Interview with coach and kettlebell instructor Brandon Richey
Our friend Henry over at GymTalk recently interviewed Brandon Richey, a well respected strength coach and kettlebell aficionado.
Brandon gave us some awesome tips on strength training and conditioning and he shared some of his experiences of being a top level strength coach.
Hi Brandon, thanks for talking to us today. Could you tell our readers a little bit more about yourself and Brandon Richey Fitness.
Sure, but before I do I first want to thank you for having me on as a guest on your blog. You’ve obviously done a tremendous job and have tons of valuable content for your readers. I’ll do my best to keep it up to standard!
As everyone may realize by now my name is Brandon Richey and I’m a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) designated by the NSCA (National Strength And Conditioning Association). I’m an independent business owner, author, lifter, and trainer to any athlete and serious fitness junkie that is serious enough to put up with what some of my students refer to as creative madness. I always thought that was a funny term.
Anyways, I started the Brandon Richey Fitness website about 5 years ago as a way to promote my services for training both the athletic and fitness community in the private sector, but it quickly transformed into a handy information provider due to me having to answer a slew questions about training and my approach on certain things related to strength and conditioning. I quickly decided to start writing on different topics covering everything from fitness, life, entertainment, and even progressing to writing 3 different digital ebook products.
How did you first get started in the fitness industry?
I started right out of college in the fitness industry. I had bounced back and forth working strictly on commission as a trainer at a Gold’s gym while also juggling off-season work experience as a strength and conditioning assistant for my alma mater at the University Of Georgia for the football program.
Shortly after I got on with a local business that specialized in athletic sports performance and strength development for athletes of all kinds. I was fortunate to have all of the experience I did. It has no doubt played into how I program and approach things today.
I guess I’ve never really had a salary job since I graduated college. I worked for my dad at his service station through high school and even part of college, but since I’ve been in the fitness industry I’ve always been an independent. I guess this is where the business part of it came from because I had to go out and create the wealth I needed in order to survive.
Who inspired you growing up?
Well the biggest inspiration in my life would have to be my parents and my brother. So my immediate family would come first here. As far as inspiration to drive me in the direction of the fitness industry I would have to lend some credit to both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Herschel Walker.
What is your approach/philosophy to training?
My approach on training pretty much depends on the type of athlete I’m working with. However, I tend to work with athletes that would be considered to be more Hybrid type athletes.
Football, Rugby, MMA Fighters, and even Tactical (law enforcement, military, etc.) are a few examples. They have to have a healthy dose of both power and strength, as well as having a healthy dose of muscular size/endurance. In addition to this these athletes have to have a solid base in functional capacity. I mean functional strength for these guys is crucial.
Now having said that I do work with some very different athletes as well. Like right now I’m actually working with a couple of figure skaters and they’re tremendous athletes.
What does a typical day/week look like for you?
Ha, my week is chaotic. I guess I typically work with more of my fitness crowd in the mornings and tend to work with more of my athletes in the afternoons, although there are a couple days where this may be flipped.
I typically have a pretty full training schedule throughout the week and I usually catch up on my administrative stuff (blogging, paying bills, marketing, catching up on episodes of The Walking Dead) during the middle part of the day.
Being a business owner I typically hammer out a 7 day a week work schedule in some form or fashion. I do try to scale it back a little though from time to time so that I don’t get burned out.
What do you typically prescribe for someone looking to get as strong as they can?
Once again I think this depends on the individual and what they are looking to do. If they want to get football strong they need to be able to lift heavy heavy weight, but they also need speed strength. If we’re talking about a powerlifter they still need to be able to produce some level explosive neural drive, but they primarily just want to be able to get better at benching, squatting, and deadlifting.
I guess if I had to personally point at my favorite lift it would be the standard barbell deadlift. Deadlifting basically covers all the physical traits I’ve mentioned. It builds a solid core, it’s functional in nature, and it can be scaled to pack on serious muscle mass, or to just help you to get Paul Bunyan-like strong. Either way it’s an all around winner. Of course, squats aren’t bad either!
What are the most common mistakes you see people make when training for strength?
I rarely go into a health club these days to observe the general population because I generally don’t have the patience or the time, but when I do the mistake I observe with people trying to train for strength is that they DON’T train for strength. That is the problem. For whatever reason people want to adhere to the workout they read in some fitness magazine that tells them to do the standard 3 sets of 12-15 reps on everything.
