Friday, August 31, 2007


The Great Bernard Hinault working his heart just a bit.

Or a resting heartrate of under 60 BPM.It is not unusual for endurance athletes to have resting heartrates even lower( 50 or lower) and Miguel Indurain, multiple Tour de France winner, has the Guiness record for his ( barely alive) 28 BPM!
When I was training for endurance and runnning 100 mile weeks and cycling and swimming the equivilant my HR was in the high forties but that was a LONG time ago and I weighed something like a buck thirty.
For the last twenty years the norm was more a resting level of mid 60's and my body got so used to doing max effort lifts in powerlifting that my hr would shoot up over 100 just thinking about any exertion! It would come down fairly quickly but lets just say I havent been in any kind of decent cardio shape since the mid nineties and that was do to all the fast, high volume box squat work and sled dragging GPP I was doing .
Things got really bad after 2000 and my back herniation when squats and deadlifts were limited to miniscule amounts of volume and traditional cardio just couldn't be done without a serious seizure in my lumbar spine.
The base kettlebell work I have been doing the last three years has really made a difference in my cardiovascular ability as well as my work capacity but things have really changed in the eight weeks I have been doing Kenneth Jay's max Vo2 training with kettlebell snatches.
I have been tracking my morning pulse and today hit a new low of 48 BPM! I took it twice because I couldn't beleive it! It's been dropping pretty consistently and I was very happy when it registered in the low fifties the last two weeks but getting below 50 is a whole nother level.
This is especially interesting since I am only doing the protocol one day a week( not 2-3 as prescribed) and doing no other 'cardio' work.
I knew something was up when I started getting 58 and 59 HR readings during the day at work. A couple years ago that would have read 85 just sitting around.
There is definitely something to this type of training and I am seeing it in my clients as well. Great stuff Kenneth and thanks for doing the research for this.
I now feel I can handle the original 36 sec on 36 off version of this protocol and will start alternating that with the 15/15 we are using now.
I love this type of training and love being in this type of condition even more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Speed day musings

It really has struck me just how much using the light bell and trying to move the body as fast as possible has carried over to my 24 kg snatch. Just like in WSB methods,where one uses 70% weights moved with compensatory acceleration to create maximal and supra maximal forces on the bar, doing these short work bouts where you are trying to snatch just about as fast as one can has a big effect on form.
When I would box squat for triples with weights I could do 10 reps with it allowed me to move the weight with maximum force optimizing my cns reaction. When I put a true 100% load on it(which was also part of the equation three days later) my body did the same movement it had done with the lighter weight: tried to move it fast! Learning and holding exact form is much easier with light weights.
Using accumulated fatigue ( 12 sets of 2 reps with 45 sec rest in the box squat) to create tension one got faster AND stronger at the same time.
Because of my heavy squat/deadlift training on the max effort day I rarely trained the deadlift heavy and just did mostly speed work before I pulled my best lift(545@ 181).learning to pull hard and fast is especially important for the deadlift because fear and doubt can creep in and make you TRY to pull the weight instead of PULLING the weight. You can always tell when the weight is light because it MOVES FAST.
True maximal lifts take 3-4 seconds(at least) to complete. If it takes less time than that it is not a true maximal lift.
Gotta get the bar past the sticking point before welder man comes in and takes over!
So doing all this volume with a weight I can truly dictate the form has made my 24 kg snatch much better!Being in a much more optimal biomechanical position helps tons too but a decent base now of workouts fighting through fatigue and still trying to move fast has made me hold back much less when snatching the 24. I feel I have much more power.

Nice.Strong is good. Strong and fast is better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More snatches and swings.

Akinori Nakayama had great shoulder extension.

Not sure what is harder, doing max vo2 on mondays after I've snatched the 24 kg on Saturday, or snatching it on Wednesdays after Mondays speed work. Today was little better than last week but after three full days of clients and mondays cns blast hump day is a fairly large lump about 1 pm.
But hey, gotta practice what I preach so a 15 minute power nap and off I go. Luckily Joe was in today and that always helps; knowing someone is waiting for you and has a big workout to do themselves. A very toasty 90+ today in stones gym and still no fan. My heat tolerance is getting better all the time. Love that sweat. I can still vividly remember the (recent) days when I could not work out hard enough to break a good sweat without hurting something.I love to train; it is a blessing to be able to create your own strength.

16 kgx5/5x2

24kgx 5/5
90 reps
4770 lbs

Swing Snatch( one swing, one snatch )
10 swing snatches each side with 24 kg
3 sets
60 reps
3180 lbs

One arm swing/transfer combination
10 right, 10 left, 10 transfers with 24 kg=30 reps
3 sets
90 reps

total tonnage:
240 reps
12,720 lbs
120 snatches

man, when am doing it it seems like so much work but when I write it down, and think of the crazy reps my wife does it seems like nothing, But it worked me good, and not too hard, so like ot or not, that's where I am today. I will take it and like it. Snatches are great and so much fun to do. I can easily remember just a short while ago when I could not snatch at all and all I could do was swing.
Now that was ok compared to not being able to train at all but not nearly as good as being able to snatch, for decent weight and reps and volume. Now it seems I can snatch twice a week; something I've never been able to recover from before.
right arm overhead position was very good today and I was still working on getting the shoulder packed better,closer to my ear and pushed back; all at the same time.Still need work on getting a deep hook grip instead of a palm grip but it too is getting there.
And again, setting up flat on my feet made all the difference and was the one reference cue I kept coming back to. Everything seemed to fall into place from there. Perfect.

rack walks with 16 kg
200 foot per arm
1200 feet
min rest
1000 feet
2200 feet.

trying to walk slower and keep my hips under me. this helps.arms get way tired though, after all these snatches,lol.

Stick slides
stick shoulder extensions
rifga for hammies/calves
Once I really get the shoulder girdle square and plumb I'm going to be doing some handstands again. I feel it. First things first though.

BW 160.
BF 8.8%

feel leaner than ever.

datsit, gotta stretch.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Max Vo2 day, the speed is back.

