• Misbah Haque

Kettlebell Primal Flow w/ Eric Leija and Francheska Martinez

Eric (@primal.swoledier) and Francheska (@francheskamartinez) are innovators in the movement world. We talk about primal flow, kettlebell challenges, and how Eric looks like a Dragonball Z character.

Connect w/ Eric: https://www.instagram.com/primal.swoledier/

Connect w/ Francheska: https://www.instagram.com/francheskafit/

Discount code for 8 Week Kettlebell Program: Miz10 http://bit.ly/3cn3HLr


Guys welcome back to the show. It's been a couple of years. And I remember the last time that you guys came on. I, it was so fresh to me seeing like the like animal flow, the mace war kettlebell stuff. And it's also interesting to think the perception that I had of you guys, like before we chatted, like I thought that you only used kettlebells and like that's how you got everything done. And as I've gotten to kind of learn from you guys from just watching over the years, it's like, okay, there's, there are some barbells involved. There's other stuff you guys mess around with. So I'm pumped to dive a little bit deeper into some of those methods today.


Sweet. Yeah. We definitely want to clear things up, let people know that we're not just the unconventional savages. We mix it up for sure. You know, you have to like, you know, use the right tools for, for what the goals are and our goals are constantly changing. So you gotta mix it up.


Yeah. Well, tell me about that because you did go through a bit of like you know, you were bulking for a little bit, right. And then now you're like super ripped. What was kinda how has the goal of all for you over the years?


Yeah, so, you know, starting out, I was, you know, fresh into coaching back in 2014, I'd always worked out. I was into MMA fighting. And so I was always pretty lean and ripped from working out all day, you know, two to three times a day, doing jujitsu, kickboxing conditioning, or workouts. And, you know, eventually, when I started coaching and I kind of maintain that same physique because I wanted to, you know, show people how to get lean. You know, most people would come into the gym, they want to get, get jacked, get shredded, solid, maintain that image. And, but I got to a point to where, you know, I was super lean, but you know, being in that caloric deficit all the time for, you know, years on end and not really giving my body like time to like recover and bounce back and kind of going on maintenance calories, I started losing muscle mass.


I started feeling like crap. And I just kinda, I flipped the switch to where I was just like, man, I'm tired of this. You know, I want to eat what I want to eat. I want to eat tacos. Like I'm Mexican. And like, I want to hang out with my grandma. I want to go do family stuff. I'll be that awkward person at the party who can't, you know, who has to say no to everything, you know, so that, you know, I had a problem on asleep, you know, but before I did that bulking, I had like a problem to all the super counting macros all the time and not giving myself, not really balancing it out to where I was still enjoying food. And so I ended up going in the opposite direction and going, I'm just going to bulk up and eat anything and everything and use this time to put on some more muscle mass since I was losing some muscle. So I did that and I just, I did it kinda like really bad to where I gained a ton of body fat.


I was just like, whatever like I haven't done this in years. I'm going to enjoy myself. And I got super fat again, it's on a muscle. But then by the time it came to, you know, I was like, Oh, I need to cut it down. Now I need to get lean again. It was just, it was a lot harder to lose all that body fat than it was to put it on. But since then, I've figured out a more balanced approach to, you know, body recomposition. And now I enjoy myself a lot more. I don't restrict myself from food. I don't count macros, you know, super like detailed as I used to now, I kind of have a more intuitive, you know, I did spend some time kind of relearning counting a little bit and then just kind of, you know, counting to where it finally became easier to just kind of eyeball things and I can fit in some more different types of foods. Like I eat carbs all the time now to help fuel my workouts. I used to try to be carbon-free that try to, you know, shred body fat, but that was dumb as a mistake I ever made because I was training so hard. I needed that fuel for my body. And now that I take a more balanced approach, I'm still lean, but I'm strong and I'm happy, you know, we still go out to eat. We go to parties now. So it's like, life's a lot more fun.


I love it. We're going to bookmark that because I want to hear a little bit more about what worked and then what really didn't because you have that insight, but how about you Francesca what's, how's your how have your goals, Walt, did you also jump on this bulking train or were you kind of a little bit different?


