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On Being Strong to Be Useful and how to get there

This one wasn't so much a question but a confirmation of a couple of very simple concepts:

"Hi Dave,

Thanks for the emails! Glad to see them again. I still check your YouTube videos for a tune up on technique , especially clean and jerk!

'Be strong to be useful'! Yep, it still makes a lot of sense to me as I get into my 50's.

Best regards,


That phrase "Be strong to be useful" isn't mine, I borrowed it from the legendary Georges Hébert, a French physical culturist from the 1900's

Herbert was a man ahead of his time, and we could really use someone of his ilk back.

When I use the term "Physical Culturist" as opposed to strength coach or fitness instructor, I'm talking about a person who understands the value of physicality as part of being a well-rounded human being.

It is from Hébert's work that we have both the military assault course and the sport of Parkour.

Hébert took fitness or Physical Education and categorised it into 10 areas: walking, running, quadruped (crawling), climbing, jumping, balance, lifting and carrying, throwing, defence (wrestling, boxing), swimming.

He also had 3 areas of focus:

Physical training: Heart, lungs and muscles, but also speed, dexterity, endurance, resistance, and balance.

Mental training: energy, willpower, courage, coolness, firmness

Ethical behaviour: friendship, collective work, altruism

As well as a number of principles such as posture, individualisation of training, competition and so on.

His three areas of focus are part of my inspiration, combined with my long study of martial arts, for the Mind, Body and Spirit categories used in my new Force of Nature program.

The 10 categories of bodily fitness are pretty inclusive.

Look at all the "functional fitness" and cross training methods currently out there all trying to be cutting edge, and here is a dude doing everything the cutting edge "functional" folks are talking about 70+ years ago.

We could say Hébert's work was simply an evolution of what came before him, as he credits many sources from gymnastics to ancient Greek texts.

We can't say what much of the fitness field is doing currently is an evolution of Herberts work!

That all said, his training was aimed very much at military personnel so is deliberately non specific.

If you're an Athlete, his method wouldn't suit.

But if you move away from sport and competition, or you're a non athlete looking for that lifelong Physical capability, that idea of "always ready" you could do a lot worse than following his lead.

How does that look and how do the kettlebell tutorials on YouTube factor into this?

I have been, for a long time, of the opinion that the one arm clean and jerk (long cycle) with a kettlebell is about as complete an exercise as one can get.

No exercise is truly complete, but Long Cycle is close.

Add in some deep squats, lunges and some other pulls (rows/pull ups) and you are going to be alright.

Traditionally long cycle, like most of the "classic" Kettlebell lifts, are done for high reps.

But this doesn't have to be the case.

Heavy for multiple sets of low reps works a treat for strength and power, light for high reps works great for aerobic development. Somewhere in the middle works everything in between.

Deep squats ensure fuller leg and hip development, maybe even keeping the hips and knees healthy

And upper back work should always be prioritised.

We could do long cycle with squats and pull ups three days per week.

Day 1: Heavy. Several sets of 3-5 reps per arm. Followed by 5x5 on the squat and some pull ups

Day 2: Medium. 2min L, 2 min R (4 min total) quick reps, drive the heart rate up. Recover for 4-6 minutes and repeat for 4 rounds.

Finish with lunges in every direction

Day 3: Light. 20 to 30 minutes continuous lifting, nasal breathing, changing hands every minute.

Any extra is up to you.

That alone will help build a strong, durable body and some good powerful lungs.

Of course stretch, crawl, do joint mobility, swing Indian Clubs and remain playful.

And get out to walk and run.

For simple, minimalistic training, you will go a long way with just this.

And if you get fed up, swap Long Cycle for Snatch.

Swap the kettlebell for a sandbag

Becoming and staying "strong to be useful" is not complicated.

It's simple, just not easy.

Effort and consistency always trumps complexity.

If you're looking for these tutorials, you can simply search "Dave Hedges Kettlebell Tutorial" on YouTube or use the search bar on the blog to get the same videos with supporting text.

And while you're on Wg-Fit, buy my eBooks……..

I've done some of the work for you here:

Kettlebell Clean Tutorials:

Kettlebell Jerk Tutorial:

Always remember, keep it simple, but not easy.


Dave Hedges

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