Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snatch day

Haven't settled in yet at all to training the snatch on Wednesdays. I know I will but it's not there yet. Recovered well from Tuesdays long cycle high reps but wasn't feeling too peppy when I got back home to Stones gym after 7 clients in a row.

Plus I freeze my butt off all day as I have to keep the studio cool enough to accommodate my clients increased body temp from all the swings and snatches but it makes me feel like my body is made of petrified wood by the end of the day. I stretch and move but it doesn't help much.

So it's my ten minute passive warmup hot bath and then out to the gym

I wanted to go with 24 kg snatches but all I have now at the Rifstonian Institute( aka StonesGym) is a comp bell and while it works well for my swings I do not like it at all for Hardstyle snatches. the bell handle is too far from the bell's center of mass and this makes my already long stroke even longer.
Too long. Plus my body was telling me I wasn't that strong today and to back off.

I listened. The 20 kg DD bell felt great and I cranked out 150 reps in short order.

Snatch ladders

16 kg x5/5 x3
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x5/5 x2

20 kg x5/5
x5/5 x 5 sets mvo2 style

150 reps
6600 lbs

the last five sets were done with very short rests between sets and a maX VO2 pace. I considered actually doing max vo2 which I think I am almost ready to bring back into the mix. but not yet. I have to build back up to 200 plus reps with the 24 kg before I start alternating these workouts with Mvo2 days.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kettlebell mass.

Reading Ferris's book and thinking about my bodybuilding days and high intensity training really got me up for continuing the mass gains I have been making in the last few months. It hasn't been intentional; this is what happens if you have nice long bouts of uninterrupted progressive training coupled with decent rest, recover and stability in your life.

Especially my upper body which grows like a weed if I just give it a chance.Everyone has muscles that grow easily others that are almost impossible to improve. I showed up with a decent upper body, started swimming almost daily at two years old, spent hours and hours as a pre adolescent surfing and paddling then got into gymnastics. Uh, can you say almost ALL upper body training during my most important developmental years.

Can't say the same for my legs which I trained far harder than my upper body in attempts to balance my physique with hardly much to show for it at all, PLUS if you stop loading your 'not natural' muscles they disappear fast. Having to stop squatting and deadlifting because of my back did not help my legs' cause.

But muscle's not that hard to grow, it just takes, like most things in life, more patience than most of us have. Contrary to popular belief, it's not heavy weights and low reps that build size but sets and reps. Volume builds muscle. That's why bodybuilders train for the pump. Because they know that whatever size they can pump the muscle up to with high tension exercises and short rest periods between work sets, they can eventually turn into 'real' muscle.

Muscle size that is there even when they are not 'pumped.'

SO today was longcycle day in the press and I thought about doing sets and reps of ten, the bodybuilders classic rep choice for a decent blend of both size, strength and pump.

BUT, I wanted use the 24 kg and really didn't know if I could do one set, much less multiples.As usual I would have to wait til I had weight in hand to know anything about how the workout would be.

My lower back was unusually tight this morning during my 6-7 am stretchout; not a great sign but also possibly the omen of a great workout as I have never pr'ed on days I came in feeling great!

6-7 am stretchout
really worked with Ferris's new hip stretch and MAN it rocks! The idea is to place the head of the femur towards the back of the hip socket and it has made an immediate difference in my tight piriformis and deep hip rotators . A big time saver too.

bretzells,lying hamstring strap stretch, up dog, down dog, back bends over stability ball ( this has been neglected and felt great to not only do again but work hard on.) stick shrugs overhead behind back stretches, hip opening squat.

felt solid at the end

Long cycle Clean and press
16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x5/5

24 kg x10/10

Man this was seriously serious hard! I had to really remember to go slowly and have patience. one rep at a time.Let it burn.
Just like the old days,lol

It really helped to have my Queen training right along side me, rep for rep.What great energy and so good to challenge her with something new. She has never done 10's with the long cycle and could really feel it working her in a new way.

SO much of Tracy's incredible muscle mass comes precisely from this combination of high volume workloads, plenty of tension and the multiplier effect of high acceleration forces in total body compound exercises! It's building muscle,burning fat and creating functional mass and movement strength all at the same time.

People say they want better biceps, do bunch of heavy high rep cleans and get back to me. These were two minute long sets and that a lot of time gripping the weight.

I really wasn't sure I could get the third set and was really to settle for 8's but got a nice surge of power and brought it home. Again, kinda like my old days. Back to the future.

And what a freaking pump! crazy in the arms shoulders upper back and a good way of course,lol. But I was done pressing.

But not with arms. onto clubs.

Two hand arm casts
15 lbs x5/5
20 lbs x5/5
25 lbs x 10/10 x 3 sets

On short cycle days I am planning two hand swipes but on long cycle days it's the arm cast

Three sets of ten finished me off with my lats, triceps and mid thoracic muscles screaming at me.

Bodyblade laterals

just for fun ,lol but these things are as hard as you make them and they definitely were a perfect finisher for my shoulders.The blade is a carbon fiber reactive interia device which means the more force you put into the movement the more comes back at you.
It was developed for rehab purposes but I like it for shoulder arm work as well.

Hope I recover well, snatches in two days.


Monday, December 27, 2010


Tom Meyers, author of Anatomy Trains explains the fascia webbing that holds us together

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Tradition

Tracy and I owned a very hardcore World Gym in Campbell Ca for nine years. The gym's previous owner was Dr Scott Connelly, inventor of MetRx engineered meal replacements. It had been called Ironworks Gym for the 18 years it had existed before we took it over and was full of competitive powerlifters, olympic lifters, track and field athletes( Bruce Jenner trained there before his Olympic wins) and hardcore bodybuilders.

While we changed the name and made it a little more 'human" friendly we still had a seriously hardcore bunch of athletes there and we were determine to keep it that was as much as possible. I fell into competitive powerlifting and workouts were never to be missed unless someone was going to the hospital and sometimes not even then,lol.

So if a scheduled workout fell on a holiday well, guess what, the gym was open that day.At least until I finished my training. Christmas was no different. We got up early, got the kids their presents and then Daddy went to the gym to do what needed to be done.

