Fitness and Kettlebells for Women

... try the kettlebell and you'll never be the same, I promise ...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Check out our new website and weight loss tips!

I have had a lot of technical difficulties with this blog. So I finally was able to get in and announce that we have a brand new website and blog! It is updated frequently and all of your favorite Kettlebell products - and many more - are for sale.

From now on, please check out our new website: Kettlebells and Weight Loss Tips. Our latest article is very informational - check it out: Weight Loss Tips.

And from there you can also check out our new blog: Weight Loss and Fitness Blog

Hope to see you over there! :-) You'll find the same reviews and many more!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kettlebell Goddess Workout

My latest issue of Vitalics magazine arrived a week or two ago, and I was ecstatic to find that a new DVD specifically designed for us women has just been released! It is called the Kettlebell Goddess Workout and includes a full 2 hours and 25 minutes of workouts to focus on your abs, lower body, or whatever you'd like. I'm super-excited and would have already gotten it for a mere $29.95 if I didn't think I'd be ruining Santa's surprise. It will be such an awesome DVD to focus on in the New Year, after the eating holidays are over. ;-)

Guess what? It's already in our Courage Corner, so check it out and it will be shipped to you directly from the good folks at Dragondoor. If you try it out before I do, please let me know what you think!

technical difficulties

Sorry I haven't been blogging much! I am quite honestly having trouble with this site! Everytime I write up a good post for you, only a portion of it publishes and I have to redo the whole thing. Not sure what the deal is with Blogger, but I'm willing to stick around a bit longer. If this keeps happening, I'm going to move my blog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Courage Corner launches!

Yay! Our Kettlebell store is brand-new and ready for you! Click here to visit The Courage Corner. All of the Kettlebell products I have mentioned are there and can easily be purchased through Dragondoor. I will be making more improvements to this site in coming days, so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

some advice for couch potatoes

This article has excellent advice for getting started if you are a couch potato and are just not sure how! I was a couch potato too. Read on. :-)

The Kettlebell Jump Start for Couch Potatoes
Jim Haines, RKC

You know who you are. You’re the guy who has a tough time putting on your shoes, walks through the mall wear you out, and you suffer from chronic aches and pains. The extent of physical labor that you engage in is taking a weekly spin on your riding lawn mower. ‘Getting into shape’ is frequently on your mind, yet ‘Super-Sized Value Meals’ are staples of your diet. You are weak, fat, and soft. You are a Couch Potato.

How you grew into a Couch Potato is irrelevant. What is important is that you have recognized the need to take immediate action. Allow me to introduce you to “The Party Line”. You have been guided to, or have stumbled upon, the Dragondoor website. Perhaps you have looked at the products, and have checked out the discussion forum. Maybe it all looks great to you, or maybe fitness fads have left you jaded, and you find it too good to be true. If the latter is the case, I don’t blame you. I mean, can someone like you achieve the results that Pavel claims, or what “Comrades” are reporting on the discussion forum? This type of training must only be appropriate for top athletes, right? Wrong. You have found the most sensible resource of physical fitness knowledge anywhere. You can and will achieve dramatic results training along The Party Line.

How do I know, and what makes me qualified to make these claims? I was you, and had allowed myself to become soft and fat. The Party Line is the only training philosophy that I’ve stuck with in my adult life, and I’ve lost 50 pounds in doing so—and I enjoy far more strength and energy at age 35 than I had at 25. To enjoy results as I have, you must not only read about smart training or how to train smart, you must engage in it—you must execute. Assuming that your doctor has given you the OK to take on a weight training routine, The Party Line is right for you too!

The following are some tips and guidelines that I feel the Couch Potato should follow in order to develop a strong work ethic for training, while preparing your soft, sedentary body for the challenges that lie ahead. The objective of this article is to simply get you started, and to keep you on the right track using the principles outlined in The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.

“He who sets out to do too much, accomplishes little.” –German Proverb

Ready to dive right in? Your motivation is commendable. However, the Couch Potato must discipline himself to taking it slow and easy for a while. Although your mind is ready for immediate change, your body is soft and weak. By allowing a sensible break-in period, you will stay safe, fresh, and learn to truly enjoy training.

You must demand training time of yourself and for yourself. Schedule 40-60 minutes to train, five to seven days per week. This time allotment will include the time it takes to change clothes, your actual training routine for that day, and a shower. Finding the time to train is often the biggest perceived challenge for Couch Potatoes, and training at home is usually your best option. Wake up early or sacrifice some precious TV time, just make the time to train. At this stage, your primary goal is to develop a desire to train each day. Missing scheduled training sessions must be avoided at all reasonable costs.

