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76 posts categorized "Kettlebell Workouts"

December 07, 2014

Last Day of the 25% Off Sale

If you haven't gotten Fat Loss Happens on Monday for 25% off, this is your last chance.

If you think it might be time to stop trying new diets, and start working on habits, this is your book.



Order from the publisher, a Bundle that includes: PrintKindle, PDF, iBooks, and Audiobook:  

The print book is a pre-order, it will ship out on December 5th.  The Kindle, PDF, iBooks, and Audiobook versions you'll be able to download immediately!

Full Set - Print, eBook, Audiobook:  $49.00  $29.99


25% off of Print version from the publisher now:

Print Book - Sale: $24.95  $18.71


You can order the Kindle version in Amazon's Kindle Store now: 

Download immediately!

Kindle - $9.99


Sale ends in 24 Hours!

*Right now all of the versions are available at Amazon - Paperback, Kindle, and Audible.  But to get the 25% off, get it from the publisher today.

November 23, 2014

Fat Loss Happens on Monday up to #1 on Amazon!


Plus you can pre-order print, kindle, or audiobook now!


Just saw this morning!  Fat Loss Happens on Monday is up to #1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Weight Training!!!!


We put the Black Friday Sale together way faster than we thought!  You can pre-order now!

Pre-order from the publisher, a Bundle that includes: Print, Kindle, PDF, iBooks, and Audiobook:

Full Set - Print, eBook, Audiobook: Black Friday Sale $49.00  $29.99

Pre-order the Print version from the publisher now:

Print Book - Black Friday Sale: $24.95  $18.71

You can pre-order the Kindle version in Amazon's Kindle Store now: 

Kindle - $9.99

We got the pre-sale for the print book together way faster than we expected! 

November 22, 2014

The 3 Things That REALLY Drive Fat Loss?

The problem in today's fitness industry isn't that there isn't enough fat loss information out there, it's the opposite — there's too much.  

It all seems like it conflicts, everyone says different things.  Most of them are wrong.  For you, the reader, it can be frustrating and exhausting trying to sort through all of the crap out there.

It's the same with my in-person clients: The first thing any client ever asks me is always "what about this meal?" or "what if I ate this?"

Over six million people have come to this blog with searches like "What did ________ celebrity eat?" or "What is ________ celebrity's workout?"

Everyone wants to know what to do.

I'm going to give you the simple, clear, rules to the game, so you've got "what" handled now and forever.  And having "what" handled, saves you time, energy, and gives you a short-cut to your fat loss results.

FLHM Results Key

If you want to change your scale weight - it's all about quantity of food.  If you want to impact how lean and "toned" you are, it's about getting stronger and eating better quality of food.

And if you want some combination of the two, maybe lower scale weight and getting leaner, you want to look at all three: Quanity of food, quality of food, and how strong you're getting in your workouts.

It's useful to look at it like this, especially since the cliché is the woman who thinks she needs to lose 10 pounds, but really could stay the same weight and just lean up — we wouldn't need to look at quantity very much, we'd be looking at quality of food and strength.

Or the guy who needs to lose 30 pounds — he doesn't need to be nearly as concerned about quality (at first) or even strength, so much as just getting his quantity of food under control.

While each client may need to look at all three a little bit, I'm a big fan of focusing on what the one thing that's going to get you the biggest results right now.

So lets take a look at the three elements, in the order people normally ask:

1.) Workouts:

Workouts are 1/3 of the equation.  The mistake people make is that they treat the workouts like they are the whole deal.

The #1 thing you need to know about your workouts: They should be reasonable.  It's about doing workouts that are maintainable for the long term.  

Workouts that crush you are totally unnecessary for fat loss.  And worse, really ass-kicking workouts trick you into thinking you don't need to work on the food.  

Your main workout focus should be getting stronger: Harder pushup variations, heavier kettlebells for squats and swings, getting your first pull-up, deadlifting more, ect.  

That being said, there's really no hurry.  If you add a rep here and a rep there, and move up a kettlebell size in a few months, that's all you need to do.  Because of the big jumps between kettlebells, adding reps is a great way to bridge the gap and measure progress.

