Thursday, September 30, 2010

High pulls.

I love the kb high pull; it's one of my favorite movements and one that I have always been strong on, for both weight and reps. I had to take it out of the routine last year when I couldn't figure out my shoulder problems and really cut back to basics, just swings and snatches.

One of my favorite workouts is one I introduced at the RKC in 2006 as an a prelude to the ETK Right of Passage .

The Right of Passage is 200 snatches in ten minutes with the 24 kg bell. Pretty intimidating and a huge performance achievement as a kb athlete and all around strong man. I couldn't do that but I could do 200 high pulls in ten minutes with the 24kg and thought that was a good start.

SO the RKC workout goes like this( it's also in the book All Time Favorite RKC workouts soon to be released)

( done with a partner in an " I go, you go" fashion

High pull

200 reps in short order!

I have very long arms for a short guy. This makes my one arm swing arc very long and far away from my center of mass. And relatively slow.
The high pull is the exact opposite, a short, tight arc where I could put into play my upper back and keep the bell in tight and close. Short , more powerful and much quicker. And, safer.

Back then I didn't know how to release my lower rhomboids and traps and get my shoulders to stabilize; or release the forerarms for the same effect. Now I do and hope that I can tolerate this powerful move as I now can two hand swings. It's way easier to do high reps than the one arm swing but I will keep them in too. Work your weakpoints and you will get stronger.

High pulls
16kg x10/10
20 kgx10/10
24 kg x5/5

150 reps
7940 lbs

A good first day with this move and could've done more but I felt some tightness creeping in and decided not to let my obsession with round numbers get the best of me. The rest between sets was no more than one minute, probably 45 seconds.Very strong

Just like the snatch, a great combination of lower and upper body in balance. LOTS of muscular work too, in the arms,shoulders pecs and upper back.I will grow from this.

Shield casts

two hands on clubbell
10 lb x10/10
15 lbs x10/10
20 lbsx10/10 x 3

two hand arm casts
20 lbs x8/8 x3

these went well>I think the two hand version will be easier on my elbow.

datsit. snatches on saturday. we'll see how my body likes this tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Zen of it.

They all agree, it seems.
This could apply equally as well to training as to life.

Do your work and step back,
The only path to serenity.
570-490 BCE, Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Daoism
Tao Te Ching: A New English Version, Stephen Mitchell, tr., 1988

The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them.
He lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.
Daode Jing

Whatever feelings arise – whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral – abide contemplating impermanence in those feelings, contemplate fading away, relinquishment, letting go of all those feelings. Contemplating this one does not cling to anything in this world. When not clinging, there is no agitation. When not agitated one personally attains Nibbana.
c. 563-483 BCE, Indian Prince, Mystic, Founder of Buddhism

One who has finally learned that it is in the nature of objects to come and go without ceasing, rests in detachment and is no longer subject to suffering.
Ashtavakra Gita
Ancient Sanskrit Sacred Text

You are only to perform your duty without an eye on their fruits.
Bhagavad Gita, II.70
400 BCE, Sanskrit Poem in Mahabharata, Sacred Hindu Text

Non-attachment is self-mastery: it is freedom from desire for what is seen or heard.
c. 200-150 BCE, Indian Yogi
How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, 15
Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trs., 1953, 1981

How to live the good life? The ability is in your soul, as long as it remains unattached to things that are morally neutral to it. And the soul will remain unattached if it carefully scrutinizes each of these neutral things both as a whole, and by separation into the elements that compose them. Remember that none of these things are responsible for creating our conception about them; these things are motionless and so can’t even approach us. It is we ourselves who create ideas about things, and, as we might say, drag them inside ourselves. It is in our power not to include them, and even if these conceptions have unconsciously gained admission to our minds, to erase them.
Marcus Aurelius
121-180, Roman Emperor, Stoic Philosopher
The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Mark Forstater, tr., 2000

The six supernormal faculties of the enlightened are the ability to enter the realm of form without being confused by form, to enter the realm of sound without being confused by sound, to enter the realm of scent without being confused by scent, to enter the realm of flavor without being confused by flavor, to enter the realm of feeling without being confused by feeling, to enter the realm of phenomena without being confused by phenomena.
Linji Yixuan
d. 867, Chinese Chan Master, Linji (Rinzai) School Founder
in Zen Essence: The Science of Freedom, Thomas Cleary, tr. & ed., 1989

Once you realize universal emptiness, all situations are naturally mastered. You have perfect communion with what is beyond the world, while embracing what is within all realms of being.
Fenyang Shanzhao
947-1024, Chinese Chan Buddhist Master
in Zen Essence: The Science of Freedom, Thomas Cleary, tr. & ed., 1989

Just detach from thoughts and cut off sentiments and transcend the ordinary conventions. Use your own inherent power and take up its great capacity and great wisdom right where you are.
Yuanwu Kekin
1063-1135, Chinese Chan Master
Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu, J. C. Cleary & Thomas Cleary, trs., 1994

Live in the nowhere that you come from,
Even though you have an address here.
Jalaluddin Rumi
1207-1273, Afghani-Turkish Sufi Mystic, Poet

Many times the mountains
Have turned from green to yellow.
So much for the capricious earth!
Dust in your eyes,
The triple world is narrow;
Nothing on the mind,
Your chair is wide enough.
Muso Kokushi
1275-1351, Japanese Zen Master, Calligrapher, Poet

Desire nothing, and you’re content with everything
Pursue things, and you’re thwarted at every turn.
1758-1831, Japanese Zen Master, Poet, Calligrapher

Detachment is not indifference. It is the prerequisite for effective involvement. Often what we think is best for others is distorted by our attachment to our opinions: we want others to be happy in the way we think they should be happy. It is only when we want nothing for ourselves that we are able to see clearly into others’ needs and understand how to serve them.
Mahatma Gandhi
1869-1948, Indian Spiritual Leader

