Friday, August 31, 2012

Kettlebell Swing Cardio

Kettlebell swing cardio classes are proving very popular, with instructors and participants alike.

For a personal trainer the class is a dream, some decent music, one kettlebell per person and a 20 minute disciplined training session in which keeping people in the fat burning zone is the key. This is not too much to ask from a personal trainer.

For the participant no change in workstations or equipment, the main thing required is to keep the work rate high and the strength of their grip. The rest will take care of itself as long as instructions are followed by the personal trainer.

To perform the Kettlebell swing an athlete is required to stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Place the Kettlebell on the floor directly below your legs. Take hold of the Kettlebell with both hands and driving down and backwards with the hips swing the weight between your legs about one foot behind your heel, you are then required to drive the kettlebell upwards using the thrust of your hips. It is important that you keep your abdominal wall tight at all times throughout the movement to avoid injury and use only momentum to drive the weight upwards and back downwards between your legs.

To ensure you are performing the Kettlebell swing correctly, ensure you are not using the arm muscles to lift the weight, think of the arms as a pendulum. Also ensure that at the top portion of the movement that the bottom of the kettlebell is facing away from the athlete and not at the floor. If the very bottom of the weight is facing away from the athlete this is because the kettlebell is moving through momentum and be driven correctly through the hip muscles and not lifted by the arms.

For the Kettlebell swing cardio exercise routine, each athlete is required to perform one set of 30 repetitions, ensure you are using a weight that is first of all light enough to complete 20 sets but also heavy enough to be challenging come the mid-point of the routine. Start your set of 30 Kettlebell swings on the minute mark and when complete, rest until the next minute begins.

If done correctly your first few sets should enable you to have about 40 seconds rest and by the middle few sets your resting period should be down to 30 seconds. If you have chosen a weight heavy enough your last few sets, usually sets 16 - 20 will only allow you to have between 10 and 20 second rests.

The increasing activity levels of this routine elevate your heart and breathing rate to a level which will be uncomfortable and yet very achievable. The natural high you will feel after this session is quite amazing due to the release of endorphins (similar to eating over 1kg of chocolate but without that sickening feeling) and the body will reward you with a massive uplift of Human growth Hormone levels in the bloodstream for the following 24 hours allowing improved muscle repair, immune system and even increased drive and motivation.

A kettlebell swing cardio session can be a fantastic session to perform alone or within a group and is one that can be performed at home with just one Kettlebell. Simple, effective and rewarding, give it a try!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

HIIT Cardio Versus Fartlek Training

HIIT cardio is the new craze sweeping across gymnasiums in Europe and North America - the reason for this... it's fast, efficient and it works!

High intensity interval training is something that athletes and runners in particular have been well aware of for a long time now. Fartlek training, translated from Swedish is 'speed play' and this has been a popular method of fitness training for runners for a long time and one method that has been shown to burn more fat than steady paced running. Fartlek training mixes slow paced running with high paced intervals of running, one example that most people who have ever played Football will be familiar with is jogging the length of the pitch, sprinting the width, jogging the length and then sprinting the width again.

Although Fartlek training is still a great method of physical training, the Tabatha protocol of HIIT shone a light on the possibility of condensing a workout dramatically without taking away any of the benefits. The problem with the Tabatha protocol of high intensity interval training is that it sounds false; no one ever really believes that a 4 minute workout can strip fat and although the 8 circuits that compromise the Tabatha method are extremely difficult, athletes often tend to feel they have cheated themselves leaving the gym after 4 minutes. On way in which body builders chose to incorporate the Tabatha protocol of HIIT Cardio to their sessions was to blast one 4 minutes session either side of the normal body building routine. This tends to be a very popular way of using HIIT without feeling you have cheated yourself.

The Tabatha protocol will work for anyone using it. What we all have to keep in mind is that time spent in the gym is not in direct correlation to results gained in the gym. Always keep in mind the famous saying 'you can train hard or you can train long, you can't do both'. A great example of this is the direct comparison of the traditional one hour treadmill session for fat burning at a slow steady pace versus the very popular and newly found 30 sets in 20 minutes Kettlebell Workouts. Studies show that not only are more calories burnt in the actual training session of the shorter period of activity, but participants display greater muscular definition, lower body fat and far greater fitness levels. This is just one way in which training harder for shorter periods of time is proven to be more beneficial.

Often you will hear about Boxers overtraining for a fight and not feeling fresh when the big night arrives which can have devastating effects, think of Amir Khan in his most recent outing against Danny Garcia. He was originally primed to a fight a few months earlier before Lamont Peterson was banned for taking illegal substances. After being stopped in 4 rounds only a couple of months after peaking for a fight that never happened, a lot of pundits and coaches around the world attributed this to over training. There are others such as the never outspoken Chris Eubank Senior who claims over training is a myth and a state of mind and it is more about becoming stale when training which the biggest worry is. Whilst this may be the case with Boxers, there is a lot of scientific evidence in body building as to how overtraining can halt results altogether. For instance studies have shown time and time again that Bicep progress is halted by over training and in fact as soon as the Bicep is over worked the muscle shuts down and no growth or repair will occur. In addition to this, often the best way to get over a training Plateau (a stage when progress as halted) the best way to get past this is take one week of the Gym allowing all the muscles and joints to recover. After doing this, most people find that they can instantly lift more weight than one week previous when they were stuck lifting a certain weight.

HIIT Training seems to answer most if not all of the problems associated with physical training; it keeps you fresh in body and mind. It combats injury and overtraining problems and is a tremendous fat burner and a great way to increase your physical fitness.