June 13, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast June 13, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast June 13, 2019

This has been in the works for a few years now. I think I first heard of the different military units working on it in about 2014. Of course, lots of individual Navy SEALS were some of the first ones to jump on the paleo bandwagon. Robb Wolf actually did a bunch of nutrition consulting for them, and one of the big names in sleep research is Dr. Kirk Parsely and his work came directly from him working as doctor working directly with SEALS.
As an interesting side note, way back in the 1950s and 1960s fighter pilots used a ketogenic diet to drop weight fast if they had put on a few pounds (and were at risk of being grounded due to being to big) and there were Air Force directions on how to do it.

Creatine. It’s good stuff. This supplement is probably the most studied and safe sports supplement out there. I would say it is almost mandatory for anyone that avoids red meat for whatever reasons.–ExDZlBUGyiZVj1gjY

Ignore all the ads here, but this is not a bad article on leaky gut. It is simple and not too techie.

IKSC’s July Challenge! I plan on doing this.

Our training – that emphasizes work capacity – is different than “cardio.” There are many forms of endurance training: There is strength-endurance, power-endurance, and then cardiorespiratory endurance. It is important to have a mix of all of those in your training for a variety of reasons.

This week’s video. Short and sweet. Here’s the best example of how to crawl. I do encourage you to buy his book.

May 23, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 23, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 23, 2019

We do “abs” every day. It’s just that we do exercises that make your abs work with the rest of your body at the same time (like they’re supposed to work).

Good article on post-partum body image:

This is the reason I recommend a diet that is ancestrally based, which includes no processed foods.

Exercise technique is slightly different for everyone depending on lots of things. A good coach can see what is safe and optimal for the individual, depending on their level of development.

One of my favorite articles by Steve Maxwell. IKSC’s training philosophy closely resembles this perspective:

Video of the week. This is a few years old, but it one of the best breakdowns of what goes on when you switch from using carbs for fuel and transition to using fat, or “go keto” as everyone likes to say now. It is also a reason why using things like urine strips are not that reliable. With all the faddish ketogenic diet stuff out there now, I try to think those of you at IKSC are at a little higher level of understanding on this topic. This is worth taking the time to sit down and watch.

May 16, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 16, 2019

Got some good links and a video that will really get your brain engaged.

Remember, I’m doing a nutrition class at 7p.m. Monday the 20th. Bring a guest if you want.

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 16, 2019

It is not if, but WHEN, a diet that is not in keeping with our ancestry will produce negative health consequences (sometime between 30-50 years old for most of us, depending on how lucky you are). We can adapt to a modern, agricultural diet for many years, depending on how lucky you are, but at some point we lose that ability to adapt and issues crop up. Here’s a lecture worth your time:

Exercise science is very imperfect. Many times what is found is simply confirming what people have been doing via “Broscience” for decades. This study is no different, and the reason you don’t see “isolation” training very often at IKSC and even then, after using a big, compound movement. Example: We don’t do many bicep curls, but when they are programmed, it is after a bigger movement like pullups, ring rows, bent rows, or carries, which also involve the bicep. The adage “don’t major in minor things” comes to mind. According to this study, single-joint exercises might not even be worth the trouble at all.

Looks like fish oil helps with muscle soreness and recovery.

Vegetables are a good thing, right? Like anything, you can get too much. The topic of oxalates is almost never discussed. This is another reason not to “juice” your foods.

All reasons the trapbar (or suitcase deadlifts) are valuable. The only one I’d add is that you can also farmer’s carries with the trapbar.

More wisdom from Mark Rippetoe: “Exercise variety is not only unnecessary for a novice lifter – and yes, this probably means you – it’s a counterproductive distraction.”

May 9, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 9, 2019

IKSC Weekly Link Blast May 9, 2019

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Knowledge is increasing fast about the connection between the gut biome and mental health. Here is video from a lecture I was fortunate to attend last summer on this topic. NOTE: It is a far cry from the idiotic and insulting marketing campaign Burger King is doing right now exploiting the food/brain connection by packaging foods that are specifically noted to CONTRIBUTE to poor gut health.

Sleep. Here’s a good article from a few years back on ways to optimize your sleep time. We’ll do another class on it sometime.

Is breakfast important? Who said it was the most important meal of the day? I haven’t eaten a “breakfast” in a long time, but if you are going eat early, skip the carbs. That means no cereals, muffins, etc.

A good article on insulin’s role.

What media articles don’t point out about the studies relating meat and cancer.

The conversation around stretching changes every few years, but a constant is that stretching immediately prior to training is mostly useless and just makes you weak and even prone to injury. What is more important is to have strength throughout your full range.