Really good workout today,coming off of last weeks slump very well. Getting the right position on my foot as I start is proving to be as vital for my swings and snatches as it was for my squats and deadlifts. I am not thinking at all about my groove not just being able to focus on being as fast and powerful through it as I can. Much better.
As Nick said Saturday ," you really ARE a slow learner, aren't you". Why yes Nick, but I am tenacious as hell ,too.

Max Vo2 Snatches with 16 kg
42 sets of 7
294 reps
10,584 lbs
HR ave 170-179

Being flat on my feet made the groove really solid and being more aggressive at the top of the snatch really picked up my speed and accelleration throughout each set.As soon as the bell got overhead I punched it back over as soon as it touched my wrist. I've been waiting too long at the top. Pushing it back over the top fast pulls me into the next rep and really keeps the momentum up. I was finishing 2 seconds ahead of the 15 seconds again.This is what I need to do 8 reps a cycle.

One arm swing up hill ladder.
16 kg x
1-5 ladder( one rep transer, 2 reps transfer, etc)
35 reps/set
4 sets
140 reps
5040 lbs

total tonnage=15,624( total daily average is definitely creeping up)

Snatch holds
16kg x60 sec x 3 sets

rack walks
200 feet per arm
1200 feet in set one
60 sec rest
800 feet set tw0

2000 feet total.

Stellar workout. Definitely feel like I am getting in serious cv shape, felt ready to workout yesterday, a serious first for me in many,many moons.

datsit, staying loose!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inside Westside Barbell

Some great video clips showing you exactly how it's done at Louie's WSB. Watch and learn.
Max effort day, part one. notice all the close grips; and Louie's reverse grip. Man that brings back memories as I loved the reverse grip bench.

part two: showing the db dicks presses

part three: nobody's hardcore like Louie's hardcore!ok, maybe crazy but crazy like a fox.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ah, sweetness.

For every down there is an up and today was it.As hard as Wednesday was today was that strong and solid. What a difference such a smal change in stance and technique does!

One arm swings
16 kgx5/5x3
24kgx5/5x3( a bit tight this am)

32kgx5/5/5/5 x11 sets
220 reps
15,840 pounds.

Man these were strong! Definitely some of the best swings I have ever done.setting up flat on my feet and really establishing my base and root mades a huge difference. The rest of the mechanics just fell in line and I knew when I was onto something when Nick starting commenting that my hip snap looked good right from the first set. Usually I am always telling him "wait a few sets dude, I'm not warmed up yet".
Also worked hard on keeping the bell in the hook grip and not holding it so deep in the palm, which I am want to do when it gets heavy.This makes the forearm relax more and my elbow stays straightet, which my shoulder appreciates.

H2H Transfer swings
24 kg x
60 reps
135 reps
7155 lbs

355 reps
total tonnage 22,995!

now that stung a bit. the 6o rep set was just tough after all those two pood swings,although the mechanics stayed solid the entire time, as well as force production and bell speed.

Snatch Holds
24 kgx
65 sec
60 sec

dats it, I'm tired.

heres some video of Nick second week of his box squat cycle.He needs a little more weight to get to the box it seems but it sure moves well.

More reasons Warrior Diet is good for you.

From Art Devany's blog:

"Autophagy (self eating or consumption) is a crucial process in the cell. The cell consumes and recycles damaged internal material; this is an energy sparing process and important for scavenging old and damaged material within the cell. Autophagy is an important element in energy management and damage repair. The energy and protein content of damaged material is used to fuel rebuilding and cellular energetics.
The process seems to be triggered when the energy content of the cell declines so that the cell literally consumes itself. It goes after the damaged materials first, so there is a strong link between repair of damaged tissues and fasting or low energy state in the cell. So, it you are over-fed you down regulate cellular repair. You want to go hungy episodically to turn on cellular autophagy and repair those damaged tissues.
This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective. When the energy in the cell declines, the cell eats the damaged tissues for energy and that recycles the damaged tissues to make new material. The result is a healthier cell. It is efficient for the cell to turn to damaged materials first as a source of energy, thus sparing healthy tissues. So, in addition to fat, damaged
internal materials of the cell are a source of energy. A fat person has a lot of damaged tissues inside cells and never recycles and repairs them because there is too much energy in the cell.
Of course, exercise has the same effect because it lowers energy stores in the cells and also because it damages muscle cells, causing them to repair themselves through autophagy."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

gettin it done.

Just blah today.One of those days where life's bs dominates the mind and concentration is hard to find.But that's the thing with kettlebells; if you dont concentrate you can't do them very well and you can easily get hurt, so stepping up and doing what you need to do is the order of the day and mindfulness of the task at hand has to dominate the minutae of lifes baloney sandwhich.

16 kg x5/5x2
24 kg x7/7 x7 sets
98 reps
5194 lbs

Not bad considering my mindset( or lack thereof) and trying to stay focused on my new foot plant position.Also havent snatched on wednesdays in forever and mondays snatch fest wasnt far behind.Suprisingly I was not as sore as I have been in recent weeks so it was not as difficult as I expected. Once I got into the sauna, I mean the dungeon, I mean the gym :))

One arm swings
24 kg x
114 reps
6042 lbs
I decided to punish myself for being such a pussy and did some hi reps( well , at least one set)Not as easy as I had hoped but my head just wasnt there.

Farmers walks with 2 16 kg
5 sets of 200 feet..

Havent done these in a long time and wanted to play with the new foot plant position and see how it fared. Not bad at all but it is certainly different than the single arm rack walks. another tool in the box though; if my back says yes, which I think it will.

Stick slide
Stick shoulder extensions
Double mini band scap pulls
Stick squat rack stretch

4 rounds of each.

datsit, staying loose in 90 deg heat is easy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The RKC hip snap; a gymnasts tap swing in reverse.

I was sitting in the sun warming these old bones thinking about, well, what else but training when I realized the the kb hip snap is just a gymnasts tap swing in reverse. The variances of position, stretch, speed and acceleration change, like the gymnasts, according to how much speed and force the athlete wants to produce.

