Life Advice From the Ill-informed, and Knowing Who To Trust

It was hot out and my son was dogging it at lacrosse. My daughter decided she urgently needed to pee. And so my wife ran with her to a nearby friend’s house. I mean, she wasn’t going to miss anything on the field after all.

Our two dogs were pulling me in opposite directions. Both of them deciding it was their mission to bark at any and every living creature that walked by.

Not the relaxing evening I’d hoped for.

On the way home, my son and I had a talk about hustle. I explained to him that he can miss shots, drop the ball, and/or get burned on defense and I couldn’t care less. But in our house, we hustle. And I’d better not see him walking on the field again.

We started our bedtime routine when we got home. My wife, daughter, and I were all ready to read, but my son was still getting out of the shower. Slowly.

He’d obviously taken our “hustle” talk to heart.

While waiting, I was expressing my frustrations from the day (i.e. whining like a baby) to anyone who would listen when my seven-year-old daughter offered some advice.

She turned to me with a deadpan face and said — and I quote — “Maybe you should try kissing another woman.”

I was in no place mentally or emotionally to deal with this advice. But my wife, bless her soul, suggested I try it and, “See what happens.”

Suddenly, my problems didn’t seem so bad.
My situation, at is were, could have been much worse.

This was a great reminder that I need to be careful of who I take advice from. Marriage and life advice from a seven-year-old, perhaps, is not the best.

“Squats hurt your knees. Never squat low or you’ll ruin your knees!” – This was the advice I heard all through high school from my P.E. teachers.

Like my daughter and her advice to commit adultery, my teachers meant well. But their advice was bad.

I spent my early athletic career following well-meaning but bad advice.

That was unfortunate…

We’ve come a long way in the world of strength and conditioning since then. Not only do we squat deep and heavy again, but we do a lot of other things right, too. There are a lot of well-meaning and well-informed people in the field these days.

With that being said, however, it’s important to note that there are also a lot of well-meaning but ill-informed folks out there, too.

Especially when it comes to kettlebells.

To some, a kettlebell is nothing more than an oddly shaped dumbbell. They don’t know how to use it and waste far too much time “exploring” what it can do. Without any formal education, though, their expeditions into the kettlebell world are doomed from the get-go.

Like a high school teacher equating doing squats to doing drugs, a coach who has not learned how to properly use a kettlebell can really hold you back.

I wanted to coach kettlebells. And I didn’t want to hold anyone back. That’s why I took on the intensive Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) in 2018.

Besides learning from the best in the world, I had two additional goals going into this weekend. I wanted to leave with two signatures:

  1. The signature at the bottom of my grade sheet, indicating I had become a Certified RKC.
  2. Dan John’s signature on my copy of his book “Never Let Go”. The book I told him changed my life.

I’m happy to announce that I was successful in both endeavors.

Not only that, but I also left with one of the greatest memories of one my athletic career: Dan John handing me my certificate, saying how impressed he was with his “friend from Canada”.

He then quietly asked me to send him a Facebook friend request.

And I thought that was just the best.

Going from a novice kettlebell lifter to crushing the RKC wasn’t easy. Leading up to the big weekend, I had to make sure I listened to the right people.

There are countless “Kettlebell Experts” out there. And it would have been easy to become confused and frustrated had I tried to listen to them all.

So I didn’t. I picked one person and did what he said.

Going into the RKC, I devoured as much as I could from Dan John. I figured I couldn’t go wrong listening to the guy who would decide my fate at the certification. Call me crazy.

I read a bunch of Dan’s books: Never Let Go, Easy Strength, Intervention, The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge. And countless of his articles, including this one: Dan John: Principles of Training for the Russian Kettlebell Certification.

I followed this six-week program in that article to a T. And, unsurprisingly, it worked.

The professor provided a free guide on how to pass the exam. I followed the program and good things happened. Seems pretty logical, right?

Well, you would be AMAZED at how many of the participants never bothered to read that article. Never mind actually follow the program.

No wonder over 30% of the group failed.

Before traveling to New York for the RKC, I understood Dan’s workouts, his methods, and his philosophy.

Rather than listen to the masses, I listened to one person.

Dan John was who I put my trust in.

And it paid off.

