Gareth Evans's blog
I remember when kettlebell training first hit the mainstream. Almost overnight, gyms were rapidly filled with a whole array of kettlebells and we were left to assume that they must be good for us, but nobody was quite sure how to use them effectively or how to incorporate them into their routines.
I only really got into using kettlebells as part of my workout routine about a year ago. I train at an MMA gym and one of the instructors took the time to go through the basics with me. After a little experimentation, and some light reading, I now include one kettlebell session into my weekly training routine.
I love the benefits that a kettlebell session gives me. Kettlebell training is something a little different, which helps keep things interesting, while the direct benefits are great too; you get a strength workout, while also building your endurance levels and developing your core. In addition, if you incorporate the use of kettlebells into your regular circuit training routine, you can reap the benefits of a cardio workout.
I’m always sceptical when it comes to power towers. The premise is great; one station where you can get an intense, upper body workout. The reality, however, in my experience, is that power towers are usually flimsy, poorly built and uncomfortable to use.
I purchased a power tower many years ago, convinced that the investment was a great way to save money in the long run. After all, as long as I went running and did my work on the power tower, I was getting a complete, full body workout.
It didn’t quite pan out like this.
I ended up giving the power tower away to a friend as it was so uncomfortable to use and, given that I weighed over 100kg at the time, the machine struggled to take my weight.
Over a decade has now passed since I ditched my power tower and, given that money is a little tight at the moment, and gym memberships are soaring at an astonishing rate, I’m beginning to entertain the idea of purchasing another power tower.
Neck strength is an important facet of any contact sport. I, personally, am a front row forward in rugby, and have also studied Jiu Jitsu, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both of these sports require a degree of neck strength and it is neck strength which improves your performance in both of these arenas.
As a front row forward, the pressure on my neck, from scrummaging, is palpable. Taking the weight of eight other opposition forwards puts huge amounts of undue stress on your neck and back, especially.
In terms of Jiu Jitsu, the world’s top Jiu Jitsu fighters spend hours each week, specifically trying to strengthen their neck. Once you’re in a choke hold, your technical skill often goes out of the window and your survival, in a fight, comes down to how strong your neck muscles are; the stronger they are, the more time you buy yourself to escape the choke.
There are a number of body weight exercises that I’ve always done to strengthen my neck, which have stood me in good stead, both in Jiu Jitsu and rugby. While these have some benefit, more resistance is required to develop real strength.
There’s a difference between being fit and being match fit. It doesn’t matter what sport you play, this is an adage that has lost none of its truth.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll know this frustration all too well. You can put hours of hard work in at the gym, go for as many runs as you like, but it’s somehow not quite the same as playing a match.
Photo: Scott Before and After Insanity Asylum 30-Day Program
Sure, you feel fitter, and in better all around shape, than you would if you hadn’t put the work in, but you still find yourself wishing that there was another training method, which would get you match fit, and help give you that edge over your opponents.
The problem for me always boils down to one thing, time.
I love the feeling you get after a long, hard workout. The endorphins have been released and you feel invincible. As I always workout at lunchtime, it’s a great feeling to go into the afternoon knowing that you’ve put some real hard work into improving your body.
If you’re anything like me, however, sometimes work or family commitments get in the way of your workout. No matter how well your weekly fitness regime is planned, every now and again something unexpected pops up and it leaves you short on time to train.
It’s on these occasions that you can do one of two things: Miss a session or modify it. If at all possible, I try to go for the latter. After all, getting in shape doesn’t always mean spending hours in the gym; it’s about how effectively you use your time. You can get great results in 20 minutes, if you know what you’re doing and you use your time effectively.
When I only have 20 minutes to exercise, I tend to opt for some form of circuit training. Circuits are an excellent means of mixing things up, they give you a great cardio workout and they help to develop good muscle tone.
It’s taken me about ten years to put it together, but I have a pretty decent looking gym in my garage at home. I have a few hundred kilograms of weights, a bench, chin up bar, boxing bag and a rowing machine; there’s very little that I can’t do in there.
