Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last workout of the year.

Got a late cancellation so I had some time to get in a quick workout today and celebrate the last workout of 2009.IN just a week we will celebrate the start of Girya's EIGHTH YEAR in business! That's so hard to imagine.
I was feeling very happy because I was feeling no ill effect from yesterdays snatches and swings and the day before yoga training so I decided to do some clubbell work, something relatively safe for me,lol.
I was going to title this post "3oo" as I had plans of doing three sets of 100 in the arm casts but after the first two sets of 100 my triceps told I should back off and be satisfied with just "200". LOL, I'll TAKE it

Clubbell Arm Cast

10 lb club continuous 100 reps: 30/30/20/20

15lb club continuous arm casts 100 reps :switching every ten reps.

Great arm pump and my triceps were already a bit tender from the previous days snatches. All good though.
Happy New Year to All!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

100 24 kg snatches.

Not in a row. That would be decent, but for me, today, it was almost as good. Just a few weeks off a pretty nasty back setback doing 10 sets of 5/5 with the 24 kg in the snatch was very, very satisfying. Way less scary than last week when I literally did not know what was going to happen to my back set to set. And that was only 5 sets and 50 reps. Today the weight felt light, the form felt solid and I was almost confident I was going to come through the workout unscathed.

With my beautiful and seriously hardcore wife cheering me of I thought that anything over 5 sets would be a sucess and I ended up with ten easy. No worries on the back and the form felt solid. Back to bare feet from my olympic lifting shoes felt right. It all felt right and i made sure to really concentrate on letting the bell 'swing' and not pulling early with my arm, but letting the hips soak up the stress and reversing it as strongly as possible. Followed the snatches up with 120 swings with the 24 to chin height and they felt strong and solid.
Why did I ever stop training the swing completly? Crazy. Never again

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

24 kg x5/5 x 10 set
100 reps
5200 lbs work

One arm swings
24 kg x 10/10 x 6 sets
120 reps
6360 lbs

wow, I've forgotten just how much pure work swings are. These kicked my butt. I made sure to swing them solidly above the chest but they were working me hard. too hard. I made sure to really keep my hips square and my kneecaps pulled up and the glutes tight for every rep and this made 20 reps seem like a long time. I can't believe I've done 600 reps with this weight and 400 with the 32 kg. seems like another lifetime ago. I will do it again.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Tom Platz

I just wanted legs like this

and this is how you got them.
Tom Platz invented bodybuilding intensity.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Music to snatch and squat by.

get to it.

Volume first, then speed.

Back to work today in the max vo2 snatches and still choose to focus on getting my volume back before I start to really push the speed. I am still in the process of figuringout where my center of balance is, and although it is going well I don't want to get greedy and try to really accelerate maximally before I know my back is safe enough to tolerate it.

One of my discoveries of late is that my back injury is as much related to my thoracic immobility as it is to my back. Thanks again to Leslie Wu for pointing out the in "Z" world, the thoracic region is the corresponding area to the lumbar spine. Duh. I should have known that but now i do.

So I went to work there and realized just how rotated I was left to right. LOTS of overhead stick stretches; freestanding, on the floor on my back as well as against the wall( which REALLY showcased how rotated I was). The one against the wall also showed me how interelated it all is because as I stretched myself into "square" I noticed my middle finger going numb, a sure sign of C7 compression. Wow.It went away but I approached that stretch much more gingerly.
Bretzels, standing bow stretches right arm only, behind the back stick stretches with both grips AND reconfiguring my center base by standing on my LEFT leg THEN resetting my right leg down.

Way too much work just to be almost square but hey, whatcha gonnna do? Lie down and watch TV. I would but that hurts too,lol. Another of my five million favorite sayings is that"the only thing harder than figuring something out is remembering to do it" and that goes for me as well as you. I realized last year that I had to set my center base off my left leg but forgot how crucial that was. THings were going so well I thought it had solifified. Guess not.
If I have my base off my stronger, more dominant right leg my thoracic area shifts left and everything goes wrong. Now I know. Just have to not forget again.

Got to Girya early after a 'passive warmup' super hot bath; did all my stretching then started in with light swings with the 12 and 16 kg to warmup. Swings will become a mainstay again, slowly but surely.

Snatches 15:30 freestyle max vo2

12 kg x 7/7 x 3

16 kgx8 x38 sets
304 reps
10994 lbs

This went very well.As usual I started off slow and got faster. I decided since I was not on the clock I had to get 8's at least. I tried not to rest too long between sets. The entire thing took me 30 minutes which is how long it should take for 60 sets on the clock. MY sets of 8 were in the 15 sec range I'm sure but my rest was probably 30 seconds average. Maybe longer at the start and faster towards the end.

Tracy asked my how many sets I was going to do and I told her " one set less than will tighten up my back". I wanted to do 50 but at 35 felt some tell tale sign and settled on 40. I decided to stop at 38 as I really don't want things to go south tomorrow and decided discretion was the better part, etc. etc.

Had I know I would be TWO REPS behind Rob O'Brien in our snatch race I would have done another damn set,lol:

Rob O'Brien 44,860
Mark Reifkind 44,858

One arm swings

20 kg x10/10 x 5 sets

2 reps per arm more than last week. Damn these were hard after snatches.

Clubbell arm casts

10 lbs x 100 reps continuous switching after 10 reps per arm

15lbx100 reps continuous switching after 10 reps per arm

these went great.

Two Hand Clubbell
25lbs x 5/5 barbarian press
x5/5 sheild casts
x5/5 Barbarian sheild casts

great! slowly ramping up the volume of the total workout.

off to yoga in an hour.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It ain't over yet.

Tracy and I have been training at ten am on Wednesdays lately ,which is about perfect for me. The best combination of early enough to have high energy and late enough to actually be warmed up and stretched out enough . The tin man is oiled at ten.
But working and getting paid has to take priority so it was 12 noon for us. Not much of a difference lately but for some reason I was awake at 2am and that's all I got.I'm used to not sleeping much but in combo with weird back feelings and I was a bit nervous. Especially since I wanted to give the 24 kg a ride today as well.

Probably not the smartest thing to do but sometimes I get tweaked sleeping so you never know what's gonna hurt you or push the reset button and get you back on track.I always have a wait and see attitude these days and today was no different.

I had to fight the urge to do a bunch of 16 kg snatches to catch up with Rob but reminded myself not to stay off my plan. One day of max vo2 and one day of heavy(er) snatches. I toyed, for a moment,of deciding that the 20 kg was heavy enough for me these days. I am 52, soon to be 53 in March, with more injuries than I can count and no one would say a thing if the heaviest bell I picked up was the 20kg. Hell, I can take my RKC snatch test with it and feel justified in doing so. It is the 'official' weight.

But I know that if my back is good that the 24 is nothing for me, and if it's not; then the 20 won't save me. Decision time.Step up or fade out. It seems like these are way too common for me lately. Like the last ten years. Yeah, getting old is great, :))

I also had an hour break and decided to really stretch out, rifga style and try to see which direction my new center of balance has gone.It didnt take long.After all this sacrum shifting it seems my right overhead should ROM and mobility has relapsed.Where the hell did that come from?

Don't know but there it was. And when I reached up for the TAPS bar to hang out I could feel the right lat restriction and the transfer of tension ( and pain!) into my left SI. Lovely. But hey, at least its some info about this new landscape I am living( trying to survive in) looks like.

Did some overhead stretching and realized I was seriously rotate right to left and trying to square up with bar arms overhead was tricky. I did the stretch against a wall and in front of the mirror and that helped.

I bretzled and that helped.I did more overhead stick stretches and back over ball bends and stretched the lat and shoulder out and I could feel it was right.No wonder my left legged trikinasana has been giving me so much grief.My left to right thoracic mobility was shut off.

But it was scary time when my beautiful training and life partner showed up and it was go time.
Nothing like standing on the edge of the abyss and hanging ten. Nothing like not knowing if your back might explode with any rep, no matter how 'right' they were done.
Nothing like knowing if you didnt at least try; if you gave in to the terror you were done for. Not just this workout of course, but life.
It's more than a slippery slope and when you live with chronic pain it's easy to forget that doing nothing , as in staying in bed all day or 'taking it easy' doesnt help. It makes things worse, cause it makes you weak. The only way forward is through and sometimes it just aint fun.

I think I burned more calories from the anxiety of the workout than the workload but I think it's fine. Will know tomorrow. But for now, I win.Weakness looses. Again.

