Saturday, May 29, 2010

721 to go.

To my goal of 50 thousand snatches.

Wow, another amazing workout, this time in max vo2 and the snatch. Thursdays training was SO strong I thought for sure I would have to back down as I would be feeling weak or tired or tweaked in some way but everything felt great yesterday, sleep was good, food was good, things are quiet and stable and I figured I could go over the 60 sets of 7 I did last week.

The question was, how many sets over? MY old norm was to make a pr by as few sets as possible and maintain progress longer. But something in my gut told me I could make a big jump today. The stars were aligned, it seemed. The joints and my muscles have been feeling better than ever( knock wood) and my recovery is at it's bets in a year.

Changing my eating to starting early has helped as well and my muscle mass and weight are up. It feels GOOD to feel strong again, lol. I so missed it. I love to work hard and push myself, just tired of being in real pain, not training pain.Big, Big difference.

I know my change in technique in my swing and snatch are making the difference and I'm really developing a confidence in my positions so that when the sets get hard( as they did today) I can just put my head down( metaphorially) and PUSH, and not worry the spine is taking the load. This is classic RKC swing technique as well as classic WSB power good morning technique and it's working great. I just had to switch over slowly.

Well not that slowly,lol. Keeping my head up, my back arched, my knees out and shins vertical really allows the hips to be maximally loaded. The key is keeping my head up, which keeps the erectors in extension and stabilizes my spine from flexing, which is very very bad for me.

I told Tracy I thought I would go for 70 sets on Saturday. She encourage me, as she always does, telling me she knew I could do it.
I knew, as I always know, that I wouldn't know, until I picked up the bell.But it's so nice when your woman believes you can do anything :))

30 min stretch out warmup

Snatch Vo2
16 kg
72 sets of 7
18,144 lbs!

It started out very strongly but at sets 35 it started getting rough( those 15 sec are short!) and I realized I had to do it all again I got a bit worried. I didn't want to overshoot and I thought that today could have very easily been the day to 'step back'.

I let my body guide me; I didn't mind the cardio or muscular fatigue I just didn't want to feel any "tweakyness" from the spine or hammie or pelvis.

And I didn't . Everything felt as symmetrical and uniform as it maybe ever has. Really felt 'linked' up and my groove and timing of each rep was solid.

I was finishing early too, so it was an 8 rep pace.

I didn't expect to do 72 sets but the gym boss when off after 100( 50 sets) and I lost two cycles on my counter so I just kept going. Tracy told me they had done 70 but I didn't want to mess it up and did the extra just in case. No worries.

And I didn't yak,although I wanted to, lol. didn't take my HR but it was 200 plus no problem. Haven't been there in awhile.

Next week 55 sets. Nice

Gama Cast with clubbells.( two handed shield cast)
20 lbs x 10 x 4 sets
25 lbs x 10 x 4 sets.

these felt strong as well. Am really enjoying my clubbell work too. So good for my arms, shoulders and upper back.

oh yeah, the kb outline was from the back of my shirt. I spent some time on my back on the pavement outside Girya after the workout. Good times :))

PR for Real. One man's quest to Military Press half his bodyweight. And the Mind Spot.

Let me lead with this: I have nothing against training for Pr's( personal records). In fact, it was the hallmark of my training in powerlifting for 15 years as it is a key component of the Westside Barbell method, my preferred system of systematic torture for powerlifting progress.

Every week in WSB land, we strove to get a new pr in some special exercise or variation of a competition lift. PR's for wide grip board press, close grip, 3 board, 2 board, floor press close, floor press wide, etc. etc. We knew,especially on max efforts( close to or above 100% of personal best) that one could only increase loads for one, perhaps two, weeks before progress would stall out, or, go backwards.

So we switched up the exercises on a regular( weekly basis), and, the stronger you were, the more often you had to change things to avoid stalling out. One had to discern which exercises, though, had a postitive correlation with the competitive lift you were actually trying to improve. In competition that is.

Setting a pr on your close grip two board press, which you knew meant your competition bench press would be stronger was great. EXCEPT it didn't matter UNLESS you actually went to a competition and did the lift on a platform, under the intense scrutiny of judges who were not your friends and could care less if you got the lift or not.

All competitive lifters know one thing, gym lifts don't mean shit. Sorry to burst some bubbles here but in the world of competitive athletics what really matters is what you can do in competition. Under pressure, on somebody's else's time table, in some strange gym with strange equipment, probably NOT in your own time zone and on COMMAND! Not when you feel good about it, or ready, or are perfectly warmed up, or your assessments tell you this is a good lift or a good time to push.

Suit up, show up and see what you're made of. Or not.

So when Doug Fioranelli, RKC came to Girya last year to prepare for the half bodyweight press he had along way to go and he knew it. This was the 40 kg.I worked with him on the basics of strict pressing; the loaded clean, activating the lats, pushing on the contact point of the bell, keeping the shoulder in the socket, etc. He missed it at Girya, pretty badly. Jordan worked with him as well. He trained, he listened, he implemented. Still no go.

