Archive for December, 2016

The problem with Kettlebell Training

I took up Kettlebells when my favorite gym closed. I had trained there for 25 years. So over the course of 5 years I built up to owning 8 KB’s.

Ranging from 40kg down to 16 kg. I also got the best weight vest on the market. The MIR 140 & a lighter chinese vest.

This was after 27 years of regular bodybuilding style training using split routines & all of the bodybuilding principles.

So I kind of got into crossfit / functional training & neglected many of those bodybuilding principles which had served me so well.

So whats wrong with the kettlebell based approach ?

Over Training of the Shoulders

The shoulders really only need one specialized workout per week. Chest, back & arm days will also hit the shoulders to a great extent.

I found that with kettlebells & weight vests I was training anything from 3 to 6 days per week & hitting the shoulders hard every single workout.

Finally after five years of this I have blown my tendons in the left shoulder.

All Kettlebell focused guys are guilty of this. Many dont use weight vests but are hanging bar or dip or ring fanatics.

So the shoulders get hammered – its over training.

I currently have all of my equipment up for auction. Kettlebells, vests & clubbells.

I actually only should be using this gear once per week on shoulder day. But for some blind dumb reason I slipped from my proven good bodybuilding habits and trained the hell out of my shoulders.

So if the auction doesnt close thats it – I will use KB’s or the vest once per week only.

Other days are spent at the gym doing legs, chest, back, arms etc. Now the only three body parts you cant really train with his gear are back, chest and legs.

I think with bands & dumbells you can hit the arms just fine. KB’s & hanging bar certaily hit the shoulders. Mid section there is plenty of home gear same for grip.

But back & legs probably constitute most of your muscle mass. Sorry but pullups, pressups & hindu squats dont cut it.

You need to bench press, squat or leg press & do lat pulldowns –> all of it heavy.

So the kettlebell fanatics have things out of focus & so do crossfit. The injury rate for crossfit is way way higher than conventional bodybuilding.

Olympic lifting also has a higher injury rate.

There is nothing wrong with kettlebells or crossfit but they should not be your only training regime. So you may do them on one day per week. Not two or three – ONE DAY.

You may also do a binge. A two week program of KB or crossfit style training 3 times per year is fine.

But I just did this crap day in & day out for five years. Now I have paid the price with a tendon injury.

Dont be like me. Honour your body & the bodybuilding principles. Balance your training correctly.

Time to drop Kettlebells?

My training has been Kettlebell & weight vest based for about five years. Now I have torn my tendons in my shoulder I am strongly urged to return to conventional bodybuilding.

This will mean selling my vests, kettlebells and clubbells and returning to the gym.

Back to dumbells, barbells and machines for 2017. I’m going to do it & my focus for cardio will be indoor rowing & outdoor cycling.

It will mean isolation training and a four or five day split routine. No more functional training. No more full body workouts. No more crossfit style workouts.

Call it periodization if you want but I am going to totally change how I train this coming new year.

Kettlebell based training is overtraining for the shoulders. Weight vests just make it worse. It was fun but its time for me to return to that which is best.

Healthy bodybuilding and cardio.

…But I’m about four months into healing this injury now. In another 2 months I will be able to comfortably rack & press the KB’s again with light weight. I can rack the 16kg now with my injured shoulder without pain.

Its a difficult decision that would be much easier if there was a nearby gym I really like. But there is not.

If I do continue with the KB’s and vests there will be some big changes safety wise. This will mean adding shoulder braces, slowly building up to greater weights and much more attention to joint health. There does not seem to be any safe way to put a heavy and awkward vest on or off.

Time will tell & this injury is so inconvenient that a repeat is definitely not acceptable.

Training revamp

As you know from the last couple of posts I am half way through recovery from a rotator cuff tendon tear.

As a consequence of this injury my upper body strength training has decreased in volume substantially.

For 3 months I did not raise my left arm above shoulder height at all. I now have a 15% decrease in range of motion when extending the arm over head.

I expect that to mend fast once I am able to do bar hangs and pull ups again but that is 3-4 months away.

So its time to refocus my training so I can remain very fit & active but not aggravate my shoulder.

