so, kettlebells
Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 23:54
Eric in fitness

I've been using barbells for a couple of years now and the "problem" is that the minute you start talking about fitness you end up talking about muscles and strength, and the best way to build those (safely, quickly, and proportionately) is with barbells. Which means everything else, basically, is inferior. You can disagree, but look at any professional athlete's strength training program and you will see barbells at the core. Even if you're just trying to be "toned", whatever the hell that means, you still will want to achieve results the best you can in the quickest amount of time. Barbells again.

I was really at a loss for what to do from a fitness standpoint as we get ready to leave our first world accoutrements behind. I even went so far as to look into bringing a full Olympic barbell with bumper plates. Yes, I'm just that absurd. But reality won out and after talking to my lifting buddy (a requirement in the barbell world), I turned to kettlebells. My current fitness program I've got broken into conditioning and strength training.

Strength training builds muscle, builds bone, and makes you (duh) stronger. I could write paragraphs on why these are so important but I doubt I'll convince anyone of anything so instead, here's my strength training program, every other day:

30 minutes, constantly looping through these. Start with the lighter bell, move up to heavy for the middle of the workout, then go back to medium as fatigue kicks in:

- 20 pushups (or ring dips, preferably)
- 15 dead clean and jerks, each arm.
- 15 dead snatches, each arm.
- 15 single arm swings, each arm.
- 5 turkish get ups, each side.
- 5 wind mills, each side.
- 20 double arm swings
- 10 single arm rows (or weighted ring pullups, preferably)

Conditioning is a little different, but fortunately I've got two things on my life right now that fit the bill and I enjoy doing. Every other day (the non kettlebell days):

- Paddleboarding. 30-60 minutes on a windy day with some chop will beat the crap out of you, or at least it beats the crap out of me.
- Running. It takes patience and determination to "get your legs", so to speak. Ask anyone who can run five miles enjoyably and they'll tell you about how much it hurt in the beginning when they could barely run down the block. Once you get your legs, you don't want to lose them. Running even once a week (in addition to all the other stuff) helps keep you in the game. There's something about the beating it puts on your legs where if you don't do it enough your body stops keeping you in shape to do it again, and there you are not being able to run down the block.

Equipment wise, I have the following items to support all of that:

- Three kettlebells. A 44lb, a 35lb, and a 26lb (or something like that). I'll add a 53lb before I go. Yes, heavier is often better, but that's a future blog post discussion. Add two more for Charlotte in smaller weights, although she's using my 26 more and more.
- A pair of running shoes.
- A set of gymnast rings with straps, which lets me set them up nearly anywhere. Trees, pavilions, rafters, children's playground sets, whatever.
- Some chalk.
- A paddleboard, but that's also a mini-dinghy and a sort-of-surfboard so that doesn't really count.

A lot of folks ask about "what are you doing to do when sailing?" The average voyaging sailboat spends roughly 10% of it's time underway, so I'm not really concerned about that. I can get the kettlebells to the beach or dock, do my thing on shore, and put a u-lock through them if we'll be there for a few days. My plan covers 90% of our time, and the other 10% I don't really care about. It's nice to take breaks and banging around on the boat is pretty hard on you anyway, not to mention that swinging weights around while you're bucking in the swell sounds like a great way to rip your arm off.

Article originally appeared on Rebel Heart (
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