Mike StefanoI've been a fitness guy all my life, digesting as much information as I possibly could since I was 12 or 13 years old. I read Arnold's Encyclopedia of Body Building and Richard Hitteman's Yoga Books before I was in high school. For whatever reason, fitness has always been my passion, and it enabled me to ace the toughest physical exam the FDNY has ever given (the "girl killer", designed to lower a woman's odds of passing, and it worked, not one female passed). Even though the days of having to scale an 8 foot wall to pass a firefighter physical are behind us, my passion for fitness isn't.
In the late nineties, I combined my two biggest passions in life, and wrote The Firefighter's Workout Book (published by HarperCollins in 2000). Years later, I met and trained with kettlebell lifting champion Valery Fedorenko, and incorporated true kettlebells into my training regimens for both firefighters, civilians, and what this article is all about, me.
When I met Fedorenko, I was pretty beat up. I'd been working out for almost 30 years, and been a NYC firefighter for 22. Kettlebells taught me not just how to LIFT, but how to MOVE. I got an education like nothing else I'd ever experienced pre-kettlebell. This new way to move brought me back to a healthy, fitter-than-ever place. I was able to go through intense kettlebell workouts, generate tremendous force, build raw strength and off-the-chart endurance, and not cause further joint damage - quite the contrary, my achy joints healed from this ancient approach. For that I'm eternally grateful.
For the first 2 years I did nothing but kettlebells, as I healed and got stronger, as well as built true muscular and cardiovascular endurance. At the same time, keeping muscle tone, and building muscle and bone density, speed, and explosive power, while getting myself back to the same weight I was in high school, 165 pounds.
After 2 years, my tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue, across-the-board, got stronger, almost freakishly. Unless I was doing 30 or more reps, what was once heavy, had become light. I eventually was able to go back to most everything I was weaned on, push ups, pull ups, squats, and other PT type training that got real results, WITHOUT PAIN.
Today, I train with kettlebells 4 or 5 days a week. At age 55, I respect my body, and appreciate the fact that I still not only have strength and endurance, but agility - that's what pain free joints gives you. I can take the front steps to my house in one quick leap, and do so most days (about four or five steps). I can broad jump across the gym (from mat to mat), a good 7 feet plus. Right now, I do lots and lots of light snatching. During the course of a week, I might do 3 or 4 snatch sets ranging from 12 to 20 minutes (working in the 14 to 18 rep per minute range). I use the 16k and 20k mostly, unless I'm getting serious about competing or ranking (nice to have an occasional goal).
I also love LongCycle, but because of all the Snatching, I do my heavy stuff with Jerk. Right now, that means 32k, having put the 36 and 40k aside for a while, letting true healing of all my tissue take place. But at least once a week, I try and get my hands on a 32k for a 4 or 6 minute set.
Lastly, I do use LongCycle for mid range weight and some longer sets. 20 minute LongCycle with the 20 or 24kg about once a week does wonders.
Now, for the PT. I mix in all sort of versions of push ups, squats, and pull ups. They're too numerous to mention here, and no real heavy weight, but high rep. Some examples of what I do are Sandbag and LandMine squats, classic push up ladders, and ring pull ups.
I don't use any free weights other than kettlebells. I incorporate some suspension training into my PT, but mostly just for variety. I don't really do much core work, the kettlebells have trained my core to a really high level, but I do like have a few core routines that I'll do as cool downs. I don't run or do any form of cardio other than long kettlebell sets - and that's just me.
So there you have it, High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness in action. I feel great, can do just about anything, have no real aches or pains, and train really as little as 4 minutes to as much as 30 minutes, about 5 days per week.
Name: Mike Stefano
Occupation: Kettlebell Fitness Coach, retired FDNY Captain
Resting Blood Pressure: 120/70 mm Hg
Resting Heart Rate: I've seen as low as 42 BPM
Aches and Pains: Nearly zero
The system has proven itself over and over again. I recommend it for anyone who wants to look, feel, and perform at their best. If you're interested in the HIKF program, and want to find out all the different training options (from eBooks to Trainers Courses): CLICK HERE
As a side note, for the last 8 months, I've discovered Rockin' Wellness, Total Body Nutritional Shake, and it's been a big part of most recent "feel good" results. I was introduced to the great product by Seth Luker, co-owner of Rockin' Wellness and KBNY Gym member. This amazing, non genetically modified, super food, has changed my life. Read more about it HERE.