Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sr RKC Kenneth Jay teaching a KB Class in Denmark

School of Strength

Felt like I was fighting something all morning.Fully hydrated with herbal tea and felt better as I got ready to train, which is a good sign. Right shoulder impinged a lot this am but got to spend a decent amount of time working on it with the backnobber, which is the best massge tool I have ever seen! THis thing is amazing, every one should have one.

One arm swings
53x10/10 = one round. 4 rounds total
13,200 pounds
300 reps

Its basically deal a meal with me and my technique.Just like my squat, one day the groove is perfect and I come back to do the same thing the next day and it's NOWHERE to be found. It's like I just have to see what doesnt hurt THAT DAY and see what form my body wants to do for that workout.Drives me nuts but I may just have to live with it. fighting it though only gets me hurt- and fast.

Supersetted with

Barbell Military Press
45x5x2!!!!! The Power bar. No pain, Felt great at the top.Best stretch overhead I've had in years.Who woulda thunk it?

doing these looking in the mirror and making sure the forearms are parallel to the floor the whole time. Have to be careful of my lower back with this movement though. It definitely requires a lot of stabilization.PLus it works the glutes alot and that can throw my back out quickly. But it felt fantastic although I dont think supersetting with swings was a great idea. Just worked out that way.

Hi pull snatch practice with the 16 kg
Ten minutes:

The fact my right overhead position sucks burns my butt and I wanted to work it a bit.I went back to doing high pulls and then snatching out of that groove. It definitely puts the shoulder back further and deeper in the socket. I will play with this again saturday.

tactical pullups
face pulls

supersetted the above. shoulder is feeling better.

Kneeling pushups

2x8!!! Full body real pushups. NO pain no problem . Woo freaking hoo!

Rack walks
20 kgx200 feet per arm
1200 feet total

these were strong!

Rifga 10 minutes

BW 160.2
BF 8.2 % this is the all time low
water 61.5%

One thing I ahve been thinking about with all this controversy is that the RKC is a School of Strength. I have coveted and worshiped strength all my life and still do to this day. I love feeling strong and have missed it and being able to try to create it these last two years.

Although I know that dropping most, if not all of my high tension exercises for almost all ballistics moves and high volume workouts was what my body needed at the time I have missed feeling strong as well as being able to train to increase my strength. 15 years as a competitive powerlifter made an indellible impression on me and I loved being strong.

Like walking more, But I am as light as I need to be and know how to control my bodyfat with diet rather than " burning the fat off". And I think that getting back my ROM in the shoulder now has to be combined with strengthening it again rather than just making it more flexible.

I feel a shift coming on.With all this examination of Hardstyle Vs GS it has made me re examine how I train ;especially how much emphasis I place on total volume of lifts in my main exercises.

In WSB in order to squat a certain weight you need to be able to do a certain amount of volume ; 70% for 10 sets of 2 to "support" the weight. AS your max climbs the barbell weight climbed. Since I am not raising the kb weight I raised the total number of lifts done but I see now this was probably a mistake, and , at the very least, has run it's course.

At the minimum it was more of an endurance method that I probably dont need to continue if I maintain the base.I think I am ready to handle some more old fashioned strength training in my practice. It just has to be the right exercises and it seems they are appearing. I dont need to see if I can do 1000 reps in a workout. I need to focus on quality not quantity,on speed and power while still maintaining a solid base. I am NOT training for GS and I need to really remember that.

The fact that I am even discussing being able to do this type of training or think in this way is a miracle in itself.I just wanted to be able to do ANYTHING a little while ago. That I might be able to press again is just incredible to consider.walking, pressing, swinging: good stuff and things I no longer take for granted.The chance that I might be able to get in balance with strength AND endurnace is way cool. I have even been thinking about the deadlift.....
Just have to remember NOT to get too greedy.

datsit, staying loose.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Broken ex athletes who can barely walk"

Sometimes can come back from the dead. I read the above quote in another forum and paranoid that I am thought it was referring to me.Truth be told that is who I was just not long along. After 35 yers of living for training, competition and making the appropriate sacrificess to be as good as I could be I was done. Finished. Competition and training for such made no sense at all.

I still had plenty of training to be done, but it was saddle up for the rehab train for me. Or so I thought until I met Pavel and the RKC. Some may think my enthusiasm and devotion to this system over the top but it literally brought me back from the dead. Literally. I had nowhere to go with my training as I was wrecked all over from very little work I could even do in the last few years and almost no where to turn. KB training, specifically the RKC KB training saved my life.No work capacity, no endurance, little mobility and my strength was going fast.

Way too many years of loading a bent frame had caught up to me and it looked like the Piper was going to collect his due. But the kb swing, and snatch, and clean, and windmill and press brought me back and let me slowly but surely re build my endurance and function. ANd when I say function I mean FUNCTION. Walking around doing your daily life function.
When i thought I would never be able to do any cardio work again the snatch and swing showed me I could sweat and train hard again.

When I thought a knee replacment was an inevitability the strength endurance and functional carryover from all those swings and cleans gave me the strength to walk again and get out of the horrific pain I was in.

The ballistics gave me an alternative to just high tension workouts and a connected body that reminded me of how I felt when I was a gymnast. I could swing again and a swing is a swing is a swing. Visions of rings and hi bar and pbars danced in my head again as I could move once more.

All this from a methodology as sound and logical as any WSB any produced and for which I am eternally greatfull.People who have not lost the basic functions of life truly can't appreciate how sweet they are and how amazing it is when they return. This return to life has been surreal to me an my family. ANd I have seen this countless times now with my clients.

People who had virtually given up on being able to withstand any significant loading are now doing 5000 pound plus workouts and in the best shape of their lives.Peoples whose backs, and shoulders and knees were shot and not allowing them to train with any intent or intensity who can now conjure both.

This blend of strength with endurance with mobility is a winning combination for me now as I approach the half century mark and I know as well for those 78 MILLION people my age and older than NEED a simple,safe and effective exercise system that works. Not to mention giving me a seriously fit,strong, toned and skinny wife!

Some may argue that using a sport to get into shape is the way to go but most of the great trainers I know understand that one gets in shape to do sport, not the other way around.

Now I am just a healing ex athlete who is walking better every day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

2 hand swings, presses and pullups.

Had a cancellation at 9 am this morning so I had an hour to really stretch out and do some of hartmans rehab exercises.Definitely needed it as biceps, corocoidbrachialis et all were tight tight tight. Lovely. More work to do. The exercises I did yesterday worked well but didnt hold. SO:

9 am

15 minutes rifga

face pulls
arm bar
kneeling pushups
thumb up lateral shrugs
stick press and overhead shrug.

did four circuits with light weights and 10-15 reps each. was suprised the pushup pattern actually not only didnt hurt but felt therapeutic!would very much like to be able to do pushups and or dips again.But was again blown away by how good the two hand overhead press pattern felt! A bilateral move that works for me? Unreal.

2 pm

Two hand swing

63x10x10 6300 pounds 100 reps . 45 sec rest/sets
53x10x10 5300 pounds 100 reps 30 sec rest/sets

200 reps
11,600 pounds

these went very well. Used my initial lean style but sat back at the bottom to get more glutes and less JUST hammies and back. seemed to work well. So glad to be able to tolerate this exercise again, it's such a meat and potatoes move, just like the squat. Heavy , hard and basic power.

Snatch practice with 16 kg 10 minutes

Tactical pullups s/s BB overhead press
5x5 20 lbs x5x5

pullups felt strangely good and doing them with a long pause was also good on the shoulder.Have to do both pullups and chinups it seems!the presses rocked and felt SO GOOD on the shoulder,especially at the top where I could actually get both arms behind my head!I'll be pressing the power bar very soon. this is a good sign.Virtually NO resistance, muscularly or fascially, overhead. havent felt that in ages.

Rack walks
16 kgx 200 feet laps per arm.

2000 feet total,ties pr.about 30 sec rest between arms

Rifga:15 minutes

BW 162.2
BF 8.9%
Water 60.8%

datsit, gotta get loose.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An AMAZING anatomy and physiology site.

While searching for info on the actions of the levator scapula I came across this killer anatomy site. Best motion graphics I have seen yet, especially for free!Cool stuff


Went back to the gym a few times to play with the exercises and concepts in Bill Hartmans shoulder article . This is VERY interesting. I thought I understood scapular/thoracic anatomy and kinesiology pretty well but this clarified a few things in a unique way and helped me visualize the motion of the scapula in 3D.