You will focus on learning proper technique of just two exercises: The Two-Arm Swing and the Clean & Press. These two movements are the cornerstones of all kettlebell lifting. Every muscle in your body will play an either active or passive role in these two movements. Do not concern yourself with doing many sets or repetitions at this stage. Simply practice getting your swing and press technique down first, and you will be rewarded with accelerated gains in weeks to come, as you won’t need to unlearn poor technique, or put yourself in unnecessary peril through sloppy training habits. Begin each training session with a few minutes of Super Joints joint mobility drills, and end your sessions with a few minutes of stretching. Doing so will allow your body to adapt more quickly to the rigors of kettlebell training, by minimizing soreness and risk of injury.

Train in a quiet environment that is free from distractions. Proper training demands that you focus on the movements as you are doing them. Distractions such as loud music or watching TV during training sessions should be eliminated. You will be surprised at how much more work you can accomplish by eliminating distractions.

You will keep a training log. Perhaps during your first week of training, you will alternate training days by performing Swings on one day, with the Clean & Press on the next. The following week you may work both movements during each workout, but alternate the emphasis of the movements. To elaborate, during one training session, the majority of your work focuses on the Clean & Press with just a couple of sets of Swings at the end of your routine. The following workout may begin with just a couple of sets of the Clean & Press followed by Swings taking the lion’s share of that training day. In addition to your exercise selection, and the volume of sets and repetitions performed, make general notes such as: the time of day that you train; how long the session lasts; the length of rest periods; and anything else that pertains to training. By keeping a training log, you will be able to track your progress, and you will begin to see what style of training works best for you. If you miss a scheduled training session, note it in bold, red letters: “MISSED TRAINING” on that page, and why you missed that session. When you review your logbook, red ink will reveal weak points in your time management or discipline, for you to remedy. Your training log will offer you many happy surprises as well, as you will be amazed at the improvements in total training volume that you have made over the first few weeks.

You will not put yourself on a diet—yet. Not unless your doctor says so. There is no need to fix too many things at once. In fact, at this stage, you’re not fixing anything. You’re just looking to establish a new positive habit in the form of training. Through your daily training efforts, you may find that you want to eat ‘cleaner food’ versus the junk that you likely put into your mouth right now. If this happens, that’s great! Begin to listen to what your body wants, and pay less attention to those television commercials for your favorite burger joint.

You will begin to consume at least eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day. This may be in addition to your other beverages that you typically consume, and in drinking more water, you may find that your appetite has decreased, while your desire for sugar-loaded soft drinks has diminished.

“The map is not the territory.” –Russian Proverb

I have intentionally omitted the total number of sets and repetitions that you should perform within your training sessions. And you should not worry about it either. Simply concentrate on developing good technique for the recommended drills. In the beginning, your training sessions will be low in volume (the total number of sets and repetitions that you perform), and intensity (the difficulty of the training session itself). You will find that as you progress, that you will be able to get more work done in the allotted time frame. By listening to your body instead of demanding a definite number of sets and reps, you will remain fresh and eager to train each day. Not only is this acceptable, it is encouraged—especially at this initial stage of training.

Remember, establishing the desire to train is the main objective of this break-in period. Once your break-in period is finished, and you’re hooked, it will be time to move on to bigger and better things. How will you know when you’re ready? This is an individual matter, and as such, it’s ultimately up to you—but for the typical Couch Potato, plan on spending anywhere from two to four weeks performing the break-in period. If you feel that more than four weeks is needed, by all means, continue on the path that feels right for you, and until you are ready to move on. Conversely, if you feel that you are ready to move on before the minimum two-week break-in period is completed, please play it conservative and follow through for the minimum recommended timeframe. You must have the discipline to allow your body to catch-up to your enthusiasm. There is no need to put your progress in the path of unnecessary jeopardy by doing more work than you are ready for. Things will get tough soon enough.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –American Proverb

Once you’ve successfully completed your break-in period, you will be prepared to commit to true training. Experiment with new exercises, and learn more about the many ‘Party Approved’ training routines. Always allow “The Top Ten Russian Kettlebell Challenge Training Guidelines” to lead your training direction. If you have not already done so, introduce yourself to the Dragon Door Training Forum, and ask questions. You will find a gold mine of experience and information from generous comrades who want to help you. It is truly a rare and valuable resource. Train hard, but do remember to temper your eagerness by backing off on occasion. Doing so will minimize your risk of burnout and/or injury and allow for greater gains in the long run. You didn’t get weak, fat, and soft overnight, and it is important to allow your body and mind to gradually adapt to greater challenges. In doing so, you will establish an intense desire to train, the couch will become less appealing, and you will become strong, lean, and hard. Life is too short to be lived as a Couch Potato, so stop cheating yourself and get to work!

today's ladder workout

I had a great workout today! I have mentioned Sarah Lurie's videos before. I have been doing them for at least a few months now. It helped get me back on track after designing workouts myself and slacking a little bit.

