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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Make Training Less Complex with More Complexes

Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.56.26 PMAs 2020 rolls on, a good majority of us are back to work and back inside the gym. If you are like me, with a busy, on-the-go lifestyle, you probably don't have more than an hour to get inside the gym and train. Lucky for you, that’s okay!

By training with a full-body routine utilizing complexes, you can spend less time in the gym and still see the results. This not only saves you time in the gym, but it also allows for more time with family and friends, all while seeing the results you want. One way to accomplish this is through a barbell or kettlebell complex.

What Is a Complex?

A complex is a series of movements that are performed back to back in which the set number of reps is done for a movement before moving to the next. A complex can be performed with a barbell or one or two kettlebells/dumbbells. Each movement within the complex should flow into the next one. A good way to achieve this is to start from the ground and work your way up.

How to Build a Complex

Any number of reps can be done for each movement. The more movements within the complex, the fewer reps you will want to complete for each one. A complex consisting of four to six movements should be kept at one to five reps per movement. If your complex is only two to three movements, you can use higher reps. Some examples of complexes include the following:

Barbell 1

  • Row x 1–5 reps
  • Deadlift x 1–5 reps
  • Hang Power Clean x 1–5 reps
  • Front Squat x 1–5 reps
  • Push Press 1–5 reps

Barbell 2

  • Deadlift x 3–6 reps
  • Clean x 3–6 reps
  • Press x 3–6 reps

Kettlebell or Dumbbell 1

  • Pushup x 1–5 reps
  • Row x 1–5 reps
  • DL x 1–5 reps
  • Clean or Snatch x 1–5 reps
  • Squat x 1–5 reps
  • Press x 1–5 reps

Kettlebell or Dumbbell 2

  • Pushup x 3–10 reps
  • Row x 3–10 reps
  • Swing x 3–10 reps
  • Squat x 3–10 reps

I recommend completing two to three rounds, but you can also work up to as many rounds as possible with good technique. Within each complex there will be a movement that limits the weight for the entire complex, and it is better to start the first round with a weight you think will be too light.

For example, the movement that will decide your weight in Barbell 1 above is the push press. The deadlift might feel easy, but that is okay. By the end of the complex you will be happy you did not go as heavy as possible. Try to do the entire complex without setting down the weight to rest, and remember to complete all of the reps for one movement before moving on to the next movement.

 

Why Should I Implement Complexes?

These complexes are an amazing full-body tool that you can use if you are running low on time for your session, or if you have limited days per week you can come in and train. They are also a great way to add additional volume to your workouts, or can even be used as a finisher at the end to build resilience and touch up your conditioning. If your goal is to be better conditioned, adding a sprint or jog component at the end using pieces such as the echo bike, rower, ski-erg, or SPARC trainer can provide a nice cherry on top of an already stellar total-body workout.

Give these complexes a try to get your blood pumping, and let us know how they go! If you need any technique tips or complete workout programs, come visit us at the track desk for more information on what we offer and how to get that set up!

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: workouts weight lifting weightlifting kettlebell weights strength and conditioning workout programs full-body complexes efficiency

Work Capacity Training with Kettlebells

GettyImages-1001563404The Russian kettlebell is unique among exercise tools. It is an offset-handle weight that travels easily between the legs in a pendulum movement that can be easily seen in the kettlebell swing (two-hand and one-hand swings). If done correctly, the hips hinge straight backward as if you were trying to push a swinging door open while holding a tray. If you squat, even a little bit, there is little rearward movement and the door doesn’t open. Hip power is lost.

The Swing

When I teach future kettlebell instructors, I spend 2 and a half hours on teaching the swing. It is that complicated, and as you will see, that important. Hopefully, a future instructor can take that information and skills and teach a client how to do a reasonable swing in 10 to 20 minutes, reasonable enough to get through a workout. Regardless of how long someone has been lifting kettlebells, their swing skills can always be improved.

That hip hinge swing movement is used for kettlebell cleans and for the glamour lift, the kettlebell snatch. Without proper swing skills, it is impossible to progress very far into the art of kettlebell lifting and to truly get the unique rewards of kettlebell lifting.

