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Sledgehammer and Kettlebell Workout Routine

Here’s a great 30-minute workout that features my two favorite pieces of fitness equipment – a sledgehammer and a kettlebell – along with push-ups.

Not only will this exercise program kick your butt, but you’ll also get to enjoy the great outdoors in the process…
You don’t always need to use traditional exercise equipment and training routines in your workout program, as there are many great “alt” training methods that aid in the quest to reach higher levels of physical fitness.
One of my favorite fitness tips is to follow a sledgehammer-based training program.  For about 30 bucks, you can get an 8-pound sledgehammer that will provide you with countless hours of fitness enjoyment, which is one of the biggest fitness equipment bargains on the planet!

Investing in a sledgehammer and kettlebell are two of the best ways to spend your fitness-equipment dollars.
So here’s the workout routine.  Take 5-10 minutes to warm up with a 2-minute jog around the block some calisthenics, and a couple of moves from the “Shovelglove” workout.  And don’t forget, you need a tree stump or old tire, your sledgehammer and a kettlebell.  Don’t rush your sledge swings and don’t cheat yourself on the rest periods, especially during the first rotation. Follow this order:

  • 10 sledge swings from each side x 2 (total of 20 each side)
  • 30 seconds rest
  • 20 2-hand kettlebell swings
  • 15 push-ups
  • 2-minute rest
  • 20 sledge swings from each side
  • 30 seconds rest
  • 10 1-hand kettlebell swings with each hand
  • 15 push-ups
  • 2-minute rest
  • 15 sledge swings from each side x 2 (total of 30 each side)
  • 60-second rest
  • 30 2-hand kettlebell swings
  • 15-push-ups
  • 2 and a half-minute rest
  • 30 sledge swings from each side
  • 60-second rest
  • 15 1-hand kettlebell swings with each hand
  • 15 push-ups
  • Rest for as long as you want, cuz you’re done.

This workout will push you to your limit as it works every muscle in your body from your fingers to your toes and all points in between, and will help you reach new levels of physical fitness.  If you are looking for a more intense, kettlebell specific workout, please check out The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.

Food Is Not The Enemy

From all the years of different nutrition gurus demonizing different kinds of foods, people mistakenly blame certain foods – rather than too much food – for their weight problem.

Currently a “blame the carbs mentality” exists in current day dietary discourse, but this school of thought is off base… Carbs aren’t the enemy.  And for that matter, protein isn’t the enemy and fat isn’t the enemy either. 

Sugar won’t kill you and neither will bacon.  If you eat a croissant from Dunkin’ Donuts you aren’t shortening your lifespan and a White Castle burger – or 8 – won’t send you into instant cardiac arrest.  Bread and pasta won’t give you a belly and/or love handles.  And none of these foods will – by themselves – pack unwanted pounds onto your frame.

Anyone who eats too much food, no matter how high the quality, will gain weight. “Too much food” is more food than is needed in a day to fulfill all energy and metabolic needs.  So if a person needs 2000 calories a day, but over time consumes 2200 calories, they will gain weight.  It doesn’t matter if the extra 200 calories are from organic food or Stay-Puft marshmallows, extra calories result in extra weight.  And conversely, in this case, 1800 calories will result in weight loss whether or not carbs are in the mix.

Active folks need about 15- 18 calories for every pound of body weight, with those of us who are older at the bottom of this range.  You may have read that people need 12 calories to maintain a pound of muscle, but people who exercise regularly and engage in weight training and cardiovascular exercise need more nutrition than the “average person” does. This is an important distinction, as over the course of a day an active person needs to take in enough calories to provide energy to perform normal activities, to train and to allow their body to recover from exercise. 

I can tell you from my experience, if I were to get “only” 2400 calories in a day I wouldn’t be able to maintain my 205 pounds and would be miserable to boot.  The difference between getting 2400 and at least 3000 calories is night and day with regard to my performance and my energy levels, and ultimately my level of health and fitness. Certain foods aren’t the enemy but eating too much, or not eating enough, food is.  Skipping breakfast – or any other meal – is a terrible habit. 

People who regularly skip meals have trouble losing weight and certainly can’t maintain any energy level that would allow them to be effective throughout the day in any area. Back to carbs.  Carbohydrates are the preferred – and are the instantaneous – energy source for the body, they shouldn’t be avoided and need to be consumed on a regular basis.  The need for carbs changes according to a person’s daily activity level, as the body needs more carbs on days with increased activity, but on average people should get about 60% of their daily calories from carbs.

Carbs are also “protein sparing” in that if there are enough carbs on hand to meet energy needs, protein isn’t used for fuel and can be used for its unique and vital function of building muscle tissue.  The body is able to work more efficiently when the proper amount of carbs are available. So carbs have that going for it, which is kind of nice. So eat and enjoy all of the foods that you like – especially carbohydrates – and get some exercise.  You’ll be much happier, healthier and fit in the long run.

Forget How Much Weight You Can Lift, Work On How Much Work You Can Do

Too many people are concerned about how much weight they can lift.  Just as when dealing with body weight, weight lifted has nothing to do with a person’s fitness or capability level…

Weight is an obsession, not only when it comes to how much a person weighs, but when dealing with how much a person can lift.  In neither case is weight indicative of health. Granted weight is a black and white issue, and except for the metric system debacle, is universally understood.  So when someone says that they workout with 25-pound dumbbells, most everyone can relate to what this means.

The bench press is the perfect example of how weight becomes the focus, as most guys are obsessed with how much they can bench.  Some sports use the bench press to determine how strong an athlete is, and most gym rats judge their workouts by how well they did with their bench press.