When a gymnast swings around a hi bar, or the rings or does basic swings on parallel bars he shapes his body depending on how much stretch on the flexors that he wants. If he is casually doing giants on hi bar there is almost no pressing forward of the hips as he hits bottom as he has all the momentum necessary to carry him back over the top to the next handstand position and another giant swing or an easy skill.
If he is doing a very hard skill, say a big dismount and he needs to create momentum and speed for maximum height over the bar he shapes his body a much different way.Instead of remaining just slightly hollow he pikes( flexes the hips ) as he comes over the top to speed up the giant; then strongly extends his hips as he gets to the bottom of the swing. How strongly depends on the force needed.
The extension puts the hip flexors and abs on a serious stretch setting up a serious contraction as he then forcefully pikes his hips, and, at the right time, drives back on the bar and creating maximum lift for a release skill or dismount. This is called a tap swing and its easy to see as the gymnast 'winds' themselve up for big moves.
The girevik does the same thing, just the opposite and in reverse.The gymnasts hands are anchored and the feet and legs swing around them. The gireviks feet are anchored and his or her hands and arms swing around them.
The girevik sits back and stretch the hip extensors instead of the flexors. How deeply and sharply depends on the amount of force desired for the swing. snatch or H2H movement. He or she can sit back just a little and create a small amount of force and momentum or sit back sharply and deeply, creating a serious muscle and joint stretch elliciting a serious stretch reflex and maximum force and velocity.
This 'overspeed' eccentric motion is, I beleive, one of the things that can help the deadlift more than almost any other assistance movement as this fast eccentric loading of the posterior chain is very hard to come by. Especially for any type of volume.
Another reason I took to kettlebells so quickly, I recognized the swing pattern similarity between it and gymnastics right away. Home again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Coan poster has arrived.

and has taken it's rightful place on the wall facing the squat rack.

Cycling max vo2 day

Was scheduled for 35 sets of snatch work today, a down week, and I did not snatch on Saturday, hoping that it would put some more snap into todays speed workout. And it did that quite nicely :))
Used my gymboss today trying to keep track of the total count and I still managed to screw it up on the end of the video saying it was 39 sets each, when it was 37. I can't be trusted to count. Ever.But the gym boss doesnt lie, but when I can't breathe I dont seem to read so good either.So we did 37 sets each.
Today was much smoother and I felt the new groove( flat on my feet) worked perfectly. I felt really " in balance" and over my base every rep. This is usually NOT the case and I search a lot in training for that "magic spot".Well, now I know exactly where it is,and, funny enough, it's the same spot for my deadlift and my squat and it originally got discovered when I hurt my back and couldnt squat except on the stability ball.

Squatting on the ball FORCED me to get flat on my feet and over my base of support or I was OFF the ball! I realized then that I had found my real base of support and my center of balance. when my back healed and I went back to powerlifting ( for a last gasp) I had never felt more confident in my barbell squat and deadlift form. It was just too late , though, for my spine and back and later my brain said no mas.

BUT , it seems the same position, go figure, goes for another pulling motion, the kettlebell swing and snatch. Excellent smithers, excellent.

Max Vo2 with 16 kg
37 sets @ 7 reps per cycle
15 sec on 15 sec off
259 reps
9324 lbs

I take virtually no warmup now, which was unheard of for me for even the lightest workouts before.

half way into it

the last sets

One arm swings with 16 kg
10/10x8 sets
160 reps
5760 lbs

had plenty left so I did a few sets of swingsand played with position to fill in the mileage.

Stick Shoulder Extensions5 sets of 8; lots of isometric holds at the top. These REALLY work the external rotators infraspinitus and teres minor better than any rehab thing I have done before!Plus the triceps fire like crazy and further release the biceps/radiobrachialis.

rack walks with 20 kg
6 sets of 200 feet with 45 sec rest between.
decided to slow things down and go back to basics. I had started focusing so much on total distance walked continuously I was getting sloppy in my gait work.I started out with short walks with longer rests and thats what got me strong enough to go longer but I need to slow the gait down and really focus on position. I was using Aarons tai chi visual of 'walking downward" with each step and I like that. Also getting on my whole foot here too and adjusting body posture accordingly.
easier movement, less pain. all good.

Stick squats
1x50 reps
close stance, flat foot.

datsit,staying loose

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Flat on my feet.

It's become obvious to me that my ideal position for both squatting and pulling motions( and this includes the swings) is flat on my feet. It is not on my heels alone. This is the same problem I had in the squat when I was fighting to use the wide stance squat instead of what is my natural strong postition, a close stance flat foot posture.
Same with the deadlift and when I sit back too much, especially at the start, I'd scoop under and lose my hips, not engage them more.Only when I lean into it first do my hips engage well. I have a very strange lumbo pelvic rythym ; not only from gymnastics but from the early straight leg landings and compression injuries.
This is holding true for my kb swings and snatches too and I HAVE to remember it and NOT fight it.Get and stay flat on my feet, remember it!

One arm swings

32 kgx10/10 x10 sets
200 reps
14,400 lbs.

this felt good from the start and then when I realized that staying flatter on the foot put my hips in a much better position to extend hard when it was time my power and the bell height went up dramatically. I also have to really focus on getting this position when I snatch on Monday.It should make a huge difference.

H2H Transfers
144 reps
7632 lbs

total tonnage
344 reps
22,032 lbs Pr.

these were actually easy after the 32 kg work and using the new position.Not fighting myself.

Snatch Holds
24 kg x60 sec x 2 sets

These were HARD,especially as I had been doing stick shoulder extensions between sets and my triceps were cooked! LOL. I love these extensions and found a way to do them in the rack to ensure that the stick stays level and square as it gets higher.
Also took some video of Nick doing the shoulder extension so everyone can see what REAL shoulder tightness is,lol.
And, no surprise, Nick has had an AC joint, bicep tendon issue for a long well as some really tight radiobrachialis. He has some work to do.

Heres some video of Nick doing his stick stretches. Nick has a great sense of humor.

datsit, staying loose.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stretching the shoulder in extension.