Well now, the kids are all grown up and Mom and Dad still need to get their workout done and today was no different. Tracy took a poll among her class as to who wanted to come it and train her class as usual and the almost everybody showed up!

As a trainer I have learned that clients LOVE to train on holidays as they can get their workouts in without a rush so I end up working most holidays as well.One of the downsides of my business is that if I don't work I don't get paid. There are no 'personal days' or sick days or paid vacations in my business.

So it was off to the gym today to swing some bells. Hey, even Nick got special dispensation from his wife to make it today as well.As any serious training partner would :))

Today was the switchover day from snatches to swings and the 28 kg was on the menu.But I also needed to get some two hands back in the mix so I started there.

Two Hand swings
16 kg x10 x 3
20 kg x8 x3
24 kg x8x3
28 kg x8 x3

My new technique worked even better than I had hoped with the two handers and I got a better reach back than before and even more legs and hips into the mix, with less back involvement. Perfect.
Basically the technique boils down to: down, then back. Break at the knee, then hinge. It's very hard to see for the average person but it feel significantly different to me and that's the key.

One arm swing ladders
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x5/5

28 kg x5/5
x8/8 x 3 rounds
156 reps
9828 lbs

Ladders work great when you are not strong enough to do straight sets and I will do them until I can do 300 plus reps with this whenever I want; then onto straight sets.

Nick surprisingly switched over to swinging as well and really experienced why swings are the Center of the KB Universe. They kicked his butt. He said he would much rather do snatches: they're easier,lol.

Clubbell Barbarian Press
15 lbs x5/5
20 lbs x8/8 x 3 sets
25 lbs x5/5 ( too heavy to keep good form!)

I was amazed at how much harder the 25lb'er was to hold form than the 20! This mix of swings and horizontal presses worked well. Video is above.

Merry Christmas to all,especially the Hardcore!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snatch day two.

Today was the crossover workout as I'm switching Thursdays to snatches and Saturday's main day as swings. I didn't want to use the 24 again today so I went down to the 20 kg and banged out a quick 150 reps with Nick, who had the day off .

I also got an early start due to client vacation/ cancellations so it was sweet to start the workout at 12 noon instead of just leaving Girya for the drive home at that time. A ten minute hot bath passive warmup and into the slowly transforming garage for some basic work on snatch and my new technique.

16 kg x 5/5 x 3
20 kg x5/5 x11 sets
x10/10 x 2 sets
150 snatches
6600 lbs

was actually on my way to 200 but decided to not push things at all and called it a day. Stretchout afterwards and that was that. Very easy but that was the point.Next step off a peak and all that....

Saturday more 28 kg swing volume and clubbell work for Christmas!

hey someone should tell the guy in the above picture no one stretches anymore. It's OUT!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strong is good!

lol, is what I yelled at the finish of my second military press with the 32 kg this morning. I got to go to a place where I used to live and now only rarely get to visit. That place where all things strength is possible, where you can lift and not get weaker, run but not get tired, push your self and not get hurt, where control exists and bends to your will.

Make up your mind and accomplish what you set out to.Where what you see in your mind's eye you can make the body do.

If you watch closely( not that any one would want to,lol) you can see me smile after my first rep, KNOWING that although I had only planned on doing one, I could do two, or more, or more if I wanted to.

Again, known territory, unvisited for quite awhile but so glad to see still exists. In me too.

Tim Ferris in the Four Hour Body speaks about what I've known for most of my life; that one of the few things in life, in fact possibly the only thing that one can control to any degree at all is their body. And that's tough enough as it is but it's possible. Most everything and everyone else is mostly out of your control.

But not where you choose to go and what you choose to do.And today was one of those payoff days. How nice to arrive just when I really needed it.
I had almost given up on getting to play there again :))

6-7 am stretchout and joint mobility

8:30 am Short Cycle Clean and press

one arm swings 16kgx5/5/x3

16 kg x5/5
20 kg x3/3
24 kg x3/3
28 kg x3/3 x 3 sets
32 kg x1/1
28 kg x 3/3 x3 sets

The 28 kg is my new 24 kg for presses. I am no longer scared of it at all and know I can do sets and reps with it safely. I had hoped it would be so today and had thought about even going up and playing with the 32 kg but thought that might be too much too ask.

But when the 28 felt like it did, after three sets I did my single rep and smiled my way through that as well. I didn't want to be greedy but everything felt so go I thought I should do at least another single before going back to work with the 28kg.

When the single felt so good I doubled it so easily it made me shout out at the top,lol.

I know, I'm a goof but hey, it's good to feel good once in awhile

Two Hand Clubbell Swipes

15 lbs x8/8
20 lbs x8/8
25 lbs x 5/5
x 6/6

man those got heavy fast lol. I like doing the full body swipe on short cycle days and will alternate those with just two hand arm casts on my long cycle press days.

One Clubbell Shield Cast

10 lbs x 10/10/10/10

light and fast these felt like nothing in my hands. nice


Saturday, December 18, 2010

24 kg snatch ladders

I've decided to switch Saturdays to swing training and snatch on Wednesdays. I did this for a very simple practical reason; I'm going to push up my swing training and rather than bring home a bunch of heavy bells from Girya I'm just going to switch days and snatch on Wednesday where the the heaviest bell I need is a 24 kg.

I also want to up the volume of swings( and break my old pr's) and this will make the workouts longer, something I DON'T want to do after training clients all morning. Nick will still snatch but that's no problem. Since I did a ton of swings yesterday I still snatched today and will split the workout on Wednesday with some snatches and swings and get on the new schedule next week.

7-8 am stretch out

8 am Snatch

16kg x5/5/x2
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x5/5
x8/8 x 3 rounds
156 reps !!
8268 lbs

haven't done this many pure snatches with the 24 in a while and it felt great.really focused on doing one rep at a time and going through all my cues for my new groove. it went very solid and bottom position , hamstrings( which had been talking to me), grip and wind were all solid.

Plus I wasn't sore at all from Thursday's swings in the same groove which was a very good sign I am on the right track. The loads were spread very well.

