Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hardstyle; No apologies.

Ok, I'll admit it. In the past I've suffered from a bit of GS envy. In many ways, if I were still competing in anything( beside powerlifting) GS would be my choice. It just so appeals to my inner masochist as well as my desire to focus on a simple thing and Master it, in all it's subtleties and nuances.

You don't need a spotter, you don't need a training parter( not truly), and, like powerlifting, it is completely quantifiable. You have your numbers and you can hang on them. When powerlifters talk about their lifts it's like they are talking about their children. Don't mess with their numbers because they are completely hard won.

Powerlifters ( guys who get on platforms and compete in front of judges, THOSE powerlifters) KNOW that a 501 squat is NOT a 523 squat and would never take credit for it. Bodybuilders are notorious for " rounding off" their training poundages because that's not what their lifting is about; it's about their physique.

But powerlifters know better. And why in their mind gym lifts don't count. I've benched 490 in the gym but only 435 in a three lift competition. It's just not even close to the same thing( which is why the recent trend in GS comps- the ability to earn your ranking by video- is very disturbing to me) and I bet GS competitors feel this way too.

But the bottom line for me is that a ten minute test, hell even the 5 minute RKC test is basically an aerobic test more than anything and man I HATE that energy system. Plus my injured shoulder still doesn't like spending too much time resting in the overhead position and my knees and shoulder can't do jerks at all.

Brett Jones always jokes and says anything over 3 reps is cardio and I pretty much agree. Now I've done my share of running swimming and cycling and I do well with low intensity long duration IF the intensity is low. With anything high intensity I like to go hard, rest and repeat.

Also, GS is a SPORT and the key is to improve your numbers NOT to improve your physique or your strength and power, three things that are at the top of my list these days. Now that I'm not the physical wreck I was I LOVE being able to lift heavy(er) again, feel my muscularity improve and look like I can lift something.

Although there are many in GS with great physiques there are just as many with almost no muscle and great numbers, same as in powerlifting. I like muscle. There, I said it( yea, that's a surprise, I competed for 8 years in bodybuilding, big shock there.)

And Hardstyle training is about that as well. About strength, and power and speed and force and muscle. And true to my new resolution to train my strengths as well as my weak points I am done making any and all apologies for my lust for power, strength and muscle mass via Hardstyle!

If I need to pass my snatch test again I will just do it but I'm not going to torture myself with endless low intensity high rep sets. My inner masochist isn't that bad :))Especially these days.

Except for the clubbell swipes. For some reason I don't mind doing high rep sets with those. I can make one exception for something that's actually easier for me :))

And now, with the new techniques Tracy and I have developed for training the swing, snatch and cleans from the start position I can really let loose! I call this the Box Squat of KB ballistics because it works the same way: removing the stretch reflex from the lift and training starting strength, speed strength and power as well as working on perfecting form at the same time.

And it's COMPLETELY Hardstyle at it's roots. Love love love it :))

Low reps with max acceleration and multiple sets are where I am at these days and that's that. Hardstyle Strong.

Power to us indeed!

7 am

stretchout : 30 minutes

One arm swings
16 kg x 5/5 + 5 transfers x2
20 kg x 5/5/5 x 2
24 kg x5/5/5x 2
28 kg x5/5
32 kg x5/5 x 8 sets

Nice. Haven't done this many one arms with the 32 in a long time.Not hammering my arms on thursday is the key.clubbell swipes and max vo2 with the 16 is not the same. perfect

Starting Strength Snatches
16 kg x5/5
20 kg x4/4
24 kg x3/3 x 5 sets

ok, these are way harder than I thought they would be. perfect.

Starting strength two hand swings
24 kg x5
28 kg x5
32 kg x5
36 kg x5

again, way harder than they look. more about these later when our dvd comes out.

Two Clubbell swings
2/ 10's x 20
2/ 15's x 15
2/ 20's x12
x 14
x 16
2/ 15's x 18

man I wanted to go up with the 20's for the 18 and then a 20 rep set but I was cooked and I knew it. When the bell speed slows down and power is down no sense in continuing.