I spent YEARS pushing the shoulder UP at the top of my overhead positions( handstands and giant swings) in gymnastics. Swithcing to powerlifting with the shoulder thoroughly depressed all the time and then losing my overhead range of motion really messed things up. Oh yeah, and that shoulder dislocation thing too :))

I've been trying to pull my shoulder DOWN to relieve my impingment and now I think its the TAUTNESS of the levator scapula (overstretched) not TIGHTNESS ( too short) that is causing a lot of the problems. My UPWARD rotation of the scapula is weak, not tight.I think,lol.

Anyway by playing with the face rows and,suprisingly enough, the two hand overhead press/shrug I was amazed to see that I can barbell press with two hands again with LESS pain than one kb and that, even more amazingly, my flexibility and mobility in that two hand overhead position is BETTER with the stick and bar than with a single arm. THis is very different than a few months ago.

Did a lot of stick presses fiinding the groove in the mirror with perpindicular forearms and PULLING it down on the negative.THIS pulled my shoulders into the socket correctly and nothing hurt at all. THe shoulder actually articulated correctly.The 15 lb bar was heavy after 10 or so very slow reps but it was right.

I have been thinking about pushups again,interestingly, as I am doing tons of pushing of the floor with my yoga work and downward, upward dogs, etc. as well as the L sits.Willplay with those and the arm bars tomorrow. Don't know what this all means yet but my shoulder feels much better than in has in 36 hours.

Sometimes I think I get injuries or things stop working for me as a big ass kick in the pants sign from the universe to think about what I'm doing( or not) and change course. Trying to listen better all the time.

These are the exercises:

Overhead press with stick/bar upward shrug
Thumbs up lateral/shrug
KB arm bar
Face pulls

Shoulder work

Inspired by Bill Hartmans article I did some rehab shoulder work:

Face pulls, external grip : 5 sets of 12-15

Overhead shrugs with 30 lb barbell; 3 sets of 8-10

KB arm bars( need to do these again regularly); 3x5/5 with 16 kg

db scaption with 10 lb 3 sets of 10

I will put the face rows, arm bars and scaption in regular rotation as well as put the overhead snatch holds and waiters walks back in. I have negleceted them and can feel the difference. Presses tomorrow with two hand swings as well.

Fantastic article on the shoulder,scapula and proper shoulder mechanics!

Fantastics article on T nation about how the shoulder and thoracic spine interact to produce good ( or bad!) shoulder mechanics and injuries. Thanks to Tom Furman for finding this article.
Everyone who lifts ANYTHING should study this article til they really understand but the anatomy and function of this CRITICAL area of the body.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Set 13 of 15

Saturday Snatches

If it's Saturday it must be snatches.
THe right biceps tendon was a bit tight and shoulder was too after sleeping on it weird. The elbow sleeve gave me a bit of support as well as reminder to NOT pull with the arm. I did 15 sets of 5/5 last week so I bumped it up to 15 sets of 6/6 for 180 reps today. Saturdays are always tough to get going and fully warmed up but it gets there. Thank god it wasnt freezing today like it has been.Always nervous now snatching the 24 but it just makes me focus more. Was playing with my new form and it feels solid. As long as you initiate forwards and not hips back the swing and the momentum is good. Next week 7/7 for 210+ reps.We'll see how I feel.


53x6/6x15 sets 180 reps
9540 pounds not bad.

Cardio was fine and I lapped my training parters many times. If the shoulder felt more solid I could push this more but I won't. Interesting how these shorter sets are still producing the ability to go longer when I need to.It must be the total volume


Not bad at all. Monday is two hand swings again.

datsit,staying loose.

Power tools.

Some have been suggesting that the "proper" way to use the kettlebell, the way the kettlebell was "designed" to be used is for repetition lifting. I agree, although I dont agree that the only way to define repetition is high repetions done in one long set . And I don't agree that the techniques used to do very high reps should be the same as when one is doing high force low repetitions.

This is like saying one should use the same mechanics and form when running 100 meters as when jogging five miles.When you are trying to maximize force and power output the form is different than when one is trying to mimimize effort and conserve energy .

Lets set aside the fact that the kettlebell was "designed" as a measure of weight( with a nice handle for ease of use) to use in shops to discern how much grain, etc. was being bought. And that locals, as men have done throughout millenium, competeted to see who could pick them up as a test of manhood and strength.

The fact that it evolved into a repetition contest is a fact but the current technical permutations that developed were purely for a competitive edge, much like the double knee bend in olympic lifting, which was outlawed at first.You used to be able to lower the bell to your shoulder before backswinging it in the snatch. Seems the contest went on too long that way so they eliminated that, along with the one arm press,another high tension movement the kb was supposedly not designed for.

Rules in sport change ALL the time, with the sole purpose of making the lifts harder or easier, depending on who is writing the rules. Long pause,short pause, no pause,start signal, no start signal, etc all have been enforceable bench press rules at one time or another.None are sacrosanct and change with the wind.

Saying that the kettlebell is only designed for continuous high repetition lifting and that the technique for such is the ONLY proper technique is like saying the barbell is designed only for powerlifting and one rep maxes. That many have done hundred of reps in the barbell squat in one set does not mean they are not using the barbell correctly and that it's only practical use is to test for one rep maxes in high tension techniques.

The tension levels, breathing patterns, and even motor patterns are quite different when one is attempting a 20 rep breathing squat than it is on a max effort lift in the power squat. Doesnt make one right or wrong.Different ways to use the same tool.BOTH are right in the proper context.

It has been pointed out that the kettlebell is just a tool and that the real "magic" to any method is in the body and how it is used. That is correct. The body can be used to make the kettle swing very intense and powerful for just a few reps or pacing and relaxation can be used to allow one to produce just enough force to lift the kb for many many reps.

Using a low force technique when you have a 72 pound kb in front of you and your max is 54lbs is wrong use of the body and the technique. Using compensatory acceleration and max rooting on every rep when you goal is hundreds of reps is also wrong use of the body and the technique.
You use the body and produce force in the manner appropriate to your goal with the kettlebell.

To say the kb is not a good choice for high tension exercises doesnt make sense. Again, if your max is 36 lb kb in the press and you have 54 pound bell in front of you high tension makes all the sense in the world.The offset weight of the kb makes all kinds of different exercises easier to do,especially overhead. Now if your goal is to total elite inpowerlifting and all you are using is a kb then you misguided. You need a barbell. But that doesnt make using the kb to learn to develop high tension in the body is a wrong application of the tool.

To say that a program designed to appeal to the greatest number of people is simply a marketing tool is disingenous.And to suggest that an old system,which itself has undergone many technique and rule changes is "perfect" is naive.It may have produced good results for the competitors but not all can or want to be competitors.

Gymnasts , climbers and other athletes whose stock in trade is relative strength use NO resisistance to learn to maximize total body tension. Again, it's not the tool, it's the body and the techniques and how they are applied to the tool that makes the difference.

Sets of ten are repetition sets. There is nothing sacred about doing one long set as a test, or only switching hands one time in a snatch test or using bizarre body contorsions to rest between reps of jerks to maximize the rep count.Again, just current rules of a sport, exposed to the whims of change at any moment.

As far as the technique one uses to produce the force on the kettlebell the discussion very much reminds me of the arguments between powerlifters and bodybuilders as to what constitues a proper squat. Bodybuilders say that powerlifters are cheating with the bar low on their back, their feet spread wide and only going as far down as necessary to break parallel.
Powerlifters think bodybuilders are crazy and weak,giving up all kinds of weight on the bar for the vanity of bigger quad size with their high bar, close stance, heels up techniques.

Does this make the power squat wrong and the olympic squat right? Hardly. Right tool AS WELL as the right technique for the goal.

When I teach real people to use the kettlebell, which I do every day, I want to use the easiest, safest and most efficient method to get them to swing. Keeping the back arched, hinging from the hips and sitting back and having the bell follow the hips is the methods I use, the RKC method.

To use a technique that minimizes muscle group involvment, that minimizes power and force production , that requires very intricate techniques and extreme levels of shoulder and back flexibility to the average fitness person doesnt make sense to me.

But, should any of those people, after they have mastered the basics, ask how they should train and what technique they should use to get to their goal of a GS classification I would recommend GS techniques and training methods. It would be appropriate. This would the anatomical breathing, corkscrew technique and energy saving techniques in the swing.

