Monday, August 31, 2009

What does not kill me.....The San Diego Cert and a real, all time PR.

Team Rif 2009!

Let the bodywork begin.

What doesn't kill you can make you stronger, unless it cooks you to a cinder first. It was hot this weekend at the cert. Really, really really hot. Bikram Yoga class hot and that's no lie.102+ degrees. The candidates did incredibly well; unbeleivable really and showed heart and grit for three full days under some seriously tough environmental conditions.

But it ain't easy standing for 12 hours straight either, and NOT getting to really stretch out the body while you observe, coach and demonstrate. It's always refreshing to hear the young, uninjured and hard young buck instructors bitch a bit about how hard it is on their body standing so much during the cert. For me and this pile of junk that mascarades as a knee it's an interesting journey into the unknown.

I haven't been doing my rack walks for months and this cert would be an interesting test of whether they were necessary or all that standing on one leg in Bikrams for hours each week would be a decent substitute. The Certs for me are like an endurance competition. I walk more in these weekends in 3 or 4 days than I normally do all month, lol. ANd not having the time to do my requisite body work adds up pretty interestingly each time. Sometimes are better than others. This one, especially considering the heat was better than I expected.

When one has a knee that doesnt fully extend or fully flex the hamstrings, quads, rectus femoris and lower leg muscles end up getting tighter and tighter with each incomplete gait cycle.This of course travels up into the glutes and deep hip rotators and then, you guessed it, into the lower back. Lots of fun.

But, just like in daily life, in one opens up those spasming muscles, gets them open and more piable and softer the joint works much better. But add in dehydration and the task is that much tougher.

But hey, that's the deal and I was overall very pleased with how much work I was able to do this cert and still get to work today. And it was good to know all the heat tolerance training I've been getting with Bikrams and the real world strength from one legged balance work really paid off.

This is functional training for me at it's most important.

Plus, my warrior diet training, which has been killing me lately kicked in well and I had very little hunger but more than enough energy to do what was needed. I still had some food for breakfast but just protein and fats, had some carbs and fat for lunch and not much else til we ate at 9 pm or so. It was too hot to eat.But I still felt strong, relatively.

My team was 15 strong and there was lots of work to do.On very basic movements and we spent tons of time on swings and corrective drills.I was worried, like I always am on Fridays, that it won't come together for them but somehow, it always does. Sundays are easily the toughest day for me with technique testing, teaching testing and evals. Failing people is no fun but the RKC standards are no joke and not to be messed with.Luckily most failed from the snatch test and with all that they learned this weekend I should be getting some you tube snatch videos from soon to be RKC's very soon. I better.

I had bottoms up clean and press the 24's for the first time on both arms last week and thought, if things felt right I would give the 28 kg a try this weekend. By the middle of Fridays heat I knew that there would be no "good" time to try this and I wouldnt be getting any stronger the next day. So there was no time like the present.

I got the 20 kg easily with both arms

Then the 24 kg strongly on the left and had to take it twice on the right to get it.

Then onto the 28 kg with my right arm first. No go. Clean was easy but my 'trigger' thumb didnt like it. Hard to press it bottoms up max if the grip isnt solid.

Then onto the left arm. About halfway up and lost it's groove.

I was running out of time. Tracy got some great pictures of all my misses. Lovely.

Senior Instructor Dave Whitley came up to me and told me to do some toes pulls on my right side thinking I was going for my left arm again.I went for the right and my thumb tweaked really badly. This didnt look good. Then Irontamer told me the toe pulls were for my left side press and I did them again.

And focused. and re focused. Then it went up and stayed up. Just like that. It was great, great great to have a real pr, something I've never done in my life. Not just a 'since the comeback from being almost permantly jacked up for life' pr. A real one. Most excellent.ANd it gave me great confidence that the 32 kg is within reach.I really miss that zone I got in getting ready for the max attempt. I love that place. I wanted to live there for years. I couldnt see or hear anything.Completely centered, in the zone, in the flow. That's what I love about competition and real training.Whether it's on a platform or a piece of grass that you decided would be a testing ground. THAT place. So few get to visit at all , much less time and time again. That's always what kept me coming back.

Tracy got the picture and I knew if I didn't make it she would not let me forget.

Of course this is where I have to be really careful; when I feel strong again. I ALWAYS want to push the ceiling and see what I can do. And then I found out and wish I hadn't looked so deeply.

But If I stick to my snatches and just press once a year like I have been doing it might work out :)) without me getting more hurt.

My thumb, however is still tight.I just needed more warmup. Yeah, that's it, that's the

All in all an incredible cert in an incredible venue( heat wave notwithstanding). La Jolla is amazing and combined with the energy that always accompanies an RKC the place just seemed lit up.

Getting to see all my brothers and sisters in kettlebells was so cool as well.What an amazing community we have and are continuing to build .

And Tracy is even MORE inspired than normal to bring her training to another level. Having her with me at each cert is awesome. It's so cool we have this in common at this level. A dream, in fact.And it's only the beginning.

Next is a Level 1 RKC at home base, Minnesota in two week and the First EVER HKC in 3. Lots of great RKC stuff starting to happen for us. Can' t wait.Oh yeah, Pavels HS workshop in OCt as well. Mo' betta.