Lastly, it's a smart idea to periodize workouts.  If all you did was do easier workouts at the beginning of each month, and harder workouts at the end of the month, that would be a smart way to periodize your workout program.  Simple: Do less sets of each exercise the first week, and add a set each week, doing the most sets at the end of the month.  Then re-start the cycle the next month.

The body responds really well to cycles of intensity and volume.  The body will crash and burn if you try to kill yourself in the gym all of the time.

Getting stronger is about getting you leaner.


2.) Quantity of Food

This one is a loaded topic, because the media is stupid and cruel.  Magazines, books, TV, internet — everyone wants to tell you that quantity doesn't matter.  They do this to sell magazines, books, and TV shows.  

They come up with sensational headlines, because if you watch they get advertisers.  If you click, they get ad revenue.  It's about getting you to look, it's not about educating you.

If if was about educating you, they would all say this: Every bit of research we've ever had on losing weight shows clearly and indisputably that the only factor in losing scale weight is how much food you eat.

Quanitity of food is about scale weight.

3.) Quality of Food

This has become a ridiculous hornets nest the last couple years.  So lets simplify A LOT.

There are no black and white rules.  It's a continuum.

If you eat fast food for lunch every day, you don't need to worry about going gluten-free or zero carb.  Maybe just focus on making yourself a sandwhich.

If you having trouble working protein into your diet, you don't need to worry about going 100% Paleo.  Maybe just look at adding some eggs or cottage cheese or greek yogurt to your breakfast.  Even a protein shake (gasp!) would be a good step forward.

If you haven't eating a green vegetable since you were 8 years old, you don't need a vegan juice fast.  Maybe buy some frozen broccoli, and add it to a meal once in a while.

I've gotten clients results on EVERY popular diet out there right now.  I actually don't care which one you like, they all work.

We ease our way into better quality a little bit at a time.  People get GREAT results adjusting quality in stages.

Whatever you think the "perfect diet" is (again, it doesn't matter which one), you don't need to be at the perfect diet next week.  You just need to take one small step closer to it.

I'll tell you a dirty little secret — my clients take one step closer to perfect every week...  and most of them they hit their body composition goals before they ever get to the "perfect".

Quality is about getting leaner.

So Now That You Know What, Focus on How

Now that we've got the "what" completely clear, we can get to actually making a difference for you — and that's all "how".

We can start to dig in on how the leanest people don't get distracted by the newest diet (what) or the newest workout (what), they put all of their energy into their food habits (how) and their workout schedule (how).

Focusing on minute details of what to do is actually a stalling technique.  The more time you spend on little details, the farther you'll be from your goals.

People who are rockstar lean don't have any diet secrets, they have better habits.  And so we're going to dig in on what it looks like to work on your habits.  Which is why I love the hashtag #habitsnotdiets

Now that you're clear on what - you can focus on the only game worth playing — changing your diet habits.

We're Give Away Free Chapter of Fat Loss Happens on Monday

Top 5Most of the time, it's hard to change habits.  That's why I put together this book — so you can get a smart, simple, step by step plan for implementing diet habits.

Most people fail because they take on too many habits or they take on the wrong habits.  We'll show you exactly what the right habit is for you, and how you can actually make it work in your life.

Obviously it's THE book on diet habits.  Really cool, it's already #5 on Amazon's weight training chart, and it isn't even out yet!

170c25cFat Loss Happens on Monday will be released on Friday, November 28th.  We're doing a package and a sale on the On Target Publishing website.

For those that don't know, Laree (up to the right) is my amazing editor!

Also features, of course, the Legendary Dan John.  Getting to do a book with one of the most respected strength coaches in the world was pretty awesome =)

Fat Loss Happens on Monday is available for pre-order now - click here to pre-order 

September 11, 2014

Update on Fat Loss Happens on Monday — Proofreading


Just got a low-res hardcopy proof of the book.  

Super, super, super stoked!!!!!  

Have never been more happy to be proofreading something than I am right now =)

July 31, 2014

My Full Review of Two Kettlebell Workout Program Lean & Lovely

NegharOk, no words for how much I love this new e-book by Neghar Fonooni, RKC2. 

