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Life is short – guest thoughts on the mental game of fitness

It has been a while, but here are some guest thoughts by Seth Crooks on Functional Fitness

Life is short. You hear that all the time. It’s a good message, live it up, and all that. But as Chris Rock says if you marry the wrong person life is LONG! Now I’m not talking about marriage, but rather the mundane in all of our lives. Unfortunately, exercise can be lumped into that category. Get in your four workouts for the week. Good Job! Oh… here comes another week. Then after that, another. And another. And so on. 

bored_gym_girl

So how do you stay focused when life just keeps going? Before I get into that, I just want to clarify that I am not ungrateful for each new week, but the work that inevitably comes with it is a challenge.

First don’t forget that continuing fitness is a respectable goal. That said, however, make some new goals. Even if they are small or strange or whatever… make some goals! Even something simple like make up your own workout.

Second, let me touch on that word: challenge. If it were easy, everyone would be in great shape. Sometimes, we as humans are motivated and up for the challenge. It is during those times that we excel in our endeavors. But what about the rest of the time?

I am guided in my philosophy by a mixture of whims, pop culture and the occasional bit of advice from a good friend. In regard to self-motivation during a willpower drought, ‘fun.’ says it best: “Carry On.”

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The Plateau Busting Mini Workout Theory Put to the Test

Guest post by: Sergeant Michael Volkin (aka: The Volkinator)

A typical workout for an average person consists of about 30 minutes to 1 hour of lifting weights.  If exercises are performed incorrectly, the load on the muscles and stress on the joints of these repeated movements causes both short and long term damage to your body.  Most people continue to work out despite a known injury, aching back, or sore muscles because of the improved appearance of their physique as a result of the working out. However, over time, the improved appearance becomes harder to maintain and a “plateau” eventually occurs. A workout plateau is when someone continues to exercise and sees diminishing returns on the improvement of their physique.

Recently, several scientific studies have been conducted which analyzes the optimal duration and intensity for a proper workout.  Some experts claim high intensity and fast workouts are the most beneficial, others claim slow meticulous movements with heavy loads is the easiest way to maintain a great physique and optimal health.

Mini workouts have proven to be extremely effective to both the health of the individual and improvement of the physique, yet often if the most underutilized form of working out. Three to five workouts a day varying in duration from 10-15 minutes provides a boost in the metabolic rate of an individual throughout the entire day.  Therefore, mini workouts are more effective at burning calories throughout the day rather than working out all in one block.  For proper nutrition, an individual will eat 3 meals a day; the same theory should be applied to working out.

A majority of fitness products largely overlook the scientific studies showing the effectiveness of a mini workout because people usually workout in one block hour.  This principle has been adopted not because of optimal health of the individual, but rather convenience.  Only a small percentage of people for very specific reasons (i.e. competitive bodybuilders) will show consistent gains working out in 1 hour blocks.

The Test

Typically, I work out at the gym during my lunch hour with three other coworkers.  The three of us decided to give the concept of mini-workouts a try for 2 full months. Before we started, we recorded our weight, body fat percentage and body measurements. We purchased a fitness product called Strength Stack 52 (Fitness cards), which concept centers around bodyweight mini-workouts.  Instead of doing one 45 minute workout during our lunch hour, we met 15 minutes before and after work and 15 minutes during our lunch hour to complete mini workouts.  The three of us were still exercising 45 minutes per day and to keep the results as pure as possible, we did not change our eating habits or lift any weights.

The Result

Each of us saw positive results at the end of the two months performing strictly bodyweight exercises in intervals of 15 minutes 3 times per day.  The three of us averaged 11 lbs. of weight loss with the highest of us losing 18 lbs. Keep in mind, that weight loss occurred with no change in our diet from already active people.  Each of us also experienced muscle gain, reducing our body fat percentage an average of 2.2%.  We all agree, the biggest benefit was our mental stamina and attitude. We all feel better throughout the day and our 2 o’clock “is the workday over yet?” feeling has gone away.

Whether our success is a result of breaking a plateau or the result of the effectiveness of mini-workouts can’t be determined in just 2 months.  However, the reason doesn’t matter.  The results speak for themselves and the mini workouts were fun.  Instead of looking forward to one large workout in a day, we looked forward to 3 intense and fun workouts in a day.

