Sunday, December 30, 2007

Max VO2 snatch cadence and Strength

I did my snatch cadence for the 36/36 Max VO2 today and pulled out 30 snatches with the 16 kilo in the last minute, putting my cadence at 18 snatches per 36 seconds. I did a few rounds and I can see this is going to be pretty brutal. For some reason I thought I was going to have a more relaxed pace. Nevermind.
I was also thinking about training for goals vs. training for general fitness. When I was training for tactical fitness I essentially always had a skeleton of a program and then filled it out as I went with the idea being to be prepared for anything. This is similar to a crossfit type of model. My fitness level was consistently very high, but I can see how it is easy to lose site of where exactly you're at if you don't have consistency in your training, and in particular if you have not set goals. My current goal of training for the TSC is doing me a lot of good.
Physical fitness is such a deceptive animal. It's very easy for me to claim that if you're not good at my paricular thing, you're not really fit. It's easy for me to say if you can't put up 90 lbs. in a Turkish Get Up, you're not really strong. I hear people do this A LOT.
So when I think of some sort of litmus test for strength I try to come up with things that are not super technical (events most people know), that are not overly dependent upon size or weight, and are functional.
So I'm not going to have a bench press competition, because I don't consider it a funcitonal exercise, and don't bother wasting your time trying to tell me it is. Let me guess, you bench a lot, right?
I also won't include kettlebell snatches, because they're pretty technical.
Also, no bodyweight pull ups.
What do I use? These are just a few examples that come to mind.
1. Deadlift. Yes, it can be highly technical, but at it's base it is just a solid functional exercise, and a great indicator of strength.
2. Weighted pull ups. Gone is the excuse of "Yeah he can do a lot of pull ups because he's so light."
3. Overhead press. I don't really care how you get it overhead, just get it up there.
4. Turkish Get Up. At it's base, it is very functional and basic. I'm lying, I'm standing, I'm lying down again.
5. One arm push ups. Well, duh. No real excuses with this one. You can or you can't, and barring an injury that prevents you from doing them, it comes down to strength and drilling the movement.
Arguments can be made for or against any of these, and of course I am talking about 1 rep max strength, not strength endurance or explosive strength.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beast Skills

Nothing of import really, just working on some beast skills and showing off. The video and photos are useful as I can see where my primary form deviations are and work on fixing. L-Seat is fairly easy to sustain, so I'm working into a V. So that you have no illusions as to my skill, I fell on my ass right after after that second photo was taken. I find it harder to do this stuff on the kettlebells. Doing this on the floor I can work my knees into my triceps pretty easily in the first position and am working on pushing my legs up higher before extending out.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Are you competitive?

When I was 12 my dad and I were breaking up wood for kindling in the backyard. I would put a piece one end on the step and one end on the ground and break it by stomping on it. Then I picked up a piece that was much thicker than the others, and my dad told me to use the axe because there was no way I was going to break that piece of wood. I tried. Nope. Tried again. Nope.
It took me about an hour and a half of stomping on that piece of wood before it finally broke.
So yeah, I'm a little competitive.
I found the below video on the dragondoor forum and I think it's a perfect example of someone who is ultra competitive, possibly to his own detriment. Either way, I've got GSP's coffin ready for him, he's going to be crushed tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A new year approaches...

A new year approaches, and yeah we've heard it all before. You've heard yourself talk about your goals for the new year whether it be financial, physical, or family related. I say forget about all that. Forget about setting new goals because I've got a little trick I'd like to relate to you. Set one goal. Make your goal to be resolute. If you find that you never keep your New Year's Resolutions, there's probably a reason for it. You are not a person of steely resolve, so why would making promises to yourself on a certain calendar date make them any more likely to be adhered to? Resolve to be that person who others look up to, and who finishes what he or she sets about to do.
When I was in the Marines I wasn't always a good runner. Some of you know my history, and that I used to always be the smallest, the slowest, and the weakest. When I hit my first unit and found I just had no ability to run, having very limited training knowledge I decided to do what seemed like the obvious (but now I know to be the wrong) answer. Run myself into the ground every waking minute until I had built up endurance. I would log up to forty miles a week of running. Much of it in boots, which explains the shin splints that plagued me for five years. Sure enough, I became faster and one of the best runners. Then I was promoted to corporal, an NCO rank, and suddenly I could run just about anybody in the unit into the ground. Why? It was because I am a believer in leading by example, and leading by example does mean that you must lead from the front. This is why I don't buy into fat trainers and all this non-sense about "I don't need to be in good shape to get you in good shape." When you are a person who believes in leading by example, it means you are also a person of great character. In my case I am a character, but you get the idea. The same character that forges great infantry NCO's also forges great fathers and mother, leaders of other types, and yes, even trainers. We lead our clients, children, soldiers and marines, friends and even enemies by example. This kind of character and integrity requires resolve, the resolve to do what is right regardless of the consequences, discomfort to yourself, or unpopularity of said actions.
So this year don't spend a lot of time making resolutions you know you won't keep. resolve yourself to lead by example and be the citizen others seek to emulate, and the rest will fall into place.

Oh, and watch this cool video too. I know I've put it up before, but it embraces everything I like about training.