But for now it's bodywork and stretching time and hopefully I can do a variation of snatch vo2 tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

36:36 week 3; adaptation- finally.

who says kettlebells don't build muscle?The after max pump.

Well, it's about time this got a little easier. In fact I was kicking butt for the first 15 sets, going faster than ever and feeling it less.Both HR and respiration were low which is my most important indicator that I have adapted a bit to the workload. That and not getting a crazy, massive forearm pump that threatens anyone( Tracy) who is in front of me with a flying kettlebell :))
Of course I haven't let go of one yet but that's no guarantee.
This was also my forth training day in a row, which for me lately is great. Of course it was Tracy's forth workout TODAY but I would quit training if I had to compare my work capacity to hers so I was happy with that. Especially after yesterdays second Bikrams class in two days , which was way harder than I thought.Never too late to get back into shape.
I think this also could be 36:36 PR but I am too lazy to search my blog right now but if it ain't it's close.
I definitely could have kept up the pace and acceleration except for my grip. I could explode, total body wise, but it would have ripped out of my hand.So I finished about 5 seconds early each set and did overhead hold for the remaining time. At the end I was holding for a 2 second or so pause the last five sets. So I didnt lose the bell. Going really hard and fast at the beginning really cooks the grip and once it's gone it's almost impossible for me to recover on the fly.
Heartrate was 180 and up after the 15 sets. Prior to that not even 165. Once it jumped though that was it.
Tracy of course was doing 20 rep sets per 36 seconds with the 12 kg AND getting solid overhead lockouts. She has been focusing on that and it's paying off.
As I said this was her fourth workout today: spinning, two kb classes and a Bikrams class. THEN 20 rep sets in mvo2. freaking crazy.Just watching her go was all the motivation I needed to not give in my grip.


Snatch Vo2
16 kg
25 sets of 15
375 reps
5625 lbs

I was briefly thinking of doing 16 reps for the last five sets, and I could have, cardio wise, but not grip wise. Have to get my 35 sets of 15 to earn my right to do 16s.Soon. It's a done deal. Only won't happen if I quit and that won't happen so it's done.

25 lb Clubbell pullover and press( barbarian)
4 sets of 8

25 lb two handed sheild casts
4 sets of 8

a little hypertrophy work. nice to feel the pecs and tris work a bit.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes I miss powerlifting.

I know it's not good for me and probably wrecked my body even more than gymnastics but sometimes there's no good substitute for lifting really heavy shit.

" I don't want it, I just need it" pretty much sums it up.

Can't have but that doesnt change things.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cardio Bikram

Tracy, with the right attitude, making it look way too easy.

I never fail to 'get' just how really tough Bikrams 26 postures and two breathing exercises actually are until I get away from it for awhile. I havent' practiced since last Monday for various reasons and knew I needed to get back in and sweat and try to breathe for 90 very ,very hot and hard minutes.

On one level I am well rested and feel good about being able to push myself throughout the session; to 'catch up' at least to my previous level of conditioning and then you feel the heat.I mean it's freaking HOT from the get and I sweat like serious pig. Hell, I'm sweating in the waiting area in the studio! SO right away I am seriously reminded how tough this is going to be just to GET THROUGH IT! Never mind push it.

Then you realize that it's about the breath, and just like a ten mile run or 30 mile bike ride in the hills you better start breathing early and stay focused on it or you just will not go the distance.So you have to focus first on breathing, 6 counts in, 6 counts out. Through your nose, only. Man that's a serious feat in itself.But if your breath isnt right you won't be able to make it,no way. Breath comes first. Just like life.Good training for that; when in doubt, breathe deeper.

And then you realize it's about strength as much as it is being able to breathe, as much as it is being able to balance , as much as it about being able to concentrate and focus, as much as it is about being able to 'let go' while you are trying to do all of the above.

ANd look like it's easy and you are calm at the same time.

Lol, great fun.

Bikram calls it a 90 minute meditation and it surely can be. IF you can get through the other stuff strongly. Otherwise it's just hanging on for dear life, even made more difficult if you do try to meditate. Hell, you're supposed to look dead in your own eyes the whole time. Let me tell, that ain't even close to easy.

And practicing more often doesnt necessarily make it that much better as I get very serious muscle work from holding these poses from 10-60 seconds "beyond your felxibility" as the dialogue goes. At that point the posture is muscle work, not flexibility but hey, that's the program and I am working towards it.

Bottom line I got it done and tomorrow is another practice day, better stretch out, lol.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heavy day.

Had to miss heavy snatch day last week and I could feel it this week.But with the cert coming up next Saturday I needed to get some solid work done today.Training in the morning is both a blessing and a curse as i normally don't get to train until my workday is done and I'm pretty tuckered out.
Training with Nick first thing Saturdays has been a consistent ritual for many years going back to my powerlifting days, when Saturday was heavy squat day. You NEVER missed squat days unless somebody died or you were bleeding badly and enroute to the ER.Not if you wanted to stay my training partner.Squat day was always the litmus test of how much someone really wanted to powerlift and I feel the same about the snatch day now.
I want to bring that same attitude to my heavy day even though it's not heavy at all,anymore. But it's the biggest weight challenge I have these days and I am still nowhere near my old routine of 200 plus snatches with the 24kg each week and I want that back.
So you start where you start and build it from there, waving the loads up and down and slowly but surely inching towards your goal. 200 reps in one workout will be plenty heavy enough of a load to qualify for this old guy.Can't do it now.
I had visions of 170 plus snatches today but all the plane travel from last week said no. OK, there always another workout day and I don't want to tweak anything this close to the cert.I have to guard my health and my joints right now, that's the priority, not 30 more reps.

