The question keeps being asked: how can I maintain my strength base until next term?
The workout below focuses on two moves and two moves only:
- The Turkish Get Up
Hang on a second, where are the squats, deadlifts, push ups amongst others? Don't these two exercises really cross those barriers and help me maintain my gains?
First of all Yes! Secondly... they'll give you a whole lot more for free :)
As some of you may now, Pavel Tsatsouline was the man responsible for popularising the kettlebell in America starting in the late 1990s. He had a long time relationship with the DragonDoorb but a few years ago broke away from DragonDoor and the RK (Russian Kettlebell Certification) and started a new organisation, StrongFirst. His most recent book is titled "Simple and Sinister" and it details his new version of Program Minimum, the updated version of the programming he described in the classic "Enter the Kettlebell" book.
Throughout the StrongFirst community, there are thousands of people globally who repeat this workout daily to keep fit and strong, from Navy Seals Special Forces to mere mortals like you and I. Personally speaking, if I have to choose one work out to complete most days to get me bang for my buck, it would be Program Minimum.
Equipment Required - Two Kettlebells ($100 second hand or from Aldi, ebay or other discount provider). Don't worry about getting anything fancy, just get something that does the job. An old dumbbell works, although not as ideal as the main weight isn't positioned over the wrist (more on each side) but we work with what we have. If you do choose to buy a couple of kettlebells then remember, these are legacy items, they will outlive you so as far as I see, your purchase will be a worthy investment.
Starting weights - the creator recommended 16kg for an "average strength" man and 8kg for a woman. If you can go heavier that's great.
Workout frequency - from 1-4x per week
Warmup - 10 minutes of wall squats (bodyweight squats facing a wall), "pump" stretches (a combo downward dog/hip flexor stretch), and "halos" (kettlebell passes around the head to warm up the shoulder). Nothing fancy, the actual program is minimal impact and should warm you up by design.
Swing workout - 12 minutes, sets of swings with "active rest" between sets (such as jogging, pushups, pull ups, planks, etc). The number of reps and sets is not specified and is left to the individual.
Getup workout - 5 minutes of continuous getups, alternating sides, no rest. Don't count reps (yeah right).
The progression is kind of nebulous. Eventually you graduate to the RKC "Rite of Passage" which incorporates snatches, clean & press, and complex rep schemes like ladders and randomisation that I have been coaching in the HIT sessions but for now, it's just increase the intensity through time spent on the exercises.
What the above represents is a HARD continuous 30 minute workout. Our warm up strives for a perfect squat pattern, the kettlebell swing section works our deadlift movement and our Get Up practice will build raw strength, keep mobility high and hit endurance it a high level of mental focus.
For those that are looking at the above workout thinking it looks easy, if you are like the thousands of StrongFirst devotees who can increase the intensity of the workout themselves while maintaining quality reps, the above an be devastatingly effective. That being said, the concept underpinning PM is lift/swing what you feel. Feeling tired, lack of sleep and energy? Muscles sore? Swings less, add in more rest time. Feeling fresh and full of zing? Overclock the eccentric part of the swing, move faster, rest less, lift heavier BUT keep quality form throughout.