Friday, December 21, 2007

40 kilo kettlebell TGU

Today I went into Equinox Palo Alto to do some work with the heavier kettlebells as I don't have pairs of 24's, 32's etc. I managed to pull off a Turkish Get Up with the 40 kilo. Now this isn't big news as that's only 88 lbs. and my current max is 90 lbs., but I do feel it's harder to do this with a kettlebell vs. a dumbbell (which I usually use) and so I'm pretty confident I'll get that 100 lbs. in the next week.
Oh, and check this madness out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TSC Videos

As my hands are still a little toasty from various tears I'm taking today as an off day, but it's difficult to restrain myself from doing something. For those of you that want a better look, here are some TSC videos I found on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cindy's training and my new wheel barrow

I picked up my wheel barrow today. I'm supposed to do the barrow runs on Saturday, but I might do some tomorrow. It's pretty sweet.
I ran through a circuit today at the finish of my workout that proved to be much more punishing than I thought it would. Do not try this unless you already have good conditioning and a very strong lower back.

3 Rounds of:

1. 3-5 reps of overhead sit ups. Using a decline bench lock your legs in and raise two dumbells straight overhead. Maintain them overhead as you do full ROM sit ups. You should feel this hitting your lower back a lot. I started with two 35's but scaled back a bit as I can feel how you could easily injure yourself doing this.
2. 3 one arm push ups each side.
3. 5 L-Seat pull ups.

Below is some video of Cindy Glass RKC doing a circuit for general conditioning in preparation for the upcoming TSC.
Her circuit was structured like so:

4 rounds total.

1. Snatches- 12 kilos. 1st round= 1 minute of snatches. 2nd round= 2 minutes, etc.
2. 10 Scorpions.
3. 5 plank pops. Basically you start in the plank and pop up using explosive power into the up position of a push-up.
4. 5 Hindu Push Ups.
5. a 30 second L-Seat on two kettlebells.

Good times.

I would like to note that Cindy is also working with the extremely capable Mark Reifkind, Senior RKC in preparation for the TSC on more specific tasks, to include her new pink lifting belt. :)
Check out Mark's site at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Training plan for the TSC

As people have been asking, this so far is my broad outline for training for the Tactical Strength Challenge. I've looked at other plans, and what I was already thinking of doing for general training was close enough.
Throughout the week I am always greasing the groove on pull ups, one legged squats, and one handed push ups. I am also doing some oac specific training such as 'frenchies', etc.

This is Tier 2 of a 3 tier training cycle. Tier 3 will involve two a days and max work, before pulling back to Tier 1 with more off days and lighter loads.

Mon- Deadlift Day
I'm starting off with Turkish Get Ups, into some pull ups, and then onto the deadlifts. After that on to the press (push jerk or bent press alternating) then onto one handed barbell snatch to windmill. After that finish off with some weighted pull ups.

Tues- Opt. Max VO2 day.
I'm still working through 15/15 but as of 01/01/08 I'll switch over to 36/36. This day is optional as tuesdays are a very heavy training day for me. Start at 9am, finish at 8pm or 9pm.

Weds- Heavy Kettlebell Work
I'll get into more detail on all of this later, but focusing on work with the heavier bells (24, 32, 40 kilo. Lower reps, working it more like the deadlift day. Heavy double swings, long cycle, high pulls, two hands anyhow.

Thurs- Max V02 kettlebell snatch workout or 10 minutes of snatches with no breaks. Always get at least one max VO2 each week.

Fri- TBD

Sat- Wheelbarrow and snatch day
Exactly what it sounds like. High endurance, high strength. I'm still working out the load for the wheel barrow, but it will include kettlebells. 3 miles of jogging with the barrow and stopping to bang out heavy snatches. I'll most likely use the dish in PA due to the hills.

Sun- Off. Possibly dead.

Training was intended to kick off Jan 1st but I started working into it early. Surviving the workload I have set up will require I further tighten up my nutrition. All of this is dependent upon steady progress in the targeted events.

Also, being that I have actually been on a tactical team, I was thinking of something that would be a pretty cool tweak to the TSC. Structuring it like the Mavericks surf contest and giving 24 hours notice. That would be much more tactical, as no one ever gave me 3 months notice on a 'tactical event'. May not be realistic though.

In case anyone wants it- Post on Max V02 36/36

Saturday, December 15, 2007

90 lbs. of Turkish Get Up and one armed chins

Yesterday I put up 90 lbs. in my right hand on Turkish Get Up. First I did 85 lbs. and about an hour later I decided to go for 90 lbs. I think when my right hand heals I can get my 100 lbs.
Using the deck squat progressions I learned at the Steve Cotter Seminar I am also getting closer to bottoming out on my one legged squats.
So I have set a new goal for myself, which I will most likely find to be very difficult, but completely achievable. That goal is one armed chins. This is not to be confused with gripping your working arm with your free hand. That is not a one armed chin, that is a one handed chin. This will be pulling myself from the floor, to the point where my chin clears the bar with one hand and one hand only. Below if a video of Kenney Jay performing the feat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Steve Cotter Seminar- Part 2