I was on the sidelines giving him the side-eye the whole time and nasty comments, but no, I think just from the time that I first stepped into the gym, I've gone from, you know, trying to focus on just like, you know, recompete my body to focusing on like mud races and always having like a, you know, a physical goal, like always trying to do a race or do this many miles running. So I think I've transitioned from having more like quantitative goals, goals to having more qualitative goals. So now I'm thinking less like, okay, how many miles can I do or less, so how much can I press? Or how much can I deadlift to how, how good I feel? So I think my biggest goal now is just to like, be in good health, to be, you know, a good functioning human, to be able to squat without pain and hinge without pain and, you know, just being able to move well. That's me, I think my new goal and I think I've been here for a little bit. I think the last time we talked I think I had a similar goal, but yeah, definitely not all about the aesthetic anymore. Aesthetics important, but I'm more about feeling good.


Yeah. I want to know like, cause I know we started this talking about like how, okay. I thought you guys did like Eric, you did kettlebells only, and Francesca, you did animal flow and that was like your jam. Right. and, and I, I want to hear more about the different things that you guys do, I guess, throughout the week and how these pieces fit in. But do you guys know anybody who is like a hundred percent all in, into one of these methods? Like let's say animal flow or mace work or kettlebells and like that's all they utilize?


No, not really. Yeah.


Toss it. I mean, it's really interesting. Cause it's like sometimes from like watching, you know Instagram or seeing feeds and how it's all like you know, focused around one methodology, you can kind of be like, okay, this is how this person did it, but it's, it's great to hear that there's a lot more behind the scenes going on. So what are you, what do you guys, what are you guys doing? Cause outside of just kettlebell flows and animal flow, what are some of the other, I guess training methodologies or, or pieces of equipment that you're kind of involving?


Recently I've been biking a lot. I have a gravel bike, so I go off-roading and on the trails, I rode a bike. That's been one of my main sources of cardio in the mornings cycling a lot of fun. You know, I used to run a lot. I still run, you know, once or twice a week, but cycling right now is my jam. It's a lot easier on the joints and it's a lot more fun, you know, feeling the breeze while you're riding through the streets. Super dope. But besides that, I also do, you know, barbell training two or three times a week, and we, I do kettlebells and animal flow, the same thing two or three times a week, mixing that in. So, you know, it's a pretty, pretty good balance. The only thing I want to get back into that I haven't been doing is martial arts training. Yeah. For me, that's like the best, most like the best way to stay athletic and get really jacked. Right. Super shredded. When I do martial arts classes.


Is there an animal flow, right? Is there something where I don't know the name of the move that you were doing, but it was like, kind of like like you were bringing the knee up as if you were kind of hitting like a pad? Right. So it's like a, I dunno, a knee kick or a crunch or something like that. You did a burpee and then you went into like a high knee kick and it looked like you were kind of doing some type of kickboxing.


That's where we totally create like a little, like, we don't know what to call it yet. So we'll just call it like a primal movement hybrid. Cause there is an animal flow move at the bottom. Like you're doing like a kind of like a sprawled position come up, but that's kind of, we've totally jagged it or call it a knee strike. You know, we don't really give it a fancy name. We just combine, you know, some combat moves some punches. We would do some like punches in our new program. Some me some kicks. I love that, man. Just because you know, doing striking is for me is super fun. You know, I feel like you're fighting and you also you're moving in different ranges. So it's adding to what you're already doing with the animal flow and with the kettlebells, just not under load, you know, you don't have to be on the ground on your, on your wrists. You don't have to have a kettlebell. You're just moving around super dynamically. So it's a good way to Jack your heart rate up while moving like a Ninja. I don't mean this in any pompous way at all. This is totally coating another person, but someone messaged me the other day. And they said that they think that like Eric and I are like the Bruce Lee of fitness, just because we were like, there's no line in between one discipline and another, you know, you mix martial fitness.


That's a great place to be, you know? Cause I think like that's where there's a lot of learning that happens too because traditionally it's like you have one discipline that people mastered and they taught and it got passed on. And sometimes, you know, mentally, you can also gravitate towards that. Like I love kettlebells, that's my jam. Right. But then when you explore barbell training and then you do a little bit of animal flow, there's probably a cool transfer. That happens. Have you guys noticed that at all, like from doing martial arts to maybe animal flow to mace work, do they, do they kind of meet in the middle in some way? Like if you notice that?


