Peter Hirsh is a nationally certified personal trainer and kettlebell instructor who has been teaching and training with kettlebells for over ten years. Peter has dedicated his life to the enrichment and well being of others and currently teaches classes and trains students one on one in San Diego, California. Wanting to reach a larger number of people with his teachings, Peter started Kettlebell Movement, a website dedicated to maintaining the authentic teachings of kettlebell training and promoting a simple and effective holistic lifestyle anyone can follow. Kettlebell Movement posts free weekly kettlebell workout videos. You can also find Peter on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram.
For many of us, the benefits of proper exercise are quite apparent. The feel good sensations of increased energy, improved posture and increased strength and stamina in your daily life are all examples of benefits people feel from a regular exercise routine. For anyone that is currently following a paleo diet, exercise can also aid in weight management and reshaping your body. In order to see these benefits, the right kinds of exercises are extremely important, as is rest and recovery. Many people struggle to find the time to workout and we end up telling ourselves that a highly active day is just as good. However, this simply isn’t the case. Proper exercise will provide you with benefits that don’t come from doing daily chores all day. The reality of it is, the more active you are, the more strategic your approach to exercise should be. Daily activity often leads to postural problems, joint pain and an inability to recover properly. Spending a small portion of your day devoted to strengthening all areas of your physical being can build a robust body and mind, capable of conquering any challenge that comes your way. Your time investment will improve your sleep, digestion and help you deal with outside stress. I am going to help you fit a physical practice into your busy daily life by showing you how to enjoy exercise and get as much benefit as possible in a short amount of time.
Let’s face it, one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to exercise is habit. If you are able to plan your workout into your day as a part of your daily routine, your success rate will skyrocket. Plan in advance, which will include eating and resting adequately to set yourself up for success. It might mean preparing your meals the day before to make sure you don’t get stuck with any excuses (or reasons) not to do what you had set out to do!
Join a class, find a workout partner or hire a trainer
I can’t tell you how powerful of a tool accountability to another person can be when keeping your routine going! I know many people hire personal trainers specifically for this reason, which can be a pricey option so consider a group class or a workout buddy to keep you motivated. It is also wise to research before jumping in to any class or working with any trainer. While some classes or training styles may be just fine for one person, they may cause injury or diminished results for another.
If you are meeting a friend for coffee or if you work close to home, consider killing two birds with one stone, transportation and exercise! While these activities may not promote good posture or increase flexibility, they are sure to release the kind of endorphins that will motivate you to exercise in other ways. They are feel good activities, and as far as running and walking are concerned, they are ancient in your biology.
While I am a firm believer in training when your personal energy is at it’s peak, it is also best to try and fit it in as early as possible. Exercising before your eyes have fully opened may not be ideal, but don’t wait too late in the day unless you have no other choice. Speaking from experience, you will often find yourself waiting too long and missing your opportunity altogether.
Bring your kids
Personally, the vast majority of my workouts take place outside in the grass. Bring your kids to the park, let them play in the playground and they will have a wonderful example by seeing you exercise as they play. Training tip #4 is very important here, as you won’t want to be lugging a ton of equipment around. I typically use only one kettlebell, maybe two, for a full workout. This still can provide me with plenty of variety when combined with body weighted training.
Train your whole body
About sixty years ago, a culture of weight lifters made muscle isolation exercises the norm, even for people who had completely different goals in mind. Unless your goal is to build as much muscle mass as humanely possible at the expense of flexibility, mind/body unity, posture and joint health, this is not a very smart way to exercise. Learn how to strength train by using full body exercises that challenge your entire kinetic chain, in much the same way the real world will challenge you on a daily basis. Deadlifts, lunging, squatting, pushing pulling and rotating should all be a big part of your practice. These movements can be combined with one another, and progressions of balance, stability and volume can keep your workouts challenging, regardless of your experience level. Kettlebell Training is an excellent way to train your body and is what I call a form of paleo exercise!
Train your mind and body together
By using your entire kinetic chain, you can learn more complex exercises that will require your complete focus. If you are exercising and find yourself thinking about that conversation with your boss that didn’t go the way you wanted or what to make for dinner, the chances are you’re missing a huge benefit of your practice. Your mind should be focused on technique, range of motion, keeping your feet flat, maintaining good tempo and on your breath.
Train cardio and strength together
Gone are the days of counting calories and attempting to burn as much energy as you can on a hamster wheel kind of cardio contraption. The theory of quantity has given way to a much deeper knowledge of quality, especially with the paleo diet crowd. This means that you don’t need to spend forty-five minutes to an hour doing cardio to lose weight. In fact, this approach is usually detrimental for weight loss in the long run. This doesn’t mean you won’t benefit by getting your heart rate up, just that killing yourself doing it isn’t exactly healthy! Training cardiovascular endurance at the same time as your strength training lends itself very well to interval training, scientifically proven to be the best way to improve cardiovascular health, as opposed to long bouts of low to medium intensity cardio. Training tip #1 goes hand in hand with this approach! The kettlebell swing is an excellent example of training strength and cardio together. If you want to master the kettlebell swing check out my kettlebell swing ebook.
Learn to do more with less
Unless you are attempting to train each muscle one at a time, you won’t need thirty pieces of equipment in each workout. Instead, learn how to use your body and see for yourself how many infinite ways there are to lift a single free weight and get far more benefit by doing it! The process of learning is also a huge motivational tool. Personally, I would find myself very excited to practice the new skills I was learning.
Frequency trumps intensity
One of my teachers, Pavel Tsatsouline, once noted: “If you are done with your workout and feel ready to take on the red army, you’re on the right track!” For the most part, if you leave your workout feeling more energized than you were when you started, your results will be better. You won’t have to take as long to recover and you won’t be adding unnecessary stress to your body. You will be able to stay on track and keep motivated and you will also greatly diminish the risk of injury.
If there is one piece of equipment I highly recommend, it is the kettlebell. It fits easily into a small corner of your car, it forces you to learn your body and is designed to work well in all three muscle phases; stability, strength and power. Enter into the power phase during exercise, it is the final word for seeing results. Kettlebell swings, kettlebell cleans, and kettlebell snatches are all examples of the power phase, as well as running, jumping and throwing. Many injuries in the chaotic world will result from an inability to accelerate and decelerate weight (even bodyweight) and it’s crucial to practice power in a controlled environment for every day injury prevention. There is no piece of equipment as versatile as the kettlebell, and while some may find them intimidating, the learning process is a huge part of the benefit. With a kettlebell, you can practice anywhere, for very little cost and see much better results in much less time. Review my previous blog on Paleo Mom about getting started with kettlebells to learn all of the basics and begin incorporating them in to your workout routines.
Below is a High Intensity Tabata workout that only takes 23 minutes to complete and will work your entire body as well as your cardio all in one. There is no excuse not to find an extra 25 minutes in your day!