Then onto the Level 2 in February.He felt good but he missed it again.Better than before but still a miss. Doing things on demand are just way harder than in the gym. Everyone knows this.Back to the gym but Doug just had a 32 kb bell and a 40 kg so we figured out some tricks for him to use to prepare. Jerking the 40 kg with negative presses, various set/ rep combo's with the 32kg, etc. He had three months to complete his task and get his Level 2 certification.

Nothing like goals and a deadline. And a real personal record to achieve. No where to run, no where to hide and no way to go around. You must go through. To his credit he leaned in and pushed ahead even though I could tell he was not sure at all he could do it.

He came to Girya again last month to test his press. Another miss. This is where things get tricky as this stuff can get stuck in your head and getting the negative images, fears and doubts out are as important, no MORE, important than anything you do in training. It's all in the mind, and the stronger you get, and the higher up the chain you go the more you realize this. How you think about the lift, or don't think about it can make or break you.

We were running out of time. I pulled out all my tricks and really got down to the nitty gritty with him in terms of intensity and form. All singles. No other pressing. More rest. He came back two weeks later to test again, knowing he had this day and one other or he had to retake the level two next year.

He missed the 40 kg again but this time I showed him my "Mind Spot" technique. After he had pressed the 36 kg a bunch of singles, missed the 40 kg twice , I told him I would "spot" him on it.
I stood very close as he set up.When he racked the weight I touched his forearm to let him KNOW I was right there.

He crushed it.

I didn't do anything but spot his mind.

By my being there, and relieving him of the anxiety of whether or not he would make the lift( he 'knew' if he started to miss it I would 'help') ALL of his mental strength went into making the lift. No fear, no hesitation, no anxiety, no self doubt. Just pure commitment to what he needed to be focused on the whole time anyway. Pushing ALL OUT and MAKING the lift. No pre preparing his defeat speech about why he missed it, or feeling how bad things were going to be if he didn't make it, etc. , etc., etc.

All things that NO ONE should be thinking about as they attempt a max lift. But it's hard not to.

He was amazed.Especially when I told him, which he knew, that I didn't help at all. This made a huge difference. It set the stage for his last attempt this last Tuesday. Make or break. Just about the last day in his three month Grace period.

I also loaned him my 36 kg so he could practice. This was important also. He had one more try.

Tuesday May 25 , 2010. 6 am. Doug shows up. Warms up. Misses the 36 kg on one warmup( out of front) but makes the other attempts easy. He's stalling. I tell him it's time. Now or never baby. No way out. Make it happen and make it happen now. No where to run, no where to hide.

He misses the first attempt with the 40 kg but it's a Great miss; that is, it is WAY higher than ever before, almost finished. He just lost his core tightness at the end. He is dejected. I tell him it was a great attempt and that I regularly would come back and made second or third attempts after missing them in meets ,especially if the miss was due to a technical miscue and not just raw strength.

I tell him what he needs to do. He knows he probably only has this last attempt to do it. He cleans it( now Tracy's entire swing class is watching), locks in and CRUSHES IT. Perfect. Three whites from me. I was almost as excited as if I had done it myself. A Real PR. One that only took the better part of a half a year to get and one he had to overcome MULTIPLE failures to achieve.

This is real training. This is the real deal. This is perseverance, willpower, discipline and mind control; the most importance aspect of all training but especially high level training.

Doug is now Level 2 and he will remember this for a long time. Maybe forever.He also knows now, more than ever before ,that what and how he thinks about a lift can make all the difference.

There's nothing wrong with adjusting one's training every day to make it the best you can and not get hurt but at some point, if you want to be a real athlete, you have to do it on someone else's timeline and on demand. This is what competitive athletic training prepares you to do.

It can create more anxiety than you've ever felt before but also carries with it the possibility of more joy and satisfaction than anything else as well. And you will know for real that failure means nothing. It's just a temporary setback on your way to success.

Just ask Doug.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Clean, Press, Snatch.

This is turning out to be a great exercise sequence for me and one of my favorite training days. I've switched my diet around 180 degrees and am now eating during the mornings and have my biggest meal of the day around lunch. Kind of the Warrior Diet in reverse and what it means is that when I get to this workout the gas tank is full.

I got so used to training in a fasting state that I forgot how good it feels to go into a workout feeling"full" and strong. Although I , as usual, had no real idea how I would feel when it came time to train today. Started out feeling really energized and strong at 6am yet by 10 am I was feeling fairly bogged down and 'losing it' a bit.

And yet, as Tracy told me I would, I had a killer workout and was ready to take 'grab it' as Grace layed it down before me today.

I like starting out with cleans as it warms me up without tiring me out, and lets me go at least as heavy, or heavier , than I plan to press that day. I do low rep, loaded cleans and really get things "set" in preparation for the next exercise, presses. It also gives me feedback as to how strong I am that day.

And today I was strong. Scarily strong. Strong like I haven't felt in a long, long time. When heavy( for me , usually) feels very light I am happy and that's what the cleans felt like

One KB Cleans

16 kg x5/5
24 kg x4/4
28 kg x3/3
32 kg x3/3
36 kg x2/2
36 kg x3/3

man this felt so light in my hands I couldn't believe it.