12 kg x 5/5/x3
20 kgx5/5x2

24kgx5/5 x 5 sets
50 reps
2650 lbs

They felt fine and the video looks pretty square to me . for me ;although the right overhead is soft. I also started alternating starting arms,as I know I have been starting on the left for many months.Everything works, nothing works forever.Little things matter sometimes. I also stayed with the wrestling shoes and that seemed right, too.

one arm swings
24 kg x8/8 x 5 sets

again, need to get these back in the mix regularly no matter what. They felt good and solid, so different than snatch groove. miss them

Snatch holds
16 kg x30 sec x 3 sets

These also have to get back in the mix to stay current on my right arm overhead position. Details and more details. just lots more overhead and left to right thoracic stretching to be done.At least I know where the problem is; THAT was driving me nuts, not being able to diagnose where this thing came from. At least I have a clue now.


Monday, December 21, 2009

When I was Rob's age.

Rob O'brien decided to take advantage of my recent setback to turn up the heat in our race to 50 thousand snatches. Good man,I would have done the same. Here's a picture of me when I was Rob's age. Wish I would have had a kettlebell then,lol.
It ain't over yet Rob!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I don't care if it's not in vogue anymore

I learned more from Paul Chek than I have from anyone other than Louie Simmons and Pavel. Chek in his prime

Free Style Max Vo2

So far so good. Beside a ton of life stress this week my back held together well; I can sleep and bend and work pretty much stiffness and pain free. Yet it's always in the back of my head now to be very careful as I'm really not sure what made it 'go out' last time. Nor 'go in'.
I just know I have to be as tension free as possible( muscularly and mentally) so I can stay as square,plumb and neutral as possible. Yeah, this is gonna be fun,lol.Stretching out, very regularly remains a big part of my training and my day. No problem.And that does not count yoga,either,lol.

Today is Max Vo2 day down at Girya and I knew Tracy and Meg were gonna go hard at it and I didnt want to be pulled into that before I knew at all how my back would handle any real volume.SO I let them do their "down" week( which meant 80 sets of EIGHT, but with just the 12 kg) and I did what I call freestyle Max vo2 training.

Back in the Day, The Blond Bomber hisself, Dave Draper used to train like this( still might as far as I know- Laree?) going on instinct ( not to mention years of real deal experience) to pick exercises, weights, reps AND rest periods.His eye was on the goal of the workout, not necessarily any particular grouping of those variables. He knew what he needed his body to feel at the end of the workout in order to accomplish his physique goal of continued progress.
Robby Robinson used to train like that too, talking about the gym being his 'playground'.

I have way too much OCD to train like that usually but in these circumstances( injury, fear, etc) it seems like a good idea.
I know I wanted to get back into max training; I know i wanted to do 7's and maybe 8's but I also knew that I didnt want to get into real cardio fatigue AS I was trying to move my total body as fast as possible just 2 weeks after tweaking.

SO I did it free style.I started with 7's and rested as long as I wanted to. It was probably no more than 30 seconds per set but I didnt want to look.Having Tracy and Meg blasting away just a few feet from me was plenty of inspiration not to rest too long. But not getting hurt was paramount.

I am also changing my groove a bit too, going back to the wrestling shoe and a slightly wider stance.This can also throw things off.

Since I am a slow 'warmer- upper' even when I'm un injured I knew I was speed up as I warmed up and got a groove going, as well as convincing myself I wasn't doing any harm. SO the rest periods got shorter each set even when I went from 7's to 8's after 25 sets.

It's really so nice NOT to be locked to the damn gym boss; to be able to wipe the sweat, get some chalk, take a drink.especially as much as I sweat. that's usually a big distraction anyway.Wet kettlebells really tear up the hands much faster and make it really hard to do the reps right.Too much grip stress also threatens my shoulder health. Ah ain't old age and injury lovely?

heres the deal

Freestyle Max Vo2
12kg x7/7x4

16 kg x7x25 sets
16 kg x8 x 15 sets

40 total sets
295 reps
10,620 lbs

Not bad numbers at all, looking at it.I am very pleased with this. It's more than a start, and it will keep Rob OBrien from catching me towards my 50 K snatch goal,lol.

One arm swings
20kg x10/10 x5 sets

wow,I have really lost ground here.It's SO much different than snatches I actually forgot! THis is the key movement and I can't wait to build back up to the 32 kb swings again. MY PR is 400 reps in one workout with the 32 kg one arm swing and 600 with the 24 kg. Great goals. I do need another day to work JUST swings though. In time.

Clubbell Arm Casts
10 lbs x 15/15
15lb x12/12
20 lbs x8/8 x 3sets

Clubbell Sheild Cast
10 lbs x20/20
15 lbs x 15/15

these were great too. I am going to stay away from swipes again for awhile ,not sure how the close stance stuff is on my sacrum. adding in the one arm swings is priority anyway and I just do the clubs to keep my arms big, lol.

Alright thats it for now, the next test is yoga in an hour and a half. Real easy, just a stretch :0)


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back to the beginning.

I survived my second Bikrams class in three days yesterday but today was snatch day. Last week did not turn out as planned as my back went south just two days after my snatch workout.Lots of things conspired for that to happen and while the 8 kg snatches and swings I did on Saturday were a welcome relief from my back pain and spasms, but not much of a condidence builder when thinking of 24 kg snatches.

I have been wearing my olympic lifting boots for my snatches for many months. My back just seemed to like it and my instinct told me to try them when I did. I even wore them to work last week as they seemed to provide a better position for my pelvic tilt and I now listen to these instincts.But then, as the workout approach and my back was feeling better my instincts told me to wear my wrestling shoes and I resisted pretty strongly at first.

My center of balance has shifted, I feel, I going back to the wrestling shoe, and the snatch form that accompanies it, seemed like a good idea. Go back to the form I had before I was tweaked. Restoring normal ranges of motion is usually the first thing I try to do after a back injury. The more 'weird' I walk , giving into the pain, the worse it seems to get and the longer it takes to get out of it.

Using patterns that didnt hurt just days ago seems to 'reset' my nervous system. Hey, when you are in serious pain you will try ALL KINDS of things.
Happy to report it went well( really will know tomorrow am) but I could snatch and swing in a normal pattern without pain! Yeah! Scary as hell but I did it.And in my wrestling shoes.
Started really light and built up to the 20 kg pretty easily.Good stuff.

12 kg x5/5 x3
20 kg x5/5x4

Here's some video of a 20 kg set. Things look pretty square to me. As square as I get,lol. The shirt's off so I could see my spinal and hip alignment but it's nice to see I haven't lost all my muscle in my old age.

just very happy I could do the movement AT ALL without pain. A freakin' miracle. Thank you God.Just hope the back holds tomorrow :))

One arm swings
20 kg x10/10 x 4 sets

These HAVE to get back into my workouts. HAVE TO. These are the true base of my snatch and I have neglected them too long. It felt very weird to swing again. It's been a year of nothing but snatches. talk about minimalist. No more. It's also interesting(to me) that I could snatch in the OL heel but I didn't want to swing in it ever. swings are truly the foundation and the really power and condtioning builder.and as safe as you're gonna get.

One arm clubbell swipes
10 lbs x 10/10/10/10
15lb x10/10/10/10
20 lbs x5/5/5/5x2

these were a bit scary with the close stance but I don't want to do any bilateral movments.this is so strong for me I just WISH I could really test this hard and go all out. I know I could do the 25 lb for high reps if Icould trust my back, which I cannot.

One arm clubbell casts
20 lb x8/8 x2

This is awsome for my triceps. love it.

Ok, that's it. Here's praying that I wake up mobile tomorrow. My fingers are crossed.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where do I start?

ON the HKC Community Board someone wanted a discussion about this article which dismisses KB training as a trendy fad that will injure you. I need a good nights sleep and some coffee before taking it on but here goes. This is my answer on the board:

To begin with, if the author hasn't been trained in proper kb usage,i.e. RKC techniques, then he probably has no idea what real kb training is about.
WAAAY to many people think a KB is nothing more than a dumbell with a different handle and use it that way. from that perspective it's not that unique a tool....

He actually makes OUR case for using the kb with the statement "Therefore, we must choose the most "bang for your buck" movements".
Which we agree, it's just that the KB swing, Getup and Snatch are what we say ARE the biggest bang for the buck movements.This is not to say that athletes in competitive sports such as football or track don't need to train with barbells. If the sport requires a high degress of absolute strength then yes, barbell training is imperative.

The kb is STILL the second tool of choice, imo for the biggest bang for the buck.If we are speaking of noncompetitive persons then 99% have no need for barbell training when kbs exist.
Heavy high intensity squats will wreck more people then help them,beleive me, I know. and I LOVE the barbell squat.

