Myomy Fitness

Healthy and Strong at Home with Kettlebells

Beginner’s Fitness Journey | Part 2


Happy New Year, everyone!!!

The beginning of the year brings people to realise all the things they would like to achieve/change in their lives. These reflections and resolutions are good, but often they come on a cloud of excitement and unrealistic expectations, only to fizzle out as reality hits and we fail to success as quickly as we hoped. You all know the story!

The Beginner’s Fitness Journey (check out part 1 by clicking HERE) series is here to help root you in reality! My task is to help you understand that when you begin to exercise and have a good program to follow, that your long-term results will depend mostly on YOUR consistency throughout the times when the initial results slow down.  As I say at the end of the video: 

“It’s as much about each piece of the jigsaw being shaped to fit the next as it is about the completed picture.”

This takes time!

People say the hardest part is getting started. This is not so true of the new year; the hardest part is actually motoring on.   Sometimes we don’t need to be completely rigid with ourselves, but do things in small steps … which, as it happens, is the idea behind my first ever online product *SMALL PLUG ALERT* —> Yes, I am currently putting together a 12 week program that takes you from wanting to train regularly to ACTUALLY training regularly and with a great structure! All you need to do is commit to the goal and follow through.  I’m working hard to get this completed very soon to help those new year resolutioners to stay on the wagon long enough for exercise to become a part of life and not just something we are detached from.  I’ll keep you all posted on this 🙂

Since this beginner’s journey is about a real person (my mother dear), then I will also include the things that don’t go as planned. For example: initially, mum pledged to train 2-3 times per week over 6-8 weeks.  After her first training session, she has actually trained once every 1-2 weeks.  However, she still managed to make some improvements in her form, and strength!  This is good, but not enough to reap the body composition goals that she needs to see.  I am a stickler for consistency and I want strength training to take a higher priority in mum’s life, so that she will enjoy all the benefits and not just the initial ones. Mum agrees!

The workout mum did was more or less the same as the first one, except she did Single Arm Rows instead of Inverted Rows.  The day we did the hotel workout, she also did Single Arm Rows (it wasn’t filmed, because she was just practicing), and she managed 5 reps with 12kg each arm. She has improved in this also!  I also had mum try Hip Thrusts for the first time because her glute bridges had improved so much. 

Check out the video below to see her in action 🙂


Below, is the written breakdown along with the reps and weights used. The pink entries are from the first workout and the black entries are the new workout.

  1. Body Weight Squat: x 12 reps (6-8 reps)
  2. Glute Bridge: x 18 reps (12 reps)
  3. Hip Thrust (first time!): x 8 reps (none)
  4. Two-Handed KB Swing (12kg): 2×30 seconds (20 then 30 seconds)
  5. Single-Arm Row (12kg) (right then left): x 10 reps (5 reps!)
  6. Two-Handed Press (12kg): x 8 reps (5 reps)
  7. Front Plank: x 20 seconds (10 seconds)
  8. Seated Band Abduction: x 18 reps (12 reps)
I think, considering this was my mum’s 3rd proper training session, and the pressure was on, she deserves some extra praise!  
Please take a moment to read the end script in the video.  As a trainer, my longer term goal (sometimes 6 months or so) is for my clients to achieve perfect form, but my short term goal (over the first weeks and even months) is to help them become confident in moving differently than they have before.  Often 2 or more commands become too much information for someone who is only learning to have awareness of the difference between a knee dominant and hip dominant movement.  For this reason, I advance my teaching as my client shows that previous lessons have been recalled well 🙂 This takes a heap of pressure off the trainee and builds their trust in you as a trainer, but also a confidence in themselves —> often, people will want to show their loved ones what they have mastered, which is great for motivation and may even get friends and family interested in exercise. 
I really am very grateful for my work.  To see people excel in self-confidence and physical fitness is pretty awesome 🙂
PS – Please check back over the coming days for a special announcement … I hinted at something else I was involved in a while ago and this project is finally about to launch 🙂

Beginner’s Fitness Journey (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Firstly, I must apologize for not posting this last week.  I got distracted by other things and my priorities shifted for a short time. Anywho, I am back now, and I am excited to launch this new series of posts which will basically follow the fitness journey of a true beginner (aka my Mum, Phyllis Sloan).