Beside the stick slide, the movement that has been opening and helping to stabilize my shoulders rom is the stick stretch behind the back.I had been very focused on overhead flexion flexibiltiy but had neglected,badly, shoulder extension.
The stick slide really opened up the scapula and this one is opening up my very tight anterior delt, biceps, corracoid brachialis and radiobrachialis.This is allowing the elbow to really lock which allows the humeral head to sit in neutral.I can lock my elbows, and get my triceps to fire again, without it loading the biceps tendon. This is very good.
Another thing I recalled: I used to swing around the bars with grips like this. Crazy now to think about it.Eagle giants, german giant, all with a 'dorsal' grip, or where your back it to the bar when you swing.
AS I reclaim my gymnastic ranges of motion one thing is very clear, the gymnasts shoulder are stretched and loaded six was from sunday! We spent a lot of time stretching the shoulders through max rom with very close grip and the joints totally locked out.
I could also REALLY feel the difference in muscle tension, joint range of motion and restrictions,especially in trying to be square,from right to left. right was MUCH tighter and restricted. This has really opened it up and I am much more square and even.
I have to use the mirror though as my perception of where I am "square" is not right and I need to see it square first, then I will feel it.
I know this, the more square and plumb I am the less pain I am in and the more work I can do and the less anti inflammatories I need.. No doubt.
heres the exercise:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Don't think

just do it. That was my mantra today as I kicked myself into the garage to swing as hard as I could today. Mondays speed work really kick my ass and I can now see this as a pattern. Kind of CNS DOMS that hits 72 hours later,lol.Just flat. That's a problem cause if I'm too flat that 24 kg can feel might heavy.Escpecially for the 300 plus swings I want to do with it.
But it always feels better after I break a sweat( that don't take long these days) and get started and I know this so I just get out there. And I am right.But it still ain't nowhere near easy.

Just like if you want to lift heavy you have to make big jumps, if I want bigger swing numbers than I have to do higher reps per set. SO today was tens on each arm followed by DARCs. But after Monday Snatch Hell, anything is low reps and slow.

One arm swing/ DARC combination
24 kg
10/10/10 x11 sets
330 reps
17,490 pounds
max heartrate for any one set: 166
average: 154

Its also interesting that on wednesdays: I am always tired but my groove is always better,lol.Very smooth and strong. shorter strokes and LOTS of focus on just the hip snap and keeping the hips locked in longer. It's way too easy to jsut snap the hips and relax the glutes which immediately leads to me leaning too early.
Tracy is right, we need to go back and do more swing work.AS usual once I am warm this aint bad.I like getting big chunks of work cut out each set and I dont have to sacrifice power yet either.

Snatch Holds
16 kgx60 sec x 3sets
Stick slides 4 x6

Stick Shoulder extensions ( both grips) 4x8
I LOVE This exercise, it really gets all the little stuff around the scapula and mid spine.Just hold a stick behind your butt, shoulder width at arms length. With LOCKED elbows raise the stick as far back behind you as you can and feel the stretch on the front delt, biceps, radiobrachialis, prontator teres and the scapular retractor muscles contract hard! Not to mention the triceps. I do it with an overgrip and undergrip. I also use the mirror to make sure the shoulders and the stick stay perfectly level as I raise it behind me.
Think straight arm front raise with the stick behind the back! LOL> I'll get a pictureup when I can. but its easy and its great.Excellent counter stretch to the kettlebell grip muscles tightness.

Rack walks 16 kg
800 feet
800 feet

switching hands as usual every 200 feet. A bit beat by now.Don't think I ate enough last night.

rifga stretch 15 minutes ( really needed this)

I was wondering why I was getting so tight and then I realized I havent had any anti inflamms for 3 days which is a record for me lately. Like the last 7 years.So not quite ready to come all the way off but getting closer.
The foam roller and the thumper and the individualized stretching routines might not be the latest in neurological approaches to balancing the body, but just like I prefer in training I need a simple, direct hands on approach I can use daily.The bottom line for me, again just like in training, is 'am I seeing results and can I rely on myself to get it done?' And I am and thats way good enough for me now. I try not to get off horses that aren' t broken.Lord knows I've riden some broken ones for far too long.

datsit. Gotta stretch AND eat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All Hail King Coan.

I was there when he did his 2400 at 220. I saw him in Vegas when he squatted his 1000 lbs and I was supposed to be in Vegas for his final meet to witness with the Big Chief but it was not to be. All Hail King Coan, the Best Powerlifter of all Time!His records may be beat but his performances and career will not be eclipsed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

50 sets of pure fun.

Today was the top of the wave and although 50 sets of snatches were definitely easier than the first time I made it it is no where near easy. When I first started this I also wasn't doing 100 plus snatches on saturday and I think that day has to move to Wednesday. Even though Sat's snatch workout feels great I don't think I'm getting enough recovery to maintain and improve Mondays speed.
SO: Monday is staying the same, Wednesday will be 24 kg snatches and swings( that fits well) and saturday it's back to pure 32 kg work. We'll see how that works as while I am definitely more cardio fit from this I am getting slower due to the lack of recovery. At least that's the theory.

Max vo2 snatches with 16 kg
15 sec on, 15 sec off for 50 sets, 7 reps per cycle.
350 reps
12,600 lbs
25 minutes exactly.

I really focused on punching through and immediately punching the bell back over the top. I wanted it to stay in motion the entire time. When I do this the bell gets back into the arc much sooner and the descent is much smoother.SO much of this is just really staying into the hip snap. I was getting into a bad habit of pushing down too much and not staying focused on as strong a snap as possible. I start to 'scoop' if I do that and it's just not as strong. Hips baby hips!
This is the last five minutes.

Rack walks with 16 kg
1200 feet continuous switching hands every 200 ft.
1 minute rest
400 feet

1600 total

THis is always TOUGH after all those arms fall off.

stick squats/stick presses
4 sets of 15 non lockout close stance squats focused on increasing ROM in the left knee.
Stick press 4 sets of 5-6 with deep forward leaning stretch at the top of each rep.

datsit,staying loose.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stretching out.

