The 3 Things That Make Kettlebell Swings Look Like Doodie

Have you ever seen someone perform kettlebell swings and you instinctively give them the sour lemon face? I

know I have. Maybe a few too many times. And then I realize what I’m doing and stop immediately. Haha! But to be honest, the kettlebell swing is an advanced movement that can be really challenging for a lot of people. 

Here are three things that might be making your kettlebell swing look like doodoo. 

1. You’re allowing the kettlebell to fall too close to the floor in your back swing. 

As you hike the kettlebell between your legs, bring it as close as you can to your hips. Allowing the kettlebell to drop more towards the floor would put more shear on your lower back, and in addition it makes it more challenging to propel the bell up with your hips. It should look like a deadlift pattern, NOT a squat! 

Here is what this mistake might look like:

2. You’re extending your hips too far forward (and leaning back). 

In an effort to feel like they’re “locking out their hips,” a lot of new lifters extend past the point of alignment and end up hyperextending their lower backs. This would put a lot of pressure on your lumbar spine, as well as disengage your glutes. Instead, as the kettlebell is in free flight, keep your core tight and imagine there is a wall in front of you that you don’t want to break through with your bell. 

Here is what the mistake might look like:

3. You’re bringing the kettlebell too high and using too much upper body to do so. 

The kettlebell swing is predominantly a lower body movement. Yes, you are still using your core to prevent hyperextension and holding onto the kettlebell requires you to use a ton of forearm and upper back strength. But trying to hike the kettlebell up past free flight (which would be where you feel the bell float on its own) could lead to shoulder impingement, and energy exertion that is not necessary. You almost make it into a front raise rather than a swing. To get the most out of this exercise, imagine your arms are like ropes, propel the bell with powerful hips and feel it float somewhere between bellybutton and shoulder level.

Here is what it might look like:

If you stay clear of these 3 mistakes, I guarantee your kettlebell swing won’t be eliciting many sour lemon faces. Thanks for reading and at the bottom of this you can view what a proper kettlebell swing should look like. 

Have a great weekend!

Can You Really Isolate a Muscle?

Have you ever gone to the gym and said, “IT’S CHEST DAY!” I have. Sorry for admitting that. Haha! People tend to gravitate towards the typical bodybuilding programs whether they’re bodybuilders or not: chest and triceps, back and biceps, quads, hamstrings, and more arms. This is called an isolation program. But can you really isolate a muscle? Lets drop some knowledge bombs on this myth using everyone’s favorite “chest” exercise. Here we go!

The bench press is actually a very complex movement. It does not just involve your pectoralis major, but it requires your whole body to work as one. As the bar is decelerating towards your shirt, the scapulae (shoulder blades) are retracting using your lats, rhomboids, and other little posterior muscles to control the bar path. Now, don’t forget your lower body. As the bar is coming down, your feet should be positioned on the floor slightly behind your knee activating your quadriceps and preventing energy leaks from extraneous movement. As you push the bar away from you, your glutes will engage from hip extension and your latissimus dorsi (aka lats) will allow your arms to go into transverse extension (aka horizontal abduction). Take a look at the video below to see the movement. So clearly there’s a lot more involved in a strong bench press than just your chest.

So what about the squat, deadlift, or overhead press? Every exercise you do involves multiple muscles working together. You physically can not ever isolate a muscle since there are stabilizers and synergists in everything, even a simple bicep curl. 

Sorry everyone, I just geeked out for a quick second. But I love this stuff.

The Difference Between Knee and Hip Dominant Exercise

When it comes to exercise selection, lower body movements can for the most part be split into two different categories: knee dominant or hip dominant. Some exercises can be a little trickier to categorize. No worries, I have an idea that might help.

Look at a lower body exercise from the side; you can see which joint is flexing the most (either the knee or hip). You would choose knee dominant if you are working on quad development. For example: squat, lunges, front squats, etc. You can also check out the angle of your torso versus the angle of your tibia (shin) to tell the difference as well. All of these knee dominant exercises will have your torso more vertical and your tibia more angled. Below are a few videos to help.

Hip dominant (glute dominant) will allow your hip to flex more in the exercise. You would choose this if you are working on glute development. For example: deadlifts, 45 degree raise, Romanian deadlifts, etc. But if you look at your torso and tibia, the torso will be angled more and the tibia will be more vertical. Check out the videos below to understand a little bit more. 

