Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Double Snatch or the KB Shoot to Handstand

With my right shoulder sitting in an entirely new place these days and my desire to find anohter movement to go with pullups on my Monday session I have been mulling over presses, side presses, push presses,etc. All for naught as my shoulder just doesnt like the movement anymore and there is just no getting around that it seems. So while I waiting for a client I decided to play with some 2 kb snatches. Why I thought that putting both arms overhead would be easier on my shoulder than just a single one I don't know but I never said I was sane and I try to listen closely to the messages the Universe and my body send me these days. I have learned to ignore this stuff at myown peril.

My overhead hangs from the power bar are now done with a much closer grip than ever before; very close to the position I would swing around a high bar with. Or swing on rings for dislocates( now THERE is an apt name for a ring move!) and shoot to handstands.

It feels like I have to reclaim my range of motions back from my developmental days first, and then expand them out. I am getting my gymnast body back and the more it goes in that direction the less pain I have. I was both surpised and NOT surprised that these went went. It felt very much like a swing to handstand on the rings.The bent arm kind. I bet double bottoms up snatches feel like a straight arm shoot to handstand.

Suprising also was the hand rotation and line of pull on this double snatch as opposed to my single arm version.It was a much more GS pull and punch through! To my amazement as I wasnt trying to do that at all. The overhead lockout position was much different than my single arm also, with the arm more INTERNALLY rotated at the top!

I think my newfound ability to hang with a pronated grip has something to do with this as well. I just used the 12 kg as I want to see tomorrows effects on my back knees and shoulders before I play with this again.

6 am: One hour RIFGA stretching. Client missed and I had the whole time to stretch out.

Most excellent.

2 pm
2 kb snatch 12 kg x5,7,8,10,7,8,9,10 =64 reps/3392 lbs

2 kb hi pull 5,6,7,8,9,10=45 reps/3320 lbs

Very interesting, the 12 kgs were easy and the 16 kg were awkward as I have real problems with a wide stance,especially on a bilateral move. will take this slowly, if at all. The overhead position really intrigues me though.

The Rifstonian Hi Pull ladder. 24 kg 10/10 12/12 14/14 16/16 18/18 in ten minutes 20/20 10/10 in 11.5 minutes 200 reps/ 10,600 lbs.

havent done this in awhile and was very pleased to see how well it went but then again I was fully warmed up, which helps me tremendously.wind was actually good and the groove was solid as well. Was interesting to see what my body did when faced with the hi rep and time challenge. It shortened the stroke considerably, kept the bell much higher in the crotch and kept my hips back and high as well.I conserved power on each stroke as well . Climb the hill, I told myself.

Rack walks 24 kg/100 feet per arm,200 foot per lap 3 laps= 600 feet.

these were the heaviest I have done this in quite awhile. felt strong.

BW 160.8
BF 8.9% wow. this has been consistent
Water 60.7%

datsit, staying loose and hoping I can do double snatches.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Evolution of Westside Barbell Training

Part one of an article I did for Pavel.

Building up, not tearing down.

For years I trained to destruction. Especially as a bodybuilder where muscle self torture was the rule of the day. One's ability to withstand lactic acid buildup was a sign of manhood.
I accepted the extreme soreness and debilitation as sure signs I had stimulated growth.Now my job, until the next workout, was to encourage recovery.This destruction/rebuilding process was the template and for years I put my heart and soul into it.

Yet somewhere down the line I just realized that I was breaking down way more than I was building up.Yes I could do the workout but it took way too long to recover to make it worthwhile. As I approach the Half Century mark early next year I realize that doing exercises and programs that don't leave me crippled but actually make me feel and move better and easier are the way to go.

Not having to compete anymore makes this possible.I may not be able to "fight for the kingdom" as Pavel says but I ain't laying down in bed to rest my legs either!

Yesterdays swing form experiment proved this to me once again. MY left knee locked up almost immediately after the workout and I had pain in my ankle, knee, quad, IT band, glutes and SI joint that I havent had in months.The knee was not sitting right and everything around,above and below it let me know.

SO lots of nsaids, traction, foam rollers, baths,on the floor stretches for the hammies, quads and calves and lots of prayer and woke up this morning okay.The universe let me know in no uncertain terms which swing form it preferred. I am going with the Big Dog,LOL.

Now with my shoulder almost fully back in the socket and my leg attatched again I have fleeting moments of, dare I say it?, almost NO pain and a feeling of full body integration! Wow, so that's what that feel like,lol!

I so want to be more powerful, stronger and be able to do more work in the gym but I am constantly reminded of just how much I can do, right now, and how good it feels in and of itself to be able to do so.Those little moments of panic and terror that tthose basic things I tend to take for granted will be taken away from me lets me know for sure that those little basic moves are nuggets of pure gold.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Form play and pullups

I always learn something when Mike Castro visits. He dropped by our Saturday workout and did some swings just to pass the time til we finished. Three sets of 100 reps with the 24,28 and the 32 kg if I'm not mistaken and I dont think he's been doing much kb work of late either.
That didnt surprise me; I've seen him do stuff like that regurally. But it did force me to look at his swing mechanics.

He had much more of a knee bend on the descent than I am used to seeing of late and it made me think back to when he trained us and how he swings the bells. There is no "right" and only way to do anything. For beginners there is the classic technique for everything as well but once someone enters the intermediate( let alone the advanced) stage of training, individual nuances come into play. One must maximize individual biomechanics to maximize output.

I, of course, being the dogmatic perfectionist that I am, always try to fit myself into the quintessential classic form regardless of whether it fits or works best, or even if it works at all.This almost always gets me in trouble and it did when I trained WSB. I was always trying to squat with too wide of a stance for my build( which is very small hipped and no ass).

AS Louie said to me " you are built to deadlift".Unfortunately I am too weak to excel in it but you get the point. Deadlift, not squat.