Watching the video it's hard to see the differences in this technique and my former one but the movement feels completely different, even in the tempo . But it really feels safe and strong and powerful, if not just a little slower in and out of the bottom. But my grip and rip days are over,lol.
For snatches and deadlifts. Good thing :))

Swing setup tutorial.

this is for Piers, who asked this question on the comments section of my blog

Piers said...

Not to be annoying, but how do you break at the knee before the hip without it sliding forward or throwing your body back?

Two hand shield casts

15 lbs x 5/5

20 lbs x5/5

25 lbs x5/5, 6/6,7/7,8/8

these were good but I was pretty cooked by now. Triceps especially.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

One arm swings, 320 reps

This was a grind but a pr grind nonetheless. It was a good decision to take yesterday off and swing today but it was still hard to get started. Late night and early start didn't make things easier either but hey, what can you do? Most times these are the days that produce good results and today was no exception.

One arm swing ladders ( in Stone Gym)

16 kg x5/5 x2
24 kg x 5/5
x10/10 x 3 rounds
then: 5/5 x 5 rounds

320 reps /current pr
16,960 lbs

I really love ladders and they let me sneak up on the reps gradually and allow this slow warmer-upper to really get warm enough to do the hard sets easily and strongly. They are perfect for sparing fatigue as you attempt high volume work on any exercise. Tracy is the Queen of Ladders and now I really see why.

MY swing form was spot on too. My new technique works well for snatches and swings , although my clean groove is not the same. I really, really hold the glutes and quads tight at the top of the arc AS the bell falls and try to break late into the hinge and it really keeps the combined centers of gravity over my base(feet) much better and I feel it so much more in my legs and hips and not at all in my back.

Although I still get into my leaning style ,it's later into the arc than before.I focus A LOT on staying flat on my WHOLE FOOT and not getting entirely on my heels or ,even worse, on my toes( that never happens to me- the knee doesn't bend enough for that,lol)

I also try to break at the knee THEN the hip, as bending at the knee 10-20 degrees really engages the glutes ( which is a tough one for me) and provides a stable base, allowing me to hinge from there.

This is what messed me up in the power squat as they require a start with locked knees.If I could have started with a slight knee bench my form, groove and strength would have been much better. Having to try to find that position from a locked knee was never the same.

The key is keeping my entire foot flat on the ground and (trying) to bend at the knee as I hinge.
Nice to feel the whole leg working and not just the back/ hips.It doesn't bother the knees either ;))

I am so glad to be getting back into swing form, it is the Center of the RKC Universe after all and I have to give it it's due.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Four Hour Body Book Release, Tracy in Pavel's Newsletter and her first article for Dragon Door!

all in the same day, how cool is that!?!

The 4-Hour Body, new book by Com. Tim Ferriss, RKCII, is packed with cutting edge advice on strength training, exercising for fat loss, and injury proofing your body. Become an early adopter today—or wait ten years until everyone is doing it.

Interview with Tim Ferriss, RKCII
about Kettlebells, Preparation for the RKC course,
and his New Book The 4-Hour Body

Q: Now you're RKCI and RKCII certified—what compelled you to take it further? Any tips for aspiring RKCs?

To be perfectly honest, it was less about the tool -- the kettlebell -- and more about the methodology. Allow me to explain:

RKC was the most systematic approach I found for acquiring the skill of strength. This includes everything from biomechanics and leverage to programming. There aren't many certs where you can see someone go from pressing a 24kg bell to a 40kg bell in three days.

The principles of maximal strength that I learned and practiced at RKC apply to barbells and dumbbells -- and the playing field -- as much as they apply to kettlebells. Kettlebells are, however, a fantastic vehicle for learning the principles because, in general, you get more feedback. This is especially true with a diagnostic like the TGU.

For aspiring RKCs, here are some tips. Focus on the swing first. Your snatch will only be as strong as your swing. I've worked up to 50+ continuous reps with the Beast (click to play). It's harder to "snap" with the Beast than the 24kg! You'll notice about 20 DD KBs lining the hallway… Read the complete article

In The 4-Hour Body you will see kettlebells and a number of familiar names, including RKCs Coms. Tracy Reifkind, Zar Horton, and Gray Cook. A chapter in the book has been dedicated to Com. Tracy's kettlebell swing training for extreme fat loss. Perfect timing—Com. Tracy Reifkind, RKC, just released a DVD.

If you searching a brutally effective fat loss and conditioning regimen, you have found it: Programming the Swing. I was so impressed with Tracy Reifkind's innovations that I am incorporating some of them into the RKC curriculum.

Articles for the Party, from the Party

What You Thought You Knew About The Kettlebell Swing…

by Tracy Reifkind, RKC

Last month while attending Hardstyle Ventura, Team Leader Paul Daniels was complimenting me on how I put together my DVD "Programming the Kettlebell Swing" He told me that he thought that it should become "required viewing for all RKC's " One of the points he brought up was that although he was familiar with a few of the methods I've developed and teach, he never thought to put them in an organized progressive way that would make it easy for anyone, including himself a kettlebell professional, to use this most basic of kettlebell movements, the swing, as an end in itself, not just a means to and end…until now… Read the complete article

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Long cycle clean and press , 24 kg.

As I noted about last weeks press I want the 28 kg to be my new base weight for presses. Short cycle presses, that is, where I just clean the weight once and then do consecutive presses. For long cycle clean and press the 24 is still a challenging weight and it's nice to know it's going to feel light enough to do lots of sets and reps with it with no mental stress.

But it ain't easy,especially as the reps add up, as I found out.

Tuesdays are great because Tracy and I get to train together on the exact same exercise, no small thing and I can push her a bit which is nice for a change.Of course she trained with me after training swings and snatches for 2+ hours, but hey,I'll take it :))

As I did my workout it really got to me how just not very long ago at all I couldn't put any weight over my head without suffering serious shoulder consequences and now I feel like I can actually push myself a bit safely. Nice.

It always amazes me that so many people with healthy uninjured bodies, brand new cars, if you will, that never seem to want to take them out for a real drive; open them up a bit and see what they can do. You don't know what you had til it's gone then it's too late.

