August 16, 2020

Use This Arm Workout With Resistance Bands To Build Muscle and More…

In today’s digest we bring you articles on Use This Arm Workout With Resistance Bands To Build Muscle, 11 Exercises to Sculpt Strong, Sexy Legs, The Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers For Pool Swimmers and Ten Thousand Swings to Fat Loss. Hope you enjoy them…

Use This Arm Workout With Resistance Bands To Build Muscle

While you might view resistance bands as a bit lightweight compared with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, all that really means is you’re not using your bands right. With the right workout, you can use resistance bands to achieve most fitness goals, and that includes adding muscle to your upper arms. This resistance band workout from …

While you might view resistance bands as a bit lightweight compared with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, all that really means is you’re not using your bands right. With the right workout, you can use resistance bands to achieve most fitness goals, and that includes adding muscle to your upper arms.

This resistance band workout from Beachbody On Demand super trainer Joel Freeman focuses entirely on your biceps and triceps, so if you’re looking to build sleeve-busting upper arms, grab your bands and get going.

Resistance Band Workout For Your Arms

Using a resistance band with handles makes most of these exercises a little easier to perform, but you can adjust the instructions to work with a large looped band or a straight band without handles. You can make any move harder by standing on the band with both feet rather than just one, which shortens the band, or by switching your band for a heavier one.

1 Biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding each handle, with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up towards your chest, stopping a few centimetres before you touch it or when your elbows start to leave your sides, whichever comes first. Bring your hands back down and repeat.

2 Wide curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding each handle, with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up and to the sides to create a W shape with your arms and upper body, then bring them up towards your armpits/chest, stopping before your elbows start to leave your sides. Bring your hands back down and repeat.

3 Hammer curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Adopt the same starting position as with both curls, but with your palms facing each other. Repeat the same movement as the biceps curl, keeping your palms facing. Bring back down and repeat.

4 Bottom half curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Start in the same position as the biceps curl. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up towards your chest, but stop at mid-torso level and come back down. Think of a full biceps curl, but you’re only doing the bottom half of the movement.

5 Top half curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Your starting position is halfway through a biceps curl, with your hands at mid-torso level holding the band with your elbows by your sides. Raise your hands until they’re a few centimetres from your chest or when your elbows start to leave your sides, whichever comes first. Think of a full biceps curl, but you’re only doing the top half.

6 Triceps kick-back

Sets 4 Reps 12-15 each side

Holding one handle with your right hand, place your right foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor, and take a small step back with your left foot to get into a split stance, with your left heel off the floor. Hinge at your hips and lower your torso so it’s at 45° to the floor. Place your left hand on your hip. Bring your right elbow up and pin it to your side with your forearm at a 90° angle to your upper arm. Keeping your elbow in position, move your hand behind you, extending the arm, to stretch out the band between your foot and hand. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat. Do all the reps on one side, then swap hands.

7 Triceps extension

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding both handles, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Bring your hands behind your head with your knuckles pointing towards the floor. Your elbows should be pointing forwards on either side of your head. Keeping your elbows as close to your head as possible, extend your arms to raise your hands, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat.

8 Single-arm side extension

Sets 4 Reps 12-15 each side

Hold one handle and the middle of the band. Bring both hands up to head height, with the hand that’s holding the middle of the band behind your head. Keeping the middle of the band stable close to your head (but not pushing on your head), take the handle straight out to the side, stopping just before your elbow fully extends. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat. Do all the reps on one side, then swap.

9 Banded triceps press-up

Starting on your knees, bring the band around your mid-back and hold one end with each hand, leaving a little bit of slack. Place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and push up to create tension in the band. Keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible, hinge at the elbows and lower your chest to the floor, stopping right before it touches, and push back up while still keeping your elbows in. You can choose to keep your knees on the ground to make it easier or go up on your toes. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance.