It's both a curse and a boon, but I rarely get the luxury of being unconcious of my body for very long. Of not paying attention to what my old and current injuries feels like and being aware of how and how hard I move.Of just forgetting about the body and just moving or not moving as the situation called for. But ingnorance is not bliss in my case and laying around all sunday aint either. All training is local but the lessons learned can very often be global.
I have been shown much from the pain and the lessons it gave in how to avoid it.It's almost easy to forget how totally messed up my back was when I can now move with almost disregard for its limitations but it doesnt take long for the universe to slap me upside the head with a teensy, weansy little electric -shock- in -the -core- of -your- being wakeup call as if to say "don't get too cocky boy, it can all still break really easily. pay attention".
One thing I have learned for sure: rest and recovery are crucial but total inactivity wrecks me. I have to move and and work to stay open EVERY DAY. Sitting and laying around for any length of times tightens me up like a big dog.It's better than it's been in decades but I have remember to do the things,and KEEP doing those things, that got me here.
And I can see this getting even more important the older I get. Mobility and flexibility top strength all day for me now.
This is different because it is just recent that I havent been forced to choose between the pain that too much joint loading( even just walking and standing!) would cause and the tightness that inactivity would. Now I don't have to choose.My increased work capacity now allows me much more activity per day and my less twisted skeleton and fascial network arent working against me so hard. But use it or lose it and so I was back in the gym this morning with my little roll out session and stick work.Getting my gymnasts body back. With ballistic swing work as my base I can still get strength without sacricing mobility.
I know the next thing to work on is getting back my squatting pattern and opening up the behind the head position has been crucial for leading up to that.Getting on the floor on a daily basis as I reclaim the ranges of motions that I had before I got injured( many many years ago) is crucial I believe, and my experiences are telling me yes as well.This goes hand in glove with my knee extension/ flexion work. As my knee and ankle open up, everything opens up. Being able to squat again, even with bodyweight, for reps is going to be a BLAST and will move my work capacity up another BIG notch when I can do it. When I get my knee replaced it will go up again.
And the better I get the more it seems that ANY restricted joint is going to cause major problems at some point in time.It truly is an interconnected web, this structure of ours. Keeping an ongoing,daily assesment of the major ROM's and immdiate repair of restricted roms before loading is a critical part of prehabilitation work. You gotta keep your eyes open.
I have always done this with my clients but never really applied it to myself. Well things are definitely different now.
Plus, I have to prepare for tomorrow. It's max Vo2 day again and that's no joke.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Snatches and swings.

Felt like a good one was in the wind and I was not dissapointed. The snatches went very strong and I only stopped to make sure I had enough left to really get some solid work with the two pood swing in. That too went very well but boy , can it feel heavy when my hips are tired!

16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5

24kgx7/7 x 6 sets
84 reps
24 kg x8/8x2
32 reps
116 total
6148 lbs

One arm swings
32 kg
x8/8x9 sets
144 reps

these were solid but getting up to 200 AFTER snatching is tough!I can see where I will up my snatches 125-150 in the near future as I start to use 10/10 as the base.Still a ways to go.

Snatch Holds
24kg x60 sec x2

datsit, staying loose.

Teacher or Demonstrator?

Many people are dazzled by displays of great strength or endurance. They are amazed at the grace, skill and ease at which a gifted athlete demonstrates their sport or skill. They figure that this person, who can do so much so easily must have the answers to their own weak points, shortcomings and seemingly intractable training issues. They must because they are so good themselves. Sometimes people think that just by being close to this type of gifted person their talent might rub off on them. It makes so much sense, in one way. If someone has risen to great heights they must have some kind of 'inside track' that would allow them to help others also rise to greater levels of performance and skill. Some secret that will set them on the path to greatness. And yet it so rarely works that way.
One of my favorite sayings is "anatomy is destiny' because so much of what we can or cannot do is decided by the way are bodies are put together at the start. For instance if you have T- Rex arms, a long spine and short legs chances are you will not excel in, or like to train the deadlift. Chances also are that squatting and benching will be fun for you. You can take seminars from all the great deadlifters in the world( who you will see are pretty much built like each other), get the greatest coaching and make excellent improvement in your own personal bests but you will probably never be a world champ in that lift.
But people will still flock to the Lamar Gants of the world, trying to find out why he could pull 661 at 132 lbs bodyweight and not realize Lamar himself doesn’t know how he does it. He just can; mainly, because he is built to do so.This is not to say he didn't train his ass off to do so. Genetics is only potential. If that is to be actualized years of hard work and sacrifice must be made.
But he also, chances are, cannot help you increase your lift as he might not have a clue how a short legged, long backed, short armed guy or girl would go about making progress. Many of the most talented individuals are the worst teachers precisely because they never had to learn how to do their skill themselves. They could just 'do it'.
I knew many 'physical geniuses’ who could look at a gymnastics trick and then just do it, on first try. Unfortunately for guys like me who had to try to do it 1000 times before I got it right once they were of no help to me improving my learning curve. And when this natural gets hurt and can no longer demonstrate their skill they will be hard pressed to help others as they haven’t learned the real secrets of growing their way to progress. Yet trying to do that trick 1000 times and then finally succeeding one really has to figure out which shortcuts worked as you basically have to try them all!
Many times the best coaches have not only never been superstars but have not even done the sport themselves! Kurt Thomas's high school and college coaches had NEVER done a second of gymnastics themselves! Yet they both produced champion athletes and teams. How can this be? Well a shortcoming in one area can be compensated for in others, like deep analysis, research, incredible observational skills and a big brain. Many also like to point at peoples athletic 'numbers' as the keystone for their ability as a teacher or a coach as well as their ability to transmit knowledge. Again, sometimes this is the case and sometimes not. Some literally have never had to 'learn' how to do things and have a hard time teaching others what they never had to learn themselves. BUT, they are great demonstrators and can provide an incredible visual as to what it is supposed to look like when done perfectly. At least when done by them.
One of the important distinctions I make between a great demonstrator and a great teacher/coach is by looking at who have they worked with and what have those people accomplished. And I am not only talking about high level performance either. Renowned spine biomechanist Dr Stuart McGill works with only the Elite and the hopeless. Working with motor morons and bringing them up to average is way harder than taking an Elite and making them greater. I have seen too many seminars where the 'teacher' spent all of their time demonstrating perfect form but gave almost no corrections to the flailing students. Some learn well with just visual cues. Others need corrective drills, insightful analysis of their biomechanical or postural limitations and a huge amount of patience .And a specific path to their own improvement.
Many assume that great demonstrators are great teachers but this is not always the case. One key is to look at who this person works with on a regular basis and how far they have come. Winning numbers are great but solid improvement over time is the real measure of success to all but the most competitive among us.A great powerlifter once told me "no matter how strong or weak you are, there is always someone who is stronger and who is weaker. Be concerned about YOUR progress as that’s all you can control." Everyone gets older. Everyone gets injured. The true measure of a great teacher, imo, is not just what their personal ‘numbers' are but what they have done to help others with their numbers.
In my mind, no matter how great an athlete you are, or how amazingly you can demonstrate your skills to your clients/students, it is how well your students do, and not just on the competitive platform as most won't even venture there, that will be the measure of you as a teacher, not just your individual progress or accomplishments.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Intermittent fasting by Mark Sisson