By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct.
in Eknath Easwaran, Gandhi, The Man, 1997

To renounce things is not to give them up. It is to acknowledge that all things go away.
Shunryu Suzuki
1905-1971, Japanese Zen Master

To desire in the void, to desire without any wishes. To detach our desire from all good things and to wait. Experience proves that this waiting is satisfied. It is then that we touch the absolute good.
Simone Weil
1909-1943, French Philosopher, Essayist, Mystic
in The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Sacred Prose, Stephen Mitchell, ed., 1991

My soul does not find itself unless it acts. Therefore it must act. Stagnation and inactivity bring spiritual death. But my soul must not project itself entirely into the outward effects of its activity. I do not need to see myself, I merely need to be myself. I must think and act like a living being, but I must not plunge my whole self into what I think and do, or seek always to find myself in the work I have done.
Thomas Merton
1915-1968, American Trappist Monk, Writer
No Man Is an Island, 1955

From the moment that a man no longer responds in the slightest to the motives that regulate the material world, that world appears to be at complete repose.
Yukio Mishima
1935-1970, Japanese Writer
“The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love,”
Death in Midsummer and Other Stories, 1966

To become free of attachment means to break the link identifying you with your desires. The desires continue: They are part of the dance of nature. But a renunciate no longer thinks that he is his desires.
Ram Dass
1931-, American Psychologist, Teacher, Writer
Be Here Now, 1971

Looking at life’s situations from a distance is the first step toward finding a solution and preventing them from happening again. By separating yourself from your experiences, you are able to move on with your life. If you don’t, you’re stuck in the puddle of the past without a paddle.
Famous Amos
1937-, African-American Athlete, Entrepreneur
Watermelon Magic, 1996

Much of our inner turbulence reflects the fear of loss: our dependence on people, circumstances, and things not really under our control. On some level we know that death, indifference, rejection, repossession, or high tide may leave us bereft in the morning. Still, we clutch desperately at things we cannot finally hold. Nonattachment is the most realistic of attitudes. It is freedom from wishful thinking, from always wanting things to be otherwise.
Marilyn Ferguson
1938-, American Writer, Mind Researcher
The Aquarian Conspiracy, 1980

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Start of another upswing.

I had a light press workout last week in preparation for this weekend's HKC. Today I had another medium day as the start of my ramp up for the next few weeks without travel. BUT I got to train with Tracy, just her and I for a change, on the same movement, heavy presses! It was great, AND, I got to train mid morning for a change, not at the ass end of the day.

Wow, just like old times, training, my practice, was first on the schedule today and it worked out so well. Got to start out as I need to, with a long slow stretch out, really getting the joints and muscles ready for the workout to come.

Had an hour and half 'break' to train a client, and then onto my training~! Hydrated, fueled up a bit and really thought about the training coming up. I would love to have done heavier presses; the 28 kg for at least multiple sets of doubles but thought it smarter to stay with the 24 kg.The only question was short cycle or long cycle?

I have been having trouble with my cleans for awhile, just losing my groove and getting weird tricep and shoulder cramps with even the lightest weights for seemingly no reason,so I've been loathe to do long cycle.

But, I also knew I needed to 'figure it out' as cleans are one of my favorite movements and I have been very strong at them. This shoulder/tricep problem was very irritating.

I solved almost all of it with dedicated shoulder shrugs with the stick and way more overhead stretching in general but it didn't solve my cleans technical issues.

Such a short movement, how many technical issues could there be?

A lot, it seems

I was hinging too far on my down swing instead of breaking at the knees first and this , for me was the whole thing. I need to do my regular cleans as I do my bottom up cleans, more of a squatting pattern than in my swing and snatch hinging pattern.This put the bell too far in front of me and the act of connecting the shoulder back in was overloading my pec, teres, rotator, etc.
Today's cleans felt like the old days; strong and solid plus way more leg work. Different movements, even different sides of the same movement, can have very different patterns.Trying to make each side the same can cause more problems than it solves I've found.

Clean and Press, long cycle

16 kg x5/5x2
20 kg x5/5

24 kg x5/5x5 sets

way strong. Cleans felt great and really 'jumpy' as the shorter, more vertical path took over.Nice.Just hinging with so little leg work gets old over time. can't wait til I can squat again and really work my legs. It's coming. Windmills are on the schedule with high pulls for this Thursday. That should be interesting too.

Time to push a bit. Don't have to travel until the end of Oct for our HKC in Tempe Arizona.


8 sets of 10 seconds

these were tougher today although they started out strong. I use the wall as a touch stone to let me know where vertical is these days, as my center of balance has changed considerably from the old days. More leg and hip mass but a whole lot less shoulder mobility makes it interesting. I tried some free kick ups without the wall and I couldn't hit it on first try, which is the real indicator you know where you are upside down. A bit frustrating but I have to remember to be grateful I can do them at all.
Don't be greedy Mark.

Suitcase kb lunges( left leg only)

16 kg x8x2
20 kg x8 x2

these are getting easier and it's obvious I need them.


Monday, September 27, 2010


Wow, can't believe this blog has been viewed over 300,00 times since it's inception in May 2004. Who would've thought that 6 years later I would still be recording every workout I do, no matter how grand or how small.

They all count. Thank you so much, loyal readers, for observing me observe my journey through the physical. I have always cared so much more about the actual experience of my training, than any one specific goal or accomplishment. Being in the flow, feeling myself strong, fit, brave,disciplined, consistent and able to create, with my mind, heart and body that which I desired to have physically is such a joy,

I will train and move the rest of my life, in whatever way possible. And, most probably I will help others to do the same and communicate, in one form or another what that is like for me.