And why does everyone think that High Performance is the Holy Grail of exercise and training when it doesn't relate(statistically) to most ANYBODY in the exercise world and to those that it does it matters for literally milliseconds in their training life?KB training is applicable to almost everybody( at least how WE teach it) AND will up High Performance as well.
Power to the People.
Not just the athlete.

The fact that the author compares barbell olympic lifts to kb CLEARLY shows he has NO understanding of proper kb technique.
He also states the KB training is a higher risk for shoulder injuries, another clue that he has no understanding of the state of the Art KB Training, i.e The RKC.
Nothing will jack your average athletes shoulders up faster than doing barbell snatches and jerks.Olympic lifting is a SERIOUS sport and needs very specific training which most athletes don't have the time or need for. Not to mention the incredibly high injury risk and rate.

As far as the"performance gap" between doing a 40 lb kb clean( ????) and a 220 lb barbell clean he shows again he doesnt know anything about kb training.The science of "acceleration forces" used in proper kb training( up to FOUR TIMES the stated weight on the bell for a Hardstyle snatch) negate this argument AND a 220 lb barbell clean is not that common, nor easy to teach.

My wife did 211 snatches in 10 minutes yesterday with a 16 kg bell. On the face value she lifted 7596 lbs in ten minutes, almost 800 lbs a minutes. Even if you only double the forces it gives you almost 1600 lbs lifted per minutes and almost 16,000 lbs in ten.
Triple the foces per rep and the number is crazy,22,788 lbs in ten minutes of work!
And the POWER produced is off the chart too.Can he reproduce that with a barbell?
Ah, no.
Do that with a 24 kg kb and do the math :))

At the RKC we have clearly shown, over and over, that our style of KB training makes you better,much better, at those basic movements he wants to improve ,like running and jumping , without even practicing the movements. Add in intelligent skill training to the mix and the "athlete" or regular person will soar.Let's not forget either, that the author owns a personal training studio with his own philosophy to sell. He's not just a 'scientist' with no subjective bias.

This is why the RKC method of KB training HAS to be more widely well known as way too many think of the junk training they see in magazines as proper KB training. This has to change and people need to know the truth about the power of proper kb training.It changes peoples lives everyday, both athlete and 'regular' person.
This guy needs to come to my studio and learn how to swing and snatch properly. Then he will 'get it'.
There ya go, caffieinated dissection over!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tracy kicks butt.

While I was extremely happy to be able to swing and snatch the 8 kg today without pain Tracy took and CRUSHED the USSST with the 16 kg bell, getting a 40 rep personal best in the process! This is what results from continous progressive training, serious pr's!Here's the video, almost the full ten minutes, we start a minute or so into the set.

I was very impressed. it's an amazing feat.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What is a training practice?

I've literally spent most of my life in 'training'. First, training for competition gymnastics, then training for endurance sports that I didnt compete in near as much as I spent training for. Then bodybuilding which I did compete in quite a bit and the same with powerlifting. In my mind, I was always training for a competition, or a specific goal no matter how far off it was or long I thought it would take to achieve.

This was especially true during my "ultra" endurance years, as competitions were few and far between. But everyday I did my training I had very specific goals in mind. I didn't really care how long it took me to get there, I just knew if I didnt train as if I was going to compete I wouldn't go out the door.
Or, once out the door, when the going got tough, the weather got cold and wet or my will got weak I would cave and not push through.

This is what made my training more a practice than just sport training, or a workout.There was always something to get from my practice,some new piece of the puzzle, some new understanding of how my body or spirit worked, some new idea about the future goal or how to get there.
The competitions were as much about having legitimacy to all the hours I spent training as much as anything,lol.

I always told people I HAD to compete to justify the large amount of time I spent training and not making money.In truth I loved training( still do) way more than competition,which always seemed an artificial and inconvient disruption to my training practice.
More truth to be told , testing oneself( competition) reveals things that pure training alone can never reveal but that doesnt mean it's anywhere near as satisfying. But it's necessary. At least occasionally.

And I've always loved that space, that zone where you push yourself to new heights and instead of falling you fly. Sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively but you fly.
And almost nothing else feels like that. It keeps pulling me back again and again, for years now,just to experience the ecstasy of what feels like perfect and complete strength, or endurance or coordination or some combination of the above.
Where the internal editor, the critic, the judge, the censor is shut down and just the pure experience of pure movement is felt. It may take months of practice to get that moment just once but once had it is hard not to want again.And again. Simple, elegant beauty.Chasing God through physical effort.
But this too has it's price and the next step off a peak is always down.One just doesn't always know where the edge is until it's too late.

And then you are hurt and the new heights are replaced by new lows and the training that allowed you to push yourself further than you ever thought you could is replaced by REHAB and holding back, and resting and boring shit like that.
When you've flown enough anything else just won't do.
Til you can't walk and then you realize that walking can be flying too.It's just a different perspective.

So I've done my share of "rehab" training; stretching, foam rollering, thumping, chiropractic, stability ball training, etc.,etc,.etc.
And everytime after working my way from my current past high level of fitness or strength I have sworn I won't make THAT mistake again, that I will 'hold back' more.THis has been more apparent in the last couple years when I basically had one foot on the gas, and one on the brake in my training.Because if I didnt, if I pushed myself, if I let my body do what my mind said it KNEW it could do I would get hurt.And that's just no fun at all anymore.
After regaining so much of my lost function in the last year, especially, the desire to push myself
just a little bit more has gotten strong again. You forget the pain, the loss of basic functions, the fear.You want to soar again and as it seems so close, so doable you want to just take the foot off the brake and GO.

It always pisses me off when I see able bodied, uninjured people who don't want to use their bodies at all in any real way. It's like have a Ferrari in the garage and being too lazy to learn how to drive a stick shift.I would KILL to be able push myself as hard as I want to in the gym again, to scratch and dig and claw back to those heights again.But the price is too high and I know it now. It just is. But it still pisses me off to see people who have these wonderfully functional bodies that won't use them. Crazy.

So you enjoy the smaller workout and the ability to move without( much) pain and try to be greatful for what you have.
And then your back goes out for no descernible reason ,like it did right before the HKC and almost immediately after.
Ain't stress an amazing thing?

As I wrote in my snatch workout blot prior to the cert I had been very careful NOT to tweak myself, not to push the edge and I didnt think I had.But stress can catch up with you AND letting myself get dehydrated AND doing movements I know my spine doesnt like( two hand swings) ain't that smart.
It's just that I was feeling so good,lol.I thought I could do it all.
I could I just couldnt recover from it.

But there's nothing like having the feeling you have huge iron spike in your lower spine to let you know what's really important.
Yes I want to snatch heavy this week and damn, my Maxvo2 training was just starting to get where I wanted it to be I REALLY don't want to go back to 'light duty' rehab training. I really don't want to start over again.

What I really don't want, though, is for my back to keep me from doing what's really important in my life, doing my job as an instructor so I can take care of my family.
My real goal in my training, as it has been for a number of years is;
"to have a back of iron and legs that never quit",( my favorite kettlebell quote from Pavels first book, the book that started it all).

It's a stretch but as I wrote earlier the distance from where I am to my goal rarely deters me. I just see it as providing motivation for a longer period of time. Until I get it.
Since my back had been great for almost a year now I figured it was good, and that I could count on it, that I didnt' have to be so cautious. I was wrong.

And I also realized, as I was on the ground for the millionth time that day trying to ease the muscle spasms that coursed through my lower back, that I didn't have to stop training because I got hurt. I was training. Right now, on that floor, doing what I needed to do, not necessarily what I wanted to do. To achieve my goal, which was now not doing 200 snatches with the 24 kg or 60 sets of 8 in the max vo2, but standing and walking and working without this horrific pain. Of being able to move easily again, as I have been able to for so many months. TO do my yoga with my beautiful yogini wife and travel and teach all the new great things that are set to happen this coming year.

I will do 200 snatches in ten minutes with the 24 kg one day. I don't know when but I do know I can't push myself on too many levels similtaneously or things break. And that would be me.I don't like it but that's the truth and I have been too cavilier about my back and NOT doing enough of my prehab stretching and stabilization stuff. Just staying with the more fun, sexy stuff, the meat of the work. Oh well back to the floor.

And, as I said, it's all part of a training practice, just another section of it,as important as the heavy stuff, maybe more.The same principles and concepts apply, and as I release my back, as I regain stability, as I search for and find my 'new' center it's really the same as increasing any weight, or load or intensity.