Short Cycle Clean and Press
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x4/4
24 kg x 3/3
28 kg x2/2 x5 sets

man these felt light and strong too! Three rep sets of fours would have moved just as fast. Plus, I could have easily done 5 more sets. Nice. Most of my focus today was on form, not just "pushing" through a heavy weight. Haven't felt this with the 28kg in long time.

20 kg x5/5

24 kg x5/5 x 5 sets
50 reps

wow, these felt awesome as well. Could have done 4-5 more sets but today was actually supposed to be some kind of step back. Groove, power, wind strength, everything felt great.

I was talking to Tracy about her taking the snatch test at her Level 2 cert in July and she said she can pass it anytime, I told her I wished I could,lol. Then, during these sets I told her" if I felt like this at the test I could pass it easy". And that's true. My teshnik feels very solid. POwer good Morning style.

Clubbell Shield cast
10 lbs x 10/10 x2
15 lbs x5/5
x 6/6
x 8/8
x 10/10

these were solid as well. Great training day!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ok, American gymnastics is in fine hands

this is crazy good

On a roll.

Third week now of 6 am swings and they are getting easier. It's really all about making up your mind; once thats done, really done, then the actions just follow. I was seriously sore in the legs from my max vo2 workout on Saturday, DOMS hit hard, just intime for some more work,lol.

The reality is I was less sore after the workout today than before and I think the legs are finally adjusting to the increased workload, both in terms of number of training days per week and volume of swings/snatches as well. About time :))

I wasn't sure if I should go up in volume today or cycle down but decided to decide in the middle of the workout, after I was fully warmed up. I could, of course, 'pre-decide' but what would that matter if I started feeling wrong mid training, or, super good? I would let my body tell me.

I do know though,that I won't do more than one week up before taking a mandatory down week. 4 weeks of increases is enough, no matter how good I feel.

My biggest cue for my swings and snatches these days is 'keep my head up' and the rest follows: tight arch in the back, sitting down and back,chest up, etc. Just like a good power good morning :))

One arm swings
16 kg x5/5/5/5

24 kg x 10/10 x 13 sets
about one minute rest/sets
260 reps
13,780 lbs

Was a little short on time this morning so I jumped right to the 24 instead of an intemediate with the 20 kg. felt fine and I didn't waste a set,lol.
The first sets were a bit sluggish, as expected, but things got snappy pretty quickly as Tracy's swing class was in, ahem, full swing, and was greatly motivating.Seeing her and all her students swing in perfect rythym, together at the same pace is way cool.

Also was working with Doug Fioranelli was testing his 40 kg press to get his Level 2 RKC cert and that was motivating as well. He did achieve his goal and it's been quite a trip for him. Congrats Doug, that press is no joke and you earned it. You worked your ass off to get it. Well done.

Rack Walks

16 kg x 12 minutes
not putting bell down, just switching arms when the arm started getting tired. These are great and suprsingly really get my HR up.

5 minutes short on time, have to finish up later. Great day today,momentum is definitely going in the right direction now.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

How perfectly beautiful is this?

Does it get any better? Such grace, such strength, such timing. Such patience and perfect Mastery of each skill.This Swings.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

7 Rep Snatch Vo2 at an 8 rep pace.

It's amazing, the concept of progressive overload really works,lol. The equation to progress is very simple:

adaptation = overload + recovery.

The real problem in the equation is recovery. One can only make progress if one delivers some kind of overload to the system AND they can recover from it before the next training session. People can do ALL kinds of workloads.


The problem is repeating them again and again AND increasing the loads( both volume and intensity) over time. For each level of ability one must be able to do a specific amount of work( training) associated with it.

This is what made Louie Simmons's system at WSB so appealing to me. There was a formula. For example, if I wanted to squat 600 lbs I must be able to do 12 sets of 2 with 420 lbs in the box squat with only 45 seconds rest between sets. That's no joke. And not just survive them, but do with as 'speed work', with maximum ( in this case 600 lbs worth) of acceleration. I also needed to be able to use 600 lbs or more of loading in various special exercises to approximate that load on the specific muscles involved( power good morning, for example).

So weren't doing 12 sets of 2 with 420 lbs but 12 sets of 2 with 600 lbs worth of force! That was the key. Max effort even in the dynamic effort work.

But it one thing to do the work and quite another to recover and adapt to it and be able to up the ante the next time. This is where waving the loads comes into play. The nature of adaptation is NOT linear, but organic and hence:" the next step off a peak is always down, one can either step back or fall off."

The question one has to learn about themselves is can they progress for only 2 or 3 or 4 weeks before they must step back, without falling off? Ah, that's the real quest. To know your own body, your own adaptation abilities and STILL keep paying attention as they change as well.
Biofeedback indeed.

And for me, I know, I need real recovery. Weekends off, feet up , takin it easy recovery to make my best progress and that's how it's been lately. And my training progress is showing that.

Did my first snatch vo2 workout today in eons using all 7 rep sets and I am very happy about that. Backing off my Thursday workout helped a lot and I felt ready to train this am. I thought, very briefy, about 'warming ' up for 10 sets with just 6's but as soon as I did the first set I knew I would go straight to 7's. I was snatching, right from the first set, at an 8 rep per 15 second pace and that made me VERY VERY happy.

