How to be strong without looking like a muscle freak

When you say you want to be fit, what do you mean exactly? To be able to run a marathon? To be able to do 100 pushups in a row? To be able to lift something twice your body weight?

For me, it’s to get stronger without looking like a muscle freak AND be able to hold my own in terms of stamina. If you want to have both strength and endurance, how do you get it?

What you need to do is get your heart pumping and teardown muscle fibers. Do workouts that leave you both out of breath and with muscle soreness. Sounds simple right?

It’s not enough to just go out and run, running trains your heart and stamina. It doesn’t tear or break down much of your muscle fibers. Not as much as resistance training.

It’s not enough to just lift heavy weights and do pushups, they mainly train only your strength. They don’t get your heart rate up high enough or long enough. Cardio does a better job.

The sweet spot I’ve found are kettlebell workouts. Especially the Russian kettlebell swing. I actually discovered it from an experiment done by David Cain, author of raptitude.com, one of my favorite blogs.

After months of kettlebell workouts, I started early this year but it’s been going on and off a lot, I can honestly say that they are awesome. You’ll be surprised how exhausting kettlebell swings are and how great they are at building strength!

Don’t be put off by the “manliness” of kettlebells, it actually builds strength without building bulk! Something you’ll find pretty rare in the fitness world. And don’t take my word for it, watch it yourself.

This is the female world record for 24kg kettlebell snatches, held by Ksenia Dedyukhina, i.e, using one hand to swing a 24kg weight from knee level, to above your head as many times as possible in 10 minutes, and you’re not allowed to put the weight down unless you’re done.

How much does the luggage you pack when going on a vacation weigh? 24kg? How long can you hold it with one hand for? If you condense all that weight into a ball with a handle, can you swing it to above your head? Do you know how exhausting it is to keep swinging that weight for 10 full minutes, let alone swing it 202 times?

Another thing worth noting in the video above. Have you noticed how their bodies looked like? Nothing like those muscle freaks you were imagining I take? I hope this convinces you to give kettlebells a try, they are amazing!


As much as I’d like to research Ksenia, there’s not a lot of articles in English. Most are in Russian, which I can’t read. She’s still a great role model though!

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