20 minute cooldown stretchout and called it a day. Very pleased.



John Beamon said...

There's an interesting conversation going on about GS right now. I'm glad to read your thoughts on it, since your background includes competition versions of what other people do for fitness.

There's something reassuring about meeting a benchmark. Some people rest 10, 15, even 30min between sets of presses. I like the way the IKFF cert includes evaluation of technique, but also timed sets back-to-back. There's finishing a workout all day, and there's finishing it right now in front of a judge. Big difference.

Mark Reifkind said...


not sure exactly what you are asking. when I competed in powerlifting one of the hardest things was the interminable rest between events, sometimes HOURS! I wouldn't want timed rest between events but the rules be the rules.

of course, they change them all the time too :))

John Beamon said...

Wasn't asking anything in particular. You have a unique perspective of having competed without weights, with weights for max lifts, with weights for physique, and with weights for fitness. GS is a rare permutation of time - reps - load.

I first stumbled across this working KJ's press book. A cycle of rested volume, then long sets, then sets with strictly timed rests. It was a whole different playing field. The little I've dabbled in GS so far has been a cool experience. Your term "masochistic" was spot-on. :-)

guy said...

Simply put, Salute Boss!

Kikolu said...


I really have to say thank you because your ost answers a) the question why you have not answered me on facebook about GS and b) even tell me a bit about myself. I mean, I read your ost and it hit me like a train: Hey, thats me, too. I like brute power, muscle mass, feeling the force.
But on the other side I believe in ying-yang, so I have to balance that out with a bit of power-endurance. And thats what its so fantastic to me about Gs. You can go for endurance with a strength-endurance based training.
And thats my question: How to put the two together? Or is there no way? Do you have any idea?

Zachary said...

What are Starting strength snatches and swings?
Thank you Zach

Mark Reifkind said...


First I wasn't aware that you asked me a question on facebook that I didn't answer. Sorry. ask again.

Also,I think in modern gs training they do a lot of squats and heavier stuff to build absolute strength so that the comp bells don't feel that heavy.

I"m sure they do heavy lower rep training as well as higher rep timed sets.

I just don't like it,as I wrote, except for the clubbell swipes.For some reason I don't mind high reps there and can see doing 100 rep sets no worries.

I do seem to be built for it, with no restrictions for the correct form and it works to my strengths.

Not so on any level in the gs events.

why don't you check out John Wild Buckley and the OKC on Facebook and Rudnevs system/ Or Igor Morozov?

Mark Reifkind said...


I agree , gs is a very rare permutation of time reps and loading.I have total respect. I like the idea of trying to do the same movement perfectly at any point in time and as the fatigue grows, and the pain makes it's way in, the mind becomes a very interesting playground.

The IDEA of it, not the reality, lol.

Have fun and keep me posted as to your progress please.

Mark Reifkind said...


thank you Sir :))

Boris Terzic said...

Mark these are some good thoughts. I enjoy reading your perspective. GS is a what I'd best describe as the bastard child of physical fitness. It melts power, strength and endurance into one masochistic mess.

You're absolutely correct when you say that many GS lifters has little physique. That part always gets to my vanity but sacrifices have to be made sometimes.

Anonymous said...

On the video ranking...this is my take. With the AKC changing rank standards, i think they did so to give lower class athletes some carrot to grasp for. In a way it might encourage a lifter to take small steps to higher achievement instead of just grabbing the heavier bells and trying to rep with them before they are ready. I don't think too many are out there bragging about the low rank achievement that are attained through vid. When going for the CMS or higher, no vid rank is possible for those higher ranks...competation only to make rank.

Here is the problem i see though. The way I understand it, with akc you cannot compete to the heavier bell UNTIL you make the lower ranks. So let's say i have the ability to compete with the 24s, but if i have not OFFICIALLY made rank with the 12s, then i have to compete with the only the 12s in that competition. Given that there are only maybe 2 comps per year that i can make, I would be stuck jumping through those low rank hoops for some time until i could actually compete to my full abilities. That is the F' d up part of this whole deal. Unlike a PL meet where it is totally litters choice of what weight the choose, the way the system sits now, we are not afforded that luxury of free choice. The AKC has the only meets that are at all local that I can make with relative assurance. I, like you, am not thrilled with the situation, but their meet...their rules.