Today I did something a little different, and it was a nice break. Pavel describes this as a good light or medium workout. I would say it was a medium workout for me. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination! My knees are going to be aching tomorrow.

Here was my workout:

1. Clean + Military Press + Front Squat Combo
x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 reps per arm

2. Snatch
x 5, 10, 15 reps per arm

3. Hand-to-Hand Swing
x 10, 20, 30 reps total

4. Turkish Get-up + Windmill Combo
x 1, 2, 1, 2

This is called a ladder workout and is a nice change from what I usually do. I plan to do it more often. This particular workout was designed by Senior RKC instructor Andrea Du Cane.

I managed the first set of exercises without rest. I did rest during the Snatches, of course. And Swings are not difficult to do, but I was pretty tired by then. Give it a try!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Need to Train Like a Man...

... Especially if you are a Woman.
by Lauren Brooks, RKC

"Go to an aerobics class today and take a mental note of the class. Now go back in a month and take a look at the results. See what I mean?"

Have you been there? I have. I used to do Jazzercise, and so when I read that quote, I laughed out loud. It's too often true.

Read the article here. It includes great pictures and instructions for the Swing, Turkish Get-Up, Clean, Front Squat, and One-Legged Dead Lift, as well as a program for beginners.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Review... Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume Two

In addition to doing the DVD Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume 1 about once a week, in the last three months or so, I have begun doing Volume 2 twice a week.

Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume 2 is structured in the same manner as Volume 1. Sarah Lurie lays the foundations for the exercises used in the video first. You will become comfortable with Turkish Getups, Tactical Lunges, Snatches, and other exercises performed during the circuit. You will then participate in a forty minute class with Sarah and two other students. Like Volume 1, plenty of 30 second breaks are built in, and in this DVD, you will need those breaks!

It is important to say that if you are a newcomer to kettlebells, you should concentrate on Volume 1 first. I did myself for quite a while, and I was not a beginner. Before attempting Snatches, you should be entirely comfortable with the One Arm Swing, for example. If you have used the first DVD comfortably, then you are ready to move on to Volume 2. Of course you will need to look through the foundations section of the DVD first. It is important to know exactly how to execute a Snatch, among other movements. I have recommended other resources for beginners that will help you with all of these exercises.

When I started using kettlebells, I was too nervous and scared to do Snatches. My husband showed me time and time again exactly what to do, and I kept bruising up my forearms. It wasn't until I watched this video that something clicked for me. Sarah Lurie describes it as one of her "favorite exercises," and now that I have it down, I have to agree.

This DVD is broken up into three sets of a number of exercises. You will be working hard from the beginning. The warmup includes Turkish Getups, but rest assured that after a workout in the warmup alone, you will not have to do Turkish Getups at any other time during the DVD. By the time you reach the third set, you are already working very hard, but mercifully it goes quickly! A brutal combination of One Arm Swings and Snatches begin the last section, however, and you will start to pray for mercy!

One other exercise that has been challenging for me is the Deck Squat. I have mentioned before that when I started working out with kettlebells, I could not even perform one Deck Squat, never mind multiple sets of them. When I received this video, I did all three sets of ten Deck Squats and was extremely sore the next day. After that I decreased the number that I did and worked my way back up. You'll find you can do so quickly... great evidence that these workouts are working for you.

Start out slowly. This is a challenging DVD but so worth it.

Volume 1 leaves me breathless, and Volume 2 leaves me laying on the floor after a workout. Well, I need to stretch afterwards anyway, right? ;-)

Purchase Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume 2 by clicking here!

For my review of Volume 1, click here.

Here's the pitch

Mine is named Magda, and my husband's are Antonin and… uh, I forget the other’s name. Who cares. What is important is that we have got to talk to you about Kettlebells, a pretty new workout growing in our country, as well as others. Sales pitch? You bet. Let me lay it out for ya.

