We may be different in what we experience, what we believe, where we come from, and how we think. Still, there’s one thing that is the same for all of us: success and failure are multiplied by whatever we feed it. Just to be clear, good habits are an ally, bad habits are an enemy.
We’re a society obsessed with achievement. This is especially true in the gym. I’ve never walked into a gym and heard someone say, “You should do something easy today.” I’m asked questions, like, what’s your max? Or, what’s your PR? No one asks how my training is going, and no one celebrates if I go up one pound. Instead, I’m cheered on to try for two more plates.
Here’s the problem, though. When we focus on immediate achievement, we sidestep slower, consistent progress. Success is rooted in our culture so much so that progress is often ignored. (Of course, focusing on slower growth would lead to more exceptional performance, but it’s easy to dismiss this when all we want to do is set a new PR today.)
I’m determined to embrace this principle, and I’m getting better at it. Quarantine + gym-closures are helping. (It’s kind of hard to PR in your living room with a resistance band). The beautiful thing is, the body has a fantastic ability to adapt. Nowadays, I’m training for slow progress rather than immediate achievement.
Enter, kettlebell training
Pop Quiz: If you want to get in shape and become stronger, and if you’re going to reach your full potential, what is most important?
Answer: not missing workouts.
Kettlebells offer a kind of training that uses progressive moves that targets almost every slant of fitness—endurance, strength, balance, agility. This modest lump of iron will get your heart rate up and make you stronger for the long haul. With kettlebells, it’s never about putting up a big number, and it has very little to do with goals. It has everything to do with learning how to contend with a constantly changing center of gravity. Focus and honor the process. Accomplishments will happen.
Keep your squats low and your standards high
You can’t always go hard with kettlebells, and you can’t outwork them. They teach you; You don’t teach them.
It’s been a hard lesson for me, but I’ve learned that my program doesn’t always have to be about strength. And based on my experience, stability should be a pre-requisite to strength. You can’t press a kettlebell if your hips are not stable, and you can’t squat properly if your knees or ankles are not stable, either.
These days, I’m focusing on the simple yet challenging: dynamic, controlled, Iso moves. I’m pairing them together in a pretty spicy collection (and I have battle scars to prove it) with a full-body power movement.
An example of a full-body power movement is the double kettlebell clean and squat:
- Explosive start for the posterior chain (the string of muscles that propel you forward)
- Strong front rack hold for mid-back, lats, and core (gotta build a strong back to force them to talk in front of you)
- Controlled descent into an explosive squat for strong legs (strong legs provide stability like I was talking about earlier)
Let’s keep movin’ savages
So what’s the point, you ask? The point is, continuous improvement will add up to something significant one day. Feeding our lives with good habits, making slightly better decisions daily, not rushing the process, and expanding our abilities by altering the variables will set us up to move well in life. It’ll make us stronger humans. Plus, kettlebell flows are beautiful. Hard to perform, but beautiful.