Thursday, August 18, 2011

"A back of iron and legs that never quit"

The sentence in the title of this blog has been my goal ever since I read the quote in Pavel's first book. Of course at the time my back was ruined and I couldn't stand up out of a chair without using my arms so it was pretty much a pipe dream but I always have been a dreamer so I got started.

Let me say it has been even slower than I thought. Being able to train two hand swings has been almost a miracle. But when I realized I could do pretty much full pistols on my right leg( still assisted though) and a almost half pistol on my left in Hungary( without knee pain!) I knew something truly miraculous is up. My back was on it's way to being iron. Hell, at least stable.

It all really started with Kelley Starretts thai squat method and being able to start actually increasing my ankle mobility which lead to a solid 15 deg + increase in knee flexion as well as being able to work my squat pattern much much harder than I have been in years.

I haven't trained squats in anyway shape or form for almost 6 years after I realized I was so out of balance that even training bodyweight squats messed up my back and knees even more and what I needed was flexibility and mobility not strength.

I used to be the most obsessive squatting fiend on the planet next to Tom Platz, and even with a knee that didn't bend well I treated leg training like my religion.

I had a broken knee and everybody said get your legs stronger to stabilize your knee so I tried as hard as I could. From INSANE leg workouts as a bodybuilder to almost equally nuts power squat training as a powerlifter.

It is not ironic at all, especially in retrospect, that my legs were never bigger, stronger or more functional and mobile than when I was racing bikes and riding up to 400 miles a week. NOT when I was lifting or squatting my heaviest.

ANd I was never so envious as I was after getting into the RKC and seeing everbody and their sister being able to do one legged squats and I could barely do a two legged one!

But I've been working my ankle knee and hip mobility and flexibility like a fiend as well lately and it's paying off. Working with Geoff Neupert last week on my pistol mechanics was the icing on the cake. Really focusing on starting with equal weight on all parts of the foot, REALLY weighting the big toe the entire way through as well as keep my head UP makes a big difference for me.

If I could end up being able to train pistols regularly and strongly and develop some decent quads again I would be one very happy camper.I don't need to do a pistol with a Beast. Some deep sets and reps would suit me just fine.

One thing I realized after doing some pistols in Hungary was that the quad activation really helped my( overly) tight hamstrings to relax so when I trained power swings today I alternated the swings with pistols.

It worked out perfectly. A great balance of opposites.

Power swings
20 kg x10
24 kg x 8
28 kg x6
32 kg x 5
36 kg x 5 x 5

alternated with

5 sets of 3/3

that was all she wrote today. I slept well last night for the first time in 3 days and after getting some weird food poisoning or 24 hr flu on Tuesday. I ate no food yesterday as my stomach wouldn't allow it. So doing anything today was great.

Being able to do pistols and two hand swings in the same workout is so rich in symbolism of so many things for me it's not even funny.

A back of iron and legs that never quit.



Frankie said...

I met you at RKCII San Jose 2010 and that knee/leg didn't move. Unreal!
Great Patience.

Alberto said...

respect, from a fellow 'struggler-but-not-quitter'.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks man, it's come a LONG way since then and it's just the beginning :))

patience= tenacity= stubborn= Sisu ,lol.

that's me.

Mark Reifkind said...


the only way we won't get there is to quit and I don't quit.

Anonymous said...

I am very pleased to read such improvements from your mobile! For me it was like because I also could not do squat for years, and the mobility was very limited, especially in the hip area.

The deep squat is a natural movement of the times we're all in childhood could, but who is still without a problem in adulthood in these

I wish you further a movable time :-)

Gruss Brucedala

Jordan Vezina said...

That's pretty inspiring Rif. Good work.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks for taking the time to comment it is much appreciated and I know you understand just how big a thing this is.

train well


Mark Reifkind said...


thanks much man, it's a new world for me now.

Rawlinson said...

I also could not do squat for years, as properly as the mobility was quite limited
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