Joel Freeman is the creator of online home fitness programmes 10 Rounds and LIIFT 4. To find out how you can access these workouts visit beachbodyondemand.com

Use This Arm Workout With Resistance Bands To Build Muscle was originally published at https://www.coachmag.co.uk/arms-workouts/8603/arm-workout-with-resistance-bands

11 Exercises to Sculpt Strong, Sexy Legs

The right lower body exercises can build the lean muscles that give your legs a toned, sexy look. See for yourself with these moves from CosmoBody  certified fitness trainer Astrid McGuire: Just grab a set of 5- to 15-pound weights, and do each move below up to 10 times in the order listed. Then repeat …


The right lower body exercises can build the lean muscles that give your legs a toned, sexy look. See for yourself with these moves from CosmoBody  certified fitness trainer Astrid McGuire: Just grab a set of 5- to 15-pound weights, and do each move below up to 10 times in the order listed. Then repeat the entire sequence up to three times to feel the burn (in a good way) and see results.

1. Deep Dumbbell Squats:

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulders-width apart and take one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up. Keeping your elbows along your sides, curl the weights up to your shoulders. From this position, keep your chest up and knees behind your toes as you sit back into a deep squat. Push up through the heels to come back up to stand. That’s one rep.


2. Deadlifts:

Stand with your feet shoulders-width apart and take one dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang down in front of your thighs with your palms facing in. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your elbows locked, bend from the waist and let the weights hang straight down. Engage the muscles in your butt and behind your thighs to lift back up to the starting position. That’s one rep

3. Lateral Lunges:

Stand up straight with your feet hips-width apart, and take one dumbbell in each hand with your arms along your sides and your palms facing your thighs. From this position, take a big step to your left. Keeping your left knee behind your left toes, bend your left leg until your thigh is nearly parallel to the ground. At the same time, bring the weights toward the ground to frame your left foot. Push up through the left heel to come back up to standing and bring both feet together. Then repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep.


4. Plié Squats:

Take one dumbbell in each hand and hold one to each hipbone as you take a wide stance with your toes pointed outward. Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips, bend your knees, and lower your butt down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then, press into your heels as you straighten your legs and come back to the starting position. That’s one rep.


5. Plié Pulses With Lifted Heel:

Take one dumbbell in each hand and hold one to each hipbone as you take a wide stance with your toes pointed outward. Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips, bend your knees. Lift your left heel as high as you can without losing your balance. From this position, lower your body even more until your thighs are parallel to the ground. That’s one pulse. Complete up to 10, then lower your left heel and repeat with your right heel raised.

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11 Exercises to Sculpt Strong, Sexy Legs was originally published at http://www.trainhardteam.com/11-exercises-to-sculpt-strong-sexy-legs/

The Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers For Pool Swimmers

If you’re a runner or gym-goer, you’ll easily find a fitness tracker that caters to your activity of choice – but that’s not the case for swimmers, who find their options more limited thanks to the pesky fact that electronics don’t get on so well with water. There are still good options, however, for every …

If you’re a runner or gym-goer, you’ll easily find a fitness tracker that caters to your activity of choice – but that’s not the case for swimmers, who find their options more limited thanks to the pesky fact that electronics don’t get on so well with water.

There are still good options, however, for every swimmer – from those who just want to keep tabs on calorie burn to people who are looking to improve their efficiency with focused metrics like the SWOLF score. Here are the devices worth considering.

The Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers Under £100

Moov Now

You may not be as familiar with Moov as you are with brands like Fitbit or Garmin, but you should be. The Moov Now is an amazing piece of kit that offers unrivalled swimming stats for a budget device, moving beyond the usual lap counting and stroke recognition to calculate distance per stroke and turn time. Even smartwatches that cost four times as much struggle to match that.

Buy from Moov | $49.99 (around £40)

Huawei Band 3 Pro

Hardware-wise the Huawei Band 3 Pro offers more than any other tracker under £100, with built-in GPS, an AMOLED touchscreen and a design that’s waterproof to 50m. It can track both pool and open water swimming, offers advanced stats like SWOLF and can even recognise your stroke automatically.

Buy on Amazon | £47.99

The Best Mid-Range Waterproof Fitness Trackers (£100-£200)

Fitbit Versa

Any Fitbit device that runs the smartwatch OS and has an altimeter is ideal for swimming, so that’s the Ionic, original Versa and just released Versa 2 (but not the Versa Lite). Those three will all do the same things – count lengths and calculate pace, recognise strokes and estimate calories burnedThe three buttons on the Versa and Ionic make them easier to operate in the water, but the Versa gets our recommendation because you’ll find it regularly discounted now the Versa 2 is available (and the Versa is no longer sold by Fitbit, but should still be supported). If you see it for £120 or less, snap it up.