MY groove has sunk in and the stroke is powerful and short. Efficient. Efficiency does NOT mean easy or slow or less effort. It mean technically correct for whatever one is trying to accomplish. For me in my snatch that means max acceleration on each rep AND the shortest stroke possible.
Everyone is different.

Snatch Vo2
60 sets of 7 reps
420 reps
15,120 lbs

Nice! I could, however definitely feel an increase in cardiovascular stress which is a good thing. When I don't have to worry about whether my back is going to tweak on each rep it frees me up to concentrate on other things; like really training hard and pushing myself a bit. Thank you God. I love to train hard, what a gift, what a blessing to be able to change yourself just through your own effort. Just from your own vision, your own desire, your own will.

I have loved this and lived this idea since I was 14 years old and realized there were few things in my life I could control but I could control my body. Or at least learn to. My body became by art project, my own experiment in beauty and movement and science. Changing form just by thinking about it, then bringing it into existence. Nice.

Still works too, although nowadays things take a lot longer to manifest. No hurries, what else I got to do? Win lose or draw the next day is back to the gym.Training is the source. At least my source.

It also helped to be doing my thing as Tracy and Meg went through some SERIOUS max vo2 based training which involved serious high intensity work sets with almost no rest. Thank you no, this is quite enough for me.

They were killing it although I could tell it was challenging them as well. The fitter you get the harder you must train to get any fitter. That's the conundrum ; and, of course, the harder you train the more recovery you need. AND, the fitter you get the smaller the increments of progress you can get. That goes for EVERY athlete, in every sport. Diminishing returns is not just a theory, it's reality.

That's what separates the true athletes from the wannabe's. Which is just fine with me.

And all of this was possible because I changed one thing in my snatch mechanics; which changed everything. Little changes can make HUGE differences. Never be afraid to experiment, especially if things aren't going great.

Clubbell Shield casts

10 lbs x10/10 x 3 sets
15 ls x 8/8 x 4 sets

These went much better and I really spent some time working on my technique on my left side so as not to overload my elbow which doesn't like these arm cast movements lately. Studying Scott Sonnons video really helped and what I grokked about it from the mill I put into place with the shield cast. Worked well. Nice to handle the 15's again too :))


Strap hamstrings, straight and with crossver
overhead stick in 3 stances ( horse, and both side lunges)
foam roller
down dog
up dog
all around the dog( that's a joke, son)
behind back stick stretches


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Press and Snatch, back off day.

I've gone up in weight on both these exercises for the last two weeks and I knew I needed to back off the loading a bit. 'Step back, or fall off' I think is how I've put it in the past and it's time to implement my own advice.

I recovered well from Tuesdays swings, which makes me very happy; and it seems like I am actually developing some positive momentum in my training. Wow, what a concept. AS much as I like teaching it's so nice to stay in one place and actually have my weekends free for recovery.

Feeling strong feels so good and I was very happy, as well, when I warmed up with my cleans and everything felt light. That hasn't happened in a long time.My stance and groove must be agreeing with my back and knees as they haven't been complaining much either. Most excellent.

KB Cleans
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x5/5
24 kg x5/5
28 kg x5/5
32 kg x3/3

the 32 felt light and the rack position was solid. I know Pavel has said, and written, that the one arm kb clean is too easy and isn't really a great exercise for conditioning. I disagree. Not only is it the hardest for most to learn much less master, the small, tight arc the bell goes through lends itself for rapid alternations between the hip stretch of the backswing and the high total body tension position of the "loaded" clean.

Especially if one takes the time to really load the clean position after each rep, as if preparing for a max effort press. The short arc also makes this a very safe movement for all as the torques on the joints are lower.

Of course, one can up the anty by doing two bell cleans but this really changes everything; from width of stance to the lack of an asymmetrical movement. I loves me some one arm kettlebells and so does my back.

KB Press
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x4/4

24 kg x3/3 x 8 sets

These were so easy I couldn't believe it. FINALLY, the stinkin' 24 kg feels like the little weight that it is.It should feel like a 16 kg to me and it's getting there. I remember thinking it even looked small in between sets. Perfect.

I felt like I could do these sets all day, exactly the feeling of strength that I was looking for. LOTS of focus on perfect technique and groove and max tension throughout. Rooting and lat activation were also at a high point but I was most concentrated on pushing from the contact point of wrist to bell.

That is the key to my press groove these days and I making sure I don't forget this essential cue.

16 kg x10/10
20 kg x10/10x2
x 9/9 x 2
x 8/8 x1 set
92 reps

Wow, these felt easy and Tracy said the weight looked like a toy. Nice, as that's how it felt. I haven't done 10 rep sets in eons and now, having confidence in my stance and groove it was no problem, except for my wind which needs some work. I still freakin' hate any reps over 5. It just ain't natural,lol.

Even though it's not the goal weight 24 kg it is as close to a 100 rep workout with anything more than the 16 in awhile. I'll take it.

