by Tim Caffee (Personal Trainer Client)
I will be first to admit that I didn’t get the best start on living a healthy life and working out. There was always something that took priority over working out. My education and having fun took precedence. Once I was out of college and on to my first job, I decided that working out was a good way to relieve the stress and pressures in my life. I joined a gym and basically gravitated to what I knew (machines).
It wasn’t long after working out that my ADD kicked in and I decided I needed to learn more about exercising than just isolation machines. I got my first trainer and learned all about working out with free weights. At the time, I didn’t realize that the trainer I hired was not the best. He basically taught me the way he worked out and babysat me to get through all the reps/sets. I had adequate results, but he wasn’t big on correct form; and in the process I overworked my shoulders and tore my interior rotator cuff in my left shoulder. Needless to say, this set me back and I had to hold off workouts so I could heal.
Over the years, I’ve joined different gyms in different locations around the country. I’ve also continued to work with different personal trainers. My overall fitness levels would oscillate depending on how much time I would spend in the gym.
After moving to Dallas, I decided to find a local gym and start working out again. Dallas Workout The Gym happened to be in the neighborhood and that's where my journey began. I decided to start with a personal trainer and began working with Bobby Hart. What was unique about Bobby’s approach was how he created a custom fitness program that worked with my schedule. Since I was traveling about 50% of the time for work, he incorporated several routines that I could do in my hotel room with only a 6’ x 4’ space. Additionally, he helped me work past my limitations from my shoulder injury and got me working with Kettlebells, Club Bells, Indian Clubs, Mace, and Free Weights. I have more workout “tools in my toolbox” than I’ve every had in my life.
Results are what motivates me today. I’m stronger in my 50s than I ever was in my 20s. I start each day with push-ups and get to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. My energy and productivity levels are consistently high. I can honestly say I’ve had a significant lifestyle change based on the tools I’ve learn and the guidance & support I received from Bobby. If you are not familiar with Dallas Workout The Gym, I highly recommend that you check it out and take the time to talk to Bobby about what you want to achieve. Results are what I was looking for and I found it.
While Mace equipment and workout routines may be something you haven’t heard of, they are nothing new. In fact, the Mace dates back to Upper Paleolithic (or Late Stone Age) period. It was primarily used as a weapon. It began to show up as exercise equipment in the 8th century for training warriors in Indian akharas (i.e. combat training gymnasiums).
The Mace (or Gada) is essentially a weight on the end of a shaft. The longer the shaft, the more resistance you’ll encounter. The basic movement (an around the head swing with a push-pull movement) will train the entire upper body. If the weight is too heavy, chocking up on the shaft will reduce the weight dynamics. Conversely, holding the Mace at the bottom will be more difficult to manage and require more upper body strength.
The three key benefits I’ve seen working with this equipment are:
A weak grip will show up on any pulling movement. For example, your pull-up reps will be limited if you have a weak grip. Circular strength improvement will tighten up your core and give you better stability. Additionally, increasing strength in the hands and lower arms will have a major impact on increasing your upper body endurance, allowing you to reach new heights. As I’ve blogged before about the topic of Injury Corrective Strategy (ICS), Mace workouts are excellent for strengthen muscles and connective tissues to help prevent injuries.
The Mace design forces you to use gravity while also working against it due to its lack of counterbalance. The disproportionate weight dramatically increases the difficulty of the movement stressing all the muscles in the hands and forearms. The Mace not only increases your grip strength, but also works your shoulders, arms, and core.
Here is an example of basic exercise movements that I start my clients with:
Having an array of exercises in your “toolbox” will ultimately help you achieve your fitness goals. At Dallas Workout The Gym, we offer personal trainers and a group workshop (Club Bells & Mace Workshop) to learn the basics and incorporate Mace exercises into your workouts.
I encourage you to explore the Mace and find your inner warrior.