Other benefits we experienced as a result of the mini-workouts included:

-Less muscle soreness

-less joint pain

-increased cardiovascular stamina

-more mental stamina and intensity per workout

-more calories burned per day

Conclusion

Although we experienced positive results testing the mini-workouts we all miss throwing a few dumbbells around. We have developed a hybrid program where we now do a mini-workout in the morning and start our lunch hour workout with a mini-workout.  After our second mini-workout (during the lunch hour) we perform a weight training program.

Experiencing the mini-workouts was an eye opening experience for us.  We all subscribed to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy and we now know that no part of that old adage is true. You can in fact gain muscle and lose weight performing small, fun and challenging workouts three times a day.

This article was authored by Sergeant Michael Volkin, best-selling author and inventor of Strength Stack 52 Fitness cards

Humor

This post will be a combination of my writing and guest thoughts by Seth Crooks.

I encourge others to share their thoughts here at Kemme Fitness, as I do my best to share what I have learned. In this space, my goal has been to help others by sharing the lessons I have learned while creating my own Functional Fitness workout program over the last six or so years. As things have progressed, I have continued to develop and add more and more to this website, which now includes several free 12 week workout programs.

Don’t forget to check out our other free ebooks, or simply check out the categories/archives for hundreds of writings about fitness. This post, however, is the first to address the idea of using humor. I am now addicted to bootcamps, and group workouts in general, and this is mostly due to the enjoyment I get from listening to the bantering and complaining. Most of it is just plain hilarious. For Seth, it hits a different aspect of the mental games we all play while trying to exercise. 

Seth Crooks’ words on humor:

“In life, things go better with a side of humor.  Why not utilize this truth to motivate ourselves to exercise?  Admittedly, laughing uncontrollably while doing any exercise may increase difficulty and ruin form. However, humor is not  just about laughing – it’s about finding reasons to feel good.  When preparing to workout, have a few things in mind that you find humorous. The benefits are twofold. First your mood will automatically be better. Second, you will have less space in your mind for the negative ‘I can’t do it’ thoughts.  As with all of my meandering ramblings, there is no science to back me up. Well, maybe there is, but I haven’t read any. The benefits have only been experienced firsthand, so I thought it was a good decision to share my experience. Go Fitness!! Go Humor!!”

Now here is some creativity to save costs with your at-home Functional Fitness gym

There is a little trick that not everybody is aware of  to have access to tons of Functional Fitness workouts. If you are not already aware, we have two 12 week programs for you for free.  The only required equipment are a Physioball, a Pull-up Bar, a Medicine Ball, and a Kettlebell.

Check out our 12 week program page here and download K-Fit and K-Challenge.  K-Fit is a great introductory program for those who have been moderating working out or have been biking or running.  K-Challenge is simply taking the workouts a step up in intensity.

Here is how easy it is to get your equipment in order.  Hammer up a pipe in the rafters for your Pull-up Bar.  Spend $8 at Walmart for you Physioball (aka Swiss ball or stability ball) and make your own Medicine Ball by filling a cheap basketball with sand.  If you want complete instructions to make your own equipment, download The Low Cost Gym for free.

The final piece is the Kettlebell. You have a few options here. If you know somebody who can weld, you can make your own.  Kettlebells under 15 pounds can be bought cheaply at Marshall’s/Walmart or similar type store. If you buy a nice 35 pound Kettlebell, you are going to be out a good $70 plus.  Essentially you will most likely double the weight to get an idea of the price (35 pounds = $70, 45 pounds = $90, etc).  Ouch, I know

Here is where the creativity comes into play.  I have a section on my Exercise Page for a Sand Bag (or other heavy unstable bag).  Sandbags are not hard to make and pea gravel is a perfect substitute, as it doesn’t creep out of the cracks and land in your face while you are sweating (not cool – trust me).  You can make a sand bag (or pea gravel bag) or even do what this guy who emailed did the other day, which was to fill a “bookbag with some really heavy nursing textbooks.” Now if you have law books, it may not work. I’m pretty sure they have to be nursing textbooks. Well, maybe other science books could work. In any case, the point is to get creative for a heavy weight you can use to substitute in for the expensive Kettlbell. 

I’ll admit, maybe some of the Kettlebell movements won’t work quite as well, but you should be able to get by…and get by for 24 weeks of workouts!  Get by for 24 weeks of FREE workouts!!  Yeah, Kemme Fitness totally rocks the free resources!

