Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health

Health, Strategies, Weight Loss 5 Comments »

Lack of sleep and chronic stress come together.

Not sleeping makes you stressed and stress makes you lose sleep (which leads to more stress…)

Here’s some bad news: sleep deprivation and stress both play a role in struggling with weight loss and health problems.

Most people who are trying to lose weight never stop to think about the effects that missing sleep can have on their body.

Some people think that staying up longer can help them lose weight because they might be able to burn more calories. In fact, the opposite is true: a good night’s sleep actually helps you achieve a healthy weight, while a lack of sleep makes losing weight more difficult. (And people don’t realize one of the clearest truths about sleeping – when you’re asleep, you’re not eating!)

Not only does sleeping refresh your brain – so you can make clear decisions about food choices the next day – sleep (or a lack thereof), affects your metabolism, your hormones, and your immune system. All together these have a powerful affect on your health and weight.

Consider the following:

– A large study that followed more than 68,000 women for 16 years showed that women who slept less than 7 hours per night put on more weight than those who slept at least 7 hours. Additionally, women who slept only 5 hours per night were 33% more likely to gain significant weight (33 pounds or more).

– Sleep deprivation impairs insulin sensitivity, impairs carbohydrate tolerance, increases ghrelin (appetite hormone), decreases leptin, and increases cortisol.

– Research has shown that about 7 hours of QUALITY sleep are necessary for weight control and good health. Chronic sleep deprivation accelerates the onset and increases the symptoms of aging – including memory loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

– Less than 4 hours of sleep in one night, or chronic sleep loss, has been shown to have a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism. Put simply, carbs make you fatter if you’re missing sleep!

– A study found that adults who slept 4 hours or less per night are 73% more likely to be obese than those who slept between 7 and 9 hours per night. Sleeping between 5 and 6 hours per night leads to a 50% greater risk of being overweight and a 23% greater risk of being obese.

Missing sleep occasionally can be overcome, missing sleep every night (or almost every night!) is what starts to damage your body.

What you need to do is make a plan for getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep every night. Here are some tips to help:

  1. No TV near bedtime and ABSOLUTELY no TV in the bedroom
  2. Make sure your bedroom has good window coverings (for darkness), is uncluttered, and well ventilated.
  3. Create a “wind-down” ritual before bed.  Try herbal tea, dimmed lights, journaling, or a warm bath.
  4. Take calcium and magnesium before bed.
  5. No working or studying in bed.  Beds are for sex and sleep.
  6. Try aromatherapy – lavender helps with relaxation.
  7. Avoid eating right before bed, and try to have 3 hours between bedtime and your last big meal.
  8. Alcohol lowers sleep quality, so limit or avoid alcoholic drinks within a few hours of bedtime.
  9. A cooler room helps promote deeper sleep.
  10. Leave your worries outside the door – make your bedroom a stress-free zone.
  11. Guided imagery, progressive relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercises can all help with sleep.
  12. Caffeine interferes with sleep (it is a stimulant and also affects your production of the sleep hormone melatonin).  Time your intake so you can fall asleep easily.  This might mean no caffeine after 3pm, or it might mean no caffeine after 11am.  Everyone is different.
  13. Try using a sleep mask for perfect darkness.
  14. Invest in a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  15. Get a quality alarm with a back up battery so you won’t stress about sleeping in.
  16. Have white noise.  A fan, air purifier, or white noise machine are all good choices.
  17. Put blue light filters on all electronic screens in your home.  The blue light from monitors, laptops, and TVs simulates sunlight and blocks the release of melatonin.
  18. Paint and decorate your bedroom with serene and restful colors.
  19. Practice regular rhythms of sleep.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  20. Keep your room dust-free.  Keep pets out of the bedroom at all times and consider getting an air filtering system.
  21. Get exposure to sunlight on your body and face as soon as possible after waking.  This helps tell your body it is time to wake up and enhances your sleep rhythm.
  22. Use a hot rice pack on your solar plexus (just below your rib cage) – this helps trigger your body chemistry for sleep.  (Cuddling a partner works too)
  23. Try herbal supplements before bed: Valerian Root, Kava Kava, Passionflower, Chamomile, and Lemon Balm all help with sleep.
  24. Get tested.  The most common and underdiagnosed sleep disorder is sleep apnea.  If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatgiue, snoring, or have been seen to momentarily stop breathing during the night, get tested by a sleep lab.  (Sleep apnea greatly raises your risk of hypertension and heart disease)