Granted, it's got everything I like: It has a really amazing progression from single kettlebell workouts to two kettlebell workouts (I've been a huge proponent of using two kettlebells for fat loss workouts forever) and it's got a really, really amazing - dare I say kind - section on food.

First off, lets take a look at the awesomeness of Neghar Fonooni - you probably know her either from the legendary Girls Gone Strong, or you know her from her personal website Eat, Lift and Be Happy.  Even if you've never been to either of her sites, you could just look at the names and get a sense of everything Neghar stands for.

Neghar talks a lot about how to improve yourself from a positive place instead of from a negative place.  Self-love is a major theme of the book, and it's both wonderful and honest.  The section on gratitude is amazing, the part about social situations and alcohol is amazing.  There is a lot of really genius stuff in the mindset and nutrition sections.  Again, pretty much what you'd expect from someone who's website is called Eat Lift and Be Happy.

Here's a cool quote from the beginning of the book:

"Every single women who has fully committed to this journey, has emerged renewed, remade, and effortlessly at ease with their bodies. That’s the Lean & Lovely intention—to change your body by changing the way you view and treat yourself."

RKC Assistant Instructors 2011

So, I'm totally biased - I met Neghar at the RKC certification in 2011, when we were both Assistant Certification Instructors.  

She not only had amazingly perfect kettlebell form, but she was also superhuman strong.

The workout portion of the book has three phases, but also includes an awesome Primer Phase, that I would recommend doing, so actually four phases.  I *always* recommend multiple phase programs.

This particular program ramps up in intensity, complexity, and load.  And the sets and reps change each month also.  Lets take a look at each phase:

Primer Phase:

• Short workouts with an emphasis on technique

• Learning and mastering new movements

• Longer recovery periods

Lean and Lovely: Phase One Eat-lift-be-happy

• 30-45 minute workouts

• 20-30 minute complexes

• Strength-based fat loss

• Intense finishers

• Moderate rest periods

Lean and Lovely: Phase Two

• 45-60 minute workouts

• 20-30 minute complexes

• Learning and mastering new movements such as the snatch

• A more distinct strength focus

• Shorter recovery periods during metabolic resistance training

• Option chin-up practice

Lean and Lovely: Phase Three Lean-lovely

• 45-60 minute workouts

• 20-30 minute complexes

• More advanced movements and double kettlebell work

• Optional chin-up and barbell work

So you can see that the workouts progress both in complexity and intensity throughout the program.  It starts with single kettlebell work, and works into two kettlebell work, and from less complex movements into more complex movements.

I really like the progression of the phases, and the way the workouts are set up.

There is also an entire other e-book in the package called Sweat Sessions.  This is SO GENIUS I was kinda pissed off that I didn't think of it first =)  She has optional extra workouts, depending on what level you're at and how you feel that day.  There are metabolic workouts to kick your ass, all the way down to some easy bodyweight stuff to get moving, get a little sweat going, and recover.  It's so wonderful and smart.  On the weeks you feel great you might do a little extra.  On weeks you're stressed or tired you can do just the main program.

The nutrition program could probably be summed up by it's first line:

"My philosophy on food is quite simple: Food is equal parts love and sustenance."

She goes way into deliciousness.  The whole pattern is replacement instead of elimination, and has guides on what to replace your favorite comfort foods with.  It's also really genius.

I could keep going, but obviously this was a program I really got into.  Like I said - I'm totally biased - we both come from the same school of kettlebell training and have some similar philosophies there, and in terms of the nutrition program, she's articulated some things in genius ways that I wish I had written.  Things like a section on fear of missing out on foods are just so great that I can't help recommending it.

Truth be told, there just aren't very many really great fat loss workouts out there by RKC or SFG instructors.  I'm really stoked about this new one by Neghar because she pairs her kettlebell awesomeness with a really great philosophy on food and body.

It's good for my heart and soul to see a program relate to food like this.

by Josh Hillis 
Author of the upcoming Fat Loss Happens on Monday, with Dan John 
Head Coach at PowerHour Group Personal Training in Denver.