Now, could you make some knee dominant exercises more hip dominant and vice versa? You bet! Examples: lunges, step ups, hip extensions, etc. Always use your hips to angle the torso and keep an eye out on your shin to see if its vertical or not. Take a look at these videos to differentiate.

Normally a split squat is knee dominant. If you notice, Christine, is using the rings to make it more hip dominant by pushing her hips back and make her shine more vertical.

Walking lunges tend to be more knee dominant. As you can see here, angling my torso and keeping the shin more vertical can allow the movement to be more hip dominant. 

I hope this helped. If you are looking for more lower body videos, check out our youtube channel. Now, go get your lower body on! It will thank you. HAHA!

“Why Long Term Goals Don't Work for Me!”

WOOHOO!! 2016! It’s here and it’s a new start (break out into my happy dance, maybe a little worm action). Bahaha! This is the time of year most people are trying to implement something new into their lives to make this year different from the last. In the past, Victoria and I have created vision boards on new years day and I’m not going to lie, it was actually pretty darn fun. We’d highlight all the places we planned on traveling to, we would declare our big, audacious goals (individual and together), and we’d write down inspiring affirmations. But for me there was just one problem, I’d set these sweet goals and not accomplish half of them. In my head I’m thinking, “What the French, Toast?!” BUT, because of my failure I have learned something. I work better with smaller goals that I can see and adjust month to month. Here is what I mean.

For 2016, Victoria and I set up 5 goals for this month only that are obtainable in the short-term, yet add towards a larger goal. Out of the 5 small goals, I have achieved 3 so far and I'm not stopping there. BOOM! All it takes is a little momentum. Here is a little quote from an article in forbes.com, “The reasoning behind this is quite simple.  You need momentum, and nothing builds momentum like getting a few wins under your belt.” I could not agree more. 

It all starts with believing you are capable of something greater and knowing you can bridge the gap between today and a big dream by doing the small things first. So here are 5 simple steps that are working for me, as well as a picture of my goals. You can see the checks next to the ones I have done already. IT FEELS SO GOOD TO CHECK IT OFF!!

1.     Review what you want to accomplish by the end of the year.

2.     Identify one smaller goal that applies to the big picture and that you know you can absolutely do this month.

3.     Put it somewhere you can look at often so it’s front of mind.

4.     Plan your daily to-do list around executing one goal at a time.

5.     Check them off as you go and feel the momentum build!

6.     Reassess and reestablish new goals before each month begins.

 Small Goals for January. 

Small Goals for January. 


My Secret Chicken Recipe

Some people love to bake their chicken. Some like to put it into the slow cooker. I’m the kind of guy that likes to make his chicken as juicy as possible, in whatever method works. I found this recipe on youtube but then added my own twist to it. I’m not kidding, it’s like butter when it comes out. HALLELUJAH! So without further ado, here is my secret chicken recipe that is not so secret. Enjoy!

1) Lay out all of your spices and chicken (of course). Normally I use my favorite spice from Trader Joe's, BBQ coffee spice rub. But unfortunately, I ran out :( so today I used a different poultry rub.

 Laying it all out

Laying it all out

2) Put two oven safe pans on the stove on low heat and pre heat your oven to low broil.

 Low Broil and low heat on pans

Low Broil and low heat on pans

3) Place all of the chicken into a large mixing bowl, use whatever spices your heart desires, and mix away.

 Chicken time!

Chicken time!

 Spicing it up

Spicing it up

 Happy times

Happy times

4) Put two teaspoons of coconut oil to coat each pan and swirl it around to make sure you don’t miss any spots. 

 Here comes the coconut oil

Here comes the coconut oil

 Swirl!

Swirl!

5) Now it’s time to put the chicken on the pans folks. As you put the chicken on the pans, make sure the smooth part is facing down and you roll the chicken away from you. This will prevent any splatter from the oil. Once all of the chicken is on the pans, turn the heat up to medium heat.

 Rolling the chicken away from me

Rolling the chicken away from me

6) Make sure the chicken has a golden brown color and then flip it. To flip it, use a fork, tongs, or whatever you have available.

 Golden!

Golden!