Fitbit Versa review

Form Goggles

Do you remember Google Glass, the augmented-reality glasses with a transparent digital screen overlaid on one lense? That’s what this is, but in swimming goggles and combined with motion sensors. Mercifully, you’re way more inconspicuous – so you’re unlikely to be labelled a “Glasshole” or equivalent by your fellow swimmers – and it’s genuinely useful, allowing you to keep track of your progress without pausing to check the screen on your wrist. You can configure which metrics will be displayed while you’re swimming and after each turn, such as stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke or pace per 100. You can choose to categorise your sessions as lap swims, interval sessions or drills, with detailed breakdowns served up in the slick app afterwards. Unique and highly impressive.

Buy from Form | $199 (around £155), plus from $26 (around £20) shipping

Huawei Watch GT 2e

This budget smartwatch lacks a little on the smarts front, with virtually no apps and no NFC payments, but makes up for that with a long battery life (up to two weeks) and great sports tracking – swimming is just one of its 100-odd sports modes. In the water your distance, pace and SWOLF are recorded, and the GT 2e will also track your heart rate while swimming, though expect the results to be mixed on that front. While we haven’t managed to swim with the GT 2e (pools are still closed at the time of writing), we did swim using Honor’s identical-as-far-as-we-can-tell MagicWatch 2 and were impressed with the accuracy of its ability to count lengths – on one occasion it even outperformed the Form smart goggles above.

Buy from Huawei | £159.99 | Huawei Watch GT 2e review

Polar Ignite

Polar Ignite FitSpark cardio training recommendation

The Ignite is a GPS watch that tracks both pool and open-water swimming, but what sets it apart from other general fitness trackers is how it measures your recovery and overall training load, and recommends workouts based on the information it gathers. Each day you’ll be given a rating of how well you’ve recovered overnight and then given a recommendation of guided workouts based on your readiness to train. These workouts are in three categories – cardio (including swimming), strength, and supportive, which includes mobility and core work.

Buy from Polar | £174.50-£199.50

The Best High-End Waterproof Fitness Trackers (Upwards of £200)

Garmin Swim 2

You may have clocked that tracking swimming is not the raison d’être for a lot of devices. If you couldn’t give a fig about lesser land-based activities, strap on Garmin’s dedicated swim tracker. You can take it for granted that any type of stat mentioned thus far is included for both pool and open-water swimming, but Garmin has added useful features which help you to stick to a preset pace, log drills and set rest periods to follow. Garmin also offers a stat that estimates your anaerobic threshold speed so you can tell if your training is having the desired effect. A serious watch for competitive swimmers.

Buy from Garmin | £219.99

Samsung Galaxy Active 2

When it comes to swimming and other sports tracking, we prefer the slim build (and lower price) of the Galaxy Active 2 to the chunky flagship Galaxy watch. The Active 2 is 5ATM rated and able to track both pool and open-water swimming, and records all the key swimming stats like laps, pace, distance and SWOLF. It also has physical buttons to start and stop your workouts – very useful in the water where touchscreens can struggle. Beyond swimming it’s a reasonable smartwatch, with offline Spotify playback and NFC payments, but lacking useful or interesting apps.

Buy from Samsung | 40mm from £269, 44mm from £289 | Samsung Galaxy Active 2 review

Coros Apex

The Apex comes in two sizes – 42mm and 46mm – with the latter costing £30 more but adding ten more hours of GPS battery life (35 hours vs 25 hours) thanks to its larger build. Both sizes have the same sports tracking features, and those features are impressive – the Apex is a triathlon watch with open-water and pool swimming modes. During your session you’ll get key live data like distance, average pace, lap time and pace, and after you’re done you can view analysis like stroke recognition and rate, as well as a SWOLF score.

Buy on Amazon | £269.99-£299.99 | Coros Apex review

Apple Watch Series 3 or 5

The Apple Watch’s swim tracking features got a major upgrade with the release of watchOS 4 in 2017, and have remained largely the same since. The Watch not only tracks distance, lengths and time, but also automatically recognises your stroke type (and tots up the distance for each stroke at the end of the swim), as well as recording sets and rests without you having to touch a button.