Thank you all for stopping by :)). It is greatly appreaciated.

My first post.

Not all that impressive but it was the start.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New swing combinations.

As I work up the courage to start training my volume swings with Tracy and her class at 6 am on Tuesdays, I did more moderately heavy one arm and two hand swings today with the 24 kg. used the 28kg last week and needed a more moderate weight as I taper this week.

The 24 kg one handed, after only using the 20 kg for my snatches last Saturday felt plenty heavy.So much so that I decided to alternate sets of one arm swings with sets of two handed for lower reps to give them a break. It worked really really well and I have to get past my OCD about just doing one thing and training it to capacity.

A swing is a swing is a swing(me)and a change is as good as a rest( chief Instructor)and I believe him. So a new swing combination and a new goal number was established.

One arm swings

16 kg x10/10 x2
20 kg x10/10

24 kg 10/10 x 6 sets

alternated with

Two hand swings
24 kg x10 x 5 sets


one arm swings
5/5 x5 sets

alternated with

two hand swings
10 x 5 sets


one arm swings 170
two hand swings 100

270 total swings

My reverse split endurance was kicking in( finishing stronger and faster than I start) and I left feeling like I could have done much more. Good sign, save it for Sunday.

finished with 15 minutes of stretching> I've been really emphasizing overhead work and my right shoulder postition is the best it's been in 20 years. Amazing that it can still change after all this time almost frozen at 120-130 of flexion from years of bench pressing and NO overhead work.crazy.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hungarian Snatch

The Hardstyle snatch personified. Peter Lakatos take it to another level of power and force production. He calls it the Hungarian Snatch

Hi Rif,

In Peter's own words:

"A few weeks ago I started to play with a snatch variation - we call it the "HUN SNATCH". Working with fighters and doing Vo2max training is a great tool, however I see chasing reps and sets might make form sloppy and long endurance work might slow you down. I already got back a bunch of feedbacks from fighters reporting lighting fast kicks and punches after practicing this way. So, here is my solution:

1. Men, try with a 16 or 20. Are you a mutant? Try with the 24.

2. Aim to 10 or so snatches per arm. Dont aim to high, tough.

3. What makes the hun snatch special is the timing, speed and explosiveness, also looking for as perfect reps as possible.

4. The goal is to activate fast muscle fibers, creating explosive movement and mainly making a plyometric exercise without jumping once.

5. Hun snatch is tough on the shoulder and the grip, be wise. Use it carefully.

How to make the hun snatch?
- snatch the bell up
- get a zip of air
- press the bell down with one explosive movement, and exhale sharply before bells hits the bottom point
- aim to the hip, move the hip out from the way, as fast as you can, as late as you can
- snatch the bell to the upper position as fast as you can, while exhale again sharply out, before the bell arrives, tense the glutes, pull up the kneecaps, give good support to the body
- inhale sharply, and pause for 1 second
- repeat

- keep the shoulder joint in the socket at all time
- when forms brakes down, switch or put the bell down, dont engrave bad reps to your CNS
- dont chase reps or sets, enjoy the explosiveness you gain

Monday, September 20, 2010

Working. Out.

Today was a work day at my workout. The days of me being able to spend most of my time focused on my next workout, visualizing the exact sets and reps and weights days before, really preparing mentally and physically, training at the most optimal time and having my training being the center of my life are long, long gone.

And today that was most evident.

It's nice to have a bunch of new clients and have to work late to accommodate them but that means I'm on fumes when it comes time for my training and I have to be very very careful not to tweak things training tired and on empty.

Tomorrow, my normal training day is even busier so I figured today was be a better choice and it was,even though DOMS from my 200 snatches on Saturday was already setting in everywhere,lol.

I figured more training would cut it off at the pass. I'll let you know Wednesday.

This was just one of those days when you just do what you can and wait for another day when things feel good.

I actually didn't feel weak at all and wanted to try five rep sets with the 28 kg ,but with an HKC this Sunday I can't take any chances and stuck with medium loads for my presses. It worked out fine.

KB Press, short cycle

16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x5/5

24 kg x5/5

these were very strong and the most reps I have done with the 24 kg. I had to find a way to make it harder and this was it. I could have done more but frankly I was getting bored,lol.


6 sets alternating wall and free standing.

as good as last weeks handstands were, that's how rough these were. Took an average of three attempts to find the balance.
Oh well ,some workouts are great and some are just work.They don't call it playing-out. it's workout out.

One KB Lunge

16 kg bell x 8 reps( left side only) x 3 sets
20 kg x 8 reps x 2 sets

these are getting easier already.

swing combinations on Wednesday


Saturday, September 18, 2010

200 snatches.

Another one bites the dust. Haven't done 200 snatch reps with anything other than the 16 kg in eons.
It wasn't the 24 kg but the 20kg and I will take it. I have been slowly ramping up my snatch volume and weight on saturdays for a month now since I stopped doing max vo2 . I have pushed the reps per set and total number up the last three weeks and thought today was a good day to back off a bit, but I still feel strong and wanted to increase something in todays workout.

So I backed down to the 20 kg but upped the reps to 10's and had a goal of 200 total reps in mind. Again, this is a far cry from best of 400 reps with this weight a few years ago but it will be a recent pr and I knew it would not be easy. I haven't done 10's in forever and knew that pacing and taking my time would be the key.

And it was. One rep at a time. No problem. cardio was good, technique also and my hands held up fine. God I hate reps though,lol.

7 am 45 minute stretch out. top to bottom.