16 kgx 5/5 x2
20kgx 5/5 x2

24 kg x 5/5x13 sets
130 reps
6890 lbs.

this was done at a pretty quick pace as it was just Nick and I. Our other training partner Jonathan has moved so it's just us from now on.We didnt plan on going so fast but it just happened, a good sign, actually.
I cannot beleive how TIGHT my lats got from just those three reps I did in the bottoms up press on wednesday! I had to be really careful with the snatch even, as I threw the reps back for some eccentric overload and felt the lats lock up a bit.I controlled it after that but MAN, havent felt that in a long time.It's easy to see how much the lats connect right to the hip and the spine when they get really tight that fast.Also was a bit dehydrated and that never helps.

One arm clubbell arm casts
15lbs x 10/10/10/10 x 2 sets

One arm barbarian press
15lb x5/5/x3 sets

One arm arm cast
25 lb x 5/5 !!
man this was the easiest I have ever done this. That thing is HEAVY with one arm,lol.

Ok,now the weekend begins. Yoga tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

36:36 week 2

36:36 always kicks my butt and today was no exception, even though I felt good coming in. It's just the grip despite the fact that my ending heartrate was 190 at the end of the 22 sets.The forearm just pumps up and hanging on to the bell becomes the most important consideration; even at a paltry 15 reps per set.
I did stay in the set the entire 36 seconds, I used longer holds on the last five reps per set and tried to hold the last rep until the buzzer when off. But I need to be doing at least 16 reps per interval at some time soon.y grip will give out before my cardio though and that's the problem. I'll just stay with 15 reps until I can do 35 sets and then ramp up. I'm slow but I get there.
But it's especially hard when Tracy is laddering from 14 -18 reps per five sets with the 14 kg! That's just 2 kg less than I am using! Not good for me.I can't imagine( imagine that,lol) 18 reps per set. that would kill me and she was barely sweating.Hey, give me a heavy single anyday.

36:36 snatch vo2
22 sets of 15 reps with 16 kg
330 reps
11,880 lbs

Two Hand clubbell arm casts
25lb x 10 x 6 sets

Bottoms up clean and press
16 kgt x 1 each arm
20 kg x1 each arm
24 kg x1 each arm PR!!

man I havent' tried this in ages and just got the hit that I should do it.I know I haven't done both arms before with the 24 kg! thats crazy.I so wish I could train the press again like I used to. I used to not care at ALL about my bench press, or pressing ability in general because it was a strong point and I was all about my weak points. SO much so that I never really enjoyed just how good I was at it! crazy.I know I could have pressed the Beast, at any bodyweight.I just know that training the press now just doesnt work for me and I can't push the edge anymore. Just not worth it.
But coming back and doing little things like this are so good for my head.It's nice not to have lost it all..


Monday, August 17, 2009

Real Yoga

Man I havent been to class in almost a week and I paid for it today. Yesterdays swings were kicking my legs ass already, and I put some nice high tension back on them with lots of static poses in positions that felt like I have never done them before! It's incredible how fast this old body stiffens up,although with the amount of sitting I did these last three days it's not that amazing. Sitting messes more people's bodies up than contact sports.
Add in the repetitive stresses of really bad posture and things can get really ugly. Especially when you get old, and if you don't know when that is you haven't hit it yet. Us old people don't have to have anyone tell us when old 'happened'; you just know it 'cause you feel it.
New teacher today in class and it's so nice when the teacher is actually helping you get through the class by setting a solid,rhythmic pace, giving great instructional cues, using the right inflections in their voice, noticing when the hot box we are training in is actually becoming TOO hot for even the most hardcore and generally NOT stepping on the students toes as they dance with us.
BIG difference than the incompetent instructors that mess up the dialogue so badly you would rather stick pins in your eyes than try to wait out the rest of the 90 minutes.That are constantly pushing and pulling you in so many different directions you don't know how long any of the poses are going to be. Not good.Stretching on my own is good but I need a real yoga class and this is it.Crazy hot today too.
So a very tough but solid class and I needed to sweat big like that.That's another whole blog post but people don't sweat enough and they need to. Actually NEED to.
Legs were shaky today but overhead flexibility was good. Concentration, however needed some help. I spent way too much time focusing on the wine list I was putting together and not on the nuances of each pose. I knew I was just in survival mode so I wasn't too tough with myself and I knew the 2005 zinfandel from Trinitas was in short supply at the wine club. Had to get myself organized,lol.
Hey, I got through it which was todays goal. Max vo2 tomorrow or wednesday.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Imagine that.

Next to the ability to concentrate with laser like focus, the ability to imagine, or visualize is, imho, perhaps the most important skill an athlete, or wanna be athlete can have. Like concentration I am not sure this can really be developed,except by the most dedicated, but is so critical to the ability to create real, lasting change in one's performance, body composition or competition skills,especially under pressure, that is worth ten times the time and effort. For everybody that wants to change their body or athletic performance in some way.

