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Hip-Hop Health: Pat Flynn introduces you to Kettlebells

First and foremost who is Pat Flynn and how long have you been using kettlebells?

If you go solely from my Twitter profile – you will see that I am a fitness connoisseur, entrepreneur, free market philosopher, and a pen thief.

I’m not exceedingly proud of that last one – but the confession should help me maintain a positive karma balance.

Currently I am the owner/operator of the Chronicles of Strength which according to last month’s Hitwise report is now officially one of the top 500 blogs in the world out of over 150 million (currently we are even whooping on Men’s Health Australia and Men’s Health Singapore – but could still use some more love/traffic from Sudan…). An achievement I am incredibly proud of, yet humbled by, as it would never have been possible without such strong support from people such as yourself.

I started Chronicles of Strength in 2009 as a way to share some of the many neat little body and lifestyle augmentation tricks that I know, and also to learn from all the other smart folk out there on the “Internets” (George Bush circa 2001).

Describe your first experience using kettlebells. How did you feel after using kettlebells?

I remember the whole experience like it was just four years ago. I guess because it was.

I was an undergrad at the time and training with my school’s Tae Kwon Do team (my lifelong sport). The coach of the team at that time, and my now current business partner Somnath Sikdar (also an incredibly smart and strong dude) brought me down to his gym to show me his “cattle-ball” collection.

At this time I would argue that I was already a justly fit and a well-rounded athlete…

Now let me be very clear - I am entirely comfortable with my sexuality, but my life changed vividly when I first saw Som take off his shirt. Here’s this dude that will not only round house kick you in the ribs so hard that your spine will come through your throat and have you looking around for a new pair of shorts, but also had this awe inspiring ripped and sinewy look of a weathered fighter – much like how they portray the Spartans in the movie 300. The exact kind of look that a dude who has a black belt in being a badass SHOULD have.

I immediately knew that there had to be something to this kettlebell training thing.

And I’ll never forget my first lesson. It was more so a lesson in manhood than anything else, because I got the absolute sh#* kicked out of me. Som threw me right into “the pit” under this absolute lunatic of a man. He was an unforgettable herculean figure – tall, pale white, shaved head, red goatee, sporting a black tank top and short black shorts and the same ripped, sinewy look of a hardened and weathered warrior. When we first met he gave me this glare that felt like it was burning right into my soul. I knew right away this guy was serious. His name was Brian Petty.

“Do you see that thing over there”, he said pointing to a 24kg kettlebell. “Go pick it up and bring it over here.”

I obeyed.

Long story short he spent a half hour with me teaching me the kettlebell swing. Doesn’t sound like much…

And I promise I really don’t cry that often…

I read your bio and it states that you are the owner/operator of The Chronicles of Strength. Would you mind discussing the vision for The Chronicles of Strength?

The Chronicles of Strength has already become more than I ever envisioned it to be. I imagine I sort of feel like the guy who created the Blob. Except my creation helps people, rather than swallows alive. Which I think is a good thing.

What I’m getting at is that the Chronicles of Strength has evolved far beyond a simple blog or editorial. It is now an exceptionally diverse give and take community.

The culture of perpetual betterment that has become the Chronicles of Strength is something that I don’t believe can be found anywhere else, and the type of people that interact on and subscribe to the Chronicles of Strength are nothing short of amazing.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I help other people not be circus elephants.

What in the world do I mean by this? I’ll explain. It is derived from one of my all-time favorite motivational anecdotes…

If you’ve ever been to a circus and seen an elephant there, then you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

It really is amazing; because here is this absolutely enormous and powerful creature, that could so easily escape the confines of the circus if only he or she wanted to. Instead the elephant does what it is told when it is told to do it, and otherwise just sits quietly minding his/her own business.

So why doesn’t this gargantuan creature just decide to up and walk right out? It’s not because of any sort of crazy torture or control device that the circus folk may have on hand. Rather it’s because he’s been brainwashed since birth that he or she is UNABLE to do so.

You see, when the elephant is just a baby, they tie him or her up to an iron ball or an iron post. And the poor guy does try to escape. But as a baby elephant he or she is simply too weak, and as hard as he or she tries, no progress is ever made. So at a very young age, the elephant’s spirit is broken, and he or she is convinced/brainwashed that he does not possess the power to escape.