As per Bretts post about single leg deadlifts and starting the lift with a 20 degree knee bend I always felt that way about barbell squats. I knew if I could start the lift with a 20 degree knee bend I could get my hips into the lift from the start. Starting with a locked knee it was very hit or miss whether I could get my hips back.Usually miss.
ESPECIALLY if I am trying to JUST sit back and NOT use my legs.

WSB almost made a fetish of NOT using quads or pecs and this, imo, was a mistake. Use it all. Why leave anything out of a lift? Just use it in the right place.

Quads are breaking muscles as well as knee extensors and when I break at the knee first it seems to provide a platform for my hips to rotate from. My own lumbo-pelvic rythym( thank you gymnastics very much) is pretty screwed up and this is how I get my hips and legs into squat/pull pattern.

If you look at Mikes picture in GiryaStrength gallery you can see this on the cleans and swing.He has a long femur and strong quads as well as hips. He uses them both. More like an olympic clean off the floor than a power squat( basic rkc).

It also keeps his combined center of mass over hisbase of support much better as it shortens the lever arm. Looked interesting so I gave it a try and it even more interesting!

Dont know if my knees will take it but it felt very natural, and strong stroke.I put up some vids of it .

Here's the hip centric form

Steve Cotter also has a more leg centered swing I just recalled. Makes sense considering how freaking strong his legs are. Train you weakpoints but compete your strengths( me).

Tactical Pullups( shoulder is most open it has been in years. almost scared to write it down)

71 reps

I cant beleive how good these felt. my shoulder was the most "in" it has been in eons! The reverse grip hang really finished off the ROM and flexiblity issue I think. at least for now.

Misc. Swings

200 reps of one arm, two hand, hi pulls, transfer and snatches working with this new techniqque

weights varied from 16 to24 kg.

this will be an interesting experiment anyway. what else do I have to do? not training to compete is the hardest thing I have ever done in training. Having a competition to spur you on makes training so much easier. Holding back all the time and yet still showing up and pushing as hard as safely possible is way tougher.

Rack walks
20 kg 200 feet per arm

1600 feet. PR
30 sec rest/arm

these also felt fantastic! gait is much improved and stronger.

bosu ball
light stands two and one foot

bw 160.8
bf 8.9%
water 60.6%

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ring Strength

Rif- U of Iowa 1975
Muscle beach maltese.

straight arm, straight leg press to handtand.

Hollowback press to handstand

back roll to handstand on rings

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hi pull/snatch combo training

In keeping with my vow to Nick not to do conventional repetition snatch training for a month I start on the first combo workout.Decided to wave the 20kg with the 24 kg each set as my shoulder is back in fairly well and I want to see how this goes.

12 kg
two handed swings
hi pulls
two handed swing overhead

did this series three times for 5-8 reps/arm

Hi pull into snatch
16 kg x8/8x2 ( 4 pulls and 4 snatches per side)


alternate weights for 8 sets each

44#x16x8= 128 reps/5632
53x16x8= 128 reps/ 6784

total reps= 256! (128 snatches)
total pounds=12,416

this went very, very well. The hi pull totally set up the snatch in the correct position and I used my hips much better throughout. Next step after this is one high pull and two snatches in a steps,lol.


One foot calf raise

Reverse grip overhead stretches and Bosu stands

the reverse grip is almost ready!I should be able to hang with the chin up grip very soon and then chins are not far behind at all. This was the message I was getting from my shoulder this week- TURN YOUR GRIP AROUND AND STRETCH THE TERES FROM THE OTHER WAY!

The shoulder sat right in the socket after I did this. Amazing.

I am a slow learner but I eventually get it.

datsit, stay loose.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Who else but Mike Castro?

would bring a Bulldog KB and jump stretch bands to Burning Man?

Are you regular?

No, not that way, in your training? Do you have set days and times that you train or do you " find time for it" as so many seem to do. I read often of training that takes place catch as catch can. While that may have to occur occasionally as life interferes with your practice plan it is NOT an effective strategy for making your goals a reality if it happens regularly.

The body thrives on regularity, from your eating, your sleeping and especially your training. I have always had a set practice time; from the earliest days of gymnastics to my 5 am running jaunts to my bodybuilding and powerlifting workouts.

Knowing exactly when you are going to workout makes it so much easier to plan, visualize and mentally rehearse what you are going to do the next workout. I can't beleive how many show up at the gym not really knowing what the days session is about. Now this make work alright for 'exercisers' but for those serious about making progress it is not okay at all.

Back when I was still training for competition I knew weeks in advance what my workouts would be as I had to to be able to peak for my competition. If my goal was to squat, bench or deadlift a certain amount then all the workouts leading up to that had to be sequential and planned as well.

If, for instance a workout happened to fall on Thankgiving, or Christmas or my birthday, oh well, had to "get er dun".It was only though this total committment to my goals did I have a chance of making them happen. Having equally committed( nutso) training partners really helps here and they are harder to find than a woman who will put up with you.

But if you can't find those partners you have to get er dun yourself, regardless. It's not really a plan if you don't follow it and you'll never know if your training theories are working if you keep changing things.

For those that squeeze their workouts in when everything else is done really haven't prioritized their training correctly ,imo. If you plan to train at midnight or 5 am so as not to interfere with your family time thats fine as long as there is a plan and it's stuck to.

We make progress in the gym one day at a time, one workout at a time and one rep at a time.Committing fully to each aspect of your training makes you stronger each time you do it. Or not.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Character training

I just saw a car commercial that stated" Challenges don't build character, they reveal it." Pretty deep for a commercial and I couldnt agree more. todays workout was a challenge. Slept well but knee locked up upon awakening for no good reason except that my shoulder was feeling better and the pain had to go somewhere.

Of course it didnt take long for the shoulder to lock up wtoo and I was one torqued dude for six hours. The urge to stretch everything out is huge but clients have to be trained and they are paying for my complete attention. This is where being able to suffer well comes in.