The seminar was essentially 8 hours of one handed swings, snatches, long cycle, overhead presses, and some squat progressions.
For those of you unfamiliar with GS (Girevoy Sport) it is the Russian Sport version of kettlebell lifting. It is emphasized by more relaxed movements, performance or anatomical breathing versus paradox or power breathing, and running on a 10 minute clock with no breaks.
Let that set in for a minute. You are doing one handed swings, snatches, or clean and jerk for 10 minutes with no breaks. I've been interested in Fluid Style (GS) for a while now and have done much studying on the subject, but this was my first physical exposure to it.
Steve's presentation was excellent, and I definitely saw a lot of value in this other form of kettlebell lifting.
Does this mean we throw the RKC and Hard Style under the bus? Of course not. Different tools for different jobs. The snatch for instance. If I want to burn calories or build explosive power I will favor Hard Style snatches. If I want to build raw work capacity I will favor Fluid Style snatches. What about Max VO2 vs. a 10 minute snatch set? Which is better for forging raw endurance? I asked Steve this question and he definitely favors the 10 minute set. It makes sense, as each minute is compounding the workload. Use of a break starts bringing your system back down from it's elevated level. One thing I liked about Steve was he said right off the bat, don't just believe everything you're told, find out for yourself. In the spirit of this I'll be getting Kenneth Jay's DVD on the 36/36 Max VO2 so that I have an ironclad understanding of it. I also want to do some research and really compare numbers in a 10 minute span from comparable athletes performing GS and 10 Minute USSS Snatch Test. In theory the latter should put up higher numbers due to the more lax nature of the test in comparison to a 10 minute GS bout, but we'll see. I would also like to see seom hard evidence on which builds more work capacity in the combat athlete and tactical operator.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pro-Grade Vs. Dragondoor

First, I have no dog in this fight. I am an acolyte neither for the RKC nor the AKC. I'm doing my own thing over here and so far it feels great. :)
That having been said, I only know what my body tells me. My body tells me that when I perform Fluid Style Swings, Snatches, and Long or Short Cycle, the Pro-Grade Bells feel better. It also tells me that when doing Turkish Get Up, bent Press, etc., the Dragondoor Bells feel better. There are many reasons, to include handle size, the point at which the handle descends into the bell, finish, etc. Ideally you would have a set of each.
If you know your goal is to snatch a lot or do a ton of long cycle (clean and jerk) I would definitely say to at least give the pro-grade a try.
At the Steve Cotter seminar I picked up one of the red 32 kilos and snatched it a few times to get a feel, and just found it went up more smoothly than my DD 32 kilo. Now you know I am no fan of making things easier, but it's important to remember that when I make things harder, there must be a purpose. If the Pro-Grade model allows me to increase work capacity, and add 30 seconds to my snatch sets, so be it. Why use a bell that doesn't fit the job as well as another? Different tools are often required for different jobs.
I also found the handles 'locked together' better for double kettlebell (gripping two bells in one hand) work.
I'll be ordering up one of the 16 kilo pro-grade models and giving it a more extensive workout, at which point I will report back on it. I know you're thinking "!6 kilo? Come on Jordan, make an effort." but trust me, it will be plenty.
Apparently the pro-grade bells were designed by a sort of convention of kettlebell lifters who wanted a common bell for international competition, and this is what they came up with. Hey, I didn't know.
One thing of note regarding the pro-grade is that they have been notoriously hard to find. Steve has them available on his site now, and they can be found here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Steve Cotter Seminar- Part 1

I mentioned before the Steve Cotter Seminar this Sunday and that I was trying to get to it. Mission Accomplished. I wasn't even 100% sure what the seminar covered, but when The Man comes to town you don't stand around asking all kinds of dumb questions, you grab your bells and hit the bricks.
I showed up way to early as usual and had to wait around a while. Finally this guy pulls up in front and start unloading a ton of pro-grade kbells from this little commuter car. I though "Wow, this guy is really frigging serious about this workshop." I felt under dressed with only my 16 and 20 kilo. Turns out he was Steve's assistance and had brought the kbells for the whole seminar. Well duh.
In short order we got ourselves set up. A trainer named John from Equinox SF was there as well, and we had been at Jason Brown's seminar a year ago. Since then he had gone to the RKC.
Ok, so big surprise for everyone when guess what? Fluid style, otherwise known as Girevoy Sport Style lifts were being taught. I actually had known this. After I checked into the details of the workshop I saw they were covering FS and that made it even better, as I have yet to get any first hand instruction on FS. I loved it and I'll get more into it in a future blog.
Steve of course was great, and kindly allowed me to shoot some video from my laptop that I'm in the process of cutting up to make some short clips for the site.
The below clip is a brief statement on hand care. It is a statement that I should have heard at the beginning of the workshop, before I ripped my right hand open trying to be a hero. :)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Changes in store in 2008

We're about to hit our sixth month in business with Average to Elite, and things are only picking up speed. In the new year we're going to have a major site redesign which will include the introduction of new online training. I wanted to wait to start doing this until I had a system in place that would give the trainee a good and comprehensive experience. It seems that much of the 'online training' I see is just not high quality enough. Of course it's better than nothing, but with my web design and media experience I know I can put together something fully interactive and that will yield greater results for the online client.
I will also have articles being published on and other sites, spreading the word of functional fitness.
I have mentioned the workshops I am planning and the first one will be taking place in San Francisco at the Synergy on Sacramento street on Saturday January 5th. A guest presenter will be Cindy Glass, RKC. I will have an official announcement up this coming week.
We will also be looking at a new training location in the Palo Alto/ Mountain View area with the goal of setting up our own storefront.
I know what you're thinking "Jordan, how can it possibly get any better?!"
Just wait, I have to keep some secrets. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Workshops and Turkish get ups.

