Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

Combining Bodyweight And Kettlebells For Fat Loss

by GEOFFN on October 11

As you know, I’ve been on a tear lately with bodyweight training.

As you also know, I’ve designed a very successful “kettlebell only” fat loss program – Kettlebell Burn.

However, it’s strength may also be a limitation. (*GASP!* He just said his program wasn’t the end all-be all!)

It is only kettlebell work. There’s nothing else included. Just kettlebell exercises. And I know from customer feedback that it works great.

But for some people it doesn’t.

Some people “need” more than just kettlebell work. (They’re what super-coach Louie Simmons calls “extroverts” – they need more training stimulus.) And that’s cool.

One of the best combinations for fat loss is combining bodyweight training with kettlebells.

Much to my dismay, I haven’t designed a fat loss program specifically for them, one that specifically combines the two.

Fortunately, my friend and fellow RKC Chris Lopez has.

I recently sat down and interviewed Chris all about it. You can read Part 1 here on yesterday’s post.

Today, Chris will discuss the proverbial “elephant in the room,” his mistakes as a trainer, how the RKC changed his program design for the better, the “Rule of 165,” and a very interesting take on eating for fat loss without expensive supplements and with a limited budget.

Here’s Part 2 – we’ll pick up with the bodyweight question we ended with yesterday.

GN: Why do you like mixing bodyweight training with kettlebells? What are some of the benefits you’ve noticed?

CL: Bodyweight training, in my opinon, is the PERFECT compliment to kettlebell training. I honestly think that when the training Gods came together to match training modalities, they said that KBs and Bodyweight were all that anyone would ever need.

With a lot of my clients, a lot of the benefits of what I’ve noticed has been mental. I know that clients somewhat enjoy having to put down the kettlebell to superset their swings/snatches with some complimentary bodyweight exercise.

Supersetting bodyweight exercises into the program gives clients that mental break thinking that they are resting because they are not holding the kettlebell.

We’re almost – and I hate to say it – “tricking them” into thinking that they’ve got a break, all the while they are doing more work because they are doing a low impact bodyweight exercise.

From a strength standpoint, I find that a lot of people are lacking in basic relative strength and because of that, the advanced stages of the program incorporate a bodyweight strength based exercise. Nothing will get you moving better, and get you stronger than moving your own bodyweight through space doing exercises like pistols and chin-ups.

GN: You’ve got a very successful kettlebell fat loss program – please tell us a little bit about it. What makes it unique instead of one of those “me too” kettlebell programs?

CL: Back in 2008 I was approached by my good friend, Craig Ballantyne, to become the very first Certified Turbulence Trainer. Craig and I have known each other for close to 8 years now and I was one of his first test subjects on the very first Turbulence Training program.

I’ve seen Craig train clients in the gym and use his methods to get great results. After a while, I started using his non-competing superset and interval training methods on my clients.

Because I live in Toronto and my clients opted to not do interval training on a hill in 40-below winter weather, I started using kettlebell swings & snatches or even full kettlebell/bodyweight circuits for their interval training sessions.

Craig saw this and saw that I knew what I was doing with kettlebells and asked me to write a fat loss program that involved his TT methods but incorporated the use of kettlebells & bodyweight training….and that was the birth of my program, The Turbulence Training Kettlebell Revolution.

GN: Ok, Chris, I’ve got to ask about the proverbial “elephant in the room” – the name – “TT Kettlebell Revolution?” I mean c’mon man, the “kettlebell revolution” started 10 years ago! In fact, I know you upset a more than a few people with that name in 2009 when you launched the first version. What’s so revolutionary about your program?

CL: Ha! I knew this one was coming!

Yes, I know for a fact that a lot of people were upset for several reasons. The “revolution” name was one of them. The fact that I was a virtual unknown and that I didn’t have my RKC designation yet was another. A lot of questions were asked in a very unfriendly way. I don’t even want to know what kind of discussions were going on in the Dragon Door Forums!

Putting the program together, launching it and doing it under the Turbulence Training umbrella was revolutionary for those using Turbulence Training because it was their first introduction into kettlebells.