Click below to check it out/get it:


3 ways yoga can help fat loss

When it comes to fat loss, research has shown over and over again that fast, metabolic workouts are the best way to ignite crazy fat burning and take your fitness to the next level. Working faster (not longer) and taking super short breaks will help create a massive metabolic disturbance, putting you on the fast track to fat loss.

That’s actually why I like kettlebells so much for fat loss, and why I'm stoked about Neghar Fonooni’s Lean & Lovely program.

This type of total-body, progressive, multi-phase metabolic training should be the foundation of what you do in the gym. It will make sure that you are simultaneously building strength, developing lean shapely muscle, and of course blasting fat like crazy. It’s the most efficient and effective way to get fit, as it combines everything you need into one workout—saving you time without costing you results. 

But again, what makes these workouts so effective is how intense they are. Because they are so completely challenging, you simply cannot expect to do these workouts every day.  

*I highly caution you against taking a “balls to the wall” approach every single day, as you’ll find that it actually stalls your fat loss goals rather than supercharging them.

It's about getting the balance of workout intensity to recovery just right.

Most people naturally assume they should be doing cardio on their off days to encourage fat loss, which is actually not the most effective choice. In fact, you could totally take it to the next level with something you might not expect: YOGA.

You might think that yoga isn’t really effective for losing fat—but I want you to look at it another way.

Yoga isn’t just stretching, and it isn’t always slow. It can be challenging and fast paced, and can be an amazing combination of strength, cardio, and flexibility, and still not compete or compromise your other workouts.

Yoga is, without a doubt, the perfect way to add low-impact, high-yield exercise into your routine on days when you aren’t hitting the gym. It’ll help you to recover from intense, metabolic resistance workouts, and won’t steal from the energy necessary to crush it at the gym.

So here are three cool reasons to consider yoga for your workout off days:


Vinyasa yoga (or flow yoga) is a total body, power based type of yoga practice. This means that you’ll be moving from one pose to the next, using your own bodyweight as resistance. You’ll flow from standing poses to inversions, arm balances, and core focused movements.

In a Vinyasa yoga practice, you’ll use your legs as a base, often attempting one-leg poses, and engage your glutes for stability. You’ll strengthen and sculpt your shoulders through inverted poses and plank poses, and you’ll work on core strength and stability the entire time. With Vinyasa, you are constantly moving, and constantly using your entire body.

While these flows are incredibly challenging, they’re also incredibly low impact. This means that even when you aren’t crushing you metabolic workouts, you can use your entire body to tackle fat loss without overtraining. 


When your muscles are sore after a challenging weight training workout, what they really need isn’t dormancy—it’s blood flow. That’s why it’s super useful to incorporate active recovery on your off days, encouraging blood flow to broken down muscle tissue.

Yoga is the perfect form of active recovery because it’s low impact, total body, and works on flexibility and mobility—all in one.

Practicing yoga on your off days will help you train harder on gym days by improving blood flow through active recovery and diminishing delayed onset muscle soreness.   


Josh attempts to yoga... (my first try at the intermediate Lean and Lovely flow)


Metabolic resistance training, as discussed, is the surest way to blast fat and simultaneously gain strength and lean muscle. But strength training can also make muscles tight, and without focused flexibility your body can begin to move inefficiently due to limited range of motion.

When your body moves freely, you will actually be able to recruit more muscles, increasing power output—which means more fat loss. The more you can incorporate your entire body through movement, the more your metabolism will benefit as a result.

Yoga will naturally stretch your muscles and mobilize your joints by flowing through a variety of poses. Plus, you get to do so while also doing some pretty fun and challenging things with your body. With this increased mobility, your body will be able to move more efficiently, ensuring that when you lift weights you’ll actually recruit more muscles and burn more fat while you’re at it.

Now, I know you've got lots of stuff to do and commitments and the amount of time something takes you is always a factor. That’s why I encourage fast, metabolic workouts, and why I think Lean & Lovely is such a great program—it saves time, which is totally awesome.

Yoga will supercharge your fat loss efforts and enrich your workouts, and I don't want you to miss out on it because of time. I don't want lack of time to ever be a reason for not doing something that is going to so deeply impact your fitness.  