Weight Exercises

Kettlebells are a weight and can be used for typical weight exercises—sometimes successfully, sometimes passable, and many times just plain head-shaking stupid. What most people miss is what the Russians discovered a long time ago. In one-on-one athletics, the first athlete to fatigue is likely to lose. In military hand-to-hand combat, the first soldier to fatigue is likely to die. The repeatable hip hinge–based movements (swings, cleans, snatches, clean and press, clean and push press, and clean and jerks) are tremendously effective in building strength/endurance, and work capacity. The variables are time of lifting, reps per minute, and of course the amount of weight used.

Tasha Nichols, a group fitness instructor here at NIFS, won her 58Kg weight class in Dublin, Ireland 2015, doing the one-arm snatch for 10:00 (hand switch at the 5:00 mark) with a 16kg KB with a total of 203 repetitions. The time was 10:00, averaging just over 20 reps per minute, and the weight was 16kg (35.3 pounds). That is work capacity!

Work Capacity Kettlebell Workout

Here is a little workout to give you an idea what work capacity training feels like.

Maxwell Circuit

  • Swings: 15 
  • Goblet Squats: 5
  • Push-up: 5
  • One-arm row: 5/5

That is 1 round and the workout is a minimum of 8 rounds and a maximum of 15. Rest long enough to complete the next round but no longer. Swings can be done with a dumbbell if a kettlebell is not available. Be careful when holding a dumbbell by the bell end. It can slip.

Block off the space you’re using to swing anything. Children and pets can walk in when they are least expected

Goblet Squat is done with the weight held at chest level. If this bothers your shoulders, hold the weight at arm’s length between your legs but be sure to actually squat. Do not allow it to become a sloppy deadlift.

Kettlebell Training

Training with kettlebells properly, anyone can seriously improve their strength and endurance. Like most activities, you must put in the time to practice and get better to see real results. Interested in learning more about kettlebell lifting and how you can increase your work capacity? Contact Rick Huse for more information. 

Enjoy the pain!

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This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center workouts nifs staff endurance weightlifting strength kettlebell work capacity

What’s in Your Bunker?: Fitness Survival Gear

GettyImages-1210720125The saying often goes, “success breeds success,” but I’m a big believer that failure leads to just as much and even more success. Being reactive in nature to a situation (as most of our population is) can delay a successful outcome, but often does lead to one. Obviously being proactive, anticipating and avoiding rather than catching and correcting, is a more successful model of living; but we find ourselves in situation we really couldn’t anticipate. There are some lessons to be learned and success that can come from this desperate situation we are all in.

How Can You Exercise When You Can’t Leave Home?

When the lockdown was put in place, many diehard exercisers and movers of all kinds were left clambering for ways to stay fit and active while under quarantine. Then came the barrage of social media posts from people like me offering up super-helpful fitness solutions to not having your favorite gym to go to and the ample equipment to use. The information and help that fitness pros around the world have offered has been inspiring, and I encourage you to continue to implement the strategies and techniques you are learning from real fitness pros (but be a smart consumer of content).

But a great lesson we can learn from this situation is that it is a good thing to have some fitness gear available to you in your home. After the pandemic, there will be many more reasons you might not be able make it to your gym or studio. Just life may alter your ability to get to where all your favorite equipment lies. What is your plan then?

Equipment for Exercising at Home

There are many cost- and space-efficient pieces of fitness survival gear you can have in your home that can keep the momentum going if you are unable to meet with your favorite people at your favorite gym. I’ve created a fitness survival list that you can use immediately or accumulate over time so that you will always have strategies in place to keep moving in a small space.

Cheap and Effective

Here’s some equipment that you can get now.

  • Foam rollers: You can do recovery and mobility work anywhere, and you can do it well with the proper tools. But did you know that you can use the foam roller for more than myofascial release? See this video!
  • Mini-bands: These are 2 to 3 bucks a pop—easy to use and very effective. And here’s a NIFS video showing you how to use them for a big sweat.
  • Super bands: There is so much you can do with these bigger bands, and they are still very inexpensive. Here’s a NIFS video using super bands for resistance.
  • Sliders: There are many things you can use for sliders, such as furniture movers, towels, and paper plates. Sliders can used for lunges, hinging, and core work. Here’s a NIFS video of slider exercises.
  • Tubing: Continuing with the band resistance, tubing with handles is a great tool to perform countless exercises.
  • Stability ball: This ball can be used for core work, and upper and lower body strength work, and you can sit on it while you work from home! Here’s a video using the stability ball.