But to introduce this as the baseline for how to use the kb for the average person would be seriously putting the cart before the horse.And to suggest to them that the only real way for them to get any benefit from the kettlebell is to train to do hundred of reps in a row would turn off most immediately.

There are many ways to get to the same goal.Which is harder, doing 400 meter repeats at 80% of your best 400 with a rest period, for a total of five miles or jogging five miles? Having done both I can tell you unhesitatingly that jogging is easier and anyone who dissagrees hasnt done it.Saying the only right way to use the tool is the low intensity method just doesnt make sense.

And to suggest that these techniques are injurious and dont hold up for the long haul is patently ridiculous. My experience has been just the opposite, for myself, my wife and my clients. These techniques have literally brought, my back, knees and shoulders back from the dead. ANd the experience has been the same for so many, across the board. Simple techniques yes, accesible to almost everybody. Simple, but not easy.

And the test of that system is not how well the advanced practitioners do. Gifted elite athletes do well with anything. They can do things well the first time they try them or on first site. I have seen this many, many times over the last 35 years and in numerous sports. The real test of a fitness system, imo, is how applicable it is to the average person. How quickly they can pick it up and put it to good use. And it is certainly easy enough to make it harder.Just make the bell heavier.It's all easy til it's heavy. Don't run into too many clients the Bulldog and the Beast are not heavy enough for.

Growing the top end of a sport is great for the advanced practitioners. Growing the base and exposing more and more everyday people of all ages to the strength and health benefits of the kettlebell and its ease of use is more my interest.We have an obesity and lack-of-fitness epidemic on our hands these days and the more people get exposed to the kb the better.

The RKC hardstyle techniques turn the kb swing and snatch into a total body sprint, not a jog and thats a big difference.As the fitness world moves away from aerobic exercise as a training paradigm and embraces high intensity interval training as superior for everything from cardiac protection to muscle mass increases and fat loss the kb and the RKC methods of using it are the perfect tools for that job.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The House that Pavel built.

I consider it a very interesting sign that my last article for Milo magazine, "Stones in the Afternoon", where I write about learning how to throw heavy rocks from 5 time World Champion Highland Games athlete Jim McGoldrick, was the same issue that Pavel's now classic first article on kettlebells was in.

In my article(where I got dubbed the "rifstonian" by the Big Chief McGoldrick), I also write about the simple pleasure of lifting and moving something so basic and primitive as a heavy stone, and how much it differed from the political and equipment laden sport of powerlifting I was so emeshed in at the time. Little did I know that just a few months later I would encounter the Russian Kettlebell Challenge video, Pavel and the kettlebell and my life would be changed forever.

ANd I was right. The joys of simplicity and minimalism that the kettlebell engenders is a wonderful respite from the relative complexities of 'breaking parallel, how long was the pause, etc' of that organized sport. Lifting, moving and throwing heavy things is such a basic pleasure to nutjobs such as myself. Pavel mentioned this in Power to the People refering to the non- linear dynamics term simplexity: " the emergence of simple rules from underlying chaos and complexity."
And yet when there are human involved somehow things always seem to get complicated.

With the recent departure of RKC instructors one comment was made was that there was no room to "evolve" within the RKC,especially for the Senior Instructors. This couldnt be further from the truth and even that the comment was made is perplexing. Pavel is KNOWN for his willingness to elicit ideas and opinions from his teaching staff, incorporate them into the system, AND credit those who came up with the concept. Usually in writing as well. His books and articles are peppered with these attributes.

ANy and every good idea that would further evolve the RKC system is given thought and weight by Pavel and the Senior staff.Anyone who took the course a few years ago would be amazed at how much it has changed; how streamlined and efficient it is and how it has not stood still at all but has grown and evolved,yet still remaining true to its essence. It is, after all, an instructor course, with the intent to teach people how to instruct the RKC methods of kettlebell training. And it IS a method, make no mistake about that, with specific techniques, corrections and progressions. Is it the ONLY method of training kbs? Of course not. Is it the RKC system? Yes. Does it work? You just have to ask anyone who has tried it that it does, and spectacularly at that.

Pavels genius at taking complex ideas and communicating their essence in the most basic way possible is sometimes mistaken, I beleive, for lack of sophistication or intellectual depth and nothing could be further from the truth.

So if the RKC system is not restricted in it's evolution of ideas and methods what else could it be? No one restricts me or any other Senior or RKC from charging what they want for training, seminars, workshops or magazine articles. Nothing keeping one from reaching for the stars there. There is no requirement that books, dvds or articles that one produces be published by dragondoor so whatever one can negotiate as far as a deal is up to the individual as well.
So where are the restrictions to one's evolution?

Oh yes, there is only one Pavel. Just like there is only one Arnold.So whoever would like to step up into those shoes has to be able to create the mystery and buzz that an original thinker like Pavel or Arnold did( does) and start their own revolution from scratch. Because no matter what anyone says, when someone mentions kettlebells in America Pavel, Dragon Door and the RKC will come to mind as they were the first, the orginal.Is it the best? If your goal is to be a competitive GS athlete then no, the RKC and it's Hardstyle method is not the way to go. But that amounts to a very small amount of people.

If your goal is to learn how to use the kettlebell in the safest, strongest and most productive manner possible for overall strength and endurance then yes, the RKC and its methods are the way to go.

Will there be others? Of course there will. But no one can ever be the original except the first and that is Pavel and his methods, which is the RKC
Many have contributed to the RKC and it's methods, as I mentioned above. And they got their due credit.As will those future instructors that will help to further streamline and evolve the system. To use Sr RKC Brett Jones's analogy what these people, including myself, are doing is hanging pictures in a house. They might be brilliant, beautiful, transformative pictures; without which the house would certainly not look the same. But it is not our house.We did not build it but we are helping decorate it. Pavel built the house and that is not the same as interior design.

The RKC. The House that Pavel built.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So far so good.

Slept well and my back feels fine this morning. Like normal. None of the usual overworking of my abs and hammies that usually accompanies two handed swings. this is great, very exciting.Bodes well for my Monday workouts and my conditioning in general. The two hand swing is definitely the power squat( or in my case, the power deadlift, lol) of the KB swings.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Good things come to those who wait.

Sometimes. We'll see for sure tomorrow and Friday but it looks like I might have figured out a way I can swing two handed. As well as the key to my swing and snatch technique.
As anyone who reads this blog, or who knows me, I am hooked up backwards on many things and techniques that work for most don't work for me and vice versa.

I spent YEARS trying to adopt "textbook" squat form and all it did was mess me up. I squatted 573 in competition and missed 601 with this textbook form but I now know had I listened to my instincts and gone with my 'backwards' form I would have gotten 600 plus and more. nd may not have tweaked my body so much. I listened to my instinct with my deadlift as it was the only way I could pull anything that resembled weight.

There are basically two types of body types: squatters and deadlifters. Or those with longer spines, shorter legs( and usually arms) and a low center of gravity and those with short spines, longer legs and longer arms( usually). The long spine people love to squat as they have very good leverage and can use their hips and legs together. They have to sit "back" like sitting in a chair to engage their hips but they must be careful about leaning over as their long spine doesnt like to round at all.Their low center of mass makes them solid as they squat deeper as well.

The deadlifters tend to want to bend over to squat, or deadlift or swing.It looks like they are going to kill their back but actually by bending over they engage their hips more. Look at the pictures of the great deadlifters like Jon Kuc, Lamar Gant, Vince Anello, etc. Or the great squatters like Mike Bridges, Rickey Crain and so forth.Polar opposite bodies.
Most great squatters who can deadlift for beans use the sumo style where they can put their leverage and strong hips and legs into the lift.

I am a short guy but have a short spine, longer legs and very long arms for my height. I am ,as Louie Simmons told me, to my great astonishment, " built to deadlift." So of course I tried to mimic the squat form of a squatters body. Not good.

Add in a "unique" lumbo-pelvic rythym ( what happens to your hips when you lean forward) and my hips only fire if I lean forward first. If I sit back I get my quads in there but no hips and my back is out of position. My squat was all quad and abs strength and now I know why it never felt good. I was never in the right position.

This applies to my swings as well and the more I've tried to sit back and really get my hips into the less they have activated and sent more stress into my shoulders.