That's why I’m so excited to share with you a special bonus for anyone who picks up Lean & Lovely this week: Lean & Lovely YOGA! (<<< Only available this week)


With Lean & Lovely you already get 12 weeks of intense fat-burning metabolic workouts, 100 pages of nutritional guidance, fat-burning recipes, and 25 bonus sweat sessions—and now you’re getting yoga, too.

It's a cool package, and that's why I'm stoked about it.

  • Follow along yoga flow videos
  • Each flow is only 20 minutes
  • The flows are fast paced and just the right amount of intensity to work with your kettlebell fat loss workouts
  • Three levels so you can benefit from them whether you're brand new to yoga or advanced (I started with the beginner and worked up to intermediate)
  • It's sort of like yoga for kettlebellers, it's kindof awesome like that

It's a really cool package: Lean & Lovely includes metabolic workouts, nutritional guidance, AND yoga.

This program is all about becoming the strongest, leanest, happiest version of you.

If you're up for supercharging your fat loss, you should get Lean & Lovely

April 03, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Overhead Swing (even if you are a CrossFitter)

I'm getting a lot of emails, Facebook messages, and even new clients, who are CrossFitting with a fat loss goal.  So I want to address some points that I always cover with my clients who CrossFit also, the first being the overhead kettlebell swing.

And to reiterate, this is a blog about fat loss, not athletic performance.  If you are reading this, my assumption is that fat loss is your primary workout goal right now.  And if fat loss is your goal, you should definitely make some major changes to the way CrossFit is traditionally done.  The first big change to address is the kettlebell swing.

The overhead kettlebell swing (which CrossFitters sometimes call the "American Swing") mutes hip extension in favor of shoulder flexion.

More shoulders and less hips would be fine if it was a shoulder exercise...  But it's not...  It's a hip extension exercise. 

If you google 'crossfit kettlebell swing,' 'overhead kettlebell swing,' or 'american kettlebell swing,' what you'll find is that most people making one (or more) of the three and a half terrible mistakes.

The Three and a Half Terrible Mistakes of the Overhead Swing:

1.) Hips don't extend all of the way

2.) Knees don't extend

3.) Low back arches

3.5) Head jutts forward

Just look at the google snap below.  You can tell with a glance that the swings where the kettlebell goes full overhead have less hip extension and more low back arching. The low back arching at the top is bad for business, the low back should be solid and neutral like "plank" the entire time.

On the pictures with the kettlebell overhead, it almost looks like people are sticking thier butt out.  In the biz we call this "anterior pelvic tilt", and it's literally the opposite of what you want in a kettlebell swing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 1.01.23 AM

Of the three mistakes, the one that is most unforgivable is that the hips don't full extend.  That's the entire point of the exercise.

The knees not fully extending is just a symptom of the hips not extending.

The low back arching means two things: First: It means that you aren't using your hips and butt, so you're compensating with your low back—a terrible idea for your low back.  Second: Low back arching means that your core isn't engaged, you're leaking stability and power by going loose in your abs.  Third: It usually accompanies not having enough shoulder range of motion to effectively go overhead on any exercise.

*You can always tell if someone is pulling with their shoulders and low back if the kettlebell is below their hands on the way up.  

**Done correctly, with a snappy powerful hip extension, it's reversed — the kettlebell pulls your hands up.  The kettlebell should be in line with or above your hands on the way up.

The neck jutting forward is a re-enforcement of computer posture, a good way to hurt your neck, and a good indication that your body is going into fight or flight mode. Head forward posture is the universal symbol of bad form on any exercise.  It's literally the opposite of athleticism. 

In yoga, they call it "really crappy alignment."

For Twice As Much Work, Use Two Kettlebells

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.47.16 AM

Watch StrongFirst's technique standsrds video for the swing:

You'll notice that for kettlebell instructors, the swing is with two kettlebells.

I have clients who are doing their interval training with two 32kg kettlebells — that's 140 pounds of swings — and get plenty of metabolic work done without going overhead.