Trudging along: a quick guest note concerning the mental game of exercising

some thoughts from Seth Crooks:

Sometimes things that should be enjoyable feel like work. Sometimes ordinary life with no exceptional problems is inexplicably difficult. At least that is how things are for me. During these ‘funks’ I noticed that my entire workout feels like the middle of an extremely tough workout. Ain’t that a kick in the kettle bells. I’m no therapist, but I have some advice. Trudge along. Forward progress, no matter how slow, is still forward.

If life is a timeline of mental ups and downs, forward progress is the way out of the doldrums. Then one day, you wake up and things like building a giant block house with your small child sounds like fun again. Mowing the lawn is just mowing the lawn, not cleaning the stables of Hercules’ trials. Circuit 1 of your current workout is kind of fun again because your just getting going and are not yet totally spent. I guess this post is more about life’s peaks and valleys, but they apply to exercise as well. So thanks everyone for indulging my need for therapeutic writing. Go fitness!

K-Element: Seth Crook’s official review of the unique At-Home 12 week Functional Fitness program

It should be noted here that Seth Crooks has been my good friend for getting close to 2 decades (OMG I am that old!).  He is way too kind to me, but I do truly feel that this review is a sincere and honest attempt at sharing with you his experiences with the program.

                As far as 12 week exercise programs go, K-Element is the first I’ve ever done. As a result of this, comparison to other programs is out. So, this review will stick to what I liked, didn’t like, and suggestions for anyone wanting to give this a go. Also, it is important to note that this program is in the moderate to challenging difficulty range. If a slosh tube is not in your comfort zone yet, you might not be ready to try this.

                First, some advice before beginning. As with most endeavors, preparation is key to success. Be ready to start, progress, and ultimately finish. I found the ‘progress’ part the most challenging. The beginning is exciting, “Hey! I’ve started! YEAH!!” The end is rewarding, but the middle… this is where motivation is tested. It is helpful to read some of the ‘mental games’ posts on kemmefitness.com.

                Another bit of preparation is to have a place to do pull-ups, a slosh tube, a clubbell and a medicine ball. I know a re-occurring theme at kemmefitness.com is flexibility with the workouts (substituting in exercises, modifying circuits, etc), but for this program there are a variety of exercises done with these pieces of equipment throughout. So, while it is possible to substitute, I recommend using the equipment mentioned above.

                One last thing before starting. Prioritize your workouts and schedule them in advance. If you know you have things to get done throughout the week, it will be much easier to get your workouts in if you know in advance when you are doing them. It is incredibly difficult to play catch up late in the week when other things pop up. Okay, on to the review!

Weeks 1&2

                These four are good introductory workouts. The reps are lower than later more challenging workouts. This is good because, while shorter in length, these workouts are filled with a variety of exercises with all the pieces of equipment. So, you may spend some of your workout time watching videos of how to do each exercise that is unfamiliar. Nothing negative to say about weeks 1&2.

Weeks 3&4

                All right everybody, warm up is over! We are into it now. I found these more exhilarating because I knew immediately that they were more challenging. But, the novelty of starting a ‘new fun exercise program’ began to fade with things like 50 bonus burpees in workout 1 and that miserable ‘x4’ in workout #3, circuit #2. A small realization of how long 12 weeks can be then found its way into my subconscious.

Weeks 5&6

                The most memorable thing about these is the big gap in difficulty between #2 and #3. After #2, I was really spent. I just sat on the floor in my basement and, well, that was it. I just sat. Thankfully #3 was such a breeze by comparison that getting re-motivated wasn’t too tough. Going from week 5 to week 6, I was a little better prepared for dreaded workout #2. Nevertheless, this was where it got tough mentally. Not at the beginning, not the end, but the middle. To put it in music terms, anyone can get jazzed up when they hear the intro to ‘Eye of the Tiger’. It’s easy to pick up the pace when the chorus kicks in. But the verse in between… Ugh.

Weeks 7&8

                Generally speaking, I am an animal lover. This was really tested with workout #1. Bears are cool, right? Ducks, frogs, inchworms…aw, how cute! No! Not cool, cute, or fun in any way. Ego-wise, being reduced to a sweaty pile of mush by animal walks is tough. But that is the purpose here:  break down and re-build stronger. Only other thing about weeks 7&8 is there are lots of slosh tube floor wipers. These can be tough to get the hang of, but you’ll get it. Goodness knows, you’ll get enough practice.