Many of my clients know that I consider a 100 lb. Turkish get up to be one of the gold standards for strength. It's hard to dispute that this is a prime example of strength and co-ordination. This week I put up 80 lbs. for the first time, and within the next thirty days I plan on getting my 100 lb. TGU.
Everyday I learn more and I just marvel at how we as a society have slipped so quickly down the slope of mediocrity and into a valley of absurd weakness. Bearing this in mind I'm going to be doing some workshops in 2008. Not only for kettlebell training, but also to really communicate that there is another way to build strength than what people are doing in the gym, and it is far better. It's not that this info isn't already out there, but we need a conduit to transfer it to the masses, and that is where I (and others with some information and teaching ability) come in. I am far from an authority on kettlebells, but what I do know, I am able to efficiently instruct.
Speaking of workshops, I just found out today that this Sunday Steve Cotter is doing a workshop in SF. Are you kidding me?! I almost missed this, and now I am scrambling like a ferret on meth trying to get my act together so I can attend.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Why the crossfit journal?

If you're not familiar with the crossfit journal you can download a free copy from the crossfit website and check it out. I always encourage athletes and trainers to subscribe to the crossfit journal not only to understand the crossfit methodology, but also to add to their general fund of knowledge regarding fitness. Many mistakenly think the crossfit journal only covers 'crossfit'. Within the journal you will find information on everything from nutirition, cycling, proper running form, jump roping form to olymic lifting technique, powerlifting, and kettlebells. Before you pass jusdgement on it, read a copy and see if you learn anything.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kettlebell Comparison

It occurred to me that I've never done this before, so here is a comparison of kettlebells I have used extensively. I have hundreds of hours on the dragondoor, lifeline, and agatsu kettlebells.

Dragondoor- Well, duh. Excellent kettlebell, but much more expensive than any other brand. On occasion you can find them on ebay or craig's list cheaper. I found a new 32 kilo for $120 out the door on CL.

- Looks and acts almost exactly like a dragondoor, just with a rougher finish. I would powdercoat these or at least paint the bell as they'll pick up some rust if left in the elements. Using them indoors you shouldn't run into this problem. Also, much less expensive than dragondoor. Highly recommended. One thing is that if you have soft hands they're going to get conditioned quick.

- The bell itself is great. I really love the cast of these things and they have great balance. The only problem is the finish. If you use it indoors or never drop it in sand it's probably good, but it will not stand up to outdoor use.

Muscledriver- Nope. Supposedly they've put out a new formula but I'm not buying it. The ones I used had a weird balance and felt uneven. a 16 kilo felt like an 18 kilo. I actually weighed them to check.

Iron Woody- Read below.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Review of Iron Woody Kettlebells and my goals.

First the iron woody kettlebells. I'm kind of bummed. I ordered up a 16 kilo. First, it was much more affordable than any other brand, and took only two days to arrive as it shipped from CA. Unfortunately it did not look like it did on the website. On the website it looks like it has a high gloss coat, but it does not. Also, the handles did not descend straight into the bell, but came down the side making it look weird. The photo on the site is deceptive, because if you don't look closely you might not notice they are all the 20 kilo bells in the photos. The handle is also thinner than any other bell I've used. Overall I would have a tough time doing high rep snatches with this, but I think it would be good for long cycle. The finish is no good. It has the same finish my agatsu bell had, and if you don't know the fate of that it looks like it is about 100 years old, but I've only had it six months. It will not stand up to outdoor use. All in all I have to say don't buy these bells. I'm still going to order up a 20 kilo as I think that may be better due to the larger size, and I'll post another review on that.
I also recieved my gymboss timer today and will review that soon.
As for goals. I always say it is important to have goals to keep you motivated, so I have come up with a couple. Short term I am working on my pistols and weighted pull ups. I would also like to be able to crank out twenty one arm push ups, and am halfway to that goal. As far as longer term goals I have decided to compete in the tactical strength challenge with my client and designated RKC Cindy Glass. The difference being I think she can actually win. :)
Next up I have decided to start competing in Jiu-Jitsu. I am checking out a reputable school here on the peninsula on Wednesday to start tuning up and learning again. For those of you who do not know, I've been involved in martial arts for about 15 years. While my stand up is atrocious, I've always been good at submitting larger opponents on the ground, so that's the direction I'm going.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pistols and Push Ups

I've been much more consistent about Greasing the Groove with my one legged squats and one arm push ups these days. I'm able to knock off six one armed push ups with relative ease, but I need to work on my free hand positioning. I've noticed that my tension in the free hand is good, so good in fact that I crank it so hard my wrist actually hurts. As far as the pistols, I'm able to drop below parallel finally and still feel strong, not like I'm going to fall on my ass. My incredibly slow progress on these has been totally a product of not hitting them every day the way I should be.
I've been reflecting more and more on where I sit as far as training others goes, and how I started down this path. To think it all started with Jason Brown's Workshop a little over a year ago. Before that I had been training off and on since about '99, albeit never full time. My training had been mostly the same type you see in the gym with the isolation movements and three day splits, though I was moving toward more heavy compound work and functional movements. Doing the kettlebell workshop fired me up as I saw how not strong I really was, and how little endurance I had where it counted. When I think about it, I've learned a stunning amount of information in one short year, and my training style has evolved hugely. Considering the personal tragedy and other nonsense I've gone through since January that's pretty good, and I am pleased.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Donate a TRX to Sgt. Steele