Took a very hot ten minute bath after getting home to unwind some tension and then stretched out a bit especially overhead. Might have pushed the tactical pullups a bit too hard on monday ;)Lats were screaming sore and this hasnt happened in ages! course I havent done 87 pullups in ages either.

High pulls were on the table and 300 was the number I had in mind although I didnt check what last weeks total was. I wanted to keep them snappy so I did sets of 5 switching twice; 20 rep sets. the work was easy, going into each set wondering whether my knee or my shoulder was going to go first was not. definitely teaches you to focus on your form though.

Hi Pulls

53x5/5/5/5 x15 sets = 300 reps
15,900 pounds

went pretty slowly, 35 minutes total including warmups but I was scare to push the pace at all with how off I was feeling. settled in around the 200 rep mark,lol.I am one creaky old man but once I warm up I'm not bad....

Lots of stretching overhead between sets trying to keep the shoulder happy. I also think I did so much demonstrating of the impingment release technique I overworked my teres and triceps and tightened myself up!

Suitcase Farmers walk left / rack walk right arm
100 feet each side: 1000 feet total.

tried doing the farmers walk with the right arm and my back said no. the off set combo felt right and balancing.

overhead snatch holds

36x30 ea arm
44x30 sec each arm x3 sets

by this time everything is actually settling in and feeling more balanced!?! This is one reason I train so much and as hard as I can as it seems that in the gym is the only time when I feel strong and balanced. The rest of the day I am just trying to find it. In the gym I actually do.

Occasionally. And that is what keeps me coming back as much as anything. But damn it takes me forever to warm up.

bosu ball
two feet, eyes open and closed. one foot.

supersetted with overhead holds

this was tough as my left knee is still not in right. need to stretch it out.

BW 160.2
BF 9.0
water 60.6%

wow, this got low fast. I havent been eating much lately and it shows. too light I think.

datsit, gotta get loose.

PS Just looked and I did the same number of reps last week just in 20 rep sets of 10 each arm. Should have done at least one more set today. this is why you check your last workout BEFORE you train.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Swing practice

The 1976 Japanese Olympic Team

One of my favorite storys involves one of my high school gymnastics heroes and role models, 3 time NCAA All Around Champion and Olympian Steve Hug. Since I devoured Modern Gymnast magazine every month til I knew every routine in it by heart( no lie) I knew of Steves amazing gymnastics transformation after his pilgramage to NiTiDi, the Japanses Phys Ed college where all of Japans Olympians trained and went to school.

Steve went to NiTiDi further his already amazing repetoire of gymnastics skills but when he got there, to his amazement, all they would let him do is swing. Swing circles on side horse, big swings on rings, swings on parallel bars and hi bar and basic tumbling. Nothing else. For six months!

For an athlete of Hug's caliber to take six months off his skills was unheard of but he did it. And it transformed him. When he went back to doing his competition skills he was a new gymnast. Six months of nothing but swings honed his basic techniques to perfection. He knew the mechanics of the swings perfectly and exactly how and when to maximize his power and acceleration for maximum performance. He appeared to move effortlessly and with much more confidence. Skills were not just "done" they were done to the maximum.

THis made a lasting impression on me and the Zen attitude of the stoic Japanese gymnasts also became part of the template. This followed me through all my training incarnations and has found the perfect final home with the RKC and the concepts of Lo Tech High concept and Deep skill kettlebell work.

The irony that I am back to where I started athletically, working on my swing, is not lost on me in the least. The closer I look the more I see and there is much in the simple swing yet to be discovered by me. And the stronger and better I get the better my vision seems.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The impingment release

This is the start position.Elbows locked arms out in front, wrist back as much as possible and the traps pulled down.Flex the triceps . If they are firing the bicep area should be relaxed, not tight. If it is and you cannot get the triceps to fire. Lower the arm and try at this lower level. When I do this is get a huge feeling of tension in my lower right forearm, thumb and hand which travels up the arm into the biceps and then the shoulder. Bad mojo.I use the strength of the wrist extensors to pull back the hands. I also spread the fingers and hands as much as possible.
If you still cannot get them to fire rotate the arms out and try it that way. Most can get the triceps to fire and the biceps to relax.Think reverse grip bench press.

Once you have them firing rotate back to the palms forward position and try to keep them tight. Raise your arms as high as possible without losing the triceps tension

This is the position where the internal rotators win and you've gone too far. Lower the arms, reset and go again.Remember you are trying to release the muscle tension by taking the brakes off, not taffy pulling the tissue.

Since most only have one really tight side use just one arm at a time and palpate the biceps to see when it fires as you raise your arm.

Continue overhead as high as possible with the elbows locked and the shoulders down.I have a long way to go but this is 100% better than last week. And the pain is almost all gone as well.

Tactical Pullups

Although I didnt sleep for beans I felt good all day at work.It's a very different energy picture when you are not having to manage serious joint pain as you train people trying not to look in pain. Or spend their hour working on yourself.

My shoulder release has been working well and 100% of my clients with shoulder pain or limited shoulder flexion ROM CANNOT maintain tricep tension as their arm goes overhead. They vary as to where the internal rotators exceed the strength of the external rotators but somewhere between 85 and 120 degrees of shoulder flexion the tricep shuts off, the biceps and arm flexors kick in, the elbow bends and the arm internally rotates locking up the shoulder.then the scapula jams and the levator, scalenes and traps tighten up.

By only raising the arm as far as I can maintain tricep firing it is causing the biceps to release the arm to go further overhead more easily.

I didnt know that getting the full tactical stretch hang in my pullups workout would be so crucial to this as well; but it only makes sense.After my first set of pullups today I didnt know if I could get 12 reps but it settled down. SHowing me how important that pause stretch is.

Tactical Pullups
3,4,5,5 =17

total reps 87!

took me about 35 pullups to get remotely comfortable but then it really settled in. I am very weak in these now . might be ready for another lower volume day.