I am really enjoying Mark's blog posts. I have been using the Warrior Diet now for three years and havent felt better in my life, especially from a digestive standpoint.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ten Tons.

Got a twenty thousand pound swing workout today and, as is the case, it just snuck up on me. I really didnt think today would be a great workout but isnt that how it usually goes? Joe had to work so it was solo today and although I was less beat up from the snatch workout monday than I was last week I could still feel my cns humming from all the speed work. I love that feeling.

I also wanted to back up and dial in my form; with all this emphasis on speed it's easy to get sloppy . I wanted to really be crisp today with full roms. I also didnt want to go too fast between sets as I know I need to back off a bit.Get to teach at the cert in a few weeks and need to guard my health and body.I am getting ready to taper my workloads so thatI am fresh for the weekend.

So it was sets of ten and ten with as much rest as needed between sets, which turned out to be about a minute. I am very pleased with my 'wind' of late from all this cardio style training .I notice it the most in these traditional sets and rep workouts which I have done for years. I know how much they have been taking out of me. I seem much more air which means I can expend more energy per rep or do more reps with the previous output.All good.

one arm swings/24 kg
10/10 x 13sets
260 reps
13,780 lbs

6 sets of 20 reps
120 reps
6360 lbs

total weight:20,140 lbs.
ten tons. cool.

most sets were with a one minute rest,although some were 1.5 .I wasnt trying to go fast and topped out on hr at 164 on one set and was mostly low 150's throughout.Just collecting data. Love training data.

Rack walks with 16 kg
1600 feet changing arms every 200 feet.
this keeps getting easier. really helping my gait mechanics too.perhaps the vest again soon as the limitation now is my arms and not my legs/knee/back. We'll see though if the knee can handle another 25 lbs. Can't wait to get this knee replaced.I will be a walking machine,lol.

Stick squats stretches
Stick Slides in rack
Rifga stretching

datsit. staying loose.

BW 162
BF 7.8% havent seen this in a long time.
Water 61.8 as always, when fat is down, water levels are up.

The MVo2 seems to be burning some fat. we'll see.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The soft side of hardstyle.

The RKC method of training involves many components. The high tension, full body irradiation principles of creating strength that Pavel wrote about in Power to the People;the ballistic kettlebell lifts such as the swing, snatch, cleans and jerks written about in the original RKC book and Enter the Kettlebell; the methods of increasing joint mobility and muscle flexibility from Super Joints, Relax into Stretch and Fast and Loose complete the basic structure of the RKC system.

And while the hardstyle of generating force( segmented body segments,compensatory acceleration techniques and an explosive mindset) is the predominant concept in the ballistic lifts one thing seems to be forgotten when this way of swinging is talked about: that for each high force hip snap there is a concommittent relaxed stretched phase that preceeded it and will preceed the next high power rep. This balance of forces, this alternation of high tensions with equally powerful stretches on the same muscles creates a harmonious balance similar to many athletic movements.

Some have gotten the impression, it seems, that hardstyle kb training means maintaining total body tension on both sides of the ballistic coin, that using the hip as the power source for the ballistic swings is done in a rigid way that compromises safety and somehow makes one inflexible and full of muscle tensions.
While using total body tension is the key to lifting heavy weights safely and should be used on TGU's, military presses, deadlifts, pullups etc this is not the case with the ballistic swings and is quite the opposite.
The eccentric phase of the swing or snatch is not done with high tensions slowly, but with as much speed as possible creating kinetic energy and more stretch on the posterior chain muscles that drive the hip snap. In the advanced techniques one actually pulls oneself into the back stretch to make an even faster and more powerful eccentric stretch and therefore a stronger/faster hip snap and swing.
Just like Okinawan karate moves, the goal is to focus all one's power into one very fast, concentrated movement that create as much force and fast as possible. Mass X Acceleration = Force. Move it faster, higher forces.

These magnified forces gets transmitted through the body and affect all the muscles and joints. A virtual force, as Louie would call it but very real nonetheless.But without the same stiffness producing aspects of 'grinding' type high tension lifts. Fast is good.

Fifteen years of chasing maximal tension in competitive powerlifting left me very strong but basically immobile and damn near crippled. I have spent the last 3 plus years stretching, vibrating and massaging and swinging the tension out of my body, even going so far as giving up not only my favorite strength moves but ALL high tension moves in an attempt to relax my asymmetries ,get myself square plumb and neutral and get out of pain.

All I had left were the ballistic moves and while I knew I needed not to impart more tension into my muscles I I also knew I need to stay strong and be able to train as hard in order to stay ( somewhat) sane.
So its been swings and snatches and swings and snatches, all done as explosively as I could muster trying to accelerate the weights as fast and strongly as I could and create as much stretch in the hips each rep.

Pavel told me early on that for ballistics to think of the body as a bow. The head is the top of the bow, the feet the base and the hips as the bowstring. If you want the arrow to move farther and faster pull back the bowstring further. Then you just let it go. Stretch the muscle hard and it contracts hard. Stretch it further and it contracts harder. Yet each stretch keeps the muscle pliable and open.

I have been doing this for many thousands of reps now and over time it seems I am getting looser and have to stretch and roll less and less to maintain the muscle lengths I need to be in neutral. And yet I am stronger, more enduring and leaner than I have been in years.With considerably less pain. And yet my swings and snatches are getting stronger, faster and more powerful.