Now at some level people who weight train need to be aware of how much weight they are lifting, and always should strive to improve their strength.  But all too frequently the focus on increasing the amount of weight lifted detracts from their overall program while not improving their physical fitness.

As part of the process of applying to the various United States Service Academies, all applicants must pass muster in the form of a physical abilities test, known as the Candidate Fitness Assessment.  Of the six events that make up this assessment, there is not one that deals with how much weight a person can lift.

This test is designed to measure a person’s strength, agility, speed, and endurance so the academies can see if a candidate will be able to handle the physical rigors of military life.  The fact that the United States service academies do not judge a person’s fitness level or health– or even consider to be a part of this equation – any exercise that involves lifting weights. Certainly, weight lifting is an important element of all physical fitness programs. Lifting weights is a tool that if properly used can help improve a person’s fitness level, but is not a very good indicator of a person’s fitness level.

Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups should be a part of everybody’s workout routine.  Calisthenics – jumping jacks, squat thrusts, and leg drives – are activities that everyone should engage in.  And there another bodyweight exercise, such as squats and lunges, that if used properly can help a person get into fantastic shape. In the case of these kinds of exercise, it’s a matter of repetitions and time spent working and not a matter of how much weight lifted. Here’s a little test for you.  See how well you can do in the following events; kneeling basketball throw, pull-ups, shuttle run, sit-ups, push-ups and 1-mile run. Anyone who wants to know how well they did will need to post their results here – you can use a pen name! – and if we get 30 people to respond I’ll tell you what the average score for applicants is for this year’s incoming classes at the academies. But before I go, here are some instructions and rules for you to abide by.  For the basketball throw, kneel on two knees and keep them parallel to and behind the start line throughout the event.  Throw with an overhead motion a men’s basketball as far as possible and don’t let any body part – except your knees – touch the ground at any point.

Pull-ups are done with a “palms away” grip and each rep needs to start and finish from the dead hang position, and no momentum can be used.  The jawline needs to be parallel to the ground and above the bar for the rep to count.  For women who can’t do a pull-up, you can do what’s called a flexed-arm hang, in which you get to the top position of the pull-up and hold this position for as long as possible.  There’s no kicking or other body movement allowed. For the shuttle run, mark off a 10-yard area with a line at each end.  You will complete this course by going “up, back, up, back,” thus covering 40 yards total. You need to stay behind the line at the start, and at each approach touch the lines simultaneously with hand and foot, except for when you run through the finish line. Sit-ups are performed with bent knees, arms across the chest with feet anchored.

Complete as many sit-ups as possible in 2-minutes.  Arms must stay crossed with fingers touching shoulders, elbows much touch knees at the top of each rep and shoulders must touch the mat at the end of each rep.  The only rest can occur in the top position. Push-ups are of the “guy” variety, as no variations to this movement are accepted.  From the top of the push-up position, lower until upper arms are parallel to the ground and then fully extend back to the top position, and continue for 2-minutes.  If at any time a hand or foot leaves the floor, or a body part other than the hands and feet touch the floor, the test is over.  Rest is allowed in the top position. For the mile run, just run 4 laps around a track as fast as you can.  Oh and all of these tests must be performed in exactly this order with no more than 3-minutes rest in between each event. The only longer break is the 8 minutes between the push-ups and mile run. Good luck and let us know how you did!

The Zone Chefs Program Does All The Work For You

In a perfect world we’d all have the time and energy to prepare and eat 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks a day.  But most of us don’t live in a perfect world, so we skip meals, make poor choices out of convenience and as a result don’t eat nearly as well as we should.

The Zone Chefs and Zone Diet At Home programs give everyone – not just people who are trying to lose weight – the opportunity to have a week’s worth of delicious and healthy prepared meals delivered to their home…

Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet is based on the idea that people should get 40% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein and 30% from healthy fats, and since 1995 the Zone has been one of the most popular diet programs ever to hit the market.  While I’m not a big fan of diets, I agree in large part with the principles put forth in the Zone Diet.

The Zone isn’t a gimmick-based diet, it doesn’t make extreme demands, it is extremely flexible and certain types of food aren’t demonized and/or excluded just for the sake of being different.  Dr. Sears’ program is concerned with long-term adherence and turning the diet into a way of life, not just a short term fix.

The Zone Chefs program is based on the nutritional principles espoused by Dr. Sears, and delivers meals across the nation on a weekly basis.  The Zone Chefs meal plans are personalized and designed to promote increased energy levels and lean body mass while maintaining blood sugar levels.

I will tell you that I don’t agree with the Zone Chefs program relying on the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if a person is overweight.  The BMI is not the most reliable way to estimate a person’s body fat, and active/fit/muscular folks frequently get categorized as overweight. But that’s another article for another time.

People shouldn’t look at the Zone Chefs program as strictly a weight-loss endeavor; I think this program gives everyone the chance to eat well – all the time – without breaking the bank.  For about 25 bucks a day your complete daily meal requirement will be delivered to your door.   

In my experience, people on the go who frequently skip meals and make poor meal choices spend more than $25 a day on bad food, so less than $8.50 a meal is a good deal when you consider that you don’t have to shop, cook or clean. With the Zone Chefs program people just have to “heat up and eat up.” 

Is it just me, or is that a great advertising hook?  For people on the go – whether or not weight loss is a goal – the Zone Chefs program can help make healthy eating relatively effortless, and is certainly worth trying.