You can also use the Apple Watch to track open-water swims, when it uses the device’s built-in GPS to provide a map of your route afterwards. During swims of any type the Apple Watch locks the screen. Once you unlock it by twizzling the digital crown on the side it will expel any water in the speaker – a neat trick that means the Watch can have a speaker while still being waterproof.

The best Apple Watch available is the Series 5, which has an always-on screen and a terrific heart rate monitor, but it’s £399 compared with £199 for the Series 3 – which, aside from being less accurate in measuring heart rate, is an equally good swim tracker. So if swimming is your one and only sport, it might be worth saving the £200 and getting chest strap heart rate monitor that works in the water.

Buy from Apple | £199 (Series 3), £399 (Series 5)

Garmin Forerunner 945

The best sports watch on the market, packed full of in-depth training analysis, and smart features like maps and music. The Forerunner 945’s light, slim design makes it preferable to the bulkier Garmin Fenix watches for triathletes and swimmers, and it tracks open-water and pool swims in great detail, with all the key stats plus the ability to create and follow structured workouts in the water.

Buy from Garmin | £519.99 | Garmin Forerunner 945 review

The Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers For Pool Swimmers was originally published at https://www.coachmag.co.uk/fitness-trackers/6139/the-best-waterproof-fitness-trackers-for-swimmers

Ten Thousand Swings to Fat Loss

James Heathers is an applied physiologist working on his PhD, and a stage strongman who doesn’t mind the odd bit of pain. He also likes using himself as his own lab rat and has a ton of equipment most people don’t. Most importantly, he’s a proponent of the Open Access movement, making scientific research freely …

James Heathers is an applied physiologist working on his PhD, and a stage strongman who doesn’t mind the odd bit of pain.

He also likes using himself as his own lab rat and has a ton of equipment most people don’t. Most importantly, he’s a proponent of the Open Access movement, making scientific research freely available to the public.

After reading a study on the physiological effects of walking one mile every hour for 1,000 straight hours (repeating an ordeal first completed on a bar bet 200 years ago), James began thinking of ways to push physical limits in an unconventional way, learn a few things, and share the results.

Inspiration – Angry Fat Men and a Swinger’s Club

A Youtube video titled 1,000 Pound Squat opens with what appears to be an angry fat man being electrocuted in a squat rack. Eventually one realizes that what’s actually happening is a 1,000 pound Anderson squat, which is started off pins from the bottom position.

Bud Jeffries, the man in the video, was incredibly strong, but like many men who have spent their lives pursuing maximal strength above all else, he was also fat.

One day he set out to change this, with the goal of retaining his strength.

How? Kettlebell swings. Hundreds of thousands of kettlebell swings.

The results:

“…From my all time highest bodyweight of 385 pounds I’m down to 275 (was 360-ish starting this particular style of training). That’s 110 pounds total. I’ve lost 15 inches off my waist and am wearing pants smaller than when I was in high school. I can still one arm shoulder-press and snatch a 150-pound dumbbell, one-arm row 300 pounds, do 15 rep sit-ups with 500 pounds on my torso, bend spikes, pull 700 pounds from below the knee and 1,000 from above as well as do partials with over 1,000 pounds.”

As Jeffries and many others have shown, kettlebell swings work well for body composition changes, especially when they’re done at a high volume and with a significant anaerobic emphasis. They can also be used to hit some pretty impressive levels of work capacity.

There’s even a group of people on Facebook who latched onto this idea and made 10,000 swings during the month of January a goal.

It was with all this in mind that James formulated an experiment. High volume swings could do some remarkable things but current research hasn’t delved much into the results of taking them to extreme levels.

There’s also good sport in torturing oneself for research purposes. The 10,000 swings in a month idea was okay, but really, it sounded easy.

The Experiment

James settled on 10,000 swings in 10 days, with as much extra work added in as possible. His goal was to put his body through maximum survivable volume and find out what would happen. He’d be able to test out a few interesting ideas on pacing strategies and see for himself if this thing called overtraining really exists and what it feels like.