Getting enough quality sleep will not only make you healthier, help you de-stress, and speed up weight loss, it will recharge you so that you can enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Basic Tumbling Skills

Exercise No Comments »

A Bodyweight Exercise Blog Post…

In their phenomenal book Easy Strength: How to Get a Lot Stronger Than Your Competition-And Dominate in Your Sport, Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline have a short list on how to live longer:

  1. Don’t Smoke
  2. Wear A Seatbelt
  3. Learn How To Fall

These simple rules will survive any statistics test you want to put them to.

Even better, the authors list an actual tumbling progression.

Mastering the simple skills on this tumbling list will make you a better athlete (plus you’ll be ready the next time you trip over something in the dark)

Grown Up Tumbling Skills List

Forward Roll:

  • From Stand
  • With Legs Crossed
  • Forward Roll To Stand
  • Cross-legged Roll To Cross-Legged Stand
  • Roll Into Leap, Turn, repeat

Shoulder Roll:

  • Alternate Shoulders In Series
  • Shoulder Rolls Without Arms

Dive Rolls:

  • Walk Into A Dive Roll
  • Run Into A Dive Roll
  • Dive Rolls Over Obstacles
  • Dive Rolls For Height

Side Rolls:

  • Monkey Rolls

Leapfrogs

Wheelbarrows

Squat Hand Balance:

  • Head And Elbow Handstand
  • Forward Roll To Squat Hand Balance
  • Walk On Hands

Head And Hand Balance

Hand Balance:

  • Cartwheels
  • Round Offs

These basic gymnastic tumbling exercises will give you confidence and great freedom of movement – much more so than pushing and pulling the padded handles of machines at the gym.

vintage-handstand-photo

Also be sure to check out these blog posts on Wold Fitness:

Building Up To A Handstand Push Up

Pull Up Or Chin Up?

You Need Intensity: Another Nail In Cardio’s Coffin

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If you want to change your body and boost your metabolism, you need to exercise with intensity.

Luckily, the more intensely you go, the less exercise you need.

If you exercise for too long at too low an intensity, your body starts breaking down your muscles to make fuel.  What is long, low intensity exercise?

Cardio.

The way most people do cardio is to exercise in their “fat burning zone” for as long as possible, with the idea that longer is better.

But done too long or too often, wasting of your muscles will occur.

cardio approach me brethren

Muscles are what give you a higher quality of life, power your athletic movements, shape your body, and rev up your metabolism.

Destroy your muscles with cardio and you lose all those benefits. (Check out these posts for why you need muscle: Get Some Firmness On Your Frame and You Need Muscle To Lose Fat)

Traditional cardio training doesn’t have enough intensity to to change your metabolism – yet is usually done in high enough volumes to cause large amounts of muscle tissue destruction.

“Cardio” doesn’t work for fat loss and changing your body… And it may cause you to lose the most productive and protective tissue in your body.

If you insist on doing regular cardio, make sure you have heavy resistance training sessions to convince your body to hold onto its precious muscle.  And do as little cardio as possible all the same.

cat treadmill

Well, if you can’t do cardio to lose weight, what CAN you do?

Exercise below that cardio threshold.  Easy walks, mellow bike rides, relaxing hikes.  These aren’t intense enough to cause you to start breaking down muscle tissue, they still burn calories, and they encourage recovery from higher intensity training.  Not a lot of metabolic changes from this type of exercise, but it’s fun, easy, and helps.  So go for a stroll, dang it!