Clubbell Mills

10 lb cb x 10/10 x 4 sets

These were unplanned and just for some variety as I worked with my crazy strong wife on her level 2 skills of pistols, bent presses and had more time to kill. It's nice to feel like doing more, and that it's safe to do so.

I was so impressed watching Scott Sonnon do 100 mills on each arm in 7 minutes something with the crazy ass, big and heavy 35 lb CB that I was inspired to do this move again. You need some very strong EVERYTHING to do heavy clubbell work. Just like kbs, just different,lol.

A day off then Max Vo2 again, this time with many more sets of 7 reps. Gotta keep the momentum going!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

6 am Swings.

It's been years since I trained this early. I used to, in my young and (more) dumb days, open World Gym, Campbell at 5:30 am and have somewhere over 400 lbs on a barbell by 6. Crazy crazy stuff and it takes some real insanity to keep that schedule up.
But I loved getting up, getting caffeinated and going to what was most important to me first thing. my training. Then it was over, and whatever happened the rest of the day I knew I had done the thing that made me happiest first.

But getting old meant getting pretty stiff and early mornings are usually the worse. I have been going into Girya at 6 am to stretch out as Tracy teaches her swing class then, so I was already there. BUT, there is a huge difference between stretching for an hour and swinging for one!
Big difference.

But there really isn't a better time as the hour after I finish work usually does not motivate me to swing volume kettlebells. It is just a matter of deciding to in my mind, and taking the necessary steps( waking up earlier to stretch out and warmup for example) to make it happen.

The only real obstacle is whether my body could handle the weights I want to swing ( 24 and 32 kg) that early. I may not have a real choice, because this guy is DONE with being injured. Done. But today was a good sign.

One arm swings
16 kg x10/10 x2
20 kg x10/10 x 2

24 kg x10/10 x 12 sets
240 reps
12,720 lbs

This went remarkably well and I finished in only 15 minutes, way ahead of what I thought it might take me. the first few sets were a bit slow and not very powerful, but each set got me more warmed up and the power output went up accordingly.

As usual my rest periods got shorter as I warmed up and towards the last few sets were only 30 sec or so,which is equal work to equal rest( see Honey?,lol). I had lots more time but didn't want to increase the volume any more than 40 reps from last week because I don't know the true effect of any workout until at least the next day.

Training this early was it's own increase in intensity. No lie.

Bodyblade PNF rotations
small blade x 4 sets each arm
large blade x 4 sets each arm

these went really well also, and I forgot just how challenging you can make any exercise with this tool as it's totally up to you to determine the force output per rep..

Rack Walks
16 kg x 12 minutes

Still more time left so I just walked around the block switching hands whenever I got a bit fatigued. Haven't done these in ages although I've been threatening to. 'Bout time. Have to build these up again as well.

bretzells, hammies, overhead stick stretch, etc, foam roller.

Good stuff


Saturday, May 15, 2010

48,123 Snatches

My favorite stretch for opening up my biceps, shoulders,pecs, lats and and even abs.I do all kinds of stick stretching variations each day.It really has been helping.

48,123 kb snatches so far since I began this 50 thousand snatch challenge. Only 1,877 more to go :))

Today was a good day. I had already hit three workouts this week( if you want to count Monday's getup/deadlift/two hand swing abomination- which I will), and two of them were back to back with decent recovery. This is a great sign that my techniques, both in lifting form and corrective exercises, are working. This workout is another validation of those techniques. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

It also doesnt hurt that I haven't been traveling and have had a decent run at some positive inertia and nothing makes my training go better than stability and regularity. It's a must for this delicate flower. If I want to make gains, that is.

Last weeks 60 sets of 6 in the Snatch Vo2 set the stage for today.It was hard but not that hard and I knew that I wanted to throw in some 7 rep sets as well. My snatch form is jelling and Thursday's 24 kg snatches confirmed that. Can't go fast until the groove is totally consistent and I don't have to think about it. It's almost there.

I had considered alternating each set with a 6 rep then a 7 rep set but I knew I needed at least 10 sets to warmup today so this is what I did

Snatch Vo2
15:15 16 kg

9 sets of 6
1 set of 7
8 sets of 6
2 sets of 7
7 sets of 6
3 sets of 7
7 sets of 6
3 sets of 7
7 sets of 6
3 sets of 7
7 sets of 6
2 sets of 7
1 set of *8( last two sets done back to back)

376 reps
13,536 lbs
HR between 160-170 the 30 minutes( seemed low, another good sign I'm adapting)

Very very happy with this work, how could I not be?

Clubbell Barbarian press
20 lb cb : 4 sets of 8 each arm
25 lb cb: 4 sets of 8 each arm

want to give pushups a rest and see if they are the source of some unique left shoulder/elbow 'warnings' my body has been sending lately. I just think I've worn out that prone pressing groove. that's ok.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Presses and snatches.

Me teaching how to use the lats to build your press at our workshop May 2. The DVD is going to rock!

I was a bit worried going into today's training since I am not used to swinging fairly decent volume the day before I press and snatch but I woke up with no soreness and that's a good sign.The more work I can do and NOT get sore the better.