Shortly after announcing the project, a handful of people volunteered to join in. They didn’t have as much lab access, but they’d be able to track body composition through BodPod and monitor basic data like waking heart rate and even HRV in a few cases. The experiment now had multiple lab rats.

With his toys, James would be able to monitor a wide array of variables on himself:

  • Blood triglycerides, cholesterol, and fasting glucose
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
  • Full body composition
  • Lactate provocation/recovery
  • Blood Omega-3:6 ratio
  • Weight
  • Tape measurements
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)
  • C-reactive protein

This raised some interesting questions. What was going to happen?

James interviewed a handful of strength coaches and received an influx of responses from people making their own guesses. Some were less than optimistic. His top three favorites:

  1. You’ll get compartment syndrome. Kiss your arms goodbye.
  2. This is a recipe for severe and rapid overtraining.
  3. You have deep-seated emotional problems.

(To be fair, James works in a lab where shooting electricity through living people in the name of science is a daily occurrence, so #3 may not be that far off.)

kettlebell

The Useful Thing

Of the less apocalyptic responses, Matt Perryman of myosynthesis.com made one of the most thoughtful (and eventually accurate) statements about what the subjects would experience:

“High volume/high frequency anything sucks ass the first week or three. I’d expect a lot of fears of overtraining and adrenal fatigue, plenty of second guessing, and generally lots of bitching and moaning.

“But it passes. I was as stunned as anyone, but if you just keep going, you shake it off and enter this wonderful land where you feel indestructible. That’s not quite right, because you still feel horrible in a way – and your markers of stress will almost certainly reflect it – but it’s like you learn to ignore it.

“You go into a different headspace where it doesn’t matter, and the motivation to keep going overrides anything else; a very strange place that is, but also wonderful from a training standpoint.

“Body comp changes happen. It’s unavoidable. Likewise for neuro-endo-immune markers – unavoidable, but at the same time, so decoupled from the performance variables that you can power through.

“The powering through is what becomes the Useful Thing. It’s a skill that can be practiced like anything else.”

The Ten Days

Everyone started out with a basic plan of multiple sets of between 20 and 50 reps done in one or two daily workouts. The women used 16-kilo kettlebells and the men used 24-kilo bells, except for James who toyed with much heavier weights. Everyone kept a log and took daily notes.

Most of the participants stuck fairly close to this protocol and by about Day #6 were doing a lot of hand-to-hand and single-handed swings for variety.

HRV (heart rate variability) in those who measured it fell for the first few days, briefly recovered and then dropped continuously from about Day #6 onward. Waking heart rate was elevated in a similar pattern.

Soreness was highest between Days #2 through #4 and tapered down from there. It was limited mainly to glutes and hamstrings (which proved remarkably resilient overall) and the upper back from “packing” the shoulder.

Nobody reported any low back pain, although a few felt some tightness during the first few days. The worst soreness was usually in the upper back / traps.

Everyone did at least one extra workout on top of the swings during the ten days, and although nobody felt slow during the actual workout, most felt noticeably more fatigued the following day. A common theme through most training logs was drastically increased hunger, starting as soon as Day #2.

It also quickly became apparent that the mental side of the experiment was at least as difficult as the physical side. Most people hit a wall at Day #7 and this was the only time anyone had serious thoughts of quitting.

There was something inherently daunting at the 70% mark in the short term as well, as several who did all 1,000 reps in one workout noted that they felt the worst around number 700.

Kettlebell swing

Breathing Ladders

James fairly quickly deviated from the standard protocol, and on Day #2 tried multiple sets of 100-150 reps, thinking – incorrectly – that this would make the workout more efficient.

It was on Day #3 that James hit on a very useful idea for managing the workload of high-rep swings.

This method, popularized by Mark Twight, is known as a breathing ladder, and is a way of regulating breathing in proportion to the amount of work done.

The most basic version of this is to pick a big exercise (like a KB swing), do 1 rep, set the weight down, take one breath, do 2 reps, set the weight down and take two breaths, and so on up as far as you care to go.

You can work up and back down again, too. Count the total reps as a way of approximately comparing different ladders – for instance, from 1 rep up to 20 (don’t repeat 20) and back down to 1 rep equals exactly 400 reps.