7) Wait until the other side is golden brown as well, then put it in the oven for about 5-10min.

8) Take it out and cut into the chicken or push down onto the chicken to see if it is cooked. When you push down onto the chicken, it should feel like the bottom part of your palm (closer to your thumb).

 Woohoo! It's done!

Woohoo! It's done!

 Juicy!

Juicy!

9) My favorite part, enjoy all the juiciness from the AWESOMENESS!

 End result.

End result.

“Is Prepping Food REALLY That Difficult?”

A lot of people tend to shy away from food preparation because they feel it would take up too much time. Well…I’m here to see to it that I can convince you other wise (in a snooty Downton Abby British accent). Haha! Here are a few cool tips that have helped me and my awesome clients.

Choose one specific day or a few designated times in the week to cook all of your meals. For instance, if you choose Sunday’s, cook all of your chicken, put together all of your salads in tupperware’s, bake all of your starches in the oven, and you are ready to go for the week ahead. BOOM! If you would like to spread out your days so it doesn’t take as long, you can choose to cook on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This will eliminate cooking so much on one day and have fresher meals prepared. 

 Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet Potato Wedges

 Chicken for the week

Chicken for the week

If you want to cook everything else but not your proteins, thats easy too! Try a slow cooker. Here’s what I suggest: before you go to bed, place chicken/turkey cutlets, etc. into a slow cooker with broth and spices of your choice. Once you wake up in the morning, you have juicy protein ready to eat (it’s almost like the texture of pulled pork). 

Take ziploc bags or containers of food with you to work. Personally, I use coconut or olive oil on my salads as dressing. If I want more acid I’ll add lemon or lime juice. I’ll put it in a small container and use it later. It’s an easy way to incorporate fats into your everyday adventure. In addition to that, I also put almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds in a bag, to add a little crunch to some of my meals.

 Coconut oil and Coconut Spray

Coconut oil and Coconut Spray

These are just a few simple tips but the big one is this, YOU SAVE A TON OF MONEY $$$$! In NYC, the average dinner at a restaurant could cost you $150, even without drinks. If you choose to grocery shop once or twice a week, that could be the cost of one week’s worth of food. WOOHOO!!! Saving money and time, who doesn’t want that?! It’s a no brainer. Try to meal prep just for a few weeks and let me know if you can see the changes in your life.

“Is Sitting the New Smoking?”

Come on! Really? Could this statement possibly be true? A lot of recent research has been done to evaluate the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Well…here is the jist of it. 

 

Let’s start with the body position. About 80% of americans have desk jobs or a job that requires you to sit for a long period of time. And when I say long time, I’m talking close to 12 to 14 hours a day. HOLY MOLY BATMAN (in the Robin voice)! Due to gravity pushing you down onto the chair, your spine is experiencing more compressive force than if you were standing with your muscles engaged to hold you up. Leaning over to type on the computer is exaggerating the kyphotic curve in your upper back which adds unnecessary pressure to your organs and limits lung capacity for breathing. And last but not least, increased tightness in your hip flexors, glutes, quads, upper back, and chest, which can lead to discomfort and injury. This is just a look from the outside.

 

What about the inside? Ok! Lets get geeky! “According to science writer Gretchen Reynolds, a recent Swedish study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that when you sit all day, your telomeres (the tiny caps on the ends of DNA strands) get shorter, which, you can imagine, is not a good thing. As telomeres get shorter, the rate at which the body ages and decays speeds up. Conversely, the study found “that the telomeres in [those] who were sitting the least had lengthened. Their cells seemed to be growing physiologically younger.” The shortening of DNA strands could lead to diabetes, heart disease, and possibly shorten your life span. 

 

So how do you prevent this from happening? Here are a few simple tips to try during the week:

 

  • Set an alarm every 30-60 minutes to get up and move (the more you move, the less compressed your joints will be and the happier your body will feel).
  • If your company can supply it, request a stand up desk. This is a great alternative to a regular desk. There are tons of unique options.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Optimally we would all average 10,000 steps per day. Use those two legs!
  • Arrange your desk so you can sit in the correct anatomical position. Move your desktop/laptop high enough so you’re not rounding forward towards the screen and close enough to you that so your spine remains neutral while you type.

 

These are just some simple changes to your everyday work-life that could add years to your life.