Saturday, September 3, 2011

Andrea Du Cane's Kettlebell Boomers: kb program to get stronger, fitter, more mobile at any age

Somewhere in the late 90s i saw results of an early study out of McMaster that showed that men in their 70's and 80's who started training with weights were building muscle. A slightly later study (from 2000) showed that men in their 70s who did a 12 week progressive resistance training program and then followed up with a 1 day a week maintenance program for 6months presevered all the gains they'd made. Since then there's been an ongoing stream of research into the effects of resistance training on variously aged populations.

2011: 91 Charles Eugster started
Body Building at 87
Adaptation for Strength and Leanness at Any Age. The results reflect the same thing: Humans are always adapting and most especially, it's never to late to start a fitness program. Some particularly recent work with "middle aged women" showed that it doesn't matter whehter that workout is 3 or 4 times a week, it's total volume (shown previously in 2007) at least in untrained athletes, which has an undeniable signficant effect on lean mass building and strength (2011 work). The effects of resistance training for a variety of factors too is just as good for older populations as for younger. For women, maintaining bone mineral density is of course one of the best known, but maintaining muscle density or enhancing it is a pretty big one, too.

With the fact that the population is aging, and that resistance training is such a Good Idea for so many reasons, you'd think the entire fitness market would turn its attention to this population.  In all the pantheon of fitness DVDs how do we see that are targetted at the less active or the post-hip age group de jour? And of these what actually use dynamic work with serious load? 

Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC  and author of the Kettlebell Goddess DVD has started to bridge this gap with a new DVD called the Kettlebell Boomer, targetted for this massive Baby Boomer population (b2d interview with Andrea here).  The goal? Show a variety of athletes in this age range with various issues still working out. Present paths for anyone to get into safe effective movement and resistance using a kettlebell.

As Du Cane says about the Kettlebell Boomer DVD:
The truth is this is not a DVD just for Boomers, this DVD is really for anyone who needs a slow, safe, progressive introduction into kettlebell training. The workouts allow people to follow each exercise at their true level. They may have a bum shoulder and healthy knees and hips or the reverse. This allows them to always follow the level that is safe and appropriate for them. And when they get stronger and more mobile they can move up to the next level without buying a new DVD.

The Content of Kettlebell Boomers
The pointy end of the DVD is its two main workouts - a strength workout and an endurance workout - but it's assets are the pre and post elements around these workouts.
Openning overview / preview of the DVD by Du Cane

A preliminary discussion presented by Du Cane previews what's in the dvd, goes over the benefits of using kb's, but also stresses safety first and how to use the demonstrations of technique for all the exercises. I found this fascinating; the preview target audience to whom i showed this video found this part of the vid "a bit long" but appreciated that it was important.

Prepatory Drills And so each movement from deadlift to press that is used in the workouts is presented before the workouts for progressions to achieve proper form. Common errors are addressed along with corrective drills to improve position.

These sections will look very familiar to folks who have done an RKC or HKC certification: the same basic concepts apply at any age. As Du Cane says of these movement choices:
I just followed the basic movement pattern of the RKC and added a few extras. The foundational exercises are important for all ages of athletes and level of experience.

Versions More than just the correctives, Du Cane presents four versions of each movement mapped to athlete strength and mobility.
Multiple Versions of each position in the warm up shown

 Herein lies another clever way of presenting the material. There are four athletes, two men and two women, the youngest of whom is 58. One of the athletes has likewise had a hip replacement. It's not uncommon for videos to show variants of moves for different strengths, but the thougthful part of this DVD is that it takes into account different common limitations in this group like hip replacements, and shows how movement and strength training are still vital for continuing health.  There really is a version in here for everyone.

The actual work sets have two compelemtary movements performed for timed sets. Dynamic movements like swings are blended into isometric work like planks. Each set always demonstraits the variant for current strength/ability from using different height blocks, to chairs for support.

Timed sets, with variants for moves from box height for bell to range of motion to load demonstrated

An advantage of these four variants is that as one moves from one range/ability level in a movement say, unweighted squats, the next level up, such as squat with weight to a chair, is available. By the time the athlete has done with the most challenging level, they're ready to move on to any other program they wish. Perhaps Kettlebell Goddess or Enter the Kettlebell.

 A key feature of the video is that we get to hear some of the stories of the athletes in the video, and what's drawn them from various backgrounds to using kettlebells. The interviews are surprising, compelling, delightful and interesting.

These are real people doing real work for real reasons who have lived real lives. Cool. For me, this feature alone makes the DVD worth the price of admission.

Get Up special section
All in all the preview audience who went through and tried out the video thought it was good - with only one exception.

The general feedback was that the special section on the turkish get up would have been better if if had shown the movement done by Du Cane first rather than by someone just learning and being coached through the movement.

In response to this question, Du Cane says:
Honestly, it doesn't bother me. They have me doing the full getup [after the presentation with the learner]. Coaching someone not perfect is actually a very good way to learn. Most people will do the same mistakes as the athlete, so they can learn from my coaching and then also watch me do it right. The shoot was really like the real world, and I was going for reality.
 Andrea Du Cane has been working with older athletes for years now - indeed in the Hardstyle community she has a reputation for developing programs for what are often known as "special populations" Hence this video:
I...have for the last couple of years about training people's parents/grandparents. I have a lot of older clients and it was time to address a vibrant, growing population. ..I have a lot of older clients and have a certain "knack" and compassion for working with them. I see how kettlebell training can really impact their lives. Lastly, I have watched my In-laws reaching 90 yrs old and realize what kettlebell training could have done for them...Much of what is on the DVD are exercises I use when working with older or de-conditioned clients.
Of course there are a few things I have changed because it is a stand alone DVD and I'm not there coaching them...Using 4 athlete's doing the "same" exercise with different modifications and using "real" people as the athlete's with all their imperfections makes it real and approachable for the audience. I don't think I'd change a thing.
If you're interested in working with Andrea, various opportunities are on the horizon:
Well right now I'm finishing up a manual for my two day Ageless Body workshop. Much of it is based on the DVD and book, but I am adding a few extras that I couldn't put in the DVD. I will also have sections on diet, nutrition, supplements and programming.
Then I have a very detailed Windmill technique DVD [coming out].
As a Master RKC, Andrea can also be foud leading many HKC certs and co-leading RKC and RKC II certifications. She'll be at the first UK RKC in Belfast this October, 7-9 (oh ya, and dan john will be at that one, too b2d interview with dan, here)

IF you or someone you know has been pretty sedentary - whether younger or older - and wants to find a SAFE path into dynamic resistance training, beyond seeing a qualified coach to tune that performance, the Kettlebell Boomer DVD is a thorough presentation and easy follow along program.

If you're in the UK - reminder - you can order direct from Kettlebell Fever.


1 comment:

Randy Hauer said...

"With the fact that the population is aging, and that resistance training is such a Good Idea for so many reasons, you'd think the entire fitness market would turn its attention to this population. "In the States I believe the "Fitness Industry" refers to boomers as "Executive Trainees". Indeed, this is probably the demographic most in need of guidance and the most able to pay for that service but it is also the most prone to exercise related injury and illness. Trainers really need to know their stuff about middle age trainees, which partially explains why they are under served: there isn't much professional preparation available for Trainers outside of formal physical therapy training, nor is there much in the way of guidance from the organizations that certify Trainers. To my knowledge there is only one book (fairly dated and machine-centric)on the subject of training middle aged adults from ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)although it's been awhile since I've looked.


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