My plan is to greatly increase my cardio training while I have the opportunity. This will be a 4-5 month program after which I should be back to my normal routine.

Of course if I reinjure the shoulder I am screwed.

So I want to do 90 minutes cardio per day. I want to do 80% light easy cardio & 20% intense HIIT per week.

Thats 4 days easy cardio & 2 days HIIT & strength style.

I also want to ramp up my sauna time.

Cardio will be in the form of skipping (if I can do it – have not tested the shoulder yet), cycling, KB swings and rebounder.

I may do some easy barefoot grass runs too.

HIIT will largely be Kettlebell and Clubbell work & other calisthenics stuff.

OK thats fairly standard training with a cardio focus. I will also ramp up my flexibility training. Isometrics etc.

Now what will be different is an introduction of preventative rehabilitation training.

I touted this in a post many months ago. Using medical & physiotherapy rehabilitaion research & programs to take your body to a whole new level of fitness.

Well I posted but did not do – now months later have two torn tendons.

Now I must take my own advice.

I have done rehab on the shoulders for 3 months now with a physiotherapists guidance.

Here are the main area’s I want to focus on:

1. Detoxification – This is the first step & I did my major detox a year back. I simply need to make long duration sauna more frequent.

2. Joint specific preventative rehabilitation.

– Shoulders
– Knees
– Hip / Pelvis
– core / lower back

These are the main points of joint failure. I simply intend to train using the full rehabilitation protocols for people that have injured these joints.
Hence avoiding future injury. This will include an over all strategy for tendon strengthening most probably involving isometrics.

3. Cardio pulmonary rehabilitation

4. Grip training – I already have a good grip & train it regularly but it should be included by everybody.

So what I am planning to do here is pre-empt & prevent injury by giving my body a conditioning buffer.

I’m 48.5 years old not the 28 year old infantryman I once was. Not the 35 year old stallion any more. But in my psyche I still am young & virile.

I also know how to supplement & self medicate to rev up my hormone levels & that should definitely be done with the above regimen.

So for a senior athlete these extra injury prevention measures are required if you want to retain stallion status.

Lets face it most of us are negligent and wont take the required safety measures.

I say alter your training and fit in the rehab protocols BEFORE you get injured. Because a 9 month lay off with a torn tendon really does suck.

***WARNING***

One warning about isometrics & joint strength. Isometrics really hit the tendons & are magnificent for strengthening the tendon structure. BUT if you do your isometrics in positions that compromise your joints you will suffer joint & tendon failure.

For some time I was doing isometrics in an overhead press position. This is actually contradictory to rotator cuff anatomy as it is an impingement position. Did this contribute to my injury? I think it probably did & I had no idea what I was doing at the time.

This means isometrics must not simply mimic positions held in certain exercises.

Isometrics must be designed around the functional anatomy of the joint & copied from physiotherapy rehabilitation programs. Then you are safe.

Do not do haphazard, random isometric holds. Do not simply copy muscle building exercises to determine your isometrics positions.

Injuries suck

In my 32 year training history I have only had two serious injuries. The first was whiplash back in my army reserve days. Primarily this was caused by using a neck harness and doing 200 reps with 80lbs in the forward position only.

After a few months of doing this strength stunt a guy in the army put me into a headlock while wrestling. A few days later my neck was screwed. I went to a chiropractor and got an x-ray. My neck was straight like a broom stick.

It actually took me 5 years to get it fully pain free with no further recurrences.

Now I have torn two tendons in my rotator cuff on the left shoulder. As I often make money painting this is very not good and I have never had any shoulder problems prior to this at all.

Main culprit for this injury – very heavy weight vest training. The main problem is putting the thing on but I’m sure the duration of my sessions has not helped.

I have now done 3 months of physio and am about 60% healed up. But this is a debilitating injury and I need 100% repair. My next step is. Platelet Injection.

Fingers crossed that PRP treatment will get me over the recovery line.

Even Evander Holyfield & Vitali Klitschko had a torn rotator cuff & Vitali Klitschko boxed professionally for a further 13 years after rotator cuff repair.

Here is a great video on Rotator Cuff recovery:

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