I think so. Yeah, for sure. I feel like, you know, using kettlebells and unconventional training, helps you become more aware of your body. And if we talked about this last time, but you work, you know, different, you know, grips and ready positions that work different muscles that you probably wouldn't normally feel when you're using questionable equipment. So this helps you kind of become stronger in different ranges, different positions. And so that way, when you pick up a barbell, you feel a lot stronger because you're more aware of all those little muscles that you wouldn't normally feel if you were only doing conventional training. So it translates super well. Actually, you know, I took a couple of years where I was doing mostly kettlebells and hardly touched a barbell and I was just focusing on just kettlebell training and my martial arts. And I was able to give my joints a break.


My back used to hurt a lot from doing heavy squats and heavy deadlifts. And so after I came back to incorporating barbells more regularly, I felt a lot stronger in my lifts is because I was more aware of my posture muscles, meaning my posterior all, all muscles that were, I felt like I activated more when I was using unconventional tools. And so, yeah, I think it has a huge carryover to making you stronger all around instead of just, and you know, single ranges of motion, you know, going, pressing up and down, pulling, you know, vertically horizontally, you know, pulling from different angles can help you, you know, make your fundamentals lot stronger as well.


So you know how, like if you do, let's say a 15-minute flow of some sort, kind of a flow, you like your breath will get going. It'll feel like a bit of a cardio-type stimulus. Right. but I guess if you go, you know, you go heavy enough and it will also you'll get kind of a strength stimulus there too. How have you guys viewed it in terms of when you're doing a kettlebell flow in the rest of your session or the rest of your training, where does it traditionally fit in? Are you, is the flow the warmup? Is that your conditioning?


Exactly. Yeah, for me, I cuddle flows. If I'm doing like a strength training session, you know, obviously the main part of the meat of my meat and potatoes of my workout that day is probably going to be, you know, squats, deadlifts or a bench press, you know, the primary lifts or traditional stuff to help me, Matt go maximally heavy and focus on maximum strength, but for the warm-ups I to get dynamic, to get everything firing on all cylinders before I get under the bar. So for me doing the kettlebell flows a good way to get the full-body juiced up and yeah, I'll use it for warmup or I'll even use it as a conditioning finisher, you know, cause for my, my straight workouts and, you know, high-intensity barbell sessions where I do all those conventional lists, I like to kick it off with a solid, full-body warmup and a full-body conditioning finisher. So that's usually where a kettle Buffalo fits in. Otherwise, I'll do a full workout. That's just conditioning-based, all kettlebell flows, animal flow, and body-making kettlebells. So that's how I tease it.


How long do you, not that there's a hard line obviously, but like, do you do 15-minute flows, five-minute flows, like one flow of X amount of movements. What's your sweet spot that you find where you can kind of maybe get into a flow state. You can also like reading and all that good stuff.


Yeah. It depends on how I'm feeling, but usually, you know, I used to keep it super structured. I'll do conditioning, like a protocol to where I'll do 60 seconds work, 60 seconds rest or 90 seconds work, 60 seconds fresh and a little bit less rest or really challenged myself. But that's not where I'm trying to reach that full state. That's what I'm just trying to do a full-body movement with the kettlebell flow and I'll keep it structured to those, those segmented times, all the, if I'd really go for those longer five-minute flows to where I'm just kind of fooling around doing all kinds of moves and not really focusing on, you know, keeping even reps on both sides and just looking for that flow stage on a, get in the zone, all I'll do like five minutes up to 10 minutes where I'm just moving around. I even put the kettlebell down and do some bodyweight moves and find that flow state. But usually, I'll do 30 max 92nd intervals.


In between, or if I'm doing like the 32nd intervals, incorporate some bodyweight moves in there, as animal flow moves like a little circuit and so different methods, but just depends on how I'm feeling that day.


Totally. And is it the same for you Francesca? Do you kind of follow a similar protocol or do you, you know, does it fit differently into your whole schedule?


I think it fits a little bit differently for me. Eric is just built differently and he can just start going hard at the beginning of the workout, to him it's easy. And to me, I'm like


I got a warm-up


Person, so I, you will never see me doing a cut of all flu as a warmup usually. But I like to, I usually, I like to put them in, in my strength workouts when I'm feeling crunched for time. That's one of my favorite ways. So I think a lot of times I catch myself thinking like, man, I want to add in a push and pull and a little bit of leg work, but I don't have enough time. So I'm like, all right, strength, keto, Buffalo. So I'll do maybe like a clean and a row to some presses and maybe add in like a deadlift or some swings to like hit the posterior chain. But that's usually how I like to program mine. I do add them in as like the, into like the last quarter of my workout, like right before I'm about to decompress.