I have been experimenting with tweaking my clients swing and snatch form according to this formula and it's been working like a CHARM! those long spine people have to sit back to get the kb behind them more to swing higher or harder and stay on their heels and those short spine people have to let themselves bend over more with their hips higher and the weight FLAT on the foot.
So today I tried it with the two handed swing and it felt GREAT! Way powerful and fluid.I was swinging the 24 kg to head height with ease and NO shoulder stress in the bottom position which has been iffy lately!
Whether my back likes it is another story but this form holds true for my one arms, snatches and transfers as well.

The irony is that it looks like a GS swing,lol. Of course I am breathing biomechanically not anatomically and rooting thoughout hard style but its funny to me.

Also found out that the pronator teres in my right forearm ( damn flexors!!) was causing much of my shoulder impingement.

Two hand swings

53x10x10 sets 30 sec rest/sets 100 reps 5300 lbs
62x8x5 sets 45 sec rest/sets 40 reps 2480 lbs

140 reps 7780 lbs

One arm swings
36x10/10 ( same technique)
44x10/10x5 sets

Rack walks 20 kg
200 feet per arm 200 foot laps
1400 feet total

wow, this was harder than expected. the swings got my legs good!

RIFGA 15 minutes, hanstring emphasis, shoulder feels best it has in days.

Bw 162
BF 8.8%
water 60.8%

datsit, staying loose. we'll see how I feel tomorrow

More good research for warrior diet

Live Longer, Healthier, Without Drugs
Fasting every other day is a sure-fire way to good health according to new research in rats. Experiments done at the National Institute on Aging show that skipping meals causes significant and lasting reductions in blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate. The program worked even if it was started in adulthood. And that’s not all. Resistance to stress, weight-loss and increased life span (by one-third) were part of the reward of skimpy eating. Researchers have known for decades that calorie restriction extends life span—as long as the restricted diet meets nutrient requirements, but the findings about enhanced stress-resistance are new.

The study is the first to report that even though the rats skipping meals were just as active during the day as those getting three squares, they were less active at night. This coincides with reports that people on fasts sleep better, have better concentration, more vigor and are less likely to get upset during the day. Some of this may occur because fasting elevates growth hormone (GH) in aging people. Two days of fasting can elevate GH 400%. The hormone is impressive with regard to its ability to turn flab into muscle, restore an optimistic mind-set and reverse other signs of aging.

Every-other-day eating greatly improves the body’s ability to cope with stress. It reduces levels of stress-activated hormones of the kind that trigger heart attacks, and activates proteins designed to protect the body against stress. What happens when the anti-stress proteins are activated is that individual cells go into a “shutdown” mode until the stress blows over. The more stress proteins activated, the better the anti-stress protection. An everyday example of stress proteins in action is what happens when a plant doesn’t get watered. Dehydration causes the production of stress proteins in individual cells. These proteins cause normal processes like growth to stop. The plant wilts. When it’s watered, stress proteins degrade and the plant “comes alive” again–i.e., normal processes are restored.

The numbers on insulin and glucose in the fasting rat study are impressive. At three months, the levels of blood glucose in the animals not fasting were about 143 mg/dL compared to 118 for the fasting animals. By six months, levels had risen to 160 in the non-fasting animals compared to 120 in the fasting animals. There was a big difference in insulin levels. Non-fasting animals had approximately 120 nmol/L at three months compared to 70 for fasting animals. At six months, levels had risen to 133 for non-fasting animals, but remained steady for fasting animals at 74.

Weight loss is one of the benefits of fasting. The animals in the fasting study lost significant weight during the first four weeks of the study. Their weight then rebounded slightly but stayed fairly stable into old age when it again dropped. Age-related weight gain was significantly greater for the non-fasting rats, and throughout the study they weighed more than their fasting friends. At the point where the fasting rats’ body weight dropped in old age, non-fasting rats’ weight went up.

(When mice were put on the same regimen in another study, however, they made up for the lost calories on the eating day, and maintained their weight. They still, however, got the other benefits of caloric restriction (resistance to stress, lower glucose, etc.). This indicates that it’s not the calories per se that increase longevity in caloric restriction, it’s the fasting).

The heart rate, blood pressure and core body temperature of the rats in the fasting study was much lower than in rats eating everyday. This difference was maintained when the animals were exposed to stress. The fasting animals were also able to recover more quickly, and normalize their blood pressure and heart rate more efficiently.

Going without food every other day appears to have the same benefits as eating 30% less everyday. Both types of caloric restriction significantly extend life span and improve health. Other studies show that in addition to the benefits mentioned here, caloric restriction increases the resistance of brain cells to stress and provokes the formation of new neurons from stem cells. It increases the resistance to toxins and upregulates beneficial genes. It reduces the risk of cancer and reverses age-related declines in DHEA and melatonin, two important anti-aging hormones.

Does it work in people? Yes. UCLA researcher, Dr. Roy Walford, one of the pioneers in longevity research, did a two-year stint in the environmentally enclosed Biosphere. Caloric restriction had the same effects on the humans in the Biosphere as it does in rodents and monkeys. Weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower insulin and lower cholesterol were among the many benefits. All without drugs.

–Terri Mitchell

Michalsen A, et al. Effects of short-term modified fasting on sleep patterns and daytime vigilance in non-obese subjects: results of a pilot study. Ann Nutr Metab 2003. 47:194-200.

Wan R, et al. Intermittent food deprivation improves cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to stress in rats. J Nutr 2003. 133:1921-29.

Hartman ML, et al. Pulsatile growth hormone secretion in older persons is enhanced by fasting without relationship to sleep stages. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1996. 81:2694-701.

Walford RL, et al. Alterations in physiologic hematologic hormonal, and biochemical parameters in humans restricted for a 2-year period. J Geront A: Biol Sci Med Sci 2002. 57:B211.

Mattison JA, et al. Calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys. Exp Gerontol 2003. 38:35-46.

Anson RM, et al. Intermittant fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2003. 100(10):6216-20.

Mai V, et al. Calorie restriction and diet composition modulate spontaneous intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc(Min) mice through different mechanisms. Cancer Res 2003. 63:1752-5.

Duan W, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor mediates an excitoprotective effect of dietary restriction in mice. J Neurochem 2001. 76:619-26.

Bruce-Keller, et al. Food restriction reduces brain damage and improves behavioral outcome following excitotoxic and metabolic insults. Ann Neurol 1999. 45:8-15.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Desperately seeking Mondays.

I still can't figure out the exercises and loads that I can do well on MOnday. Still not fully recovered from saturdays snatches mondays is a challenge I just haven't figured out yet.Did cleans for reps, press, scap pullups and rack walk today.
Part of the problem is that my right shoulder is impinged again and doing bodywork on clients just makes it worse. part of my job but the shoulder was tight going in today.


these were ok but exacerbate my biceps issues from all the tight gripping.form felt great though.

RKC Press

these went well as well although the biceps and forerms were aching alot.Took awhile for the shoulder to settle in the joint right.

Scapula pullups
4 sets of 8-10

false grip thumb position. these really helped pull the shoulder back in without involving the biceps.

Rack walk
36#x200 feet per arm, 40o foot laps
1400 total feet.

Not loving this workout. I so wish I could do two handed swings. that would be perfect for this day,with the presses and the scap pullups.

datsit, staying loose.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

25 minutes.

Another good walk, although I was much tighter today than last week; I'm sure from the heavier snatches I did yesterday. Probably a good idea to do Rifga first and then walk.Hammies and calves were tight from the start although everything was good until the last block or so when things just got very tight. SO:

Rifga stretches; 15 min.

lots of attention to hammies and calves.

timed the walk so I started just as the sun started to rise. love being outside in the very early morning when things are so quiet,still and clean.

Still need to stretch more a bit later.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Back at it;Snatch day

It was a weird week. My right shoulder has been impinged off and on all week and spending two hours with my arm in weird positions for the tattoo didnt help. Didnt know if I could snatch the 24 for one rep today with my right arm so it was a tentative start.
I do know that I want to stay focused on doing a specific number of reps per workout but dont really care how long it takes me as long as I dont dilly dally. I go faster when I'm alone but mainly I go faster once I am warmed up, which may take most of the workout to get to,lol!
Man and is that freaking backnobber amazing! the best tool for my shoulder and rotator cuff yet.
Spend a good 15 minutes with it prior to snatching and it made a huge difference! I also did tons of light snatches and right side presses to warm up as well.Can't rush that.