This belief stays with the elephant for his/her entire life. Even long after the iron ball and chain has been removed. The elephant still holds onto the belief that he/she is simply TOO weak and unable to escape. So he/she never even tries…

Unfortunately, our society is not much different. At a young age we are brainwashed and made to believe that we are circus elephants – and unable to escape the rules, restrictions, and misinformation that we are constantly exposed to during our young and tender years. So the sad truth is that people never even try to truly live up to their full potential. They never even try to live life the way they want to live it, simply because they are afraid that they are unable to do so.

What we do at the Chronicles of Strength is help people overcome that circus elephant mentality. We help folks break through the fog of “reality” in order to realize and to pursue their true potential.

What is the biggest misconception of kettlebell training?

To me, I believe the biggest misconception when it comes to kettlebell training is that it is often marketed or perceived as an end all be all solution.

This is never the case. Not with the kettlebell, or any other system for that matter.

The kettlebell is simply a noun. It is just one tool. It’s how you use the tool that really matters, and in some cases, some tools may be more appropriate than other tools.

What I like to tell folks is that it is never really about the kettlebell. It’s about you, and teaching you how to move and operate like an athlete. The kettlebell just happens to be a fantastic tool for teaching that.

I recently purchased your eBook The Birth of a Hero and I noticed that you included kettlebell complexes. How important are complexes to weight loss and can kettlebell training increase strength?

I wrote a post not too long ago about why you should never do any more than the absolute bare minimum for anything you do. HERE’s the link to that.

This is particularly true when it comes to fitness.

It’s funny, in sixth grade my math teacher told me that I did not know the value of hard work because I refused to do the homework. The previous statement was repeated during my junior year of college by an accounting professor.

Yet I have always been a straight A student.

So I guess I really still don’t understand the value of hard work.

What I do understand the value of however, is smart work.

Anybody can work hard, but working hard doesn’t really mean anything. Give me a spoon and I’ll work my ass off to dig a hole. But I’d rather work smart and use a shovel. Or better yet a backhoe and get the job done in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the effort.

This philosophy can and should be applied to all aspects of your life; especially fitness.

It isn’t the fact that people aren’t willing to work hard when it comes to losing weight. I have known hundreds of folks who have worked their asses off trying to lose weight and get stronger for years, only to no avail. The true problem is that they just weren’t working smart.

Metabolic conditioning and kettlebell complex training is working smart. The whole premise behind my Birth of a Hero eBook is to do no more than the absolute bare minimum in order to achieve the desired output. To do anymore doesn’t make any sense! That’s why it’s called the minimum!

If you need X number of inputs for the output of Y, then that’s what you need – anymore is just a malinvestment of your time. For most people, when it comes to losing weight, this is simply three days a week of intelligently designed training sessions – as outlined in The Birth of a Hero.

Kettlebell complexes are all about efficiency; working through different muscle groups and energy systems in order to get the biggest bang for your buck workout in the least amount of time possible. This is why complexes are so effective for fat loss, because you are simultaneously training multiple facets of athleticism. The amount of calories that you burn both during and after a Birth of a Hero metabolic conditioning workout is unbelievable, especially for how small the initial time investment is.

When it comes to fat loss, so long as your nutrition is in check, nothing is more effective or efficient than metabolic conditioning and kettlebell complex training.

As for the question can kettlebell training increase strength? Of course they can, so long as you are training smart! Strength should always be approached as a form of practice. Far too often people approach trying to get strong by going into the gym, slapping on two twenty five pound plates on a barbell, and banging out sets of ten on the bench press. Then they may finish up with some hammer curls, leg extensions, and a few sit ups. Then they wonder why their bench hasn’t gone up over the last three years.

That isn’t how you get strong.

What that is, is just silly.

The truth is if you want to get strong, then all you really have to do is practice moving heavy weight around at least some of the time. I don’t understand why so many folks still fail to embrace this simple doctrine.

Now if those heavy things you want to lift just so happen to be kettlebells, then it is safe to say that kettlebells can certainly make you stronger. But again, the kettlebell is a tool. It’s how you train with that tool that ultimately matters.

In the Birth of a Hero, I outline what is probably the simplest and most sensible approach to increasing your strength, which is single rep strength (SRS) training. The whole idea behind SRS, is that you rarely will ever do any more than one rep of any one lift at a time, because the truth is if you really want to get stronger, then you really don’t ever need to or should be doing any more than one rep at a time. And if you are really moving around the big boy/big girl weights, then you probably won’t be able to do any more than one rep at a time anyways.

What do the initials RKC stand for?

RKC stands for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge or the Russian Kettlebell Certification. RKC is sort of like the “Harvard of Kettlebell Training." The testing to achieve an RKC certification is physically rigorous to say the least and includes being able to complete the 100 rep kettlebell snatch test. This entails being able to perform 100 kettlebell snatches with a 24kg kettlebell if you are a male or a 16kg kettlebell if you are a female in less than 5 minutes.