For some of us the lower ranks are nothing but a technicality. I don't know the real reasons for making all lifters climb the ladder. I would prefer the choice to compete with whatever bell i feel is appropriate. I know for myself and some others, as long as this rank before compete policy is in place, i welcome the video rank opportunity so when i do get to the comp, i am actually COMPETING, not just wasting a competation to make a lower rank step.

Kettlebells Barcelona said...

"Also, GS is a SPORT and the key is to improve your numbers NOT to improve your physique or your strength and power"

Mark, I understand you might not be interested in GS, but how do you think GS athletes improve their numbers then, if not working on their strength and power?

A 60 kg guy lifting 64kg of steel overhead for 10 minutes straight?

That's a lot of strength, power, endurance and some cojones to me...

Mark Reifkind said...


I was hoping you wouldn't take offense at what I wrote about the video ranking as I have nothing but respect for you and your commitment to your training.

And the rules are the rules and if that choice were available to me in my sport I would certainly take the option.

thanks for the clarification about the system too.It doesn't make alot of sense to me to say you can't use any bell you wish and "compete" with whomever you want to but I guess they want to make sure someone can actually go the ten minutes before they step up to the next level

So in that instance it makes sense.Plus as you say if you HAVE to go up through the ranks making people travel to do so with so few meets available is silly.. This makes sense. And that you can't get the higher ranks through video is a big difference.

Again, I have nothing but respect for you as an athlete and man.

Mark Reifkind said...


these are swings and snatches done from the hike pass position. all from a dead stop.Just like one stops on the box in box squat and has to generate all the force without a stretch reflex.
we go into detail in our Learn to Swing DVD that's coming out soon.

Mark Reifkind said...


for me the physique part would be easy to deal with with other exercises, the main problem for me is the energy systems that have to be developed and maintained are not my strong suit.

Don't like to train that way for the most part but have great respect for those that can.

It surprised me to read in John Buckley's blog about his loss of top end strength that Coach Rudnev said most top gs guys couldn't press the 32's! Could that be true?

Doesn't seem right. must be a mistake.

My endurance training made up such a small part of most of my athletic career, time wise. Most of it; gymnastics, bodybuilding, powerlifing were all short work bouts and relatively long rest bouts. Just how I like it,lol.

Mark Reifkind said...

kettlebells barcelona

I don't know how many times I have to write how much respect I have for GS athletes for people not to take offense at my choice NOT to train that way.
Of course it takes all kinds of strength,power and cajones to do it, as I have said over and over and over.

Just not my preference.

And from everything I read the key to the training is developing that energy system to be able to go for ten minutes FIRST and foremost, which IS an aerobic system.

There is a lot of running for development of the aerobic system that the top guys do I see, which is fine, perfect in fact. Obviously they know how to develop the skills needed to crush big numbers at their sport.

Power is force divided by time. Most of the gs workouts I see are more about pacing and development of endurance rather than power development as I see understand it.

the goal of each set isn't the development of absolute strength ( which is what I meant when i wrote what you quoted) or working to fatigue specific muscles to induce hypertrophy but to work towards very specific skills leading towards competition.

Powerlifters do the same thing, as I wrote, but in a different way. They don't do things in training that will take away from their goal( i.e aerobic training) or just for their physique.

As I've written endless, much respect to GS. Can it be more clear?

Kettlebells Barcelona said...

Mark, I didn't question your respect for GS.

Your position was pretty clear from your excellent blog post.

Sorry I touched a sore spot. I was genuinely wondering if you thought that GS athletes (I'm not one, so you know I'm not trying to defend anyone or anything) were using other training methods other than trying to develop their strength and power.

