Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Vast Benefits of Kettlebell Training: Build Your Grip, Stamina, And Physique


Barbells and dumbbells have long been the staple of an effective training program. And for good reason; they provide the biggest bang-for-your-buck when it comes to building strength, muscle, and sculpting an impressive physique.

But, in recent years, a new kid has shown up on the block and has taken a foothold as a must-do in your training programs.

His name is kettlebell training – and when combined with an IIFYM program – can help take your results to the next level. Not following an IIFYM program? Then start here with our IIFYM calculator.

Kettlebell Training: What Is It?

The development of kettlebells can be traced back to Russian farmers in the 1700s, as an implement originally used to weigh crops. The farmers noticed that they became stronger through the use of these implements, and used them to show off their strength at festivals. Later, the kettlebell was used as a training tool for the Soviet army.

Kettlebell Training vs Dumbbell Training

While kettlebells and dumbbells can both be used to train similar movements and exercises, kettlebell training has the distinct advantage of being able to produce ballistic movements more easily than dumbbells. These are movements that produce maximum velocity and acceleration over the shortest amount of time.

As far as ballistic movements go, in kettlebell training, it all begins and ends with the kettlebell swing. Precisely why our coaches start all of our clients who are beginners at kettlebell training with the Russian swing.

The Swing: The King of Kettlebell Training Movements

First things first…the kettlebell swing is a hinge movement, not a squat. This means that the move originates with the hips, not the knees. But it doesn’t stop there.

With a kettlebell swing, every muscle in your body is involved in every rep, with a specific emphasis on the entire posterior chain. A proper swing involves bending at the hips, not the knees, and using a strong contraction and thrust of the glutes to propel the kettlebell up. Then, your lats and abdominals take over to control the kettlebell as it transitions from the upswing to the downswing, and you start the process all over.

The kettlebell swing is in an elite class of exercises, along with the likes of the deadlift, and full cleans/snatches, that work your entire body in one movement.


kettlebell swings


The Many, Many Benefits of Kettlebell Training

It’s true “functional” training

While the term “functional” gets thrown around a lot – and often too much – kettlebell training is functional exercise at its best. While a lot of machines and certain exercises train our muscles individually, kettlebell exercises train your body as a whole; utilizing almost every muscle group working together.

This carries over directly to our lives because of our bodies rarely, if ever, use muscles in isolation, instead of working in conjunction with each other to more efficiently perform tasks, prevent injuries, and build strength. Kettlebell training trains your entire body.

Kettlebell training increases work capacity

Work capacity is simply how much work your body is able to do. Increasing work capacity allows you build more muscle, get strong, and burn more calories.

As our previous post pointed out, your body requires more calories the greater your activity is. Find out what your ideal starting macros are with a Custom Macro Blueprint!

Kettlebell training increases work capacity, and it increases it very quickly. Because of the ballistic nature of kettlebell training, you can improve cardiovascular ability while also strengthening your hips, legs, lower back, and core in a very short amount of time.

Training with kettlebells increases power

Power is important for almost any physical activity but especially important for athletes. Power is defined as the body’s ability to generate as much force as possible, as quickly as possible. Or in other words, explosiveness.

Classic kettlebell exercises like the swing, snatch, and clean all must be performed in a fast, explosive manner.

Kettlebell training teaches to you extend and fire through your hips, thus strengthening your glutes, and taking the stress off your lower back.

Not only that, but kettlebell training teaches you how to repeat these movements over and over again, increasing your power-endurance. And, in athletics, it’s usually the athletes that can sustain power and explosiveness over an extended period of time that come out on top.

Develop crushing grip strength

Grip strength is an underappreciated aspect of strength training. A weak grip can be a limiting factor in a number of exercises; particularly the deadlift. A stronger grip means heavier lifts, but also means larger and stronger forearms.

We’ve seen that kettlebell training has been great for improving the grip strength of our clients for a few reasons. One, the handle of the kettlebell is larger than the typical barbell or dumbbell, so any exercise you perform with it is going to stress your grip more.

