How To Keep Going With Your Kettlebell Workouts When Life Overwhelms You

I’ve got to admit something here – normally, I think I’ve got my stuff together. I know where I’m going, the direction I’m heading, my goals, what I want to achieve, etc.

But lately, I’m a little overwhelmed.

This time in life is supposed to be joyous – the expectation of your first child. Hooray! Or so it’s supposed to be. But it’s not as joyous as it could be.

I have all kinds of concerns and burdens which I’m trying to work through, around, and over.

You may be able to relate on some level.

There may be a situation you’re facing that, for lack of a better term, just feels overwhelming. There’s lots of uncertainty and maybe some anxiety. Or lots of anxiety.

There are two things that are helping me right now that I’d like to pass on to you. The first I’ll touch on and the second I’ll elaborate on.

1. Trusting God. You may not be religious, spiritual, or whatever. That’s your choice and as far as I’m concerned, we can still be friends. But for me, trusting God with the daily activities of my life and my future gives me peace of mind.

2. Using Training As An Anchor. I have come to realize lately, in the past year or so, how much I need to move to release physical energy. And the less intense the activity, the more I need to move. So finding the balance between the two has been critical.

If I train to hard, I can’t recover physically, but I still need the emotional outlet of blowing off steam.

I only finally just realized this about myself in the middle of last week – or maybe I finally was just honest enough with myself to admit this, I don’t know. I had a deep moment of introspection after my last blog post about what I was currently doing. I looked into the future and asked myself how I could possibly continue this once the boy was born. My honest assessment was that I didn’t know how I could. There would be too much opportunity to blow off the training – especially the longer, heavier days.

Regardless, I came up with a conclusion that is just working spectacularly for me in my current situation. It has given me a deep peace knowing most importantly that it is both maintainable and flexible. And I’d like to tell you about it – I’m pretty sure it’ll help you.

It meets all my requirements –

  • It lets me train/move every day to expend energy
  • It allows me to focus on my big goals – Big Press and Big DL
  • It allows me to screw around with some odd lifts
  • It regulates intensity based on how I’m feeling on any particular day
  • It allows me to move around and goof off (read: release energy) multiple times through the day if I should so choose
  • It re-enforces quality movement
  • It keeps fatigue levels super low
  • It maintains/holds my interest

It’s Pavel and Dan John’s Easy Strength, NE (Neupert Edition)

I won’t share the details of Easy Strength with you, because that’s Pavel and Dan’s thing and I honestly feel that would be disrespectful to them. (Rumor has it they have a book coming out sometime in the future with all the details and a ton of other great stuff in it…) But I will tell you that the framework, or the background for the program is the “Grease the Groove” methodology (GTG). (If you’re unfamiliar with GTG, get a copy of Naked Warrior for the full and detailed explanation.) The short story is practicing a lift frequently without fatigue or going to failure allows for greater strength gains in shorter periods of time.

That being said, I’ve come up with 3 lifts that I do every day – Barbell Press, Deadlift (or variation), and KB Snatch.

That’s it. 9-10 reps of each.

And then I “play” with stuff throughout the day. BUPs, finger lifts, lunges, chins, GUs, that sort of thing. I typically give myself the opportunity to mess around 5-10 minutes at a time on days when I’m home in front of my computer.

The GTG gives me a structured framework that allows me to know for sure that my strength work is getting done. Plus, and more importantly, it remains a constant with all the change that is occurring in my world and all the change that is about to take place. And there’s also variety – some fun stuff that I just feel like doing.

So far, the mental angst of missing out has been kept at bay.

The fear of being able to train upon the arrival of my son has also been kept at bay. 27 reps per day? That’s easy to do – it only takes 15 minutes – maybe 20 at max. I can find that on any day. And, because I’m constantly varying the intensity levels based on how I feel and letting my bar speed be my determining factor, then all I really have to do is show up. And absolute worst case scenario is I can’t pop over to the studio to train, so I just move some of my equipment home for a little while.

If I were only doing this with my kettlebells, it would be even easier. I’d keep 1 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy kettlebell at home and mess around with this daily. I’d give myself somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes per day. Anyone and everyone can find that amount of time to train/workout.

So, that’s how I’m using my training as an anchor for my day. And that’s how I’m beating off the overwhelm – by burning off excess energy through both regulated and random movements. If you’re going to apply this to your own life here’s what I’d do:

  • Pick the amount of time you can afford each day – 10 minutes is about the minimum – we can all find that .
  • Pick 1 or 2 exercises you want to focus on – 1 upper – the Press, 1 lower – the Goblet Squat – would be my suggestion or just 1 total body exercise – Clean and Press or Snatch or Get Up.
  • Pick the time of day that will fit best into your currently overwhelmed schedule.
  • Commit to doing it.
  • Do it.

It’s really that simple.

The peace of mind I’m feeling from having this set up is phenomenal. I hope you experience the same.

25 comments… add one
  • Chris N. Mar 29, 2011 @ 9:17

    That pretty much nails it. Know your priorities and implement them into your daily life accordingly. Period.

    Thanks for sharing.

    c

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:51

      You bet, Chris.