And as I start over, again,I know it won't be long til I'm back to snatching and pressing again and pushing the edge a little and doing what I was doing a few weeks ago.But one can only handle so much stress and it all counts. It can come ALL from your training or ALL from your job or relationship or any combination of your life.Doesn't matter.When you fill your stress box completely up somethings going to give.So the practice is finding balance so you can continue to progress towards your goal.or goals.Sometimes it comes from a heavy kettlebell and sometimes it comes from bodyweight reverse hyper over a stability ball.

It's all training to me, which is my practice; searching for that zone, that place where I can soar, where what was impossible before is now effortless, where what was heavy is now light, what was pure pain is painfree.
I really cared about how much I could squat did I blew out my back and couldn't walk. Then I cared about walking. To be able to see the miraculous in the mundane is tough but take enough away and it all becomes very, very clear; what's really important. What's real.

So it's back to the gym tomorrow but not for max vo2. what I will be able to do I don't know but I will take it as seriously as I do my snatch training and make as much progress as I can that day.
That's all one can do.
The key is to keep doing it. No matter how many times you get knocked down.The only way not to get it is to quit.
I don't quit.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HKC Palo Alto February 6 2010

Between RKC's and HKC's, 2010 is already filling up fast and I am proud to announce that our second HKC will be held at Girya, Russian Kettlebells Palo Alto, Ca February 6, 2010. Jordan Vezina will be offering a workshop on February 7th ,details to follow. Jordan is one of the best talents I have seen in the kettlebell community so don't miss this opportunity to train with him.Start honing in on your quest for the RKC right after the HKC!

you can sign up here:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A video montage of the HKC Palo Alto

Thanks Jordan for the great camera work as well as all your hard work teaching yesterday.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

HKC Palo Alto Team Rif

It's in the books. The first California HKC at GiryaStrength. What a day.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Destination :HKC Palo Alto, Ca

Just in time to celebrate the inaugural HKC Palo Alto,Ca our new logo and store front sign. Notice the HKC logo to the right? Rockin'!
Plus, check out the start of our new website changes:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

One man, one bell, one task.

I've always said that the true hallmark of a dedicated athlete is their ability to get their training done regardless of the circumstances.This is especially true when it comes to training alone. For so many years my litmus test for training partners was squat workouts. If you weren't prepared to be there on time, ready to go with a solid attitude and a plan for the day I wouldn't let you train with me. I would rather train alone. I would rather not count on anyone showing up and make those weight ,intensity and safety adjustments, than counting on you and being bailed on.
And that happened very frequently when it came to leg day,lol.SO many start well and fade fast as soon as it gets really tough.
So I learned how to train alone.
But I havent in a long time although I know in the back of my head , and in the depths of my heart that I can. I just don't want to anymore,lol. Unless I have to.
Like today.Tracy was up with our grandchild and I was on my own on heavy snatch day.
I did 140 reps in sets of 14 last week and knew I needed to step it up a notch. I also knew that I have been relying heavily on her energy and inspiration for awhile now and havent' done anything all that tough myself in many moons.
Plus, I have the HKC this weekend and DON'T want to tweak myself when I don't have the time to heal up and still be at top shape for this most important weekend. I've been on a roll though, of late and really NEED to keep that momentum going. Feeling strong feels so good. But I know I can get hurt sleeping so I don't take my current level of 'restoration' for granted,at all.
I just had to get and stay focused and get and keep on task.Just like the old days.
One rep at a time. One set at a time. Stay in my body and stay in sequence. Don't do anything stupid; let it swing.
So I did.

20 kgx4/4

24 kgx7/7x 12 sets
168 reps
8904 lbs

This went great. I had some serious music turned on at first,like the old days, to spur me on and get things rolling but then decided to turn it off and just focus focus focus. I just didnt want anything to tweak at all as I pushed into my total reps with the 24kg than I've done in one sets in eons.My groove felt fine I just had to stay present and balanced. Went great. I can see 20 rep sets in my future soon as well as starting to build up my one arm max reps.Not today though.
Still have to get and stay at a 200 rep per workout minimum average first.
first things first.
But it's way more fun training with my wife. There, I said it, the "F" word.
Hey, I'm old now, I need all the help I can get.
But I found out, for real, that I can indeed still train alone. train hard alone. set new pr's( recent at least) alone, when I don't want to for real and certainly don't have to.
Although I do.
Some people will get that and some won't.
One who does is my wife Tracy who was out there in our cold garage, at the crack of dawn,alone getting it done with 20 minute swing work sets because there was no other time to do it today and it has to be done.

Clubbell arm cast /shield cast
10 lbx7/7/7/7
15 lb x7/7/7/7
20 lbx5/5/5/5

These went great! didnt want to risk swipes today as the back has been a bit tight of late and I think it's do to the bilateral swipes. Back to single arm swipes and mills for awhile as well as these arm casts. I just want them to build the arms up anyway :))
ran out of time
HKC weekend here we come!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Muscle Beach indeed.

This is why gymnasts look like they do. Just getting on and off the apparatus is more training than most do in their entire workout.Check out the first ring routine in the video below.Crazy crazy crazy strength!
Lower to L cross
Drop to perfect front lever
straight body pullout to BACK ROLL TO HANDSTAND( reverse muscle up)!!!!TALK ABOUT SHOULDERS AND PRESSING STRENGTH!

Oh yeah, the flying rings,lol! think that tooks some guts?
Gymnastics rocks.

thanks to Mark Davis for putting the video up on his facebook page.He's the mutant doing the quad dismount at the end of the video!

Snatch Vo2, getting close.

The momentum continues to grow and I hit my goal numbers yesterday in Tracy's Max class, although I did have to suffer the indignity of watching both her and Meg continue on to 70 plus sets with the same 16 kg I was using. But slow steady progress is my mantra, and I did what I set out to do so I have to be satisfied.

Snatch Vo2 8 am
15:15 protocol
16 kg bell

20 sets of 7
31 sets of 8
388 reps
13,968 lbs

Things started out great but I had trouble finding 'todays groove'. I always start out the groove with the one that worked best the last workout but, as they say in yoga, "do the best with the body that shows up today". Many times 'today's body' is not last workouts body,nor is the groove.Things were working great on my left side, but my right side QL area was not liking the position in the bottom of the snatch and it took my awhile to figure out how to fix it without stopping.
I opted for a more upright position, using quads more, than my traditional more GS stiff legged style and the back tension abated. I did have to miss a 15 sec interval though to stretch it out but I punished myself by doing one more set than planned.
If I hate anything about max vo2 work it's that once it starts there is no time to adjust anything
without messing up the workout and that bugs my ocd self to no end. most of the time that means I can't even switchout bells when my sweat monster shows up and I start dripping on the bell. Hard enough to accelerate when the hands are dry. wet bells and fast reps are not a good combo.Today I needed a few seconds to open up my back and it killed me to stop but I made up for it.
I thought my cardio would be a limiter but not today. I could have done more sets, a good sign.
Tracy did 42 sets of 8s and 70 total sets, all with the 16 kg!!! Crazy strong. Crazy good. I know EXACTLY how hard that is.
I wonder how many other women can do this workout? I wonder if there are any other women AT ALL doing Max vo2 training on a regular OR irregular basis? Just sayin'.
And if not, why not?
But I am getting there and can finally see 50 sets of 8 again as well as 80 total sets. Slow and steady.

Clubbells Swipes
(2) 10 lb x 15
15 lb x15
20 lb x 10 x 3 sets
15 x 30 reps

Nice! three sets of 10 was much easier than the pyramid up to tens last week. and the 30 rep downset was solid as well. although the grip was cooked at the end,lol.