I'll do a strength flow for everything that I felt like I was missing in my workout. And then I'm Mo my mobility days, especially if I want a little bit of extra aspect of strength as well. I'll just like to add on a kettlebell and do some, my mobility moves. Maybe even I like to do recently, I've been doing a lot of like the ground to standing type of work. So just like any type of movement flow to get you to know, from the ground up with some resistance has been a fun one. Yeah. So more goal-oriented, I think is usually my thing. Like for usually strength or mobility.


That's pretty cool. And, and do you find that when you, cause obviously when you push heavy on a barbell movement, like you can drift into the fives and the threes and the ones, how do you guys, what's a heavy rep range for you guys when it comes to kettlebells? If you're going for kind of a strong effect?


Yeah. Like three knives. Yeah. It's hard to find, you know, something that's going to challenge you for one rep unless you're doing single-leg movements. But for Mo like you can do like a one-arm press. It's really heavy Bulgarian, but


It's like, you also got to figure out a way to get it up.


A little more complex. The three to five rep range is a great power for me when I do, or if it were going to be in the one rep range. I think what would be good is an ISO. Cause I know sometimes I'll like challenge myself with like a bottoms-up hold and like, that's, that's all I can do. All I can do is hold it. So let's count Turkish, get up, you know, stuff that's super challenging for one rep, you know? So stuff like that. It's funny.


Yeah. It's funny you guys bring up ISO work cause I'm curious about kettlebells and even animal flow, sometimes it can, there's a lot of it looks dynamic, right. There's a lot of bending. There's a lot of jump in or move in and you know to, to counterbalance that I'm sure ISO work is awesome. How much of it do you guys traditionally do? And are you using kettlebells with it too? Like you're doing kettlebell as you said, bottoms uphold and things like that.


I don't think I do enough isometric work honestly, but I do try to do it with like the bottoms upholds and more so with like traditional, like kinesthetics moves more so than the animal flow, but yeah, I'm trying to think of something. I think we, I focus more on tempo than I do isometrics.


Got it. Yeah. So, and by that, do you mean like doing like your, you get your ISO by doing pauses and the bottom of a squat or something? That's smart. Okay. You're killing two birds with one stone there.


Isometric stuff a lot. I like doing isometric rows or inverted rows on a barbell or TRX like isometric pull-ups. But with the cuddle belt, the only isometrics to really do, or like if I'm doing progressive progressions on a Turkish, get upholding, you know, all the various positions for holds and bottoms up holes that we're talking about. But yeah, you know, I, I like to mix them in, into my conditioning days or, or my warmups when I'm doing, you know, warming up for a lift. But yeah, they definitely have a place in my programming depending on the goal for the day.


I want to talk a little bit about animal flow because that one really fascinated me. The last time we talked, I was really you know, the sidekicks the ruse, the lateral apes. Like I got some of the movements down, got to explore them. How has that, let's say discipline evolve over the years. Like, are there new movements you guys are playing around with and coming up with that you would consider animal flow movements, or has your mindset change in terms of how you incorporate it into what you're doing at all?


Yeah, I think the way that the system itself has evolved like I think things have become more sophisticated, you know, like there, I think people are realizing that you know like body types are different. So I think with the teaching system that there are different progressions and let's say like the crowd reach there are ways to make them crab each more and more progressive depending on whatever your fitness level is. But I think for me, I think I've just become more open-minded and realize that you know, how we were talking about in the beginning, you can actually add an animal flow with some kettlebell moves and add it in with some way time moves. So I think a lot of times when we learn animal flow, we become very rigid with our thought and we think like, okay, we can only match a sidekick through with like another movement similar, but in reality, you know, you can do like a jujitsu roll or you can get up and, you know, do like a plyometric exercise after.


So to me, I really just started to embrace it as movement and really just, you know, kind of being more open-minded and kind of just free-flowing with what I can combine it with. So instead of combining animal full with the animal flow, I'll combine animal flow with a little bit of modern dance, you know? Yeah. That's really cool. You know, animal flow is a system that has pretty rigidly defined, moves that the creator Mike Fitch kind of, he comes up with. And so out of respect, you know, we don't like try to make things up and call them animal flow right now because, you know, he has, he's super specific about what's animal flow. So we're doing is just kind of coming up with moves that we just called a movement, you know, it's, there's nothing fancy about it. It's just stuff that we like to do and things that make sense for our bodies and that feel good.