6-7 am stretchout.

8:30 am
one arm swings
16 kg x5/5/5/5 x3

Long cycle clean and press
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x4/4
24 kg x5/5

this was seriously hard and easy at the same time!lol.Hard because its a long ass set on ONE arm( about 35 seconds) and then you have to do the other one as well,lol. Easy but I felt like I could just toss the bell around no matter how tired I was getting. Nice. Kinda like the old days; I remember strong. It's still in there.

It's also interesting to note the difference between my lower body and upper body endurance. No surprise, really, considering I grew up on my hands, upside down; but if my shoulders let me I can do really high reps and lots of sets with pretty decent weights and recover very fast. Not so with the legs, hips and back. The opposite of Tracy.

I remember training speed bench with Steve Silver, a legit 500 lb bencher and a solid 230 lbs and being able to use the same weight( 225), for the same reps and keeping the same bar speed for 10 sets of 3 with 2 sets of chains attached ( 80lbs each set),alternating grips each set, with almost no rest between sets and then doing close grips with 275, 315, 325 and 359 AFTER THE main work. Nice.

I thought, briefly, about doing another set of 8's but I was running short on time and the last set of 7 was TOUGH!

Barbarian press

I've played with these before but seeing Scott Sonnon do Barbarian squat presses on youtube yesterday reminded me of them I was very surprised at how much better my lockout was this time than the last time I did these probably almost a year ago.

Tracy has really gotten into clubbell work as well. it's so good for the triceps lats and grip in a completely different way than kbs.

10lbs x5/5
15 lbsx5/5x2
20lb x6/6 x2

looking at the video though I see I still have to keep my shoulders lower at the lockout. no worries this was great and worked the crap outa my triceps and pecs, too. I am so digging the clubbell work these days and still find it the perfect compliment to my kb practice.

Two hand swipes
20 lb cb x10/10 x 3 sets

wow. I got a lot done in a short amount of time this morning. finally adapting to the early starts again,. about time

One arm swings either tomorrow or Thursday,depending how I feel at the end of the workday.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

24kg Snatch Ladders

My wife is not only the Queen of the KB swing, she is also the Queen of Ladders and I guess that has rubbed off on me.Now , I've done ladders for years since I discovered them from Pavel(" climb to the top, then jump down to the bottom and start over") in Enter the Kettlebell; and before that, ladders of a sort in bodybuilding and powerlifting ( basically just climbing up to the top and then climbing back down) or what we called a pyramid,either half( just up) or full up then down.

Ladders are a fatigue sparing technique,and allow you do to more work with less overall fatigue,just what I need lately to build my volume back up. We had the honor of having Ken Froese, RKC come and train with Nick and I today and Ken is one strong dude. I only have one Bulldog( 44 kg) bell at Girya so Ken brought his own today for his double press workout.

I had thought about doing another press workout to get in the feel of the day but decided I have to keep Rob O'Brien from overtaking my position on the snatch board so snatches it was. What I was hoping for was that Ken's serious strength and attitude would have a motivating and fatigue sparing effect in itself on Nick and I, and I was right.

It had a great effect on Nick and he did his snatch ladders with the 32 kg and even did a pr set of 5/5 with the 36 kg bell! Nick wondered why even though their was three of us alternating instead of the usual two we were moving faster,lol.

It was just good energy and with Tracy solidly into the second hour of her 3.5 hour training/teaching session the energy was just great all over Girya!


one arm swings
16kg x5/5/5/5 x3

Snatch ladders
16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5
42 snatches

24 kg x5/5
x7/7 x 3 rounds
108 snatches

150 total snatches

actually thought they would add up to more but I just went how I felt.My new form felt solid and I was very happy not to have almost any DOMS from Thursdays swing training. That was unexpected
heres a video of the last set of sevens on the third round

And here's Ken working the Bulldogs hard. I love this video because Ken, after doing 6 sets of double presses decides to attempt a double rep on the 7th set. Now that's the training spirit, AND although he didn't make the second rep he misses it, as Pavel says, like a professional, never losing his groove or altering his position.

Ken reminds me of the pro wrestler Triple H and he's just as big.

Two Hand Clubbell arm casts

15 lb x10/10
20 lb x8/8
25 lb x8/8 x 3 sets

Put a fork in me I'm done! My tri's starting cooking early, I guess they were still a bit on the tender side after Thursdays light and fast one arm cast work. Light work can make me every bit as sore, or more, than heavy training.

Mission accomplished. let the weekend officially begin!


Thursday, December 09, 2010

28 kg one arm swing ladders

Was going to train as scheduled yesterday but a new client went over and two cancelled today so I decided it was better to wait until this morning when I had plenty of time and energy to train hard, rather than trying to fit it in when I was mo' tired yesterday.

I knew/ know, that I am running the risk of DOMS catching up to me on saturday when it's time to snatch or press hard but I just wasn't into yet yesterday once I knew I had options today.
So I tried to be cautious and cut the volume but upped the weight to the 28 kg.

I haven't done a full swing workout with a weight heavier than the 24 kg in forever and it felt great. Strong and my groove felt solid. Really focused on laying back a bit at the top of the swing,pulling the bell in closer over my base of support by keeping the glutes tighter longer and keeping the 'root' more solid longer.

This lets me initiate with a bit of a knee bend before hinging back and I feel much safer and stronger in this position. The knees have to bend at least 15 degrees for the glutes to engage and my old style was getting to 'tippy bird' too early and using too much back and hip and almost no leg and glute.

My legs are letting me know this is a good thing now.

I decided on laddering up because I didn't know if I could start, much less maintain, a higher rep count for any number of sets. I love ladders as they give me confidence to increase the difficulty of the next set based on the success of the last.
It's just like putting another plate on the bar after the last addition went easily. Success breeds success.

One arm swing ladder

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

28 kg x5/5
x5/5 x 5 sets

140 swings with 28
8820 lbs

These went great. everything felt connected and strong and nothing hurt. Put some AC/DC on Pandora and went for it. I left with lots more in the tank but with respect for what I have to do with only one day rest.