This really came back to me last night as I was watching the womens Visa Gymnastics championships on the plane home from New Jersey and I remembered just how crucial this seemingly small skill really is on so many levels and how I came to discover it.

I have been blessed( cursed?) with a very vivid imagination and I remember 'discovering' how to use this skill very early on in my gymnastics training as I memorized each and every position of each months featured routine in the Modern Gymnast magazine .They had the routines broken down frame by frame in 8mm film and I could study-STUDY- each frame in minute detail, looking for any and all secrets to what they were doing right and I was doing wrong as I attempted to learn these incredibly intricate skills.

After analyzing each routine to death and committing each frame to memory I would replay it back in my head over and over, especially right before I attempted to try the new skill in question.

Then I realized the importance of visualizing these skills not only right before I attempted them, but the night, or days before. I could "practice" without practicing. And, very importantly, without falling down and going "boom" which happems with alarming frequency in gymnastics.I then heard about the Russian study that compared three groups of basketball players looking to improve their free throw skills. One group just practiced and did no visualization. One did a mixture of practice and visualization and the last did ONLY visualization. The group that improved the most did the combination but the group that did ONLY visualization improved MORE than the group that did only practice!

It seems that the brain cannot differentiate that which you see in it's nooks and crannies and the real thing. The nerve force is sent to the muscles in exactly the same way as when it is done in real time just with much less force. One can practice without moving the body, and, it turns out, it is a very potent method.

So potent that visualizing bad form is almost as bad as doing it in real life.

Practice doesn't make perfect, PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect. Big, big difference.

This made total sense to me because there were skills that I could not do correctly in the real time that I also could not "see" in my head correctly . IN fact I would make the same form mistakes and technical miscues in my head that I did on the bars. And I DID NOT fix those real time mistakes UNTIL I could see it in my head right.

This had a HUGE impact on me, my training and my search for better tools for seeing what I was doing wrong and what others were doing right.

Now remember, this is WAY before video tape, much less digital cameras that can record everything in minute detail with endless replay and slow motion capacity.AS well as in frame deliniations so small that one can see EVERYTHING( todays athletes are SO spoiled, and most take so little advantage of what is available to them-crazy).How I only wish I had these tools back then!

So I studied pictures,whatever sequence photos I could find and filled in the blanks in my head. This "filling in the blanks" along with the incredible amount of visual imagery necessary even to TRAIN gymnastics really built up my abilities to 'see' things in real time in slow motion, even as they were happening! This is a skill and like all skills the more you practice the better you get. I practiced a lot.

You can also visualize yourself from different positions and kinethetic/propriceptive angles. For instance you can 'see' yourself as if you were looking at yourself from the audience. You can also 'see' yourself from "inside" your body, as it moves as if you were on stage looking out, as you performed. You can "feel/see" yourself from inside the body and how it would "feel" if you moved, OR LOOKED a certain way ( more about this in a minute).

The possibilities of this are limitless. Limited only by your imagination, willingness to pracitice and concentrate( imagine that).

This is truly where training and meditation meet.

Yet I've found so few who really treat this as the key skill it is.Few except for every Elite athlete I know.It does take a lot of time but hey, so does going to the gym and not making much progress.

This really came into clarity for me when I became a bodybuilder and Arnold spoke and wrote so eloquently how he literally imagined his body into creation. When he looked in the mirror he wasnt seeing what was there as much as what he wanted to be there.Just like a sculptor looking at a hunk of clay and seeing the form inside. Or any artist for that matter.He created it first in his mind, then the body followed suit.
He was adamant about this. He saw it first, then it became real.

I also realized the importance of 'feeling it in the mind' and became quite adept at being able to "feel" the changes I wanted to make in my body before I actually created them.

How would it "feel" if I was as lean as I wanted to be? How what it "feel" if my legs, arms pecs( fill in the blank) were the way I wanted them to be?

This was "trying it on for size". How would I walk if my legs were as developed as I wanted? How heavy would they be? How would my clothes fit, etc. The more detailed I got the better things worked.

Things got to the next level when I got into powerlifting and new exactly what weights I wanted ,needed to do each workout. I began to see the lifts, in excrutiating details from every possible angle and "see/feel" it in every possible way, down to the exact weight on the bar and the way my knees were wrapped.One began to connect how something 'felt" with how you knew it 'looked. This is great feedback.

As the great Ed Coan said( another incredible user of visualization) after you've done it in your head, doing it in real time is a forgone conclusion- you KNOW you can do it, because you ALREADY HAVE!And every time you do it in your head it's another perfect weight in the bank. You can practice ALL you want and workout all the bugs with no risk of injury or overtraining.You just have to develop the mind as much as the body, and therein lies the rub.People are freaking lazy and don't really want to go to the gym much less go to a virtual gym in their head the night or days before! Hell, it's like having to train ten times as much! Exactly!

I love these types of people, they are so easy to beat.

Remember that the brain doesn't care if you visualize it right or wrong. It's real to the body either way and has it's own memory of the event.Seeing is believing,even if you just see it in your head.

