The Best Exercise for Reversing Metabolic Syndrome

The Best Exercise for Reversing Metabolic Syndrome

It’s a familiar story. You believe you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals, so you eat takeout instead. When you are home, you’re exhausted and park yourself in front of the TV, noshing on chips. Soon, your waist is bulging, your blood pressure is out of sight, and your blood glucose is solidly in the prediabetes range. Your doctor tells you that you’re in danger of getting type 2 diabetes; you already have metabolic syndrome!

Why is metabolic syndrome on the rise?

Metabolic syndrome is closely linked with obesity and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is the unfortunate consequence of a “perfect storm” — enormous amounts of sitting, overindulgence in refined carbohydrates, and lack of sustained effort in exercise programs. How many people join a gym with the best of intentions, but then, when miraculous results do not ensue, stop trying? The short answer is too many…far too many!

How can I start a sustainable and effective exercise program?

For those who have no history of formal exercise, getting started is especially difficult. They first have to learn how to do exercises correctly and safely, then slowly build exercise tolerance and fitness. Most will give up long before their goals reasonably could be accomplished. But there is a straightforward solution — start with one exercise!

That exercise should be the kettlebell swing. The swing is unique in many ways:

  • Swings use almost every muscle in your body, and use the largest ones explosively and repetitively.
  • Swings develop coordinated athletic power and improve posture.
  • Swings develop aerobic and anaerobic power when done in larger quantities.
  • Swings significantly increase metabolic rate, burn visceral fat, and renormalize the very parameters most seriously affected by metabolic syndrome.

Swings act as a sort of reset button for optimizing metabolism. However, you must learn to do them correctly and you must push hard every day. Yes, that’s right, I’m telling you to do swings every day until you have no more metabolic syndrome. Then, I’ll merely suggest that you continue!

How do I learn to do swings?

Learn swings from a competent trainer. Do not do American swings (with kettlebell overhead) and do not do swings with much knee flex…just a little bit! Swing explosively, but only to shoulder height. Finally, learn the swing as a sequence of moves through a training progression:

  1. bodyweight wall touches concentrating on the hip hinge
  2. wall touches with a 50-pound sandbag held against the torso (a grind)
  3. kettlebell deadlifts
  4. partial swings with small hip hinge
  5. full swings with dynamic hip snap, gluteal contraction, and abdominal bracing

How many should I do?

Start with 100 each day, say 10 sets of 10. You will eventually want to use a bell that is 30% (or more) of your bodyweight. For a 175-pound person, that would be a 53 pounder. You may want to start a little lighter and develop strength, with good form, first. Gradually work towards more reps in fewer sets, and cut rest between sets to a minimum. You will perspire and you’ll be out of breath, especially at first. Eventually, you want to get to 300-400 per workout!

As you get fitter, add sandbag snatches and shovels, burpees, landmine thrusters, and some sessions on the erg! But never — Never! — stop the swings. Add in portion control with beans and greens meals, but keep swinging! We can beat metabolic syndrome! Pass it along!