James cribbed together a notation to write this down quickly – the above example would be written as BL(1-20-1)1

BL = Breathing Ladder(1-20-1) = the reps go from 1-20 and back down to 1, in increments of 1 per set, i.e. 1,2,3…19,20,19,…3,2,1. Total reps = 400

During these workouts, don’t open your mouth. At all. Breathe normally while working but exclusively through the nose during both rest and work intervals.

You’ll have the urge to panic, open your mouth and gasp for air. Don’t. You’ll find your throat catches and your intake of breath becomes “ragged.” Don’t let it bother you.

According to James, there are numerous possible benefits to breathing ladders:

  1. BLs decouple “panting” shallow breathing cycles from symptoms of SNS like fatigue and sweating by forcing “calm” breathing cycles instead.
  2. The respiratory musculature preferentially uses (and clears) lactate, leading to increased performance.
  3. There are possible autonomic changes from slow breathing at 10-12 second cycles.
  4. Distraction. Performance can increase from paying attention to something aside from how you feel. It has this in common with every meditative tradition – focus on the breath makes the mind “still.”
  5. You may enter a state that’s best described as autonomic dissociation, in which the link between your physical symptoms and mental state becomes deregulated. In other words, you won’t care that you’re uncomfortable.

Breathing ladders produce a mental challenge along with a physical one. Improvement in them, given that the weights and set/rep structure is fixed, is marked by an increase in time to completion.

As Mark Twight said, “Record the time for each effort because then, when an effort is repeated one might learn – all other parameters being equal – whether oxygen efficiency has improved or not.

“The longer it takes, the more time was spent breathing, which results from better breath-control and that discipline bought longer rest periods. Apart from training the aerobic system in a gym setting, Breathing Ladders teach breath and mind control.

“The perfect combination of movement/load/reps will keep the athlete in the zone where total panic is a single mistake away and Zen-like calm is the prize for those who can reach it.”

James used mainly breathing ladders for the duration of the ten days, using ladders as long as 975 total reps and going as heavy as 48-kilo kettlebells or 2-24 kilo kettlebells.

“Trapped in Vegas”

On Day #7, James hit the wall. His wrists had exploded from using the 48-kilo bell the day before, and he had been up until 1 A.M. editing articles and was 800 reps behind schedule.

This gave him a severe case of “the fuckits” and he didn’t want to move. So he tricked himself.

The workout he devised to get back on track wasn’t a breathing ladder, took nearly two hours, and when it was over he’d done 1,860 swings. But he didn’t know that until it was over and he counted them.

This protocol is based on three concepts:

  1. Emotional perspective and pacing strategy. James had already done 975 reps in a breathing ladder, and that was a pretty big day. That makes 1800 reps a potentially miserable experience. Who wants to spend 1800 reps thinking about 1800 reps?
  2. Open versus closed ended exercise. As James said, “Modern theories of exercise effort put your rate of perceived effort as actually causal, not just a consequence of the fact that you’re getting tired. However, perceived effort is badly affected by knowing how much you’ve done so far. This protocol had to be open-ended, like a bushwalk which just has to go until it stops.”
  3. Endspurt. Endspurt is the German word for “finishing strong.” Think of any time you’ve had to run a fixed distance or do a set of heavy breathing squats. As soon as you get close to the finish and the magic words “almost done” float through your mind, you’re suddenly able to dig deep and finish with a strong burst of effort comparable to the output you had at the beginning.

Here’s how the protocol works: Go find your jar of loose change. Almost everyone has one. Dump it out and grab a huge handful of the small coins. Don’t look too closely or count them. To make it even harder to know how many you’ve got, split them between both front pockets of your track pants.

Each coin represents one set of twenty swings. Do one set, toss one coin from your collection into a container and do another. The sets will go by quickly enough that eventually you’ll lose count of how many you’ve done, and despite furious speculation you’ll never be sure how many you’ve got left. The answer is always, “Just one more.”

Like being in a casino, you’ll lose track of time and the amount of money in your pockets – Trapped in Vegas.

Once you get towards the end and you can feel only a few coins left, switch strategies to take advantage of the endspurt effect. Line the remaining coins up in rows of five (100 reps per row) and count them.

You now know exactly how many reps you’ve got left and the final burst is on. Compared to the first phase, this will fly by.

