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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Consistency and the Three P's

Much as I dislike being one of those coaches who harps on people about establishing healthy habits and routines, I'm going there today because, well, it's my second blog post and I must do it at least once.

Most of us have come to understand that we are, in fact, creatures of habit. We establish rote routines throughout life via a process of careful experimentation.

"Wait, What?! Experimentation?" you might be saying. "I thought we were talking about habits here. Aren't those the mindless, autopilot activities I do without thinking?"

One word, consistency. All habits are designed with near scientific precision. We teach ourselves how to produce specific result with consistent actions. Through repetition these consistent choices develop into habits, which we use to efficiently free our energy for relaxation and more immediate problem solving.

At this point let me pass along the most complete examination of habits I've found to date. The Three P's. (My kettlebell students will recognize the Three P's as reasons for doing joint mobility and recovery exercises before, during and after a workout.)

P #1: Preparation. In practical terms this is a 5 to 15 minute physical routine, such as range of motion drills and core warm-up exercises, to prepare your body to work under load. In higher level training, this is periodically meeting with a coach to evaluate your form and develop a workout program to meet your goals, or taking workshops to freshen up your technique. Preparation is a habit that separates casual gym goers from serious athletes.

P #2: Prevention. Injury prevention is an important habit for longevity in a sport. Many kettlebell lifters use joint mobility, range of motion and recovery exercises to keep them active for decades. Another side of prevention is knowing when to stop. Overwork is a main cause of athletic injuries.  High-level athletes use post-workout recovery routines to prevent soreness and overuse injuries from intense workouts.

P #3: Performance. Often overlooked in casual workout situations, performance habits are the small physical twitches, gestures and exhalations Olympians use when preparing to compete. Consistent use of recovery exercises, specific breathing patterns and unweighted movements influence our ability to achieve higher levels of mastery.

Next time you go to the gym I invite you to take a look at how you approach the entire experience. Have you built consistency into your workout routine? Can you identify the Three P's in your athletic training habits?

Having fun is just as important as staying focused on the workout, so please take all habits lightly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kettle Balls?

A bowling ball with a handle?

Yes, that is frequently how both steel and cast iron kettlebells are described.
An old strength endurance tool from Russia, the original word "girya" indicated a counter weight for shipyard scales. The person who moved the girya was known as the "giryvek" or "kettlebell man."
This all makes since to look at the things. They are bottom-heavy, like a rounded bucket full of metal with a built-in handle for ease of maneuvering.
Once a person as seen one the shape is unmistakable, but the name is often mistaken.

As a trainer of kettlebells I've heard everything, kettle balls, cow bells, cow balls.... it's a little out of control.
In the early days of my kb lifting practice I even asked "do they ring..?" Well, some of them actually do have loose steel inside which creates a chiming sound when in action.

So to de-mystify the name for my friends and fellow lifters, I looked it up on good old Wikipedia and found the original us of the word "bell".
It all starts with dumb bell. According to my Wikipedia source, and the Oxford Dictionaries online, the solid clacker of a church bell was in fact used for strength training back in the 18th century. As it was the silent part of the instrument, the word "dumb"discribed it as being soundless.
oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0248810

This does not explain why weightlifters carried over the suffix with "barbell" other than the convenience of word recognition. Infact, many "old time" strongmen trained with a variety of objects, both symetrical and asymetrical, farm tools, mechanical parts, some even resembling train axles. A main characteristic of these object is that they are made of metal. This makes them very consistent, which is my favorite feature of my training tool of choice, the kettlebell.