Sgt. Steele is a friend of mine currently on a tour of duty in Iraq with the California National Guard Infantry. This is Sgt. Steele's THIRD FRIGGING TOUR! He went over with the Marines for the invasion, and again with the Marines in 2005 (I'm working off memory so I think that's right) and was in Fallujah as well as other places you don't want to go for vacation. From time to time I'll be putting these up to try and ease his burden over there. As he continues his conditioning with kettlebells I thought this would be something very useful to him as it is ultra transportable and builds the type of functional strength he needs. If anyone is interested in picking up one of these for him shoot me an e-mail at and I'll give you the shipping and website info. I'll also be sending him over stuff like training DVD's, etc. Thanks all.
TRX Force Training Kit

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today's workout

I've been feeling off this whole week due to some stomach thing. Not sure if I got a touch of that flu going around, or if it's something I'm eating. So I'm not completely on 'the zone' but close. I'm going to clean it up as soon as I feel better. regardless I went in the gym today and did some work. Started off with 20 sets of 7x16 kilo snatches to get going. Worked into some Zercher squats and weighted pull ups. Worked on that trick I saw Kenneth Jay doing of bumping it out of the Zercher Squat rest position and up into the overhead press. Not actually as tough as I thought it would be, but still a bit paranoid about hitting my face. Got up to 55lbs. with weighted pull ups and chins before I conked out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wait... the house of pain has more than one key?

Back on the foam roller today after watching Mark Reifkind's 'Restoring Lost Physical Function'. Like everyone else I sprinkle it in, but now I know I need to get more body work in and make sure I don't lose any physical function to begin with.
I'm actually sore from my workout yesterday! Wow! It's been a while for that, and I feel like I got hit by a truck. In a good way.
While developing a weight room workout for a friend of mine I've decided to go ahead and do up a template for the website as well. While I wouldn't call my training random, it definitely is never the same, as I am a big believer in forcing the adaptation response. However, I think many people could benefit from a structured program using some of the old lifts like Bent Press, Turkish Get Up, One-Handed Deadlift, etc. as well as modern compound lifts like Squats, Deadlift, etc. Plus some olympic style lifting. I'm still working out the details as I would really like to have a set of video clips to go with it, as these tend to be much more technical than barbell curls or leg presses. Which is one of the things that makes them so effective. My strength is definitely up. I'm up to 5 one arm push ups and can do more, am dropping ever lower in my one legged squats, and am going to make an attempt to break that 155 lb. push press tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The mathematics of iron.

It's darker on my end of the gym. If there were fancy cable machines over here, I would probably end up tipping them over for practice, or just to see if I can. Here in the temple reason slips away about fifteen minutes into the workout, about the time I start one hand snatching the barbell and doing handstand push ups off of it with my feet planted on the power rack. A 32 kilo kettlebell, a box of chalk, barbells in various states of use, and my beloved broken barbell for grip training.
Yes I see you over there doing tricep cable push downs with one hand and talking on your phone with the other. You think I'm crazy. I think you're crazy.
Your genetics will only take you so far, eventually you have to pay the piper if you want the strength. Not fake strength to work a smith machine or move a cable. The strength you need to one hand deadlift 135 lbs. or more. The strength you need to claim dominance over an enemy that can never really be beaten, an enemy of unyielding cold iron. That's what makes you stronger, what forges you into someone who succeeds where lesser men or women would fail. You know that in the end you can never win, but you keep showing up for the fight. I know that in the end the kettlebell will take me out. If I can snatch it fifty times, it knows there is a higher number, and the mathematics of iron will always crush me. It will leave me limping out of the gym with trembling hands, but it knows I will be back. I always am.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Good morning Marines!

Well it's morning for me now, as I have become lazy. The Marine Corps was born in a bar in PA waaay back in Nov. 10, 1775. We have distinguished ourselves in every foreign war since, and established that there is no other corps such as ours. These are facts, and they are indisputable. Happy Birthday Marines.
-Sgt. Vezina, USMC 0311 1997-2001

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I have received the key to the house of pain.

I picked up a 32 kilo Dragondoor kettlebell a couple days ago that I found on Craig's List. This thing is heavy. However, the 24 kilo wasn't providing enough punishment, so it was time to step it up. I'm not big on the Max V02 or trying to do 100 snatches. Both are great training tools and I'll do it on occasion, but for me I prefer moving heavy weights for lower reps. I like the sensation of feeling like I'm trying to keep my body from being ripped apart as I train. Working through snatches and long cycle with this things reminds me of just how vulnerable I really am, and that I have to keep pushing forward.

"There is no mercy in this dojo, mercy is for the weak."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In the zone

So I have semi-officially started the zone, tweaked for athletic performance. I say 'semi-officially' because I am still sort of guesstimating my amounts, but I'm very close, and after I pick up a food scale today I'll be dead on. After only four days I've already seen an increase in my performance levels, I think as a result of my nutritional intake being regulated. Normally the 24 kilo kettlebell is at least fairly difficult, but yesterday I tossed it around the way I normally would a 16 kilo. Part of that may be psychological, but I have to attribute some of it to the change in diet. Initially I thought it would be harder to stay on this, but I'm actually finding it to be much easier than what I was doing. The foods are different, but the amounts are always the same. I also feel much better. Of course there are no energy drinks in the zone, and I know just stopping that nonsense has me on a much more even keel as far as my energy levels go. I've linked some articles from crossfit on their use of the zone below if you would like to check it out.

