Don’t stop, just slow down

At the time of this writing it is 7:42pm, July 5th, 2020.

I spent the holiday weekend with family.
On Saturday, we hosted the in-laws. So, my morning consisted of mowing the lawn, trimming, cleaning up the yard, running errands, etc.
I fit in a quick 20 min complex around 8am. Mowing the lawn counted as conditioning for the day.

That afternoon through the evening was spent outside with the kids and family. We grilled, played in the pool, and I had too many brats. It was was a rather nice time. The next day was about the same, except my parents hosted in their yard. Too much food, and a ton of sunlight. No alcohol for me.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, despite getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and not even drinking any booze, I woke up Monday morning completely exhausted.
From the moment my alarm went off, I was ready to give up.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Here’s what I did do though.
I dragged my ass out of bed, got some caffeine in my system, and went outside to the gym (my garage). I got warmed up and gave it a fair chance. But to be honest, those first few reps felt off.
Instead of letting my ego get the best of me, I made an honest assessment and called an audible.

My original workout consisted of heavy weighted dips, high-volume clean and presses, TGUs, and pushups.

My “audibled workout” was low-volume, medium weighted dips (if I’m honest even those felt wrong), lighweight overhead presses, and some jump rope with pushups. for about 25 min.
In terms of diet, I eased my intermittent fasting restrictions.
Instead of fasting until noon, I got some. Gatorade on my way to work and put some coconut oil in my coffee.
For lunch, I had my usual protein, peanut butter, and oatmeal.

What I didn’t do was completely skip my workout, eat crap all day, and completely fall off the horse. The only thing that would result in is feeling like garage for another day.

The point is this: Your actual life needs to be taken into account while you’re training. You might go to sleep one night totally amped and excited about your upcoming workout but then wake up and feel like complete garbage. In order to combat this and still make progress ease up. on the gas pedal ever so slightly. Don’t slam on the brakes and pull off the road.

A Little Bit Everyday

For many years, I was trapped in the lie that every workout had to leave me on the floor in a pool of sweat. I believed that I wasn’t making progress if I PR every time I stepped in the gym. I thought that every workout had to be at least 45 minutes and I had to include at least 8 different lifts per body body.

Then, I “met” Dan John. To be specific, I stumbled upon his book with Pavel, Easy Strength.
The concept is simple, for 40 days, hit ~10 reps for each major “movement” (push, pull, squat, hinge, loaded carry) every single day. To determine the weight, just assess how you feel that day. Don’t miss any reps.

I’ll admit, at first I was…skeptical, to put it nicely.
But, as my family grew, we bought a house, life happened, etc, my time in the gym shrank. I needed a program to that would get me in and out and still help me get stronger.

So I gave Easy Strength a try.

Please, I’m begging you, try it.

ALL of my lifts increased.
A confession. I’ve always struggled with chin ups. 1 set of 10 was not even a option.
I did Easy Strength. 10 total reps a day. Sometimes I did two sets of 5. Sometimes I did 3 sets of 3 and a single.
Other days, I did 5 sets of 2.
After a week or so, I added 5lbs to my chin ups, and kept the reps the same, always. Only 10 reps a day. No more, no less.
Week after week, I kept at it.

At the end of 40 days, I was breezing through 2 sets of 5. With a 45lb plate.

I often go back to this style of training when life gets busy.
For example, last weekend I built 4 garden boxes for my wife.
This weekend the dirt was delivered. That means I had to shovel and wheelbarrow and entire mountain of dirt from my driveway to the garden boxes in the backyard.
My entire back was definitely fatigued, so I took the “Easy Strength” route.
All I did was take a medium-weight kettlebell and did kneeling overhead presses for 2 sets of 5 on each arm and goblet squats for 2 sets of five.

I know, it’s not a lot volume, but trust me, if I continue to hit just 10 reps a day, it will go a long way in terms of strength.
This style on training will help you focus on what’s important. Your life should not revolve around training. Your responsibilities as a husband and father are vastly more important than how much you can lift.
But, your health needs to be one of the priorities in your life so you can take care of your family better.

Make sure you are focused on living your life. Your workouts should support that. Not the other way around.

Try this Quick and SIMPLE strength workout

If you’re pressed for time, try this quick, full-body workout.

Equipment needed: 1 medium-weight kettlebell.

10 Swings
One-arm press left x 5
Bent over row left x 5
5 Swings
One-arm press right x 5
Bent over row right x5
10 Swings
One-arm press left x 5
Bent over row left x 5
5 Swings
One-arm press right x 5
Bent over row right x5
10 Swings

Goblet Squat x 3
Suitcase carry left 30 sec
Goblet Squat x 3
Suitcase carry right 30 sec
Goblet Squat x 3
Suitcase Carry left 30 sec
Goblet Squat x 3
Suitcase Carry right 30 sec

The BEST footwear for Kettlebell Training

Many people wonder what the absolute best footwear for kettlebell training is.
Runners wear running shoes.
Weightlifters wear weightlifting shoes.