As you point out, of course endurance is important/needed as well (to get to the end of a 10 minutes set) but FIRST OF ALL, as a GS athlete, you need to be able to lift those weights over your head! :-)

Mark Reifkind said...

kettlebells barcelona

no worries. the training methods I read about from Rudnev, Morozov, Rachinsky et al, all seem to focus on developing the specific ability to go the distance first, with whatever size bells it takes to do so, then working on absolute strength in more general exercises( squats, deads, presses,etc)

the advice I got from Tom Corrigan, who I respect very much) as to how to begin training for long cycle was to DROP MY WEIGHTS and focus on time and form and using less tension, less strength to accomplish the goal.

Strength and power have very definite definitions and I was using them in that sense.

of course, anyone who can use 32 kgs is strong but beginners don't focus on absolute strength very much. it's not at the top of the list. Nor is power, which would mean doing sets at perhaps 24-28 reps per minute rather than 14-16 RPM.

I would say first of all, as a gs athlete, you have to be able to go the distance before you worry about how fast or how heavy you do so.

That is the advice I have been getting from the top guys.

Anonymous said...

No offense taken at worries there.
The system now is f' d in some regards. It's akin to going into a PL meet with the ability to pull 500lbs, but since you have not pulled 300 in competation you are forced to pull the lighter weight.

I think i understand the well intentioned meaning of the rank ladder as it may give more people opportunity to lift and compete with lighter bells if they need to, and it creates a more competitive environment for people with varying skill levels to compete with those of similar level.

I got bitten by this system in the last comp. I had trained and was able to complete rank numbers + with the 40kg in StrongSport however had not done so OFFICIALLY, so when i get there im told i have to compete with the 32. So essentially i paid entry and drove 2 hours to NOT compete, but simply do a rank showing. In every other strength comp I have done it's always go for your best on comp day. This is a completely different and somewhat souring approach.

At some point the hand holding needs to be released. We are all grown ups & if I make a poor decision on training and hurt myself or have a substandard performance that is my problem & should be my option. It's just too tightly controlled IMO.

Mark Reifkind said...


I can understand your frustration completely as well as your understanding of the need for the rule.

as a competitor in most of the sports I did I did not like competition anywhere near as much as i liked training.

Comps always were a distraction from the progress I was making, I felt, even though they were necessary.

You have to taper, then taper more the week before and wait wait wait for the meet, usually travel andthen everything is off the normal environment you are used to.

It's amazing when anyone gets a PR under those circumstances but that is the game. I'm just not that interested in it anymore and much prefer the monotony of regular training these days.

I'm just so thrilled I can actually TRAIN a bit these days instead of just doing rehab :))

Boris Terzic said...

Mark a loss in absolute strength is not anything unusual, the goal is strength endurance. At high rep training 1RM will suffer, same as with 1RM training high volume rep work will suffer.

As per Britt's experience the AKC/WKC ranking system can be a pain in the ass. One good thing about video ranks you don't have to start at the lowest and work up, you can jump and submit higher ones sooner. But that is limiting as after Rank 1 you must compete with 28's before doing 32's even if you've progressed past them in training. I know I'll have this problem this year as I plan on competing with 32's at IKFF meets (and small local ones) but will have do compete with 24's or if I pass my Rank 1 28's at the WKC worlds.

Ben said...

Mark, you have a great blog and I enjoy reading your posts. Especially the "Hardstyle; No Apologies" post. Well done! I'm not a kettlebell guy (grip guy and USAWA competitor) but I use them sporadically and haphazardly in my general training - and I enjoy them quite a bit.

Ben Edwards

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.good luck with your training and comps.

Mark Reifkind said...


exactly,when working at one extreme of the strength spectrum losses at the other extreme should be expected.

You can't be strong at all things similtaneously,pick what's most important to you.

I struggled with arcane powerlifting rules for many years. people tend to think they were sent down from on High but are just the current wishes of the organizations administration at the time.

Wait a bit and watch them change; again :))

Gustav North said...

Hello guys , have u ever used this hardstyle kick?
I am really satisfied.