We recognized a need in the market to put together a program that used kettlebells & bodyweight training that used Turbulence Training Methods of non-competing supersets with interval training sessions that exercisers could use in the comfort of their own homes. That, in of itself, was revolutionary to the initial group that we launched the program to.

After that, and because of the results that we saw with the initial group that we had using the program, the name stuck.

There’s no doubt that Pavel & John DuCane were the pioneers of the kettlebell movement in North America and that guys like you and Brett Jones were responsible for spreading the word and teaching. It’s you guys that were responsible for the REVOLUTION.

This program was a way for us to help get kettlebell training out to the masses and the people that followed the TT methods religiously.

I gotta tell you though, after the launch and hearing all the rumblings about it, I really started to question my validity as a trainer and whether or not it was the right thing to do. One of the natural characteristics of human nature is to have self-doubt and believe me, I had a lot of it.

Then, as hokey as it sounds, I asked myself why I was a trainer and why I was doing what I was doing and realized that the nature of it all came from a good place. I didn’t put the program out to piss off my colleagues and peers, I did it to help people. Plain and simple.

From that point, the only way to prove to people and to myself that what I was doing was legit and that I was the “REAL DEAL” was to get out there be part of the army spreading the word about kettlebell training.

So, I did something that I knew in my heart that I should’ve done years ago when I read about Pavel in Rolling Stone Magazine in 2001 and registered for my RKC.

I’ve never looked back since and plan on doing my CK-FMS next year and then my RKC II.

Everything about the RKC, from its Eastern Philosophy roots to it’s movement-based practice is everything that I believe in as both a trainer and as a person.

Would I have done anything different from that time in September 2009 when we launched the program?

Hell no.

I wouldn’t have gotten to this point – being interviewed by you, a Master RKC and living a great life both physically & mentally – if I didn’t. I’m able to apply my passion to my business because it is part of my life and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

GN: Great Chris. That makes perfect sense. And I admire you for your convictions. Very cool. OK, Chris, this is version 2.0. How is this different from your previous version? Why is it better?

CL: The first version was pretty intense. In the more advanced phases of the program, I had clients working out 6 days per week alternating days of strength based programming with days of interval training. It was a lot of volume, but nonetheless, we were getting great results.

Then, I noticed something funny. When I would look into the client journals and the success stories that I was receiving, I noticed that most people were really only training 3 to 4 days per week. The 6-day per week model seemed to be a little much for those that were incredibly busy like me.

These clients were getting similar results but training anywhere from 50-66% less than those training the full 6 days per week.

Around the same time, I took off to Disney World for the weekend to complete my RKC certification (it broke my heart, by the way, to leave my wife and 5 kids at home and go to Disney World). Over that weekend, meeting and learning from all the great instructors that the RKC has to offer, I realized that the Simpler is Better approach is the way to go with my training.

So, this NEW & IMPROVED version of the TT Kettlebell Revolution reflects all the knowledge and simplicity that I have learned over the past 2 years. The programming is simpler – not easier, but simpler – and puts a bigger emphasis on movement & strength all within a fat loss programming template.

GN: So my customers and subscribers will want to know how is “TT Ketttlebell Revolution 2.0” different from “Kettlebell Burn 2.0”? How would a “Kettlebell Burn” customer benefit from “TT Kettlebell Revolution 2.0?”

CL: The major difference is the element of bodyweight training.

I come from a school of thought where, if you can’t handle your own bodyweight, you have no business introducing another element of resistance into your training. So the majority of the initial stages of the program is a lot of bodyweight strength training with some foundational kettlebell movements.

I know the RKC recognizes the value of bodyweight strength training. Evidence is the fact that we just introduced the bodyweight pull-up/flexed arm hang test into the standards of attaining an RKC designation.

Those loyal to Burn will get a lot of variation of movement with the combination of the foundational kettlebell exercises and bodyweight exercises in TTKB. TTKB is written from a skinny, wiry guy’s athletic experience and so I’ve taken a lot elements from sport – high intensity bouts followed by short rest periods – with a lot of bodyweight power exercises like burpees, stride jumps and tuck jumps.