Two, the nature of kettlebell exercises – the swing in particular – put unnatural stress on your hands and forearms. Swings require you to hold the kettlebell for an extended period of time, as well as having to combat a moving and every changing center of gravity.


kettlebell at-home workouts


Kettlebells are space-savers

You don’t need a lot of room to perform kettlebell exercises. Hell, most could be done in a closet. They also require very little storage, which makes them excellent options for at-home workouts, or for small studios.

Build stability with instability

Because the weight of a kettlebell is not centered like that of a dumbbell or barbell, kettlebell training can help build stability with instability.

Kettlebells teach your body to deal with an off-center of gravity. This means that your smaller stabilizer muscles are activated more than with traditional exercises, thus making them stronger.

IIFYM blueprint

Aches and pains are often a result of instability and imbalances. Kettlebell training doesn’t just expose these imbalances but works to correct them through improving coordination, joint strength, and the use of low impact.

Kettlebell training can combat lower back pain

We’ve found with our clients that the biggest cause of low back pain is weak glute muscles. The glutes are the largest muscles in the human body and are responsible for almost all movement. When the glutes are weak and don’t fire correctly, a lot of the work they should be doing is taken over by our lower back muscles, which are not designed to do as much work as the glutes.

Kettlebell training teaches to you extend and fire through your hips, thus strengthening your glutes, and taking the stress off your lower back.

Better posture and spinal stability

In keeping the theme of our back and posterior chain, kettlebell training has the ability to improve posture, as well as spinal stability, which will help prevent injuries.

Thankfully, kettlebell training can provide many of the benefits of traditional cardio and more.

Our posterior chain is responsible for our posture. When these muscles are weak, our posture is normally poor, with our shoulders rolled forward, back rounded over, etc. Poor posture increases our risk for nagging aches and pains, as well as injuries.

Kettlebell training combats this by strengthening the entire posterior chain. A stronger posterior chain helps you keep your shoulders pulled back, with a neutral spine. This is our body’s natural position and reduces our risk of injury issues.

Kettlebell training also addresses the issue of spinal stability. Protecting your spine comes from the ability to properly brace your core. This is done by drawing in breath, and bracing your stomach like you’re about to take a punch. This helps build core strength and will transfer over to other exercises, as well as everyday activities.


kettlebell full body workouts


Cardio without the cardio

Most people who love resistance training tend to hate traditional cardio. The thought of jogging on a treadmill, or swaying back and forth on an elliptical for an hour is pure hell on earth. Thankfully, kettlebell training can provide many of the benefits of traditional cardio and more.

The reason kettlebell training is a great alternative to cardio is that 1). It’s not boring, and 2). It gives you the added bonus of training multiple energy systems.

There are two main energy systems we use during exercise. The aerobic system is used during sustained periods of activity, usually greater than a minute. This system relies on oxygen the body draws in for energy. The anaerobic energy system, on the other hand, uses stored energy for an activity usually lasting less than 15 seconds.

As you expend energy through activity, you need to fuel your body with the proper amount of macros and calories. Let us create a diet approach that does that with your Custom Macro Blueprint!

The best way to use kettlebell training to train both systems is by utilizing a HIIT – or high-intensity interval training – protocol. Typically this is done with a 1:1 or 1:2 work-to-rest ratio. What this means is you’re doing work for say 30 seconds, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest.

This has shown to provide a greater positive effect on both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, than simple traditional strength training or cardio alone does.

Burn more fat

While following a sound nutrition plan – such an IIFYM diet approach – is the main driver of progress when it comes to fat loss, your training methods can also drastically help increase your results.

Kettlebell training is a great conditioning tool for fat loss for the reasons I just mentioned. Not only does it burn a ton of calories during the activity due to the aerobic response, but also after the activity, due to increased EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.

EPOC is the body’s response to the intensity of activity and its desire to return to a normal state. The higher the intensity, the great the EPOC, because the more oxygen the body needs to return to normal.