Here's some video of the last set of 10/10 , shot with my new IPhone. I also realized to get the video to take up the full screen I have to turn it on it's side. Hey, I've only had it a couple days. But man I love this thing :))

Post workout stretch

30 solid minutes of foam roller, brettzells, hamstring stretches, up and down dog and overhead and behind back stick stretches in front lunge and horse stance postures.Nice to stretch out after the workout for a change when the body is warm and tired, ready to give in to the stretch.

datsit. Hopefull some big presses and snatches on saturday with Ken Froese when he comes to visit.Here's a video of him pressing some very very big weights.

Two Hand Shield casts
15 lbs x 10/10 x 5 sets

One Arm casts
10 lbs x10/10 x 3 sets

Wanted to just get some volume in and went light and fast. Love my clubbells.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The New Floor Pt 2

As I wrote last week, I want the 28 kg to be the new floor in my press routine. I feel like I can press the 24 kg for as many reps as I want to now. It feels light, like the 16 kg. The 28 doesn't feel "light" as it should, yet, but it now feels like the 24 kg used to and that is good.It's all mindset anyway.The lighter I feel it is the easier it is to get tight and set; and expect the press to fly.

I got over the DOMS from Saturdays snatch workout and slight change of technique( which always activates new muscle patterns and hence soreness) yesterday and felt ready to go this am.

Stretched out from 6-7 am as Tracy taught her class.focused on getting my hams open and overhead stretches in both front lunge and horse stance postures.These are really coming along. As usual , downward and up dogs,brettzels two ways, straddle stretches and foam roller work as well as stick shrugs and behind the back stick stretches..

8:30 KB Mil Press

one arm swing warmup
16 kg x 5/5/5/5 x 2
one arm clean
16 lg x5/5 x3

Mil Press Ladders
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x3/3 x2
24 kg x3/3
24 kg x1/1

28 kg x 1/1
x5/5 pr!

the last set of five

Perfect. I OWNED this weight today. Just as it should be.So great to train with my Queen as she did rep after rep with the 16 kg, So proud of her! This last set of five for me was not hard at all.

Two Hand Clubbell swipes
15 kg x 10/10
20 lbs x10/10
25 lbs x10/10 x 3 sets

these were great, a nice combination of mid line swing technique and the overhead cast. Tracy did them for the first time with the tens and rocked them .I love training with just her and I every Tuesday :))

here's some video

just 55 minutes


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Hungarian style snatches

Teaching the snatch in Hungary.

I felt great from Wednesdays one arm swing fest on Thursday and Friday but woke up this morning with some strange cramping in my leg rectus femoris( main hip flexor of the quads) for no damn good reason. I say that the definition of getting old is getting injured sleeping.

Well, here's a great example. I did nothing,really, out of the ordinary yesterday or the day before, stretched out and woke up with a weird muscle spasm that I couldn't explain. The I did do some fairly dynamic high knee lifts that I haven't done before but c'mon, I gotta walk that thin a line? well I guess I do because the leg didn't want to release this morning and I didn't have a lot of time to stretch before my workout time started.

Of course I could have just stretched out and skipped the session but I have had enough experience with things like this that I know that sometimes just getting back into a 'normal' motor pattern can reset the bodyclock and the 'pain' goes away. Or at least diminishes greatly.

So I figured I would warm up and see how things felt then but man, I hate little crap like this! I just have to be very,very, very careful with which movements I do and how 'hard'. MY engine is way to strong for this frame these days and I have to always remember that.

I also know that I haven't made the time to fully stretch out before work and that's a mistake. I have to "open up" my body before I start training people as the cold studio( they're warm, they're swinging,lol) mixed with so much standing and truncated movements gets me very tight very quickly.

It's so easy to forget and or stop doing enough of what gets one into balance once one feels in balance. The 'need' to balance is not as strong and it's easy to get lazy.But it sure can come back and bite you in the ass and being in pain is such a major time and energy sink.
And I have LOTS to do these days,my regular job being almost the least of it,lol

Plus, you end up doing so much more stretching to get back to plumb you might as well do it in the first place.

Not to say that's the sole reason this happened; it's more likely those high knee lifts but I still need to stretch out early every day.
Who needs sleep?

7-8 am stretch out and roller

8-9:20 am

one arm swings
16 kg x5/5/5/5 x3
20 kgx5/5x2

snatch ladder
16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5
x8/6x 2 rungs
104 reps
4576 lbs

these went very well and I made some modifications to my stance that I probably needed to do anyway. My stance has been creeping in to the narrowest position it's ever been in and it's a bit too much hip and back and not enough leg
So I opened up a bit and really sat back on the descent FIRST and then did my normal groove. this put my COG over my base more and spread the load better. Felt good immediately which is usually the sign ,lol.

Tracy and her girls were doing their normal 1000 snatches or something like that.The workout was very quiet so I know it was a hard one. But she is a machine I tell you, a machine! Her work capacity rivals any one I know of.

So,now finally warmed up and my leg feeling normal I went to the 24 kg but decided to do them as I did my swings on Wednesday, Hungarian style; i.e one arm at a time.
Still wanted to be cautious and respectful of my leg even though it was feeling better and stayed with five rep sets

Hungarian snatches
24 kg
20 sets of 5 reps ,alternating arms
100 reps
5300 lbs

this was reminiscent of max vo2 training although I was totally off the clock and going by feel. Nick was out today so I had to pace myself, no problem as I was finally warmed up and feeling good. I didn't even look at the clicker as I did sets and had to real goal but to go until I felt like my form and or speed/power of each rep started to decline.

When I finally looked at the clicker and saw 17 sets I was surprised and happy. 100 reps this way was very interesting and my power stayed up for all the sets and reps and my rest periods were not long, probably no more than twice the amount of the work set( 12 sec?).

I just really wanted to get into the zone and go by feel and it worked great.I also just realized that this was a 200 rep snatch workout. Although half of them were with the 20 kg it's ok. 200 reps is 200 reps and more than I've done in quite a while.