One arm KB Dls

was very surprised how hard it was for me to keep my triceps firing and the elbow locked during my pull. I really wanted to flex the arm a bit. I have VERY long arms for my height with a large elbow carry and when the arms get inside the leg its hard for them to stay straight. A good drill for linkage and wedging.

heavy bag

15 minutes jabs, straights hooks. much easier to do this when the knee is solid(er).

rack walks
36#x200 feet per arm 1200 feet.

This was a very good session although it started out like shit :))You just never know where the workout is going to go sometimes.Hanging fully from the bar was very good for the shoulder

datsit, will weight later.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What a difference a year makes.

Snatches , high pulls and form.

Knew I wanted to use the 53 today in snatches as I've been feeling like it has gotten heavy for me. Mentally more than anything as my groove is all over the place.My high pulls and the mechanics of that swing feel great and I dont know why I change things when I do consecutive snatches. I didnt find out either til the ass end of this workout. As usual.

For some reason I can never have great revelations about form or training except when I'm almost done and I cant practice the new stuff much! Oh well, better to knoweven if I have to wait. Patience is so key in strength training.


53x5/5x10 sets 100 reps/5300 pounds

Hi pull/snatch combination
hi pull/snatch/hi pull /snatch,etc
53x8/8x6 sets 96 reps 5088pounds

total reps 196 (148 snatches) 10,388 pounds

This is the drill I need to do. Don't want to do it, I want to just practice the snatch by itself but this is definitely the drill to do. My hi pull form is different than my snatch form and it is better. When I hi pull before the snatch rep I snatch correctly. I can also get into the correct position to do the next hi pull right. But when I do consecutive snatches I tend to get too bent over and pull with the arm.
This was the same problem I had with the squat. It is horrifically easy for me to forget how you use my hips. I never used them in my developmental stage and in fact let them deteriorate( pointing freaking toes!) during crucial years.So I have to use a form that allows them to activate.I just have to go back to go forwards. This is the way.

Nick made me promise to only do hi pull snatch combos for at least a month to groove the pattern and he is right. dammit.I have to learn to drop the bell into the same position I get into after the top part of the snatch. THis drill will do it.


26x10/10x4 sets

datsit, staying loose.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Warrior Dieting.

One of the things I both love and hate about doing the Warrior Diet is that I have to prepare my own food in order to eat. I have a hard and fast rule that my first meal is a vegetable,protein stir fry or salad. This means that before I get too hungry I have to start cutting vegetables. Sometimes if I've waited too long I will have some peanut butter, tahini,raw cocnut and raw honey mixed up to take the edge off as I prepare the real meal but that is key.

That I prepare it. Now I love to cut vegetables and spent many years as a cook in my days as an itinerent athlete/bum. Zen monks always placed a great deal of importance on work in the kitchen as a grounding factor and I couldnt agree more. Having to stop what I am doing and really prepare my food changes the rythym of the day and signals the end of work day and begining of rest and recovery.

It also reminds me of how not too long ago getting and preparing food was no easy task;certainly not one to be taken for granted.The tiny amount of real labor that I do is small but important as it always makes me aware of just what I am putting in my body to nourish and heal it.

After being at the forefront of the supplement edge for so many years as a bodybuilder and powerlifter I am back to my natural food only approach I took in my endurance days. I never trusted what is in the supplements anyway.

Organic,basic food is our evolutionary heritage and makes the most sense to me. Earning my food during the day also makes me appreciate it that much more as well as realize how little food we really need to thrive.

I'm not food nazi and still love my ice cream,that's why I start with the veggies and clean proteins. What comes next is dessert and that can get ugly!LOL! Good thing all those veggies really fill me up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Brad Nelsons blog

a new blog by a great trainer and a very strong man, Brad Nelson RKC. I am always impressed with Brads thinking about strength training and training in general. This should be some good material.
Our little blogger community of strength and kettlebell trainers is growing very well. Not too fast but what quality! All good things to come.

High pulls and shoulder revelations

My right shoulder has been pretty funky lately; as in does not want to go all the way overhead easily at all. Lot of internal rotation at 110-120 degrees and its tough to keep the scapula working correctly as I go overhead. Needless to say this makes snatches pullups and presses pretty interesting.

Lets just say I do ALOT of work I dont write down here for my shoulder back and knees as lots of it is experimental and very individual. Luckily there arent that many that are as tweaked as I am.Another reason I have become so blase about high intensity sports for kids. The injury gift you might be giving can last a lifetime. And its not like there are very many good coaches. Gotta be careful.

But this is interesting and worth noting. One thing I discovered was that my tricep( right one) wouldn't fire as I got close to 120 degrees of shoulder flexion. Just like having a tight hamstring with a non firing VMO. THis would cause a lot of the internal rotation and a very tight biceps and coracoid brachialis.

by backing ALL the way up and just doing a standing two arm front raise (very very slowly)with totally straight arms and triceps firing.

THE HANDS ARE FULLY EXTENDED AND THE WRISTS IN FULL EXTENSION( think palms flat on the wall in front of you). Almost to the exact degree that my triceps stopped firing the elbow bent and internal rotation occured.

I used Pavels Strength stretching technique to fire the triceps hard, causing the biceps to have to release.It very intense! But I got an immediate release in the impingment in my bicep tendon and my shoulder felt much better. Plus I got twenty degrees more shoulder flexion!

With so much bicep and flexors involvment with kb work this is the missing piece of the puzzle.Just like I have to keep enough quad strength to oppose my hamstring strength the same thing here.My overhead stick stretches have been too wide and I shouldtn let the wrist go into flexion.

Not to mention the repeptive stress from typing,mousing and all the freaking hard pressing body work I do. My forearms were RAMPANT with trigger points, that radiated right into my shoulder!
I love to learn new stuff, especially like this!!