Such a 180 degree turn from my old life where if I DIDN'T get sore from the workout I was upset. I have enough pain from all kinds of other things that I certainly don't need anymore from training and being able to recover quickly from my workout is a great indicator that I am at the right workload;especially if I bumped things up a bit, as I did yesterday. I need to stay loose to keep the pain and imbalances down and that's as much of a goal as my swing or press or snatch numbers.

Mind set means so much as well and I have really decided I have to get my total volume up again; perhaps not what it was last year, but to a decent level. Decent to me at least. Having the right mind makes all the difference in recovery as well.Not only from the different choices one makes as to sleep, nutrition, etc, but also from negative thoughts or emotions which are MORE detrimental, imho, than ANY OTHER IMPUT.

Stress kills.

It also makes you sick.

It also makes you weak.

The more stress one gets from life, the less they can apply from the gym. Everyone's 'stress box' has only so much capacity and you can fill it up with whatever you choose. The calmer your life is, the more "stress" you can apply to your training and still recover.

Being able to let go of it and relax can turn my body around on a dime. It too is a skill, and I've been practicing.

The body tells me almost immediately if I am making the right training choices. I just have to really listen,and then TRUST what it is telling me. For instance even though I still want to train the getup, the two handed swing and some higher tension moves my body said NO in a hurry last Monday, when I did it.

AND, almost as soon as I mentally "let go" of the idea that my training would go in that direction, then the tension in my body eased, and so did the looming back pain. I just re- thought the pathway and my body said Yes, this is the right course.

Listening to the body is as much art as anything and you have to listen closely. And, of course, practice.
There are a lot of messages going on similtaneously :))

A LOT less sitting today ( another message I have been ignoring too long) and a lot more standing lunge stances and sumo stances. Combined with overhead stick stretching or by themselves. Back to my standing training; I have a lot of traveling coming up and I have to get ready to stand and walk 12-14 hours each day.

Strength training practice is everywhere.

16kgx5/5 x2
20 kgx5/5
28 kgx4/4

Didnt want to swing more to wamup and since I was doing short cycle clean and press decided to use these as wamup. Perfect! Short arc, lots of hip and arch back and can handle decent weight very easily. Also warm up the total body loading to get ready for presses.

20 kgx4/4
24 kgx2/2
28kg x 1/1

32 kgx 1/1 x 5 sets

Nice! these were definitely 'heavier' than last weights 28 kg singles but they moved very very well. no sticking point at all and with decent acceleration. Could have easily done 2-3 more before any fatigue or form breakdown occurred so I stopped here. I'm learning. Leave MORE than you want to in the tank.

My press groove is the best it's every been. :))

16 kg x5/5
20 kg x5/5

24 kg x5/5 x 6 sets
20 kg x10/10
x 8/8

96 reps

these were strong but I could definitely feel the effect of the heavy presses during them, while I didn't last week. I went very very very carefully through each rep as I am still sussing out my form here and,like last week, wore my Keen shoes to train it.

They have a totally flat and hard sole and give my unstable foot just a bit of support with the heavier stuff. If the foot is stable the ankle can be mobile and my foot gets unstable fast which can lock up my ankle and then my knee.

This shit is WAY too complicated. Being injured sucks.

Still solutions are great. and being able to train hard(ish) pain free( relatively) and strongly is a miracle.

I got past 50 reps today strongly and the 10's and 8's with the 20 kg felt light, strong and very much like my old self. nice. Will have to alternate starting this day with snatches every other week or so.

Really keeping my back arched and shock absorbing with my hips is a very different technique and concept for me in my everyday training but my gut says it's right and I just have to make haste slowly.

I feel good.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

work capacity

Mine sucks right now and it's time to do something about it. I can remember, very clearly, when I was training the swing for volume as well as intensity and I got up to a PR of 630 24 kg swings in January of 2008 and had done 400 32 kg swings a few months before.

These were not time sets but I went into the next set when I 'felt ready' which, suprisingly, was sooner the more sets I did. It always takes me forever to get warmed up. No matter, I need to get to doing those kinds of workloads and I started today.

I tried to start monday and did some tgu's two handed dls before I started swinging and my back didnt like it. I listened, for a change, put the bell down and went home. I just have to accept that the two hand swing, and anything that really overloads my abs is not good for my back. I need to be grateful that I CAN swing one arm and that not only does my back like it, it makes it better.
Hopefully I won't have to learn this lesson again.

I also think I am going to try to swing at 6 am during Tracy's class. As hard as it is for me to warmup it's harder it seems to do volume work after work so that's the next experiment. I only am going to do one arm swings and I have 45 minutes to get the job done and get dressed for work. I just have to wake up a bit earlier.

So today I wanted to make up for mondays no go with some 24 kg work

one arm swings

12 kgx10/10
20 kgx10/10

24 kg x10/10 x 10 sets
200 reps

as usual, the rest periods got shorter as I progressed going from one minute down to 30 seconds at the end. I just can't force this but it always happens.