Equipment for Leveling Up

The following equipment items cost a little more, but they have a lot more capabilities.

  • TRX Suspension Trainer: Fitness anywhere is their name for a reason. You can use the TRX anywhere and can perform thousands of movements in a small space. Enhance strength, stability, cardio, core strength—TRX can do it all. Here’s our video using the TRX outside.
  • Sandbag: Providing a dynamic load in a multitude of movements makes the sandbag a nice addition to your fitness survival gear. Here’s a video using the sandbag in a squat and press.
  • Kettlebell: Add some load to your movements. You can perform so many movements with just one kettlebell. Here’s a video of the kettlebell triplet.
  • Weighted vest: Add load to bodyweight movements and go for a nice long walk, or Ruck!

As another saying goes, success favors the prepared. There are some quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive means to keep moving at home—right now and in the future, no matter the reason you are not able to get out of the house.

We will be getting back to the gym really soon, and I can’t wait for that day to come to see you all getting after it in the place you call your fitness home. Until then, make your home a place for fitness!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise at home equipment kettlebell TRX videos core exercises core stability exercise bands

The Inside Scoop on Group Fitness from NIFS Instructor Tasha Nichols

Tasha Bodypump 3Group Fitness is one of the most popular attractions here at NIFS, with more than 60 different classes a month taught by highly qualified instructors. If you’ve never tried group fitness or you’re not sure what it’s all about, this blog is for you.

There’s a ton of variety in our classes, which range from calming yoga to fast-paced Cardio Hip Hop—and everything in between. Group Fitness instructor Tasha Nichols has experience with multiple classes and is here to help you get the inside scoop on Group Fitness and how to get involved.

Q&A with Tasha

Tasha has been involved with NIFS for 10 years as an instructor, and previously was the Group Fitness Coordinator. She has spent much of her career expanding LES MILLS nationally when she’s not instructing classes. Not only is she an incredible instructor, but she has also claimed the title of World Kettlebell Champion.

Q: What classes do you teach? Describe your favorite.

A: I typically teach LES MILLS BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, and BODYJAM. I can’t possibly pick a favorite! I love each format for a different reason. I choose to teach the LES MILLS formats because they are my favorite class styles of any group workout I’ve done. The combination of music and movement is addicting, and the science behind them as well as the preparation involved in each release makes me trust the quality of the program I’m delivering. This trust allows me to focus on delivering the best experience to the participants, whether it’s lifting, punching and kicking, or dancing.

Q: How long have you been teaching group fitness?

A: I just passed my 10-year mark in November! I actually taught my very first class at NIFS back in the day. It was ironically the 6am BODYPUMP class that I teach now. Even after leaving Indy for a few years, it still has some of the same people!

Q: How did you get involved with group fitness?

A: Teaching group fitness was something I always wanted to do. My grandma was a group fitness instructor when aerobics was just becoming a thing, so I grew up hearing lots of stories about her classes. My sister started teaching BODYPUMP when I was in college and I loved her class, so I decided to start by becoming certified in that.

Q: What’s your favorite thing (and least favorite thing) about group fitness?

A: Favorite thing: the energy of a group is very powerful, and the combination of music and movement. There’s a unique ability to get lost in the music that feels incredible.

Least favorite thing: I wish we’d get a little more of a chance to work one on one with everyone, to be able to tweak movements and coach corrective exercises. But, that’s what the awesome trainer team is for at NIFS.

Q: In what ways have your participants benefitted from class?

A: 1: Results 2: I like to think they find a little more joy, fun, and freedom in movement and in life.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has never taken a group fitness class but wants to get involved?

