Saturday, May 31, 2008


If you haven't seen this before, check it out. Hang out till the end for some kettlebell snatching madness. I found this a while back, just never got around to posting it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My callus remover

People ask me about this a lot, so this is it.

Pretty masculine, eh? I like it because it's got a good texture and I get some good leverage off the handle. Takes the calluses off lickety split. You can find it in the foot care section of most stores.
When people are having hand issues I ask them how they're doing filing their calluses and without fail they tell me they do it a few times a week. Every day. You need to do it everyday if you're active with kettlebells. Just make a habit of it after you shower. Of course you don't want to shred your hands, but for myself I've found missing a day has less than desirable consequences.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Training hard changes you

I get a lot of people calling me or e-mailing me asking if I sell kettlebells. Before you call, I don't. My response is usually to ask if they're familiar with Dragon Door, and suggest they order them through there.
"But they're so expensive."
So are tattoos. Do you want a cheap one of those?
I was thinking about this as I pulled a new 24 kg. out of the box last week. It occurred to me that this thing will probably be passed down to my kids. I'm not kidding. When people come at me with the expense thing I tell them "There's a good chance you'll have this thing your entire life, and use it nearly everyday. Wouldn't you prefer to kick down a few extra bucks and get the best quality possible?"
I've used a lot of different kettlebells, and that only served to re-enforce that junk kettlebells cause more problems than they fix.
This isn't just about exercise either. It changes who you are on an elemental level. You are the guy (or lady) who works out with the cannonball with the handle on it. Some men may not want to admit it, but there is a sharp dividing line between he who rides the machines in the health club with the pop music, checking his hair in the mirror every five minutes, and he who swings and snatches the kettlebells in his garage.
You start to connect with a part of yourself that may not have previously been at the forefront. Yes there is an aggression component, but more importantly the confidence that you don't need to display that aggression for all to see. It is a survival mechanism, and gets you closer to being one of those true one percenters.*
It also brings you closer to your heritage, and who it is you're really supposed to be. Some of you might remember the tag line from Kenneth Jay SR. RKC's Advanced Strength Strategies DVD about building the 'invincible hardiness of an ancient warrior'. Well, that isn't so far from the truth. You might have heard people talking about 'scary old man strength', and that really exists. Remember your dad and his friends manhandling that engine in and out of the old Pontiac, or dragging full grown trees across the property to clear the brush before fire season? It's not just that we were younger and smaller then and the feats seemed incredible, it is that they had the real functional strength that comes from chopping wood, working with heavy tools, dragging trees, etc. They had the strength that they required not for the luxury of being strong, but for survival of themselves and their family. We moved from being a population of manual laborers to a population of desk workers, then sought to reclaim some vestige of that lost strength by flocking into gyms and sitting on machines. We thought that this strength came from being big. It doesn't work that way. Your grandfather was more like a rail than a bodybuilder, and he would put your pumped up self on your backside in about three seconds.
This is how it works, in your yard or garage with the cannonball with the handle on it, or the clubs, or the barbell. It works by not taking the shortcuts. Don't spend ten minutes circling the Target parking lot looking for the closest possible parking space. Take the stairs. Chop your own wood. Go hiking.
I know grandpa had a gut, smoked a pack a day, drank his weight in Whiskey, and was wracked with joint pain by his forties, so we want to find a comfortable medium. We want the strength and the health as well. It must be done, so it can be done.
We just need the right size cannonballs.

*Some scientists theorize that in the event of a global killer such as nuclear war, meteor strike, ice age, etc. one percent of humanity would remain. They are the one percenters.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

100 lbs. Turkish Get Up- Complete

Done and done. Not the best Get Up ever, but I did it. After a freaking year and a half I finally did it. I loaded up the barbell with exactly 100 lbs. and put it up, then brought it back down. The very last portion of the descent was rocky, but I didn't full on drop it, so I'm claiming it. Best part is that putting it up wasn't actually all that hard. I cursed at the barbell a few times, and I think that helped. I also can't ignore that I had the Jor-hawk tightened up yesterday, so clearly that was a factor.
No video unfortunately, I wasn't even able to find a spotter. I'll get some video in the next week or so.
Two goals I set when I first started kettlebells in September of 2006- Snatch the 40 kilo, and Get Up 100 lbs.
"In the old days when a young guy came to a gym and wanted to be a wrestler or strongman they taught him the Turkish Get Up before any other exercise and said 'Don't come back until you can do that with 100 lbs.' This insured he had GPP."
Those words, or a variation on them were spoken to me by Jason Brown RKC Team Leader back then, and I took them to heart. The goal seemed impossible as I struggled through Get Ups with a 16 kilo, but I figured if I stuck with anything long enough I could do it. I was right.
Guess I can go back and learn new exercises now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kettlebell Basics Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA 5/31

This isn't mine, it's run by Steve Belanger RKC. Info to follow
Kettlebell Basics Workshop

What will be covered?
The six basic kettlebell exercises will be taught. They are the swing, snatch, cleans, presses, squats and get ups and several variations of each. You can also expect to learn killer combination drills to maximize strength, power, fat burning and ultimate conditioning.
What is a Kettlebell?
Kettlebells are solid cast iron weights that look like a cannon ball with a handle attached. They come in all sizes from 9lbs to 106lbs.They have been used in Russia since the 1700's and have found there way into America in recent years. They are now being used by Pro football teams, the Secret Service, Mixed martial artist, Fire fighters, Powerlifters ,Weightlifters and everyday people.
Why use Kettlebells?
The kettlebell uses all your core muscles which is absolutely essential for maintaining good health. Unlike any other standard weight training or fitness programs, kettlebells reduce the risk of injury because the movements are based on functional movements. A typical kettlebell routine builds functional muscular strength by mimicking movements in your everyday life. A single routine will use all ranges of motion so joints and muscles are strengthened from all angles.
What are you waiting for?