What has troubled me for a while now is thinking about Beginners arriving at my site and seeing the types of workouts that I do and thinking this is what is expected of them.  Although I have a “Getting Started” area full of workouts and advice for newbies to the site, I feel I would like to launch a series showcasing an actual beginner as a way to reassure others of what they can truly expect over the first 6-8 weeks of strength training and how important mastering the basics really is.  It’s so easy to become discouraged by seeing how far you have to go, rather than celebrating each step along YOUR journey.

In the absence of a Personal Trainer, hopefully I can help you learn what to work on in order to build a good foundation  of co-ordination, fitness, strength, mobility and recovery in order to then progress beyond the “basics” (although I would argue the basics never get old).

Earlier in the year, I wrote about my mum starting the Beginner Workouts demonstrated HERE.  These are great routines to start with and I will film my mum performing the exercises over the coming weeks to showcase her improvements.

While mum and I were away in County Clare the other week, I brought some of my training equipment with me so I could perform some training in the hotel room.  Mum showed an interest in restarting her training, so I designed the following workout for her to perform, and I coached her through it… and since, I have coaxed her into being my guinea pig (thanks Mother!).

Over the next 6 weeks, mum has agreed to train using similar exercises to the ones below, and on the “Start here” post I linked to above. She will repeat the same workouts and record her scores along the way. She assures me that she can commit to training 2-3 times per week for 10-15 mins at a time.  She may only have time for 1 or 2 rounds of the exercises, but I feel confident that this alone will help build her strength and help her achieve her goals.

Over the last few years, my mum has lost a lot of WEIGHT through diet and cardio-based exercise (a typical story), but is now left with little muscle on her frame.  Basically, although Mum is happy with the weight she is, she now sees that this is not enough to achieving a more “toned” appearance.  Basically, her body composition has not changed very much.

Now the goal is to support muscle growth and try to improve the overall composition of mum’s frame –> this may result in a little weight gain. However, since mum also wants to be healthy and functional into the future, then this is the best way to go.

Now on with the workout mum performed for you to see her baseline.  The ability of my mum in performing these exercises is fairly typical of most people, and I remember being exactly the same.  If you stick with something long enough and learn proper training methods, then the sky is the limit 🙂


I had my mum perform one round of the following exercises:

  1. Jungle Gym Assisted Squat (to refresh her “sitting back” technique) then unassisted Body Weight Squat (still needs to grow in confidence about sitting back with the hips first. Mum is knee dominant like most beginners start out): 10 assisted, then 8 unassisted 
  2. Body Weight Glute Bridge (done before the swing to help fire up the glutes): x12
  3. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x about 20 seconds then 30 seconds (Working on mum’s hip hinge is coming along. I asked if she wanted a rest, but she was determined to get this right LOL)
  4. Two-Handed Overhead Press (12kg) x 5 reps
  5. Inverted Row x 12
  6. Front Plank x 10 seconds
  7. Seated Band Abduction x 12 reps (good glute response)

Two main things I notice mum needs to work on are: her ability to bend at the hips first, rather than initiating from the knees and Hip Mobility.  Her lower back has a very limited range of movement, so this is an issue when trying to teach her to sit her butt back.

In addition to the workout, we did some back extensions, knee to chest tucks and body weight side bends to help move the back mobility.

Over all, mum did a really great job and I am proud of her for giving this a go and letting me film her!

Having confidence in yourself cannot be underrated, so I know as mum gets used to these exercises more, she will test her limits and challenge herself more… but this can take a few weeks.

I am excited about updating you on her progress in 3 weeks time, but until then, you can expect a few more articles dedicated to helping Beginners master the basics and understand my training methods 🙂

In the next installment, I will be answering the question: “How Often Should I Train?”. People often ask me how often I train and then possibly mimic my pattern.  I want to discourage you from doing this because it takes away the ability to listen to your own body and find what works best for you and your goals. So I will expand on this during the next installment of this series —> however I also believe it will be a useful post for those people who have been training for a while.

 Hope you enjoyed this post. If there is anything you’d like me cover, leave a comment below and I will put together a video blog to answer your questions 🙂




Lower Body Mobility Drill | Restoring Movement

Are you doing “The Robot” in life?