A: Be brave and talk to the instructor and the people around you. Let them know you are new and don’t be afraid to take options! It’s totally okay (and sometimes necessary) to stay for just part of the class, especially when you’re new. We call it the Smart Start option in LES MILLS classes. We’ve all been new once; we get it! As mentioned above, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and after recently having two kids in two years, I’ve found myself taking the Smart Start option quite a bit. It’s all part of the journey, and there are no judgments in my class; I’ve got your back.

Q: Is there a certain skill set or prerequisite to get started in a class?

A: Nope! Just get there a little early (particularly for BODYPUMP) so I can help you get set up.

Q: How do you stay current with your education?

A: Three main ways:

I carry Personal Training and Group Fitness certifications from ACE and AFAA, so I stay up-to-date on their research as well as LES MILLS.

I follow many of the classic strength and conditioning coaches (Mike Boyle, Dan John, etc.) and a few physical therapists who work in the strength and conditioning field.

I also work to gain personal experience in my fields—I trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 2+ years for BODYCOMBAT and have competed (and won) internationally for the kettlebell sport. (#worldchamp #nobigdeal)

Q: Do you teach anywhere other than NIFS? Can you compare them?

A: I don’t teach anywhere else, but I do work for LES MILLS on the business side, which gives me a unique perspective. I run trainings for BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT nationally and oversee the development of the assessment criteria for new instructors across all programs globally, so I get to see instructors in all types of gyms. But at the end of the day, NIFS is still my favorite place to train, and I think the participants who come to my classes are the best in the world. You all are my favorites.

Group Fitness at NIFS

Our Group Fitness Instructors at NIFS are dedicated to helping clients reach their fullest potential by ensuring they have all the tools necessary to succeed. Tasha is just one out of several amazing instructors who is here to help you reach your goals. Their drive to help our clients is what has made Group Fitness the most popular program at NIFS.

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This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS group fitness Les Mills kettlebell BODYPUMP BODYCOMBAT BodyJam

Short on Time? 4 Fast Exercises for When You’re in a Hurry

If you are short on time but still want to get your workout in, there are many ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your limited time in the gym.

ThinkstockPhotos-612371494.jpgHere are four exercises you should do if you don’t have time to do your usual routine:

  • Bear crawl
  • Squat and press
  • Side lunges with an upright row
  • Kettlebell swings

Bear Crawl

The bear crawl, if done correctly, is a great exercise that will work your entire body! You will feel this in your core and shoulders. Mix it up! You don’t have to just go forward; crawl backward or side to side. This movement will get your core firing and shoulders working.

Squat and Press

Multi-joint movements are a great choice if you are tight on time. You get more bang for your buck since you are working more than one muscle group. The squat and press can be done with any piece of equipment. Dumbbells, a sandbag, kettlebells, or barbells are just a few great options.

SQUAT PRESS

Side Lunges with an Upright Row

Most people go through life only moving forward or backward. It’s important to get some side-to-side movements in your workouts. Side lunges are a good way to get some lateral movement in. Adding the upright row to the lunge gets your arms and back working as well.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are one of my favorite short-on-time exercises! They get your heart rate up, work on the core and butt, and are especially good if you have been sitting all day. The kettlebell swing movement is a hinge pattern that is great for firing up your posterior chain (which doesn’t get worked if you sit on it all day).

Next time you go to the gym when you are in a hurry, try out these four exercises! If you need help learning any of the exercises, stop by the track desk and have a NIFS HFS help you out or check your form. Don’t let limited time be your excuse for not getting a workout in!

***

Small Group Training (SGT) classes now available. Find out more and try a class for free!

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, Personal Trainer at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS summer kettlebell workout exercises squat and press lunges

Technical vs. Tactical Fitness Training

ThinkstockPhotos-500518472.jpgIf you have spent time around sports, two terms that I am sure you have heard are technical and tactical. No matter what sport you have been around, at some point your coach planned a technical training session and a tactical training session. And in these sports, the technical sessions focused on the technique needed to be successful, and the tactical sessions focused on the “plans” behind how to make those work. I’d like to take a look at how you can put into place technical vs. tactical training in fitness, and in what ways this can benefit your training potential.

Technical Training in Fitness

The goal of any kind of technical preparation is to take skills specific to the activity and to improve them. In any form of movement or exercise, the body has both locomotive and bio-mechanical rules that it should be following in order to maximize potential. And the first step in technical training is to understand the movements that are supposed to be occurring during the exercise.