Kettlebell Training is fun

Other than heavy deadlifts, kettlebell training is probably the most fun you can have in the gym. Kettlebell workouts are quick and can be done anywhere, so you don’t have to be stuck in a gym. Plus they’re great for friendly workout competitions with a buddy.


turkish get up


Quick Kettlebell Workouts

The great thing about kettlebell training workouts is there are endless combinations of how they can be done. Here are a few of my favorites:

Kettlebell/Burpee Countdown

Perform 10 kettlebell swings, followed by 10 burpees. Then immediately perform 9 swings, followed by 9 burpees, then 8 swings, followed by 8 burpees, and so on, counting all the way down to 1 rep. Rest only as needed.

Top of the Minute

At the top of the minute, perform 20 seconds of kettlebell swings, followed immediately by 6 reps of a bodyweight exercise of your choice (push-ups, pull-ups, jump squats, etc). After the 6 reps, rest for the remainder of the minute. That’s one round. Complete 10-20 rounds.

One-Arm Complex

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Perform all reps with one arm/leg before switching sides and repeating. That’s one round. Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes, resting as little as possible. This is a complex so you will use the same weight for each exercise, and perform all reps without setting the weight down.

  • One-Arm Swings x 3
  • Single-Leg RDL x 3
  • One-Arm Split-Stance Row x 3
  • One-Arm Clean x 3
  • One-Arm Reverse Lunge x 3
  • One-Arm Push Press x 3

1-Minute Intervals

Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, with 60 seconds of rest in between. At the start of your 60 seconds of rest, perform 10 push-ups, then rest for the remainder of the 60 seconds.

  • Two-Arm Swings x 60 seconds
  • Shoulder Press x3 60 seconds per side
  • Romanian Deadlift x 60 seconds
  • One-Arm Row x 30 seconds per side
  • Goblet Squat x 60 seconds


Perform as many or as few reps of each exercise as you want during one set. Your goal is to complete the prescribed number of reps for each exercise, for a grand total of 300 reps. Aim to complete all 300 reps in 15 minutes.

  • One-Arm Swing x 50 reps per side
  • Snatch x 25 reps per side
  • Clean & Press x 25 reps per side
  • Reverse Lunge x 25 reps per side
  • Squat & Press x 25 reps per side

When combined with a proper IIFYM diet, kettlebell training is a fun, quick, and unique way to burn fat, increase strength, and improve your overall fitness. With a short learning curve, it can be done anywhere, by anyone, at any fitness level. Add kettlebells to your fitness regimen, and watch your results skyrocket.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

9 Benefits of HIIT: Is it the King of Cardio?


I’m about to use a word that I absolutely hate, and that word is CARDIO. I may be standing alone on this one, but I’m willing to bet there are many of you out there reading this article having the exact same thought. I live an extremely hectic life between running my business and being a good husband and father.

Every devoted second of my day I want to be consumed with those elements. That’s not to say that I don’t value my health, in fact, it’s because I make my health and fitness a priority that I am rarely ever sick, and I’m able to play with my son without needing an oxygen mask. Valuing your health is critical, if you haven’t already, find out your cutting macros with the IIFYM calculator.

One way that I’m able to minimize my time in the gym and spend more time with my family is using HIIT cardio. HIIT for those who aren’t familiar is high-intensity interval training. Because we all seem to like acronyms these days, we simply say HIIT for short.

Why HIIT is Superior for those Pressed for Time

Getting back to my loathe for cardio. I have zero interest in spending an hour on the treadmill, bicycle, elliptical, stepper, rower, or whatever piece of cardio equipment you’d like to throw in here. It’s not going to happen. I don’t like it. You couldn’t pay me to do it. And because I don’t like slow steady-state cardio for long durations, I found HIIT to be extremely advantageous.

I highly recommend that if you do not like a form of exercise, find an alternative that you do. That doesn’t mean to totally neglect that piece of the equation, it just means you need to find something else to slot in its place that you enjoy. Cardio is a necessary evil when it comes to achieving your physique goals and burning off unwanted body fat to showcase the muscle you worked hard to build.

*Note: Before we get any further, we need to say one thing. HIIT cardio or any form of exercise CAN have negative side effects on those with health issues and even those without any symptoms but rather has an underlying health issue. We at, as well as the author, would encourage all of you to see your doctor before engaging in any exercise program including the HIIT topic described in this article. For your safety, please make sure the doctor clears you and says it is safe to begin any exercise protocol.


circadian regulation


Through HIIT there is HOPE

HIIT is a style of training where you exert 100% effort in quick bursts and is then followed up by a short recovery period before being repeated again several times. The rest and recovery periods for HIIT can either be done actively through something like a walk.