A long way from 630 but that's ok. It's the process and the goal and now I am back on track.
Tomorrow heavy presses and some 24 kg snatches.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Robert E. Dickson

One of my earliest role models and images of what a great gymnast was. Robert has also written a book about training called, appropriately " Cut through the crap" about debunking myths in exercise and diet. I am getting my own copy from the man himself. Facebook does have it's uses.What a great opportunity to make contact with one of my early Heroes and an Alumni of my own Alma Mater at that!
Robert was an Olympic gymnast, acrobat, stunt driver( car and motorcycle), high diver,stunt double and comic!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What gymnasts do for fun

More training, of course. Weird training but more training. Robert Dickson , U of Iowa stud and Olympian just having fun.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Resetting the groove.

At the Reifkind/Whitley/Reifkind seminar last weekend. The DVD should be available in 8 weeks!
I finally got back to doing just snatches today for the first time in months. My power good morning style swing and snatch have been proving to be ok for both my back and knee but I want to proceed cautiously loading the new groove. I hadn't planned on doing just snatches today but it felt very solid during the warmups so I decided to give it a try.

But I knew 7's per 15 second wasn't a smart idea( not ready to be too explosive or fast) so I settled on 6 rep sets holding it at the lockout to take up all the 15 second work bout. Going more slowly definitely helped me really "feel" the groove and not cut corners.

I worked on using Tracy's cue of putting the plug in the socket( locking the arm into the inner thigh) which is much different than the more arm dominant style I have been using. I have benn following the bell back more and hinged as much from the shoulder and back as hip.I didn't try to round my back but I also didn't try to keep in up.

This is definitely more an arched back good morning, but, just like in my barbell good morning I really get a lot of 'shock absorption' from my bottom position. It feels very 'stretchy' in the bottom and I can feel the stretch reflex really working to throw me in the ascent. Much less lean, head up, knees out and a little quad in the shock absorption as well.

It always scares me though, to change a groove this big, as I never know what the real consequences can be until days later. This seems right though and all I have to go on is my "gut" and my instinct. The bent frame I live on doesn't follow normal rules of mechanics and hasn't for some time.

Max Vo2
16 kg
60 sets of 6 reps
360 total
12,960 lbs

8 sets of 5, high tension.

datsit. Swings and getups and deadlifts on monday

Friday, May 07, 2010

Another blast from the past

Didn't even know this picture existed. Having tons of fun at the Gymiami Alumni Facebook site

I remember the sequence in my floor routine that got me into this position: straight arm back roll to handstand, straddle down into this straddle "L", then press back up. Those were the days. Note the knee bandage, this was my senior year ,after the injury.

It's hard to believe, but at one time I was very, very very flexible.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

1974 North Miami Beach Gymnastics Team.

I have a lot of old gymnastics photos but not this one. This is from our High School year book, the year before I blew out my knee. This is the only gymnastics photo I have prior to the injury; how odd is that? Seeing this really brought back tons of memories about such a pivotal and important time in my life.

But what really hit hard was this Facebook message I got from a guy who witnessed the accident and understood exactly what it meant, on many levels. And only for myself but for his students and protege's.
Hi Mark. Jaime here. I saw you blow your knee out practicing at NMB. I can still hear that scream. Are you that person? We have a Gymiami Alumni group here on facebook and have been looking up lots of people. You were a promising and talented gymnast back in those days. Let me know if I have the right guy. You may have known my sister Nina who went to NMB. Thanks. Jaime
Stretchsport Guy April 30 at 11:47pm
PS...I reviewed your google search results and concluded that I have the right person. I remember you were working on your double fulls and you stiff legged your landing as you twisted that double full right into the floor. It was a heartbreaking scene. I knew what it meant. I felt the way Pete's face looked in horror at what happened. We didn't have pits back then and everything had to be hand spotted. After that day I protected the gymnasts at Gymiami like they were eggs that could crack. Part of the reason I became known as the best spotter in the country in the mid 70's was because of what I witnessed happen to you. It put me on even higher alert than I already was. I am so sorry about what happened to you. I was looking forward to seeing you rival Kurt Thomas and make the Olympic Team side by side. I had no doubt that you would have done that. Good grief that was a major bummer! Jaime PSS...I interviewed Julio Anta and those videos are on youtube under my Stretchsportguy handle.

I never considered how what happened to me impacted those that saw it. I didn't even realize that anybody, other than my teamates, saw it happen or that it changed their lives.
Jaime has a Facebook Gymiami Alumni page that has brought me back into contact with a lot of those teammates and coaches from that time, and it's very, very cool.

It was such a wonderful time in my life, even and despite the injury. It set the stage for everything that was to come in my life; to what I have become in my life. Everything that I am now, and how I live now, started right then and there and has continued, pretty much in very similar mode, to now.

Oh yeah I worked out today too.

Clean and Press( short cycle)
16kg x5/5
20 kgx3/3

28kg x1/1x 6 sets

these were very easy. I love low rep sets ,lol.the groove was very solid and fast.

20 kg x5/5
24kg x5/5x 5 sets
50 reps ( on my way back to 200!)

most excellent. the most volume with the 24 since Dec.The move felt very strong even with the new power good morning groove. I figured out the details of the bottom position(much different,especially timing wise) than my old stiff legged style.