Since my time in New York, I’ve become a better athlete and coach. And I’ve been spreading the good word about the kettlebell every chance I get.

Our kettlebell crew, the Conviction Kettlebell Club has taken off. And for good reason.

With just three forty-five minute workouts each week, the results have been insane. Everyone has gotten stronger, improved their mobility, and completely changed their body composition.

Our programming is simple. We focus on the basics and I try to reinforce everything I learned from the great coaches at the RKC.

I feel like I’m a good coach. But I’m not a genius. And I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but I’ve paid my dues and learned from them.

When I look back, I realize my coaching career has been built around finding good people to listen to. Then doing as they say.

The key, it seems, is putting your trust in the right people. And I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve found a lot of the “right people” to trust.

And now, as Dan John would say, I’m “just handing down what I was handed down.”

P.S. If you want five of my favorite strength building, fat annihilating kettlebell workouts, you can get your free copy here.

15:00 Circuit with the Competition Kettlebells

Nothing too crazy here. Just a solid 15:00 session before supper.

I took out the 16, 24, and 32 kg competition bells (as that’s about all I have left after lending the rest out to teammates haha) and did clean and presses and loaded carries.

First, I hit the double kettlebell clean and presses. I went 32 kg x 2, 24 kg x 3, 16 kg x 5 for five rounds with minimal rest.

After that, I did five rounds of farmer walk with the 32s, double kettlebell rack walk with the 24s, and double kettlebell waiter walk with the 16s. Just ten meters of each movement for five rounds.

Pretty easy, but this easy work adds up over time.

Loaded Carry Medley: Work Capacity At Its Finest

This is one of my mainstays.

Pick five different objects, carry each for 100 meters, and repeat for two rounds – one kilometer of non-stop fun.

Bonus points if you wear your ruck throughout.

Today was two sixty pound sandbags, two cinder blocks, a 110-pound sandbag, the yoke with a 25-pound plate dangling from each side, and two 24 kg kettlebells.

After my five rounds were done, I took the Odyssey Log for a few trips, too.

Kettlebell Deep 6 – Can You Finish This Kettlebell Challenge?

Introducing the newest Conviction Kettlebell Club Challenge – Deep 6.

This challenge consists of the six key kettlebell movements: the swing, snatch, clean, press, front squat, and get-up.

To achieve this challenge the participant must complete the following for five rounds on each side with no rest:

  • 5 one-arm swings
  • 5 snatches
  • 5 clean and presses
  • 5 one-arm front squats
  • 1 reverse get-up

Full details can be found here:

This was my first attempt at the challenge.

I went with the 24kg bell and was glad that I did! The 28 would have killed me.

I know my form wasn’t picture perfect at times. I’ll fix that if I never decide to take this nasty challenge on again.

Kettlebell Mobility Flow + Carries

This kettlebell mobility flow is a great warm-up or standalone session.

Use a light kettlebell and complete the following:

  • Arm-bar
  • Get-up
  • Windmill

Then move right into:

  • Waiter walk
  • Rack walk
  • Suitcase Carry

I alternated round with a 16kg and 20kg bell today. Five rounds with each bell per side.

The Goblet Squat Challenge

I came across the Goblet Squat Challenge when Alwyn Cosgrove posted it to his Instagram account. The challenge was to do as many goblet squats as possible in one set using the kettlebell that’s closest to half your bodyweight.

I figured I’d give it a go.

I used the 40kg bell. Max used to 20kg, which is closer to 60% of his bodyweight, and the most weight he’s ever squatted. He “maxed out” at four or five, then came back a minute or two later and hit a set of 10+ haha.

I had a goal of 100, but was unsuccessful.

It was a fun challenge, though. I’ll try it again for sure!

Rest Days Are Important… But That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Train Every Day

There’s something that’s come up quite a bit recently. It appears I come off as a hypocrite.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll note that I train every day. The days where I don’t do some form of training are few and far between.

And so when I preach to others the importance of resting and recovering, yet train daily myself, I look like a hypocrite.

Here’s the thing, though…

Yes, I train every day. But there are two important, often overlooked factors on how and why I do it.

First, I’ve worked up to this ability to train daily, often multiple times a day, over the past two decades.

In the fall, I’d go from football to wrestling to the gym.