One arm swing warmup

16 kg x5/5/5/5 x 2
20 kg x5/5/5/5 x1

16 kg x5/5

20 kg x10/10 x 10 sets
200 reps
8800 lbs

I go you go with Nick who did 24 kg for 10 sets of 7/7 the same workout I did last week, so the pace was pretty quick. The key thing for me with this type of training is gearing DOWN and not trying to accelerate so hard, which produces more power but costs me energy.

Left my contacts in this time which worked ok and found my spot no problem.Facing the wall helps as well. No peripheral distractions. Body held up well and the full stretch out before hand helped immensely.

Two Hand Swings
32 kg x5
36 kg x5
40 kg x 5 x 3 sets

This wasn't much but just wanted to touch it and get something heavier in. Have my grandaughters first birthday party today as well as Doug Fioranelli's Rise above Strength First Anniversary party so it was a short day. Perfect though.Very happy.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Swings are hard. 5/7/9 ladders.

Man I can't believe I did 400 one arm swings with the 32 kg. It seems like another life ago as I climb back up this hill again. That's no joke. Of course LOTS of parameters are different but going heavy changes everything and that's heavy for me these days.

AND a ton of volume.

Oh well, I am where I am and today I had thoughts of doing some volume with the 32kg but when training time came I took the low road and chose the 28 kg as I really haven't qualified with THAT bell recently and I know there are no shortcuts, only detours.

I felt good though and that was nice, nothing yelling or talking to me and what a change that is. Got to stretch out a bit early too with some brettzels, hamstring strap work and the dogs, down and up. Also spend tons of time with the overhead stick stretch as I am really seeing that pay off in my right arm overhead position.

Right arm windmills and getups might be back in my future yet. Hey I can two hand swing now, why not?

But one arm swings, with my arm straight, really buts the bell way the hell out in front of me and that's a lot of torque, and a lot of work,and force, to produce,reduce and reverse. High pulls and snatches are actually a much shorter ROM and thus easier. Of course the easy way is almost never the right way,not when it comes to training.

One arm swing ladder

16 kg x5/5 x2
24 kg x 5/5 ( big jump, nice)

28 kg x 5/5
x9/9 x 3 rounds
126 reps


One arm swing/two hand swing combination
28 kg x 5/5 + 5 two hands. Here's the last set.

5 sets 50 more one arm swings

total one arms 176
total load 11,088

wow that adds up fast. Nice.

these kicked my butt.I am very glad I didn't choose the 32 kg. This was tough enough, especially those 9 rep sets.But my form and power felt good and I didn't feel like anything was going to tear lose, which is always a good thing but never a given :))

Ladders rock and make doing this type of volume possible when you are really not strong enough to do it,lol. Just trying to hammer away at one set rep number is way tougher.I did 20 sets of 10/10 when I made the 400 reps and that's a way from here but this was a good start.

I think I did a total of 50 reps the last workout with the 32 kg.This was better

Snatch Holds
16 kg x60 seconds
20 kg x 45 seconds
24 kg x 40 seconds x 2 sets

these were surprisingly tough! I thought they would be much easier on the right but I had gotten a bit tight from the swings and it took awhile to open up the shoulder.

band triceps extensions

50 reps non stop blue band. I admit it, I pumped.I almost feel guilty.



check in tomorrow for Tracy's and my LIVE interview with Carl Lanore of SuperHuman Radio. Check it out tomorrow here

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Super Woman

Need I say more?

Reifkindos on Latissimus: a Hungarian Discourse

Thanks so much to Aniko Balazsik RKC for this unique and thoroughly interesting review of my Lats DVD!


Discussion of Mark Reifkind’s DVD: Lats, the Super Muscles in the form of a Platonic Dialogue.

Participants: Reifkindos, Lakatos, Tracikos, Anikos.


I have to say very nice things about your speech, Reifkindos. A beautiful representation of how a thought develops to a monologue and then beautifully grows into a dialogue. Thou art a great orator.


Thank you, Anikos. I always try to do my best.


The most significant value of your presentation, apart from the importance of thy theme is your special kind of humour. I always believed that teaching anything must include a good sense of humour. Some people are genetically coded to make fun, like you are.


What about the lat itself, Anikos? Do you agree with us it was worth a whole DVD?


Of course, Tracikos. Not only because that you spotlight on a certain muscle – actually the second largest one of the body- that functions in a so complicated manner, but the attitude, too. You do master drawing to your students’attention from the simplest movements to the absolutely complex ones. Also I like the analytical approach of how the using of the lat goes into and modifies movement, during training and everyday life, too.


Have you found it useful for example, the demonstration of how the lats are included in the swing?


I have found it not only useful, but essential, Tracikos. For most people it is very difficult to even understand how and why they should swing with a flat back, because they live with a bent back. The way they store themselves in their poor bodies makes their spine resemble a letter „C” instead of the beautiful shape of letter „S” given to the spine by nature. What one can understand listening to Reifkindos is that the lat does have to be taught to function in order to be able to do a proper swing. One must learn how to create extension of the lumbar spine. Explanations are so comprehensible,I just love them. And also your short participation, Tracikos.

What I hear many times from people, who are not considered patients by the health industry, but are working on their own projects to be called so is that they simply state „I have a bad back” as if it was just something they have bought in a supermarket or somebody came upon and gave their body another shape. I also know people do consider a bent back a problem. What if we changed perspective a little bit and regard a bent back as a task instead of a hopeless given problem?

A person who lives a „seated life” teaches his body to forget about his lats for long hours every day. The result is that he can not make them work. The task is to teach it something better. One would think this process is long, tiring and difficult. Reifkindos’ creativity shortens the way to moments ! Brilliant ideas like squeezing the sponge, plank on elbows, then going to exercises like the swing or squat with safe performance. Safe performance given, comes power.