I’m also a huge fan of full body abdominal exercises like mountain climbers and Spiderman climbs and am devout follower of Dr. Stuart McGill, so you know I’ll have a lot of his stuff in there as well.

GN: Very nice job highlighting those differences and the benefits of them. OK, more controversy – I’m not a big fan of high reps for much of anything. Although I do believe they have their place in certain situations. I’ve noticed you’ve got some higher rep schemes in this program. Can you tell us why?

CL: Progressive overload. You’ll notice that a lot of the higher rep schemes in the TT Kettlebell Revolution incorporate timed sets mainly because most of the people that use my program only have access to one kettlebell.

So some of the higher rep programming is an additional way to use the overload principle to challenge the exerciser. I’ll ask the client to use their previous performance as a baseline measure for their next workout and so progress will occur if they are able to do one or more reps more than their previous workout.

Another area that I believe higher rep training to be beneficial is in the upper back/postural musculature. I have rep ranges in the 15-20 range for exercises like staggered stance rows because I believe that everyone needs some endurance in those smaller and essential postural muscles to combat all the forward leaning/anterior dominance that we get in today’s “desk-jockey” Western Society.

GN: Ok, great reasoning as well as practical application. Switching gears here, as most people, including you Chris, know, I’m a BIG believer in nutrition for fat loss. I love your ideas on fat loss nutrition. What are your 3 biggest nutritional strategies for fat loss while kettlebell training?

CL: Like I was saying above in my Rule of 165, I think nutrition plays as important, if not a more important role, than intense training.

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at all the senior citizens who can stay lean by just walking and eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables.

GN: Yeah, that’s a great point that’s often overlooked. My dad lost 30lbs in only 6 weeks back in 2003 just after his triple bypass. He changed his diet to the Zone and could only walk. Thanks for bringing that up.

CL: That said, my 3 best nutritional tips are:

1. Eat REAL FOOD. Stay away from processed crap. Eat as close to nature as possible. I’m not a big calorie counting type of guy because, well, I just don’t have the time and most importantly, I’m a parent who leads by example. So, the last thing that I want my 13-year-old daughter to see is me worrying about how many calories my grass-fed hamburger has and whether or not I’m within my “acceptable calorie range for the day”. Instead, if I can show my kids that I’m eating my fruits and vegetables on a regular basis and that we can’t buy you each an iPad because we choose to spend our money on premium beef from a cow that was allowed to graze on a pasture, then I think I’m being a good parent.

2. Drink lots of water. I’m finding more and more with the people that I work with that what they perceive to be hunger is, in fact, THIRST. I think we live in a population that is severely dehydrated and your body needs water to not only function properly but eliminate itself of toxicities (like bodyfat). My rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water. I got that from a book called “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj.

3. Eat when you’re hungry. This probably goes against everything that you’ve ever read in any fitness and weight loss book, but I have yet to see any empirical evidence that if you eat 5-6 small meals per day you’ll lose more weight than if you just ate when you were hungry. It seems a little counter-intuitive to me. Eating every 2 hours means that you are constantly feeding yourself and causing an insulin response. If you’ve constantly got insulin in your blood, how is it possible to lose fat? Now, I’m just going on logic and the experience that I’ve had with both using myself and my clients as guinea pigs, but if you eat when you’re hungry, then you’ll find that you’ll eat a lot less and not be obsessed about food. If you’re eating less, then the liklihood of you losing weight goes up. It’s just a matter of recognizing when you truly are hungry or when an external stimulus causes you to think about food. There is a difference and once you’ve mastered and recognized that difference, you’ll change the game of fat loss for yourself.

GN: Those are excellent, Excellent points, Chris. Unlike the much of the mainstream fitness world, I’m a BIG believer in shorter workouts. And it looks from TTKB that you are too. Why do you believe shorter workouts are better for fat loss, especially with kettlebells?

CL: I think the metabolic effect is undeniable with shorter more intense workouts. Truthfully, with a properly structured kettlebell workout, I’d be shocked to see someone go longer than 40 minutes straight without sacrificing quality of movement and form in their exercises.