For instance, you can utilize sprints in your HIIT training. You could sprint for 30 seconds on a treadmill or outside, and then walk for the next 60 seconds for your rest and recovery phase. Then you repeat the cycle.

HIIT is a great way to burn fat while preserving hard-earned muscle mass

Some people will use the rest and recovery phase to completely rest and stop movement all together before hitting it hard. In that case, many people shorten the cycles where they give an all-out sprint for 20 seconds and completely rest for 10-20 seconds before beginning their next sprint.

The more advanced you are in the fitness game, the longer you are going to want your working phase of HIIT and the shorter you want your rest and recovery to be. Start out with shorter work phases and longer rest/recovery and keep progressing and pushing yourself.

Example Routines

Need some other examples to get you started with HIIT? Here are some recommendations through the use of a high school track assuming you have one nearby:

1) Bleacher sprints are a great way to get in your HIIT session. You could do something as simple as 10 complete rounds and then call it a day. To complete your first round, all you need to do is start at the bottom of the bleachers where there is a clear row going all the way to the top of the stadium bleachers. Sprint up the stairs to the very top.

IIFYM blueprint

Once at the top, turn around and walk back down to ground level. Perform these nine more times to finish off a killer HIIT cardio session. As your fitness level improves, you can add in more rounds as necessary. Once ten becomes too easy, bump it up to 15, then 20, etc. As a note, if the bleachers are wet or snow-covered, do not attempt HIIT on them as there is a high probability that you will slip and potentially injure yourself.

2) Want to feel like an athlete again? Walk out onto the football field and line up on the goal line, facing the opposing goal line on the opposite side of the field. Then sprint from the goal line to the 10-yard line. Turn around and walk back to the goal line. Then immediately sprint to the 15-yard line. Turn back around and walk to the goal line.


hiit cardio


Do this until you reach the 50-yard line. After you walk back from the 50-yard line, do your 10th round by sprinting all the way to the other goal line and walk back to where you started. As this becomes easier for you, progress from the 50-yard line until you eventually can keep pushing in five-yard increments to the other goal line. As an additional note, just like in the above example, if the ground is wet or snow-covered, do not attempt HIIT cardio on the field.

Because Time isn’t On Our Side

The goal with HIIT cardio is to keep your heart rate elevated so it allows you to burn more calories and fat in a shorter period. I’m a fan of productivity and efficiency, so in my opinion, HIIT is a slam dunk. You get to it, hit it quick, hit it hard, and then you’re out of there and moving on with your day.

…those who were in the HIIT group burned on average around 100 more calories per day compared to the slow steady-state group…

We all know that you can’t out-train a poor diet. And the good news is that you don’t need to when you find a plan that fits your lifestyle. has everything from a 90-day weight loss challenge, to custom workouts, and even blueprints and recipes that you can utilize. If you haven’t checked out the programs, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to see how they can take your health and fitness to the next level.

What are some benefits of HIIT cardio for IIFYM fans?

• You can do HIIT anywhere—inside or outside
• You can do HIIT with friends or alone
• HIIT is extremely efficient on time
• Aids in heart health
• HIIT challenges you both mentally and physically
• You don’t need any equipment to perform it
• It’s a great way to burn fat while preserving hard-earned muscle mass
• HIIT is a fantastic way to naturally increase your metabolism
• HIIT allows your body to burn calories well after your session is over

Exercise can be tiresome and demanding but your diet shouldn’t be, have one of our coaches build your easy to follow Custom Macro Blueprint

When you have zero excuses to not exercise, where do you go from there? Claim insanity? HIIT allows you to exercise anywhere you want, at any time of day. It can be in your house or outside, it doesn’t matter. Do you travel for a living?

Great! No matter where you go, you can fit in a HIIT session—including in your hotel room. Is the weather nice outside? Perfect! Grab your friends and crush a HIIT workout with them and see who can out-perform the others. Is your day full of meetings but you have a window of around 15-minutes before work to get in a quick workout? HIIT it is!