Also, on the press you were brilliant. As I experience, it is hard to make people understand where to put concentration, how to find the rack position, how to increase safety while enhancing perfomance, the proper pull-down, create force into the movement, pack shoulders and breathe without making them feel they are a part of information overload tsunami. You really master how to put practice and troubleshooting in sequence without making the students confused and at the same time get immediate feedback in their techniques.

Lakatos: Good maneuvers to achieve when you are pointing to the moon, they would not stare at your finger, Reifkindos.

Anikos: Exactly. It is not just what you say and explain is a pioneer work, but also the way you do it. I must say thanks for following this out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Long cycle clean and press and handstands.

After last weeks 32 kg presses I wanted to back off for todays workout, especially since it is a day earlier than usual. I got off work an hour early today and tomorrow work long and start early so I figured today was the better day.
I knew it would be the 24 kg but just sets of 5 would be too easy so I decided on long cycle sets of five which always kicks my butt. It would also add in a bunch more swing volume which I need too.

Long cycle clean and press
16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x 5/5

24 kg x5/5 x5

This is the last set of 5. I really concentrated on reaching back more with the arm and hips in the clean and it helped. I tend to get lazy here and that's not going to happen anymore.The presses felt like nothing and that is great as well.

One interesting thing; normally on my right arm I look up at the bell as I press, as my shoulder mobility/flexibility has required that. I don't do that on my ( good) left shoulder. Today, for some reason, I pressed on the right with the same head and eye position that I do on my left! Maybe all that shoulder stretching I've been doing is paying off!

4 sets of 10 seconds!!
1 set of 10 seconds
1 set of 10 seconds

This was the best handstand workout I've had in eons! I nailed the first four sets of ten seconds so easily I couldn't believe it! So I decided to tape the last one ( knowing full well I was going to jinx myself) and sure enough I did! I hit the first four sets on the first try but missed twice before getting it on the third. I knew better.
SO of course I had to do a 6th set to nail it on first attempt.I backed up to the wall but didnt use it. Time to go back to the free mat soon.

the 6th set

and the jinxed 5th set

KB lunges( left leg in front only, kb on left hand)

16 kg x 8 reps x 3 sets

time to do something for my too small left quad. this seemed to be good. it's the asymmetrical exercise I used back in 2000 to rehab my back injury working the left psoas and quad and stretching the too tight right psoas.

db laterals

15 lbs x 20, 15, 15 ,12 , 12

These are good for a lot of things not only the size of my shoulders but the supraspinitus as well. yeah, sure :)


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just like the good old days.

Nick's been my training partner and best friend for more than six years now and has been there through thick and thin. He started off as a bench press only guy until my challenges to his manhood brought him around to training for real, which for me meant squats and deadlifts. He took to it like a duck to water and despite his aversion for hard work ( just kidding Nikko) he managed to take third in his class(90kg) at APF Nationals in 2006 AND squat 600 for the first time with these numbers:

squat 601
bench 379
deadlift 529
total 1509

He had only been training the lift lifts seriously for two years.

After a fairly serious back tweak and a very serious job promotion Nick put competitions on hold ( as did I) and went back to keeping his strength and fitness stable with regular squat workouts, kettlebell training and his afternoon gig as a high school wrestling coach.

Nick recently got the bug again to get his squat back up to heavier numbers and decided to train for real again, with a written out cycle that he is sticking to. His first real cycle back he did this double with 502 not far off his PR of 551 that he did prior to his 601 meet squat. The 551 was with knee wraps and straps up and this was just with a suit bottom.

It was way cool to be able to back in the garage, Metallica on the stereo, and testosterone and adrenaline in the air. The only thing better than me doing this squat is Nick. Great job man, just the beginning.

PS he did the double because we ran out of weight in his garage and he didnt want to do another set,lol. Time to bring the rest of my plates over to his house.Not perfect depth but it's only the start.


Just found this from 2007,although he did more sets he also used used wraps and didn't go as low:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

One rep at a time, one set at a time. And, a vision experiment.

Third week on rep and set increases in my snatch workout today and I was just a bit nervous. I never really know where my body is, injury potential wise, and I've learned not to be fooled by "feeling good" before workouts. In fact, many times that's when I've had my worst workouts, although it's not usually a precursor to any tweaks.

But I'm cautious, especially when I'm ramping up things and training early.Also, Nick was out so I was on my own, not a problem;especially these days as most training is now done early, but he definitely gives me good feedback on position, mechanics and other things that might lead to problems. He has been my training partner for over five years now and has good coaching instincts and a good eye.

And speaking of eyes, I decided to try a little experiment after last Saturdays 'problem' with finding my visual spot again. The horizon works well for the swings but it's not as consistent in the snatch and I hypothesized that perhaps I was seeing too well, or too much because of my contact lenses.

When I only wore glasses I never wore them when I trained as they flopped around, got sweaty and or steamed up and lacked peripheral vision. I only wore my glasses( I'm nearsighted) at work and always (still do) take them off when at home. But when I got my contacts they were so confortable and made it seem like I had perfect far sighted vision that I got into the habit of wearing them for training.

Especially at Girya as I have to drive there and I need the contacts for driving. I moved my training spot to the back of the studio, behind Tracy's class instead of facing them as I had been thinking that would help with less visual distractions but thought that no contacts might help.
It definitely did, although it took a few sets to get used to.

When I powerlifted one of the biggest challenges for meet day,especially in the squat, was where to look when you are not lifting in your normal environment, with the same focal points, cues and peripheral objects. Many times you are lifting on a stage, always in front of a judge who is RIGHT in front of you,often times with bright lights blinding you as well.

This has the tendency to pull one forward, out of themselves, if they can't make the correction very quickly. You have to find a focal point right away and NOT give in to the temptation to let your eyes wander. That's never good and really makes me disconnect from my body. Even worse the squatting in front of a mirror.

