced the Get Up and refined my technique 1000’s of times.
When you first perform a new exercise the majority of your strength gains, within the first 6 weeks, come from neuromuscular developments.
Basically, you become more efficient at muscle recruitment for that particular movement.
Here are a few tricks you can use to improve your own muscle recruitment when using the kettlebell overhead press:
- squeeze the handle of the kettlebell as hard as you can
- squeeze your other hand as tight as you can
- brace your abs and lift your pelvic floor
- squeeze your buttocks and hamstrings tight
- breathe out forcefully through your teeth
Using a challenging kettlebell perform a few reps adding each of the above techniques one-by-one to your press.
Just by recruiting more muscles in your body you up-regulate your overall strength.
I think you will be surprised at how much easier the press feels once you start using this method.
You can use it with any exercise just by getting as tight as possible when you perform the movement.
Have you ever lifted a heavy kettlebell and then returned to a lighter one and couldn’t believe how much easier it feels?
This is muscle recruitment in action.
Not wanting to over use valuable energy your body is always up-regulating or down-regulating the amount of muscle used.
The quickest way you can increase your strength is by regular practice.
Practice little and often, keeping the reps below 5.
Use the techniques I have mentioned above with a repetition ladder as highlighted in last weeks newsletter.
Focus on strength based exercises including: overhead presses, pull ups, pistol squats, clean and presses, and Turkish get ups.
Here’s the ‘Fabulous Four’ from my 21 Workout Finishers:
- Two Handed Swing x 24 reps
- Burpees x 12 reps
- Side Lunge x 6 reps each side
- Turkish Get Ups x 3 reps each side
For this motivational workout perform each exercise for the required reps one after the other.
Try to keep your rest periods to a minimum. You can rest at the end of the circuit and then repeat it again for a total of 2 – 4 circuits.
You can replace the burpees with bodyweight squats if you wish.
This weeks question:
Q. “I seem to be having problems holding onto the kettlebell when performing one arm swings should I use chalk or gloves?”
A. The kettlebell swing puts strength demands on your grip that not everyone is used to these days. Plus, as you age your grip strength is quick to diminish.
Swings are excellent for retaining and developing grip strength but one arm swings can be a challenge.
My advice is not to use chalk or gloves but instead work on developing your grip strength by using a combination of one hand and two handed swings.
- Start with the one handed swing
- When your grip feels like its starting to fail change hands
- Keep changing hands until you feel your grip is being challenged too much
- Change to the two handed swings
Practicing the kettlebell clean will also help to improve your grip strength naturally.
Good grip strength is a sign of good health, another benefit of kettlebell training.
I hope this helps.