If one thing annoys me, however, it’s that I can’t do squats properly. I don’t own a squat rack that can comfortably house the sort of weights that I want to lift. If I want to do squats, I usually end up doing squat jumps or front squats, as the weight that I use is lighter than when I perform traditional squats.
As a rugby player, this inability to do heavy squats at home can be infuriating. After all, as any rugby player will tell you, strength and explosive power in your legs is imperative in rugby, especially if scrummaging is part of your job, as it is with me.
As a former professional rugby, albeit only for a year, I know how important balance and core stability can be when it comes to playing sport at a high level; it’s often one of the assets that separates elite sportsmen and women.
I still play rugby regularly, although I’m strictly an enthusiastic amateur nowadays, and as such I perform some form of core stability work during each and every gym workout. Whether I’m on a stability ball doing squats, or performing weighted lunges on a wobble cushion, I always try to throw in some core work to every workout routine.
Balance and core stability are essential in every aspect of rugby, whether you’re breaking tackles and trying to stay on your feet, whether you’re scrummaging or you’re trying to sidestep an opponent.
I’m always on the lookout for exciting new ways of improving my balance and core stability, which is why I’m so excited to have come across J/fit Balance Pods. They offer a versatile means of adding some much needed, and extremely beneficial, core and balance work into my exercise routine.
I’m someone who gets bored easily by running and needs something a little more exciting to keep me interested and committed to my cardio workouts. That’s why, when it comes to getting into great shape, kickboxing is one of my personal favourites.
I’ve been to kickboxing classes at my local gym on and off over the last few years, but the problem for me boils down to cost, and that’s why I only go to one or two each month. I would love to attend more classes, however, as the results from kickboxing workouts are great; they get you fit, lean and feeling great, in no time at all.
If you love kickboxing as a means of getting, and staying, in shape, Powerstrike kickboxing Vol. 6 could be the workout DVD for you. It provides a comprehensive workout routine that teaches you all of the correct techniques, while allowing you to get a great workout, in the comfort of your own home.
How does Powerstrike kickboxing Vol. 6 work?
Hosted by award winning presenter Ilaria Montagnani, voted best female presenter in 2010, Powerstrike kickboxing Vol. 6 provides users with a comprehensive cardio workout, while also demonstrating the core fundamentals of kickboxing.
I absolutely love bodyweight training. Heading down to the gym to shift some real steel has its attractions, but it’s the convenience of bodyweight circuits that keeps me coming back for more.
While there are a whole host of bodyweight exercises that I like to perform, as part of my routine, push ups are, without doubt, the most effective means of training your upper body and core. And I can’t get enough of them.
Whether you’re a beginner, trying their best to reach 10 push ups per set, or you love to smash out sets of 100, joint pain is a very real problem. If you’re new to push ups, and so are not sure about the correct technique, or you’re a push up veteran, and tend to lose your technique when you get tired, poor form can really put undue stress and strain on your elbows, wrists and shoulders.
I always notice, at the end of an intense training week, that my joints are a little sore from performing so many repetitions. When you’re trying to get through a high number of reps, however, it comes with the territory.
It seems, though, that the Perfect V2 Pushup Bar may just be able to provide a solution to these woes. The Perfect V2 Pushup Bar allows users to perform push ups, while taking a lot of the strain off your joints and ensuring that you keep your technique.
As a rugby player, core stability is extremely important to me. I always try and incorporate some form of core stability exercises into every workout that I undertake. Having a strong core ensures that every time I hit a ruck, scrummage, lift in the lineout, make a tackle or try to make a line break, I am more powerful and effective.
In addition, core stability and great balance are prerequisites for rugby, as they allow you to step around players, as well as stay on your feet to offload the ball after a tackle.
I’m always looking for new and more interesting ways to strengthen my core. I tend to use the Swiss Ball a lot, but its bulky nature doesn’t exactly make it great for transporting easily. Given that I travel a lot, for work and please, something more portable would be great.
This is why I was so excited to come across the Reebok balance board. It’s a balance board that gives me many of the same core workout options as a Swiss Ball, but is portable enough for me to take it with me wherever I go.
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