One has to be away of their external surroundings but ALWAYS cueing into where their body is in space, especially relative to the movement pattern they are trying to do> Proprioception at it's best, especially with a big weight on your back.

Or a heavy bell pulling your forwards with great force and acceleration. So I theorized that loosing some of my long sight vision might make it easier to 'stay in my body' as I went through the snatch.

And it did. It also showed me where my focal point should be, which is more down than the horizon point I had been using. Pretty much where I looked for all these years. Down and about 3 feet from my feet. Not pretty but it works.

Very old video but it seems I was right in the headline. My best technique indeed. Eye and head position were the same today.

7 am warmup:

40 minutes of stretching, joint mobility and foam roller. I am definitely taking my stretching much more seriously of late and giving it the respect, as it's own workout, that it deserves.This is especially true after watching Igor Morozov's flexibility and realizing I have been babying myself way too much, especially for my overhead work for my right shoulder.

I worked on the dyna band stretches Coach Morozov demonstrated in the video albeit on a the beginners level. it's tough!

One arm swing warmup:

16 kg x10/10 x2
20 kg x5/5/5 x2
25 kg x5/5 x 2


16 kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x5/5

24 kg x7/7 x 10 sets
140 reps
7420 lbs

These went well although I was really focusing on one rep at a time, one set at a time. This was an increase in both reps (from 6-7 per set) from last week and total reps( 120-140). Nothing was a problem at all but my hips and hammies didn't feel perfect coming in and the last thing I wanted was a tweak.

SO I went very slowly, not getting ahead of myself mentally, holding each rep dead stop at the top, reaching back, not rushing the pendulum and really letting the arc take ME through the rep. I was definitely willing to sacrifice power here for safety. The weight felt light though, and the groove very solid and each set felt better until set seven when I just started feeling fatigue.

Rest periods were about 1 minute between sets but I didn't time them as usual. Just went when I felt ready.

Two hand swings

32 kg x 5

Just 45 reps but I wanted to make sure everything was fine tomorrow and I've done two hand swings twice this week already. Felt great and solid power.

Triceps work with bands

100 reps of pushdowns with both palms down and palms up grip. red blue and black band and very little rest.Hey I like triceps and it seems I can train them again without shoulder issues so why not? Occlusion training, or, as they used to say, race the pump.

post workout stretching
about 15 minutes.

Datsit. about 50 minutes of kb training total, not counting the stretching

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I got a lot of work to do.

Serious shoulder flexibility, Igor Morozov

and this

Courage Corner

Another early start today, 8 am. I might actually be getting used to training this early again if this stuff keeps up.

Even though I swung a bit yesterday today was scheduled for some volume swinging today. Still want to build the base up so that snatches are that much easier. I used to calculate that if I wanted to be able to do 200 snatches in a workout, whether it was in one set or ten, I should do double that volume of swings on another day, with the same size bell.

Or three quarters of it with a bell one size up.

Swings are much easier on the body than snatches( much less downward forces to reduce), travel a much shorter difference,and the form is almost infinitely controllable given body issues that day( shorter longer, faster slower, etc). So I thought I might catch a break after the two hands yesterday and it seems I did.

I used to be very happy being able to recover from a kb workout three days later so I could train again, so being able to recover in 24 hours is a big deal. It means the plan is working; my body is healing, my asymmetries are reducing and my strength is returning. The balance is being restored.The pain is leaving the body and I can move better, more, more often and more strongly.

How nice.

And about damn time :)) I mean it's only been ten years since my herniation.

Again, no music no partner, just me and a bell.Haven't trained like this in ages. Almost eerie, my little courage corner. No one watching, no one to impress, no one to count, no one to encourage, no one to care. I mean you don't have to do it. You don't have to challenge yourself. You can take it easy, why not?
No one's looking.

But someone is.

And it's a slippery slope indeed. Weakness.


One arm swings
16kg x10/10 x 2 sets
x 5/5/5

24 kg x 10/10 x 10 sets
200 reps

Supersetted with:

Stick shrugs
Overhead stick stretches

This went great. I was very happy I could easily skip the 20 kg bell for warmup and go right to the 24 kg with no problems .Bigger jumps are always a good sign you are getting stronger.Especially early in the morning. That's a great sign.

I started out using the comp 24 kg bell and hated it. The thinner handle actually made it harder on my grip as the handle sat in a very unusual place in my grip and I didn't like it, so back to the DD bell for the rest of my sets. And I put the comp bell away, it's not for me..

Snatch holds
16 kg x30 sec
20 kg x30 sec
24 kg x30 sec x 2 sets

these went very well and I'm surprised how good my right arm overhead position is progressing. Almost comfortable. Well, not really but getting there,lol

15 minutes stretching


Tuesday, September 07, 2010


I've earned my wings,lol. From gymnastics, to bodybuilding, powerlifting and kettlebells, one things all these strength sports had in common is an uncommon need for lats and back strength.

Back in the day 1987:

Heavy press , light swing

I got what I wished for today, the chance to do my workout before I had to work. The only problem is I wake up pretty stiff and tight and usually need a good 3-4 hours of being upright before I even want to think about lifting anything heavy.

I bit different from 1997 when I opened the gym at 5 am and usually had 400-600 lbs on my back in one form or another by 5:30. It was good to be young,lol. Of course I'm paying for it now but, you play, you pay.

So I had to adapt and adapt I did.It's all a state of mind and you can choose it and change it.So I did and got into the idea of training in my totally quiet kb dojo, by myself and with no music. Just me and the bell. Nothing to distract and no one else to please.Back to basics. A kettlebell meditation.