BTW I could actually feel my legs and back a bit, in a good way, from the getups and deadlifts,albeit so light, from yesterday. Crazy.

TGU roll to press to arm support
12 kg x 3/3 x 4 sets

crazy how I am playing with this move now.two days in a row, who'd a thunk it. Really used Dave Whitley brilliant hip drive drill we got from the seminar and it really helps.

Shield casts
10 lb Clubbell x 10/10/10/10 x 4 sets

these felt good. have to keep the arc high , though to not irritate left tricep and elbow. glad to be able to do them again though.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Spotting Logan's one arm handstand at the workshop
Still feeling the effects of the all day event on sunday so I stretched instead of trained yesterday and went for some loading today. I've been thinking of adding in some tgu's and windmills for some time but know that I can't do them symmetrically.that is working each side.

And I was worried about just doing them on my left side but Ive been thinking lately it might be just the asymmetrical loading I need. When I hurt my back in 2000 one of the key things I did to rehab myself was training asymmetrically, mainly using swiss balls and bodyweight exercises.

My fascination and love of the one arm kb swing was born here as I couldn't do two hand swings without my back locking up, but one arms worked great.

I've been trying to stay away from high tension exercises though now for years, feeling that I already have too much muscle tension and the ballistic movements would give me enough tension to keep my strength up.
But I've been feeling different of late and the ability to press again has only strengthened my interest in, well, strength.

Rediscovering my power good morning swing groove, really studying Tracy's swing technique ( yeah, tough job, I know,lol) and all this fervor about the getup ( tracy included) got me thinking.

So today to start my workout I started playing around with some getups ( full movement on left side, getup to arm support on right side) windmills, kb deadlifts as well as my swings. I even through in some handstands with some students of mine I am training in the handstand.

If I'm tweaked tomorrow though, I'll have no way of knowing which of the multitude of new moves I did today was responsible,lol. Oh well, it felt good at the time.

But the focus was practicing these moves and I used light weights ( 8 and 12 kg) for them as I didnt want to be completely crazy. everything felt good and my mind set was on practicing the forms and seeing what I needed on each move, and where I felt restriction.

kb windmill/ left side tgu/ right side getup to arm support:
I was very suprised to see my right shoulder overhead position was much better than I expected it to be.there might be gold in these hills. and the left side getup really works the left to right rolling pattern I need, strength in my left leg and glute and activation of the left obliques and psoas.
I really don't need any more left shoulder work but I guess it's going to come along for the ride.
the left side only windmills felt good for the left glute and medius.

4 rounds

one arm swings
16 kg x10/10x3 sets
16 kg x10/10 /10 two hand swingsx2
16 kg x10/10/10 2 hand/10 transfers
16 kg roundabout 4 rounds x 3 sets
20 kg x10/10
24kgx10/10 x 3 sets

this was very interesting and I was playing with the combinations as if I were doing tracy's class. it was nice to even play with two hand swings again and I really emphasized my back arch and good morning position.
I am finally learning that when I change exercise techniques I just can't go balls to the wall with weight or volume

two hand kb deadlifts
24 kg x10
32 kg x8
36 kgx6
48 kgx6

wow these worked my legs harder than expected. perfect. so nice to have anything that resembles real weight in my hand again. getting back to my power squat/goodmorning groove seems to be working all right.

tomorrow, presses and snatches!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Whitley Sledgehammer Getup

The IronTamer, MRKC David Whitley, unveiled his lastest strength feat at our kb seminar this weekend at Catalyst Athletics. Giving props to his old time strongman roots, Dave combines the Turkish Getup with a classic sledgehammer leverage move. Awesome man!

Monday, May 03, 2010

We got it done!

Tracy ,Dave Whitley and I got had a great day at Catalyst Athletics getting our workshops done and our DVD's recorded.What a great day,everthing went great and finally, Tracy's revolutionary KB swing combination training will be available to all.
My segment on Lats, the Super Muscle went very well and I know I will be very proud of the final product. Really enjoyed watching Master Instructor Dave Whitley bending frying pans, tearing cards and bending horseshoes effortlessly, as well as his insightful segment on the intricacies, and history, of the turkish getup. I am actually developing a fondness for this move :))

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Max Vo2 swings and snatches

Decided to tempt fate a bit today and actually train the day before a workshop. Should be no big deal but with this old frame you never know. Cut things short and played it safe but I also used a new technique so you never know how that will pan out,lol. I want to be fresh and un-tweaked when I go in front of an audience but I also needed to train.I so hate how teaching and seminars mess with my training schedule. Tried to find the balance.

Max Vo2
16 kg
42 sets
alternating sets of 9 rep swings and 7 rep snatches
21 sets of snatches = 147 snatches

not bad, technique felt good keeping my head up and thinking "arch your back" each and every rep.Feels better in the swing than the snatch as it really shortens the stroke and will make me use my hips much more than my back. It will take some getting used to.

Time to go finish my prep work for tomorrows Super Lats workshop with Tracy and Dave. This will be a great day, and, perhaps, a historic one.