12 noon Bikrams

wasnt planning on going today but when Tracy got back from teaching I thought,'what the hell?" why not, I feel good. SO I went and suffered through a beginner teachers droing and slowmotion class. I had NO expectations for a good class and that helped. He didnt dissapoint but I got what I wanted out of it, more conditioning and a solid stretch out. Oh yeah, and I didnt hurt myself,lol.
Tracy and I are already planning on getting back to double Bikrams very soon on sundays.
Another class this morning( I'm writing this sunday).I'm on a good roll.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

50 K snatches in sight.

me awhile ago. I am close again
I was suprised, as I usually am when workouts go well, at how strong I felt today snatching.I've known for awhile that in order to get my workout total up to where it needs to be( 200 reps minimum per session) but I havent felt like I could handle anymore than sets of 5/5 with the 24 kg and keep the power and acceleration of each rep where I want it to be, as well as not tear up my hands .20 sets of 10 is not fun so I decided to bump the reps up to 7/7 and see how many total sets I could get.
Amazingly everything felt great although it still takes me forever to warmup my heart and lungs. Nothing different than 20 years ago when I was bike racing but with only an hour to get the whole workout in I was behind the eight ball. ANd going 'I go, you go' style with Tracy there I really didnt have time to whine about wanting more rest time.SO nice when you get out of the conditioning dolrums and your consistency and intensity start to pay off . Gliding into strength and fitness flow instead of survival mode is so much nicer than hanging on with will and heart.It's nice to lift heavy weights or do high intensity workouts and feel like they are easy. You know they are not cause just a few weeks ago a lot less kicked your butt but the contrast feels great.
Being able to up the reps told me my form and groove are coming along as well. Nice. I know I need to get to sets of 10 on each side so I can do my alltime goal of 200 in ten minutes in SSST someday.I like to always be training for something even if it's years off. It helps keep me motivated and focused. I'm just so spoiled now only doing sets of 7-8 in the max training. I HATE hi reps.
SO why do I have a ten minute set as my alltime kb goal? lol,well it seemed like the right thing at the time. perhaps because it's one of the few hi intensity things I can see myself doing and not wrecking my restoration of my body.But it's got to be done slowly and correctly.ANd lets not forget it IS my weak point.Give me a one rep max anyday.
ANd now, at almost 44,000 snatches in the calculator I can actually SEE getting my 50k done. Then I do need to tackle the SSST. Still have lots more to do to build the base back but I can see it too.
I also do need to add in some days when I take my one arm rep count up to the max again. We used to do this on max effort days back in my wsb days. instead of a bunch of progressive singles up until we missed on a lift, we would do 1-3 very high rep sets until failure in an exercise. max effort is max effort.
I'm still very proud of one of my best hi rep efforts; 33 close grip pushups to a power bar in the bottom of a power rack with a 100 lb plate on my back .Once my conditioning gets back up a little more I'll start adding that in every 3-5th week.I want to be able to do 30/30 with the 24 kg no problem. pass my old snatch test,lol.


24kgx7/7x10 sets
140 reps
7420 lbs

Free style after kicking up against a wall.
8 sets of 15 seconds each

Wow, this was the first time in eons I felt like myself upside down again! My hand and finger strength is starting to back, as well as the proprioception. I was able to shift around in the HS without feeling I was going to fall out at any time.Torso is squaring up as well and throacic mobility is coming back. tucking the hips really helps create the hollow position in the chest as well. This helps shoulder ROM> GO figure.Arched back, arched chest.Or the reverse.
Handstand pushups are soon.

Clubbell Arm casts
10 lb x5/5
20lbx5/5x3 sets

these rock adn the 20's worked my triceps hard. really love this move. so good for arm size too :))
and, oh yeah, training at the new Girya is AWESOME. I love it there for my training now. SO much more hardcore.The HKC is just a week away and I am PSYCHED for it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tough Crowd.

Tracy and I are, as she always says, a tough crowd. What she means is that we have high standards for certain things and are hard to please. This is especially true for things that involve athletics and those who claim high standards.I, we, know what we know and aren't going to pretend otherwise. Sorry.
This is very true for Bikrams yoga, and although I am a total beginner( less than a year and half practice) one of the things that really drew me( draws me) to it is that there is a "dialogue" that spells out, completely and specifically not only what the exact sequence of postures are, but exactly how long each one is to be held, how they should be gotten into, out of and the rest periods between postures.A routine. Each class is supposed to be exactly the same, the difference being what YOU bring to it each day. Works great for those with OCD,lol.And people who like to measure themselves against very specific standards. It's nice to know exactly what's expected of you in the workout.
When they tell you a pose is going to be one minute, and they want you to basically pass out as you cross the finish line( metaphorically) but CONSISTENTLY have you in those postures for numerous varieties of time( rarely the exact minute) it gets frustrating. You know( it's in the book) that each pose should be a specific length of time and you when they won't take the class there it can drive you nuts.
Tracy has been doing a real practice for three solid years and counts very well in her poses; she knows when a 60 second pose is 90 seconds. And since she is actually doing the postures to their full expression (as opposed to me, who is, well just trying to survive and get CLOSE to the full expression) it ain't nice when you are sprinting and they constantly move the finish line.
But when they overdo the first 2/3's of the class because they are, well, just talking to much, adding way too much into the 'dialogue' instead of just giving the cues perfectly and pulling us into the postures, helping us build a rythym, they are stealing from the last 1/3 of the class and that ticks me off.And she aint happy either.
We are also supposed to get a 'savasana'( corpse pose) between each of the last 1/3 postures but that gets skipped fast when they are running behind( next class is waiting...) and they have to 'makeup' for it.
which they never do and didn't today. They went 12 minutes over the 90 minute class with a jumble of work intervals none of which we knew were coming. Add in being pretty gassed from yesterdays double workout and I wasnt a happy camper.Being stuck in that sauna when you are dying is, as you might guess, no fun at all.So I especially wasnt happy as they shorted us in corpse poses big time. 12 minutes doesnt sound like much, but after 90 minutes in a crowded sauna working yourself cardiovascularly and muscular to your limit, it can feel like an eternity.

Now corpse pose looks to be just resting, and it is. BUT it is crucial to the way Bikrams system works; because after you constrict the blood,and the organs,with the static poses you are supposed to relax completely and really let the blood perfuse back into the area you just trained. Skip this and the whole system breaks down. Like doing Hardstyle KB work aerobically.Just aint the same thing.If you can't breathe at all its way hard to go hard. You have to gear down.
Like I said, tough crowd.But I have high expectations from fitness professionals in all walks.Especially Master Instructors.
I didnt even stay a second for the final savasana.Couldnt do it.
So got up after the final breathing work and got out of there. not a great yoga mindset but hey, can't you just stick with the dialgoue ? And, as a professional: FINISH THE CLASS ON TIME? I know I wouldnt be let into class if I came 10 minutes late; respect my time and energy as well.
Do it right. Be a pro.
Just say the dialogue and when it's time for savasana be quiet and let us quiet our minds.I dont want a lecture about being able to quiet the mind. Let us hear the silence.
It really makes me appreciate the great instructors that ARE there. They do it right and it's so obvious.
OK, rant over,calm blue ocean, calm blue

I need a nap :))

Saturday, November 21, 2009

If I can't outlift you I will outlast you.

The picture on my new business card.
That is one of my favorite sayings, and pretty much my motto. I've never had a lot of talent in the athletic department, excellent for an excellent eye for movement and a LOT of desire to be able to move as best I can , if that counts as athletic talent.

As a gymnast I had to do the movement 1000 times wrong to do it right once, but I didnt care. If I did it right once, I figured, I could do it again right. I just couldnt stop trying.
Another of my favorite sayings: the only way you won't get it is if you quit.
I don't have a lot of quit in me.Probably be smarter if I had more but hey what can I say?lol.
I am closing in pretty quickly on my 50,00 snatches and max vo2 days really help pump the numbers up and this makes me pretty proud.

As of now only one person, Richard Christopher has actually accounted for 50,000 snatches on the snatch manager board
and I will be the second. I'm sure lots of people who started this have done 50,000 snatches in their training, but they haven't counted them, and in this race, they don't count. Mine will. Gotta have a goal to keep showing up, no matter how far off it is nor how seemingly unattainable.It doesnt even really matter, because as soon as one goal is accomplished a new one has to be decided upon anyway. After 50,000 snatches, 100,00.

So, win, lose or draw, next day it's back in the gym. What else you gonna do? It's a practice after all.A path.My path anyway.

I am fully committed to training only at Girya after 11 years in my garage gym. It's time. I'm tired of my garage and Girya is fully being converted to a KB dojo, set up for classes, groups, HKC's AND one one ones. Way different than the "studio" it's been for 8 years. Hey, everybody used kbs from the start but a studio is not a dojo. This is better and the perfect time for the change.It's also way cool and different to train with Tracy and her students.So much good energy, I haven't felt that in years,except in yoga. Which, ironically for me, is now one of it's perks. Who'da thunk it? Me needing group energy for training.

But hey, any port in a storm

Felt good, slept well, got up early, stretched and mentally prepared to have my hat handed to me by my wife but what'cha gonna do,lol?

Snatch vo2
16kgx 30 sets of 7
20 sets of 8 in the 15:15 protocol
50 sets
370 reps
13,320 lbs

Not bad at all, HR was 190 at the end but having Tracy meg and nick getting it done alongside really made it easier. Quitting was not an option.

And watching Tracy do THIRTY FOUR sets of EIGHT with the SIXTEEN KILO after numerous sets of 7 and doing 60 sets total just showed me how far I have fallen from my 80 sets of 8. After teaching a half hour swing class.Check it out here.