RIFGA 20 minutes
rear delts/green band 100 reps

High PUlls

53x10/10x 15 sets
300 reps/15,900 pounds!!

this went suprisingly well. I did the palms up front raise in between each set and my shoulder stayed nice and relaxed as well as my biceps.nice. too about 25 minutes.

Rack walks
44lb kbx 100 feet per arm/200 feet laps
1000 feet total

Snatch Holds
36x30 sec
44x30 sec x2
36x30 sec

did these with the spear hand and actually letting my wrist stretch back to open up the forearm.

Band rear delts 80 reps green band
Overhead rotators 5 lbs 3x15 each

Bosu ball
two foot neck mobility
two foot eyes closed for time
two foot eyes closed neck mobility
one foot for time
one foot blinks

this is getting better each time.feet so much stronger one legged are almost decent even on my left leg!

bw 162
bf 8.5% again!
water 61.2%

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Serious squatting from the WPO

These are some of the best really heavy squats I have seen in a long time.

Micro Macro

It seems that when looking at the very smallest or the very largest parts of the body or the universe lines start to blur and things get earily similar. So glad they are fixing the Hubble; what a tragedy it would have been to let that slide into disrepair.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Great new Blog

got this article and the link to Alwyn Cosgroves blog from Jason Browns Crossfit Philly site.Looks to be a great blog look forward to learning a bunch, this guy is sharp.

Pullups and snatch practice

After watching Tim Dymmels beautiful snatch form, and my bent over, ugly ass( even though it feels strong) form I decided to play with tims position` and see if it would work for me. This is what I used to do in the squat(much to my chagrin and all my friends and family's consternation); mess around with technique even when it was going well, always trying to "perfect it even more", lol. One should stop when they are ahead. Things tend to go better over time.

Since with so many restrictive injuries very few things "felt" right it was hard to just let it go. I always beleived there was a stronger, faster ,better position that was just waiting to be discovered. Always discover and train your weak points, you know. So it was with the squat and so it is with my new pet project the snatch.

One thing I did learn, in retrospect, was that my instincts for what was the best squat position for me were right. Had I stayed with them and focueds on pushing hard with the best "feeling" position instead of searching for the most theoretcically and technically right position I would have been better off. Same here with the snatch and that is one of my favorite things about kettlebells; there is no ONE perfect position. Truly the commons mans strength and conditioning tool. Lots of room for individuation.

So although tims position looks pretty and is probably tims strongest position it is not mine. I immediately felt my biceps tendons say hello. I said goodby and went back to my ugly ass hi pull/snatch technique. Truth be told very few I have met are built like me.

Snatch practice

10 minutes with 16 and 20 kg for triples

14 sets of 4 reps. No pauses( left tricep/lat talking to me.lovely.almost IMMEDIATELY upon my right shoulder STOPPING talking to me). I always say there is just one pain, it just moves around the body!

56 reps

One KB deadlift

still dont know what to fully do on this day.this seemed okay.Cant beleive the bulldog felt heavy at first!

rack walks

200 feet per arm sets: 1200 foot total

these however felt great! knee felt excellent and the pace was decent. so nice to being able to walk without pain, almost. lol.

heavy bag
4 songs this felt good havent done it in awhile. usually loosens me up. I really got a rythym going towards the end. I cant move for shit but I have pretty fast hands :))

bw 162.2
bf 8.5%
water 61 %

this surprised the hell out of me! Thats the highest water level I've gotten. I've been eating a lot lately too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Real Deal, Cont.

One problem with judging your training "progress" solely by a performance ( how much can you lift, how fast can you run?) metric is that nothing lasts forever. Everyone, if they are lucky, gets old, which means at some point you have already done all the best of what you are going to do and that's that. For most of us that window is (depending on your sport) from ages 15-30.

Fifteen years. Not much eh? Some( female gymnasts) peak way earlier than that and others, powerlifters and marathon runners ( strange combination eh?) can keep it going into their late 30's. But thats not much time and then who are you? In the world of men it's not what you have done but what can you do now, that, if we're honest, is what counts.

"Yeah old man, tell me how did whatever back in the day, look at you now". SO much for respect but even the greats( Ed Coan even gets trashed on forums) get old so what is there for the regular people?

There is training.If you measure your progress on other metrics: your consistency, your intensity, your focus, your analysis,your ability to "adapt and overcome" to quote Pavel, the development and maturity of your will and your discipline then you can improve til you die.

And that's what being Real Deal is to me. If only high performance and Elite counts then hey, why train after you are done competing? Hell, why compete when you probably will lose anyway?

Because the real, and first resistance to be confronted and 'lifted', is your own inertia towards weakness and lack of will. After that's done, the gym is easy.It's getting to the gym thats hard.

You are either getting stronger or weaker;there is no middle ground. Every decision we make,every one, takes us either closer or further away from what we say want and who we say we are. Of course we arent perfect,but just the awareness of the fact that we are choosing things that arent in keeping with our goals makes us better. At least more aware of our weakness and that is good.

You can't fix what you don't acknowledge is weak. THe continual attention to one's weak points is what makes WSB so effective and Louie Simmons the quintessential Real Deal guy.

The older I get the more I see the importance of being strong in mind and body. Life is tough and getting old and dying don't look like it's for the weak.

Real Deal

To me there is no greater compliment than to say someone is the Real Deal.ANd it doesnt have to be in the realm of athletics or training. If someone is totally committed to their activity, no matter what it is, they are the Real Deal.

It's easy to find Real Deal people everywhere. They are the ones that are accomplishing their goals; or at the very least, putting it all out their in the hopes of accomplishing their stated goal(s).These people are not following trends and fads, they are following their hearts and their passions, regardless of whether it is currently popular, trendy or the latest thing.