Press warmup( right arm only)

amazing that this move now sets my shoulder.weird. Have been wanting to press,event hough it is painfull and difficult, as my impingment worsened and now I know why.


53x5/5x15 sets
150 reps
7920 pounds

Not bad at all. Nick still is out so it was just Peter , Jonathan and me snatching and rotating right through, so the pace was fast.
Form felt very very good and the right arm,although I was afraid I was going to tweak, held up good. I let myself lean over on the descent and that worked great. With my particular lumbo pelvic rythym, when I sit back I lose my hips. Go figure I am backward ;}
As I lean, my hips fire even though it looks like they arent back enough.If I sit and lose the hip the load goes into the shoulder and biceps.
I just focused on finding the sweet spot and snatching strongly and NOT thinking about it. It is a long way to 200 reps, though, in sets of 5. Next week will be 15 sets of 6 for 180 reps then 15 sets of 7 for 210 +.

26 lbs x4x10/10

bw 160.4
bf 8.6%
water 60.9%( this was yesterdays measurement)

datsit, staying loose. Tomorrow is another 2o minute + walk.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Work Capacity

One of the things I have realized these last 10 days regarding my newfound ability to walk is that the large volume of ballistic kb work I have done has had a HUGE impact.
I havent engaged in any cyclic type exercise for a LONG time.I stopped in 1985 becasuse I wanted to gain mass for bodybuilding and powerlifting and then havent done it since 1998 because I couldnt.
Even though my legs had gotten strong I had taught them to contract as hard as possible for a few times. Not keep on keeping on.This really became a problem after I couldnt squat or dl anymore and my legs got weak AND had poor endurance!oh yeah and bad ROM too. And all this tension that I need to be strong with was playing HAVOC on what was left of my blasted left knee.I thought that the joint was just shot, that a knee replacement was an inevitablility.Now I'm not so sure.

Now that it is back in, I just didnt realize just how far out of alignment it was.

Enter the kettlebell( pun intended). The cyclic nature of the swings and snatch mimic the cyclic nature of walking running and jumping.These last two years have really increased my overall work capacity, but even more so my legs strength endurance. Since I have stopped squatting as a loading exercise and just use it as stretch and mobility movement things have gotten progressively better.
Considering the small range of motion the legs go through in swings and snatches I just cant beleive that just doing kbs ballistics have made my legs so much stronger throughout.And there's no question about the enduring part. way better.
But I do use the "hardstyle" approach and try to hyperirradiate the entire leg as long as I can whenI swing and snatch. Rooting if you will, after the static stomp.

Now that I have gotten the spasmed tonic muscles to release most of their hold the legs can work much better for much longer. What a difference!
Even if it doesnt last I know how to do it again and thats key. But I think it will . Passover points are like this; they just happen.
When I was a cyclist and hadnt ridden 100 miles in one ride yet everything over 50 miles was tough. After I had done a hundred mile ride successfully NOTHING up to 100 was tough. I just crossed over to a new level and BAM you were there.
Just didnt expect this is all. BUt I'll surely take it!

SO in that vein I decided to do some swing combinations today to increase my legs work capcity even more.

1) One kb swing, high pull, transfers:
warmup with 16 and 20 kg for 48 reps/set

24 kg
set one:1/1 transfer, 2/2, transfer, 3/3 = 29 reps
two same equal 29 reps
three 1/1 trsfr,2/2,trsnfr,3/3,transfr,4/4= 47
four 1-3 =29
five =29
six =29
seven =29

total reps = 207
total weight= 10,971

2) Hi pulls
24 kg x8/8
total reps =78
total weight=4134

total reps today=285
total pounds today= 15,505

rack walks with 16 kg
200 feet per arm, 400 feet per lap
1600 feet total

side press:
26x5x4 sets
right side only, as corrective exercise. this set the shoulder back in place. was out a bit during the swings.

bw 160.6
bf 8.8%
water 60.9%
146.67 lean.

datsit, staying loose.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

188 snatches with a 70 lb bell.

What an amazing demonstration of strength endurance and efficiency of form.not to mention TOUGH!

Monday, January 15, 2007

There is always a balance

Yesterday's walk was a total high; todays frozen, creaky I-never-got-warm press session was an exercise in sheer will.That freakin garage was just TOO cold and doing slow motion presses never got me warm at all.
I also learned the difference between the chin up and the pullup on my shoulder. very interesting

RKC Press
26x5/5 x2

so glad I wasnt going to do any volume. it looks like more on paper than it did in the gym. most of that is so light it doesnt count anyway. the 24 kgs felt actually better than any of the other reps.

mixed grip chin/pulls
chin ups
tactical pullups

all was going well til the pullups. no injury but man what a difference it made on my shoulder! Almost immediately all the old symptoms came back:biceps impingement,teres and lat tightness, levator tightness and scapula elevation! Back to the chins! I actually think that this overhead postition will get relegated to a stretch, as my squats are now, as the RKC press works my lats so hard.


wanted to do a lot more of these but my right biceps was talking to me!

Rack walks
24kg x 100 foot per arm laps, 1000 feet total

BW 161.6
BF 8.8%
water 60.7%

Not a fun workout. got to get warm!

PS my knee was FINE today and gait was good although I didnt get enough stretch time.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Walking with no pain.

I almost can't beleive it.I just got back from a 20 minute,fast paced walk where my knee did not talk to me ONCE during the entire time. I did not have to stop and stretch and try to adjust my kneecap or limp around trying to find a positition that did not KILL as I tried to walk somewhat normally.
The last time I could do this was in 1987 or so. I had pretty much given up on it and have resigned myself to needing a full knee replacement sooner rather than later if I ever wanted to have a chance at normal gait.
All this bodywork and stretching , weighted rack walks and the tons of swings and snatches I have been doing have been paying off. But I didnt know how much until I did those walks back and forth from my mechanics the other day and got a sense that something had changed. Drastically.
So I tested it out today just going for a regular walk with no weights.I couldnt believe it! I felt like a normal person with a normal gait! How amazing! ANd how much people take for granted the most simple acts until they can no longer do them.I stopped because I didnt want to push it too much as things sometimes have delayed reaction but I dont think so.

I remember so vividly how much I enjoyed being a runner and endurance athlete, the freedom I felt from just being able to "wander around" for hours under my own power.I honestly didnt think I would ever be able to experience that again unless I got a new knee.I have been having many running and jumping dreams and today is literally a dream come true.

At the RKC certs Pavel and Steve Maxwell always walk the 2 miles or so from the cert hotel to the cert itself. I was always jealous and hoped that one day I might be able to join them, but truth be told just being on my feet for the 12 hours each day kicked my ass and there was no way to even think about it. That has changed. And in April, at this years cert, my first as a true Senior RKC, I will join them, now I have no doubt.

I am adding in a walking workout on Sundays and will push this 20 minutes up to one hour of continuous walking. If I can do that with no pain I will be able to walk as far as I want.I will also take my weighted rack walks even more seriously as they have obviously been working well.

"..for legs that don't quit."

from one of Pavels ads for kettlebells. That is my goal.

Current RIFGA

Getting back to the dynamics of this body is one of my long term goals. Not the skills, but the mobility, flexibility and balance that I had in 1975.
Rifga, my tongue in cheek version of yoga ( rifs's yoga) is constantly evolving;changing to accomodate my current flexibility and/or orthopedic needs. THis has had great success for me, unlocking my lateral left hamstring and calf, my overly tight ab panel and psoas and now my shoulder.I still need tons of work killing the stretch reflex on my left knee so I can get deeper towards my goal of a full squat but it is coming. And the better it gets the better I walk.

The current routine, done at least twice a day, in order:

1) tuck and roll
2) straddle stretch
3) pike stretch/lateral crossover( for IT band and lateral calf)
4) upward dog
5) downward dog( with alternating leg stretches)
6) sumo squat( stay in this for 1- 2 minutes)
7) L sits on floor( one leg raise at a time- this is really stretching out the forearms , working my weaker left quad as it further stretches out the lateral hammie. Will be able to do the full L sit again very soon.
8) hip opening squat stretch( ala Pavel)
9) Basic karate front punch stance, heel on floor ( this has really helped calves)
10) rotating single arm overhead hangs( from pronating to supination)

11) double overhead hangs pronated
12) double overhead hangs supinated
13) arm behind back internal rotation stretch( this has been key for realigning my right shoulder of late)

Dats it, very happy with the release of leg tension from holding the sumo squats and the hip opening stretches.And the karate stance is the first lunging posture I've been able to work without causing more pain.It's really opening my hips and calves. Another interesting fact is that my "clunking" or spontaneous adjustment of vertabrae and bones is significantly less of late; a good sign that things are sitting in neutral, or close to it, much more. Great progress which means better ease of movement and much less pain.