In the winter and spring, I’d go from one wrestling practice to another. Then to the gym.

In the summer, it was track and field to baseball or lacrosse, and then to the gym.

Five or six days a week, I had multiple practices for a variety of sports. And I lifted weights every day on top of it. Even Christmas and New Year’s.

And, well, that counts for something.

Four years of consistent training doesn’t just disappear. The work capacity and ability to recover from one session to the next that I developed has stuck with me.

So, yes, I train every day. But I’ve been practicing it for a long time.

If you want to train daily, you need to start small and slowly increase your work capacity over time.

The second and most important point is that I don’t train hard every day.

In fact, very rarely do I go above an 80% effort level.

Once or twice a week I’ll have a “tough” workout. These “tough” workouts, though, are still kept at 80% effort.

I save my 100% for once every few months.

Giving a true 100% takes a lot out of me. If I tried to do it every week, my “100%” would keep getting worse. I couldn’t recover properly. My training cycle would be a complete mess. And my 100% would start to look a lot like my 75%.

And that doesn’t sound like fun.

80%, tops, once or twice a week, allows me to stay fresh and stick with an appropriate training program. A training program where the majority of my sessions are at a pretty easy, 30-50% effort level.

My daily rucks, tire drags, and most of my work capacity sessions… they’re actually pretty easy. They’re fun. They’re light. They keep me active and engaged and, essentially, these are my rest days.

Rest days are important. I’m not going to dispute that. But taking a “rest day” doesn’t mean you need to sit on the couch, watch TV, and eat junk all day.

A rest day can simply be a day where we don’t train as hard, we switch up the activity, or we focus on other aspects of our goals.

A rest day is a perfect opportunity to go for a nice, easy hike. It’s active, but it’s active recovery. And it will do more to restore your mind and body than beat it down.

A rest day can also be a great opportunity to work on our diet. We can shop for and prepare the food we need for the week ahead. Sometimes I’ll grab my ruck and shop for groceries with it on. And it’s a great rest day!

Rucking can be really tough. But it can also be pretty easy. An easy ruck is a great way to give our mind and body the rest it needs. Using half the weight as usual and keeping the pace nice and slow is a solid rest day in my books.

If you’re a runner, going for a bike ride or swim – again, at a leisurely easy pace – can make for a great rest day. You’re still moving, but it’s “different”.

And sometimes that’s all a “rest day” needs to be. Different.

A lighter weight. A slower pace. A new activity.

Now, I’m not saying rest days are the time to try a new CrossFit workout. Nor are they the days to go for a personal record or take on some crazy ruck challenge.

But Having a rest day does not mean you need to become a sloth.

Training is something I love to do.

I would rather go for a ruck, sprint up hills, press some kettlebells, or drag a tire than almost anything else in the world. Being able to do it every day is important to me. This is why I need to train appropriately.

As much as I’d love to go hard and #EmbraceTheSuck every day, I know that doing so means I would need to take a few days off each week. And that’s not something I’m prepared to do.

So instead, I stay within my limits. I train in a state of “Flow“.

I enjoy it and remind myself I’m doing it because it’s fun, and it’s what makes me “me”.

And, as it turns out, I get a whole lot better in the process.

Short, Fast Hill Repeats

We switched up our Saturday hills today.

After rucking to a shorter, steeper hill, we did a 5-second hill sprint (25 meters) every 30 seconds for 15:00.

This allowed for just enough time to walk back down the hill and regroup before sprinting again. My heart rate stayed aerobic the entire time, yet I was able to run fast and explosively.

A solid work capacity training session that I’ll be sticking with for a few weeks. Fifteen minutes this time around, I’ll see how far I can push the time before either my speed drops or heart rate increases too much.

Sandbag Bear Complex Carry Work Capacity Training

Here’s a quick sandbag session from yesterday.

This is a great one you can sneak in throughout the day as it takes less than 10 minutes.

All you’re going to do is a Bear Complex (power clean/front squat/push press/back squat/push press) for ten rounds, with a 100-meter sandbag carry after each back squat.

That’s ten rounds of the Bear Complex with 1km sandbag carry.

Simple and effective.

Throw it in throughout your day, do it as a quick workout before a meal, or make it a full session and hit it for multiple rounds.