When: Saturday, May 31, 2008
Time: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Cost: $175 before May. 15th, $215 after.
Location: Paramount Personal Fitness and Nutrition
1460 Town and Country Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Certified Instructor Steve Belanger RKC
For Information Call:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Roosevelt's Four Freedoms

Not to be confused with the five freedoms outlined in the first amendment. These were proposed by FDR.

Freedom of speech and expression
Freedom of religion
Freedom from want
Freedom from fear

The last one always struck a chord with me as I think many people allow themselves to be limited by fear that is unnecessary or manufactured.

The whole speech:


“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want--which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."

— Franklin D. Roosevelt, excerpted from the Annual Message to the Congress, January 6, 1941

Of course the manner in which he outlined the fourth freedom took place prior to our entrance into WW2, and I think there may have been a different take on it a year later.

Below are the four Norman Rockwell paintings inspired by the four freedoms speech.
I have always been partial to the first one, which is ostensibly meant to be a man standing up to speak out, but to me signifies the potential in each citizen soldier to stand up for those around him who can not, or will not stand up for themselves.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The supplement post

I've had a number of people ask me specifically what I use as far as supplements, vitamins, etc.

Supplements- Ok. In case you're not up on this, most supplements are trash. The only thing I use is protein. On occasion I'll use some creatine depending on training, but that's it. If there are fantastic claims on the box or a 300 pound glistening man screaming at the sun, trash it. Some of this stuff is total science fiction. As far as the protein I mix it with a carb powder, either home made or bought. Mostly just ground up oats.

Vitamins- I prefer to get my vitamins in liquid form when possible. I use Nature's Way Alive! multi-vitamin. It looks and tastes like garbage can leakage. I use a liquid glucosamine/msm for joint health.

Oils- I use Barlean's fish oil and Udo's EFA blend. Udo's goes into the veggie juice in the morning. I also use the Udo's wholesome fast food, which also goes in the veggie juice. Another udo's product I use is the pro-biotic with meals.

Hippie stuff- My vitamin regimen morning and evening is ginko (Nature's Way), tumeric force (New Chapter), zyflamend (New Chapter), Ginger Supreme (Gaia Herbs). The Tumeric and Zyflamend increase or simply correct your body's inflammatory response. This has worked great. I was having big problems with how fired up my forearms were getting, and a tightness in my right bicep that I was constantly having to rub it out. About three days on the tumeric and zyflamend and it's gone. DO NOT GET THE LIQUID ZYFLAMEND! You will die. This is the worst tasting stuff ever. I thought I could choke anything down, I was wrong. I had to buy empty caps to put it in. Also, avoid gel caps as I am told they increase inflammation.

That's mostly it. Other things will be introduced or removed and I'll update from time to time. I've got a jar of Royal Jelly, but I'm still researching that.

If you didn't see this fight check it out. The whole fight is great (and funny) but check out what happens at 8:15

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

40 kilo snatch for reps

Decided to take a swing at it for reps and it went fine. Could be prettier, but they'll do. The main thing is that I feel solidly in control. I can see I need to implement the corkscrew descent to clean them up and get more reps. Left hand is lagging at one ugly rep. I need to start on the left next time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cleansing the canvas

One of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome as a trainer is making people believe that the things I can do are possible for them, and then making them take the steps necessary to get there. People cling to their habits like a security blanket. The wedge that I must most often have to drive between them and said security blanket is that "Force of habit isn't a good reason to do anything unless it's something sensible, like when people are shooting at you."
I am fortunate to have several male and female clients in their twenties who are already athletic, and same to me looking for the next level. So I give it to them, but must then start the process of weening them off of the things they were doing before, at least the things that are less functional such as anything that ends with "...on the Smith Machine."
It's hard to let go of the beloved pec deck, and the preacher curls, I know. I mean, come on, it sounds bad ass. Preacher curl! Yeah! Hell yeah! Who is this bad ass preacher and where is his church? I want to attend services immediately. Pec deck! Rock out! Get me on that thing, I want pecs!
Then, the mathematics of the iron start to add up, and the equation becomes impossible to ignore. In a short time on the kettlebells you have become so much stronger, and you can feel everything working so much harder. Going back to the pec dec when you think I'm not looking becomes a hum drum experience, but you can't help it, it's force of habit. I mean, everyone else is doing it!
Every so often I have someone come in to start training who has been doing hindu push ups, power cleans, and deadlifts. In that case I can set aside my can of turpentine, I don't need to wipe clean the canvas and burn away the bad habits. More often than not though, the canvas must be cleansed so that we can start again.
This is where you really come up against it, and I've mentioned it before. You have to put away the ego and recognize that yeah, this little dude with the mohawk seems know what he's doing.
It's not just about the kettlebells either, they are a means to an end. The barbell, sandbags, clubs, etc. they all have their place. They are the answer to the question of "Can you hang?"
If despite all your hard work you cannot, time to start again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wow, I really wish you would stop doing that.

Sometimes you just have to say "Hey, my bad, I didn't know. I'll stop doing that."
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. Just my opinion.
That's all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The importance of being detailed

As I tighten things up the importance of being very detailed in all that I do is coming to light. Nutrition, training, recovery, etc. must all be tracked and planned diligently. I'm going to start doing this on my training blog. If you leave anything to chance you are leaving your potential for victory to chance.
It's also important not to get distracted by flash in the pan desires. Just because I may want to TGU a certain amount or do snatches standing on a wobble board I have to look at how that factors in to my goal. I also have to look at the potential for injury doing party tricks. Things look good, and I know the only thing that can trip me up at this point is myself. Same goes for you.