So what does all this mean? Let’s put it into laymen’s terms. I like to call it body awareness. You don’t need to memorize every single muscle in the body and know its location, insertion points, etc., but if you have a body awareness of where you should feel something, what it should look like, and the benefits of the movement, your exercise potential will increase!

Let’s take the bent-over row as an example:

  • Works upper and middle back.
  • Beneficial for all sorts of industries (carpenters sawing wood, nurses lifting patient to seated position, stay-at-home parent picking up the laundry basket).
  • Muscles used: lats, biceps, shoulders, deltoids, pecs, and triceps.
  • Where you should feel the exercise: middle and upper back.
  • Proper way to do the exercise: make sure you are bent over (using a bench or flat surface is ideal), be sure the back is flat and not rounded, without rotating your entire body lift the weight from a bent-over hanging-arm position up toward the armpit, feeling the shoulder blade move inward toward the spine.

As you can see, technical training certainly has its place in fitness. It’s important to learn and feel body awareness to begin to grasp what you should be feeling. Take some time to learn and understand the different technical aspects of movements in your workout and maximize your potential. If you need help, our health fitness specialists here at NIFS can assist you with those things!

Tactical Training in Fitness

Tactical training is taking the exercises we know and building specific programs around improving regular-life movements and activities (aka functional training). You make the workout revolve around not only getting fit, but building strength and mobility to assist in your everyday movement patterns.

As fitness always evolves and changes, there has been a shift from “specific training” for folks like policemen, firefighters, and the military to taking some of those workout programs and making them fit the mold for the “general exerciser.” Thus, it makes tactical exercise not focus on the workout itself, but hone in on the actual work being done in the workout. Tactical training is about taking exercise and making movements and programs carry over to functional, daily life movements like carries, running, swimming, etc.

Here are a few examples of tactical exercise (incorporate these into a workout for everyday-life impacts):

  • Kettlebell Suitcase Carry: Carry a kettlebell at your side while maintaining correct posture.
  • Jacob’s Ladder: Good for those who climb ladders in their jobs (firefighters, carpenters, roofers, etc.).
  • Barbell deadlifts: Ensures proper form in order to help lift boxes, laundry baskets, children, etc.

Both technical training and tactical training have their places in the fitness world. If you are currently training technically, look at some tactical training and begin to incorporate it into your workouts. And if you are training tactically, take some time to look at technique and make sure you are doing things correctly in order to avoid injury and aid your progression.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center workouts functional training kettlebell technical training tactical training

Tasha: Kettlebell Novice to Champion in Less Than a Year

I first met Tasha three years ago when I started working at NIFS. At that time, she was working full time and was in charge of group fitness. Besides the administrative duties of scheduling classes and riding herd over all of the independent instructors, which included getting them paid, she also taught several classes throughout the week. She was in early and always seemed busy.

When I started the Kettlebell Classes Monday to Wednesday at noon, several of our trainers and staff would drop by and take a group training class whenever their schedules would allow. As time went by, Tasha was one who showed up more often. She seemed to really like the Kettlebell and the demanding workouts. 

Getting Competitive

About a year ago, the subject of competing with Kettlebells came up after a class, and I suggested that Tasha go to the Ice Chamber Kettlebell Girls website and check out the videos of the girls lifting and read about their journey into Kettlebell Competition.

I studied for several years with 10-time Kettlebell World Champion and Honored Master of Sport Valery Fedorenko. I was certified by Valery as a Kettlebell Competition Coach and was also named Master Trainer in 2012. The Ice Chamber Girls also studied under Valery, so I knew their technical skills were solid and would be a great example for Tasha to watch. 

A few days later, Tasha came up to me and said, “I want to do that!”

Tasha’s Rapid Rise

Her journey into serious Kettlebell Competition Lifting began at that moment, and neither one of us knew how it was going to unfold, but here is what we know thus far.

Tasha began training for Kettlebell Competition less than a year ago along with Catherine Kostyn (a longtime NIFS member) and a gentleman by the name of Neal Baker (who would be shocked that I placed “gentleman” and his name in the same sentence). Tasha’s progress was amazing. She was truly a natural for the sport, but how far and how fast she would go was yet to be revealed.