BUT I will be back. Cause I just won't quit. I'm slow but I'm stubborn.

Clubbell swipes
10 lbs x 20
15 lbs x15x2
20 lbs x 8,9,10 PR
ouch, these were perfect. I love being able to do them again: The perfect compliment to my kb work, just the thing to open up my tight elbow flexors.
dats it for now, yoga in an hour and a half. Double time.

New Schedule

two hand swings and Clubbell Casts
Heavy snatch and Handstands

Snatch Vo2 and Clubbell swipes

Bikrams( 1.5 hours after max)

Completely suprisingly I had one of my strongest classes ever.Felt really strong, mentally in control and my breath was very very calm. Even after I had to help carry the guy that fainted due to heat stroke out for the paramedics to get.Made me miss my strong side on standing bow,lol. He is ok, but they got to let people who say they want out of the heat out of the studio without arguing. It's crazy. Let them cool off and come back. Tomorrow's always another practice. What's the hurry?
Hope to get another class in tomorrow as well. HKC cert is 95% full and life is good.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dang near perfect

This is about perfection from my era of gymnastics. Check out the bottom position of his TRIPLE back somersault. Crazy knees

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 days of Bikrams and some decent snatch numbers

It's been a long time since I made it to three yoga classes in a week much less three days in a row, but that's what happen starting Monday. And it went great. I've seen to crossed a line in my practice that I can now train it without creating too much tweaking in my knee or back. I try to look at it as active recovery and not loading as the resistance actually doesnt change; although one could say it does as you create more tension in each posture or push the depth or both.the workload certainly varies.
Sunday at 8 was detox and I sweated well and was suprisingly 'there' mentally with good concentration and breath. Monday at 12 noon was VERY strong with a great teacher who really paced us well and gave solid cues. Teachers can eitther pull you along or stop you in there tracks with their cueing, rythym ( or lack thereof) and knowledge of the dialogue and the real anatomy that they are talking about.Monday at 12 was TOUGH and it was all I could do to get through the 90 minutes and not tear my ears off listening to the teacher really throw us off any possibility of getting a groove , taking each pose WAY too long, and, on top of it, not giving us near enough time in savasana( the dead body pose) which is so important for blood recirculation.
Bugs the crap outa me. BUT I made it through three straight days with each day feeling more like my body was finally getting the essence of each of the postures, relative to how I should do them.
Of course I got to train each time with my beautiful Yogini wife Tracy kicking butt right next to me :)) It gets old hearing the teacher compliment almost each one of her poses every time.LOL, just kidding,I'm so proud :))

And today was snatch day, some volume with the 24 kg and I was determined to get at least 150 reps as the last few weeks totals have been so paltry. I am advancing well on my 50,000 snatch reps( I believe I have 43,00 plus) and I need every rep I can. Plus if I ever plan on doing a ten minute test again I've got to get the total volume up to at least 200 reps per session. I beleive I need 250-300 to do 200 reps in ten minutes and thats a ways off .
But today things felt solid and it was great to train in the almost re modeled Girya. It has a WAY more serious look and feel and the giant KB art isnt even up yet!Black blue grey and steel are the colors and its shaping up fast.

16 kgx5/5x2
20 kgx5/5

24 kg x5/5x14 sets
x5/5/5/5x1 set
150 reps
8100 lbs

a very nice workload and the sets were easy with 30 sec or so between sets.Tracy was doing very solid press workout for 5/5 with the 14 kg and we went 'I go you go' so my pace was decently fast. Hate that. I miss the heavy singles with 10 minutes between sets of my powerlifting days, lol.

handstands superset with 2 clubbell swipes
handstands were worked against the wall for the start then free held emphasizing getting my hollow position back in my thorax. All those years of arching hard in power squats and benches have locked my ribs with a huge arch. it will take time to re open up my hollow position for handstands and hs pushups.

Clubbell swipes
2 sets of 20 with 10 lbs then 3 sets of 15 with the 15's.
I liked this combination and can't wait til my 20's get here! only have an hour for the workout so with my need for warmup I could use another 20 minutes or so. soon.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Snatch Vo2; 20 kg sets for the first time.

One more week of training in the garage gym without Tracy as Girya gets redone but I knew I had to actually DO a max vo2 workout or watch my decent level of conditioning with the eights slide down a slippery slope. Now Nick has been used to Saturdays being our heavy snatch day and he doesnt ever DO max vo2 work but too bad so sad; today we were going to push it a bit. At least for him
My right elbow flexors are still a bit sore from getting tweaked on the 36 kg press so I didnt want to do too much volume so I thought doing perhaps I would do some sets with the 20 kg and that would end Nicks torture a bit earlier than if I used the 16kg the whole time. It worked out really well and I now know I will be including 20 kg mvo2 work in the future. My training partner told me she had thought the same thing; that it was time I started working with the 20kg occasionally too. Great minds think alike :))

Snatch vo2 15:15
12kgx5/5x2 ( it was COLD today)
16 kg x5/5x2

20kg x 6 x20 sets/ 120 reps 5280 lbs
16 kg x8 x20 sets/ 160 reps 5760 lbs
300 reps
11,040 lbs total

This went very well. As I thought might be the case, going to the 16 kg,even for 8's after working with the 20 would make it fly up and it did. Takes me forever to warmup and today the garage was particularly cold as well. If I wasnt concerned aobut pushing my arm too much I would have done another ten sets easy. very happy.
Both Nick and I will be training Max Vo2 at Tracy's class at Girya now on Saturday mornings, this will be great. Nick will get his ass kicked but that's perfect, actually,lol.

Two handed clubbell swipes
6 sets of 10 each side.

waiting patiently for my new 20 lb clubbells to arrive and didnt bring the 15's home from girya so it was two handed reps. not a bad variation at all.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Balancing Tension and Relaxation.

Or, put another way, strength and movement. I pressed my brand new 36 kg today, on both sides, after 100 snatches with the 24 kg and not a whole lot of sleep. But the question is, as is said so often, is just because you can doesnt mean you should.
I've been very excited about regaining my pressing ability again, or should I say ,some pressing ability, and what happens when some lost function of mine comes back online again after a long absence is that I tend to go too hard, too often too fast.
Almost did that today as I slightly tweaked my right forearm, for no damn good reason, after I finished the press.I did the same thing on the other side, two weeks ago( right before the HSV) seminar cleaning the 40 kg.
My problem is, as it is for many people, including injured ex athletes, is that you don't where the line is until you have crossed it. and many times that means making the lift easily but having applied too much tension into the movement and coming up tweaked.
I have known for quite awhile that too much tension in my already too strong wrist flexors, elbow flexors and shoulder flexors ends up with restricted ROM in my shoulders and pain in my right one.
I have to carefully balance out the tension(strength) work I do with a greater amount of relaxation work for the same areas. I tend to do well with this until I start feeling good, and healthy( yes you read that right) and STOP doing enough of the boring stretching/corrective exericse pre/rehab work that GOT me back to function in the first place.Yes, I am human after all :))
For the last couple years I had so much problems associated with ANY tension in my torso and arm flexors that I cut out ANY pressing and or tension exercises. Worked well and now I can press again, it seems, but not too much and not too heavy.
The next step off of a peak is always down and today was a peak that started in August at the San Diego cert when I realized I could bottoms up press and ended today with a solid press of the 36 kg. I weight about 157 so that's not a bad ratio and the thing motored up.
BUT, with my right arm it got a little bit out of the groove and, like the seasoned competitor that I am, I ignored it , righted things and just "made it work".ANd tweaked myself a bit in the process. Nothing that a bunch of massage, stick work, stretching, Z drills, yoga, more stretching won't fix quickly but I got the message.
Just like I CAN snatch the 28 and 32 kg bells, I will not any longer because the risk is not worth the reward and when the going gets tough I just ignore my body signals and get it done. Great for young competitors but not for old guys who need basic function more than new pr's.
That being said I will continue to press, I just need to back off again and recycle. I also want to focus more on the handstands and hs presses as well.
I know I CAN press the Bulldog, I just don't know if the pieces will hold together after I do. There's plenty of time for that.
Tracy was killing her presses with the 14 kg and it's amazing how much progress she has made with the strict version of this lift in such a short time. I love training with her :))

16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kgx5/5
24 kg x 5/5 x9 sets
x10/10x 1 set
110 reps
5830 lbs

these went really well.I am getting used to training at Girya now and these felt really strong ane effortless. I wanted to do more but I know I was going to press the 36 so I wanted to save something for it. Cardio was solid too.

