Training Problems

Welcome to ‘Training Problems’, where I shall endeavour to provide solutions. If you don’t find a solution here, please ask, and I’ll respond with an answer.

What’s the best all-round method for training with  kettlebells?
How much work you can perform in a given period of time and then trying to better that.

For example, if you could do 100 Clean + Jerks in 20 minutes last week, and you shoot for 100 C+J’s in 19 minutes this week.

Or – retain the same time period, but increase the volume of work.

Density training gives you the best of all worlds –

– increased strength

– increased conditioning / work capacity


– decreased body fat (in many cases, especially if you’re eating for fat loss)

However, don’t forget to periodize your weekly schedule. You can’t do this training every day – do it on your ‘hard’ day!

Follow that with an ‘easy’ day, where you use much less intensity, so you can perfect your technique, and still be stimulating progress.

 I can double press 24’s but have trouble push
pressing 28s, should I push press 24s till I get strong
enough to push press 28s?

You have to remember that the KEY to the Push Press is to use the legs.

Firstly “Dip”

You hold the KBs in the rack and you dip STRAIGHT down –

Read that part again – STRAIGHT down – vertical torso –

You DO NOT lean back or hinge or stick your butt out.

Why not?

Because then the KBs don’t go up they go forward.

Simple physics really – for every action there’s an
equal and opposite reaction.

You see this in Olympic lifting when guys miss the
Jerk. Same set up applies.
The Dip looks like a 1/4 squat.

But it’s not slow.

That’s the second mistake people make.

It’s quick!

Secondly, the Drive – and this is what I think you’re struggling with simply because the jump from 24s to 28s is not “that” big – especially if you’re pressing the 24s for reps.

That is very likely because the Dip is either to deep or too slow – or some combo of  the two.

The dip must be fast to set up the drive – the explosive leg action – the straightening of the legs – to get  the KBs to move off the chest.

And without the 2D set up, the weights really go nowhere.

I assume you are digging your toes into the ground, and flexing your glutes hard?!

Also ensure you are not exhausting yourself warming up to the 28’s.

You could also spend a few sessions JERKING the 28’s, before returning to push presses. Don’t slacken off on your presses with the 24’s though.

Are you periodising your training weekly? A 90 – 100% intensity pressing session should always be followed by an easy day. Avoid over-training.

So, what to do next?

Well, practice a couple of reps with the 24s – a couple
of sets for a couple of reps.

Then go back to the 28s and give them a shot.


How do I improve my Kettlebell snatch?

Here’s 3 ways to boost your Snatch numbers without actually training the Snatch directly.

1. Do REALLY heavy Swings.   2-handed, 1-handed, hand-to-hand. And, oh yeah, did I  say to make them heavy?

And do them for low, low reps. Like 5-10.

When you can easily Swing a Beast with 1 hand for multiple sets of 10, you’ll be surprised how easy that lighter weight Snatch just pops up over your head.

2. Do heavy single KB Clean and Presses.

Weird, I know. But for some, the Snatch groove is really tight to the body, almost like a high-speed C+P.

So doing heavy C+P’s will actually carry over to your Snatch groove.

Plus, you’re locking out heavier than normal weights over your head.

Ok, the first two tips dealt with getting stronger. Let’s look at  one of the best ways to improve your conditioning –

3. Compress your rest periods.

Admittedly, this is also a simple way to get significantly  stronger too (I know, I just can’t help myself).

But when you compress your rest periods, you actually do more work in less time than you’re accustomed to. This (obviously) makes you breathe harder, and therefore improves the conditioning of your heart and lungs.


Here’s one more way to train your Snatch – actually using the  Snatch to train itself.

4. Treat the Snatch as a strength exercise instead of a conditioning

What’s that mean?

Use a heavier weight and use low reps.

Pick a KB that’s one size heavier than you’re used to (assuming  have great technique) and do multiple sets of 1-3 or 3-5 reps  with it.

You’d be surprised what some time here will do for you.


Does foot position REALLY matter on your KB ballistics?

Should your feet be slightly turned out – so that your legs are externally rotated in your hip sockets or…
… should your feet be pointed straight ahead, like your on a pair of skis?

And equally important, does it really matter?

Let me answer the first question.

I usually let people start with a comfortable stance to  get them started. For most, that’s feet turned out slightly.

Then, after some  mobility work, which isn’t
really mobility work, I’ll get those feet pointed forward.

I honestly think that’s the *best* position, assuming that there are no hip issues or whatever (and why it  matters).

Why is it the *best* position?