The Classic Pavel interview on T Mag

Got this from Tom Furmans Blog. Pavel's training philosophy in a nutshell. As usual he pulls no punches. One for the archives.
part one:
part two:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Back in the saddle.

Having come back to my senses( I know, it's relative) I was hoping that my arm not hurting was not a decoy and that I could snatch today.It hasnt bothered me at all in days but you never know. I continued starting my workout with press practice.

RKC Press

( this is not a military press, nor a true side press so I am calling it an RKC press after the descriptions in Pavels first book).

the more I did the better my shoulder set in the socket.

x10/10 x 2 rounds
180 reps
7,920 pounds

these felt great. no biceps or shoulder issues at all. Hate to admit it but this probably the best weight for me to use with snatches if I want to do reps.I have much more room for error with this weight and I can acclerate it much quicker.I just freakin hate to admit that but I am skinny little guy these days, lol.

The 20 kg is .27 % of my bodyweight. the 24 kg .33% of bw. If I weighed 170 the 24 kg would be .31% and if 180 .29% Interesting.

these felt great. Always feels good to have some weight in my hands too.

26x10/10x3 sets
dats it, staying loose.

Friday, January 12, 2007

In one second, it can all change.

This is a very graphic video of Jim Grandick tearing his biceps on his last deadlift attempt of 788 at the last WPO contest. Injuries suck and often happen when you are at your strongest. That you are only as strong as your weakest link is vividly illustrated.

Someone gets it

This guy is a self starter who is going to be able to figure out his physical problems and take control of his progress! well done!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

" Just give me something, that I can hold on to"

" to believe in this livin is such a hard way to go"
John Prine, 'Angels from Montgomery'

The hardest thing for me since I quit competing is trying to figure out how to train. I used to know how to train. It was very easy. I had a week in "X" numbers of weeks away. I had done "Y" in the last meet. I knew "Z" was weak and had to improve. I did what I thought was the best prescription for adressing that weak point and work digently at it every day. every hour, almost.
I lived to get lost in the zone, in the intensity, in the one pointedness of it all.Ignoring pressure, pain,fear.It was the one place where everything made perfect sense and my mission was absolutely clear. My job was just to committ myself 110% to achieving that.And be willing to fail and realize I HAD given 100 percent and still didnt make it. Time to try again.
And when you succeeded there was nothing like it I had felt.A wholeness,a completeness, a unity.I did pray at the temple of the sacred gym and the squat rack was a holy altar.It was where I could control my destiny just though sheer will. Or so I thought, lol.

At least you have a chance in the gym.

But win, lose or draw, the next day is back to the gym. Training is the source.Drink from it's cup and gain strength and insight about who you really are but be careful -It can and does "bite".

But I can't do that now and it's so confusing. I think thats why I instinctively want to keep track of the sheer numbers; they are my new "weight" goals,like when all I cared about was squatting 600 lbs. It's not me trying to train like a gs athlete; it's just wanting to keep track of how I am progressing in my main goal: which is work capacity for everyday life.
And the swings and snatches and walking distances are my main metrics of how I am really doing.

More Press Practice

really concentrating on
1)setting hip under arm at the start
2)REALLY flexing the lat AS I push away from the bell
3)Pushing the elbow and bell away from me AS I start the press
4)absolutely keeping the forearm perfectly vertical THROUGHOUT
the postive and negative portions of the rep.

this is really getting better and the shoulder feels better than in a long time.

One arm swings
36x10/10 ( biceps feels ok)


240 reps
10,560 pounds

these went very well but I was nervous for the left biceps. it held up well and I was really keeping a short tight arc swing.Did the warmup swings supersetted with the presses. 20 kg was by itself. I love this idea of just practicing.

20kg x8/8x5 sets

these were good but rusty actually.have to sit back first.allthe different types of swings cleans snatches have their own unique hip back leg mechanics although they are basically all the same.Makes for more thorough stimulation I now realize. I dont have the same exact swing mechanics for the snatch as I do for the one arm swing. close but different and thats good.

Chin/pulls( mixed grip- right under,left over)

off bosu with a little help at the start.
nervous here too but it held.

rack walks
16kg for 300 foot laps per arm. 12oo feet total

these were hard, I was tired.

BW 162.2
BF 8.6%
Water 61.2%
I think this is exactly the same measurments as my last time!


Monday, January 08, 2007

More great KB art

Great KB article from the Denver Post with Josh Hillis and a Tracy and GiryaStrength mention!

The simple things.

Like being able to swing, and train and move without pain. I dodged another bullet this weekend and my biceps feels almost normal today. I got lazy on my snatches( being pissed and not concentrating enough) and let my arm bend in the bottom. This moved my radius/ulna out and it tweaked my whole arm; especially my biceps.

When I released the radius/ulna and the elbow set, the shoulder set and the biceps relaxed. Ergo, no tweak. Thank you God. I interpret injuries( tweaks included) these days as serious messages from the universe that I am doing something wrong, or have had enough of a certain exercise,set rep range, or movement. A message that something should change. I listen very well these days; after being smacked in the head( amoungst other parts) long enough to know better now.

Part of this message arrived after reading Steve Cotters interview with the Russian Woman GS Champion Lyubya Cherapaha and reading that her goal each workout was 300 snatches. I have had the same mindset; I wanted 200-250 snatches per workout. I was using a much easier rep scheme but it struck me how similar our goals were as it struck me that I didn't want to be training like a GS athlete!

As usual I tend to confuse quantity with quality; always searching for both, but making sure quantity is there just to make sure I earned my food that day.

Also,the simple ability to press again has rejuvinated me and made me realize I dont have to pound myself into the ground all the time to get a good workout. I am a slow learner but I don't give up!

Just being able to swing and get a good sweat going reminded me that I need to take the "long view" as so aptly put by jack Reape, and ramp DOWN my numbers. Posting about my favorite tricep exercise- rolling db extensions- and the ever constant rep scheme- 7 sets of 8 made me also realize I dont have to continually do more( at a lower intensity as is necessary) to get it worked either. So many things from one little tweak! LOL.

Here's my new schedule:
speed snatch 10 sets of 5/5
two hand swings 10 sets of 10
Low windmill( right hand only) 5x5
Halos 5x15/15

kb press 1-5 ladder
cleans 10 sets of 5/5
chin/pulls 5x5
rack walks

one arm swings 10 sets of 10/10
kb press 3x3
halos 5x8
rack walks

I also realized that much of my problems in the snatch come from holding the top position too long. I lose momentum and this makes it much harder.I do better when I stay in the swing.I will let the press work the static overhead. 100 reps is a good number.
My clean form has deteriorated a bit as I dont do them anymore so this will be good work too, and easy on the body.
I will do my mixed grip chin pulls as this weird torque seems to balance my twisted body.
and the two hand swings will be quick and dirty, another fast hundred reps.
the one arm swings will be my overvolume day, just 200 reps.
and the walks are working so they stay.

Todays workout

KB press


I can't beleive how much different this feels now that I am doing them right. It feels like my bench press did,which was my most natural lift. I really am getting the lat to fire first and pushing away from the bell rather than trying to push it up. The forearm is also staying PERFECTLY vertical and I am arranging my body around that rather than vice versa.NO shoulder pain at all and it feel RIGHT to strengthen the top. Passive overhead flexion is already better

two handed swings
5 sets of 15 with 53/30 sec rest/sets

this was easy. didnt feel biceps at all

Rack walk
20 kg 1200 feet 200feet per arm

scap traps

pullup grip 5 sets of 10

BW 162.2
BF 8.6%
Water 60.4%
the little bit of tension made my mass go up right away. arms and shoulder feel bigger already!

Datsit,staying loose.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Girya the Art of Strength. The original sign in my window.

Ah yes, training partners.Snatch day.

One of my all time pet peeves is when training partners, let's really say alleged training partners, would not show up for squat day. Almost nobody ever bailed on bench day but on squat days there were are a lot more tummy aches and overnight colds.The worst was not showing up AND not calling. The training equivilant of quitting a job by not showing up for work one day.

