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Fourth Quarter Fitness

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

ENTRY 4 - DECEMBER 12, 2022

This is the final entry of this 12-week training block, and it contains a special bit of information: Namely, my applied framework. This is essentially the same set of concepts that have brought me success in politics, business, and fitness.


While this training block consisted of only 12 weeks, I’ve been using this kettlebells / yoga program - with lots of walks and a few runs sprinkled in throughout - since May 2022. Overall, the process has proven successful beyond what I'd hoped.


At the end of each training block, it is wise to step back and reflect on the planning, execution, and results, which is the first part of today's entry.


Reflections

Ascent Yoga studio in Houston Texas
Ascent Yoga & Ascent Consultants Houston HQ

I've thoroughly enjoyed this new challenge. This was my first prolonged training program with kettlebells as the primary apparatus. I've gained strength, mobility, and confidence with progressively heavier kettlebells and more complex movements.


After ~6 months though, my body is asking for a break. The volume of training, plus yoga (teaching & practicing), launching the studio, and the other demands of life in general means that it is time to throttle back down for a bit. This is what we call "undulating periodization" - periods of intense work, followed by periods of focused and intentional rest / recovery.


That doesn’t mean that I stop training. It does mean that I shift into a lower intensity mode to allow the body to recover while prepping for the next training phase. This could be called "maintenance mode", for example.


Things I’ve Learned, Liked

  • You need very little equipment to stay in shape if you have a good program and good discipline

  • The fundamentals - the bread-and-butter, boring work - deliver more results than any "hack" or "shortcut" you might be considering

  • Consistency is king. Showing up even when you're not "feeling it" makes all the difference.

  • Kettlebells are incredibly versatile, and are one of the best training tools you can add to your routine


Things I Miss, Changes to Consider

  • Squats & deadlifts, and some variety in my training

  • Steam room & contrast therapy

  • The gym camaraderie & teamwork that occurs among people chasing their fitness goals

  • Teaching & coaching in the gym



Matt Beckmann teaching a yoga class at Ascent Yoga
Candid shot of Matt at Ascent Yoga's Grand Opening

Next Steps & The Framework


During the "intelligent recovery & reflection" phase, I will take a few weeks to allow my body to recover, while also beginning to map out my next training block.


To accomplish this, I'll simply return to my trusted framework and work through that process:




The Framework:
  • Clarity & Self-awareness

  • Purposeful effort & Capacity Building

  • Intelligent Recovery & Reflection (Where I am now, from a macro/training perspective)

Repeat as needed, with a beginner's mindset.


How it Works:

Using a yoga/fitness lens, we can apply this as follows, but every single is going to have their own nuanced way of piecing this together. It is an iterative process.


Clarity & self-awareness help create the game plan:

  • Identify & articulate goals

    • Healthier, reduce stress, stronger...

  • Evaluate the current state of affairs vs. the desired goal(s)

    • Diet & exercise habits for example

    • Experience in yoga

  • Create a strategic plan to reach the goal

    • Choose metrics to measure, check in points

    • Step by step process creation


Purposeful Effort & Capacity Building are about executing the plan:

  • Get into the gym or on the yoga mat, go for a run, or attend a fitness class. Do the work!

    • Hire a trainer, coach, or another third-party to provide expertise or accountability

  • Learn the fundamentals in order to access more challenging / advanced skills


Intelligent Recovery & Reflection are about allowing the body to recuperate to ensure consistent performance levels (or to hit peak performance at a specific time - like a competition), and to evaluate our chosen metrics and strategy:

  • Rest & recovery components of a training plan; restorative yoga

  • Reflection on the effectiveness of the strategy & plan

    • Check metrics and evaluate progress

  • Identify areas for adaptation & evolution

    • New skills acquired opens up new levels of potential plans and strategies


Finally, be sure to give intentional time to all three elements.

  • Too much focus on clarity and planning, and nothing gets done

  • Work without a plan risks waste, inefficiency

  • No time for recovery leads to burnout or performance loss

  • No reflection means we risk repeating mistakes

Repeat and apply as needed with a beginner's mindset.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Thanks for reading.