Imagine that.
Training addendum
Since Tracy and I were out of town Friday and Saturday I missed my Saturday snatch workout. I decided to NOT skip it as was my desire after spending more time seated traveling than standing or walking this weekend and I also decided to do swings instead of snatches today.
I have been doing virtually NO swings the last few months( too many) as I was doing more yoga training than kbs( just two sessions/week).
Since my goals were focused on snatches I decided to maximize that movement and let go of swings for awhile. Time's up.
I started off VERY easy today for numerous reasons but decided to do some swing strength work focusing on creating max force( can someone say Hardstyle) and not caring about reps or volume. I have forgotten just how heavy the Two Pood can be, even for low rep swings.It was sad how low my max force has gotten. Time to put these back in the rotation even if it means alternating snatch saturdays with swing saturdays.
Snatch Vo2 has to stay in weekly.
One arm swings
16kgx5/5/5( transfers),20 kg x same, 24 kg x same, then
24 kg x5/5
32 kgx5/5 x 4 rounds
120 reps
about 30 seconds between sets but not timed. I went when I felt ready, and, as usual it started off slowly and got much faster as I warmed up.wanted to do five sets but was amazed at how tight my legs hips and back were getting so I decided to not be so OCD and stop at 4 sets.Wore my OL shoes for these for the first time. We'll see,these might be better flat foot, time will tell.
Two Hand Clubbell Arm Casts
25 lber x 10/10 x 4 sets
this felt good, very strong.I like the two hand work after all my one arm kb work. feels like the right balance.
Two Hand Sheild casts
5 sets of 5/5
these always open my shoulders up so well and I feel provide so much needed dynamic strength in all those weird shoulder vectors.with not a lot of torque on the joint itself.
Z drills, Rifga over ball stretches and some Bikram Half moon work to try to open up my lower spine.
Real yoga tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Man, even though I hate this style of snatch vo2 training I felt compelled to revisit it today, for a few reasons.
One, I just couldnt face doing 8's again today( my speed meter is going red) and two, Tracy and her team are going into the next phase of their training for the SSST and I should at least try to keep up.
The main problem I have with 36:36 is that my forearms pump up so fast that it is always my grip that gives out, and limits my total rep count, not my cardio. But wanting a slighty slower pace today that looked like a good idea,especially at a paltry 15 reps per 36 seconds.
Did I mention that I hate the gym boss? Well, I hate the gym boss. The damn thing is merciless and goes off every 36 seconds whether I am ready to do my next set whereas with the second hand I can fudge it a bit and not feel so guilty. SO the gym boss it was.
Plus, Tracy was doing her 8th or 9th workout of the day keeping me company( doing the same thing,thank God with only the 12 kg) and she always uses the gym boss. Did I mention I hate that thing? Good.
But it went better than expected, and better than the last time I came back to it after a long stint at 15:15.
The olympic shoe definitely has changed my groove for the better and it was very apparent here as well. Much better balance and load distribution between my quads, hips, hammies and low back and MUCH easier to maintain the proper lumbar curve.I feel like I can jump anytime I need to and this helps immensely. Hey, it makes sense, I grew up running and jumping off my toes in gymnastics and the sprinting we did. I guess it's still in there.
Plus I do almost everything back asswards so why should this be different?
Here's the workout:

Snatch Vo2 36:36
20 sets of 15 reps
300 reps
10,800 lbs + a massive forearm pump

really took my time at the top of each rep making sure to get a solid overhead position as well as a paused lockout.I took the entire 15 second overhead even though I finished each set 2-3 seconds early. I havent been doing snatch holds ( or rack walks either) lately and although that will change soon this was a good opportunity to get back some more overhead stabilization and flexibility all in the same workout. It was nice to go at a slow pace for a change in this workout, 15 :15 and 8 rep sets get so frantic.

Two hand clubbell pullover and press
25 lb club 4 sets of 8 reps each side.

I've been too lazy to schlep the 15 lb bells home from Girya so I've been doing mainly two handed work with the big boy. This is a great move for the entire upper body, lats, triceps delts and pecs.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bikram Practice.

It's been a week since I made my last class but that's the way it went this week. It's always interesting when I've had time off from my yoga practice whether it will make the next practice I do make easier because I've had more rest and recovery or harder because I've lost heat conditioning, flexibility and a certain degree of mental toughness SO necessary to sit in that freaking hot box for ninety minutes trying to "kill yourself" as the head guy likes to say.
I get it and it appeals to a large part of my personality but sometimes it's all I can do is focus on my breathing and not getting pissed about how hard it is with so few joints that work right.
Of course there was a woman in class today with just one leg so that put things in perspective real quick.She didnt look like she was having fun either but she was there.
AS was Tracy( if you see me in yoga Tracy is there somewhere too,lol) and even when she has a bad day it seems like a stellar practice to me.I'd surely take it instead of what I can do now.