They can put their egos aside and ride the waves of gains and losses with equal dispassion knowing that regardless of what the score card says today, tomorrow is another training day, another step on their journey to whatever their goal is.And that when the goal is achieved another will take its place as the reality to the Real Deal guy is that their is no finish line. They are the consumate student, always looking for another piece of the puzzle, working their craft, perfecting their art, disciplining their mind and body to be ready to jump to the next level when it presents itself.

Some call this Old School and I am totally fine with that as well. You see these guys( and women) at Masters powerlifting, weightliftng, track and field, swim meets and any other discipline that takes a lifetime to truly master.ANd lets not forget Martial Arts,which probably invented this. They know, and teach, that Mastery of the Art is a lifetime pursuit and one which gives up its secrets grudgingly, if at all, and only after testing your character and heart to the max.

The Real Deal guy is interested in the depth of something, not just the shiny surface. When one considers ones heroes and role models it is usually there you find the Real Deal. Someone is so committed to what they want to have, what and who they choose to be that there is no room for feal of failure. Because their really is no failure if one has their heart in the right place. Their is only the lesson that not achieving what you set out to do that day will teach you.

ANd most of the best lessons I have had have always come from my losses , not my wins. I feel badly for those who are afraid to really want something badly enough to fully committ and play it as it lays. They might be talented and achieve good things but will never know the best of themselves if they are too afraid of seeing the worst.Of really caring and wanting to achieve and coming up short. Many hold back so they can say"if I REALLY wanted it I could do it". Proof is in the pudding.

It's hard to fully committ, fully care and still come up short. ANd then pick yourself back up, re analyze and plan and start over.Again. And again. And again. For as long as it takes. Thats the Real Deal.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sub Max snatches

Decided to lighten the load a bit today as Mondays 50 reps with the two pood in the clean and the numerous hi pulls with the 28 kg got me more than a bit stiff and creaky. I also realized that at 160 pounds I am NOT the 185 pound guy I used to be and the 44 is probably a better training weight for me most of the time for my snatches. It is certainly a much easier weight to really accelerate.

I weigh 160 and the 20 kg is .275 of my bodyweight. If I weighed 185 the 53 would be .286 so it is close. I can really "play" with the 20 kg.



44x8/8x8 sets=128 reps and 5632 pounds

44x7/7x7 sets =98 reps and 4312 pounds

44x10/10= 20 reps and 880 pounds

246 reps and 10,824 pounds. Most snatch reps ever with any weight. PR.


3 sets of 8 /8 with 12 kg

one foot calf raise

3 sets of 8 with 18

datsit, staying loose.

oh yeah, gotta get a new camera man.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ultramarathon Man

when I was training for Ultra this is who I wanted to be.Only he hadn't started it yet. 50 consective marathons in 5o states on 5o consecutive days. This guy is amazing;

More Mike Castro

Mike as one big ass Tarzan.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mike Castrogiovanni, RKC Mutant

Tom Furman asked me to post some of Mike Castros best efforts aso I gave him a call today to catch up and quiz him about some of the stuff he did when he trained me, and trained with me, for the RKC two years ago.

Mike is like a son to me and I introduced him to weights when he was just 14 years old and budding wrestler.He trained at my Worlds Gym and was like a sponge soaking up everything everyone had to offer him. Years later I would show him the kettlebell and he took off like arocket with them accomplishing some amazing kb feats. Later he would be the connection between me and Pavel and the one who pushed me to do the RKC and then trained me for it. As well as convince me I could survive it. I was in very bad shape at the time , not being able to squat or deadlift or do any cardio for years. Bench pressing does not keep you fit.

Some of Mike Castros KB lifts:

1000 swings with the 97 lb kb

10 sets of 10 in the Turkish Getup to Windmill to Military press with the 72.

10 sets of 10 in the TGU with the Bulldog.

10 sets of 10 in the snatch with the Bulldog.
Snatched the 125 lb kettlebell

Windmill with the 125 lb kettlebell

Cleaned the 145 lb kettlebell

One arm swings with the 145 lb kettlebell

Pullup with the Bulldog

Three sets of 100 in the two hand swing followed by 3 sets of 80 each arm in the one arm swing with the Two Pood

10 sets of 10 in the Swing, squat, push press overhead with the Bulldog

10 sets of 10 in the clean and press with the Bulldog

210 Bosu Getups in 10 minutes

I know there is more. Mike said he would drop by the blog so if I am forgetting anything Mike let me know!

The Rifstone

This was taken the day Big Chief Jim McGoldrick, 5 time World Highland Games champ, dubbed me the Rifstonian and my gym the Rifstonian Institute. Chief always had a very dry sense of humor. The waist was large and in charge,lol!
My squat and deadlift both came from my diaphragm and ab strength.I seriously needed more erector size and strength though.That would've saved my back, I beleive.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rope Climb

David Weck, Pavel, Mike Castro climb the Santa Monica ropes last year.

KB Speed Day.

Training powerlifting Westside style was an incredible experience. SO much intensity built into the system that it was total focus time everytime you went into the gym. It was either max effort day for the squat/deadlift or the bench press or squat or bench speed day.

On max effort days we rotated exercises every 2 weeks and went for 3-6 singles culminating( hopefully) in a pr.In not that at least a long, hard grind on a pr weight. You have two to three weeks to get it. Nothing quite focuses my mind like a heavy weight that I haven't done before and really, really want to get. And yet Westside doctrine dictates that you do not pysch up and raise adrenaline,pulse or bloodpressure to max the lift. This is called a gym max and is somewhere around 90% of your contest max.

Then there is speed day. On squat speed day you would squat to a below parallel box( no guessing whether you were deep enough) usually with chains on the bar. You would do 12-10 sets of 2 reps with a 65-70% of max weight and try to move each weight as fast as possible, 100 % max force. So in a way there are TWO max effort days. This one is about acceleration.

You would only rest 45 seconds between sets and fight fatigue to train the body to continue to put out max force even when it was fatigued. If you want to be a decent powerlifter you need to know how to grind but squat speed day was about moving weight fast. Starting strength and speed strength were the qualites that were focused on.