One arm swings
24 kg x5/5
32 kg x5/5 x 5 sets

Two more sets than last week and they were much stronger. used the same slightly wider stance and layback technique here as well.My grooves are always a moving target and I have to stay alert to what my body is telling it me it needs now in order to perform safely.

Theses heavy one arms on Saturdays will really help my volume Wednesday work as well.

Two handed arm cast ladders
15 lbs x 10/10
20 lbsx 8/8
25 lbs x 5/5

these felt very strong and didn't irritate anything,lol. nice. Actually got a lot more work done today than expected.

now go home to tape, stretch and relax for the weekend!


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Four Hour Body National Video trailer

Now it can be told. All those pictures of Tracy on the roof swinging kettlebells were for a video shoot she was doing as part of Tim Ferris's new book "The Four Hour Body" due to release December 15.

The tag line for the book is " an uncommon guide to rapid fat loss, incredible sex and becoming Superhuman." Tracy has her own chapter in the book and her transformation is detailed there. She is the lead in the story of "rapid fat loss".Some crazy stuff is happening to us very very quickly. way cool all the way around!

Here's the video and it's too cool. Can't wait to see Tracy on the Today show with Tim,lol.

One arm swings,Hungarian style

I was determined to come right home from work, take the hottest ten minute bath I could stand and go right to the gym and get to my swings. My body woke up well this morning and I stretched out easily so I knew I had no excuses at all. I even got off early at 12 noon and wasn't going to be tired at all.

As with the press I am ready to get my strength and numbers back. Tired of messing about and not having the strength mindset I need to get the work capacity I want to have as an everyday thing. So I made up my mind and that was that.

The garage is shaping up and soon it will be Stones Gym again, but for right now the platforms are solid, the bells are there,the stereo works and is loaded with all my favorite training cd's.Today ended up with Disturbed's "Indestructible" and it was symbolic and just right.

I did 230 one arms last week and wanted to make the jump to 300 but that meant 15 sets of 20( 10/10) but last week was ladders which are far easier than straight reps. So I thought I would do them "Hungarian Style" as Peter now does with his snatches and just do sets of 10 with one arm, rest as much as necessary and as little as possible and do the other arm

For some reason 30 sets of 10 seemed far more tolerable than 15 sets of 20. I'm still out of shape but I'm getting there :))> And what's out of shape is my mind, way more than my body. But that's getting there too.

One arm swings

16 kg x5/5/5/5x2

24 kg x 10 reps x 20 sets
x 10/10 x 10 sets
300 reps( current pr)
15,900 lbs
33 minutes

I am such a slow warmer upper. By the time I got to 200 reps I was ready( physically and mentally) to go to 10/10 and still keep the rest short.My groove felt so solid and smooth.And I really liked doing these one arm at a time, it allowed for a very strong workset and still high volume.
I definitely noticed on the last 100 which were done in sets of 20 that the intensity was down a bit as I was saving something for the second arm.

I actually thought I was making it easier on myself doing one arm at a time but in the end I went to the longer set to make things easier, not harder,lol

This is definitely a good sign,especially after training just yesterday as well.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A new floor.

It's hard to believe that not very long ago I couldn't press at all.Not kbs overhead, not bench press with a bar or a db, not even a pushup without my right side rotator cuff screaming at me and locking down my whole right side for days or more.

My right teres major would lock up my humerus into internal rotation I would also get crazy bad biceps impingment. My shoulder was a mess, so I took over two years off of pressing anything, did almost nothing but one arm swings, snatch holds and rehab/corrective drills.

It paid off big in August of 2008 when, on a lark at the Ck-FMS I ended up doing kneeling presses as part fo Gray Cooks program and realized I could indeed press again.In fact I pressed the 32 kg after not having pressed anything nor worked any of my pressing muscles for over two years.

Here is a video I took of my kneeling press I did in my home gym when I got back., just to make sure it wasn't a dream

I came back to the press gingerly always making sure to keep the volume of loading down, my correctives high, and , most importantly my overhead snatch work which I am convinced was the key rehabilitative aid in my rotator recovery.

That and rededicating myself to getting back my overhead flexibility, a job to which I am still dedicated and gaining ground every day on.

That was over two years ago and I am still riding the wave of progressions, ramping up and backing down slowly keeping the progress slope slightly up and to the right.A few months ago I actually pressed the 36 kg bell last November which was just half my bodyweight! Crazy. Then I started training and it's been solid work. I ramp up to the 28 or 32 kg bell always trying to increase either total number of reps per set or total number of sets or ladders.

With my travel and teaching schedule what it's been I have had to be very cautious so progress, while steady, has been slow.

It wasn't too long ago that I would approach the 24 kg very cautiously as well, hoping I would get sets of 3-5 strongly.

Then the worm turned and the 24kg started feeling like the 16 kg BUT the 28 and the 32 did not.
Until now.
I decided that the 28 kg has to be my new floor, the bottom level at which it becomes an everyday weight, not one I have to 'peak ' for. The number of sets , reps and ladders I can do with it can vary but I have to start training with it more oftern, regardless of my travel schedule.

Where the new ceiling is I have no idea except that I want to play with the 32 like I did before with the 28 and I want to press the 36 as my peak fairly regularly.
The higher you climb the farther you see.

SO MUCH of strength training is the mind, the strength of the mind, the training of the mind. The strength training of the mind. that's part of the beauty of doing just a few simple things over and over again with serious intent and desire for deep skill. It works :))

6-7 am
stretchout and joint mobility in Tracy's class

8:30 am
one arm swing
16 kg x5/5/5/5 x3
one arm cleans
16 kg x5/5 x3

Short cycle press
16kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x 3/3

28kg x1/1
x3/3 x 3 ladders

these went very well, the cleans felt easy, the bell felt light in the rack and the presses were fast and easy.

Here's a video of the last set

I had plenty more in me but not much time so onto some clubbells.

I used to do plenty of clubbell swipes and actually managed 300 continuous with the 10 lb clubs and 150 continuous with the 15 lb clubs but that was before my back took a hike last year and recent efforts to try them left my back not happy.

