I’m a big fan of Men’s Health magazine. They publish some really interesting content about fitness, health, nutrition, sex & relationships, fashion, and how to suck less in general. Their writers pen informative and interesting pieces that everyone can apply to their life, not just the folks (like me) who are interested in finding research on MedLine and PubMed. Overall, it’s a pretty kick ass publication, and probably the only one that I’ll readily recommend to people. Most fitness magazines flat out suck.
While there’s nothing stopping women from reading Men’s Health, (or men from reading Women’s Health), the ladies edition is typically just as good. Their information is just as good, and they even throw in cool tips about make-up and cosmetics. (That’s my favorite part!) I don’t subscribe to or buy Women’s Health, but I’ll hijack each issue after my mom’s done reading them so I can try to understand the female mind a little better. I emphasize try because it seldom works. Any who, one of my only complaints about the magazine is that their coverage of exercise plays heavily into the stereotypical obsession with slow and steady cardio, ‘toning’ exercises, and an unfounded fear in lifting heavy weights. For all of the fabulous things they publish, they could really clean up their exercise recommendations and suggestions. Unfortunately, I don’t think that it’s something that’ll be changing anytime soon; they’re in the business of selling magazines, and I don’t think they’ll do the best job of it if they’re saying “Hey you, put down those silly pink dumbbells and grab a barbell that weighs more than you!” I can dream though, right?
This is the cover of the most recent article, from October 2011. Rachel Bilson is certainly beautiful, but lacks any appreciable muscle mass, wouldn’t you say? She’s thin! This image helps play into the ‘tiny weights are good, big weights are bad’ mentality. What really tickled me the wrong way when reading this was an article about using kettlebells. The simple one page article, is their 15 minute workout for the week, called Take Hold of a Hot Bod, which details 4 kettlebell exercises. The recommendations are simple:
- Dynamic combo moves that target multiple muscle groups help shave time off of workouts without sacrificing results.
- 3 to 4 times per week, do two sets of this circuit with an 8-10 lbkettlebell, performing each exercise in a circuit with little rest.
The list or exercises is simple: Swing with leg raise, lateral lunge with biceps curl, squat to rotational press, thread to row. I wouldn’t know what those exercises were without some diagrams, so I’ve taken care of that part:
Now, these exercises could certainly be appropriate in the grand scheme of exericse. Could. As in, it’s possible, but not very likely. Especially if you consider an 8-10lb kettlebell, and completing 15 minutes of exercise. You’re going to need a much heavier ‘bell for that period of time, or you’ll have to swing that paperweight for much longer than you’d want to.
What kind of recommendations are these, Women’s Health!?
There are certainly better exercise recommendations that can be made for women to incorporate kettlebells into their training, as well as some truly effective training. You want results? Pick up heavy shit. It’s that simple. Problem is, I can’t really knock Women’s Health without supplying some alternative recommendations for you right? Let’s get to it.
The RKC is easily the best kettlebell certification/education organization in the world. When I have the time and money to invest into that certification, I will certainly be working hard for it. Fortunately, you can learn a thing or two in the mean time.
Enter Neghar Fonooni, an absolute bad ass when it comes to strength training and kettlebell usage. Head over to her website to see her own content, or check out her RKC profile. I’ve been following Neghar’s blog and training progress for a while now, thanks to Ben Bruno who frequently uses her videos in his “For Your Viewing Pleasure” posts. You can find Neghar’s YouTube channel HERE, as well as an interview she did for Ben’s blog HERE. While I’m going link crazy, THIS is a link to Neghar’s recent interview for the FitCast, which is absolutely awesome, and you need listen to. To entice you to check out those links, and some kettlebell training for women in general, here are some great videos of Neghar kicking some kettlebell butt.
As fabulous as kettlebells can be, they’re not the end all and be all of training; they’re just another tool in the tool box that educated trainers can use. That being said, there are some tools that can just give you better results than others, and this is one of them. Kettlebell usage is certainly becoming more and more popular, and I’m a big fan; they work. It’s certainly more common for men to get involved with them, and women tend to shy away from the heavier weights. Don’t do that! Proper movement, proper program, and hard work can help you safely develop a healthy body that performs well and looks great. If you’re going to incorporate kettlebells into your training, I’d highly recommend you seek out a certified instructor, which you can do by using the RKC Instructor page. Neghar is proof that you can train heavy and hard without being ‘bulky’ or ‘big’, a fear that countless women have. Hopefully one day fitness magazines, even the best, will stop playing into this fear and motivate their readers to train hard, train heavy, and kick some butt.