Don’t throw away the salt shaker if you’re worried about high blood pressure. Cut the carbs and sugar.

July 11, 2018

Idaho Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning’s “Three Sets of Ten”

Idaho Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning’s “Three Sets of Ten”

Three sets of 10 reps of a given exercise is a generic recommendation for any number of exercises. You’ll see this in different popular exercise magazines and sometimes given out as a basic recommendation as a basic starter’s workout plan at a commercial gym.

It goes something like this: 3 sets of 8-12 reps of bench press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps of lat pulldown, 3 sets of bicep curls, etc. Rest and work periods are sometimes addressed, but usually not stressed or strictly enforced.

At IKSC, we quickly borrowed some key concepts from various strength and conditioning protocols from sources like Charles Poliquin, Valery Fedorenko, Vince Gironda, etc. to form our own version of “3 sets of 10.”

Instead of 10 reps of each exercise, it became three 10-minute “sets” of three basic exercises:  A  single compound lower-body exercise, a upper-body pull, and an upper-body push. The most common is some variation of squat, some variation of pull, and some variation of a push.

Timed Sets Borrowed from Kettlebell Sport

The concept of timed sets comes from the kettlebell sport world and the World Kettlebell Club’s Strength and Conditioning Quotient, albeit in a very modified format. It also closely mirrors the International Kettlebell Lifting Federation’s BOLT (Believe Overcome Lift Triumph) competition. In these arenas, sets are measured in minutes – not necessarily repetitions – although work is measured in reps per minute (RPM) for training purposes.

So, a 5 minute set = 5 minutes spent on an exercise.  Training sessions are measured not just in max reps completed, but also in the RPM.  For example: If I do an 8-minute set of bicep curls at 8RPM, I am doing eight curls each minute for eight minutes. The protocol for this exercise would be at the start of the minute, I’d do eight reps (which would probably take me 30 seconds) and then rest the remainder of the minute. Start the next set of eight promptly at the top of the next minute. I prefer using an analog wall clock, since the visual of the sweeping second hand is a good cue, but any stopwatch will do. If you aren’t timing in some form, you aren’t training.

3 Sets of 10 Utilizing Squats, Pull, Push

Back to our basic 3 Sets of 10…

Don’t overthink this. “Paralysis by analysis” is a fatal flaw when it comes to exercise. Our bodies are only designed to move so many ways, and when you take an effective multi-joint movement and load it properly, we don’t have to worry much about working each little muscle in isolation. Don’t major in minor things. Our bodies are pretty smart, and when you load things up enough the system ends up working pretty well if you work long enough and hard enough.

A full-range squat loaded with any kind of free weight, or even body weight squats will utilize every muscle of the body, but will mostly be using the legs. A kettlebell or dumbbell goblet squat is nearly a full-body exercise, in that the core musculature and grip is also heavily tasked. Any type of squat could be used, however. I’ve even used back squats, loaded with my bodyweight for this type of work capacity training.

Likewise, a pushup works the chest, shoulders and triceps, but is also a full-body exercise. But, any kind of pushing exercise could be used, just make sure it uses every muscle needed to push. Standing overhead presses are also great choices.

Pulling can be many things. For advanced people, pullups or horizontal rows are good choices, but seated or dumbbell versions of these are also good choices.

One deceptively simple exercise that can be used on its own or as an extra is the loaded carry. Just pick up something heavy (even a pair of dumbells) and carry it for a distance at the start of each minute. Carrying for 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off is a good full-body workout, and is thought by some to be the one of the best single measures of one’s overall strength and functionality. Grip strength, core strength and stability, pelvic stability, balance, and metabolic conditioning all come into play during extended bouts of loaded carries.

3 Sets of 10…Let’s Go!

Simplicity itself.

Pick a squat or lower body exercise and pair it with a weight you can do 10 good solid repetitions with. You’ll also need a clock or stopwatch.

Do a five reps at the top of the first minute. Rest until the next minute starts. Do another set of five. It will be easy for the first few sets. It is designed to be that way. It is about doing quality reps for many small sets with restricted rest periods. Err on the side of light. You can always amp things up next session, but starting out with too much is a sure way to discourage a repeat session. Don’t underestimate this protocol. It can be as hard as anyone can stand.

After the 10 minutes of squats, rest a few minutes and move to the pull and push. Ten minutes of each, using the same format. I use a notebook and a pen or a dry erase board to keep track of minutes, it is easy to talk yourself out of one of the sets.

There Are Sets and then there are Sets.

Some confusion comes up when we start calling timed sets of exercises “sets.” Sets, in the traditional sense means a specific number of repetitions, say five reps. In this sense, if we were to do five sets of five it would mean five repetitions, rest and then repeat that sequence five times.