All three competed in their first competition in Louisville at a club that my longtime friend Dave Randolph owned. He and I were among the first Kettlebell instructors in the country. We were in the same RKC class in 2002, so we go a long way back. We put together this meet for some of his members and my three athletes so they could get some experience on the Kettlebell lifting platform. Tasha won her class and was the most outstanding lifter in the meet. There were no awards, just a community of Kettlebell enthusiasts getting together and having a good time.

Tasha competed several weeks after that in a IKFF Midwest Regional meet. Once again, she won her weight class, and I consider her performance to be the most outstanding of the competition.

The AKA National Championships took place in early August outside Chicago. Tasha won her bodyweight class (58Kg) competing with a 16Kg Kettlebell in the Biathlon (1 arm Clean & Jerk - 10:00 / 5:00 per arm and 1 arm Snatch - 10:00 / 5:00 per arm). Tasha did 175 Jerks and 167 Snatches. That performance set a new AKA National record for her bodyweight and 16Kg Kettlebell. A week after that meet, Tasha was invited to represent the U.S. on the AKA World Kettlebell Championship Team to compete early November in Dublin, Ireland, in the 16Kg One Arm Snatch event. Of course she accepted that invitation!

Allow me to summarize: In less than a year of serious training, Tasha has won three competitions, including the National Championships. She set a National Record and has been invited to compete for the USA at the Worlds in November. By any standards, it’s been a pretty good year. But it is not over. 

I told Tasha, if she gets invited to the Worlds, we’re training to win, not to just be happy to be there. The training program has started and there is less than 10 weeks to go. I have no doubt that Tasha is capable of winning a World Championship. She has the natural talent, the ability to work hard, is extremely coachable and has the deep desire to win. A coach can’t ask for anything more, and the United States could not ask for a better representative.

A Growing Sport

Now that I have had your attention this far, let’s get down to business. Kettlebell Competition Lifting is a small but fast-growing sport. The AKA lacks the resources to send its athletes to the World Championships. The athletes must find their own way there and cover their own expenses. Tasha is no exception. Most of the AKA team members have set up their own GoFundMe accounts, and here is Tasha’s link: GO TASHA

Both Tasha and I are on Facebook, and you can follow her video blogs about her training there.

Also, Tasha and I will be conducting a Kettlebell Clinic on Saturday October 10th at 10am. We will demonstrate proper Kettlebell techniques and celebrate Tasha’s accomplishments at the same time!  You will learn: the swing, clean, rack position, press, push press, goblet squat, and the beginning steps of the Get-Up. You will also experience a version of the Coyote workout to get an understanding of "work capacity" training.

This is a really great story with more news to come, and you have an opportunity to help someone reach for their dreams. We are grateful for the support and your energy and good wishes for Tasha’s success, and for your interest in a little-known but rapidly growing intense sport, and if you are motivated to contribute financially, every little bit helps. 

Peace and Power in Your Life!
Thank you!
Rick

Interested in starting Kettlebell Training? Click here for more information on
NIFS Kettlebell sessions!

Get Started!
 

This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS group training nifs staff NIFS programs Les Mills kettlebell

What’s in Your Luggage?: The Best Traveling Fitness Tools

It’s summertime which is usually synonymous with vacations and miles of traveling. Summertime travels have been some of the best times of my life! The weather is great, there are so many things to do, the sun is out, and it’s time to relax and have some well-deserved FUN.

But it can be somewhat difficult to continue your regimen while on the road. Hotel gyms are not always the best (although most will get the job done in a crunch), you are staying in a rented home or cottage that does not include a fitness facility, and day passes to the local gym can play havoc with your vacation budget. If you are anything like me, you want do something quick but effective so you can get back to what the trip was intended for: RELAXING. So what are you to do?