Last week I talked about the benefits of working with Indian Clubs. I wanted to also introduce Club Bells (or Clubbells™ which is a registered trademark of American Academy for Russian Martial Art And Combat Skill, Inc.). Their design is a combination of “modern engineering with ancient principles of strength training”*. There primary purpose is for strength training. What makes them unique is the multi-dimensional effects on your muscles and joints. Basically, the body is a complex organism and lives in a 3-D world. Your workouts should reflect this. You will get more benefit from complex movements instead of isolation exercises. The design of the Club Bell maximizes the challenge of using your whole body to control the movements. Another benefit to consider, dumbbells compress your joints white Club Bells opens up your joints. As I mentioned before, shoulder injuries are the most common injury and Club Bells are also an excellent preventative tool to improve your joint mobility and strength.
Here is a short video of some of the basic movements that I start my clients with using Club Bells.
One of the common questions I get asked is what is the better equipment to use for my workouts: Kettlebells, Indian Clubs, or Club Bells? Well, the short answer is you need to work with all of them. They can work together in harmony, which is why I have included them in my gym and fitness training. I will talk about incorporating all of these very different types of equipment in a future blog.
For now, let’s start with the basics and I encourage you to learn how to use Club Bells properly in your workouts. I offer both a group workshop (Club Bells and Mace Workshop) as well as private 1-on-1 training. Give me a call and let’s work out a program that is right for you.
*Phrase used in an article by Physical Living Health-First Fitness, “The Complete Clubbell Review”, May 2016
One of my focused areas in fitness is Injury Corrective Strategy (ICS). I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future blog. Indian Clubs gained my attention due to their ability to help with shoulder injury recovery. Indian Clubs are light weights (generally 1-3 lbs) made of wood. They work the shoulder joints by doing exercise that uses centrifugal force to open up the joint and help build up the small muscles that help stabilize the joint. They are excellent tools that help with shoulder injury recovery.
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common problems I see with my clients. It is the product of bad form, pushing oneself beyond your limits, or in some cases, just bad judgment that result in an injury.
Injuries are counter-productive to achieving your fitness goals. They can keep you away from the gym while recovering as well as continue to limit your capabilities if not allowed to heal properly. For pro-active protection, preventive exercises are critical to sustain your fitness goals throughout your life.
Indian Clubs not only help with shoulder recovery, but can also help open up the shoulders to give you a wider range of motion.
Here are some of the key benefits for working with Indian Clubs:
For example, one of the exercises that I start my clients is called “the windmill”. Here is a short video of some of the basic moves.
These are some of the basic exercises that are great at the beginning of your workout to open up the shoulders and get blood flowing into the joint.
Give me a call or email is you want more information about private training or join one of our Indian Clubs Workshops.
I was one of the first gyms in Dallas that began using Kettlebells with my clients. Kettlebell is a cast-iron or cast steel weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercise that combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.* It can produce some of the most amazing results when used correctly in your workouts.
As I’m seeing more gyms beginning to incorporate Kettlebells as part of their equipment, I’m concerned that when used incorrectly or with bad form will have a negative impact on you achieving your fitness goals. Along with the adoption of Kettlebells, you can find more books, videos, and other training materials available. However, what I have found is working with Kettlebells is a process. There are some fundamental movements and techniques required for each type of exercise. However, you really get proficient and learn best from doing. Best scenario is having a knowledgeable expert looking at your form and giving you continual guidance on making improvements.
The Kettlebell uses the entire body to create momentum. Think of your body as a gear. The correct form will maximize the body’s ability to make an effective gear and move the weight with the minimal amount of energy. New users of Kettlebells generally move the weight only a few minutes/reps and will need some recovery time. Once you have your form down to an acceptable level, you will be able to move the weight for much longer periods of time. Depending on your workout strategy, you can work with heavy weights to maximize strength gains or lighter weights to focus on cardiovascular and flexibility. Either way, form is critical and you will feel a huge difference once you have good form under control.
I will be offereing Kettlebells 101 Workshops in the fall. If this is something you are interested in learning more about, I encourage you to sign up as I will limit the number of people to maximize benefit to the participants. If you would prefer, we have several private trainers to choose from that will help you get started.
Are you ready for the amazing results achieved using Kettlebells?
* Definition of Kettlebell courtesy of Wikipedia