Here we are calling both the timed period a set and the number of repetitions completed each minute a set. If we were to write out each 10-minute block, it would look like this:

10 X 5, or 10 sets of 5 repetitions each. In our case, we are doing this at a rate of 5 reps per minute to complete all 10 clusters of 5 reps.

Our ultimate goal is to get a volume of quality reps with a weight we would not normally be able to. This is 50 reps of each compound exercise per session. That is a lot, especially if using a challenging weight and exercise.

Frequency and Recovery

I would recommend 48-72 hours between sessions, although you could break it up into a lower-body one day, and upper-body another day. For many, doing all three exercises in one gym session is very time-efficient. You are in and out in well less than an hour, with really only 30 minutes of total working time. It’s not how much time is spent, but the quality of that time that matters. And when doing focused, timed sets each minute, you compact a lot of quality reps into that time. Advanced people often need a few days between sessions because they can literally load this to the point they are absolute jelly at the end of one session and require 4-5 days to fully recover.


This is a general protocol used to build work capacity. While some strength adaptations will occur, it is not a maximal strength program. The goal is to be able to adapt to doing a good deal of work in a given time. This also builds metabolic efficiency.

With that in mind, we don’t increase the weights used unless it is just too easy after the first session. The ideal weight is one that is easy for the first few sets and slowly becomes very hard during the final minutes of each set, but that is still doable. The goal is to do demanding reps successfully, but not to failure.

I recommend changing things up after three to four sessions. In this case, we do this by decreasing the time it takes to do roughly the same amount of total volume. We’ll call these progressions “blocks.”


Block #1

3, 10-minute sets of 5 reps per minute. Repeat 3-5 sessions.

Block #2

3, 8-minute sets of 6 reps per minute. Repeat 3-5 sessions.

(We are doing about the same amount of total work in less time. Note: This means less rest time)

Block #3

7, 7-minute sets of 7 reps per minute.  Repeat 3-5 sessions.

What Should I Do When I Finish?

This is normal question. My usual answer is just to focus on the next day’s work and don’t worry as much about what to do afterwards. This represents what is known in the strength and conditioning world as a meso-cycle. It takes roughly a month, give or take. One thing I’ve found training for years is that everyone is unique, and will require different things at different points, and 3-4 weeks is about as long as a given program is good for. I always thought I was somehow deficient when I wasn’t very good at programming out for 3-6 months in advance, until I listened to an interview with Charles Poliquin in which he said that even top people take a few weeks to adapt, and then some kind of change is needed. This doesn’t necessarily mean different exercises, but maybe just a change in sets or reps.











November 16, 2010

Barbell Deadlifts + Kettlebell Presses + Weighted Pullups = Max Strength Work

Recently, someone asked a question regarding my choice of exercises for heavy strength work.

Jim, In your training logs I notice that you only use barbells for deadlifts, but use kettlebells and bodyweight for most other things. Why is that?

There really is no implement besides the barbell that enables one to progressively load as much weight, so they are necessary for building maximal strength. I find that I can get most of what I need with heavy kettlebell presses and weighted pullups for maximal strength work, but to really load up the lower body I need something more.

The reason I choose the deadlift for my “big lift” is because it carries over into so many other activities and puts a huge demand on your system. This is necessary to get stronger. Since heavy deadlifts will help me run faster, jump higher and punch harder, it is on my list.

I have recently added double kettlebell front squats more for flexibility and core stabilization than for added strength work.

I do not want to start a squat -v- dead debate, but I personally do the deadlift instead for the following reasons:

* I don’t need a spotter or to use the squat rack. I can just drop it if I need to.

* The deadlift works more muscles than the squat (i.e. forearms, traps, etc.).

* The deadlift is all concentric, which is important in avoiding hypertrophy and soreness. My legs are big enough already, and I don’t like being so sore that it affects my martial art or other training. If I was looking to add 20lbs of muscle, I would definitely hit the heavy squats.

* Lifting is an activity people do every single day. One of my main reasons for including this is to prevent injury. The better I am at picking heavy things up, the less likely I am to get hurt doing so.

I do not specialize in this type of training, but add it in a few days per week for balance, and because it carries over into every other type of activity. This is really a “bare minimum” selection of max strength exercises, meaning they cover most of the bases with only a few exercises. I should also add that I rest from 3-5 minutes between each set of each exercise on these days.


November 9, 2010

December Turkish Getup and Kettlebell Swing Challenge

December Turkish Getup and Kettlebell Swing Challenge.

December is right around the corner. Last year a few hardy souls from the Kettlebell Inc. forums accompanied me on a little personal goal I’d set forth for myself involving nothing but Turkish Getups (TGU) and kettlebell swings for the entire month of December. We completed one TGU for every day of the month, and 7,000 swings.