KB Military press
24 kg x1/1
28 kgx1/1
32 kgx1/1
36kgx1/1 PR!! All time.

these went very well and i was happy I warmed up with the snatches so well. it made a difference.

Clubbell torch swings

2 10 lb cbs x 10
2 15 lb cbs x10 x 3 sets

these definitely helped my tweaky right elbow into full extension.


4 sets 20 second. very strong.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Volume snatches and bikrams

Nick was back today so I didnt get to train snatch vo2 with Tracy, and I really missed it. SO I compensated by doing some basic volume work with sets of 16 reps and maximal acceleration and not a too long rest period. We went "I go, you" and I did sets of 8 reps per arm , 16 per set and it was too easy. Amazing that last week I did the same work in half the time, lol. Then I find out that Tracy did 30 sets of 8 and 32 sets of 7 in snatch vo2 with the SIXTEEN KILO ( same weight as me ) and I really felt weeny. Back to training with the swing queen at Girya next week and more serious volume.
BUT , the workout was decent, volume wise, and technique and power wise, so I can't complain. The sixteen is a freakin light weight for me after all. It better be.

16 kg
15 sets of 8/8
4 sets of 8/8/8/8
1 sets of 8/8
320 snatches
11,520 lbs

not bad.

A couple hours later I did a Bikrams class and had a very solid practice.Yoga training has been going really well lately and I was actually looking forward to the class; even after 300 plus snatches.My body felt relatively balanced and relatively flexible and my mind stayed relatively calm throughout the ninety minutes. Tracy's practice is rocking these days and having her energy by my side always helps. It really is cool to see/feel it down so right right next to you. She could easily be a teacher. And a great one. She knows her practice from the inside out.I think she will teach some day. But for now her practice just really inspires mine with it's strength, grace, ease and beauty.Take a picture.
My left leg lockout in standing forward head to knee continues to improve and that's great. cardio is pretty solid now too and I need to keep this momentum going.It's so nice to finish a practice and NOT worry that my lower back is going to tweak at any moment or my knee is going to lockout up at any moment. Yoga as recovery. This is what I want it to be. And to have that ease after a hard kb workout is twice as satsifying.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Restoring lost physical function

This is the name of my dvd that was shot a few years ago at the Level 2 RKC and what has been the primary focus on my existance since a serious back injury in 2000 really brought to my attention just how asymmetrical and out of balance I had become after 26 years of competitive training and competitions.
I completely credit Pavel Tsatsouline , the KB and his methodology of training ,called the RKC ,with helping me to start my journey back to physical balance ( by using an asymmetrical tool no less,lol) and strength and health.
That started in 2001 when I got my first kettlebell and has continued to reach new levels of physical mobility, flexibilty, strength and the ability to do again movements I thought might be lost forever. Especially the ability to train with tension and train some strenght moves again.
And not paying a serious pain price for days afterward. That part is REAL important.
I could always DO the workout, I would just lose all kinds of function and be in serious pain for days after, that's all,lol.
This recovery reached a new high today as I did double kb presses for the first time in EONS; and did them strongly and with good shoulder mobility. And NO teres pain.
Then I went on to train my free handstands and knew without a doubt that I would not only regain( have) my ability to do the best skill I ever had, that I would also be able to do straight arm straight leg handstand presses but freestanding handstand pushups as well.Today was a test; the ability to press both bells similtaneously would really show me if my torso mobility had improved enough to handle bilateral pressing again.
I have been pleased as punch to be able to do single arm kb military presses again but knew I wouldnt have a chance at HS pushups until I could do double presses. This need to constantly and consistently improve is exactly what got me hurt in the first place but it is who I am, even if the improvement is some variation of some silly rehab movement that I am embarassed to think about.So I HAVE to go more slowly than I want.
But my extremely lessened time required on both the foam roller and the thumper tell me things are going in the right direction for sure. Many ways to the same goal.
Crucial to this,imo, is to work on all aspects of your goals at the same time, spending the most on your weaknesses. This is what turns them into strengths.For so long flexibility( or lack thereof) was my weakest attribute and what I have focused most on, as well as trying to removing excess tension in the skeletal muscles by various myofascial release methods, stretching and yoga. It is working.Has worked. Will continue to work until I am as square, plump and neutral as I need to be and then I will maintain that. Have to.Hurts too much if I don't.Big motivator there.
All this was after 24 kg snatches and getting to train with the KB Swing queen was great again. SO SO cool to have my love as my training partner I can't tell you. She is tough as nails and cuts me no slack. Nor herself.
She also has dived into her weakness as she is training tension skills for the first time and has honored me by allowing her to coach her.Progress is undoubtable.
We are completely revamping Girya as HKC Central and for Tracy's and Jordan's class needs and everything is very exciting.I am training there for the first time ever and it's great.The studio will become the KB dojo I've always wanted :))

Next will being able to train my squat again. Hey,miracles happen, I know this to be true.

16 kgx5/5x2
20 kgx4/4

24 kg x 5/5
x 6/6
x 7/7 x 3 rounds
x5/5 x2 rounds
128 reps
13,568 lbs

Man this felt heavy for the first few sets, still not used to training the heavier bells mid week but it was fine after the first few sets. was going to do more reps but hands were a but hot( lost my file!) and wanted to get onto the double presses and see if they would work! Not a bad snatch number for me at all.Form felt very solid.

Double KB press( one clean per set)
12 kgx3
24kgx3!! very easy. very.
20 kg x5

this was so exciting,especially that they were so strong. I am going to cycle three presses( just like WSB max effort days): 1) single kb military press, 2) double kb military press 3) and bottoms up press.
I will also add in Handstand pushups when the time is right. I am also going to start doing pushups again, another thing I was very very good at and havent been able to do safely for years.This will probably be an assistance exercise for awhile.

( against wall) 2 sets of 20 seconds
free standings
LOTs( tracy was taking pictures, LOTS OF handstands)

these went well and I can really see from the pictures JUST how tight my shoulders and shoulder girdle still is and how much work I still have to do re; throacic mobility BUT it's a start. A great great start and I am very happy :))

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Doubling up.

Not only made it through my Bikrams practice yesterday after a pretty tough snatch Vo2 workout but had a stellar practice to boot. Attitude made all the difference( as well as my back cooperating!) and finally getting some momentum back in my training cycle. It's amazing to me how much difference it can make missing or making a few workouts in a row!

I didnt know how well my arms would work in the first part of the series after all those snatches, swipes and handstands but they held up pretty well.

The key improvement for me of late in Bikrams is in my weakest and least favorite movement the standing forward head to knee(standing on my left leg).

Since my left knee doesnt full extend or bend it's been a real struggle trying to figure out what to do and how to progress( or regress) the posture since the cueing states that " the posture doesnt start until the standing leg is LOCKED".

or as Bikram says "Lock the damn knee, lock the damn knee, lock the damn knee".

Okay, well what if it doesnt lock?

I've tried it allkinds of different ways and I finally decided to eat some humble pie and go all the way back to the most basic of basic positions, locking myknee as best as I can with full weight over the whole foot with my right leg taking as much weight as necessary to lock out the left leg.

Now this sums up just how weak the left knee and the muscles are with the leg locked but that's where it is, and ,suprisingly, I have made progress with this technique.When I first started I needed the entire right foot on the floor to lock out the left knee. Yesterday I was down to just the big and second toe and the left leg was locking out pretty well. Soon I will be able to hold the knee locked with my right leg off the floor a bit.

Now, considering I can do the entire pose pretty well on my right leg this is not that much fun to do but the right thing to do.It just sucks being the only one in class in this most beginning of beginning positions.But I am finally making progress in the pose, don't dread it like I have, and it doesnt hurt my back or lock up my left hamstring. Good stuff overall.

Getting through a class now doesn't feel like such an exercise in survival but another workout, where I can moderate the intensity of what I am doing by how I feel going in and it doesnt require three days of recovery and tons of specialized stretching to recover from it.

Hell, I feel like I could practice again today if I wanted.I'm not going to but I could, and that's the key.Progress is going in the right direction ,and as anyone who knows me knows, trendline is what is important to me.

One is either getting stronger or weaker, there is no standing still.All that matters is direction even though I also realize that sometimes going backwards IS going forwards. A Zen koan for sure, but in general the above statement is true.

It also always helps to be practicing every time with such an amazing Yogini as my wife is. I get better just being next to her as she goes effortlessly and strongly at the same time through her practice. She has such a high standard for her practice that she is way tough on herself if she doesn't hit everything perfectly everytime but as I said, I get stronger and better just seeing how things are supposed to be done right next to me and feeling her energy.