Use interval training.  High efforts interspersed with low efforts have beaten traditional cardio in the three most important arenas: research has proven intervals are better, experience has shown intervals to be better, and intervals are just plain more fun.  There’s tons of info on interval training on this site.  (If you want to get started now, peep this: Beginner Interval Workouts)

Use circuit training.  Best of both worlds.  You get to do resistance exercises in a series fashion to ramp up your metabolism and calorie burn while building toned muscle.

Fix your nutrition.  If your food and resistance training is spot on, you probably won’t even need to to either type of “cardio” – easy or intervals – to get lean.  The right nutrition plan will balance your hormones, ramp your metabolism, and lead to fat loss.  All without beating yourself up in running shoes.

eat better pyramid

Is Sugar A Ninja? Sneaky Ways Sugar Is Creeping Up On You

Health, Nutrition No Comments »

Sugar reminds me of a ninja.  It sneaks in when you least expect it and does some serious damage.

ninja cat

In order to help you guard yourself from the sugar ninja menace, here’s a list of other names for sugar, ways it disguises itself to sneak into your food:

  • Agave syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar

ninja dog

  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose

ninjas in living room

  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Barley malt

ninja cat 2

  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar

Did you know that because of sneaky sugars, the average American eats more than 6oz of sugar a day?

Keep yourself safe from ninja sugars, when you see any of these names on a label, think twice before putting it in your mouth.  It might just be waiting for its chance to attack…

Check out some of these other posts on Wold Fitness about sugar:

Sugar Cravings Taking Over Your Brain!

99 Ways Sugar Is Poisoning You

Sugar Primer

What Is Gluten?

Nutrition No Comments »

With all of the hullabaloo about gluten lately, it’s time to answer the question “What is gluten, anyway?”

hullabaloo jane tarzan

Quite simply, gluten is a gluey protein that is found in wheat and a few other grains (including barley and rye).

Gluten is the composite of a gliadin and a glutenin, which is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains.  Altogether, gluten is 80% of the protein found in wheat.

Modern wheat (and related grains) have been bred and genetically engineered to have more gluten.

gluten

The “glueyness” of gluten holds together bread, crackers, pastries, pizza dough, and other heavily processed carbohydrate food.  It gives these bready treats a chewy softness instead of a hard graininess.

Gluten is the second most common food additive in US foods, following sugar.

Normal human digestion can’t break down the gluten proteins though.  The surviving pieces of gluten come into contact with the lining of your digestive system and your immune system.  When gluten encounters your immune system, there’s an immune reaction where your body recognizes the gluten protein (or protein pieces) as a foreign invader and attacks (kind of like what happens with lectins).

As a result of this immune system attack, your digestive track becomes inflamed and your villi (tiny fingerlike projections used for absorbing nutrients in your intestines) are damaged.

villi damage

This villi damage from gluten affects all nutrient absorption and regular digestive processes.  Once this occurs, it is harder and harder to have a normally functioning body.

Also, gluten grains cause an acidic reaction in the body, which leads to inflammation, headaches, acne, weight gain, and mental disturbances like depression and anxiety.

Some of the signs of gluten intolerance are:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Queasiness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Sudden mood shifts
  • Aching joints
  • Clogged nasal passages
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Peripheral neuropathy (affects nerves outside the central nervous system and results in pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities)
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to poor absorption
  • Fat in the stool (due to poor digestion)
  • Eczema
  • Exhaustion
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Dental health problems

Even if you don’t have full-on celiac disease, gluten isn’t doing your body any good.  And if you have any of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity listed above, removing gluten from your diet can make a world of difference.

Some Tips For Getting Off Of Gluten

Get rid of everything in your kitchen that contains gluten.  This includes: wheat, barley, triticale, rye, kamut, spelt, couscous, oats, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, most soy sauces, and anything with modified food starch, malt, and malt flavoring.