Crossfit Zone Plan

Nicole Carroll- Getting off the crack.
You have to buy the above article, but it's pretty good on mistakes and psychological effect.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Understanding the difference between injury, and exploitation of weakness.

I've had several cases of this lately, so I thought I'd go into a short explanation that some of you may find useful. Often when I start people on kettlebells or some other form of advanced strength training that forces the entire body into action instead of just the biceps or the chest (i.e. isolation movements), clients will tell me that their knees start to hurt, or their back hurts, or their shoulders hurt. Sometimes this may be an injury caused by something such as overuse, but most often I find it is something that was always there, but was not brought to light due to quasi-traditional isolation movements such as are done in the popular three day split. Once you begin to really work, and train your body as one piece, the fact you have a weak back (something not discovered while doing rows and lat pulldowns) is revealed because you now must use it. It is important to understand that this is not some new injury brought on by kettlebell training, and allow that to cause you to run back to 'safe' and ineffective training. Instead I want to stay very aware of this weakness and not try to punish it into submission, but rather temper my training to a tolerable level and take other measures to alleviate it. These may include massage, myofascial release, fish oils, glucosasmine, or other proven measures. A good example of this is a client who was doing sets of super planks, which can be very demanding, particularly if you have not done many. We then progressed to bear crawls and killer planks, the latter of which is essentially super planks with a push up. The next week he expressed concern over his extremely sore shoulders, and it seemed he thought he might have strained or pulled something. In reality it was just DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) brought on by the fact that his arms had not before been worked hard in that range of motion.
It is important to follow logic and proven techniques, and not allow popular fear to guide us. I cannot tell you how many times I have had people tell me that some trainer or other 'expert' told them kettlebell training is dangerous, or that some other type of training I do looks horrible for your back or joints. This is simply because you have never been pushed and have always taken the easy road in regard to training. Not because you didn't want to take the hard road, but you just didn't know where it was.
Congratulations, you just found it.
This is a link to a blog from Mark Reifkind, an excellent trainer and Senior RKC in Palo Alto that tells his story of recovery from 'other' training methods using kettlebells and I feel sort of re-enforces the point of this blog.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I've been going through different methods of working my grip, and today in the gym I came across a barbell that had come apart, leaving the thick end by itself. I sat it on the floor with the bar up and threw some plates on it.

2 45's was good, but the additional 25 was pushing it.

I also found some bumper plates stacked in a corner so I can get going on some olympic lifts.
I overhead pressed 155 lbs, not bad, but not satisfying. I utilized a push press for this movement. As Coach Glassman stated on a curve of force this adds 30% over a standard shoulder press, and a jerk adds 30% over that. I'm interested to try each separately and see how close it is.
Returned to the deadlift for the first time in about 8 months and did it for 305 lbs. without any real problems, but decided not to push it the first day back. Almost 100 lbs. under my old max.
All in all a good day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Return to the Barbell

Recently I've started doing more barbell work. I'm continuing my tawdry love affair with the kettlebell, but I have also found many things I did with the kettlebell are much harder with the barbell. Duh, It's a long unbalanced weight. Of course it is 'balanced', but not when held overhead in one hand. I'm planning on getting into some one hand snatches, and more progressive lifting techniques in the coming months, at which time part two of this will be up.

Monday, October 22, 2007

GS Technique for bad knees

Just thinking about this is all. You don't want a ton of squat in your HS swings, but you do get some, and commonly more than you would from your GS variety. GS requires much more of a 'body folding' action than the HS. Not to be confused with your 'High School', but rather to be associated with parent words 'Hard Style'.
Firstly, there is much I do not know. I readily acknowledge that you could fill the grand canyon with everything I do not know, and not even be half finished unloading the truck. You may have a knee issue I cannot readily fix, whereas a more experienced trainer may simply be able to say "Oh, well I just need to kick you in your flux capacitor, and it's all better." This being said, even if I cannot fix your issue, we may be able to work around it. Which brings us to GS swings and snatches.
If we know that your knee folding past a certain degree causes pain, we know we should work just shy of that degree of movement so long as we don't believe that it will aggravate whatever the problem is.
In the below video you see the limited amount of knee action in the athlete. However, a lack of action in the knee does not mean it is necessarily bearing less weight, it is simply bearing the weight in a stronger position, closer to lockout.

I have begun working with more GS techniques with a client of mine who has a right knee problem mostly only aggravated by multiple repetitions of flexion and extension.
As no Doctor has given a clear diagnosis of exactly what the problem is, I feel comfortable working it in this manner so long as the problem does not worsen.
This may beg the question from some as to why someone would even take the risk of aggrivating the problem. The answer is that if you do not know, you may never know.
Recently someone wondered aloud why otherwise brilliant athletes like JC Santana and Franco Columbo, had injured themselves doing silly things. I'm not clear on what Santana did, although she stated he had injured himself doing squats on a stability ball. Franco injured himself running with a 600 pound refrigerator on his back full of sand. The answer is that brilliance is tinged with fits of lunacy. We take chances. Why am I going to make an Atlas stone? Because I can, and I want to see what happens. Could I injure myself? Of course. What's the point of life without risk? Even as I'm writing this I'm wondering if I could get a refrigerator on my back. I think I can. Maybe a dorm fridge first. Why do GS athletes do snatches or long cycle for 10 minutes straight? Because it's possible. I know it's possible, so I have to do it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New T-Shirts Up

The new t-shirts are finally up in my cafe press shop.
Average To Elite T-Shirt Heaven
They all feature the company logo and say "Training hard changes you."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A generally poor attitude from the AKC?