SO todays comeback was one of those when the rest really helped and I was strong. I needed to do a class today and that always helps. Didnt want to do one but needed to. To get the poisons out and getting enough O2 in. Nothing like that small hot room and those 26 there's no way I'm gonna sit one out' poses to get that happening.And when the mind is motivated pain and pressure have new meanings and one finds new energies to push when normally you would just quit or , at the very least, hold way back.
I never know how tight and flexed my lower back is until I have to put both arms overhead in Half Moon pose; in which I can barely get my elbows locked out not to mention my elbows to my ears, not to mentions actually bending a more than a few inches to either side. But hey I'm taller when I leave then when I go in and that ain't bad,lol.
And opening up my lower back requires I open up my lower abs and obliques as well and then the whole things lifts up and I realize just how flexed things can get just doing nothing special. Like fighting gravity all day.
That becomes the real fight for all of us sooner or later and it's good to get the practice in as a habit asap. JMHO.
SO I stretched and sweated my tight ass out and breathed more in ninety minutes than I have since my last snatch vo2 workout and thats good too. Two yogas, two bells and two rifga sessions a week: my program minimum.
So despite one critics admonition about how I can write so much about a stupid yoga class just let me say this; there's a lot more going on in there than meets the eye. A lot. whether one realizes it or not.
ANd just sweating is good too.
datsit. snatch vo2 tomorrow 36:36. can't wait :))

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What's the hurry?

I think about this question in relation to training goals and program design all the time. Especially in the last 5 years or so when injuries and overuse problems from years of "being in a hurry" have caught up with me. When one is a performance athlete they know, instinctively and realistically that there is a relatively short window of time for them to 'get it done' and really live up to their potential athletically and competively.
Of course one can go on and on increasing their personal bests(relative) for many, many years, perhaps a lifetime if they go at it right, but in the true hardcore athletic world there is short timeline in which to 'be the best'.
And with that mindset goes the attitude that pain and injury are just parts of the game, to be ignored as much as possible, gotten over with as quickly as possible so one can get back in the mix as soon as possible.This even seems to be true with major injuries, such as ACL tears which are rarely given the time necessary to fully heal before the athlete is back on the court or in the gym pushing the knee to see ' how it feels'.
Because we consider sport to be training in this county( how many people decide to get back in shape by 'taking up' soccer, or softball or tennis or even running?) and don't realize one trains to get in shape for sport and NOT the other way around, the real base, the true foundations are usually given short shrift or not done at all. Certainly not for the years it really takes to get true Mastery of the foundation movements and patterns that at least gives on a chance not to get blown away from the rigors of competition training and or testing. Movement, skills or training loads are heaped upon the plate way ahead of schedule and will power and motivation,as crucial as they are to success are used instead of proper progressions and developmental stages to gauge when to increase the loads and or skills.
THis is especially true when the athletes are older and or previously injured.
I hear about , and get questions about program design ALL the time. People want a 6 week ,or 8 week or 12 week 'program' to get back into shape, to get in shape or something they want, taking the entire concept out of context and thinking only about the short run, whether it is going to a party, getting 'fit' for a specific funntion or just wanting to derail the last years of debauchery and dissapation as soon as possible , not caring how long it took to get OUT of shape. Let's just reverse it ASAP.
Magical thinking usually is the hallmark of children but we all know many who are chronilogically older but emotionally or intellectually very young. The body just doesnt work this way and all find out sooner or later. But it mostly doesnt change the approach, unfortunately. Just apply more magic dust and hope for the best.
And please, let me know how that works for you.
One of the best lessons competive powerlifting taught me was that cycling your training is essential to be able to peak your strength and skill on a regular basis and that in order to have even a CHANCE of actualizing your true potential on the platform you must be dedicated and consistent for YEARS. THis means planning your training properly, avoiding injuries like the plague, working your weaknesses MORE than your strengths and doing everything and anything necessary to make your total go up over the long haul.
BECAUSE win,lose or draw, you WILL be back in the gym the next day. and the next. And the next, and so on and so on.
SO when someone tells me about their super duper, completely complicated and intricate 8 week 'get in shape' program I tell them I don't care. What I care about first is how many workouts they have missed in the last six months. Or the last six years. THAT tells me more than anything if they even have a chance to obtain their goals.Or if they have a prehab program too. And they are committed to their recovery training as much as their gym training.
Because no matter how sophisticated the program design is, if one can't execute it, over and over and over again, they will fail. At least fail to really actualize their true potential; in the short run or the long haul.
And, what I truly understand now, in my dotage, that they quest for super perfomance is a red herring anyway. When one is young and seemingly indestructible, training seems so easy. An hour of work creates an hours worth of results. The longer one trains and the older one gets the less this is so until one reaches the point where an hour of training just jacks you up for a week and possibly even pushes you backwards not forwards.
The beauty of the most simple basic movements we are all born with the ability to do and lose so gradually over time( if we are lucky) escapes us until they are gone and we are fighting with nature and God to be able to just do what we looked at with disdain and no respect just years ago( ask anyone with really bad knees or back how they feel about jsut being able to walk).
If we were really smart in our profession of personal training and coaching we would be focused on developing and honing the skills of our primal patterns and our work capacities so that when we are older, and really need them ( unlike in our youth when they are just there) they are there, and functional and painfree. When we will really appreciate them.
So what's the hurry indeed? Even if you are the best athlete in the world it won't be there forever.There will always be someone younger, stronger, crazier, more obsessed than you are( were).The only thing harder than getting to the top of the mountain is staying there.
But it's a great view from basecamp, but so few appreciate that scenery.
The body and our ability to move it is such a blessing and such an incredible vehicle for experiencing this life that it is a crime that so few truly inhabit it fully their bodies nor appreciate the crazy wonderful gift that a 'regular' body is.
I used to be like that.
No more.
No hurry anymore; as Nike said "There is no finish line". My training is for life, it is my practice
it is my source.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Some snatch volume

