Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Kettlebells: Old device gains new following

September 23, 2014

Kettlebells might seem like a new fitness trend, but the concept is actually centuries old. 

This funny shaped weight resembles a cannonball with a handle and is often made of cast iron or steel. Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 1700s — although it wasn’t originally used for exercise, but rather for weighing crops. 

Kettlebells soon became part of physical training and conditioning programs throughout Russia and Europe, eventually making their way to the United States. Today, kettlebell training is used in gyms and fitness studios across the county.

To get a picture of what a kettlebell looks like, imagine a small bowling ball with a suitcase handle. This weight comes in a variety of sizes — from 

8 pounds to 97 pounds. They’re versatile, and most standard exercises can be performed with a kettlebell.  

Kettlebells offer advantages over barbells or dumbbells. This type of training is movement based, which means you’re using multiple muscle groups at the same time. This type of full-body conditioning teaches the body to work as one strong unit.  Another benefit of adding kettlebell training to your workout is that it saves time because you’re using multiple muscle groups at one time.

Kettlebells are good not only for only strength training, but also incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic — that is, with oxygen — is the same as a cardiovascular workout, like walking, swimming or bicycling. Anaerobic exercise — without oxygen — is a workout that is a quick, high-intensity exercise, Quick read more or view full article similar to a sprint. 

With the burst of energy needed to perform the exercises with numerous repetitions, it’s guaranteed to raise your heart rate. With increased heart rate and higher repetitions, you can add fat loss to the list of benefits. 

Allen Russell, a trainer at Crossroads Fitness in Grand Junction, talks about using kettlebells. “When used properly, kettlebells activate the kinetic chain — that is, the natural sequence in which muscles are designed to fire — very effectively. In addition to the strength benefits, research has shown that the physiological effects upon the body following the kettlebell swing make it an excellent exercise for anyone to perform.”  

In addition to many athletes, kettlebells appeal to people of all fitness levels and genders. Said Russell: “I find that kettlebells are easily adaptable across most ability levels, depending upon the exercise, to meet the specific individual needs of the majority of my clients.”   

There are many movements performed with kettlebells.  The most common is the swing. Other movements include clean, jerk, snatch and row. Because kettlebell training uses high repetitions, you should start slowly to build muscle strength and endurance.  If done improperly, the movements used in kettlebell exercise can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems. Technique is very important in kettlebell training and should be taught by a skilled trainer to insure proper form. In-person instruction helps to maximize the benefits while ensuring a safe workout.

This “not so new” concept of kettlebell training has become the fitness rage. This training consists of advantageous benefits that include combining cardiovascular and strength training, increased balance and flexibility and weight loss. 

Kettlebell training is an effective and fun method of training to add to your workout.

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Strength training path to a better life

April 23, 2014
In the quest for a high quality of life and independent living, consistent strength training is a pathway that leads us to that goal. Did you know that adults lose 5 pounds to 7 pounds of muscle mass every decade after age 20?  

Consequently, strength training is important for everyone at every age. But strength training is more than creating muscle that helps us look better, it’s also about providing life-changing benefits.

Let’s back up a bit and review anatomy 101.  There are more than 600 muscles in the human body. These muscles do everything from pump blood throughout your body to kick a soccer ball. Muscles are a type of elastic tissue that resembles a rubber band and are comprised of thousands of small fibers.  There are different kinds of muscles, but we will concentrate on the skeletal muscles. These are the muscles that work with your bones to give your body power and motion.

There are some amazing benefits to lifting weights. Weight loss and weight control have a direct link to strength training.  When you increase your muscle mass, your metabolic rate increases. Even after lifting weights, your muscles keep working and burn more calories. Other health benefits include a decrease in the risk of osteoporosis by increasing body density, lower blood pressure and slower aging.

Not only does strength training help to tone our muscles to provide a fitter, healthy looking body, but it also improves our posture. Everyday activities become Quick read more or view full article easier through increased balance, stability and coordination.  When you think about getting in and out of a car, reaching for an item on the top shelf of a grocery isle or pushing a lawnmower, all of these things are related to keeping our muscular system strong.

Strength training can be performed in a variety of ways.  Some examples include using free weights, circuit machines, resistance bands, functional fitness and strength classes.

Free weights are just that — individual hand weights or weight bars you can lift in a number of ways. You can use hand weights in a bicep curl or shoulder press, for example. Circuit machines allow you to work different muscle groups, changing the weight and machine adjustments to fit your body and strength level. It could be helpful to work with a trainer to make sure you’re using the appropriate weight and proper form.  

Resistance bands provide strength training in engaging your muscles in both directions — the pull and release.  The amount of resistance depends on the type of band and how it’s used.

Functional fitness training involves using many different types of equipment in ways that mimic everyday movements.  Many of these movements use only your own body weight for resistance. Such structured fitness classes as yoga, Pilates and Bodypump® engage and strengthen your muscles.

Consistency is the most important aspect in strength training.  Aim for two to three times a week, resting for 48 hours in between workouts to allow your muscles to heal. Include upper body, lower body and core exercises to make sure you’re working your entire body. Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.  

Quality of life is what we all strive for. It’s never too late to begin strength training. Every one of us at any age needs to work on increasing our muscle mass and bone density. Strength training gives us many benefits to accomplish a healthy lifestyle and independence.  Read Less
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