How much cardio


The Psychological and Physiological Edge

You’ll also find no other form of cardio tests your mental fortitude like HIIT cardio does. There is a very good chance that in the middle of your HIIT session you think you could very well die. It’s rough—but you need to push through it. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it—ah, the cliché.

But let’s also look at this from an athlete’s standpoint. Let’s compare the physiques of marathon runners and sprinters. Notice a difference? The sprinters are almost always carrying more muscle mass than a marathon runner and the sprinter is often times also holding onto less body fat as well. Why is that?

You’ll save time, burn more calories over the next 24 hours, and make your cardio sessions more efficient.

For starters, look at their training styles. Sprinters, well, sprint. Marathon runners are generally training for hours doing a slow steady-state form of cardio. How about we allow studies show us why there could be a difference between these athletes and how utilizing HIIT could help you burn fat and preserve your lean muscle mass in the process?

The research speaks for itself

In a 1994 study, two groups were used to test the effectiveness of HIIT cardio versus slow steady-state (1). One group was asked to perform 15-week of HIIT cardio while the slow steady-state group was asked to complete 20-weeks of cardio. At the end of the study, the slow steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than the HIIT group. However, the HIIT group burned more body fat and in a shorter timeframe.

Another group of researchers conducted a similar study in 2001 where a slow steady-state group and HIIT cardio group were asked to perform their respective forms of cardio over an eight-week duration (2). At the end of the eight weeks, the group who utilized the HIIT style of cardio shed two percent body fat, while the slow steady-state group did not lose any body fat.

Even with a proper exercise routine, a great physique starts with a dialed-in diet. Have us create your Custom Macro Blueprint, so you can start to lose fat now!

It was also noted that those who were in the HIIT group burned on average around 100 more calories per day compared to the slow steady-state group when tested 24 hours after the conclusion of a cardio session. This shows HIIT participants can burn more calories at rest when using this style of cardio.

Still not impressed? HIIT cardio can also be beneficial in the short-term as well. In 2007, a study was published looking at females and how HIIT cardio could improve fat loss (3). Within a two-week timeframe, the researchers asked the young women in the study if they could perform seven HIIT sessions. When the study was complete, researchers found that there was a 30% increase in fat oxidation for all of the subjects who participated.




It’s a No-Brainer

Who wouldn’t want to burn more calories at rest from a single cardio session? I sure as heck would! Yet another study on HIIT cardio was conducted and showed that those individuals who used a stationary bicycle for their session were able to burn significantly more calories at rest for the next 24 hours than their counterpart who conducted a slow steady-state form of cardio (4).

The coaches at can take your fat burning metabolism (thanks to HIIT cardio) and keep it revving by helping you choose foods that provide you with both the micro and macronutrients your body needs to function optimally. They are also able to customize workout plans to suit your needs and goals.

In Conclusion

If all of the studies mentioned above and information provided in this article wasn’t enough to at least have you thinking about giving HIIT cardio a try, then I hope you are making some amazing progress with that slow steady-state you might be doing. However, if you are looking in the mirror and you aren’t happy, what do you have to lose by giving HIIT cardio a shot? Nothing.

I’m a fan of trying new things that are free and don’t cost me a thing other than my time. I’m also willing to bet that once you give HIIT cardio a try and you find the right form that you enjoy (whether it’s sprinting outside or on a bicycle) that you will never want to go back to slow steady-state again.

You’ll save time, burn more calories over the next 24 hours, and make your cardio sessions more efficient. I’m not saying HIIT cardio is the only way to reach your health, fitness, or physique goals, but I am saying it’s a pretty darn good way if you stick to it in the long-run.

Using a combination of HIIT cardio along with an IIFYM diet program is a great way to achieve your health and fitness goals. If weight loss is your goal, has some of the best and most affordable plans available. If knowledge is what you are seeking, has some of the best writers in the industry producing top notch content. While not all articles are specific to IIFYM, they are definitely all things that you can add or implement to your IIFYM lifestyle.

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