  • ralph Mar 29, 2011 @ 9:27

    I sometimes will over do it with training and get injured. at 60, i have made better progress doing “easy strenght type workouts”five days a week with a KB C+P using different size bells and my trap bar

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:50

      That’s great to hear, Ralph. Keep going – look forward to where you might be in 30-60 days…

  • Billy Meyer Mar 29, 2011 @ 9:45

    Awesome stuff Geoff. Yeah that’s the one thing that my workouts have to be able to do – keep me interested. Usually that means moving towards goals, being fun, and knowing they work. You already taught me to grease the groove. I have my 35 lb KB right here at my desk. I GTG on every hour, 2 reps each side for my presses. It has helped tremendously with my shoulder strength and pain levels. So I personally can vouch for that one. Also the trusting in God. This is my belief, if something, anything, happens, it’s on purpose. I look back at my life and how I got to where I am now and there were times when things looked very, very bleak. My hope in His strength is all I had. He took me there and graciously brought me to where I am now… a miraculous distance from where I was. The KB has been instrumental. But it was an instrument completely off my radar- says a little about my radar and His plans. Also the people he introduced into my life. Now, my workouts are my love. And I have no problem, just doing it. My problem is not overdoing it. This blog helps me each time in how to deal with that. Excellent post. Thank you, very much.

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:50

      Miraculous distance indeed, Billy.

  • Amber Mar 29, 2011 @ 9:46

    This is great, and is something I definitely need to remember to do more in those stolen minutes and half hours between teaching classes at the gym. Great thoughts! 🙂

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:49

      Thanks, Amber. Yeah, anything is better than nothing. You’re doing something anyway, it may as well help you toward your goals!

  • Michael Suggs Mar 29, 2011 @ 10:02

    Great stuff, Geoff, as usual!

    So refreshing to see you have your faith so strong in God and you’re not afraid to publish it! We get so busy with life and everything going on, that it can be easy to try and outrun Him and think we’re doing all this on our own. You said it with anchor. He’s what keeps us grounded if we’ll let Him.

    Keep on keeping on. Getting closer to crunch time with that baby boy of yours! Hang on, it’s going to be a great ride!

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:48

      Thanks Michael. Need to be stronger, that’s for sure.

  • Bill Mar 29, 2011 @ 10:29

    Thanks Geoff as always for the thoughtful and informative post. I recently aggravated my AC joint so any true upper body movement(even swings) tends to aggravate it more. I was wondering what you thought of using double front squats as a total body focus. They don’t aggravate my injury, and I love the way I feel after a 5×5 session. Any thoughts?

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:48

      Bill – DFSQ would work great – total body works totally on these, that’s for sure!

  • Dan Mar 29, 2011 @ 12:54

    Geoff, this is interesting and seems very low maintenance. Out of curiosity, do you do any warm-up, joint mobility, or anything to get the blood moving beforehand?

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:47

      Dan – You can. I don’t really. Maybe a GU or two sometimes. I do some other stuff throughout the day though.

  • larry Mar 29, 2011 @ 21:47

    I work in a warehouse lifting for five hour aday. I found this approach works best for me. The stregth is coming and my body is not overwhelmed with the long workouts. You hit it on the head. Congradulations on the coming additon to your family.

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:47

      Larry – underwhelmed is a great approach. Thanks for the congrats.

  • steph myers Mar 30, 2011 @ 3:29

    Geoff,

    Thanks so much for sharing. Wish I had a mentor like you when I was younger than you… hehehe….

    Lord give me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

    Aries….the Ram… baby boy and me on the same page so far… April 16…

    Steph Myers

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:46

      Thanks, Steph. And yes, the Serenity prayer is a good one…

  • Shawn Reed Mar 30, 2011 @ 6:00

    Amen. Good stuff, Geoff! I have a 6 y.o. and an 18 m.o. We can talk anytime about how kids will change your life! Honestly, I could not imagine it any other way and I have alot of energy that needs to be spent daily relieving stress as well. You can ask Brett about that anytime. Hopefully, we can work together in the future. I am still pulling some big things together at DSG.

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:46

      Hey Shawn – thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to the future…

  • Paul Mar 30, 2011 @ 12:41

    Thanks for sharing Geoff! One of my biggest problems is lack of consistency. Between my work schedule and two small children I sometimes can’t find the time to do Burn 2.0, and end up skipping it. I work a 12hr midnight shift schedule on patrol, and for the last 3 months have been bouncing back and forth teaching during the days for 12hrs. Instead of skipping I need to pick a full body exercise and do it fot 10 or 15 minutes. Thanks.

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:45

      Yeah, Paul, I hear ya. Pick 2 full body exercises and alternate between them every other day – Get Up and DL; GU and SW; C+P and DL – just some ideas…

  • George Pazin Mar 30, 2011 @ 15:28

    Hope you’re stockpiling sleep, Geoff!

    4/14 is an ideal birth date, btw.

    Lately I’ve been doing Pavel and Dan’s approach, melded into a quick complex. Probably shouldn’t be doing it, I don’t have the knowledge base to do something like that, but I can’t complain with the results!

    • GEOFFN Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:44

      George – results are all that matter my friend. If you’re getting them, you’re doing something right!

  • Russ Moon Mar 31, 2011 @ 16:08

    Trusting God – count me in that group

    Using Training As An Anchor – 38 years worth, as the G forces of life tug at me as I accelerate I realized “I need a stronger anchor.”

    I predict you will evolve to a major breakthrough in training for yourself because no issue can withstand the intellectual assault you are putting on it forever. Not possible. The answer is enroute.

    Warm-up – I tried some isometric twisting movements based on the theory of resisting the anchor of the feet with the hips and then thought well the fascia connects to the upper musculature why not work the whole thing so you can feel the individual components from toe to head. In 3 minutes I was not only limbered up I was out of breath. The tension created ended up cramping nearly every muscle in my body. It felt good once it was over. I am going to revisit that for two months there’s patterning potential.

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