Planning to stay active during your travels doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. To help you plan to stay on track in your fitness, no matter the environment, I put together a list of great tools that travel really well. So when you are packing all the clothes you probably will never wear (I am the worst about that) and your sunscreen, leave a little extra room for a few of these great tools that stow easily and will keep you moving toward your desired outcomes.fitness-travel

TRX

There is a reason the company that manufactures the very popular TRX is named Fitness Anywhere. The TRX can go and be used anywhere. From hanging the suspension trainer off your hotel door, to getting outside and securing it to a tree, the TRX is ready to go in a matter of seconds. The TRX is really your travel gym because most resisted movements you can think of that you perform in the gym can be done using the TRX. Not sold yet? The TRX rolls up into a super-small bag that won’t take up much room in your luggage or even your carry-on.

Resistance Band

Just like the TRX, the resistance band will add load to any movement and will take up no space in your bag. The band also provides many unique movements as well as tension throughout the entire range of motion. This equals big resistance in a small package.

Tennis/Lacrosse Ball

You have heard me speak about recovery many times before as being a huge part of your training program. A great time to spend some time recovering is when you are on vacation. Pack a tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a small foam roller to take care of your soft tissue rehab needs. Remember, the results from your program happen during recovery, so use this time to reap the benefits.

Val Slides

Also known as furniture movers, Val Slides are a great tool to add a little more oomph to your body weight exercise. With hundreds of ways to utilize these sliders to create a major metabolic and strength effect, they are a great choice to throw in your luggage. By the way, they weigh only a few ounces and are super flat, ensuring that they won’t send your suitcase over the weight limit.

Kettlebell

The kettlebell travels best if you are driving to your destination, not flying. But if you are choosing the automobile route for your vacation, the bell will fit very nicely in the trunk. I can’t even start to cover the multitude of movements that can be accomplished with the kettlebell. For those of you participating in Small Group Training or our HIT program, you’ve witnessed what a single kettlebell workout can look and feel like. The kettlebell is a very effective, very quick, and very easy tool to travel with. Grab one and throw it in the car—you will thank me for it!

These lists of workout tools is by no means exhaustive, but are the ones that I think provide the most impact while taking up the least amount of space. There is a tool I didn’t mention above, but can be the best tool of all and that is a pair of walking shoes. No matter the place, time, and who you are with, you can always go for a stroll. Enjoy your summer. You’ve worked all winter for it.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness running walking group training resistance kettlebell workout TRX recovery traveling

MetCon Manipulation: Change Up Your High-Intensity Training (HIIT)

HIITHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has “swiffered” the nation in the past decade or so and remains one of the top hot topics of the fitness world. We also use terms such as Metabolic Condition (MetCon), Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT), and Energy System Training to categorize this high-octane method of training. You may know MetCon best by the crazy stuff you do that makes you feel absolutely exhausted, but invincible.

WARNING: It should never be the goal of any MetCon training session to end up in a sweaty pile of your former self. You should be upright and feeling invigorated and not annihilated.

The health and fitness benefits of this style of training are numerous! Benefits are mainly fat loss, an increase in energy demand (calorie burn) during and even after the training session, and even an increase in your aerobic capacity, just to name a few. But just like any other style of training (strength, power, endurance), it can be easy to fall into a rut in the methods and exercise selection of your MetCon training session. Here are a few simple and fun ways to change up and spice up your metabolic conditioning training session.

REMEMBER: Training can be simply defined as providing a stimulus that forces the body to adapt resulting in change (for example, increased calorie and oxygen use). So to alter a training session, think of manipulating the stimulus.

Change the Equipment

It’s comforting to stick to pieces of equipment we know best and have used many times for our training purposes. But you are doing yourself a disservice by not adding in new pieces that usually come with new adaptions. Battling ropes, rowing ergs, kettle bells, medicine balls, and my personal favorite the Airdyne bike are all great tools that can be used to manipulate the stimulus. These are also the things that make this style of training so much fun. The body will be forced to adapt, triggering the affects you are looking for.

Change the Intensity

The intensity of your training session of course plays a huge role in achieving the desired outcomes. Many metabolic conditioning sessions are based on time as a measurement of intensity and duration. For example, I am sure you are familiar with the Tabatta protocol of 20 seconds of max work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. Many time combinations are used (depending on your fitness level and program progressions), such as :30/:30, :40/:20, and :45/:15. 