- Matt




ENTRY 3 - NOVEMBER 4, 2022

One month into the 4th quarter already, so it is time for reflection and, if needed, refinement.


Looking back at this month of training, the only one “hiccup” is that I swapped out one day of kettlebells for an extra day of yoga recently. I call it a hiccup because it wasn't a planned de-load week, but my body said it needed the break. "No days off" is an amateur mindset.



Yoga is an essential component at the moment, both physically and mentally. It helps keep my body capable, and my mind calm and focused. The work on the mat supports everything else I want to do.


Sleep isn’t so much a challenge, but remains an ongoing adjustment process, due to the inevitable inconsistencies of running a new yoga studio, and the coming daylight savings shift.


My diet is very consistent, and remains largely centered around eggs, meat, fruit, and milk, with quite a lot of espresso and water. This works great for me, and that is key with diet and nutrition - you have to create a routine that works for YOU.


My supplements are very basic. I am using creatine, protein powder, and vitamin packs daily, and add a complex carbohydrate to my protein shakes on training days. I am not using any pre-workout during this block. Just the aforementioned espressos.


My daily 200g protein target effectively puts me into a calorie surplus. If you’re not an intuitive eater (most people aren't), you can find many resources to help you identify your macros and help track those, along with calorie intake. Diet will account for as much as 75% of your results!


In terms of measuring progress, I am using two key metrics. My ability to handle my heavier kettlebells and my daily protein goal. For example, my 53-pound snatches for reps feels much easier today than it did weeks ago. Ditto the clean and press with the 62-pound bell.


The next major checkpoint is the end of November. At the moment, with things going well – both in terms of fitting this training into my overall routine, and delivering some quantifiable results – there isn’t really any need to refine the program.


I’ll just continue to listen to my body, while pushing for those kettlebell gains and watching my protein intake. Lots of focus on the fundamentals.


As always, all kettlebell workouts are posted to Instagram, and saved in stories @themattbeckmann.


Currently, these are all full-body workouts designed to take from about 45 to 75 minutes, and can be scaled very easily depending on your skill level and access to equipment.


If you have specific questions, reach out for a fitness consultation.


And don’t forget to book a yoga class.



ENTRY 2 - OCTOBER 5, 2022

This quarter is all about adaptation & evolution.


I am adapting to this new training format and expanding my teaching/coaching skills into kettlebells as well. I am also adapting to this new lifestyle of running a yoga studio in conjunction with my other responsibilities, hobbies, and to-do’s.


Evolution is the natural byproduct of introducing new stimulus.

Matt Beckmann working out with a kettlebell
The Swing is a foundational kettlebell movement

One week in, and the fundamentals are settled:

- 3 days / week Kettlebell training

- 3 days / week yoga & walks or cardio

- 200g protein per day

- 7+ hours sleep per day

- 1 gallon water per day


This is a very simple structure that works for me. I know myself, and I know what type of environment and structure I need to stay accountable and perform at my best.


I train or take walks in the morning and (depending on the day) am practicing some type of yoga at least once, either taking a class at the studio, or finding time for my own practice or recovery work.


Knowing what my fitness requirements are on any given day, I can plan on working that into my schedule.


With the degree of unpredictability in my life right now, I am intentionally NOT programming a highly detailed workout program.


Instead, I'm using the KISS Method (Keep it Stupid Simple).


I’m focused on fundamental movements and tracking those across one of two metrics.


The Moves:

- Swings

- Cleans

- Snatches

- Squats & lunges

- Pull ups

- Push ups

- Floor presses

- Rows


The metrics are simple. For loaded movements, are the reps and weight going up? For bodyweight movements, can I do more reps before failure? Fundamentally, am I getting stronger?


Each individual workout will consist primarily of these moves, or some variations thereon, depending on recent workouts and other considerations.


If you're having difficulty setting up your Q4 structure, let's chat and help get you on the road to high-performance and well-being.



ENTRY 1 - INTRODUCTION


A key leadership task is helping others remove obstacles that stand between them and their goals.


In that context, this post is going to be home for fitness & wellness tips during Q4 2022 - and is also a challenge to start or level up your current fitness and wellness routine.