Missed Bikrams yesterday due to some very bad personal news but knew I had to get my snatch workout in today. I've been using the 24 kg exclusively on saturdays for varying rep totals starting all the back at 100 total reps to 170 two weeks ago. The goal is to get to 200 plus with the 24 on a regular basis again. SO I decided I needed to do 200 reps even if I needed to go down to the 20 kg to do so.
The 20 is really the perfect snatch weight for me these days although I rarely use it. Tuesdays snatch vo2 workout is so light that I feel guilty just using the 24 on Saturdays but today it was a necessity. Plus I needed to break out of my habit of just doing multiple sets of only 5 reps. So today it was sets of 8's and then sets of 10.
Nothing amazing but very smooth, fast and easy.

16 kgx8/8 x2
20 kg x 8/8x 5 sets
x10/10 x 4 sets
x 10/10/5/5 x 1 set

200 total reps
8800 lbs

Need to start upping the total volume again so I can even think of doing a ten minute test in the next few months.

One Clubbell arm casts
10 lbs x 15/15
x 20/20

Shield casts 10 lbs
20/20 x 3 sets

Been using the 25 lbers with two handed work mainly and want to get back to arm casts and shield casts with single arms. The swipes tweaked my right elbow a bit on tuesday so I thought I would take it easy today and just work the groove. elbow is fine now.

yoga tomorrow and or monday


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Snatch Vo2 50 sets of 7's and 8's

It's been a long time since I did 80 sets of 8 in the snatch vo2( before it was Viking Warrior Conditioning,lol) and it's been a slog coming back. But slog through it I have and it's getting there. I can easily remember when I was doing nothing but sets of 7's and it was kicking my butt.
I was working up to 70-80 sets of 7's but couldn't envision doing 8's with the fatigue level the 70-80 sets were creating so I decided to roll back the total volume and focus on getting some sets of 8 in the mix. The idea was that as soon as I adapted to 50 sets of 8 I would march on towards 80 sets again.
Freakin' 80 sets of snatching( 40 minutes) is no joke.Especially at the top end of my speed spectrum( which 8's are). My HR is ALWAYS 185-195 and that's not a lot of fun.I didn't appreciate how strong I was when I was doing that semi regularly- now I do.SO it's the slow buildup towards that again. But progress is being made.
It makes it so much easier that Tracy has been training with me all along these months because the only thing harder than doing snatch Vo2 for 80 sets is doing it alone, so it's killer to have a training partner who is killing it after doing a spinning class, teaching kbs for an hour as well as an hour and a half Bikram class as a warmup to her max vo2 session with me.LOL! That is just ridiculous training volume and she does that 3-5 times a week plus. I see her do it and still can't beleive it. She is doing Olympic level training and I dread this snatch workout like it was a marathon,lol.
Hey, as a forceably retired powerlifter I like low reps, like ONE, and high sets ,like TEN.Load the bar to a max weight let me grind on it hard for 3 seconds and I'm a happy camper. But those days are long gone and I'm a girevik now and volume is the key to conditioning. max vo2 is the best way for me to get the volume in and NOT have to do 50 rep sets.Lots of sets of 7 and 8 are way better. 3 would be nice though,lol.
In my travels these past nine months I have also found that I snatch much better if I wear my olympic lifting boots( which I dearly love). It was during my back issues a few months ago and I listened to my instinct and put them on. I havent taken them off to snatch yet. I still swing flat footed but with my messed up biomechanics and orthopedic issues this allows me a much better lumbo pelvic position- that much better to squat and pull from FOR ME.
I am NOT advocating this for normal people, but I realized , at the end of my power career I would have been much healthier and had a much better back position if I had listened to my instincts and worn the heel for my power squat.
This time I listened.The load is much more evenly distributed between my quads and hamstrings, my back stays arched much better and my glutes actually fire as well! I feel like I can actually jump like this which is way better,imo, than the completely stiff legged, GS style snatch I had been doing. SO much harder to be as explosive and go as fast as I want to.SO:

Snatch VO2 15 :15
16 kg
50 sets of 7 and 8 reps in alternating groups of 5
375 reps
13,500 lbs

Two clubbell swipes
(2) 10 lb clubs

One arm shield casts
2x15 each side.

havent done the swipes in months. been consistently using the 25 lb club with two handed work. want to get back to the double swipes and build that up.

BW 154
BF 9.0%
Water 60%


Monday, August 03, 2009

The Deep end of the ocean.

Thats what going to Bikrams today felt like. Getting dropped into the deep end of an ocean, an hour and half from shore( if you can swim well) and knowing there is nothing to do but start swimming and not stop til your reach the shore.

Of course you can drown( Bikram I guess likes to say that: " just die Honey, just die' when someone bitches about feeling like they are dying in class. Of course he means the small "self" not the body, but thats another story) but that's not really an option.

It seems like we got there with enough time to stretch a bit but as soon as I had changed the gong sounded the begining of class and that was that.

Man it's weird wanting to warm up for hot yoga class but no one has ever accused me of NOT being weird, so there ya go.