So I decided to play with the technique, using as an efficient a style as possible and minimizing the ROM as much as possible and it seemed to worked fine. Kind of a GS for clubbells.

I started out with one arm swipes and then went to doubles and they were fine
One arm swipes
10 lbs x 10/10 x 2
two arm swipes
15 lb x10/10 x 3

heres some video

I am really digging the two handed cb work but it would be great if I could also do some reps with the swipes. they are cool to do.

Two hand cb shield cast
15 lb x10/10
20 lb x10/10 x 2 sets

More fun! easy too.

KB lunge( left leg only)
16kg x10
20 kg x10 x 2 sets

that's it. Got to train with my bride watching her crush her 14 kg press for sets and rep ladders as well. It's nice to train with her when we are doing something I am strong at,lol.
Looking for 300+ one arm swings tomorrow with the 24 kg in Stones Gym.

Can't wait :))


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snatch ladder

Wanted to get back to more than 3 sets of 10 with the 24 kg this week but wasn't sure how I was going to do it. I had ladders on my mind since I live with the Queen of Ladders and thought that might be the good way to go.

Just wasn't sure how I would climb.As always I never really know what the load or the volume are going to be until after the warmup and I didn't sleep well at all two nights ago and feel like I am fighting off getting sick.The fast transition to cold grey and rainy didn't help me getting any warmer or looser any time faster. Make sure eat extra of my super foods: onions, garlic, spinach and raw honey. These have a very positive effect on my immune system and recovery ability no doubt.

Pre training baths are also back in the mix.The Russians call it a passive warmup and usually they use a sauna but I don't have one and the bath is great.The key is to keep it short( 5-10 min tops) or it will relax you too much and you won't feel like training. The other key is to get it done right before the active warmup starts which works great when I train at home but not so good at girya.
No worries I got there extra early to fully stretch out first.


16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x5/5
x8/8 x 2 rounds
104 reps with the 24 kg
36 reps with the 20 kg

140 total snatches

these went great and the weight felt light and moved fast.Next time do all three ladders with the 24. I think 8's are the top of my rep scheme for awhile as I can still accelerate the weight well and my still stay in the groove. The ladders provide a great fatigue sparing effect.

One arm swings
24 kg x5/5
28 kg x5/5
32 kg x5/5 x 3 sets

wanted to do some heavier one arms today after Wednesdays great swing session with the 24 kg. One arms just really agree with me and I'm motivated again to push these numbers and weights up.I"ll put two arms back in in a bit but again with lower volume and heavier weight as well. Hardstyle.

I was surprised these went so well, in that the weight felt very light in my hands and on my body. Speed and height of swing( chin) was good and easy.Got caught off balance on the first transfer with the 32 and I wasn't quite in perfect position to tame the arc of this big bell. It's been awhile since I did anything heavier than the 24 kg.
Lesson learned.

Two hand Clubbell Shield cast/barbarian press

20 lb x5/5
25 lb x5/5 x 3 sets

these were just fun and very strong. havent' done the barbarian press( think a standing bench press) in eons and my elbow lock was best it's been. all the flexibility work is definitely paying off.

Those who say people don't need to stretch are very young and or uninjured. Stretching out fully,regularly is helping me immeasurably.

datsit :))

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pain is guaranteed; suffering is optional.

I miss Hungary. Great video of last years Grad Workout and two of the stars of Team Rif and RKC Germany ;Gregor and Alex.

"The snatch, not an advanced swing"

Great new article by Max Shank on the power of the basic swing. This cuts right to the chase

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back in the Cave

Both Geoff Neupert and David Whitley, Master RKC's have said to me, independently, that they were glad I was out of my cave, after I started blogging again after a nine month hiatus. Mark Toomey, RKCTL, and Director of American Operations for Dragon Door, at this years Hardstyle Ventura told me he wanted Pavel to "go back in the cave" and come up with some new stuff no one had seen before.

Back in the Cave.

I stopped training in my garage over a year and a half ago for various and sundry reasons. My once proud courage corner is now little more than a storage space with three very sturdy platforms and a few kettlebells.I started doing all my training at Girya and was very happy to feel as if my studio had evolved from just a personal training studio to the kettlebell dojo that I had imagined it could be.

Tracy's hardcore, badass classes had infused an energy to the place it just hadn't had before and Nick and I lent our presence and own hardcoreness to it every saturday morning as well. But, as I wrote about before, working out on my own after 7 clients in a row left me a little less than inspired. Especially on Wednesdays when the schedule called for LOTS of swings.

If I started out tired of being there it didn't make sense I would have the umph to push through the boredom and crank out the sets and reps I wanted to do. SO I've gone back to the Cave on Wednesdays and today's workout was a real good omen for the rebirth of Stones Gym and my own personal courage corner.

It always surprises me when I am unmotivated and tired and my body says YES! to the workload I give it rather than no way.I almost never see it coming, even after all this time in the gym, it almost always surprises me.

I could have done more today,especially given how good I felt but I am cautious and would rather low ball the number than push it.But my swing groove felt smooth, fluid and powerful and the 24 kg was moving like the old days. Chin height one arm swings with a solid connection to the earth and my body rooted strongly.

Maybe it's those platforms :))
Maybe it's Monster Magnet playing on my stereo, too loudly.Luckily my house is a corner lot and my neighbors never complain:))
Just like the old days

One arms swings

16 kg x5/5 x2
24 kg x5/5
x10/10 x 2 rounds
x5/5 x 5 rounds

230 swings
12,190 lbs

was going to go up to the 28 kg I felt so solid but want to nail down at least 400 reps a few times before I go up. Have to earn it, no matter what I did in the past.

Only as good as your latest kill,eh?

All the parts are holding and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kinesio tape.Sometimes I have more tape on me than clothes,lol.

Back in the cave, getting back to basics and the primal-ness of the basic swing.Listening to my body, building back my strength, re serving my reserves and learning what I need to know for Now. For where I am right now.