Gluten stays in your system causing problems for 14 days.  So if you have a cheat/reward/celebration meal and want bready or baked treats, go with gluten-free alternatives.  You can find gluten-free options for almost anything, from pizza crust to cake.  Say you have a cheat meal that actually has gluten every 2 weeks – you’re never giving your digestive system a chance to try to recover.

gluten free baking vintage

Switch to a diet based on meat, leaves, and berries.  Focus on natural foods and the gluten problem takes cares of itself.  Note:  The meat from animals fed gluten-containing grains can still cause a reaction in people with severe gluten intolerance, so choose wild or grass-fed, not just organic.

Check out these two blog posts:

Yummy Paleo Butter Chicken Recipe

Nutrition No Comments »

Too often we think that eating healthy has to mean eating bland.

Not with this savory meal!

This Indian-food-inspired paleo butter chicken dish is extra-yummy.

I slightly adapted the recipe from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso (my most-used paleo cookbook)

It’s go time…

Ingredients For Paleo Butter Chicken:

  • 2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (full fat!)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons grassfed butter

Directions For Cooking Paleo Butter Chicken:

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  (I’ve made it with breast meat instead and it was great!  Now I usually make a double batch with 2.5# breasts and 2.5# thighs)

Dice the red onion.

Use a stainless steel pot or a porcelain-covered cast iron pot.  Don’t use a bare cast iron pot because the tomato paste will lead to faster rusting.

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the diced red onion.  Saute until the onion starts to become a little see-through.

Turn the heat down to low and add the minced garlic, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder.  Stir everything together.  This is going to make your kitchen smell delicious!

(Why do I use pre-minced garlic?  I’m lazy, that’s why)

Add the tomato paste and stir well.  It is very thick at this point, but keep stirring it up.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the coconut milk (this is where you add the sea salt if you would like, I don’t).  Stir everything really well to make a sauce.

Turn the heat to low (simmer) and add the chicken pieces.  Stir well, cover, and simmer at medium-low heat for 15 minutes – until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Lift the lid and stir every few minutes to the chicken cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the pot.

When the chicken is cooked all the way through, add the grassfed butter and stir it around until the butter melts.

And then you’re all set!

(My camera doesn’t do this dish justice, it is actually BRIGHT red-orange)

When I serve this to guests, I usually speed blanch either chard or baby kale by putting the greens in a strainer in the sink, then pouring boiling water over them until they start to wilt.  I use the blanched greens as a bed for the butter chicken.

My taste-testing crew all cleared their plates and went back for more!  Let’s call this the end of bland diet foods :)

Carol, Hannah, and Margo all voted thumbs up!

If you want more delicious recipes, click the “Recipes” category on the right side of this page.  And if you want a LOT of recipes, pick up Sarah’s book for yourself (It’s much cheaper on Amazon than at the book store): Everyday Paleo

 

Chemical Warfare: Lectins Attack!

Health, Nutrition 1 Comment »

Before modern chemical pesticides, nature developed its own powerful defense system: lectins.

To keep themselves from being eaten to extinction, plants evolved dangerous anti-nutrients to attack the digestive systems of the animals that fed on them.  These anti-nutrients are essentially low-grade toxins – not powerful enough to kill instantly, they are more of a passive-aggressive defense.  “Go ahead and eat me, I’ll mess you up.”

Lectins are a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates that can bind to almost any tissue in our bodies and start causing trouble.  This “stickyness” really takes place in your small intestine, where they bind with your intestinal villi.

The result of lectins binding to your small intestine is cellular damage with a reduced ability to repair themselves, cellular death, and compromised villi.  All of this leads to you developing “leaky gut” syndrome, as well as reducing your ability to absorb healthy nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals.

This lectin binding also leads to problems with your gut flora, the beneficial bacteria that support digestion and keeps your immune system healthy.  When your good gut flora is suppressed, bad bacteria like e coli is allowed to run rampant.

(And it doesn’t take a medical degree to figure out that a leaky gut plus bad bacteria equals health problems)

When lectins are causing problems with your digestive system, your immune systems and bodily resources are all redirected to fixing these problems and won’t be able to focus on basic growth and repair processes (such as building lean muscle, metabolizing fat, repairing organs, and keeping your energy levels high).