This initially intimidates a lot of potential candidates, and it brings us back to working hard versus working smart, because a lot of people fail this test simply because they approach training for it in a “work hard” rather than “work smart” manner.

I went into and passed my RKC certification at 18 years of age and weighing a measly 155lbs and smoked the snatch test in four minutes and twenty seconds. No one in my group was lighter than me, no one in my group was younger than me (or at the entire event for that matter), and no one in my group passed as easily as me. And that’s not because I am just genetically gifted (quite the opposite) or like to brag (which believe it or not actually I don’t), but because I knew how to train intelligently and stick to bare minimum.

Below is a video I just recorded the other day of me completing this snatch test in under four minutes.

Also below are two more videos of females who have been following the Birth of a Hero program who have also gone from never touching a kettlebell to conquering the snatch test in under three months. Deanna, the woman in the last video, has also lost over 70lbs since she started training with the Birth of a Hero. Again, it’s all about working smart.

Video 1: RKC Snatch Test - 100 reps - 24kg Kettlebell - In 3:47

Video 2: 100 Rep RKC Female Snatch Test Made Easy

Video 3: Female Destroys RKC Snatch Test - 100 Reps w/ 16kg bell in 3:20

Would you mind telling us about Dragon Door and how you were introduced to Dragon Door?

Dragondoor is the publishing company behind the RKC certification. I was introduced to Dragondoor through my original mentor and coach Brian Petty RKC. If you want to buy yourself a decent set of kettlebells, Dragondoor is the place to get them.

I have been training with kettlebells for about six months and the pounds have been coming off at a rapid rate. What are the three best kettlebell exercises for weight loss?

Assuming that your diet is in check, then here are my three favorite “biggest bang for your buck” kettlebell movements.

1. The Kettlebell Swing
2. Double Kettlebell Clean and Press
3. Double Kettlebell Front Squat

You can see Som and I demo both of these exercises in our follow along “Racked and Loaded” workout – Here’s the Link to that

All three of these movements are full body, synergistic movements with a large amount of neuromuscular activation – meaning they burn a lot of calories, especially when you use the big weights.

Of course to expedite the fat loss process, why not just put them all into a complex like this one:

What are the three best kettlebell exercises for strength training?

I would argue the same exact ones! The beauty about intelligently designed programs like the Birth of a Hero is that there is no mutual exclusivity between training for strength and training for weight loss. You get the best of both worlds with metabolic conditioning and single rep strength training!

How can the masses stay in contact with you?

Get active on The Chronicles of Strength! We highly encourage interaction in the comment section of all of our blog posts.

I can also be reached by email at Hardstylekettlebells@yahoo.com

Oh, and of course you can find me on Twitter HERE

And on Facebook HERE

You have a plethora of YouTube tutorials that showcase Kettlebell complexes, How To videos, and much more. What are the advantages of video marketing for you and your brand?

Just how the kettlebell is tool one tool for fitness, YouTube is just one tool for marketing.

The cool thing about our YouTube channel is that the growth has been completely organic – meaning we don’t use any ppc or ppv on YouTube.

The funny thing is that the Chronicles of Strength actually drives more traffic to our YouTube channel, then our YouTube channel drives traffic to the Chronicles of Strength.

Clearly a benefit of promoting yourself via YouTube is that it’s free. But again, that doesn’t mean much if you can’t attract people to your channel!

No matter what business you are in, you are always in the business of attraction and retention. We have many neat little marketing tricks that we use to attract people to our site (I’d be happy to do an entirely separate interview on effective internet marketing and reveal these tricks for anyone who is interested), but it is the quality content that keeps them coming back and telling their friends about us.

What I do like about YouTube and other social media outlets is that it has reinvented the “mom and pops” feel of business on the grand scale. YouTube and social media marketing has made it possible for me to put me (my personality) into my brand and into my marketing. Furthermore, good business is all about making friends. Because people like to do business with people that they can trust. YouTube and other social media outlets are great tools for relationship building.

Any final words?

I want to thank everyone on Praverb who has taken the time to read this interview, and it is my most sincere hope that you have been able to extract some true value out of it! I also want to thank you Patrick for reaching out to me and making this happen.

If anyone has any questions at all about anything that I covered in this interview, please leave some love in the comment section!

Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicles of Strength Newsletter!

Find me on Twitter HERE and on Facebook HERE


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