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Simplify Your Fitness and Diet -- The World Is Your Gym (Danny Kavadlo Tells You How)

07/06/2016 04:16pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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We need to free our minds and focus on good movement. Less labels, less compartmentalisation. Keep it simple. - Danny Kavadlo

Danny Kavadlo and his brother Al are two of the world's leading and sought after fitness experts. They run workshops and write for fitness publications across the planet. They also happen to train solely with their own bodyweight. That's right, no weights, no machines - just their own bodies, their environment and a healthy dose of discipline.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with, and be trained by Danny Kavadlo in the famous Tompkins Square Park in New York City recently. The park is a mecca for fans of bodyweight training the world over. A long term fan of the brother's work and visiting from England, this was an amazing experience for me.

After the training session and lots of lessons with a bodyweight master, we sat down and I picked Danny's brain to find out how we can all simplify fitness and diet a little.

3 Ways Readers Can Simplify their Approach to Fitness?

1) Less is More
Keep it simple, less is often more in fitness. You don't need many exercises to hit the whole body hard. Other than the floor and a horizontal bar you don't need any equipment to get a world class workout.

The body is built the way the body is built. We need to train it through the basic movement patterns (push, pull and squat) on a regular basis. Don't overthink it.

2) Forget Labels, Focus on More Movement
We have a tendency to get caught up in the differences between modalities (i.e. kettlebells or CrossFit). In reality, as long as we hit the main movement patterns under the umbrella of a good programme, any and all modalities have the potential to do us good. All of them can make us strong and keep us healthy.

We need to free our minds and focus on good movement. Less labels, less compartmentalisation. Keep it simple.

3) Less Dogma
Anything anyone does with consistent effort can reap rewards. Forget the fitness dogma, find something you enjoy that you can apply yourself to and get after it. Many ways can work.

3 Ways Readers Can Simplify their Approach to Diet?

1) Think More about Food and Less About the Math
Focus on eating good, whole quality foods and you can forget the math and the macros most of the time. Getting and staying lean does require commitment and some degree of planning but it doesn't need to be complicated.

2) Focus on Source
Get food closer to its natural state and source. This means seeking fruits and veggies that are in season, sourcing meat and fish as locally as you can find.

3) Less Sugar and Less Processed Food
From an evolutionary perspective our bodies crave foods rich in fat and sugar. These foods would have been scarce in our past. We needed to make the most of them when we could get them. It was often feast and then fast, not knowing when and where our next meal would come from. Our bodies and tastes adapted accordingly.

Fast forward to now and many of us have food available all day, every day. Much of it packaged, processed, sweetened and with all sorts of trans fats added. No wonder so many of us struggle with our weight and health in this environment.

We need to approach this modern availability of food with caution and some degree of discipline.

Focus on natural foods from the earth, not from a box.

3 Top Exercises for a Quick and Efficient Full Body Workout?

Beginner
1) Squat
Squatting is wired into our DNA. Watch toddlers move around, they constantly move into the squat position. Modern living means we do less than we probably should so make sure you incorporate regular squats into your day.
2) Plank
Start incorporating full body tension and be deliberate about activating every muscle in the body. Get your neurology dialled in.
3) Hanging from a Bar
Hang on for as long as you can and build up the time you can hang gradually.

Advanced Version
As you get more advanced, training with bodyweight becomes more about adapting the leverage of the basic patterns to find more challenging movements for where you are in your journey. Examples would be:
1) One Legged Squat
2) Push Up (narrow grip moving onto one armed)
3) Chin/Pull Up (mixed grips, one armed)

Using full body tension on each of these exercises will ensure we hit every single part of our body.

3 Ways Readers Can Get More Activity into their Days?

1) Sit Less
Get a standing desk at work or at least build regular movement into the day by getting up more often.
2) Commute by Foot or by Bicycle
Leave the car at home more often, use what nature gave you.
3) Stand During your Workouts Including Rest Periods
Too many people make the time to go the gym and then spend half their workout sitting down. Stay on your feet and get more out of your time.

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Forget the fitness dogma, find something you enjoy that you can apply yourself to and get after it. Many ways can work.- Danny Kavadlo

Danny's Own Desert Island Workout (his personal top 3):
For myself, I'd also stick with the patterns we discussed. My moves maybe a little more advanced but I'd keep the patterns themselves basic.

1) Jump Squats
All the benefits of squats plus accelerated heart rate.
2) Push Up variations
3) Pull Up variations

Train Anywhere, Anytime with What You Have

Danny, I know you have just released a new book, co-authored with your brother Al. Can you tell us a little about that and what readers that want to dig a little deeper might expect?

The book is really multi-faceted. It's a history lesson and complete overview of bodyweight strength training (which is really as old as man).

For the last few years, my brother and I have been lucky enough to travel around the world training and speaking to bodyweight training enthusiasts. Bodyweight training is more popular than ever. The book is a celebration of the movement.

We include progressions for beginners through to advanced. We include full programmes. It's suitable for those new to bodyweight strength training but also for those working at advanced levels. It's fully comprehensive.

About Danny
Danny Kavadlo is a New York City based trainer, writer, presenter and bodyweight training specialist. He works with people around the world to improve their strength, health and vitality. He can be reached at his blog. His latest book, Street Workout (co-authored with his brother Al) is available now.

Note: For some wider ranging discussion on simplicity and minimalism as it applies to lifestyle, the chat with Danny continues on my blog.

Carl is the proud owner of Frictionless Living which is focused on helping readers live a simpler and more personally satisfying life. He is also the author of several books including Need Less, Live More, 22 Ways to Simpler Living and 22 Ways to Happier.