So I led Tracy's class in joint mobility and then went right into an hour of serious stretching from 6-7 am. It's interesting that even though I am taking more time to stretch and roll these days I need it less and less for pain reduction. Now, I just want to increase my athletic flexiblity and ease of movement. Hell, I almost never have to use the thumper anymore!

Then straight into presses:

One KB Press
16kg x5/5 x2
20 kg x5/5x2
24 kg x3/3x2
28 kg x2/2

32 kgx2/2x2!
24 kgx4/4

Nice.The 32 kg was very easy although it did get out of the groove on the second rep on the right side for some reason. I haven't quite figured out the eye position on this move as I have on the swing/snatch and I have to fix that. Becomes very apparent when the weight gets heavy,lol,

Good to have the 32 kg in my hand , and overhead again,as it seems like it's been awhile.It hasn't but the difference between the 28 and the 32 kg can be much bigger than just the 10 lbs it is.
I was thinking just some singles but it went up so easily the double just happened.Again, nice.

Two hand swings

24 kg x10x10

It is so cool that I can do these. Went heavy on Saturday so I wanted to go lighter and faster today,especially since I have a high volume one arm day scheduled for tomorrow. this fit the bill and the rest periods between sets were between 15-20 seconds


5 sets of 10 second kick ups

these were very strong.suprisingly so and my bretzell, t spine mobility work and overhead stretch work is really paying off here. Kicked up to the wall then immediately pulled the feet off for the hold.Still have problems finding 'overhead' easily as my hips and legs ( as small as they are) are heavier and bigger than they were when I was a 130 gymnast. New center of balance. This is a good day to train this, after my presses, really gets the rotator stabilizers as well, good for after the heavy presses as well.

Bottoms up walks

decided to do this after reading and hearing that Dr McGill really likes this as a spine stabilizing move from Pavel. Much tougher than I thought. started out light because I know now that being able to do something does not mean my body is going to like it the next day, so easy is the starting point.

12 kg x 60 feet each arm
x 90 feet each arm
x 120 feet each arm

very interesting differences from right to left. have to play with this much more.


Gabi reviews Lats, the Super Muscle

Gabi Katschthaler, RKC TL turns her focused training eye to my DVD today with her review of it on her Hungarian Courage Corner.

Here's the link to her blog post as well as the full text below.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MRKC Mark Reifkind: Lats, the Super Muscles DVD

Rif has almost 40 years of experience in training and competing himself, in gymnastics, triathlon, ultramarathon, Ironman, bodybuilding, powerlifting and Hard Style kettlebell training, and more than 30 years in training and coaching other people, from average folks to world class athletes (click here for references). If he, a Master RKC with such a background thinks the lats are important, important enough to do a whole workshop session just on them and publish it on a DVD, then I readily believe they are.

Okay, apart from "the Party is always right!" talk, there are quite a couple of cogent arguments as to why the lats should be considered super-muscles. First, as you'll hear Rif explain and show you, the lats are the second largest muscles in the body, second only to the glutes. They're fan-shaped muscles with very extended origins, on multiple points from the T-spine and the tip of the scapula down to the thoraco-lumbar fascia and the iliac crest, sweeping up and inserting on your upper arm. Consider this for a moment... It is probably not so just for the fun of it, there's good reason to assume they have an accordingly wide range of functions, way more than people in today's inactive civilized life and in a fitness world of disintegration and isolation actually utilize. As Rif puts it, the lats are the "most misunderstood, most under-utilized and hardest to activate" muscles, in spite of the fact that they should be involved everywhere, even in sports movements you wouldn't think they'd play a role. Moving the arm, that's obvious, but did you think of their interplay with the glutes, abdominal muscles (the whole trunk musculature, actually), hip flexors etc. during something as simple as gait, running, swimming? Or their role in back extension and shoulder stabilisation? Overall posture? Even breathing?

After listening to Rif explaining how the lats build a bridge between arm and shoulder, arm and spine, shoulder and hips, arm and lower body, you'll have no doubts that everything you do is a "whole-body, interconnected and interlinked, movement" and the lats have "lots of potential to be used in several different modalities and the ability to use it is critical". And you'll also agree it's not about the kettlebell at all. "There's no kettlebell", as Pavel would say, and there's no barbell, ball, bat or racket either, it's all about how you move.

You will be eager to learn

- how to find your lats and activate them - in both directions (oh yes, it's not just the arm movement!);

- how to fine tune your deadlift set-up by establishing connection between arm and hip and why muscle activation in both directions not only improves your strength instantly but is also hugely protective for the shoulder;

- how lat activation automatically ensures pelvic tilt for safety and better performance with the pendulum swing;

- why a pre-stretched muscle is a stronger muscle and how lat activation increases loading your hips: learn or refine the kettlebell swing hike pass and overspeed eccentric technique;

- how to fine tune lat engagement to increase force generation and to optimalize force transmission from the engine of your swings, the hips, all the way through your core and arms to the hands and the kettlebell;

- from what aspects swinging to parallel and thus projecting force forward is more beneficial than swinging overhead;

- how lat activation before and during overhead presses creates optimal scapular and shoulder position to prevent injury and makes all the difference between an isolated shoulder exercise and an integrated full body move;

- how a couple of slight shifts in focus during your press can instantly set your groove right;

- how slight changes in handle and wrist position can enhance or ruin performance;

- how to use a "pulling" muscle to initiate a strong press and how, in turn, you can use a press to strengthen your lats - or your teres major, depending on your posture;

- why the lats are really hard to stretch out, why it's all the more important to do it and a couple of ways of how to do it effectively.

Expect in-depth and yet easy to understand anatomical and biomechanical explanations on the theory-side and a basketful of brilliant little drills and visual aids to put it all into practice - real gems for your own training and even more so if you work with clients, not just in kettlebell training but practically any sports (stronger bench or pushups, anyone?)!