Back to leaky gut and lectins.  Once the lectins open holes in your digestive system, rogue particles are free to move around in your body and bind to anything they come across – thyroid, pancreas, kidneys, etc.

Your body then reacts to these particles (and whatever they have bonded to) as a foreign invader and attacks them.  This leads to autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s, colitis, thyroiditis, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and arthritis.

Some lectins are definitely linked to certain autoimmune disorders – such as wheat to rheumatoid arthritis – but it remains a new area of study.  Your best bet is to avoid lectins as much as possible.

All right, so how do lectins do this? When you normally eat food, all of the proteins are broken down into their basic amino acid building blocks and are then absorbed in your small intestine.  Lectins are different.  Instead of being broken down during digestion, they attach to the cells where nutrient absorption should be taking place.  “Barring the door,” so to speak.

Usually, specific immune cells immediately take care of foreign bacteria and un-broken proteins.  But lectins are like sneaky little Trojan Horses, they slip past your defenses and then make your intestines easier to penetrate PLUS they impair your immune system’s ability to close holes in your digestive track.

High amounts of lectins are found in all grains, soy, legumes, nuts, dairy, and nightshade plants.  (Nightshade plants include eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers)

And there are even more lectins in genetically modified foods, because additional lectins are added to increase “pest” resistance.  (Yes, they genetically added things that cause your body to attack itself.  Thank you, Monsanto!)

So, what can you do to minimize damage to your body from lectins?

First, stop eating the worst foods!  This includes grains and soy for sure, but I would take out legumes and grain-fed dairy as well.  Here is some more info on grains and soy:

Reasons Besides Weight Loss To Cut Out Wheat And Grains

Grains Suck!

Soy, My Nipples, And Your Health

Soy Tried To Kill Me! (Profanity Warning)

Ok, once you’ve cut out grains, soy, and legumes, the next step is to eliminate all Genetically Modified Food (GMO).  This can be tough to do at the supermarket, your best bet is to get friendly with your local farmer’s market and get local, natural food.

Next, diversify your diet.  When you take away grains, soy, and legumes, most people get into a standard rotation of foods.  3 types of protein, 3 types of fruit, 4 kinds of vegetables, 1-2 kinds of nuts.  The problem is that consuming only a small number of foods will maximize your sensitivity to any lectins (or allergens) in the food.

Studies have shown that mixing up your primary food sources will limit lectin damage, so a healthy diet based on low-lectin foods will minimize any damage caused by occasional higher-lectin sources.

And finally – this is very important – take care of your digestive system!  Minimize use of antibiotics, take probiotics, eat prebiotics (garlic, onions, dandelion greens), get rid of ibuprofen, and de-stress.

Minimizing lectin damage is a big step towards improving your health and changing your body, so get started on the steps above right away!

[EDIT: Check out this post for more cool info on lectins!  Your Blood Type And What NOT To Eat]

Recommended Equipment For Your Home Gym

Exercise No Comments »

Having a gym in your home is a great way to save the time spent commuting, checking in, stowing your gear, etc that you lose with going to a regular gym.

Here are some equipment ideas to get you started.

Home Gym Essentials:

This is enough to get extremely effective workouts in minimal time and space.

Next Level:

  • Slideboard, linoleum, hardwood exercise floor (or my favorite tool: Valslides)
  • Dumbbells, either fixed or adjustable
  • Bench that adjusts from flat to inclined positions
  • Aerobic steps or sturdy boxes that will support your during weightlifting and jumping
  • Pullup bar
  • Some sort of suspension trainer (like the TRX or blast straps)

A set-up like this can handle just about any type of workout.

Getting Serious:

  • Olympic barbell set with at least 300 pounds of weights
  • Heavy duty flat/incline bench with uprights for bench presses
  • Squat rack or power rack
  • Cable apparatus with both high and low settings
  • Cardio machine, such as a versaclimber, treadmill, airdyne, spin bike, or elliptical machine

This is a true body-transformation home gym, and you’ll be able to do just about anything you’d do at a commercial gym.