I have never been an athlete. In fact I hated all sports, and I dreaded kickball days in elementary school. I never considered myself strong or particularly fit. The good thing was that I didn’t have to worry much about it because I was skinny! In junior high a friend referred to me as “Twiggy.” So maybe I wasn’t that skinny but I sure didn’t have to worry about what I ate.

Fast forward ten years. While hibernating in Alaska, I gained fifteen pounds. Not too bad. I lost it for the most part when we got home before getting pregnant. While pregnant I didn’t workout a lick. I did Pilates a few times and walked…. a few times… and that was it.

After having my daughter, about six months later, I found myself sitting on the couch saying over and over again, “I really should workout.” I felt like I was in bad shape. It hurt to get off of the couch. I was taking care of an infant by myself and was hungry all the time. I had no energy. No sleep. No motivation. I credit my mother-in-law for saying one day that she felt the same way a time ago and finally had just had it. She started exercising and didn’t look back or make excuses. That’s what I decided to do.

My husband was in Iraq at the time, so I emailed him and wish I could have seen his face when I asked him if he minded if I purchased a kettlebell… and what weight should I get, by the way? I had watched him use kettlebells for um… maybe two years? That was from the couch. I couldn’t wait to get started so I worked out first with a 20 lb. handweight and practiced the movements I knew something about. When my kettlebell finally arrived, I went to it, hard.

May 18, 2005 was my first kettlebell workout (with the handweight). I took my measurements, weighed myself, and measured my body fat percentage (which was sad). My first workout looked like this:

TWO sets:
10 swings
5 deck squats
5 pushups

I am actually laughing as I type this because that workout would be a walk in the park right now. It is no longer considered a workout to me, but you know what? It got me started. Soon my kettlebell arrived along with the book, From Russia With Tough Love. I was still around five pounds over my pregnancy weight. Not bad, no, and I was thrilled about that, but I also had a different body than I had before.

My husband was overseas, and I had nothing to lose. I wanted to look so good when he got home! I also got my cholesterol taken around this time. When I discovered it was high, I realized I had another reason - besides vanity and disgust at my laziness - for exercise. I wanted to get fit for my daughter - to set a good example and to be around for a very long time.

So, that is how it all started for me. It has been about a year for me. I weigh approximately twelve pounds less than I weighed back then… I weigh less than I did when I got pregnant with Grace. But that’s not what’s important. I have not given up! This is the longest I have EVER lasted in an exercise program, and I’ve tried the Total Gym, running, Pilates, going to the gym, walking, Tai Bo, Ballet, Jazzercise, miscellaneous video tapes, you name it. I won’t lie - It is not always fun. Kettlebells are HARD work. Very hard. But they eliminate all of my excuses.

Excuse #1: I don’t have time.

Well you know what? That first workout I did way back then… it must have taken me about ten minutes (looking at it, I bet it was less!). Kettlebells are effective even if you start out working out for ten minutes a day. As you grow to love what you are doing and the results you are achieving, you will want to workout for longer. Now - a year later - my average workout is 45 minutes.

Excuse # 2: I hate to exercise.

Yup. I sure do. But I have found something I can definitely tolerate. I don’t always love it, but I do like it. It is hard, but I would rather workout with my kettlebell any day of the week than put on running shoes.

Excuse # 3: I can’t afford it.

Mmmm-hmmm. This is a good one too. Kettlebells can be expensive at first glance. But let me put it in perspective. How much money have you spent on the elliptical that is sitting in your garage or the treadmill that is buried under clothing in your bedroom? How much money do you spend on your gym membership? Buy a kettlebell and a video and you will be set. You can design your own workouts, and you never have to set foot in a gym if you don’t want to… ever again.

Excuse # 4: It’s so much work. I can’t weight-lift *and* do aerobics.

Well you don’t need to. My workouts are only with my kettlebell. Sometimes I do some Pilates to give my abs an extra workout here and there. Generally though, I use my kettlebell only. You are heaving a weight around but you are using all of the muscles in your body, your core, your stabilizing muscles. My heart rate routinely gets up to 160 during my workouts. So guess what? No aerobics for me! Woo hoo!!!!

Have I covered all of your excuses yet? If not, let me know what they are, and I bet I can solve them for ya. Seriously… the best thing about this is how much healthier I am, how much stronger, and how great I feel about myself. When I first tried to do a deck squat, I could barely get off the floor. Now they are not a big deal. This exercise routine has helped me in every area of my life, and I needed help. Now I can hold a toddler in one arm and hold three other things in my hand while simultaneously picking up another item from the floor. Can your legs handle that? Mine couldn’t before!