And so I thought I would do the kb equivilant today. I would do five reps with weight I could do twenty or more with and move them as fast and cleanly as possible, applying maximum force the entire rep and NOT holding back at all.

ANd inspired by Geoff Neuperts post on Series Wave training I would wave the weights as well.

High Pull


done six times

44x60 reps =2640 pounds
53x60 reps= 3180
62x60 reps=3720

the 62 started moving too slowly so I dropped it


done two times

1940 pounds

11,480 pounds /220 reps

these moved very well. I was very suprised as how easily the 62 swung, as well as how high.right bicep tendon and shoulder have been tight all day though.Just dont have enough time in the am to do the bodywork I need to get fully stretched out. rest periods were short and I didnt it down at all. Felt suprisingly good to really power it out. Wind was good as well.

rack walks
44x100 feet change hands each

800 total feet.

These so help my gait. Helps me get my hips under me much more.

Snatch Holds
36x30 sec
44x30 sec x 3 sets

did these in front of a mirror today to better align my right shoulder.


supersetted with above. two feet with neck mobility, two feet eyes closed neck mobility, one foot( this is the strongest this has ever been left).even got some eyes closed on one foot time.

band rear delts
80+ 20 green band

Overhead rotators
5 lb db 4 sets of 15

datsit,staying loose.

Overhead rotators

this is the start and finish position of the overhead rotator ( which I do without the horn). I use either a db or a band.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006


Today is cleans day and I decided I would be fine if I just stayed the hell away from the Bulldog.
My shoulders and biceps were feeling great after saturdays 190 snatches which reinforces my belied the technique is right.AS well as remembering to do band rear delts and overhead rotators again!

It's harder remembering to do the correct recipe than figuring it out in the first place. The price of aways trying to make it better. Somtimes you forget exactly what was in the first one.

KB cleans

72x5/5x5 =50 reps with two pood/3600pounds

This also confirms my swing is right . THese felt amazing.No joint 'catching' at all.Hips are high and I am bent over to 40-45 degrees. flat back though.

Bottoms up Cleans

53x5/5/x5 =50 reps/2650 pounds

these were easy! as solid as I have ever done them> this is working out perfectly for a slower, lower volume but heavier day in beween the hi pulls and the snatches.

tactical pullups
5 sets of 5= 25 reps. All very long pauses in the bottom. good stretch on the lats and shoulder.

Waiters Walks

12 kg x100 feet switch hands

800 feet total. This is a good exercise for me as well

Band Rear Delts
80 reps green band

Overhead Band rotator
3 sets of 15

these are a KEY exercise for getting my scapula to sit DOWN and not hike up my shoulder. Dont forget this.

bw 161.8
bf 10.7%
water 59.1 %

definitely let myself go a bit this weekend. lots more starches than normal. its cool I was dieting too far down and needed a break. Back to the grind though now.

The Art of Strength.

Although Anthony Dilugio now calls his training the Art of Strength; Girya, The Art of Strength was the name of my kettlebell studio and website way back in Janurary 2003. I knew I should have trademarked that,lol!

Art to me is the merging of science and intuition. Science without feeling is too cold and hard and can't always see the bigger picture( as in many times the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts). Intuition, feelings and instinct are great but without the technique and discipline of science rarely project a true path that can be repeated. The blend of these two attributes is where art arrives.

It's that zone that athletes and artists live to be in. Where effort is easily transformed into results and magic often happens. You can't demand it, you can just be present when it appears; ready to take advantage of its gifts. And usually, the more you chase it the faster it runs away until you accept where you are and wait for it. Then it shows up.

So many think nothing is happening when the results of each and every workout are immediately apprarent but there is plenty happening. Energy is building, you are gaining strength and momentum and then BOOM, you suddenly are somewhere else, capable of much more than you were the day before and you dont know why. I do. It's all those tough ass workouts that you didnt want to do but did anyway, knowing this would come again . Maybe soon, maybe not for a very long time. But you had to be prepared. Just to be worthy.

It's very much like how kids grow. One day they are two inches taller than they just were.It just happened and you didnt see it. But it WAS happening before, it just wasnt apparent.

The Art of Strength is a very demanding Teacher.You must train very hard,very intently for very long time to enter its zone. But very, very interesting things are on the other side. Quite a different landscape and once seen virtually impossible to forget.

When I was a gymnast I was more interested in perfecting getting to this zone at will and being able to do everything I did in state of "flow" that competition was very much secondary.I competed because I knew it would take me there more quickly, and it would also justify all the training I wanted to do!

The Art of anything is almost always recognizable by two basic components: beauty and simplicity.

And in the realm of the body I so wanted, as Ron Morris so aptly put it, to be " transformed into physical Nirvana".

Nothing has put me back into the flow quite so ably as the kettlebell swing and its variation. It's almost like a metronome that keeps building on its own momentum. A virtual perpetual motion machine. Except you become the machine.

Cool shoes.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

High Pulls

KB Hi pull into snatch

Physical Nirvana

In this issue of Hard Style Ron Morris,RKC writes one of my new alltime favorite lines:

" own constant desire to find the perfect combination of training techniques that will magically proper me into physical nirvana."

Exactly. Hence my lifetime obsession with exercise form and program design.Todays snatch workout was one of those moments when the intention, form and execution came together and I felt like "thats its! I've got it."


25 minutes of Rifga, joint mobility and light two hand/one hand swings.


53x5/5x19 sets

190 reps/10,700 pounds.

Each set started with a swing and a few sets had extra swings in the set as I lost the groove for a rep or two and had to swing again to get it back.
I have been thinking alot about the perfect swing and snatch and it does NOT involve 200 continuous repetitions.