Click here to visit Kettlebell Inc.

So, one on December 1st, two on the 2nd, up to 31 on the 31st of the month. One rep is from floor to standing with the kettlebell fully locked out, on both sides. This equals hundreds of reps of this exercise by the end of the month. We allowed one “Amnesty Day” per week from the exercise, to be taken any time. I think this year, two days off per week is acceptable.

I usually work with kettlebells from 16kg-40kg. Each day I would begin with the 16kg and “run the rack” up to the 40kg, then start back on the 16kg, until I reached the required number for that day.

Swings were completed as follows: 1,000 week #1; 1,500 week #2; 2,000 week #3 and 2,500 week #4, to be broken up in any way, with any weight. Any swing variation was permitted.

Why the TGU?
Some of you may recall that from October 1-November 6th, I did 5,000 kettlebell snatches. This was the third year for this goal.

In case you are wondering why I didn’t publicize it too much, it is because some people simply are not ready to snatch a kettlebell and injuries will likely result in people that are not ready to complete that kind of volume with that particular exercise. It is not very forgiving.

The Turkish Getup is another story. I don’t think you can do too many of them if you are doing them correctly. Yes, you can be stupid and do them with too much weight, too fast, or fail to pay attention and injure yourself. It is far from an “idiot-proof” exercise, that just anyone should attempt without quality instruction. But, since a good number of kettlebell instructors rightly focus on the TGU from the outset of kettlebell exercise, it should be accessible to most beginners.

Other benefits are that it is possible to work around an injury with the TGU. If someone is not able to complete the full movement, then perhaps only progressing to the sitting phase of the exercise (the Half Getup, as it is sometimes called) is appropriate. Also, being as the Christmas season is likely to be chaotic for many, who might not have access to kettlebells all the time, the TGU can be completed with any object. Dumbells, shoes, sandbags, or even just bodyweight work just fine if no kettlebells are available.

Repetition is the best teacher.
There are some lessons that only lots and lots of correct reps can teach. A martial art master once noted that 10,000 reps of each basic strike, block and kick is enough to attain a rudimentary understanding of each movement, but it takes 100,000 reps before anything like mastery occurs.

I recall that during a period in 1997, I went through a phase during my martial art training where I was completing almost 2,000 reps of each basic technique each week. I also recall tournament fighting during that period and being able to strike an opponent before I even realized I’d done so. I won’t over-intellectualize something that works, all I can do is work hard to somehow get the same result again.

I have found that the TGU is sort of “self-correcting.” Meaning, failure to do things like activate the lat and “seat” the shoulder will become obvious after enough reps with enough weight. Again, quality instruction is key here to avoid injury in the beginning, and to ensure that you are doing the movement correctly. I would advise using different weights throughout each training session.

The kettlebell swing is also something that is very basic, and while proper instruction is absolutely essential in the beginning, lots and lots of reps will be the best teacher. I think you’ll find that it is almost impossible to do 7,000 swings in one month with any appreciable weight incorrectly.

Benefits of the TGU and Kettlebell Swing:
Here is where things get a little subjective. When I did this last year, I noted that every muscle in my upper body stood out, and I felt stronger in every movement. I kick myself now for not taking detailed stats before and after, but I didn’t expect the gains to be so pronounced.

For lack of a better explanation, I felt like my whole body moved much more fluidly. I felt zero pain in my left shoulder, which had been bothering me for several months. It was like I had just given my body an overhaul.

I view the TGU as an injury prevention, flexibility and stabilization drill, not as a stunt or “max load” type of exercise. It is about making your body injury-proof.

Jeff Martone, of Tactical Athlete, credits this exercise with rehabilitating a laundry list of shoulder injuries, and says that it is rumored that the old time strongmen (the guys in the leopard skin tights and big mustaches) didn’t teach aspiring strongmen any exercise until they could do the TGU with 100lbs. Check out the link below for an article by Jeff on the TGU.
The Turkish Get-up

I know that the volume of kettlebell swings I did had something to do with it, as well. The legs, glutes, abdominals, back and cardiovascular system are taxed heavily during the swing. The final week includes almost 500 per day.

How many people do you know lose a pant size between Thanksgiving and Christmas? I didn’t, because I was already pretty lean, but I will say that at least one person reported that kind of result.

Who is in?

January 16, 2010

New Boise Kettlebell Training Website

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — @ 6:34 am

Hi all,

I just created a new website featuring Boise and Treasure Valley kettlebell training.

Please take a moment and post a photo, video or add comments on the forum.

Visit Boise Kettlebell Training

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