High-End Fancy Add-ons:

  • Commercial quality cable apparatus
  • Hot tub, cold plunge, sauna, or steam room (to help recover from these workouts)

A home gym is a great tool to help you reach your goals, but it won’t do anything for you if you don’t use it.  For the absolute best home workouts, check out the Home Workout Revolution.

 

One Powerful Breakfast Tip

Nutrition, Strategies No Comments »

Here’s a great tip for when you’re just starting out on your diet: Choose just two breakfasts.

In the first few weeks of a new eating plan, we get all excited and enthusiastic about how great things are going to be. We study all of our options and make a beautiful, varied, delicious menu for the week.

Stop it right there!!

Enthusiasm is great, but don’t sprint start only to run out of energy from all of the planning, shopping, and thinking of it all.

See, sometimes tons of choices just make things more difficult.

You can find a way to make it simple, delicious, and interesting all at the same time… Without losing your mind keeping track of everything.

Just choose two breakfasts from your new plan and practice them.

Alternate them or have them a few days in a row, either way is good.

What DOES matter is that these two breakfasts will become a part of your new eating mindset. Something that happens almost automatically so that you don’t have to expend any energy thinking about it, you just eat a healthy breakfast.

You can vary your choices once you’ve become a pro at breakfast – changing with seasonal foods or as your tastes change.

Eventually, you’ll have a few good breakfast choices that work for YOU and your eating plan. This makes planning and shopping easy and stress-free.

Since people always want to know what I eat, I have essentially the same thing for breakfast every day:

6-8 eggs scrambled (local, free-range, organic)
3-4 cups of sauteed greens (usually kale or chard, with dandelion greens mixed in)

Now, obviously I’m a big guy, and very active, so this breakfast would be too much for most people, what’s important here is that I don’t have to plan a complicated menu, and don’t have to expend any mental energy on preparation.

On weekends – when I have more time – I go ahead and experiment with new recipes. Pork loin and apples, exotic sausages (ostrich, anyone?), paleo muffins with local honey. These experiments are fun, but during the hectic week I stick with the basics.

The take-home message for today is to: Find a breakfast or two that you like, and hang with it – don’t make things complicated early in the day :)

Overhead Kettlebell Swing: No Good?

Exercise 1 Comment »

This morning one of my friends said he saw a youtube video where everyone was swinging the kettlebell overhead.  “Why are they doing that?” he asked.

Well, probably because someone taught them that way was best.

But there are some big problems with the overhead kettlebell swing.

Check out this pic:

There are four main problems with the overhead swing:

  1. You shoulders will come up out of their sockets
  2. Your head will “peck” forward
  3. You won’t fully engage your hips
  4. You will throw all the stress onto your low back

Compare the picture above with this one of correct and healthy swing form:

  • Tight (“packed”) shoulders
  • Neutral spine all the way through the neck
  • Glutes engaged

It is a much much better option to swing chest high rather than overhead.

Additionally, many overhead swingers squat too deep to start the motion to try and create more momentum to get the kettlebell overhead:

Squatting down to start your swing creates “drag” on your spine.  You want to “hike” the kettlebell back tight to your body and have just a slight knee bend:

Look at his flat back when he  is on the bottom of the swing.  Hamstrings and glutes are loaded and ready to snap the ‘bell back up.

If you want to see what NOT to do at the bottom of a swing, get a Jillian Michaels DVD.  You don’t have to be a chiropractor to know something is wonky if you exercise like this:

Leaning way back to help snap the kettlebell overhead is another common mistake.  In the sequence a few pictures up, the lifter is leaning back while the kettlebell is in front of her face.

This really compresses your spine, especially when moving quickly with a weight.

(If you look closely, he’s also on his toes.  No bueno!)

How do lifters using the overhead swing justify the movement?  Simple, they say going to overhead is “full range.”

B.S.!  The swing is about taking your hips from flexed to neutral.  That’s it!

If you try and turn a phenomenal butt, hip, and hamstring exercise into a sloppy squat, low back, and shoulder exercise, you’re going to get hurt.

Bottom line: Stay away from overhead kettlebell swings!