To begin with, an introduction:


My current training regimen, which will run through Q4, consists primarily of kettlebell training, yoga, and cardio. Below you'll find a variety of information to help you choose a plan and build your workouts.

Matt Beckmann teaching yoga at Ascent Yoga in Houston
Fitness & mobility are key to longevity and well-being

I'm also including some great videos and social media accounts to help you with form, programming, and other fitness tips.


I will be posting all of my kettlebell workouts to my Instagram account as well to provide some guidance and inspiration. There are about 13 workouts already there, so you can dive right in.


DISCLAIMER / WORD OF ADVICE:

Consult a professional before starting any exercise regimen. If you have never used kettlebells, watch this video first. It is hands down one of the best instructional videos out there. I've watched it several times.


In kettlebell training, form is PARAMOUNT. Always choose a weight that you know, with certainty, that you can control and with which you can safely execute the movement. Failure to do so could result in injury and/or property damage, or worse. Let's all agree to avoid those issues.


Modify all workouts as needed based on your goals, equipment access, mobility limitations or pre-existing injuries, and any other individual needs. We want to have fun and get fit, safely.


Now, on to the framework and other details.


Schedule Options

  • 3 days per week

    • 2 kettlebell training sessions, one yoga/cardio/class

  • 4 days per week

    • 2 kettlebell training sessions, two yoga/cardio/class

  • 5 days per week

    • 3 kettlebell training sessions, two yoga/cardio/class

Choose a schedule you can incorporate into your weekly routine. You can always ramp up / down, but as with any goal, if you want to make progress, consistency is key! So choose something you can stick with for at least a month.


Cardio & Class Ideas

  • Walk

  • Ruck

  • Bike, spin class, air bike intervals

  • Row

  • Stairmaster or elliptical machine

  • Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ, grappling

  • Run or jog

  • Yoga, all types

  • Barre

  • Pilates

In between workouts, you have the option to add in new classes that help you in other areas of fitness, or pick up a new hobby. If you're new to fitness, it is all about creating a sustainable routine that works for YOU, so enjoy the trial and error process.


Matt Beckmann providing yoga instruction
Matt teaching at Ascent Yoga

Yoga is a great option not only because you can come to Ascent Yoga, but because it will help with overall flexibility and mobility. It will also teach you how to breathe better, which has a lot of benefits both in fitness and life generally.


Equipment


I recommend having access to 3+ Kettlebells (light, medium, and heavy) and a pull up bar.



General Themes & Concepts

Each kettlebell workout can be broken into 4 sections

  • Warm up

  • Power movements first

    • Snatches

    • Cleans

    • Swings

    • Thrusters

    • Dynamic complexes

  • Strength movements second

    • Presses & rows, pull ups, pushups

  • Volume, accessory & core work last

    • Light weight, high rep movements

    • Curls

    • Core work

Reps & Rest, generally:

  • Low reps (3-5), rest 90 seconds to 2 minutes

  • Mid-range (6-10), rest 1 minute

  • High-range (12+), rest 30-45 seconds

Lower body:

  • Balance hip- and knee-dominant moves (hinge and squat)

    • Hip

      • Power moves (above)

      • RDL

    • Knee

      • Squat variations

      • Lunges

  • Add in lateral and unilateral training to ensure you work in all 3 planes of movement

    • Lateral lunge / Cossack squat

    • Single leg RDL

    • Split squats and lunges

    • Offset loads, including weighted carries and core work

Upper body:

  • Balance between press and pull

  • Press

    • OHP variations

    • Floor, bridge press

    • Squeeze press

    • Push-ups, variations

  • Pull

    • Row variations

    • Pull ups

    • Hi pull

    • Curls

Here is a sample workout that can also be a quality, go-to workout:

  • Swings

  • Goblet Squat

  • Clean and press

  • Pull ups

  • Push ups

  • Rows

  • Core

Daily:

  • 6-8 hours sleep

  • Gallon water


Additional Resources:

Kettlebells with Pavel - GREAT video on proper form!


Once again, I have workouts posted on my Instagram account as well, but with each of these resources, you can find your own workouts and lots of inspiration.


I'll also be posting additional thoughts below as we move through the fourth quarter.


Have fun, be safe, and holler with questions!


- Matt







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