My performance on Wednesday really showed me what happens when I sacrifice form and power for reps. Yes I made the number and yes it was a pr but I had the wrong focus. I want to really maximize the power of the arc of the kettlebell swing and understand its full potential for creating force. That should be my focus not just how many reps I can do or pounds I lift.

I have been thinking alot also about the similarities of the kb swing/snatch and giant swings on hi bar. the kb swing is like the giant swing done in reverse.The bell is the gymnast and the girevik a moving apparatus. Strange stuff indeed.

And like in a hi bar swing or a tap swing for a dismount, there is only ONE optimal point to maximize explosive power of the combination of the body and the bell( or the bar). IN a giant swing tap(go from slight hip flexion to extension and back into flexion to upside down). Same with the kb swing.

So today I worried not at all about how long it took me to do the volume I wanted or the rest periods, kept the reps to only five and focused on creating as much pendular momentum as possible and to accelerate as long and hard as possible with each rep. Kind of like box squatting with chains or bands attached. Maximal force with submaximal weight.

I now have enough reps under my belt to survive this I think and it's based on finding the perfect swing groove, not the most efficient one.

I am wierd this way. Give me enough rest between sets and I can continue to produce high levels of force in a lift for a long time. Cut my rest periods down and I crash and burn fast. But if I go low intensity enough I have great endurance! It's either hi intensity or low intensity. Not too good in the middle. THats ironic.

As it turns our my swing/snatch form is very similar to my deadlift position. Which makes sense, I guess. With my short spine and longer legs I have to lean over more to get my hips into the mix.If I sit back too much its like trying to squat a deadlift off the floor. It turns it into a leg exercise only and I am out of phase for the hip snap. So I gotta lean over. My bicep tendon and shoulder gave this technique their wholehearted approval.

As usual it's all about the swing.

datsit.staying loose.

Sundays weigh in

bw 161.8
bf 9.2 %
water 59.6 %

Hi pull videos to follow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I live a very boring life.

and I love it that way.I have always had a bit of a hermit in me and too much Kung Fu on TV mixed with Japanese Samurai mentality had helped me shape a very simple existance. I have always, for better or worse, put my training before everything except my family. It did come before money for a very long time.

I have always tried to fashion my jobs so they advanced my training as much as possible and hindered my recovery requirements as little as possible.Owning a gym was really good for that and spending the day with my feet up sipping protein shakes getting ready for tomorrows workout spoiled me to the max. Again though, no money either.

Personal training works the best. I train six people straight and go home. I either train or get into active recovery which can mean a bath, a stretch out or just lying around watching netflix with my thumper in hand working out my IT band and calf. I cook dinner spend time with whoever is home that night and try to get as much sleep as I need to function the next day.

There is so much to read , to think about and to analyze in my own and my clients training that I am never bored. Thank God for the internet as it has expanded my abilty to get info from every corner of the world. Simply amazing. Not to mention the dialogues that occur as well.Time for my son was always available and still is. Being a homebody has its advantages.

ANd the older I get, and the more everything hurts and requires SO much more maintenance just to run at all I value the unscheduled time that much more.And there is much to do.

I have always felt I had to prepare for the next days workout, and be totally ready to go once I hit the gym door. I cannot beleive the (lack of) work ethic I see today with my own training partners and others as well.No matter how good your results are being lazy they can be so much better if one is truly committed and prepared for the training. Is there any other way?

Thats whats so cool about powerlifting. You know what you have to lift the next workout. and the one after that. And when you get those big weights on your back,those real weights that will very happily kick your ass and push your spine down your butt you tend to learn to focus.Or stop lifting heavy.

But the same goes for any endeavor, really. Different toy, same body.

Everything has its price and being in the gym training is only ONE piece of the puzzle. I have lived this way for almost 35 years now and really know no other. I wouldnt have it any other way, and in truth, I don't think I could.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Extra workouts

It really struck me today just how much swinging, pressing and snatching I do during each day as I demo and show corrections for clients.Doesnt seem like much each day but five days a week it adds up. I have to keep moving though or I lock up so there's lots of stretching in there too.

But I am really sore today. Legs feel like I did climb some hills! Ah yes, the check just came. I should leave a good tip too,lol!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How to eat an elephant.

The great Bernard Hinault, one of my cycling heroes and role models.

One bite at a time, I am told. Had it in my mind to do 400 reps with the 20 kg in the high pull today. My best is 400 with the 16 done a few months ago.This was harder. Since I did very heavy cleans Monday I knew I wanted something light and fast. I didnt realize I was going to include long as well. I so like to build on momentum and have hard time backing off. You can see where the injuries come from though.

No guts no glory.

Oh yeah, glory ain't that grand. I have to remember that.But not today.

Hi pulls
( russian passive warmup- hot bath 10 minutes- this really helps)


44x10/10/5/5 x 10 sets: 13,200 pounds

first five sets( 150 reps) in 12min/
second five sets(150) in 11 min
300 reps in 23:28 give or take a few second.

44x10/10x5 sets(100 reps) in 9min:4400 pounds

total reps 400 total weight 17,600 pounds in 32 minutes.

Was not happy with form and this happens frequently when I have my mind on a number and am hell bent to get it.Its not my form was bad but took me a long time, as usual, to really loosen up enough to swing fluidly. Was happy with my conditioning though I was breathing hard. THe hot bath on a very empty stomach and then 30 rep sets made my feel I started an uphill climb on my bike with no warmup. Settled in around 270 reps, lol.
right shoulder a bit 'impingy' and didnt settle in as well til the end.

Overhead snatch holds
16 kg x 45 sec x 4 sets
Bosu ball stands
two feet, eyes closed, neck mobility drills

the overhead holds helps settle down my shoulder quite a bit. still way tight but I did realize i have to stretch my front delt, in flexion and internal rotation a lot more.

rack walks
200 feet each arm 800 feet.

just beat now.

bw 162
bf 9.7%
water 60.2%

thats good but I am hungry.

staying loose.