Hi all,

As promised, here is the mobility routine I am currently doing. I think the video pretty much explains it, but I have 2 other sources of great information for you:

Now for the video:

Another great piece of advice to help ward off movement stiffness is to become more agile and move an all directions! We often stand or jump in the same spot while we exercise, so why not step outside of the box 😉

These exercises have really helped improve my performance and my SI Joint pain.  Like everything else, it’s a work in progress and I will likely change the things I do over time, so nothing is ever set in stone, and it’s important to find something that works for you.

Feel free to leave your feedback below as I like to hear what others are doing and any additional information can be helpful for readers 🙂



Perfecting The Kettlebell Swing | Correcting 3 Common Errors

Hi everyone,

After seeing countless people perform the Kettlebell Swing poorly, I think it’s about time to tackle this exercise again!

The Swing is not only a great exercise for conditioning and strengthening the posterior chain (back, glutes and hamstrings), but it is the basis for advanced exercises such as the Clean and the Snatch, so it is very important to master the technique. Just because it’s one of the basics, does not mean you should skip the fundamental teachings.

The Kettlebell Swing is what’s known as a Hip Hinge (Hip Flexion and Extension, with a neutral spine). To me, this is the most important movement for people to master, not only to allow proper swing technique, but also any deadlift variation, squats, lunges; I would even argue that understanding the importance of the hip extension portion of the movement is essential to learning how to properly perform Planks, Push Ups, Pull Ups, even Military Presses (basically most exercises).  What I mean is, being able to distinguish the difference between hip flexion/extension verses lumbar (lower back) flexion/extension will ultimately reduce your chance of lower back injuries, and dramatically increase your power production and strength.

The problem is that most people never know the difference and many trainers simply don’t understand the importance of teaching it.  But not all hope is lost; this post will take you through 3 of the most common problems I see in relation to the Kettlebell Swing. However, points 1 and 2 can easily be applied to many other exercises.

Let’s begin:

1) You’re Squatting, not Hinging (using the knees, not the hips)

This is a very common, but easily (in general) corrected error.  Typically, we use our anterior (front) muscles more, and the knees dominate many lower body movements.   This technique is incorrect because the hips are much more powerful than the knees and it is from the hips that we should seek to absorb added load; if we absorb load through our knees, we are headed for trouble down the road, both in our knees and our backs!  During the swing, beginners often squat down to absorb the weight of the Kettlebell, rather than sitting the hips back.

Take-Away Tip A great clue to whether you are using your knees more or your hips, is where you FEEL the exercise working most. If your Quads are burning and fatiguing quickly, then chances are you’re doing a squat-swing – which is inefficient.

Instead you should feel a stretch in the Hamstrings, and even the glutes.

2) Incomplete Hip Extension (your hips fail to follow through)

Because most of us “modern” folk sit a lot and walk very little, we have lost a lot of hip mobility and core stability.  Basically we sit in hip flexion and we are slowly evolving into human-chairs 🙁 This problem becomes even more apparent when you try to exercise and then wonder why you are getting a sore back.  The problem is not your back, the problem lies in your hips. More specifically, they cannot fully extend (straighten) because the end range of this movement has been lost.

Normal Hip extension, should be performed primarily by the glutes, however, due to the “human-chair situation” these great muscles have become inactive and weak.  In addition to dormant glutes, the muscles at the front of your hips become short and tight (or weak, or both) and often the core muscles are very weak as well.  The only way your body can compensate for this incomplete extension of the hips, is by picking up the LACK with the lower back (hence the constant back ache). The back often hyper-extends to make up the difference.

In relation to the Kettlebell Swing, if you lack that end range of hip extension, then you are missing out on one of the most important parts of the swing – the HIP SNAP! You will never be able to properly propel the Weight forward, if your Hips can’t fully extend.

Not only is full hip extension vital for the KB Swing, but it is an essential part of stabilising and grounding the body during other exercises and every day activities … such as standing and walking!

Take-Away Tips: Improve Hip Extension

As part of every warm up, and throughout each day, you should try to fit in the following:

  • Hip Mobility Drill
  • Glute Activation Drill
  • Strengthen your Hip Extension by strengthening the Hip Extensors … the Glutes
  • Become more aware of what you are doing!

There are many drills out there to help achieve this, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

This is one I put together about a year ago to show a basic Hip Mobility and Glute activation drill.  To be honest this is enough for most of my clients and they see great improvement in their squat depth and hip extension because of it.