When you’re done, count them all up. When James did this he ended up with 93 coins, for a total of 1860 reps. Would he do it again? “No. At least, not for a while.”

The Results

Body composition results (BodPod or DEXA):

AbbyFatFat-Free MassFat MassBodyweight
Before19.1%98.86623.282122.147
After15.8%103.26219.428122.689
CorinaFatFat-Free MassFat MassBodyweight
Before28.4%118.48747.105165.592
After25.1%123.74041.370165.110
AngelaFatFat-Free MassFat MassBodyweight
Before39.2%92.97660.010152.987
After39.3%94.07060.803154.874
MitchFatFat-Free MassFat MassBodyweight
Before28.2%154.91460.833215.747
After24%166.49852.678219.176
JamesFatFat-Free MassFat MassBodyweight
Before16.4%187.1336.64223.77
After16.9%182.44637.23219.68

Biomarkers

Like his body composition, none of James’ biomarkers changed significantly (the loss of muscle is most likely glycogen depletion; DEXA is notoriously sensitive to this). From the perspective of his blood work, almost nothing happened in ten days – hardly overtraining hell.

The major change that he saw was in performance. Using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale of 6-20, he went from 30 sets of 20 being RPE 15 to an extended set of 650 reps (200+150+100+100+100) being Borg 13.

JamesBell

The best way to convey this is with a picture. By the end of the experiment, a 24-kilo bell had become so light that he fabricated his own T handle weighing just over 60 kilos (about 140 pounds) because that much weight was needed to really feel a set of twenty reps.

The aerobic nature of the breathing ladders seemed to make James both much better at swinging a kettlebell and remarkably capable of buffering lactate in general.

On Day #9 he decided to test this with a quick conditioning circuit. He performed this workout:

  • 5 Hang cleans (60kg/135)
  • 20 Strikes with 20lb sledgehammer (10 per side)
  • 5 Pull-ups
  • 10 Overhead press (24kg)
  • 50 Swings (24kg)

Twice, as fast as possible, no rest.

As soon as he finished the last rep he ran to the lactate analyzer, took a pinprick and analyzed it.

The result: 2.2mmol/L

In science-y terms, that’s almost nothing. A max effort running power test will typically drive blood lactate up to 12-20 mmol/L.

Conclusion

This project can be a mentally difficult, tedious way to produce some incredible changes in body composition or work capacity. Several subjects lost as much fat in ten days as most people expect to lose in a month on a dedicated fat loss plan, and they did it while gaining lean mass. To do this, they stuck with anaerobic sets and did all 1,000 daily reps in one or two workouts.

James didn’t see noticeable changes in body composition, although his performance level on swings and ability to buffer lactate improved remarkably.

A tentative conclusion would be that significant short-term body composition changes depend heavily on producing blood lactate (i.e. doing anaerobic work). This sits well with everything you’ve ever read about interval training, barbell complexes, EPOC, etc.

James agrees: “As far as I can tell, breathing ladders are simply too efficient for major body comp changes. Dan John wrote it down first – fat loss is inefficiency.”

Finally, the lack of changes in inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein indicate that this sort of protocol can be done without doing much undue harm to the body, although HRV and waking heart rate fluctuations do show an impact and a de-load period would be warranted once it was over.

A Caveat

If you’re going to try this experiment, you must be very proficient with kettlebells. If someone certified by a respectable organization like the RKC hasn’t coached you, this probably isn’t for you. If you walk into a gym with no experience, pick up a kettlebell and make a swing-ey motion like the picture in the magazine for ten thousand reps you’ll destroy your back. Don’t do it.

References

  1. The role of emotions on pacing strategies and performance in middle and long duration sport events. Baron, et al. Br J Sports Med 2011; 45:511-517 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.059964.
  2. Effect of deception of distance on prolonged cycling performance. Paterson and Marino. Percept Mot Skills, 2004 Jun; 98(3 Pt 1):1017-26.
  3. Regulation of Pacing Strategy during Athletic Competition. Koning, et al. PLoS One. 2011; 6(1): e15863.

Ten Thousand Swings to Fat Loss was originally published at https://www.t-nation.com/training/ten-thousand-swings-to-fat-loss?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article3157