The kettlebell equivilant for me now is not showing up on Saturdays, which is snatch volume day.of course that is what happened today and none of them were unexcused abscenses. Plus, no phone calls. The most important role a training partner plays, in my experience and opinion, is that of creating and keeping the energy of the training session up. When one guys is beat or flagging the energy of the others bring him up and make his life easier. It trades off as everyone has off days when they fight for every second of every rep.
This became especially apparent, and important, in the world of powerlifting where you really can't come close to your potential alone. You can certainly train alone, and get stronger alone and compete even by training alone. BUt you can't come close to your potential alone.Hell, you can't even get your gear on without help and spotters and hand off guys are not only nice to have but can really save your ass, too.
I got this latest shoulder injury when my partners had to change schedules on our weekday workouts and I took way too many bench presses off the rack myself. It was going fine unracking things myself til it wasnt.It was my fault as I didnt adjust to the new stresses soon enough.
You never really know where the edge is til you step off it but guaranteed the next step off a peak is DOWN.
BUt I had really gotten dependent on them as I have now for getting through cold and early saturday sessions. I have to be especially careful in these workouts as to not break things on myself when I get too pissed and the adrenaline lets me push too hard. well, thats kind of what happened today,although it's not too bad.
I re tweaked my left biceps, the one I had torn fascia in last year snatching the two pood by breaking a cardinal rule: DONT DO NEW STUFF WHEN YOU'RE PISSED.

My partners and I are going to have a long discussion about committment very soon. It may just be easier to train mon/ wed/ fri myself and leave saturday ams for clients and soon to come workshops/seminars.

Since I didnt feel like snatching first, and my press and chin practice has been going so well I decided to press and chin first, then snatch. THis went both good and bad.
Good in that I did 4 sets of 5 chinup with NO bosujump help.THe first full chins in many years.
The presses also went very well and my right shoulder felt good.

I decided to minimize snatch volume today since I had done all that stuff before and only do 100 reps in sets of 5/5. Pretty conservative I thought. Snatches dont go well for me unless I do them first. I know this.
Tweaked the left biceps a bit on the 60th rep for no good reason.Just was too fatigued from the chins I think ,to handle the stetching out of the descent in the snatch. Stopped statching but I'm not happy. Did some light two handed swings that didnt hurt but it's weird.
I had a bad mind set and should have just snatched light, first, as was planned, or just skipped the workout altogether.

Almost to the day my right shoulder sets in my left goes out. A twilight zone kind of balance for sure.
Perhaps my mixed grip pull/chin is the way to go. WHo knows?


supersetted with chin ups
4 sets of 5 reps in the FULL CHINUP. These were very easy and felt almost like I was using the bosu to jump off. NO strain in the bicep left or right. even the wrist felt good.


53x5/5x6 sets

felt slight pull in left bicep on last set.stopped there.

two hand swings
44x10x 5

30 sec rest between sets. these were easy but very fast and explosive.

Rack walks
400 set laps with the 16 kg.200 feet per arm.

2000 feet

these went very well.Being pissed about my biceps helped :)) At least my knee didnt hurt.

datsit. where's my emu oil?

found some SERIOUS trigger points in my left forearm that were adirect connect to the shoulder. releasing them has already helped get the shoulder to reposition right. with that there is less impingment. thank you God.

Happy Anniversary Girya Kettlebell Training!

Girya Kettlebell training is four years old today.We opened our doors on our little studio in record time four years ago when I was forced to choose between my dignity and a big salary at another start up studio I was supposed to be in charge of.

I had left my position as Head Trainer at a place called No Excuses Personal training here in Palo Alto after 4 plus years to open a large training studio/gym with an investor and a person who used to be my best friend. We went from planning, building opening to me leaving in a record six months time!
It was a dream while it was happening as I had an open checkbook and run of the place- for awhile. I got to buy all the toys I had always wanted( my FIRST purchase,ironically, was two full sets of DragonDoor KBs, from 8 to 40 kgs!)plus a six figure salary. It was a dream that turned into a nightmare as my best friend turned out to be a snake and my investor a liar and cheat.
I was given the option , after being in charge for six months of "do what you are told or get the f*&!k out." Needless to say walking out on a big salary with benefits and vacation time and all that nice stuff to an uncertain future with nothing but my clients and no where to train them was a daunting situation.
It took me just a few seconds to weigh the balance between my heavy mortgage and bills and my honor and ethics to get up and walk out of the place.

The very next day I walked two blocks away from where the big studio was located to a slightly less high end spot of Palo Alto( albeit much more bohemian and funky-definitely my style) and walked straight to the location I am right now! Lo and behold it had a for lease sign on it and I called the landlord that very second.

Tracy and I toured the place the next day and signed the lease two days after that! This was one week before Christmas and I dont know how but we managed to get carpet, paint, equipment and signage up and ready to go in the next three weeks so we could open Girya, The Art of Strength( our original name) up and running on January 6 2003.

Some things are just meant to happen.
Thank God for my extremely loyal and devoted clients who followed me around Palo Alto! Without them none of this would be possible.

I got a lot of flak for naming the studio after a meat sandwhich( what is a girya? how do you pronounce it?) but I didnt care. I had fallen in love with that little round ball and wanted people to know about it. I didnt need to advertise as I had a full clientele so I called it what I wanted to.
I had realized the folly of not going my own way with that last venture and wasnt about to turn a deaf ear to my instinct again; Girya it was!
We changed the name to Girya Kettlebell training after I got certified and wanted more exposure for the KB and and had hoped to do classes as well. As usual I found it very hard to depend on anyone other than myself and the classes didnt work out. No matter, I have a full schedule and waiting list and Tracy is building her business now as well.And I still get to do what I love, train and teach people about the simplest way to get in shape that I have ever tried.
The hardest simple workout of all time, the kettlebell!
Happy Anniversary to us!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


When one is trying to increase their strength in a powerlift, whether it is the squat, deadlift or bent press the key ingredient as everyone knows by now( or should know) is tension. Tension is synonymous with strength and increasing one's ability to produce tension( all other things being equal) increases ones strength.

If you want to take your squat from 300 pounds to 350 or 400 pounds you have to be able to generate more tension to be able to apply the appropriate force to get it going.But there is another, hardly ever mentioned aspect to strength and tension that is as or more important than tension. That is pressure.

I could never tell the difference in "weight", in a numerical sense, between 400 and 500 pounds on my back when I was squatting. What I was aware of, keenly, as the weight climbed was the increase in pressure. You would literally feel like you could explode if you didnt get tight enough to compensate for the added plates.You wouldnt feel " man I can feel those two new 25 's on the bar, just that it was much harder than last set to stay upright and not collapse.

This increased pressure would be the signal that you better get seriously tight and FAST if you wanted to go down and actually come back up with it. Add in a power belt and even worse, a tight compressive super suit with the straps up and you can't BELIEVE how much pressure you generate throughout the whole body.Not to mention how much you have to push back against that in order to stay tight and hold your position for the whole lift.

Bent over good mornings could make your eyes feel like they are going to pop out of your head and max effort deadlifts would always create "silver fish" flying fish that I saw after the lift, floating around your head. LOL, no one said anyone who craves super human strength is entirely sane.

The best squaters( and strength lifters in general) will get super tight BEFORE the lift, not needing the feedback of the pressure first, and "absorb" the shock of the weight right from the start and getting more tension early.
Having to unrack the bar, let the bar settle, walk back to your setup position, lockout your start postition and wait for the command,try to sip in some more air before take it down deep all as the pressure builds to its greatest levels in the hole, and then explode against that pressure to come back up has one handing alot of pressure for a long time. Oh yeah, then you have to maintain enough to walk it back in to get credit for your accomplishment. Staying calm under prolonged pressure is a skill.

This isnt so bad with submaximal loads but bump that puppy up to 101+ percent of your current best and watch the sparks fly!So one has to learn how to create the pressure, feel the pressure and NOT give in to it at the same time ,do the task UNDER pressure and stay calm the entire time. All the while getting ready for even MORE pressure for the next attempt.

As a powerlifter you learn its all about tightness and NOT giving in to the load .Not losing position.Handling the pressure and controlling it.One learns to generate tons of pressure and tension in a moment.I got so used to generating max force for one rep that if I even climbed under an empty bar and got set my heart rate would soar from the anticipation ! Potential metaphors abound but learning to handle ever increasing pressure while staying calm and strong has life lessons for everyone.