American Kettlebell Club is seriously bumming me out, in particular Mike Stefano.
I keep hearing from these guys that their way is the only way, and everything else is bullshit. Maybe I'm just too critical, but that's what I'm getting from these articles. Just because you run around shouting that your way is the best, doesn't make it true.
Mr. Stefano even goes so far as to offer this warning: "Ask questions, as it's healthy to have things explained, but don't invent your own methods. Valery's and the AKC's methods have stood the test of decades."
Before anyone brings it up, I completely understand what Sonnen says in this article
about earning the right to be creative. To a certain extent I agree. However, I really think that the ability to do snatches and long cycle is not a definition of fitness. It is a correlate, but not a definition. If you are just generally weak, perhaps you should not be inventing new exercises, but simply because you are not insanely strong in the snatch and long cycle, does not mean you are weak. If you want to play that game, I insist you are weak if you can't Turkish Get Up X amount of weight. Now I win.
Think about Kalashnikov. The only reason he invented the AK-47 was because he didn't realize you couldn't build a reliable assault rifle for mass production in the Soviet Union. However, he did know enough to know how to put it together.
It seems that AKC has brought with it from Russia an unsavory piece of history. Communism. Sorry man, but when you tell people there is only one way (and it just happens to be yours) and that they should not get inventive, it sounds like communism. Maybe if what you're training for is to be really great at GS, you're right. Otherwise, you might have a lot to learn. Of course that will be difficult since you already know everything. Scott Sonnen went so far as to say fighters only need to do long cycle, and nothing else is necessary. Hey, I think both these guys are great at what they do and I have respect for them, and I find long cycle to be a real ass kicker, but it's not the only thing I need. Sonnen also declares that 'many fighters juice'. Really? Where exactly? Is it in the UFC where popping on one test nets you a year suspension? He really needs to clarify what he means by 'many'. Otherwise it sounds a lot like you're talking smack.
When it comes to 'not inventing my own methods' I think Stefano is way off the reservation. Why is it history suddenly grinds to a halt with the snatch and long cycle? Look at everything the Diesel Crew has done with kettlebells, purely because they think outside the box? Are you seriously going to try and tell me that if they only switched over the snatch and long cycle they would be much better athletes?
Once again, I like a lot of what I see coming out of the AKC, but the attitude is not one of those things. If you want to make a name for yourself and show the good things you are doing, trashing your competition (and when it comes down to it, right now AKC is no real competitor of the RKC) is not the way to do it. Example cited:
"In June 2006 I started using kettlebells to the exclusion of barbells. Not knowing any better, I was following the “hard style” protocol that most of us have tried."
- Mark Boggs, AKC

It's possible this same stuff is coming from the RKC, but I haven't been seeing it. What I have seen in my neck of the woods is people like Mark and Tracy Reifkind using GS technique along with other techniques in search of knowledge, and a better way to do things in general. They do not simply declare "RKC is the only way."
Again, maybe I'm way off base, but I keep seeing this poor attitude pop up again and again, and these are not even all of the examples I found.
In closing, Valery Federenko (Head coach of AKC) says this: “America, it’s a Freedom Country, but just having an opinion doesn’t make you right."
Sounds like pretty good advice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

25 lb. hub lift

More and more I've been working my grip. What I thought was grip strength, was nothing.
I found a local gym in Burlingame called 'Diesel' (go figure) that lets me bring in my kettlebells, farmer's handles, etc. I had a great workout there today.
I finally managed to hub lift a 25 lb. plate for reps. This is an old grip exercise. If your weight plate has a raised center, you lay it flat, then try to pick it up and clean it using just that small raised center. I'm working up to a 45, which for me will be a good marker of having built up some real grip strength.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Shoe selection

Mark Rippetoe or Mike Burgener (probably both) summed it up best in regard to shoe selection. Wearing running shoes while doing serious weight training is like "Trying to overhead press while standing on a mattress." Your shoes have cushioning agents designed to absorb shock, but not designed to stabilize you in a static position. If you do one legged squats you will notice a profound difference between doing them in your running shoes, and doing them barefoot or in a pair of Chuck Taylor's or boots. I had read about this before, but didn't realize just how much of a difference it made. I first picked up on it while doing one legged squats or kettlebell training in my military issue boots.
Part of the reason for this is that you actually have a sort of sensory mechanism on the sole of your foot that dictates how your body balances, and how it utilizes strength. To a certain extent the cushioning agents in your running shoes render this sensory mechanism null.
From the moment you put on your Chuck Taylor converse shoes you will feel a difference. Then move to some one legged squats, some kettlebell drills, or even barbell deadlifting, squatting, or pressing, and it will become even more apparent.
Often we will look at something like this and think it is a small thing, and not that big a deal, but there are so many small things like this that eventually they have a great impact on your training.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Apparently I have been doing this all wrong...

