My Review of the Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs: Week 5
I think the Madison Police Department will soon be hiring me to kick down doors and punch unruly suspects. Thanks to my practicing jabs, punches, hooks and kicks with Dasha Libin’s Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs, I’ll be adequately prepared to tame the riffraff around town here.
“Every woman should get a chance to punch once in a while,” Dasha says in the Strength DVD. “Not only boys get to punch.” Sounds good to me!
My Week 5 progress report
Now that I’m at Week 5 of my time with the Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs, you might be wondering if I’ve seen any changes in my physique. The answer is yes, there have been changes- just not any I can really see. However, after taking a tape measure to myself, I am happy to report that my arms have each increased by half an inch and are now 11.5 inches. Previously, they were both 11 inches. Also, my waist has shrunk by an entire inch, if not more (the tape measure was rather slack there), to 29 inches. My hip circumference, which started at 37.5 inches, is down to just under 37 inches.
Interestingly, my thighs still measure the same 22 inches.
Initially, I was puzzled by the large change in my waist yet not in my thighs and only slightly in my hips; however, having completed some background reading on the process of fat loss, I now see that my altered proportions make sense. For women, the first areas to put on fat are the hips and thighs; conversely, these are also the last areas to go during overall fat loss. For men, the first area to accumulate fat is the midsection (i.e., gut).
This helps explains why many women can have tiny waists on top of large hips and thighs. Meanwhile, a stick figure-thin man can still carry a paunch.
My weight gain
After Week 2, I gained over 2 lbs and initially assumed it was because I was putting on muscle. However, after spending a few days avoiding my typical diet of potato chips, chocolate and ice cream, I lost that weight and am now back at my starting weight of 141.6 lbs. Thus, I’ve learned that 30-minute kettlebell kickboxing workouts do not warrant a major increase in calorie consumption.
Also, as Dasha mentions in her Nutrition and Training booklet, you really do need to engage in “clean eating” in order to see healthy weight loss and resulting muscle definition. Otherwise, even a significant increase in muscle mass will not be evident under layers and layers of fat.
So, for me, that means no more empty calories (bye-bye potato chips!). I’m also making an effort to incorporate more protein into my diet.
High-reps equal fat loss
One thing that Dasha notes several times in her workout DVDs is how high repetition, low resistance weight training does not bulk you up. The reason for this, as I have now know, is because high repetition exercise inevitably becomes an aerobic exercise that uses fat stores for energy. Conversely, low repetition, high resistance exercise (e.g., classic weight lifting) encourages the body to use carbohydrates, not fat, for energy. Sure, your muscle mass and strength increase as a result of such high resistance training, but at the cost of not ridding your body of fat.
This is also why Dasha pushes you to raise your heart rate as much as possible while working out to these DVDs. She constantly recommends going as fast as possible with the exercises, although “speed only comes with [proper] technique.”
Thus, my initial assumption that I’d be buying heavier and heavier kettlebells with time was wrong. Dasha never talks about increasing kettlebell weight, only going faster and/or doing more exercise repetitions.
Frequent exercise breaks
Another intriguing fact I noticed about Dasha’s workouts is that, within an exercise routine that runs 25-40 minutes, she has you take 3-4 minute-long breaks. I have since learned that there is a very real physiological reason for these breaks: growth hormone is stimulated by higher repetition exercises followed by breaks of about one minute. Growth hormone is also lypolytic, meaning it helps break down fat.
Furthermore, growth hormone release is impeded by lactic acidosis, a condition that quickly occurs when muscles are strained by high resistance (e.g., classic weight lifting) training. So, the frequent breaks allotted for in Dasha’s Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs simultaneously enable growth hormone release and lactic acid clearance- both of which lead to fat loss.
Balance is the focal point
Something else that initially puzzled (more like annoyed) me about the Kettlebell Kickboxing workouts was Dasha’s insistence on maintaining balance and coordination throughout many of the choreographed exercise routines. As a longtime runner, I much preferred to just “zone out” and meditate while exercising.
Unfortunately, I was also often plagued by running injuries. With my regular running shoes, I had to wear a brace on my left knee or end up hobbling the next day. With my minimalist “barefoot” running shoes, my left knee does not require support- but I’ve ended up with two cases of plantar fasciitis (i.e., bruised heel) that stopped me from running for roughly three months after each incident.
Nowadays, I’ve noticed that I can run longer and harder without feeling the twinges of these old injuries. My suspicion is that, due to Dasha’s focus on maintaining balance and coordination during the exercises, my muscles have become more equal in relation to each other. I don’t have one muscle overworked and another muscle just about to atrophy from lack of use. And that muscle equality has helped me avoid injury as a runner.
Going into the home stretch
With just three weeks left until I give my last update on the Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs, I’m curious about how many more inches I’ll lose and just where. I’m also working out more and more with the Strength DVD, which is reserved for those individuals who are either on the Advanced or Upkeep program. This DVD, as its name implies, offers additional and tougher exercises intended to challenge exercisers who are now proficient with the core Kettlebell Kickboxing DVDs. One of these tougher exercises is the Boxer Halo, as shown below.
The aim of this extra Kettlebell Kickboxing DVD is not so much to lose fat anymore as to start sculpting the body; i.e., encouraging muscle growth. Progress!