One of the major reasons why I like shorter workouts is because I’m a realist. As I said above, I first started training with kettlebells because of the restraint on my time. The only way for me to get a GOOD QUALITY workout within a set time was to train with kettlebells and bodyweight. That said, I know that a lot of people are like me – we have kids, we have jobs, we have commitments, we have LIVES – and so we need an effective fat loss solution that fits into our busy schedule. Short but intense kettlebell workouts fit that mould, give us a great hormonal effect and make us feel energized as opposed to some of these high-rep marathon workouts that make you feel like you just got hit by a truck.

That’s another thing about training with kettlebells – and forgive me if I’m off on a tangent – but I don’t think that your workouts should be punishing. I think with the birth of some of these 80% technique, 100% guts and puke workouts (and I won’t mention the name of the workout I’m talking about, but you and I both know), people believe that if you’re not hurting by the end of the session then you’re doing something wrong.

GN: I totally agree. I’m 100% against beating yourself to a pulp in order to achieve results. For many, it produces some short-term and short-lived gains, but for most, it leads to injury and frustration.

CL: Yeah, again, logically, that just doesn’t make any sense. If we are trying to feel better. If we’re trying to move better and improve the quality of our lives, why are we trying to hurt ourselves into submission to get to that healthy state?

When it comes to exercise and health, if people just stop and think – apply the rule of 165, remember that they’re supposed to feel energized and not hurt after a workout and eat real food – not only will they lose fat and gain muscle and strength, but they’ll be a lot happier as well.

GN: You’ve got something special for “Kettlebell Secrets” subscribers. Why don’t you tell us about it?

CL: Yes I do, Geoff. I’m really happy and confident with the work that I’ve done with the TT Kettlebell Revolution v2.0 and after getting people that I really respect review it and give me their feedback (you were one of those people), I know it’s something that will help a lot of people.

So with the new program (the ebook, the Training & Transformation Journal and the demo videos), I’m also offering 3 new programs:

TT Kettlebell Extreme is probably one of the most FUN programs that I’ve ever written and done. It involves some of the best off-the-cuff kettlebell and bodyweight exercises (like handstand push-ups and windmills) and sandwiched in the middle is a brutal Kettlebell-Bodyweight-Hill Training Day that is one of the simplest and brutalist (is that a word?) workouts you’ll ever do.

The KB-Barbell Hybrid Program was specifically designed for those skeptics who know that kettlebell training is where it’s at, but they just haven’t been able to give the gym up yet. This program gives them the advantage of using traditional barbell exercises – sorry, I stuck to my “no bench rule” though – and combines those foundational movements with the best kettlebell exercises to get an incredible strength & conditioning hybrid workout. Athletes – weekend warriors and serious athletes – will LOVE this program.

TT Kettlebell Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) ($47) – MRT is the latest craze in the fitness industry, but the problem was that most MRT programs incorporated exercises and equipment that you only had access to in a gym. I took the best of the MRT workouts and adapted them for use with just a kettlebell and your bodyweight (and whole heck of a lot of mental toughness). This workout is definitely one of my favourites that I’ve ever written (and experimented on myself).

So you’ll get those 3 workouts, plus the new TT KB Revolution and the Women’s Program and the Getting Started MP3 for $57.

This is something that I’m only offering for your friends, Geoff.

GN: Wow – that’s A LOT of stuff and really cool of you Chris – thanks!

CL: It’s just a way for me to give you a BIG THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to help me, the knowledge that you’ve shared and for the interview.

You’ve really been instrumental in my journey to this point, and I’m truly grateful, so thank you.

GN: Cool – you are more than welcome – glad to have been able to help you out. And thanks for helping my subscribers out with your more-than-generous offer!

Thanks again for your time, Chris. And thanks for leading from the front on the fatherhood thing with 5 kids!

——-

When you’re ready to combine bodyweight training and kettlebells, I recommend you get started right away with Chris’s generous special offer.

You can do so by clicking here.

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