And for a while, a lot of people that aren't familiar with you know, like credible sports training, or aren't familiar with like unconventional tools or animal flow, they're like, what is it that you guys do? And for a while, we're like, you know, there's no name to it. And I think we've started leaning into that more because it's a super non-dogmatic way of looking at movement. You know, like it doesn't matter if you're a breakdancer, a soul, a surfer, a Yogi a CrossFitter, you know, everybody moves and I think leaning into it more from like a huge, like a human perspective of like, we need this for health, I think kind of invites more people to be more open-minded to movement. So I know some people that are strictly barbell lifters, they're like, ah, these people are break dancing, like monkeys. It's like, actually it's great for your body. And it feels good. And, you know, just try it.


I really like how you guys write your stuff too. Like when you guys put out videos and whatnot like I don't know. Did you, you normally don't have like names attached to them. It's kind of like move one. Okay.


That's what I do. I do move one too. It's so smart. Cause I'm tired of arguing with people what's Dan's role or this is a kickstand. [inaudible] Totally want to try it, try it out, man. You probably.


Get do you get a lot of that? Like people kind


Of fighting on my, in my comments section, I guess it's good for him, but I got tired of trying to argue with people. Right.


I feel like you can get more creative that way, because like, you don't have to lock yourself in to like, how do I articulate what this is? It's like, Hey, watch me and try to follow. And, and I'm sure you slow it down or whatever, and there are ways to regress it. But you can, like you were saying, you can mix things a little more interestingly, like, I didn't even think about what was the type of dance you just said, like a dance movie with modern dance. Okay. So w so there's Kickbox right now, there was like Moya Thai kickboxing that you guys have incorporated in their modern dance. What are some other things that you found that are starting to work well? Are you, are you, you said jujitsu. W what, like, I find that cool, because like, I may not go to a full-on jujitsu class, but like getting exposure through watching you do it is probably something I might do. Especially if it fits in and it gets my heart rate up and all those good things. So yeah. What are some of your favorites right now in terms of, unconventional?


I'm always inspired by, like, that's one of my cause I also used to breakdance. So for me, I feel like break dancing and Capoeira. I have an awesome spot in my heart. And I feel like that influences a lot of like, just the combinations that I do. I'm for sure. Influenced a lot by wrestling. There's a lot of stuff that I'll see wrestlers do, and I'm like, Oh, I want to do that. So wrestling for sure.


As in like professional wrestlers or are we talking like, [inaudible] I like to incorporate the rock bottom into my flow.




That's amazing. I do. I do also feel like when I, cause you guys to seem, you've been working out in, in your garage a little more and it looks like you've, you've hooked it up and you've got some new toys and stuff in there. But in the background, you have like your dragon ball Z posters and stuff. And it's so funny. Cause like dude, you actually, when you're like jacked and ripped, you actually look kind of like a dragon ball, Z character.


Hell yeah. You know, watching dragon balls because they don't want to look like that. Like a super sad. Right, right. That's amazing experimenting with putting on and get, you know, trying to get more muscle cause those guys are swole. But just taking my time now, I'm not rushing into trying to bulk up, put on 40 pounds in three months. Now I'm taking my time going with the seasons and enjoy my life and putting on a healthy amount of muscle, you know, in a healthy way. So it's been good, man. I feel strong, stronger, so Riverbed and getting lean again for the summer, you know, while maintaining size. So it's been great.


Yeah. You guys hit on that earlier. You, you, you use the term recomposition right. What is something like doing it the right way versus doing it in a way that was, you know, whatever it brought on some side effects or things that you didn't want to what have you found when just from experimentation there?


Just taking my time and, you know, playing with my macros, the amount of food that I'm eating, and trying different protocols like carb cycling. Like I've been trying that by doing five days of low carbs, but not like no carbs, just low carbs and eating my carbs around my training sessions and for breakfast. And that's been great. I've been doing five days, low carbs and two to the carb. Refeeds on the weekends on Saturday Sunday, and it's been amazing. You know, I've been able to slowly lose weight and lose body fat while maintaining muscle because I'm not depriving myself seven days a week of no like zero carbs all off all month long, every single day and getting into a bad mood, getting hangry, you know, more I can, you know, add those carbs back in on the weekend before my, my muscles started, you know, become catabolic and start wasting away, you know?