Before I would do workouts and be sore for days, my body just storing every bit of tension it could hold til I rolled, or thumped or stretched it out, a holdover from all the high tension lifting.Now I can do TONS of work each day and not even feel tight or sore the next day, a great sign of adaptation. BUt it's adapted to a all new high level of work and this has been my main goal beside get out of pain: as big an increase in work capacity as possible.

So what does all this mean? It means that even using high force, high acceleration techniques for your ballistic swings and snatches will NOT make you tight ,stiff and slow, just the opposite.And for every hardstyle hip snap there is a counterbalancing force reducing hip stretch that will help to keep you as limber and mobile as you will be fast and powerful. A balance of tension and flexibility, the RKC way.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Another fun Max Vo2 day at the Rifstonian Institute. I had planned 30 sets at 7 reps per cycle and then doing another 15 sets( up 5 from last week) at 8 reps per cycle. I have always done better with negative split times when running and cycling and this is no exception. I warm up very slowly and getting allthose reps under me before I start trying to go 'really fast' makes it much easier. I will work up to 30 sets of 7's then 20 sets of 8's and then go to 25 and 25 before slowly working DOWN the other way. Goal is 50 sets of 8 reps per cycle. That will be no joke at all.

Max Vo2 snatches
16 kg x 30 sets 7 reps per cycle
210 reps
16 kg x 15 sets 8 reps per cycle
120 reps

330 reps total
11,880 lbs. not bad

this was the easiest day yet although it is stillpure torture. not as hot today as it's been although I still sweated buckets.I wore my heartrate monitor during the workout and averaged between 173 and 184 most of the workout.

30 sets in

Last 4 sets

Halos with 12 kg

Scap pulls double minis
4 sets of 10

Rack Walks with 16 kg
1600 feet continuous
1 minutes rest( my arms!!)
400 feet
2000 feet total ties pr.

This was a very good day and all the swing and snatch work is paying off. My body feels more square, plumb and neutral than ever and my recovery is so much better because of it.I can feel, however, just how much this snatch protocol works the cns and I have to be careful not to overeach too much adding sets and reps at the same time. Fun stuff though and it's so great to be able to train side by side with my wife although I hardly get to watch her do it as I am trying too hard to breathe!

datsit, stay loose.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Okinawan karate on Human Weapon on the history channel

Great episode showcasing the VERY hardstyle of Okinawan karate . One can see great examples of where tension, force, speed and power are critical for combatants.This is the type of martial art Pavel used in his unit and the type of strength,speed and power RKC KB training is designed to produce.

24 kg snatches

The maxvo2 training is really paying off in my snatch form and today's workout went better than I had even hoped. My right shoulder was not sitting perfectly and I wondered how well it warm up. Stick slides, scap pulls with band and overhead stick stretches really opened things up.I carry tons of tightness in the forearm flexors and it can effect my right biceps tendon amazingly. So I have to get the forearms opened so the elbow sits right so the shoulder works.No problem,lol!
AS seems to be the case these days once I get going things seem to sit into place and even the warmup snatches felt great.

16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5x2

24 kg x7/7 x 8 sets
112 reps
5936 lbs.

These went so much better than expected and just flew up. the groove seemed very solid and I could have done many more sets. excellent. did lots of stick slides and shoulder in extension stretches between sets.

One arm swings 32 kg
x12/12 x2
132 reps
9504 lbs

wanted to do more but I was cooked and hip drive started to slow down. These are so much harder as the second exercise, lol.

Snatch holds
24 kg x 65 sec
x 60 sec
x60 sec

these were tough as well although the position just keeps getting better. Wednesdays 300 swings were still in there a bit although groove and power was solid. Just a little fatigued in overall endurance but no worries.

datsit. stay loose.

Client physiology

This is a favorite concept of mine and one that never fails to crack Pavel up. The idea, inferred by the personal training industry, is that 'clients' are somehow a different species of humanoids, requiring a different training approach than you or me or any other athlete wishing to actually make real progess. That somehow, their physiology requires different( less) training stress, regularity, recovery or , worst of all, for some reason a MUCH higher level of 'variety' and 'fun' in order to make progress.

I wa recently reminded of this by a recent post on Sara Cheatham's blog. This is the sentence that got me :

"Since my training is pretty simple and boring, I thought I'd post some workouts I put together for clients. I like to keep it spicy for them. Not too many people can handle the same thing day after day (like my training). I'm sure it has something to do with living in a constantly overstimulated environment"

I think if you look at most sucessful athletes and trainers training you will find that like Sara's, Tracy's, mine, and many others, that it is "pretty simple and boring". Check out Brett Jones's training blog for instance. Lots of squats, benches deadlifts and kb swings.Not much else except note that the weights,over the long haul, are always going up.THAT's the key.But what that requires is a level of concentration and committment that most( not only clients) just don't or won't or can't bring to the session.

So many say they want the body of this person or that Olympian but fail to understand the incredible amount of time that goes into creating that physique or level of skill.

Simple and boring usually is code for consistently basic, heavy and progressive. This is NOT a hit on Sara, as I have the same problem with many clients who simply will not accept the reality that training to make progress as opposed to training to make 'fun' is usually more tough and boring than it is variety filled and fun. As a trainer you either adapt or lose them and to me any kind of training for them is better than none. And anything you do with a kettlebell will make them better but so few really want to look at why they havent changed much in the last few months( years).Even if you tell them THEY still have to get out of bed that extra hour earlier to make sure they are really ready to go when they hit the gym.And that also means going to bed at a reasonable hour so again they are ready when it's time. Or getting on the roller , or stretching out a tight muscle, or, whatever it takes to be ready. THAT'S the mindset that athletes and committed clients have. And why they consistently make progess.

THis is a simple fact of training life and yet many grown up clients will not accept it and consequently fail to make the progress they should or push through barriers that they have encountered. I dissagree with Sara on one fact though; it's not from living in an overstimulated environment, it's from not making the requisite committment to do what is necessary to make progress no matter how little 'fun' or variety is involved.

