Category Archives: Strength & Power

Wednesday Training, 11.30.11

My recent fixation on 5×5 kettlebell work continues. After warming-up swinging the Kali sticks, I did 5 sets each of 5 Jungle Gym chin-ups and 5 Double KB Clean & Jerks. Next, 3 sets of 8 each of Jungle Gym dips, body rows, and 1-Arm KB Military Presses.

I finished with a mix of KB Swings and sprints. I paced out 50m, and put a kettlebell on each end. I’d start on one end, do 10 KB Swings, sprint to the other end, do 9 KB Swings, etc. until I got down to 1 KB Swing.

Good Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerk Video

I’ve been working quite a bit on my Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerks (aka Long Cycle) lately. It’s truly a great exercise, though it is challenging. As Mike Mahler writes,

One of the most effective exercises for losing fat and gaining quality muscle is the high repetition clean and jerk. This exercise sends your growth hormone through the roof, which is critical for losing fat and preserving lean muscle. However, be warned this exercise is not for the faint of heart.

Before attempting the Double KB Clean & Jerk, I’d advise really getting your technique down for the Single Long Cycle Clean & Jerk. For those who feel they are ready to tackle the challenge of two kettlebells, here’s a short but useful video:

I have to say I’ve made some definite gains in strength from the Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerk, and I see it remaining a big part of my training regimen.

Monday Training, 10.17.11

Before training I did some yoga and Kali stick sparring with my friend Gary, so I was plenty warmed-up. The first part of my workout was built around  Jungle Gym Chin-Ups and Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerks. I alternated between the two, and laddered up to 5 reps of each 3 times, for a total of 45 Chins and 45 KB Clean & Jerks.

Next, 3 sets of 7 each of Jungle Gym Dips and Single KB Clean & Jerks.

I finished with a mix of KB Swings and sprints. I paced out 50m, and put a kettlebell on each end. I’d start on one end, do 10 KB Swings, sprint to the other end, do 9 KB Swings, etc. until I got down to 1 KB Swing.

Wednesday Training, 10.11.11

Another ladder-heavy day today.

I warmed-up with some joint mobility work and swinging the Kali sticks. Then it was onto Jungle Gym Chin-Ups and Double Kettlebell Clean & Jerks. I alternated between the two, and laddered up to 5 reps of each 3 times, for a total of 45 Chins and 45 KB Clean & Jerks.

Next, 3 sets of 7 Jungle Gym Dips, 7 TNT Cable Side Raises, and 10 Hindu Push-Ups. I admit it: The Side Raises are purely a vanity move, but what the heck.

I finished with a mix of KB Swings and sprints. I paced out 50m, and put a kettlebell on each end. I’d start on one end, do 10 KB Swings, sprint to the other end, do 9 KB Swings, etc. until I got down to 1 KB Swing.

I cooled down with 10-min of yoga.

Stronger Legs Without a Barbell

Most bodybuilders and strength athletes would thing this is a heretical thing to say, but here it goes: I hate barbell squats. Yes, I know they work a gazillion muscles and build strength and burn fat and so on and so on. I’ve just always hated doing them. It may be partially a bio-mechanical thing, as I’m 6’3″ with about a 36″ inseam. Or I might just not like them.

It’s been years since I’ve seen the inside of a gym, so it’s been years since I’ve been anywhere near a barbell. And surprise… my legs haven’t shrunken to toothpicks. Granted, I’ve always had fairly solid legs, which I owe to a lifelong love a very long hikes and walks. But I’ve found you can get very strong legs without ever having to step into a power rack. In fact, my own legs have gotten quite a bit stronger, bigger, and more muscular this year even though I hardly ever do weighted squats. How did I do it?

There are two major exercises I’ve added to my routines over the past several months, and I think they are the key factors to my improved leg strength.

The first is the Hindu Squat, which in recent years has been popularized by Matt Furey. This is essentially a very deep, bodyweight-only squat. It’s excellent for not only strength but incredible endurance as well. The best written explanation I’ve found is on Fitness Black Book:

How to Do The Hindu Squat

  1. Start with your hands pulled into your chest and feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat down while keeping your back straight and bring your arms down behind you for balance.
  3. Unlike the Prisoner Squat, you are going to want to roll up onto the balls of your feet as you lower down. At the very bottom you will almost be up on your toes.
  4. At the bottom, swing your arms forward as you push up of your toes.
  5. Your arms will reach out in front of you as you approach the top. Once you reach the top, your heels should be touching the floor again and then you pull your hands back in towards your chest. At this point start the movement over.
  6. The breathing is important and different than other exercises. Exhale on the way down and inhale on the way up. Do this for each and every rep. The breathing is as important as the movement.
  7. Start with 20-30 reps and slowly work up to 500. Within time, you will want to do this for 500+ reps for 15 minutes straight. This is easier said than done…and is a serious cardio workout.

And here’s a video of the Hindu Squat performed by Steve Maxwell:

I currently do Hindu Squats as part of my warm-up for Kettlebell training, and frequently do them on off days to stay limber. Hindu Squats have definitely improved my grappling, which isn’t surprising as they have long been popular with Indian wrestlers.

The second major exercise I’ve added to my routines that has helped to improve my  leg strength is the Long-Cycle Kettlebell Clean & Jerk. This is a fairly technical move, and is difficult to explain in writing, so I’ll sit back and let Scott Sonnon do it for me via video:

While at first this might seem primarily like an overhead lift, a great deal of leg and hip work is involved. Just because you aren’t squatting very deep for the Clean & Jerk doesn’t mean your legs aren’t getting a work-out. They are… trust me! The Clean & Jerk is very much a full-body exercise.

Like the Hindu Squat, Long-Cycle Kettlebell Clean & Jerk are great for improved athletic performance because they incorporate so much of the body and greatly improve both strength and conditioning.

To be honest, if you’re looking to build enormous bodybuilder legs, you will definitely need to do more than these two exercises. But for those of you who are looking to build solid, functional strength in you legs, give Hindu Squats and Kettlebell Clean & Jerks a try!

Wednesday Training, 6.29.11

Trained with the  44# kettlebell again today.  After some joint mobility work and yoga, I did 6 sets of 6 Jungle Gym Chins. Next, 5-min of Long Cycle KB Clean & Jerks, switching hands every 5 reps.. Then a circuit of…

  •  5 Jungle Gym Dips
  •  8 Jungle Gym Body Rows
  • 8 TNT Cable Military Presses

… repeated 4 times. Finished with  1- and 2-Arm KB Swings, 30/30 for 10-min.

Monday Training, 6.27.11

Started the day with a few minutes of yoga and two sets of 15 Hindu Push-Ups and 30 Hindu Squats before heading out for a 400m ocean swim.

As I prepared to head out for my afternoon workout, I noticed my 44# kettlebell looked lonely so I grabbed it and to the park I went. After some joint mobility work I did 6 sets of 6 Jungle Gym Chins. Next, 1-Arm KB Clean & Push-Presses, 15/15 for 10-min. Then 5 sets of 5 Jungle Gym Dips, followed by 1- and 2-Arm KB Swings, 30/30 for 10-min. Wrapped-up with TNT Cable Military Presses and Jungle Gym Body Rows, 3 sets of 8 each.