For several reasons:

1. When the feet are pointed straight ahead and you  hinge at the hips, the hip external rotators are stretched, or “pre-loaded” if you will.

This will contribute to a more powerful Swing.

This also allows for what I believe to be greater stability within the hip joint.
2. The hip extensors – your big ol’ butt – gluteus to the maximus – are stretched, especially the lower fibers that insert on the femur.

They’re shortened when your feet are externally rotated.

This decreases range of motion of the hip hinge, thus decreasing the mechanical work, and therefore potential power output.

3. Maintains structural integrity of the arch of the foot.


I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this,  but when you externally rotate your feet and then load them with during a Squat or Deadlft, the arch of the foot tends to collapse.

(Not with everybody, but with a lot of people.)

And a collapsed arch is bad.

That internally rotates your lower leg, increases torque on  your knees, internally rotates the upper leg inside the hip,  which can tear up your hip, and anteriorly tilts your pelvis,  shutting down your abs and increasing the strain on your lower back.

Not good.

So you obviously don’t want to be doing high power movements like Swings and Snatches with your arches collapsed if you shouldn’t be doing slower lifts like the  Squat or DL.

What then should you do?

Here’s a quick checklist:

1. Do some foot, ankle, and hip mobility work.

2. Strengthen your feet with “old school” exercises like calf raises or just walking barefoot.

3. Take your time and adjust your stance to parallel with lighter loads.

Play around with foot positions in your ballistics and see ifyou notice a difference.

What is one to do when the person who refuses to offer support and encouragement and even tries to sabotage the fitness journey is a spouse?
You do what you can, but you also protect yourself. You don’t talk about your goals with them so they cannot knock you down.


Otherwise, you live by example. You eat what you want to – and need to – eat. You set your plan, and you stick to it.


You don’t need their help. You can do it on your own and with online support and with support of others at your gym or church or in your community.


Focus on the positives of your relationship with your spouse, but don’t let their health-negativity get in the way of your changes.


Stay strong. Do what is right for you. You can – and WILL – do it.


I believe in you.


Question : I’m not gaining weight. What can I do?
If you are not gaining muscle now, add 500 calories per day (mostly carbohydrate, some protein, some healthy fat). If that doesn’t work after 2 weeks, add another 500 calories to your diet.Be patient. You don’t want to gain fat!

The best time of day to add your calories is to breakfast or to your pre- and post-workout shakes.

Q:  whats’ the best way to keep abs braced?
Pull the stomach to my spine or push the abs out and
tense it. Which is the best way to engaging the core
muscle and building abs?

I’m not sure who still recommends sucking in, since
that was ‘de-bunked’ years ago.

They still teach bracing as if someone was going to punch
you in the stomach. You don’t really push out, and you
certainly do NOT pull in.

That was/is one of the biggest (and most obvious) mistakes in
fitness advice of the last 15 years.
However, what you should do, is learn to flex your glutes.

The moment you do that, your spine goes into neutral position, which is where you want it.

Minimal stress on lumbars, and all vital core parts will be activated and braced- abdominal layers, serratus, and so forth.


Question: “What exercise can I do to build a bigger chest?”

There’s no one magic exercise that’ll give
you the perfect pecs on its own.
The secret is to use a few key exercises and a select
number of proven, unique strategies to maximize results.

Here’s the foundation for your dumbbell chest workout :

1) A heavy, low volume, basic dumbbell press
2) A moderately heavy, moderate volume dumbbell press
3) A modified dumbbell chest fly with high volume

Why that ‘dumbbell trinity’ of chest exercises?

Because it attacks the muscle at all angles, and with
the advanced techniques you’re about to get, it will
stimulate the maximum amount of muscle fibers for
growth (if you want muscle gain) and metabolism (if
you want fat loss and muscle maintenance).

With that formula, we can build DOZENS of chest
workouts to use year round with continuous results.

How do we do that?

By using these techniques:

– Slow eccentrics (lowering phase)
– Squeeze techniques at the top of the movement (90% or 3/4 reps)
– 1 & 1/2 reps, Triple stop reps

– Neutral, pronated, and even supinated grips
– Different bench angles
– Modified exercises that maximize leverage, like the DB fly-press
– Drop sets
– And so much more

In addition, we need to add upper back exercises in order
to build the opposing shoulder, lat, and upper back muscles
that help keep your shoulder joint safe when doing presses.

We aim to have two ‘pulling’ exercises for each ‘press’.
(Pulling movements include deadlifts as well, that will be on other days.)