AS far as how Bikrams has been for me the last nine months I would say i have been going forwards by going backwards. Starting over, if you will. I had pushed many of the postures as far as I could, not really cheating but pushing the edge of the training, trying, as I am admonished to do, go "beyond the edge of my flexbility". Didnt work out too well and I had some serious back issues for awhile.

As usual I have to do things my way and once I started approaching the training as I do everything else it started to come around.So I went back to the origins of each pose and made sure I could do the easiest version of what I was trying to accomplish right first before progressing any further and it helped quite a lot.

I adapted pretty well to the heat and the cardio requirements but Bikrams for me is as much about the head, and my concentration as it is anything and that was really really really tough many many days.

But the desire to get in there and sweat the poisons out, to force myself, with the help of my incredible wife and her insanely strong practice, the instructor( no matter how bad) and the group energy to make it all the way back into shore each session really added up.

It became MY practice, not just Bikrams and I felt very comfortable just 'stretching' out some days and not trying to 'kill myself'.

Hey, just surviving each class is a freaking victory, the heat and the 26 postures make sure of that. Especially with my physical restrictions, EVERY pose is hard.Even the 'easy' ones,lol

But the few weeks where I didnt go 2-3 times and just made one class I could really tell the difference. there is a HUGE cardiovascular component to Bikrams and just like everything else the more you do the easier it gets. SO I really noticed NOT sweating it out enough on those weeks.ANd it made me want to get back in and get my heat adaptation strong again. AS well as my mind training.

Cause there is no where to run and no where to hide in those damn classes. At least for me cause I am NOT sitting out poses just cause I'm tired. Just won't happen. SO I just have to keep swimming towards the shore and I know each stroke makes me stronger in some way, even though it looks like I am flailing. I am still swimming, and that's the point.

SO today was hard,especially after the last two classes were the strongest I have ever been, on every level: concentration, balance, breath control, key positions,even flexibility, lol.But you just have to do what you can with the body that shows up that day, as they say and that's just what I did.

As I said, consistency trumps intensity every time. One more class done, lots more to go and snatch vo2 with my honey tomorrow. THEN I can drink some wine, lol.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Beauty of Simplicity.

It's been nine months since I signed off of this blog; this will be my first post since then. Nine months: the requisite time to give birth to something new and although this blog will be about the same things as it always has been: the journey of my training and my thoughts about it, it will also be different. The gestation period between my last post and this one has given birth to a new me, born from silence, observation,contemplation and, as always, lots and lots of training.

And although the difficulties life has presented in the last year did not allow me to reach the goals I had set the year prior it did strip things down to the most bare essentials, the key ingredients from which every other thing is made from and counts on. And nothing became more clear than one of my favorite and most frequently used sayings : training is the source.

The source of strength, of will, of insight, of clarity and of power, both literal and figurative.

I never stopped training this year although my sessions became truncated. I still snatched and swung the bell twice a week, still trained my Yoga and Rifga 4-5 times a week and still used my clubbells twice weekly as well. The intensity was not as high, the numbers nowhere near as important as they had been, the personal records almost non existant except for the most important PR:

I did not miss any workouts, no matter how hard it was to make them.

Things got stripped down to their most basic, their most simple.And at the base of that simplicity I found what I always knew to be the core: Beauty.

The beauty of movement,especially pain free, natural primal movement patterns done with grace and ease and determination. Over and over and over again.

And in those simple beautiful movements I remembered what was really important in training; that consistency trumps intensity; all the time. That intensity is born from consistency. That one cannot force it, one has to lay in wait for it, patiently, instinctively, calmly and be ready to grab it when Grace lays it down in front of you to take it.

I had forced it for so many years and paid the price. That was what I thought athletes, especially athletes with aspirations to Greatness( whatever that really means) did. And I paid the price. No more.

I have finally found how wonderful the most basic, simple things in life, even an athletic life, really are, and how they should not be sacrificed for the call of the ego unless one really does not mind paying for it for the rest of their life.

Most are fine about it til the rent comes due. Then it's a different story. Me too. No more.

I have a client who has torn up their knee again, for the third time playing a ballistic sport. They need more surgery and if they are not really really careful they will soon have NO cartiledge left and will eventually need a knee replacement.

I asked them if they were ready to come back to simple basic training with the most safest implement I know of, the kettlebell and forsake the ego based competition they are addicted to. Their answer was: 'um, I'm not sure. I so love to kick other peoples asses'.

Sure, most do. The problem is that these days they spend more time in rehab than training and will continue to until they are FORCED to step back. They could CHOOSE to step back now but they can't. CAN'T.Not won't.

They don't appreciate the beauty of what they still have left in their body. The ability to use all their primal patterns, strongly, easily, painfree. But not with the intensity of their youth.And not in the high intensity world they crave. They will keep being self destructive until they have no choice left and can say " I wanted to keep going but I couldn't". Seems easier than voluntarily stepping back.But it isn't.

To me it's a simple choice now. To them, not so. But soon.

The most simple things in life are the most precious to me.That is so clear, and one of those simple, beautiful things is being able to swing, snatch a kettlebell.Nothing gives me so much while taking so little from me.

And yet, as my dentist who trains with me says "most people won't do this, it's too hard, even though it would change their life it they would."

And he is right. It's too simple for most to appreciate. and too hard. Just like life. And just that beautiful.