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The Kettlebell Jump Start for Couch Potatoes

October 31, 2005 07:07 PM

You know who you are. You're the guy who has a tough time putting on your shoes, walks through the mall wear you out, and you suffer from chronic aches and pains. The extent of physical labor that you engage in is taking a weekly spin on your riding lawn mower. 'Getting into shape' is frequently on your mind, yet 'Super-Sized Value Meals' are staples of your diet. You are weak, fat, and soft. You are a Couch Potato.

How you grew into a Couch Potato is irrelevant. What is important is that you have recognized the need to take immediate action. Allow me to introduce you to "The Party Line". You have been guided to, or have stumbled upon, the website. Perhaps you have looked at the products, and have checked out the discussion forum. Maybe it all looks great to you, or maybe fitness fads have left you jaded, and you find it too good to be true. If the latter is the case, I don't blame you. I mean, can someone like you achieve the results that Pavel claims, or what "Comrades" are reporting on the discussion forum? This type of training must only be appropriate for top athletes, right? Wrong. You have found the most sensible resource of physical fitness knowledge anywhere. You can and will achieve dramatic results training along The Party Line. How do I know, and what makes me qualified to make these claims? I was you, and had allowed myself to become soft and fat. The Party Line is the only training philosophy that I've stuck with in my adult life, and I've lost 50 pounds in doing so?and I enjoy far more strength and energy at age 35 than I had at 25. To enjoy results as I have, you must not only read about smart training or how to train smart, you must engage in it?you must execute. Assuming that your doctor has given you the OK to take on a weight training routine, The Party Line is right for you too!

The following are some tips and guidelines that I feel the Couch Potato should follow in order to develop a strong work ethic for training, while preparing your soft, sedentary body for the challenges that lie ahead. The objective of this article is to simply get you started, and to keep you on the right track using the principles outlined in The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.

"He who sets out to do too much, accomplishes little." ?German Proverb

Ready to dive right in? Your motivation is commendable. However, the Couch Potato must discipline himself to taking it slow and easy for a while. Although your mind is ready for immediate change, your body is soft and weak. By allowing a sensible break-in period, you will stay safe, fresh, and learn to truly enjoy training.
  1. You must demand training time of yourself and for yourself. Schedule 40-60 minutes to train, five to seven days per week. This time allotment will include the time it takes to change clothes, your actual training routine for that day, and a shower. Finding the time to train is often the biggest perceived challenge for Couch Potatoes, and training at home is usually your best option. Wake up early or sacrifice some precious TV time, just make the time to train. At this stage, your primary goal is to develop a desire to train each day. Missing scheduled training sessions must be avoided at all reasonable costs.

  2. You will focus on learning proper technique of just two exercises: The Two-Arm Swing and the Clean & Press. These two movements are the cornerstones of all kettlebell lifting. Every muscle in your body will play an either active or passive role in these two movements. Do not concern yourself with doing many sets or repetitions at this stage. Simply practice getting your swing and press technique down first, and you will be rewarded with accelerated gains in weeks to come, as you won't need to unlearn poor technique, or put yourself in unnecessary peril through sloppy training habits. Begin each training session with a few minutes of Super Joints joint mobility drills, and end your sessions with a few minutes of stretching. Doing so will allow your body to adapt more quickly to the rigors of kettlebell training, by minimizing soreness and risk of injury.

  3. Train in a quiet environment that is free from distractions. Proper training demands that you focus on the movements as you are doing them. Distractions such as loud music or watching TV during training sessions should be eliminated. You will be surprised at how much more work you can accomplish by eliminating distractions.

  4. You will keep a training log. Perhaps during your first week of training, you will alternate training days by performing Swings on one day, with the Clean & Press on the next. The following week you may work both movements during each workout, but alternate the emphasis of the movements. To elaborate, during one training session, the majority of your work focuses on the Clean & Press with just a couple of sets of Swings at the end of your routine. The following workout may begin with just a couple of sets of the Clean & Press followed by Swings taking the lion's share of that training day. In addition to your exercise selection, and the volume of sets and repetitions performed, make general notes such as: the time of day that you train; how long the session lasts; the length of rest periods; and anything else that pertains to training. By keeping a training log, you will be able to track your progress, and you will begin to see what style of training works best for you. If you miss a scheduled training session, note it in bold, red letters: "MISSED TRAINING" on that page, and why you missed that session. When you review your logbook, red ink will reveal weak points in your time management or discipline, for you to remedy. Your training log will offer you many happy surprises as well, as you will be amazed at the improvements in total training volume that you have made over the first few weeks.

  5. You will not put yourself on a diet?yet. Not unless your doctor says so. There is no need to fix too many things at once. In fact, at this stage, you're not fixing anything. You're just looking to establish a new positive habit in the form of training. Through your daily training efforts, you may find that you want to eat 'cleaner food' versus the junk that you likely put into your mouth right now. If this happens, that's great! Begin to listen to what your body wants, and pay less attention to those television commercials for your favorite burger joint.

  6. You will begin to consume at least eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day. This may be in addition to your other beverages that you typically consume, and in drinking more water, you may find that your appetite has decreased, while your desire for sugar-loaded soft drinks has diminished.

    "The map is not the territory." ?Russian Proverb

    I have intentionally omitted the total number of sets and repetitions that you should perform within your training sessions. And you should not worry about it either. Simply concentrate on developing good technique for the recommended drills. In the beginning, your training sessions will be low in volume (the total number of sets and repetitions that you perform), and intensity (the difficulty of the training session itself). You will find that as you progress, that you will be able to get more work done in the allotted time frame. By listening to your body instead of demanding a definite number of sets and reps, you will remain fresh and eager to train each day. Not only is this acceptable, it is encouraged?especially at this initial stage of training. Remember, establishing the desire to train is the main objective of this break-in period.

    Once your break-in period is finished, and you're hooked, it will be time to move on to bigger and better things. How will you know when you're ready? This is an individual matter, and as such, it's ultimately up to you?but for the typical Couch Potato, plan on spending anywhere from two to four weeks performing the break-in period. If you feel that more than four weeks is needed, by all means, continue on the path that feels right for you, and until you are ready to move on. Conversely, if you feel that you are ready to move on before the minimum two-week break-in period is completed, please play it conservative and follow through for the minimum recommended timeframe. You must have the discipline to allow your body to catch-up to your enthusiasm. There is no need to put your progress in the path of unnecessary jeopardy by doing more work than you are ready for. Things will get tough soon enough.

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." ?American Proverb

    Once you've successfully completed your break-in period, you will be prepared to commit to true training. Experiment with new exercises, and learn more about the many 'Party Approved' training routines. Always allow "The Top Ten Russian Kettlebell Challenge Training Guidelines" to lead your training direction. If you have not already done so, introduce yourself to the Dragon Door Training Forum, and ask questions. You will find a gold mine of experience and information from generous comrades who want to help you. It is truly a rare and valuable resource.

    Train hard, but do remember to temper your eagerness by backing off on occasion. Doing so will minimize your risk of burnout and/or injury and allow for greater gains in the long run. You didn't get weak, fat, and soft overnight, and it is important to allow your body and mind to gradually adapt to greater challenges. In doing so, you will establish an intense desire to train, the couch will become less appealing, and you will become strong, lean, and hard.

    Life is too short to be lived as a Couch Potato, so stop cheating yourself and get to work!

    Contact Jim Haines at