My timing on today's swing couldn't have felt better and it's a good omen :)) Time to learn some new things.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Long Cycle Clean and Press

This is such a great exercise; in some senses the perfect combination of a ballistic and grind move all in have the obvious swing component in the clean,which in my opinions gets little of the respect it deserves, and the strict press, perhaps the basic of all the high tension kb moves, done back to back for any number of reps and sets,or for time.

It's a very start/stop exercise and as soon as you get the rhythm of the swing start you come to agrinding( literally) halt,then zip everything up and create tension.

But, with that alternation of tension and relaxation there is their own rhythm which comes out quickly, if you are feeling good and not at all on those tough days.

Today I was feeling good for no good reason and the groove came early and easily. nice to have those days.I had taken it pretty easy on saturday for obvious reasons and wanted some decent amount of not too heavy work

And, as usual I didn't know how I would feel til I started training so I planned on going light first for a few sets and them jumping up; kind of a kb pre exhaust if you will.
or , if you are more powerlifting minded, a Sheiko approach. I like this, as it really let me get wamred up with the lighter weights and still lets me go heavy.

You would think that doing multiple sets with a sub maximal weight would tire one out but it just seems to get me warmed up fully and really let me set my groove into place

6-7 am joint mobility with Tracy's class then 40 mintues of static stretching focusing on overhead stretches in horse and front stances. this is my new thing in my stretching routine and I love it. I am even doing overhead stretches while in a wide stance squat, very good, but the overhead work while in a karate style lunge are the best and really stretch the back leg side from lower quads through the abs and up into the pecs and lats.

I do both straight overhead and then each arm to the ear one side at a time, all the while staying in the lunge stretch stance.

kb warmup
one arm swings 16 kg x5/5/5/5 x 3 sets
kb cleans 16 kg x5/5 x 2 sets

long cycle clean and press
16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x 5/5
x 6/6
24 kg x 5/5 x 3 sets

these felt the best in the longest time, both the cleans and the press. all so very light with good speed in the press

see saw press
16 kg x 5/5
20 kg x 5/5
x 6/6
x 7/7

haven't done these in ages and they were perfect after the strict presses.

two hand arm casts
15 lb x10/10
20 lb x10/10
25 lb x10/10 x 3 sets

gotta get a bigger club or do more reps/set. these are getting very easy, love it.

one kb lunge( left leg forward only)
16 kg x8/8,

good to have these back in the mix. they help balance my legs very well.going to play with two kbs but still only using the left leg in front

datsit, only an hour to get it done.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My training partner, business partner, friend.

and mentor,Scott Wilson, Pro Mr American and American Bodybuilding legend. Never seen this footage before but this was a year after I had the honor of becoming his training partner.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Restoring balance.

I'm not a balanced person. Physically, at least,lol .My catastrophic knee and shoulder injuries before the age of 21 guaranteed that. But I have spent virtually every waking moment in those last 36 years working to restore the physical balance in my body, gain and retain my strength, both inner and outer and explore the limits of what can be restored and obtained even with these injuries.

I have always been thoughtful of balance, no surprise given my beginning as a surfer( I grew up in Miami) and then gymnast and I wrote a novel( unpublished) at age 21 called "A question of balance" about the world of gymnastics training, competition and coaching.

The desire for great balance, in all it's forms, has been there for me from the beginning. But I also honor the extremes, as well, and that can make it more, well, challenging, to find the center of the center. It's a lifetimes work for me so I'm in no hurry, but the lessons when you are off center can be daunting. Ok ,painful.

After last weeks dive into the deep end of the pool of High Volume Kettelbell training I knew I had bit off a little more than my imbalanced body could handle, and the last four days was as much about walking a tightrope making sure I calmed things down and did not slip over the edge as anything.

The high number of two handed swings really worked my much stronger right side and I had to make sure to stretch and relax and eat right to make sure the tension calmed down and I restored my current level of physical balance.

This also meant going back to my "asymmetrical' training focusing mostly on one arm kb moves.

When I herniated my disc in 2000 all of my rehab training was about asymmetrical movements; exercises and patterns that strengthened my weaker side and elongated, lengthened and stretched my much too tight stronger side.

I did all kinds of unilateral movement and was amazed when I discovered the kettlebell and realized that the ability to swing and snatch it with one arm at a time, while inherently unbalanced and asymmetrical CREATED balance in symmetry in my torqued frame.

For nine years I have tried to incorporate two hand swings, a bilateral movement,like a squat or a deadlift into the routine with no good result. Until a few months ago. But like many medicines the difference between a cure and a poison is entirely in the dosage.

Same here.

I learned alot this last week and I knew todays training there would be no two hand swings jsut the stabilizing corrective of the one arm kb snatch. Two handers will be back in the mix next week. Done heavy, for low reps and total volume.


one arm swing warmups 16 kg x5/5 x3 sets

16 kg x5/5( snatch) x 3 sets
20 kg x5/5 x 5 sets
24 kg x5/5 x 5 sets

that was it. the 24 kg snatches felt surprisingly easy light and fast but I was cold and I also knew I needed a serious warmup before I played with them. The 50 reps of 20 kg snatches re established my groove form and timing and it worked perfectly.
I was thinking of Russian powerlifting Coaching legend Boris Sheyko, who regularly has his students do multiple sets of medium reps with say a 75-80% load before moving up to 85 % and doing volume there as well.

Way too often I am in too much of a hurry to get to the workweight and don't pay enough respect to the knowledge I have about how much real warmup this body needs.

Today I did :))

Two Handed Clubbell Shield casts(alternating)

I was inspired by the video I posted last week of the strength and conditioning done in the Gojo Ryo style; here. So when I went to play with my clubs today that was what I was thinking,Of course I have no idea of really what I was doing but my intent was just to alternated each side shield cast with a midline swing and a grip change on the fly.

It was strong, fun and a good place to start with this style of training the clubs. More wide stance barbarian presses/squats to come as well.

15 lbs x 5/5
20 lbs x5/5

25 lbs x5x 3 sets

So all this asymmetrical training today got me feeling very balanced and back on track quickly. My legs hips and back feel like they have been before last week and I seem to recover much more quickly from everything these days, as well as being able to work harder and longer as well.
Good stuff and the purpose of my training as well.