Weeks 9&10

                I found workouts 2&3 pretty challenging. Both of these do a good job of wearing you out, then hitting you with some tough work. I noticed a real change in how I felt during this time period. At the risk of bragging, I felt in the best shape of my life. This was nice for additional mental motivation. Yes, the workouts are quite tough now, but there are rewards!

Weeks 11&12

                Rounding third and heading for home! Should be easy, right? We’re in great shape, it’s the end of the program, nothing we haven’t done yet. But it just wouldn’t be right if workout #2 didn’t make you cry like an infant. Honestly, 20 barbarian presses and 20 slosh tube press squats after everything?! Advice here – slow and steady wins the race. Don’t try to work fast to get done. Take breaks as needed and, as my wife says, hydrate! Workout #3 features the rapid fire format, which is fun and makes time go quickly. As for workout #4, it could be building the Great Pyramid for all I care, it’s the last one!

                I am happy to have completed K Element. I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment in addition to the noticeable physical benefits. Be ready for a challenge. Be ready to sweat, whimper, and maybe to cry a little bit. But ultimately be ready for Functional Fitness at its best!

Top Apps for Functional Fitness and Body Weight Training

 Guest post by Pearlie Davis, a staff writer for GoingCellular.

Four tools to help strengthen and improve your “every day” fitness

In the past few years I’ve seen a huge transition in the fitness industry. More and more people are using functional training, which is any type of exercise that mimics or has a direct relationship to the activities you perform in your daily life. The idea behind functional training is that if you strengthen the muscles you use to do everyday life activities—whether you are a tri-athlete, a homemaker who wants to carry their children without injury, or a factory worker—daily life motions will be easier on your body. For example, if your job requires repeatedly bending over to life heavy objects, your functional training program would be targeted towards helping your achieve that motion easier and more safely through exercises like squats (that target the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back).
Functional training was developed by physical therapists first for rehabilitation purposes to mimic the movement patients’ use at home or at work in order to help them return to work after an injury or surgery. However, smart phone apps for your Android, iPhone, and droid-enabled T-Mobile smart phone put safe, effective functional training in the palm of your hand…

1. Gym Goal Plus ($3.99 – for iPhone)

With over 280 exercises, accompanied by step-by-step animations and instructions, the GymGoal app is a premium functional workout trainer. Browse through the animated exercise database to find out how to do exercises safely and effectively. This app will help you customize your workout to fit your strengthening needs, schedule workouts, track your weight-lifting progress, and track your body measurements.

2. Aerobis – Functional Movement (Free – for Android)

Functional fitness starts with improving your endurance and cardio-vascular health. The Aerobis – Functional Movement app puts safe, effective functional training in the palm of your hand so you can bring it with you anywhere! Start your functional training regime with the safe, mobility and muscle coordination exercises demonstrated with audio and video examples. All you need to do the movements is an exercise band or a resistance band.

3. My Therapy Exercise ($4.99 – for iPhone)

If you’ve been injured at work or at the gym, take the My Therapy Exercise app home and continue your physical rehab. This app provides patients with comprehensive, safe, and informative physical therapy guidance from Robert E. Adams is a licensed physical therapist from California. My Therapy Exercise offers an intuitive app with comprehensive, professional instruction for over 170 stretches, range of motion movements, and strengthening exercises so you can customize your rehab workout. Each exercise is accompanied by audio-visual instruction for safe at home use for patients recovering from injury or illness.

4. Bootcamp Trainer ($1.50 – for Android)

The Boot Camp Trainer app offers functional training in an intense, 9-week cardiovascular exercise program. This app follows the highly effective strengthening and fat-burning style of a cardio-strength boot camp class that you’d take in a gym from a personal trainer. Users get to choose from 3 different boot camp workouts and 27 functional exercises that will help strengthen the whole body and improve your endurance for everyday living.

About The Author

Pearlie Davis is a staff writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone news, commentary, and reviews on popular devices and cell phone plans.

NOTE/UPDATE: FYI, an awesome  Blackberry App for K-Fit is out (Android and ipad coming next). CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO. Oh yeah, we are going to a new level of awesomeness here!

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