Using time is great, but it could get monotonous, leading to decreased effort and lack of enjoyment. A great alternative is using calorie goals to set your interval as with a rowing erg, or the Airdyne bike (there it is again!). Racing to a predetermined distance is a great way to spice things up as well. Lastly, using repetitions and repetition ladders (10, 9, 8, 7,…1) allows you to simply count your way to completion and can be used with minimal equipment such as one kettlebell or a resistance band. 

Change the Environment

One of the easiest ways to get more out of your metabolic conditioning session is to simply change up your environment. Going outside is a great start when manipulating this training variable. Grab your equipment, get after it, and get some vitamin D all at the same time. On your way outside, invite some of your friends and training buddies to join you. Make the workout more of a competitive challenge to help redefine what you once thought of as limits. Research has proven that you work harder and enjoy training while in a group setting. Use the power of a strong group to get more out your training session.

Two Example MetCon Workouts

TRY THESE: Here are 2 sample MetCon training sessions using some of the preceding tips.

#1: Airdyne Calorie Sprints: 10 minutes

Race to 10 calories resting for 5 calories and try to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

#2: Kettle Bells in the Park

Get outside, get a group, and complete the following as quickly as you can.

Working from 10 Kettle Bell Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 10 Push-ups down to 1, but the swings will always be 10.

Example: 

  • R1: 10/10/10
  • R2: 10/9/9
  • R3 10/8/8 … 
  • Down to 10 Swings, 1 Goblet Squat, 1 Push-up
    Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts group training calories metabolism HIT kettlebell high intensity

Where Do “They” Come Up with These Exercise Names?

Salutations, NIFS friends. Whether you have been working out for 30 years or are brand new to fitness, one mystery that normally goes unsolved is “Where did they come up with the name for that exercise?” Sometimes it’s pretty self-explanatory (such as biceps curl), but other times it can be quite misleading (for example, Burpee). Then when you have met several different trainers, maybe they call the same thing something different (such as torso rotations versus Russian twists). It can be downright confusing.

Here we will explore a few of my favorite mystery exercises and dig a little deeper into their backstories.

Jumping Jacksjumping-jack

So, who invented the jumping jack, and where did it originate? I should preface that by saying that it is really hard to invent exercises, at least classic, iconic ones like “the pushup,” “the sit-up,” and “the jumping jack.” That being said, we really want to credit the jumping jack to the great Jack LaLanne. Although LaLanne made the exercise popular, it was already in use by the U.S. military and gets its name from a traditional toy in which a string is pulled and the arms and legs spread into a star or jumping-jack position. 

Burpees

Another exercise that carries some notoriety for name confusion is the Burpee. To a lot of people, the Burpee sounds like a made-up name for this brutal exercise. Prior to doing Burpees for the first time, you might snicker at the idea of doing some crazy Dr. Seuss-like movement, but then you do them and your opinion changes quickly. 

So, where do Burpees come from? Apparently, in the 1930s, Dr. Royal H. Burpee (sounds made up, right?) at Columbia University invented the Burpee as part of a PhD thesis. His Burpee test was meant to simplify fitness assessments and was used by the U.S. military. Nowadays, the Burpee is mostly associated with cruel and unusual personal trainers.

Turkish Getups

The Turkish Getup is in a category all by itself when it comes to mysteries. To some, it closely resembles a strongman wearing a leopardskin Onesie and handlebar mustache performing for a traveling-circus sideshow. 

As deep as that sounds, finding the exact origins of the Turkish Getup was even more challenging. It is thought to have originated in Turkey hundreds of years ago and to have been passed down from generation to generation to modern times, where it is primarily done with a kettlebell in either a kettlebell class or a during a CrossFit session. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the Turkish Getup’s reputation as one of the most intricate movements in all of fitness.

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What are some names that have perplexed you or even made you laugh out loud? Share in the comments below for an open discussion and maybe you can “stump the trainer.”

Whether you call it a squat press or a thruster, one thing we always want to make sure of is safety. Your NIFS health fitness professional will ensure you’re getting a great, safe workout regardless of what you call it. Schedule a free assessment today!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: exercise cardio fitness center injury prevention kettlebell personal training exercises core strength CrossFit