This is by far the best change I have made in myself in the last year. It is not easy. But it is SO worth it. Now let me have my husband tell you about his experience:

When I got out of the Army in May 2002, I spent the next nine months as a couch potato as far as my conditioning was concerned. By mid-January I had had enough of being a slug, so I started working out using products and techniques taught by Pavel Tsatsouline. Since then I have lost 16 lbs of fat and gained 4 lbs of muscle. More importantly, I am stronger than I have ever been and my workouts are only 20-45 minutes a day 3-4 days per week. (Rachel’s note: He currently has one of his kettlebells in Afghanistan with him!)

Pavel is a former Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) trainer and currently lives in California teaching SWAT teams, military personnel and ordinary folks how to get leaner and stronger “without the dishonor of dieting and aerobics.”

For raw strength without adding useless bulk (like bodybuilders), I use the methods outlined in the book “Power to the People” (PTP). For fat loss, strength endurance and cardiovascular conditioning I have been using Kettlebells. A Kettlebell is a cannonball with a handle (otherwise known as a “Wile-E-Coyote weight” by my friend Joe) that builds phenomenal grip strength while conditioning your aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Bottom line: If you want to be lean, strong and have the endurance of an athlete I highly recommend all of Pavel’s products.

P.S. Since I find myself recommending these products to others anyway, I have become an affiliate of the Dragondoor website. If you buy any products using these links, I will get a small commission and you will get to be the envy of all your friends after a few months of using them!

Back to Rachel again. If you ever have questions, please ask. We have provided a lot of links here for you to get started.


For Women:

If you are just starting out, here are some recommendations!

Women’s Quick-start Kit: From Russia With Tough Love Book, DVD, and 18 lb. Kettlebell - there is a lighter Kettlebell for women at 9 lbs. and also at 13 lbs., but you may find they are too light. Much of the exercises involve swinging and using your hips to raise the Kettlebell. Rarely is it lifted with the strength of your arms or biceps. My Kettlebell is 18 lbs and is perfect. At some point I may graduate to the next weight.

From Russia With Tough Love, Pavel Tsatsouline - Book and DVD - more information on the book. “For the woman who wants it all - look way younger than your age, have a lean, graceful, athletic-looking body, feel amazing, feel vigorous, feel beautiful, have more energy and more strength to get more done in your day.”

As I mentioned you can design your own workouts with your Kettlebell. I did so for almost a year. Right now, however, I am LOVING these new DVDs. Check them out if your budget allows. If you are a beginner, volume I would be challenging for you and a great buy:

Kettlebells the IronCore Way, Volumes 1 and 2, Sarah Lurie - I currently try to do Volume 2 twice a week and Volume 1 once a week.

Volume 1 only For my detailed review of Volume 1, click here!

Volume 2 only For my detailed review of Volume 2, click here! - articles, kettlebells, forums, and answers to many of your questions. I also highly recommend the following book and used it early on. It offers detailed instructions for many, many exercises including ones not covered in the Tough Love book. There is also a section for pregnant or postpartum women.

Get in the Best Shape of Your Life, Lisa Shaffer


For Men:

My husband has ordered the newest book and video set called Enter the Kettlebell. It is perfect for beginners and is a significant upgrade from Pavel's Men's Russian Kettlebell Challenge. Order the DVD, companion book, and 35 lb. Kettlebell to get started.

I have not yet read Enter the Kettlebell, but based on its reviews, it looks to be a great improvement to Pavel's earlier books. The exercises are broken down for beginners with pictures to follow as well as routines to help you jump-start your new Kettlebell program!

Here is the link for a brand new Quick-Start kit - One 35 lb. Kettlebell, One Enter the Kettlebell book, and One Enter the Kettlebell DVD.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a workout with ... balls ;-)

So, here we are. I have been thinking about the focus of this blog and have settled on what has worked for me. Rather than focusing on too broad of a topic, I am going to post often about kettlebells. It is what I know, what I use, and frankly, what works best... at least for me, as well as for my husband. I can't wait to show you numbers and great results.

As a moderator of an online community focusing on fitness for women, I do get a lot of questions about kettlebells, so it makes perfect sense that this blog should be dedicated to answering those questions. I also plan to provide you with a lot of helpful links and information. I don't want you to feel like you are stepping into an advertisement!

Below you see my first review of one of the DVDs I use exclusively. I will be reviewing the second half of that set soon. Please continue to check back as I get this website off the ground! And thanks for visiting!