Yesterday we started our 4-Stage Cycle for Perpetual Gains.
Stage 1 was to fix your movement issues, aches, and pains.
We covered how movement dysfunctions and the Pain Cycle
rob you of energy, strip off your hard won lean muscle mass,
and make you gain fat.
If you didn’t read it, go back to your inbox and dig for it. There’s
some really valuable info in there that will help you immediately.
I also posed a question – “what’s the next step in the cycle?”
Is it “fat loss” based on how movement dysfunctions and the Pain
Cycle can fatten you up or is it something else?
What do you think? And why?
Take a few seconds and think on it…
If you said “fat loss” you’d be close, but wrong.
It’s actually –
STAGE 2: GET YOUR STRENGTH BACK
Once you’ve cleared up your movement issues and gotten out
of acute or chronic pain, you want to get your strength back.
Why not focus on a fat loss program, which would seem like the
natural thing to do – you know – strip off some of that unwanted body
fat you accumulated from all that unnatural movement?
When I took those 2 years off from all “heavy” lifting – all the barbell
and kettlebell work, I decided I would work on bodyweight training
only: Calisthenic and gymnastic types of movement to bring “balance”
to my body.
I was suffering from something called “pattern overload” – which is
a fancy way of saying I’d done too much of one thing and not enough
of other things.
As much as we tend to poo-poo variety in the kettlebell community
and pillory people who want it (guilty as charged), your body is actually
MADE for variety.
It will thrive on it as long as it’s not “variety for variety’s sake” – you
know, the ol’ “what am I gonna do today” type workout.
So I needed to do things that I hadn’t done in years, primarily focusing
on anything that stressed the anterior chain, the abs and whatnot,
because I’d spent a decade and a half focused on the posterior
My program had a lot of Original Strength in it. And my traditional
strength exercises were primarily pull ups and their variations, parallel
dips and their variations, handstand push ups, various lever progressions,
tuck and L-sits and their variations, and pistols.
That was “it.”
You know what happened to my body fat?
From a pure strength program.
That was bodyweight only.
With no kettlebells.
(I bring up that last point because as “magical” as ye olde KBs
are, at the end of the day they’re just tools. It’s the principle here
that I want to bang home.)
Because using tension burns calories.
And for me personally, I was so jacked up that the exercises I was
doing provided such a unique stimulus, that my body sucked up this
new stimulus like a sponge sitting in a puddle of water on your counter
And the result?
Not only did I become stronger at those lifts, I became leaner and lighter
too. In fact, in December 2011, by training only for strength, using ZERO
metabolic conditioning work (at least not traditional stuff – some OS
crawling), I weighed in at a 20-year low: 192lbs. And my 32″ Hawaiian
board shorts were loose in the waist.
Everything we know or think we know about fat loss training says
that shouldn’t happen.
But it did.
And it does for my private clients.
Well, besides the “tension/calorie-burning” thing, there’s also the hormonal
Here’s a startling fact that I have only recently just admitted that you may
have missed, but is important for your continued progress:
When I wrote both Kettlebell Muscle and Kettlebell Burn I was too “sick”
to actually do the workouts.
I couldn’t be my own guinea pig and that really bothered the snot out of
I had zero work capacity.
And the combination of the movements and the exercises just HURT.
I couldn’t recover between sessions.
I’d do a complex workout and feel destroyed for days after, which is
exactly the opposite of how most people describe their results with
I felt like a hypocrite for not being able to complete my own programs.
But the fact of the matter was that inside I was a mess.
I had just come out of the most stressful and emotionally tumultuous
years of my life. I lost about 10 pounds of muscle. And my workouts
were suffering, along with my mental and emotional health.
My cortisol levels were way up as evidenced by the brand new stomach
I wasn’t sleeping. My digestive system was a disaster. And my immune
system was shot.
So my recovery was severely compromised.
Therefore my ability to do high(er) volume and high(er) density programs
was not happening.
The same thing is true for you:
If you’re not recovering between workouts, you’re not going to make
And if you insist on putting the pedal to the metal and pushing past
your current capabilities, you’re going to turn your insides into a
hormonal waste pile.
Your cortisol levels will shoot up and most likely stay up, leaving you
in a state of chronic inflammation.
That means your ability to process carbs will plummet because when
cortisol is elevated, it mobilizes blood sugar for energy. And when
that blood sugar is just floating around in your blood and not being
used by your muscles, your body releases insulin, the powerful
And when insulin is chronically elevated, you start to become what’s
called “insulin resistant” – meaning your pancreas needs to secrete
more and more insulin to get the same amount of blood sugar back
into your body’s cells.
And if your muscle cells are full of glycogen already, because you’re
not training hard enough to use it all for fuel, guess where your body
puts that blood sugar?
It stores it as fat.
So you can’t eat as many carbs as you normally do, which help release
serotonin, the neurotransmitter connected with feelings of well-being
Best case scenario is that you “just” put on a bunch of stomach
fat. And some lovehandles. (And maybe some “manboobs” – Oh
Worst case scenario is you suffer from adrenal fatigue/burnout, and/or
depression, and/or get injured because your body can no longer
keep up with your stress levels – it cannot recover.
Yeah, this is the stuff nobody ever talks about which is why we’re
talking about it now. I want you to be informed.
This is why “Get Your Strength Back” or “Strength Training” is
Again, after spending some time fixing your movement dysfunctions/
compensations and getting out of pain, your work capacity is going
to be severely limited anyway.
So jumping into something aggressive with high volume and/or
high density without having the appropriate work capacity will throw
your body right back into that “alarm” state you just got it out of.
You need to take your time and slowly increase the volume then the
And most fat loss programs are high in both the volume and the
So you have to work into them.
Not doing so – going from Stage 1 to a fat loss program can actually
You have to prep your body to be able to handle them, i.e. you have
to get your strength back / get stronger.
You have to be able to 10 swings pain free before you can do 100
let alone 500 a day, right?
Uh… Yeahhhhh. Duh.
So what’s the next phase?
We’ll get that tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you’ve been struggling to make progress, check
your recovery. Make sure you back track where and when you need
If you need to go back and fix some movement dysfunctions or do
some pure strength work, don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself and
then do something about it.