In addition to most of the general population lifting with poor quality form they also tend to couple this with poor programming standards. I see many people neglecting the very foundational strength lifts such as pressing, squatting, or deadlifting. Let’s get rid of the high reps for a while people and start lifting some heavy ass weight!
What is it about kettlebell training in particular that you love so much?
You know I love kettlebells for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason of all is because it’s all about movement. I’ve been self studying in kettlebells now for about 5 years and the thing that got my attention with kettlebells was the marriage that kettlebell training demonstrated between skill and strength.
I mean if you see a get up, a swing, a snatch, or a combination of these lifts performed in a seamless manner you know you’re in for something special. I believe this is what makes kettlebells so awesome.
I love kettlebells and it’s a hell of a tool. That’s how I view it. I view it as another tool in my tool box of strength, but it just so happens that the kettlebell is a very versatile tool. I mean it’s like the Swiss Army Knife of fitness equipment!
Could you share with us one of your favourite kettlebell workouts?
I generally don’t have a single workout that I prefer solely with kettlebells because I love blending them into the rest of my program after some other major lifts. However, there is one that just kills me and I must admit I haven’t done this particular workout in a while.
I apologize if I’m giving false credit here because I can’t remember exactly where I read about it. I know my best friend who is a strength coach initially told me about it and I think we might have taken the concept from Steve Maxwell’s 300 workout.
Anyways, the format of the workout is simple to remember, but brutal to execute. I call it the Kettlebell 300 workout. Before you start, I would also recommend that you be proficient in kettlebell training before attempting to pull this off.
For this workout you’ll only need a single bell. I’m 6’ tall and weigh between 195 and 200 lbs. and generally train with a 32 kg (72 lb.) bell, but for this Kettlebell 300 workout I would personally use a 24kg (52 lb.) bell.
This particular workout is a bit different because it consists of you selecting 10 different kettlebell exercises and performing a total of 30 reps per exercise which equals out to a grand total of 300 reps! You have to think about what you’re doing with this because you only want to perform the 300 reps and the objective is to do so as fast as you can. It’s all about work capacity.
You have to get creative and make adjustments with this one. For instance, if you are performing double arm swings then you would swing for 30 reps, but if you are performing single arm movements then you would split the rep count to 15 on the right and 15 on the left side for the total 30 reps for that given exercise. It’s a ball buster!
I’ll include a breakdown sample of that workout here below, but keep in mind that the trainee should be proficient with training with kettle bells so they understand how to pace through the workout and not incur an injury as fatigue sets in. This is a crucial element.
Kettlebell 300 Workout Sample: Warm Up First!!!
Halos 15/15=30 Circling Clockwise/Counterclockwise
Single Arm Bent Over Rows 15/15=30
Goblet Squats 30
Double Arm Swings 30
Single Arm Swings 15/15=30
Single Arm Clean To Press From Floor 15/15=30
Single Arm Snatches 15/15=30
Goblet Reverse Lunges 15/15=30
Staggered Push Ups One Hand On The Bell Lifting The Other Off The Ground 15/15=30
Grand Total Of Reps=300
What is your approach to nutrition like?
I’ve got to admit that nutrition is not a huge focus of mine. Now don’t misunderstand me I’m not saying it’s not important, or that I don’t eat well. I’m just saying that I try to keep it simple. I eat fresh fruits and vegetables and love chicken and steak. Every now and then I’ll have a good burger. More often than not I try to put fresh foods into my body and steer clear of anything processed.
This approach has proven to work well with me so that’s the plan I use.
What have you got lined up for the rest of 2014 and the future?
Well my biggest goal for 2014 is to continue to grow the influence of my website. I’m constantly updating it with information to help people because I love doing that and getting feedback from my readers. In addition to this I may be launching a new product here in the future. Also I wouldn’t mind another appearance on the Healthy Lifestyle Trainer again!
Well that just about wraps things up. Thanks for agreeing to the interview. Where can our readers find out more about you Brandon Richey Fitness?
Once again, thank you for having me on. I hope I didn’t disappoint! If they want to visit then they can join my site here at Brandon Richey Fitness for FREE and get all my latest updates, free gifts, and other related information. You can also follow me on twitter and facebook. I look forward to collaborating with you again in the future!