Every January countless people flock to gyms in pursuit of their New Year’s goals. They cause havoc on the weight room floor, make queues for cardio and fill up the group classes you used to have to yourself. Every gym rat has seen it year in and year out, and by the time March arrives not one of the resolutioners remains. That’s usually for the best, as they never rack the weights properly and always use the equipment for something other than its intended purpose.
Why is it though, that so many people with obviously pure intent, should fail so miserably in such great numbers?
I think it is because they expect something out of exercise that it cannot provide, and when they don’t see the results they expected, they quit.
This is the only explanation for “Cardio”.
Here’s the first thing to know about exercise. It isn’t for weight loss. That is what diet is for. Can exercise support weight loss? Certainly, but it could also cause weight gain, and I’m not just talking about muscle.
If you do excessive and prolonged cardiovascular exercise (which could be more than 20 minutes a day if you are out of shape) there is a very good likelihood that you will cause your body to release the kind of hormones that tell it not to burn fat and store as much of it as possible. This is especially likely if you do cardio while on a calorie-restricted diet. While you may lose weight at first doing this, within three to five weeks you will plateau and soon enough find yourself in a bare knuckle brawl to maintain every ounce of weight loss you have achieved thus far, while watching the likelihood of continued weight loss disappear.
If weight lifting and kettlebell training isn’t about weight loss then what’s the point?
Actually, it’s bigger and better than that; this kind of training is the segue into a healthier version of you across the board and in ways you never imagined. Seriously.
Kettlebell and the right kind of resistance training will make you better at literally everything else you do. Even sitting in your chair (improved posture) and completing mental tasks on the computer, writing or doing creative projects. You see, kettlebell training is a mental undertaking that requires, and thus creates, a response in the physical body. The word “training” is vital in our dialogue, as it implies just that, you will be progressing towards a specific goal, with purpose, knowledge and a sound strategy in mind.
The right kind of weight training will:
- Make you stand up straighter
- Make you become mentally powerful
- Change the shape of your body by increasing your lean muscle mass
- Increase your cardiovascular capability
- Improve your flexibility
- Significantly improve your functionality at everyday activities and also your favorite activities and sports
- Improve your nervous system function and help balance sympathetic/parasypathetic function
- Increase blood flow to all of your organs
- Help you detoxify your body
- Aid in hormone regulation
- Reduce your chance of injury in everyday life
- Change the way people perceive you
- Assist in weight loss, assuming you have found a dietary lifestyle that feeds your body appropriately
I think if you have the right expectation, you will never be disappointed going in, and because many people spend hours upon hours working out in a way that will not and could never provide them with the results listed above, and as a result, fail to lose any weight, they give up because of a lack of knowledge.
Here are some very common kinds of exercise that are completely unable to provide the results listed above:
- Spin class
- Elliptical machine
- Machine-based weight training
In all fairness, some of these can provide some of the benefits listed above, but usually come with drawbacks, such as causing poor posture and inflexibility (machine-based weight training, running, spinning, or disrupting the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system balance: prolonged cardio. Also, as many of us know, prolonged cardio can often times wreak havoc on the joints to the point where you must take months off at a time to recover from the very thing you were doing to stay fit!
Even calisthenics have significant limitations unless you really master and understand them, or learn from an experienced professional. Crunches are as likely to cause postural issues and back problems as they are to strengthen your abs, in fact, unless countermeasures are taken, it is a certain 1:1 ratio!
The main points I am trying to get across here are:
- Know what to expect from your training, have a goal in mind and train for that goal.
- Don’t do cardio to lose weight, instead change your diet, get more sleep, and go outside more often. These things will have a much greater and longer lasting effect on your weight.
- Machine-based weight training is a waste of time unless your goal is to pack on as much muscle as possible, likely at the detriment to your overall flexibility and functionality.
- For your own good, and I mean something that will benefit your relationships, your finances, your state of mind, and your health in just about every way, begin a regular kettlebell or weight training practice.
Start from the ground up, learning every movement along the way. Unite your mind and your body for thirty minutes a day, improving with each practice the way you interact with the world on many levels. As soon as you start, a primal voice from deep within you says “this is something I should be doing regularly” and when that voice speaks, you listen.