****The following is a re-print of an interview I did on the FitAndBusyDadBlog with my friend, strength coach Troy Anderson and how he uses kettlebells for his clients and athletes. I really dig Troy’s Philosophy because he too is a busy dad with a limited schedule. There are a few good lessons that you can get from this interview, so please take 5 minutes to read it.****
What the He** is a Kettlebe**!?!
I was introduced to kettlebells a few years ago when I picked up a fitness magazine, read it cover to cover, and then got lured into the advertisements in the back of the magazine.
At first, like many of us, I didn’t get it. What’s a cannon ball with a handle on it going to do for me?
Better late than never I guess. Now I have 7 KBs and I use them every week. Come the summer time, that will increase to everyday because I can’t stand to be inside a gym when the weather’s nice.
I asked my friend Troy Anderson, a strength coach in Tempe, Arizona why he uses KBs as his primary training tool. Here’s how that conversation went down…
CL: Troy, first, tell us a little about yourself and your general philosophy when it comes to training.
TA: Sure, Chris. I’m a fitness coach located in Tempe, AZ working in the profession for 11 years. I’m the owner of Anderson Training Systems. We operate by 2 primary principles:
1-Ductus Exemplo (leadership by example)
2-Fitness Ain’t Pretty, Results ARE!
Personally I am a life long under-sized, under-talented athlete that used strength and conditioning to achieve beyond my natural means and currently play Australian Rules Football as sport of choice.
I am brand new dad to a baby girl and I am looking forward to being a sporting/physical activity role model for her.
I have been using kettlebells for 5 yrs to help those from 16 to 60. Regardless of their goal(s) they are the only tool that all my 1 on 1 clients touch every single time they come in.
CL: OK, I’ll bite. Out of all the little “toys” that are available to you in a gym, why kettlebells?
TA: 2 reasons:
1-versatility you can use them anytime anywhere and get great workout in. Just last week I did a quick workout with a KB that I had in the back of my truck in the hospital parking lot, like 4 hours after my little girl was born. It was great. Sure you can do lots of bodyweight stuff but ultimately we need a way to progress or overload, and as guys don’t we all really want to put weight in our hand(s)
Like in the example of my hospital workout, I would much rather – for the time, overall benefit and general enjoyment – snatch a kettlebell 100 times vs doing 50 bodyweight squats and 50 push-ups. It is just a better full-body workout
2–As a professional especially as someone who focuses on working with everyday folks I know I need to get people doing big bang for the buck full body movements; in order to help them sculpt and carve their bodies to the degree they desire. The problem is, as adults they likely have mobility issues and /or have very little lifetime exercise or athletic experience which plays a significant role when it comes to teaching some of these more athletic full body movements like squats, cleans, presses, etc…
Basically, what it comes down to is that I can teach/make the complex movement simple in a matter of 2 or 3 workouts vs 2-3 years. End result is that my clients get better results faster.
CL: Great point, man. Congrats on your little girl, and great job on just finding the time to get a workout in. I’m sure people were staring at you in the hospital parking lot. That happens to me a lot when I hook my blast straps up to the roof rack of the minivan while I’m waiting in the parking lot for my kids to get out of school!
So T, tell us what some of your favorite exercises are.
TA: We banter about this topic an awful lot I will give you my top 3 though.
#1 Snatches–most athletic and total movement out there it is a full-body strength, power, coordination movement, if you can snatch you are good to go. Peform these with high reps and you’ll have a killer fat loss workout
#2 Turkish Get-up/TGU – If someone held a gun to my head and said Troy you can only use 1 exercise for the rest of your career to get clients top results this would be it.
There isn’t an aspect of the body that doesn’t take a beating; while not as explosive as a snatch it does take some serious focus. Which I think is very cool side benefit for most trainees it actually forces them to ‘get in the moment’ and quit thinking about all the BS that goes on in their day.
You can’t do a TGU with out focus.
#3 Double Front Squat–I have squatted with a lot of different implements and I must say that a double KB front squat really works your legs because you get such a great and natural range of motion but it also scorches the core because of the placement of the KB’s. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much your core gets worked.
CL: TGUs are one of my favorites too. You’re right, it does take a lot of concentration and mental focus. Especially when you’ve got 72lbs over your head and you need to ensure that it doesn’t come crashing down onto your skull. OK, let’s get into some conditioning stuff.
What’s a “smoke session”? There’s some urban kettlebell legend that a “smoke session” is one of the toughest workouts on the planet. Can you confirm or deny these rumors?
TA: Yeah funny that term came to me from a supressed memory of military training. We had this mean, little drill sergeant who dragged us out into the sand pit one Saturday night when we were supposed to have a weekend pass, and ’smoked’ the crap out of us for like 90 mins. So that is where the legend of the smoke session came from. They are tough but in the program they are progressive, so they aren’t just intended to be brutal for the sake of being brutal. I mean really fat loss and fitness aren’t supposed to be easy.
Ultimately a smoke session is a kettlebell specific, pretty intense interval training session. Again it’s the flexibiltiy of the kettlebell!
CL: OK, here’s a question/comment that I get a lot and just really pisses me off. What’s your response to the skeptics that say “whatever you can do with a kettlebell, you can do with a dumbbell”?
TA: I would say they are full of crap. I can say that with confidence because around 6 yrs ago I was that guy and now I can admit I was 100% wrong. Here’s something to think about… I would bet anyone that I can take the average or even untrained person and teach them how to effectively and safely perform a squat, deadlift and overhead press faster than anyone can do that with a dumbbell.
CL: Great challenge. I wonder if there are any trainers out there that would have the stones to take you up on it? So Troy, you’re a new dad, so I’m sure that you’re just starting to find out what all of us dads already know…that finding time to stay lean, eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle becomes a challenge.
Can you give us some nutrition tips?
TA: Ok a couple quick ones for you
1) You must have prepared protein source available at all times, the moment you don’t you are set up for making bad decisions. Generally for me this means have some fish, polutry, pork or beef that has been grilled in my refrigerator, that way I can just warm it up and add the necessary ingredients for a complete meal.
2) Prep your veggies don’t be lazy once you have purchased your veggies spend the extra 30mins are so prepping/chopping them in to usable forms so you can have them at the ready during the week.
3) Beans – Use them. They add volume, texture, fiber and some protein too. I love black beans personally
4) Flax meal and Metamucil – Add either or both help to make your protein shakes more filling and a little more complete.
CL: So, with the Kettlebell Meltdown, you’ve proven that you can get a great fat loss workout with kettlebells. But, are kettlebell workouts good for developing strength, power and/or endurance?
You can get all of the above depending on the protocol you use with your kettlebells as much as they are unique they are still a resistance training tool.
However, if you want to get into specifics, during my in-season training I pretty much exclusively use kettlebells to keep lean strong and explosive. At nearly 35 I compete and prevail against players that sometimes are more than a decade younger than I am. I attribute a lot of that to the kettlebell work.
Another instance would be my colleague Ken Black he trains almost exclusively with KB’s he came down to Josh’s facility a couple years ago and loaded a 300lb stone and flipped the 900lb tire. I also used the KB a lot during a train-up for strongman contest.
As for endurance I am currently using them to train a couple first time ironman competitors. While not specific to barbell sports like powerlifting and olympic lifting, KB’s can definitely assist them and for an athlete, weekend warrior, or fat loss enthusiast they have more than enough fire power to provide benefit in those areas.
CL: Awesome stuff, Troy. You really know what you’re talking about when it come to training with kettlebells!