This next video shows an even more advanced hip mobility drill by Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD. I have tried this myself and, yes, it was very challenging, but IT WORKS A TREAT!

Finally, Hip Flexor Stretches are equally important and should be added into your warm up and cool down.  Here are a couple of examples of methods:

Next, to strengthen your hip extensors, enter the Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust.  Below is my Tutorial on the basics, but you can also check out the full article HERE.

3) Arm-Body Disconnect

This final error can be simply as a result of point number two, however, often it is a timing issue as people prematurely hinge back with the hips, before the arms have made contact with the body.  The problem that arises from this premature hinge is that the weight of the Kettlebell pulls you down toward the floor, rather than swinging back through the legs towards (with the hips).  The downward force causes the upper back to strain and may even turn your Swing into a Squat (depending on the weight of the Kettlebell).

To correct this:

It’s not that you let your arms bang into you on the way down, but you have to time it so you can “catch” your arms as your hips sit back – it should all happen simultaneously (and the Kettlebell should always remain at least half way up your femurs). Then on the upward phase of the swing, you must allow the hips to push the arms forward so the momentum can carry the KB forward.

If there is a gap between the arms and the body, you will load your spine, not your hips (on the downward phase of the swing) and you will likely use your arms to pull the Kettlebell at the top of the swing, because you have not been able to propel the weight properly using the hip snap.  This is very inefficient use of energy.

The KB should feel weighted as it loads your hamstrings and you are snapping the hips forward; the rest of time the KB should feel WEIGHTLESS.

Take-Away Tips: Catch and release the weight at the Hips, not in mid air and not half way down the legs! Sometimes a very light Kettlebell works against you and makes you want to cheat! Get the weight right: Most women should use at least 12kg; most men, at least 16kg (for the two-handed Kettlebell Swing).

Even if you have been performing the Kettlebell Swing for a while and think you are performing it correctly, have an honest look at your form and see if any of these pointers will help.

If you’re a beginner and you find your lower back starts to ache, then focus on all 3 points to ensure you are loading and unloading the hips properly. Often it can simply be a lack of full hip extension at the root of this issue. With some hip mobility and glute activation drills, the back ache should stop 🙂

The Kettlebell Swing is an awesome exercise; learn to do it right and your body will love you for it!

Thanks for taking the time to read this rather long article.



PS – I will be back ON MONDAY with a new workout … by me 😀 😀 😀

Nia Shanks’ K.I.S.S. Strength Training | Workouts and Programs


Hi everyone,

Hope you are all having a great weekend!  It’s a quiet one for me, that will be spent working and resting.  I did a killer Complex Workout yesterday that I will post over the next day or two … you will hate me for it!

*Swift change of subject before anyone notices there is another Killer Complex Workout coming soon*

Today, I have a treat for you. Fellow Girls Gone Strong Co-Founder and Beautiful Badass Nia Shanks (aka PBB) has written a fantastic article on Strength Training, with sample workout and programming tips below. She needs no introduction around here, as you’ll see in a minute, Nia loves to make an entrance 😉 I’ll hand over to Nia.

I’m about to rock your world.

Are you ready?

Check this out.


Yep, I just rocked your world. (Marianne loves my moonwalk, whether she admits it or not, so I couldn’t resist including it here). [NOTE FROM Marianne: HELL YEAH, I LOVE IT!]

Okay, all joking aside, let’s get into the meat ‘n taters of this article.

I’m going to share with you some simple strength training workouts you can use to compliment some of Marianne’s metabolic/conditioning routines posted here at Myomytv. However, before we get to the workouts, I’ll break things down so you understand they “why” and “how” behind the workouts.

Focus on Strength
With the following workouts, your sole focus is on getting stronger. The key to getting stronger is training with basic exercises and using heavy weight. And I don’t want you to worry about burning calories or any of that non-sense.

When it comes to the following workouts, you focus on getting stronger, and nothing else. This is the driving force behind my Beautiful Badass programs, and you’ll employ the same method here. Not only is it more enjoyable then focusing on fat loss, but it works, and it works very well.

The easiest way to accomplish the goal of “get stronger” is to increase the weight most workouts or perform more reps with the same weight. For example, if you deadlift 200 pounds for five reps the first week, you have a couple of options when week two rolls around:

1) Increase the weight five pounds (205) and perform five reps
2) Keep the weight the same (200 pounds) and perform six reps

Either way you’re improving your performance, and that’s what matters.