I was reminded of this as I was practicing my presses yesterday. Even with the 12 and 16 kg weights I was creating full body pressure for the press and it brought back many happy memories of getting tight for a heavy squat, bench or deadlift.Of connecting all the pieces of the body in one seriously tight block.
Of losing myself in my body and NOT thinking of the weight but just getting tight, and then tighter; of feeling my strength grow as I did,knowing I could make the lift if I could just handle the pressure.

Being able to practice that regularly, in the relatively safe environs of the gym, lets you learn about pressure and tension for the real world where it's not always safe, and the need for the ability to be strong, to handle the pressure and stay calm is paramount. To feel the pressure and not be moved.To push back hard enough to stay your course.To challenge yourself to handle even more pressure, even if it's just a little, than the last time and knowing you are getting better.I loved that about powerlifting and missed it for the last year or so when I cut totally back on tension exercises.
Being able to touch that aspect of training again, even if just a little, is very satisfying on many different levels.Its always good to know that you can handle the pressure and stay standing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fasting takes practice too.

I have to admit it. I have been falling down on my warrior diet these past two weeks. Nothing drastic, just what I always do when the discipline wanes: I start eating earlier and I am eating too much flour products.Sometimes I start cooking at 1 pm, which is 2-3 hours earlier than I want.Nothing really bad happens,except my bf doesnt go down, it just hovers. same with my weight.Its been freakin cold here lately and I am one skinny ass dude.

But it is a new year, I am back off this holiday schedule and its time to get back on track and wait a bit after I get home to start cooking.The days when I dont train are the hardest. If I have something to do I can not eat all day and feel fine. If I am bored then I want to nosh.
Started "feeling" it today as I am out of fasting practice.

Just thought about Furmans post, which is Tracy's new mantra around my house :"it ain't gonna kill ya" and sacked up. No biggie but I could tell I am not as fat adapted as I was just a few weeks ago! Those enzymes dissapear fast it seems. Eating carbs every few hours really would make you feel like you are going to die if you miss a meal as that blood sugar just plummets. Mind just goes to the fat store for some fuel,lol.

5 am
Getup situp into arm bar 2x5/5 with 26, right arm only

this is a good start. works the right shoulder but doesnt bother my back or knee.

1 pm
Warmup and Practice
two hand swing 36,44, 53x20
transfers 36,44 x30
one arm swings 36,44 x10/10

KB press

this felt great! I have to shift conciously to my right to get my forearm vertical and activate the lat.then my shoulder doesnt impinge.makes sense that I have to counter twist to be square,lol.I also have to be very solid on the negative, pulling my shouder down and keeping the forearm vertical and it doesnt hurt, and I felt like I had leverage! I am going to be practicing this a lot.minimal volume, more practice.

One arm swings
53x10/10x12 sets
240 reps
12,720 pounds

these were a bit dead. Not from the presses at all just from not being as fat adapted and getting back to my horrendous 4 am wake ups. I'll adapt.

Waiters walks
12 kgx100 foot per arm, 200 feet per lap
800 feet total

Jumping chins( both hands under)
5x5+ 10 sec scap hang after set

this is the closest I have been to doing full chins and it's right around the corner. feels GOOD on my shoulder.pretty close grip, no wider than shoulder. Presses and chins, who woud've thought?

Bw 162.0
BF 9.2%
water 60.3 %

not bad.dats it, staying loose.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My forgotten RKC skills

mike mahler bent presses a 125 lb KB

I have been focused so much on kb ballistics and pullups to increase my shoulder flexibility that I have let my basic RKC tension movements go bad.When I stopped doing windmills, getups, arm bars and presses it was because my shoulder mechanics on my right side were getting worse, not better, and all the tension in my torso was increasing.

The last six months of almost all swings, snatches, pullups and weighted walking has certainly paid dividends. It has unwound me enough I think that I can start to include, actually now NEED to include some tension movements back in the mix.

The idea of practice and not training is going to be crucial in getting me to "practice" these skills regularly, perhaps daily, and not let the intensity or volume get too high.Deep skill work for very low reps and as good a form as possible.

I know that I have gotten too weak overhead in my right arm and my shoulder survived yesterdays presses with no problem. I would love to be able to do windmills again as well. It is such a cool move and SO GOOD for connecting the hips and shoulder together and really linking the entire body into a single unit.

It is truly the RKC system as a whole; the total body, high tension exercises for strength and complete body connection and linkage, and the ballistic swings, snatches and cleans for unreal conditioning, resilience and strength endurance and explosive power.Sounds like the ad but it is true,and that makes ALL the difference.

Maybe one day I won't have to kill so many demons each workout and I can do the original circuits Pavel has in the RKC book; you know, train 2-7 days a week, 20-45 minutes, all the basic exercises but in different proportions each time.Train the instinct and not just the 'goal'.The Warrior Diet for training.

Not secure enough for that workout yet, still need my numbers to add up and beat myself into the ground. Some things might never change :))

The RKC Tension exercises

Turkish Get up

Windmill ( low and high)

Side Press

Bent Press

KB press

Two hands anyhow


Single leg deadlift

KB Arm bar

I have to start slowly and see if my shoulder will even handle any of this other than the press.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Strength is a skill.

I have not done any high tension exercises for a long time as they seemed to cause more body problems then they solved. I figured I had plenty of strength in reserve from all my years of powerlifting.I stopped doing windmills,side presses, squats and deadlifts. I even dropped the press as it seemed to cause my gimpy right shoulder all kinds of impingment problems. The only overhead work I've been getting is snatches.
Since I have discovered that palms up chins and overhead hangs "puts" my shoulder back in the right place fairly easily, I have been wondering if I could press again. Playing around with windmills the other day I was blown away by how WEAK my overhead holds have become. I had even dropped the snatch holds and waiters walks I was doing as it seemed to require more rehab than it was worth.
So today, with another AM workout( I slacked off today and took another holiday off!) I wanted to see if I could figure out how to press without too much pain. Or at least whether the chins would put the shoulder back in after.

Started off with push presses which I thought might be better but they were not. As Pavel says they make it too easy to get loose which is not what I needed. I figured there might be a very specific groove that did not hurt.And I was right.It was just a much different body position than I had imagined.

I realized that I had been trying to do a strict military press and I wasn't kicking my hip under enough to really support the weight. It happened because I have( had) strong shoulders and 35 years of pressing things uner my belt and didnt realize there was more to wedging under the weight than just pressing it. It creates the base foundation of support to not only press the weight, but press it strongly.And when you have biceps impingment if you do it wrong you get a correction 'real quick'.
Pavel talks about this in his classic first book, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge;how it is vital when pressing heavy weights overhead to shift your hips under the bell to provide foundational support as well s pull the shoulder DOWN as you press up. But I had just let that go as I tried to just press the weight. After all it was so light. With my shoulder the way it is that was just not going to happen.especially on the negative rep.
You have to develop the scapula retractors to be at least as strong as your traps or you will get a biceps impingment eventually.And to do that you have to pull down as you press and keep that forearm totally vertical throughout.

In fact, I used the negative as the test as to whether to groove was right. If it was, the negative didnt hurt. If it wasnt, it did.I also had to turn more than I imagined to the right to get my forearm vertical throughout the press, another key component. I also had to stare at my forearm throughout the entire rep to guarantee it being perfectly vertical.

I forgot about how many presses I was going to do( or wanted to do) and instead focused on practicing the skill of pressing correctly. I didnt train but practiced ,searching for the right combination of position and tension to press the bell pain free with my entire body, not just my arm. I focused on rooting hard the entire time.

KB Press( only one clean per rep)
44x5/5x2 ( these were mainly sussing out the right groove)

53x3/3x5 sets

Jumping chins( scap trap hang after set)

6 sets of 5+ 10 sec scap trap hang at finish

man these are getting EASY. Stretched out my left forearm and wrist didnt hurt during chins with BOTH arm supinated. I was barely using any leg drive to get started and the negative was easy as well.

Rack walks with16 kg
2000 feet in 200 foot laps/ then an arm switch.

these were almost non stop, best they have ever felt. so much help with my gait. I love training first thing!The next question is do I add in Handstands or Arm bars to help increase ROM? We'll play with both later today! I have to whole day off , woo hoo!

datsit,staying loose and maybe getting a little stronger too.