What do kettlebell-ers wear for shoes?

Well…nothing. Studies have shown a myriad of benefits from training barefoot. I know, it sounds like a crazy concept, especially while swinging around a cast-iron ball.

I was afraid for a very long time, until everyone was forced to stay at home. I decided maybe it was time to give barefoot living a try. Unless I needed to go to the store or something, I left the shoes off. Inside, outside, sunny days or during rainstorms, I did not put a shoe on.
Trust me, it’s worth it.

The science-y stuff:

Barefoot training activates small nerve proprioceptive spots located on the skin on the bottom of the foot.

The sole of your feet contains thousands of (small nerve) proprioceptors, which are sensitive to different stimuli including:

-Texture. -Vibration. -Skin stretch. -Deep pressure. -Light touch.

When stimulated these proprioceptors play an important role in how we maintain upright stance, activate our postural muscles and dynamically control impact forces.

Several studies including a 2011 study by Hatton et al, demonstrated that specific textures will actually improve balance and stability by reducing medial-lateral sway.

Training barefoot is not poor hygiene, using your feet to ensure that we get the most accurate stimulation of the nervous system is not dirty. It’s practical.

Again based on research, studies have supported that harder surfaces more effectively stimulate the nervous system and provide increased proprioceptive input from the ground up.

A 2012 study by Iglesias et al, demonstrated that the harder the insole studied the greater the reduction in medial-lateral sway.

Ok, enough of that.

Basically, when you train barefoot, you experience a far better sense of “groundedness”. Your balance improves due and you have a heightened sense of your body. The body will be constantly making micro-adjustments with the data it’s receiving from your feet. When you’re wearing shoes, your foot is cushioned and all the minor muscles in your foot are not activated. So, yet another benefit: You’re actually using more energy during your workouts by going barefoot.

Another thing to note is that most shoes have some kind of heel. When your heel is raised, even slightly, the angle of your swing is affected which can throw off your swing. Personally, there was a noticeable improvement in my form when I started regularly swinging sans shoes.

If you’re nervous, ease into it. Go barefoot in the house at all times. Do you your workouts on carpet first before you move to a hard floor. When you transition outside start working out in the grass. Finally, move to harder surfaces like your garage floor or driveway.

Let’s get to work!

How to Wake Up and Workout

I love working out in the morning.
I love sneaking out of a still-dark room, hitting the coffeemaker, and changing into my workout clothes as the room fills with smell of roasting coffee.
I love forcing my body to lift more, move faster, push harder.

But, I haven’t always been this way.
In fact, I used to set my alarm for an hour before work and then hit snooze for the next half and hour. Finally I’d drag myself out of bed, run a toothbrush across my teeth, and get on with my day.
I was tired. Like, really tired. Exhausted, severely addicted to all forms of caffeine, and nothing seemed to help.

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I had to make some changes.
Luckily, I didn’t really make any MASSIVE changes, just some little ones that all combined into a healthier lifestyle.

Sleep hygiene
1. Start with consistency. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day, even on the weekends.
I prefer being in bed at 10pm and waking up at 5am.

2. Avoid caffeine after noon.
3. Avoid screens of any kind 1-1.5hr before going to bed.
4. Prep everything the night before.
-Set the coffee maker, get your work clothes ready, prep your lunch, pack your gym bag and leave it next to your bedroom door.

PREP YOUR GYM BAG. If you really want to work out in the morning, this is maybe the most important step. EVEN IF YOU WORK OUT AT HOME. When it was just my wife and I was in an apartment, I would wake up at 5am, grab my gym bag, and walk 6ft to the bathroom to get dressed. Then, I’d walk 6ft in the other direction to work out. There was something about the ritual of changing into my gym clothes that helped me make that mental shift in the morning. Even though I was in the same little apartment, just feet away from where I’d been sleeping 10 min ago, I was ready to go.

In the morning, DO NOT HIT SNOOZE. Studies (and experience) show that the extra sleep doesn’t even help. It actually makes you feel even more tired. Get out of bed immediately. grab your gym bag, hit the coffee maker, and get dressed while your caffeine is cooking.

And then…go. Just do it. Don’t wait until you feel ready or motivated. As the blood gets moving, you’ll warm up and start feeling better.

Once you’re done, I’d highly suggest a cold shower. If you followed all the previous steps, you can just get in your already-prepped work clothes, grab your already-prepped lunch, and you’re ready to go.