Keep It Simple
I thrive on simplicity when it comes to training and nutrition. Why complicate things when you can get the same, or better, results with a lot less stress?
Let me show you how to apply the K.I.S.S. principle with strength training.

The Tools
You’ll be using some of my favorite training tools – barbells, dumbbells, and your bodyweight.

That’s it. Simple, right?

The Exercises
Big, compound movements are the bread and butter of these workouts. You’ll be squatting, deadlifting, pressing, and rowing.

Gaining strength on these basic exercises will provide the most bang for your training buck.

The Rep Range
If you want to get strong, you have to lift heavy. Keep the weight in the 5-9 rep range.

Oh, and I should mention that the weight you use for the 5-9 rep range should be challenging! For instance, if you’re going to perform sets of five reps, make sure you’re not using a weight that allows you to perform eight or more reps.

You must challenge yourself with an appropriate load.

That means working hard with a heavy weight that would allow you to complete one, or two, more reps but no more. For example, if you’re performing sets of five reps, you should use a weight that allows you to perform six, but absolutely no more, than seven perfect reps.

Demonstration Video
Here is a clip from a workout I did last weekend. This is a sample total body workout that you can complete in about 30 minutes.

If you performed that same strength training workout – trap bar deadlifts, parallel bar dips, and one arm dumbbell rows – you’d work practically every muscle in your body in a very short period of time.

Simple Program Set-up
A simple, bare-bones approach to setting up a total body training day would be to include one of each of the following elements.

1) Lower body lift
2) Upper body push
3) Upper body pull

If you perform three exercises that fit into those categories, you’ll get in a great strength training workout (as shown in the above video).

To ensure your training is balanced, I prefer to break this template down even further.

Sample Training Day #1
1) Lower body lift – hip dominant (example: Romanian deadlifts)
2) Vertical press (example: barbell shoulder press)
3) Vertical pull (neutral grip chin-ups)

Sample Training Day #2
1) Lower body lift – quad dominant (example: front squat)
2) Horizontal press (example: push-ups)
3) Horizontal pull (example: one arm dumbbell row)

This way you train most of the movement planes and hit all muscle groups.

Putting It All Together
Now that you know a simple way to set up your strength training workouts, I’ll give you a sample strength training session using the above information.

Sample Workout
1) Deadlift – 3×5 (3 sets, 5 reps)
2a) Parallel Bar Dips – 3×6-8
2b) One Arm Dumbbell Row – 3×7-9

Note: that does not include warm-ups.

I recommend performing the deadlifts as straights sets. You can, however, superset them with something like single leg calf raises. This is what I do as it allows me to get in some isolation work while I rest.

After you complete all three sets of deadlifts, move on to the superset of dips and rows. Perform one set of dips, then rest as long as needed, and perform a set of rows. Repeat until you complete a total of three sets for each exercise.

Three exercises for a total of nine work sets; that’s all you’ve gotta do. While it make look easy, make sure you push yourself and use a challenging weight for your work sets.

Random Notes
• I would prefer to include more direct glute and hamstring work, but that is easily accomplished with the workouts Marianne provides in the form of hip thrusts, glute bridges, lunges, etc. As previously stated, the purpose of the sample workouts is to increase your strength on some basic compound exercises.

• Some exercises may not be appropriate for you. For example, if you have poor thoracic mobility or any existing shoulder issues, you may want to eliminate overhead pressing and substitute another horizontal push (push-ups, dumbbell presses, etc).

• “Beach work” – sometimes it’s fun to include some isolation exercises like curls, extensions, and lateral raises. If you like this kinda stuff, then feel free to do it. I like to allow no more than 10 minutes at the end of a strength training session. Take those 10 minutes to perform your “beach work”, but no more.

• Use exercise variations that work for you. For example, if you’re not comfortable squatting or have other issues, use an appropriate substitution like front squats. Don’t force square pegs in round holes.

• Train smart. I encourage you to lift heavy and challenge yourself, but always make sure you use proper form and safety precautions. When benching and squatting, a power rack with safety bars is your best friend.

Have fun Y’all!

~ Nia Shanks


The Original Beautiful Badass

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