For example, let’s start with something simple, yet profound:

1A) DB Semi-Pronated Flat Chest Press with 3s eccentric – 3×6
1B) DB Row – 3×8

2A) DB Incline Press 90% with 1second pause – 4×8-12
2B) DB Chest Supported Row – 4×15

3A) DB Flat Chest Fly-Press (do the lowering phase of a fly
and then press the db’s back up) – 3×12-15
3B) DB Rear Deltoid Raise – 3×12

NOTE: That is a muscle growth program. For less muscle, stick
to 1-2 sets per exercise.

Question : What’s the biggest mistake people make when they begin a program for losing weight?

There is a growing “lobby” of PT’s around the world at the moment, who chastise the use of treadmills and other apparatus. Don’t be fooled. Most of them are making millions selling courses that don’t involve the use of the aforementioned apparatus. In other words they have an “axe” to grind. They also say these tools are a waste of time. That’s a gross over-statement.

The real problem is the DURATION of training performed, and the INTENSITY exacted on these machines. So, to answer the question, the biggest mistake people make is spending too much time on machines, and at 60% intensity. You will lose weight if you eat properly, BUT scientists now claim that you lose more muscle training this way, than you would if you DECREASE duration of training time, and increase intensity interspersed with rest periods eg : ( interval training ).

And, I must admit, the best methods don’t involve stationary machines! Better to stand up, push, pull, squat, bend, and rotate, which are your primal body actions. This better develops balance, proprioception, and involves more muscles in a much more functional way.

Question : What’s the best way to burn the last 3 – 4kg of belly fat?

High intensity interval training for short duration – eg: 4min – 45min ( that would include warm-up and cool-down in 45 min ) Use 20 min as an average for the actual hard yakka. Most importantly, is intelligent eating!

 Is swimming a good workout?

Yes, for cardio, if you do intervals. It’s excellent! However, to develop other facets of fitness – no. You could certainly use it in your weekly program if on a fat loss program, too, if you have a love of swimming, but it’s not a tool that you really need.

Q: I’m so much stronger on my right side when doing 1-Arm Shoulder Presses. Anything I can do to fix that?

A: Start the sets with your weaker side and then do the same amount of reps with the stronger side… even if you think you can do more. You can also add one more set to the weaker side.

Q: I am unable to perform high impact exercises. Do you have any substitutions for jumping exercises ?

A: The perfect non-impact exercise to replace burpees, jumps and more is the Total Body Extension.

Q: I have a squatting problem. I can’t squat with weight on my  back for the life of me. I leave my ego at the door and do  extremely light weight with good form, but when I start going a  little heavy (for me) I feel like I’m twisting or favoring a side and  nothing feels right.

A: Split squats and Bulgarian split squats.  So, I recommend going with Split Squats… you can use a barbell if  you have a pulling exercise after that (so you won’t lose grip strength).

Q : How do  1H swings compare with 2 hand swings and double swings? Are they “better” than 2 hand swings? Are they better than double swings?

Is your world going to end if you’re not doing 1H swings?

Or will it end if you’re not doing double swings (you know, swings with a pair of KBs)?

Look, there is no “one” swing or type of swing that’s better
than the other. It’s dependent on the goal of the individual
and the situation.

Generally, here’s how we categorize the swing family:

2 Hand Swings:
– Introductory swing
– Two hands on the KB
– Used to teach and re-enforce the hip hinge
– Great stand alone conditioning exercise
– You’d be great if this was the only exercise you ever did
– Can be used for higher reps: 20+

1 Hand Swings:
– Intermediate swing
– Great for building grip strength
– Great for training the abs and posterior chain through the various fascial sling systems, especially the Posterior Oblique System, which aids in locomotion
– Also great stand-alone strength and conditioning exercise
– Great prep exercise for Snatch
– Can be used for higher reps: 20+

Double Swings:
– Advanced swing
– Requires great positioning and good understanding of hip hinge
– Requires good hip and ankle mobility
– Builds tremendous hip strength
– Great prep exercise for advanced double KB exercises
– Great total body conditioner
– Extra load builds functional muscle mass in the upper back and shoulders
– When first learning and implementing, best used for lower reps: 5-10; Can be used for higher reps as trainee advances

It makes good sense then if you want to become  powerful  to use double KBs… Because they’re incredibly low-tech
and have a very short learning curve, unlike Olympic lifting.

Plus, unlike Olympic lifting, you can train both strength and endurance. And we all should have a certain amount of both.

Can you get STRONG using just swings – or “just” double swings?


Imagine if you could do 10 sets of 10 reps of chest high double swings with a pair of Beasts (48kg each). Or a pair of 24s for ladies. You’d be pretty strong in my book (and most other people’s too I’d wager a guess).

