Having stopped all barbell work some time back I find myself basically using calisthenics, kettlebells, hiking and sprinting for my various S & C protocols. I’ve never felt better, less beaten up and generally youthful and explosive. I know, I know, the barbell back squat is undoubtedly the bestest exercise ever for everything in the history of the fitness world, closely followed by the second mostest importantest, the deadlift.
Well, not for me. I struggled on and on with these two lifts for over a decade and all I got for my troubles were fatigue and repeated injuries. Now, I’m aware that squats don’t injure you, “what you’re doing there” injures you (and all the other pro-big lifts rhetoric) but I have to say that removing these two lifts from my training means I can do so much more hard running (what I love as it enables me to get out in the mountains with my dogs on a daily basis) and other types of stuff that would not be possible if I were constantly recovering from squats and dead-lifts (I do jump squats and bodyweight squats it’s just the weighted variety that I have dispensed with).
I find that kettlebell swings and cleans as well as resistance band Good Mornings tick all my posterior chain boxes and the abovementioned activities out in the mountains keep my legs feeling fine and explosive (alongside double kettlebell jerks that definitely use the legs sufficiently for a gen pop person like myself… and 100 % of my clients, incidentally) so I have no compunction in educating a certain sub-set of the population (i.e. anybody who simply doesn’t want to lift barbells) towards kettlebells, calisthenics and resistance bands. After all, we’re not trying to become the strongest people in Spain and there’s none of us wanting to try out for the football combine in the US or its Spanish equivalent if there is one, so we’re all in the enviable position of just wanting to be reasonably strong, mobile and healthy while changing our body composition favourably in the meantime; the aforementioned tools can undoubtedly play a central part in these objectives.
We’ve just opened a new training suite in a neighbouring village with the intention of showing interested people that there’s zero need to keep dragging yourself back to the gym unless you really want to. I concentrate on showing my clients the importance of controlled, safe movements to make the body resilient with a particular emphasis on swings, cleans, push-presses and Get-ups to begin with the kettlebells and a mixture of yoga and pilates as far as calisthenics go. I find these movements can be taught fairly quickly so that the client can purchase the minimum of equipment and train themselves after a handful of intense classes or they can come along and train with me to ensure safe and intelligent programme design is adhered to.
I’m particularly interested in training police, military and fire-fighters as, being friends with many of them, I witness first-hand the barbaric stupidities of their training methods and feel that they need education in what we might consider the correct direction, away from a senseless “train ‘til you drop” mentality and towards an understanding of the importance of controlled and efficient training.
The main reason that I personally use kettlebells is because I can get a thorough work-out into my schedule in no time; swings, cleans and jerks and then some Get-ups followed by some horizontal pulling and pushing and resistance band work can all be done in around 30 minutes, leaving a good half hour for yoga and pilates postures that round off a perfectly balanced session for those people uninterested in sitting on machines in the gym.
Also, of course, the beauty of kettlebelling, once perfect technique is learned, is that they are incredibly portable and workouts can be carried out anywhere you fancy. One of my favourites is up in the mountains overlooking my beautiful little village down here or simply in the front garden with the Malamute keeping an eager eye on proceedings!