The hour or so in the gym is but a small part of what is really required to make gains, unless you are the rankest of beginners. One has to prepare for progessive training sessions; know what the workout is BEFORE they step in the gym( at least know what they did last time and what will constitute progress) and be mentally prepared for it.

Training for PR's a great way to accomplish this and even the smallest personal record is important. If one adds just one rep to their snatch workout each time they do it in a year that's gonna be a HUGE gain. Just one rep. SImple but not easy.

Trainers, imo, have an obligation to train their clients as much as possible according to how they train themselves, or a client who came to them saying they would do whatever it took to makes gains, if they can. Sometimes it takes years of babying people before they 'come around' and get their heads right to really make gains. That's ok but they need to be told their physiology is the SAME as an Olympic athlete and that their body requires the same TYPE of stimulation, the same type of recovery and their minds need to be trained as well as their body if they really want to make the best progress possible.

Whether that is losing fat or gaining strength or tone or whatever.Most won't do it but they still need to hear the truth from their trainers and be reminded,especially when they are not pleased with their speed of progressing.

It has nothing to do with age or goals as I have 65 year old clients who take their kbs and foam rollers with them whenever they go out of town and do whatever it takes to keep on track,even though their goals are modest by most standards. But not for them; they are on the hunt for PR's and they are committed. They don't miss workouts, they show up on time and they don't complain when we are doing the same basic exericses that they are working on mastering. They recognise that Deep Skill, an important RKC principle, and Mastery are on the same road. Unfortunately they are the exception not the rule .

Trainers, dont be afraid to let your clients training be a little 'simple and boring'. Like you they will probably make better progress. ANd the one's that won't do it, just give 'em a kettlebell, they can't go wrong with that as the mainstay ,no matter how 'fun' the workout is.Just keep the bucket close by :))

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I have always been a serious person. Too serious, really. Even when I was a kid I was always very serious about everything,and then I found gymnastics. It was like I had born to do this thing and I was as devout in my attention to every aspect of getting to be a better gymnast as the most fervent monk.Gymnastics fed this devotion with large amounts of adrenalin and glimpses into the ethereal worlds offered by intense training and intense mental focus on one thing.
So I was serious about my training and my life was, and is, still devoted to it( hence my way too much time spent talking and thinking about the details). And it's actually hard for me to remember than not everybody is as gonzo about their physical self and it's abilities as I am. ANd probably for the better but as Popeye said " I yam what I yam" and that so holds true for me.

It's actually better now than when I was a bodybuilder and getting to train with professional bodybuilder Scott Wilson. I worked at Golds San Jose and trained for competition. Life was good.But it showed me what perfection was in devotion to a training goal even more than I saw in the world of elite gymnastics. Scott lived and breathed his coming competition 24 hours a day 7 days a week. He created his body with his mind, as Arnold has so brilliantly pointed out, and never varied from that course. I LOVED that. Still do and for years held training partners to that standard.You were either serious or you were not. You were either training for your next competition or you were playinh pretend.
Power lifting and the incredibly passionate and INTENSE men I got to train with and learn from was even further down the road of serious seriousness. Real deal shit. Because with powerlifting you can get very seriously messed up very fast playing with very, very heavy weights . Like, go to the hospital now hurt. That helps develop one's concentration and puts the entire workout on a very serious plane.

You either had to be very comitted to doing whatever it took to make progress, no matter how small, or you were holding yourself and me back. That wouldnt do and I would choose train alone so I could get it done right. BUT, when you found kindred spirits, like minded souls, that lived to be better, to have a chance at being Elite, then the synergy and power created by those forces set the gym on fire.
I loved that it was open to all, an equal opportunity chance at greatness. All it took is everything you had, plus a little more. But it could be had and that was the point. It was up to you and what it took was will, not luck, not money, not connections. Will and desire. I had that. Plus, it can be developed, just like any muscle in the body. By the same methods: Hard Training and Discipline.

But hey, not exactly the life of the party( " uh I have to go home, now, tomorrow is squat day and I have to do 450 for six triples".And being so serious all the time wears on you. It's a young man's game it seems and I was young then.Being old and injured has given me a much better perspective. I appreciate so much more deeply the little things that I can still do and the feeling that I still have the chance to keep getting better. To get a little closer to the ideals and images in my head and yet not feeling jealousy or anger for what I can no longer do. To smell the training roses and get better by going deeper not just lifting more.

But still, if you're my training partner DON'T not show up for a workout without calling. I'm serious.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Interesting article on endurance training

Got this off Tom Furmans site and it's a very interesting article in the Art Devany, Evolutionary Fitness mode. THe kicker is that I knew Mark Sisson and rode with him a bit in the early eighties when I was a cyclist riding with the Palo ALto Bike club guys.He definitely knows from where he speaks as a athlete and a full understanding of the doping scene as well as one of the earliest administrators of thriatlon drug testing.

"Training is no guarantee of health"

He has a blog as well that is very interesting

Full pyramid

Didnt really plan on doing this but when the momentum gets going and you have a good training partner well, the energy sometimes takes over.
One arm swings today with the 24 kg and wanted to ramp up the volume a bit from last weeks half pyramid. I still have it in the back of my mind to do a SSST with the 24 kg for ten minutes one day, and the max vo2 training and being able to snatch( pain free) twice a week has brought back that little fantasy.So I wanted to do more than the 200 reps I would need to finish the Rite Of Passage test in the SSST style.
I know I need to be able to do at least 15 reps per side for the first couple round in order to have a chance so this is what I did.

One arm swings
24 kgs
20/20( heartrate = 164 lower than expected)

300 reps

Joe wanted me to do another set of 10/10 but I hit a nice round number and my hands were getting cooked. best to stop early rather than late.Wore Tracy's HR monitor the entire time and HR started at 132 and went up about 5-8 BPM each set.This is a good sign as I used to get into the high 170's doing this.Maybe the mvo2 training is helping.had great acceleration and power on each rep too which is good. Still a bit tired from Mondays.

Rack walks
16 kg
800 feet switch hands every 200
400 feet two switches.

man I wanted to do more but I was just cooked! Just tired, lots of hands on stuff at work today and many demos.

Rifga; 10 min

BW 160.4( after workout)
BF 9.7%
Water 59.4%

datsit staying loose.