Question: How could I combine the kettlebell Double Front Squat with Barbell back Squat?

My second question is how can I program
the DFSQ?

Here are 2 ways (not the only ways) that come immediately to mind:

a) Squat twice a week – one DFSQ with relatively higher volume – 25+ reps a week and then train your BSQ with a lower volume – around 10 reps or so.

b) Use blocks of DFSQ and BSQ – 3 weeks of one followed by 3 weeks of the other. Rest and repeat.

2) “How can I program the DFSQ?”

Depends on your goals.

Heavy and low reps for pure strength.

Moderate loads and moderate to higher volume for muscle gain.

And moderate loads short rests for conditioning, although there are better exercises for conditioning. Ballistics come to mind here. Of course you can combine the two  into complexes.

I can only do push ups on my knees. How do I get better at pushups if I can only do 1-2 real pushups?

Here are a couple ways to improve your pushups:

a) Get in the full pushup position. Take 5 seconds to lower your body to the ground. Drop to your knees and press back up. We are all stronger in controlling the lowering portion, and if you build your strength this way, you WILL get better at real pushups.

b) Do as many real pushups as you can and then drop to your knees. This works for all levels of pushups. For example, if you can only do 1-2 Spiderman Pushups, then do that, and drop to Regular Pushups or Close-Grip Pushups for the remainder of your workout set time.

c) Do as many real pushups as you can and then switch to Mountain Climbers or Cross-Body Mountain Climbers.

Have you got any tips to help me lose fat faster?

Here’s a 60-second diet trick that will help you lose fat faster, according to the scientific journal “Nutrition & Metabolism“.

Simply mix 10 grams of low-carb whey protein with water and drink before two to three meals every day. The May issue of Men’s Health magazine reported that you will lose fat faster when you do this.

What’s the best workout style if you’re busy?

Density training…

Density training is when you do one of these:

a) Do as many circuits and/or supersets in a certain amount of time (12 minutes for example).

b) Do as many reps as possible in the amount of time given (45 secs for example)

It’s your best use of time when you want to stay consistent but you’re really busy.

With Density Training, there are less exercises and you’ll see it’s a pretty “cut and dry” workout approach. You just get to work.

“I have arthritic hips and burpees are sometimes difficult (painful).  What exercise(s) can you recommend to replace the burpee?

Safety comes FIRST in every workout. And if you can’t do a specific exercise with perfect form, you need to substitute it.

You can replace the burpee with any of the following exercises. All of these are total body conditioning moves that target your abs without damaging your joints.


Here are the 3 options you can try:

#1: Walkouts

The hand walk out to plank is a totally underrated exercise, and the best bodyweight replacement for the burpee.

It teaches your abs and lower-back muscles to play nicely together, and also develops strength and stability in the shoulders while creating a “metabolic disturbance” like no other.

This exercise is highly effective because it creates a “metabolic flush” meaning the blood is shunted from your legs, to your upper body and back to your legs again in quick succession.

Do not underestimate this one.

#2: Total Body Extension

The truth is, this is one of the best non-impact bodyweight conditioning exercises ever created. You can even do one this mum. No excuses, OK?

Here’s how to do it:

– Start in the standing position as if you were going to do a bodyweight squat

– Dip down quickly into a quarter squat and swing your arms behind you by your sides

– Explode up and extend your body onto your toes, raising your arms overhead

– Control the descent back and in one movement, return to the dip before exploding up again

Fun times all round. And honestly, if your heart is not racing after 30 seconds, you need to pick up the pace!

#3: DB Thrusters

You know this one already…

But you can always count on this total body exercise to boost your power and torch calories at the same time, while targeting your legs, hips, shoulders and core.

This “metabolic disturbance” will boost your afterburn so you continue burning calories until 2020. Lolzzzz…

But I catch people doing this wrong all the time. Here’s a tip when doing DB or barbell thrusters:

(i) Hold the weight in front of your shoulders, with elbows bent.

(ii) Take 2 seconds to lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

(iii) Push back up, press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are straight.

(iv) Lower the dumbbells shoulder height as you immediately descend into the squat for the next rep.

Q: What are the best exercises for oblique muscles?

Cross-Body Mountain Climbers, Side Planks, Diagonal Ab Wheel Rollout, Cable Chops. Forget about silly moves like bicycle crunches.

Q: I’m 55 yrs old and doing a combination of weight resistance and interval training. How many 30 minute workouts per week should I do to lose the nasty last 5 – 8 lbs and keep it off? 

Answer: 3-4.