I never thought I would love yoga, much less Bikrams , as much as I do but I have come to really enjoy it in ways I never imagined, EVEN the group class element.Maybe it's just me getting older but the group energy and the admonitions of the teachers really help pull so much out of me than I can myself these days. Any port in a storm, eh?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Warrior's Way.

I've never been a soldier or been to battle but I've been a warrior for most of my life. At least by my definition. To me a warrior is one who takes up the call and goes to battle, regardless of who or what the enemy is.Or the challenge. One who is undaunted by the challenge they have ahead of them and pushes on despite great pain, fear,mistakes, setbacks or whatever else is in their path to their stated goal or mission.
I broke my knee in my junior year of high school and was back competing at the start of senior year. I destroyed my shoulder in college , then learned to run and ran a marathon six months later.I'm not that special but I am a warrior. I will find a way. I'm not afraid of pain or effort.
And sometimes the warrior chooses the mission and sometimes the mission chooses them. Doesnt matter, the warrior goes forth and does their best, and the outcome is the outcome.Not being attatched to the outcome is classic Zen buddhist philosophy.
Samurai warriors studied Zen Buddhism and did Zen meditation to lose their egos and to learn how to be totally in the moment.The last thing a Samurai wanted in the heat of battle was to try to save their own life or to be concerned for the future. That , in their mind, would guarantee defeat and most certain death. Only if they were 'already dead' in their minds, could they give themselves totally to the moment and do whatever was necessary to defeat their opponent. Any hesitation would give their opponent a huge advantage.
To be able to give oneself totally to the moment, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it is is crucial, again in my opinion, to be able to succeed in the gym, or in life for that matter.
To me most people fall into two categories, workers and pleasure seekers. Workers just want to know what it is that is required of them to meet their goals and they will push on,towards that goal. They may, and most probably will, fail, perhaps again and again, gets pushed down or over but they get back up and try again. Pleasure seekers really want their goal too but when it gets tough or too hard, or too boring they cave, fold like melted cheese sandwhiches and inevitably try to find a way around the obstacle, instead of going through it, as they should. I'm a worker, I know no other way.
As Bikram says, the right way is the Hard Way; and if you can you Must. I agree.
Not that it doesnt suck but it doesnt matter. Find a way. You gotta do the work. that bell ain't gonna swing itself.
And usually that way involves letting the pain happen, not trying to get away, accepting it,not reveling in it like a masochist but letting it happen and waiting; waiting for it to transform, as it will, as it must, as it does; into something better, something greater, something stronger.Making you stronger in the process. Into more of who you really are.

So what does that have to do with my training this morning,lol?
Well I really, really, really didnt want to do max vo2 this morning. My schedule is completely screwed. BOth training partners are gone, the stability and regularity I crave is gone.Everything's different. I have to drive down to Girya and train too early, I have to try and keep up with the Swing Queen and not be too embarassed, Saturday is no longer heavy and slow day. Boo hoo hoo.Cry me a river Rif.
But I did it and it was fine. I let Tracy drag me kicking, but not screaming to the gym and used her and Meg as inspiration to get my head out of my ass and do the work. To let it hurt and just go through it, and NOT try to 'sneak up on the bar" as the Big Chief Jim McGoldrick used to say about my deadlift style. GO through, not around.

Snatch Vo2
16 kg
30 sets of 7
20 sets of 8
370 reps
13,320 lbs

I was only going to do 15 sets of 8's as it was early and i was tired and waah waah waah, and then I realized both Tracy and Meg were using the 16 kg, same as me,were doing SIXTY sets and planned on doing 10 sets of 8 at the end.Shit. I had to man up.And it was fine.Not expecting it to be easy makes it easier. weird.
Biceps were tight from the 180 snatches heavy on wednesday and it took awhile to fine the best groove but that's the deal. Deal with it and get it done.

Two clubbell swipes
10 lbs x 20
15 lbs x 20, 15,13, 12,12

these were good and just the ticket for stretching out my tight elbow flexors. I love this move and have done 300 continous reps with the 10's and 150 continuous with the 15's. havent been able to tolerate it for awhile because of my back but I think that's done.
Pressed on wedneday and want to give that a break.

Handstands( against wall)
5 sets of 20 seconds( really working to open up shoulders
Shoulder stretch on chin bar as superset.
these got much easier with each set.Determined to get these back strong again. still need way more shoulder flexibility but it's coming.

datsit. going to double up today and do a bikrams class with my love in one hour.More opportunity to man up.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Ventura,Handstands, Bikrams and snatches.

Jordan did a great job capturing the essence of the day in Ventura.TOns and tons of great work on the bodyweight drills themselves as well as the corrective exercises and 'fixes' for each of the movements.With the beach and the great waves in the background just 400 feet or so from the training and a perfect day weather wise you really couldnt ask for more if you wanted to master the principles and concepts of high tension training with bodyweight.
And with about 12 toplevel instructors the teacher student ratio was insane.There is so much information that really needs to be mastered about how important bodyweight training is, and how much of a foundation it is to become truly strong with resistance work that it really can't be overstated. If one can't use their own bodyweight strongly why would they need more resistance?
ANd it was great, as I wrote earlier to be able to bounce back into my handstands, and, more importantly, NOT get tweaked by doing so!I was fine Sunday and Monday and to me it was a clear sign for go ahead for getting back into handstand training. I also checked on my video date that I posted and it was almost a year to date earlier!crazy.
When I first started taking Bikrams just about a year and half ago I decided that one of the reasons was to help me recover my gymnastics body and some of the flexibilities and movements that I used to have.I now feel like this is finally starting to happen. I can get through a Bikrams class walking normally (well for me,lol)the next day and with almost no residual problems. THis has NOT been the case for many moons and getting through the ninety minutes in the heat was not as hard as trying to unravel myself for the next three days.Now it seems I have the progessions pretty well dialed in for my knee and back and shoulder and I can really just focus on the training and getting stronger. this is great.and I can really see how it opens me up much like my gymnastics stretching did, although I still have much more stretching work to do. Like get back my splits.not to mention much more shoulder mobility for my handstands.
and this has inspired me to work on getting back my hs pushup and straight arm,straight leg handstand press. I used to be the Master of the straight arm press and I can possibly be again. Just have to get back on that road.I think I am ready.

Yoga yesterday was great and a perfect first workout back after my undesired layoff.snatching today went well and no problem after yoga
Decided to switch max vo2 days to saturday with Tracy at Girya and make Wednesdays heavy snatch day.its good to be a bit warmed up for 24 kg snatches.

16 kg x5/5 x3
20 kg x 8/8x5
24 kgx5/5 x9
80 reps with 20 kg/3520
100 reps with 24 kg/5300
total reps = 180
total weight=8820

nice! 80 reps with the 20 and 100 with the 24 with a decent set of 20/20 at the end. had much more just wanted to make sure everything was in the right place. rest between sets about 45 sec or so.

5 sets of 15-20 sec
these went very well. against the wall although most were free held. stillhave to open up my right shoulder more. abit twisted. more

Clean and press
24 kg xx1/1
nice and light.
elbow was a bit tweaked after the last press workout. handstands fixed that although I still wanted to be careful.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ventura Hardstyle Worksop with Pavel; short debrief.

Just got back from a great weekend out in the sun and surf at Pavel's Hardstyle Ventura workshop. Almost all the boys were there with Senior Instructors David Whitley, Will Williams, Doug Nepodal, and Team Leaders Doctor Mark Cheng, Mark Toomey,Jeremy Layport as well as RKC prodigal son Michael Castrogiovanni,and Paul Daniels.
We had about 35 students and so much was covered in the 7 hours it was hard to beleive. Pistols, pullups, pushups, hanging leg raises, headstands, handstands , handstand presses ALL kinds of related drill,corrective exercises and assistance work was demonstrated and learned.
I got called into service to teach the handstand segment and was extremely happy to find out I can still do a handstand; the last time I tried being almost a year ago as shown in the video below.In fact it went so well I have been completely inspired to start training my handstand again.
I also realized that I need to develop my own version of a bodyweight exercise/movement seminar based on my gymnastics background and the exercises and drills that I know from years of training and coaching gymnastics.I think my shoulders and back are finally ready to handle a bit more of upside down work. My handstand was my favorite and best skill when I was a gymnast. I never missed a handstand in my seven years of competing and I'm very proud of that.
It was so much fun to teach people who have never done a handstand the joy of inverted strength, and so nice to see that my restoring lost function work is still progressing.
mo later.