You'll notice that a good kettlebell swing includes:

1.) Full hip extension at the top

2.) Knees "zip up" at the top

3.) Abs and glutes visably brace at the top

4.) Shoulders stay back and down, and head stays in line with the body

5.) The kettlebells are above the knees at the bottom

5.5) Two kettlebells

Ultimately, by keeping the kettlebells to shoulder height or below, you get a bigger emphasis on hip extension, and you eliminate all of the problems.

If You're Dead Set on Going Overhead, Then Snatch

The kettlebell snatch eliminates all of the problems of the overhead swing, because you finish in a solid "military press" position:

1.) Shoulders pulled back and down

2.) Abs braced and ribcage "connected" to the pelvis—like a plank

3.) Glutes flexed and hips fully extended, and a slight posterior pelvic tilt—like a plank

The only time you run into problems on a snatch are when people don't have the technical proficiency to do the snatch.  Or when people don't have the shoulder mobility to finish in the proper shoulder and low back position.

If people can't do snatches correctly, don't do them in a metabolic workout.  Yep, skip them!  Please, please, please don't do them.  Instead, do double swings.

I know lots of people, even instructors, who do swings year-round.  Then, when they have an instructor certification coming up, they switch the snatches 2-3 weeks ahead of time.  Because they have amazing hip extension power from doing swings, snatches are always right there.

If You're In The CrossFit Games

If you're in the CrossFit games, you should practice overhead swings sometimes.  Kind of like how if you're a professional boxer, you need to know what it's like to get punched in the face.

And you'll know you're in the CrossFit games when you see yourself on ESPN.

If you don't see yourself on ESPN, then you know you don't have any reason to do overhead swings.

I'm being a little extreme to prove a point: If you're not getting paid like a pro-athlete, there's no reason to put yourself in any kind of risk in your workouts.

Here is the smart way to manage it for the recreational CrossFitter: it's like the example above with kettlebell snatches.  You can do double swings all year to build your hip extension power, then 2-3 weeks before The Open, you can switch to overhead swings.

A Hardcore Metabolic Asskicking

If you want to get your ass kicked, try out using double swings (that's with two kettlebells) in your next metabolic workout.

In both the SFG and the RKC Kettlebell Instructor Certifications, the guys use two 24kg (that's two 53 pound) kettlebells

Ladies 123 pounds and under use two 12kg (that's two 26 pound) kettlebells

Ladies 124 pounds and over use two 16kg (that's two 35 pound) kettlebells

And for anyone who's concerned that they aren't getting enough work done by not going overhead, those are great places to start.

Of course I have clients who use more weight or less weight than that, depending on their experience level.  It's always smart to scale as appropriate.  I might start a lady off with using two 8kg kettlebells, and I might have an advanced lady using two 24kg kettlebells.

Be smart, and work your way up over time.  You'll find you can get all the metabolic ass-kicking you want.

Ultimately, the  — two kettlebell — shoulder height swing is about more power and more safety.


by Josh Hillis 
Author of the upcoming Fat Loss Happens on Monday, with Dan John 
Head Coach at PowerHour Group Personal Training in Denver.

P.S. I noticed that my previous CrossFit post is trending, and figured that means that people interested in how CrossFit might be used in a fat loss program, so here we go.  This might be the first in a series.  Other posts to come might be about strict pullups instead of kipping (hint: It's about more strength and more safety), or why you should never met-con more than twice per week (hint: It's about more strength and more safety).

P.P.S. Metabolic conditioning is way over-hyped for fat loss.  In reality, smart fat loss workouts are 90% periodized strength training and 10% metabolic conditioning.  Less is more with the workouts; focus on food instead.

P.P.P.S. Right now there are a lot of really smart people trying to minimize the stupid parts of canonical orthodox CrossFit.  If you CrossFit, you should check out some really smart posts by well known CrossFitters:

The Great Kettlebell Swing Debate, by CJ Martin

Why CrossFitters Shouldn't Do Isabel and Other Blasphemies, by Patrick McCarty

CrossFit Competitions: When a Good Idea Goes Wrong, by Patrick McCarty

A Different Version of CrossFit: How I Made My Training Sustainable and Injury Free, by Andy Petranek

The Seven Most Overrated CrossFit Exercises, by Ken Crowder

The Seven Most Undderrated CrossFit Exercises, by Ken Crowder

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