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.



guy said...


Glad to see your still at it wisely. My elbow is just now stating to feel 100%. I had to cut hvy TGU's to one day a week, & Do VWC practice (lat protocol) just two days a week, down from 3 times weekly.

I'm 42 and I just want to be strong, move well, and defend myself if I have to (hopefully I won't). Right now, the Titan challenge, VWC, and Z health are all I need, I just have to be smart about volume and weight. I hope DD never makes a KB bigger than a beast ;)
Thanks Sir, All the best.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks guy.

i was amazed at how big the 36 kg seemed. not so much heavy as big. I'm glad it went up easily and the forearm and elbow opened up well.

Boris T. said...

Knowing where that line is, is very important. I know I have the same problem, I push until something give and bam I am back at square one.

When you feel healthy there seem to be no limits until that invisible line is crossed. I almost fell into it myself this past weekend at the AKC Las Vegas classic while trying to cut 11lb the night before the competition.

36kg looks and sounds big. I haven't pressed a DD style bell in ages, but that is one thing I remember not liking about them. The size changes with each increased weight, take time to get use to if you've been working with one weight for a while.

Mark Reifkind said...


I actually LIKE that the heavier bells are bigger. I'm a powerlifter at heart and I always loved the look of three plates, four plates, five plates, It got me psyched.when I cleaned the 36 kg right before I pressed it I remember feeling/thinking, "damn this thing is".It really got me thinking about how big the Beast must be in the rack postition,lol.
and yeah, when I not in pain there seems to be no limit to what I could do, which is the problem,lol.
today the forearm is fine which is good but I definitely realized that I hit a peak, time to step down, I'm done falling off.
thanks for commenting man.

Boris T. said...

I am not a fan of that as it forces a change in form. I loved doing powerlifting myself, nothing better then pulling 5 plates off the floor. Just the look of 500lb on the bar was exciting, but the difference was that the stack of 5 45lb plates didn't change the height of the lift.

I personally am a fan of consistnt form, no matter what the weight. But still wouldn't mind getting my hand on a bulldog KB though.

Mark Reifkind said...


totally disagree about the five plates not changing the dynamics of the lift.the more plates on the bar the the longer one has to pull before the bar even comes off the floor. even more so in the squat. walking out with five plates is completely different than with one.even hundred pound plates change the lift completely as opposed to the same poundage done with all 45's
I would NOT want to have to lift heavy barbell lifts with a plate that was just one plate thick but got heavier itself.
thanks for the comment.

Mark Reifkind said...


you said it didnt change the 'height' of the lift.correct, but it doesn change the dynamics of the lift.

Boris T. said...

Rif you made good points the weight alone changes the dynamic of the movement. A loaded bar bends as it is lifted off the ground or a rack and plays with the balance of the movement. Same with a heavy kettlebell, even in GS Bells the heavier ones force your to lean further back in the rack. But do allow for a more consistent feel in the rack.

Franklin said...

Oh boy, that one really hit home hard. I've had to can kettlebell pressing all together as I could never determine where that freakn danger line is.

Unfortunately that meant no RKC II due to the pressing requirements. These days, I find 24kg TGUs and windmills is all the kettlebell shoulder work I can handle.

Yeah, I know you tweaked yourself post lift, and encouragement is not something you were seeking with your blog post, but from one middle aged man to another, pressing half your body weight with a kettlebell is a very, very impressive accomplishment .. congratulations!!