Well, "it's all easy 'til its heavy" - but "strong fixes almost everything" :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ok, so you think you train?

Try this every day.Just another day at the office for a collegiate gymnast. I've posted it before but it rocks so here's another look.

Handstand Primer

Found this on you tube and it really has all the basic progressions nicely. The guy is seriously strong too.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Gabi gets it; Her review of Tracy's KB Swing Progressions DVD

Gabi Katschthaler, RKCTL, really gets the true essence of Tracy's methods of training the KB Swing and puts it all down perfectly on her blog, A Hungarian Courage Corner, in her review of Tracy's DVD. Here's the full text and a link to her blog is on my blog roll. Thanks Gabi! Can't wait to see you again next year in Hungary!

Tracy Reifkind: Programming the Kettlebell Swing 2-DVD-set

My first exposure to "Tracy-style" training dates back to the beginning of 2008 when I signed up and started preparing for my RKC. I got a tremendous amount of help right from the beginning from the members of the Dragon Door forum and the blogging part of the RKC community. I was following MRKC Brett Jones' RKC Prep Program for form practice and for conditioning Rif's advice: swings are the best method ever to build up work capacity quickly, safely and effectively. So I studied the Swing Queen's blog, adjusted her workout schemes to my own level of ability and in a matter of just a few months I could do like 1600 swings in an hour or 900 swings in half an hour - thank to Tracy's principle of distraction, combining swing types, different time and rep ladders and using weights from 12 to 24kg. (It also stripped the last rests of stubborn fat off me and I was ripped and muscular like never before - and that wasn't even my goal, just a side effect!).

Work capacity - in a deck of cards it would definitely be one of the aces. No matter what goal you're striving for, from improving body composition to honing athletic skills, you'll have to put in the work necessary, there's no way around it. The better your work capacity, the more work you can put in, the faster you get there. But it also requires a lot of mental strength and self discipline to keep "showing up and doing the work".

Before I got certified I used to teach business communication psychology a lot, and this background made me appreciate Tracy's principle of distracton even more. It's a brilliant way to sell yourself the idea of doing tons of reps of a single same exercise! Because, let's face it, even if one recognizes the exceptional value of "the center of the RKC universe", even if one really strives to stay internally focused on perfecting every single rep, the mere idea of doing hundreds of them can be discouraging and they can very well get boring. The more you have to concentrate on the scheme the less energy you have to think about how much work you have done and/or how much is still left. But there's more to it. It's human nature to group and organize things into patterns - AND to keep those patterns whole, the more complicated the pattern, the more so. You may, for example, plan 10 sets of 10 and stop by set 7 because you're tired, but you are probably less likely to abandon a 100 rep workout if it calls for a pyramid from 1 up to 10 and back down to 1, because it would leave you with a stronger feeling of 'unfinished business'...

Simply put, you can trick yourself - or your clients! - into doing workloads you never thought possible if you follow Tracy's methods. Iwas sold on them in the moment I saw a sample workout on her blog and so will you a few minutes into her DVDProgramming the Kettlebell Swing. It comes with a pdf of the progressions and a Disc 2 with a panel Q&A discussion.

But let's see what you can expect.

First, one thing you should be clear about: the information on this DVD is not about how to learn or practice the swing, but how to train it once you have the basics of at least the two hand swing technique down. Apart from that, Tracy's progressions can be started at any, even a very low, level of conditioning. She lays a heavy emphasis on how to increase load incrementally, easing into high volume training: "you can start with 10 reps at a time... or even less". If you're at an advanced level, just grab a heavier bell and/or watch out for the special tips coming throughout the DVD.

You will learn, by following along if you want:

- how high volume kettlebell swing training, especially longer sets, combines aerobic and slightly anaerobic work, burns A LOT of calories AND builds muscle, increases muscle tone in the shortest amount of time;

- how you can create practically infinite ways to maximize the workload by manipulating single or multiple factors of intensity like weight, sets, reps, speed, swing types and their combinations, work to rest ratios, etc.;

- why pacing is important, how you can establish a comfortable pace that lets you go the distance, and how to do "speed swings", a less obvious alternative to heavier weights to increase intensity and boost your metabolism;

- about the importance of equal work to equal rest and how "on-the-minute training"makes it possible, even in groups, to individualize workload for everyone, how it makes tracking progress easy and how it takes beginners safely and effectively to 1:1 work:rest ratio;

- how to go beyond that and build up aerobic capacity to be able to do long sets, by "working into rest", "overloading short sets", "stealing" progressively from the rest period, while being distracted by the laddering concept, going uphill, downhill or both (all have different effect);

- a seemingly minor tweak on the one hand swing that proves to be an effective way to make sure your posture stays correct and your mechanics natural and also shortens the learning curve of the hand switch - while increasing your power output at the same time;

- why the two hand swing is easier and harder than the one arm swing at the same time, how the difficulty of transfers and one arm swings compares from different aspects, and what difference all this makes when teaching/learning vs. training the one arm swing and the hand switch;

- how you can use combinations of these different swing types either to ease into high volume training mentally, or into swinging heavier bells one handed by learning the TracyRif Roundabout, which is not only the absolutely most grip sparing swing rep scheme ever, but also has a built-in mechanism of preventing you from being thrown off-center for long by the heavy weight;

and at the end you get a sample workout combining different concepts. You can do it as it is, as a complete workout, or you can also freely choose any part or sequence and repeat it X times, but it also provides a glimpse into the endless variety of possible combinations of the presented methods - even if you just stay with the same weight (as for me, I'm a big fan of adding different bell sizes into the mix as well, an option mentioned but not demonstrated in this workshop), you could train your swings every day for years without having to repeat a single session!