All along I have been working my ass off in my training. I have been insisting that my clients work hard in order to achieve results. Then I come across an ad for kettlebell training declaring that they take the 'work' out of working out. Oh really? With kettlebells?
Ok, I'm being a little harsh. I know what they're trying to say, in my opinion they're just going about it the wrong way. There are also way too many unbelievable claims on the website. Here's the thing: If you tell people they will lose 20 lbs. by thanksgiving, you better hit that nail on the had every time. You have given yourself no room for error. This sounds like it comes from someone who has never been overweight and does not understand the psychological cost of trying to lose a great deal of weight. Every time you fail to lose the weight your spirit is crushed a little more. It is our job as trainers not to let this happen, and making fantastic claims can cause said crushing effect.
It's also not a great idea to have clients who know nothing about training, explaining your training in detail with guesses and logic that wanders off into nothingness.
I saw another website from a trainer who had written all of his own client testimonials. It was easy to figure out, as he had the spelling and grammar abilities of a second grader. I cannot stand that level of dishonesty and trickery.
I'm also just not down with selling supplements to clients. There's just no need for it. I make the same recommendation to all clients. The Holy Trinity: Multivitamin, EFA, Glucosamine. On occasion a meal replacement when needed. Done. No magical body wraps that make you lose 14 inches in an hour, no sea kelp. I am not a nutritionist, and I know my limitations. Besides, this stuff always looks shady. I also think the more stuff you are selling your clients, the more you start to look shady. I don't need to sell you more stuff, I get paid enough. I maintain my integrity and objectivity by pointing you to the best brands I know of. If I'm promoting a brand, will I have the intellectual honesty to refer you to a better brand if one comes up? I'll never know because I don't sell supplements.
Two things:
1. I will always shoot you straight. The first thing new clients hear from me now is "Tomorrow will most likely be the most sore day of your life." More often than not this is true.
2. We need to get re-acquainted with hard work, and pass the values of hard work=results down to our children. Whether it is hard work in training, school, or work, we must divorce ourselves from this notion that for whatever reason we deserve an easy life. We deserve only what we earn, nothing more.
I hear people say things like "You shouldn't sell your time." This came from a very well known and repected trainer, suggesting you shouldn't be spending all your time training, but you should train other trainers, sell books and DVD's in order to generate multiple streams of income.
All along I foolishly thought I was in this to help people, not to get everything I can out of them.
Oh, and I really need all these faux trainers to stop posing with 12 kilo kettlebells. Don't be coy. If your training really is effective I would like to think you can swing more than a 12 kilo. I don't want to hear any silly excuses, when you're strong you are proud of that strength, and you want to share it with the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Enough with the 300 already!

Seriously people. If I see one more '300 workout' I'm going to jump off a building. I'll probably survive, because I've been doing my 300 workouts, but still. This weekend is someone's birthday... I'll give you a hint who: It's me. That was a really good hint, right? I'm also in the process of moving to San Mateo, which will be good as it puts me just about dead center between my two locations in PA and SF. I will have some limited availability for training in San Mateo as well, most likely in the mornings.

The Palo Alto/ Mountain View facility.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Getting over yourself in the name of fitness

Intellectual honesty and humility tend to go hand in hand. I run into too many people who are so entrenched in the way that they do things, that even in the face of very clear logic they refuse to change. To make matters worse, their clients suffer from their inflexibility. For many years I trained with bodybuilding style isolation movements, split up my cardio, did all the stuff that I now know is not the most effective. When I was introduced to kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, Olympic lifting, etc. it would have been easy for me to ignore it. After all, I had years invested in the style of training I was doing, and I essentially had to go back to square one. I had to be humble, and learn. Too many are unwilling to do this.
I know an individual who is a good trainer, but every time I bring up crossfit or strongman style 'underground' training I get the same 'look'. The one that is essentially a roll of the eyes. He's just not going to learn, because obviously anything he doesn't already know can't be that great. The thing is, even if you aren't into the crossfit style of training, that website has become a huge repository of quality training knowledge. Articles, videos, etc. from people who really know what they are talking about.
I guess the point of this is that we should never let the fact that we must admit we don't know it all impede us from learning. After all, learning is one of life's greatest neverending journeys. That, and trying to drive from the North Bay to San Francisco during rush hour.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Todd's Heavy Day

I've been meaning to put this up. This is some video I took of my client Todd doing his heavy day in the park. This includes a lot of work that would break you down if you tried to do it every day. Todd is a good example of the Glass Effect, i.e. consistency based progression. Rain or shine he's in three days a week, and faithfully does his independent training day to day. I think it's going to be hilarious when people try to claim he's just a natural athlete or a genetic freak.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tables and Kettlebells= Giving myself a beatdown

This was harder than I thought it would be, although the tables aren't that heavy. I think it just worked my muscles in combinations they are not used to. I want a small vehicle axle. I think that would be hard.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Congratulations to Cindy Glass: RKC!

This weekend Cindy attended the Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification course in Minnesota. Of course she triumphed and blew everyone away. Good job Cindy! If my clients keep doing this I'm going to be out of a job...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Rich Franklin's Workout

I'm not trying to take anything away from Franklin or his trainer. I'm sure this guy is good at what he does, but fight conditioning ain't it. I know a lot of times people have a trainer and can't stand to cut them loose, and maybe that's what's happening here. Doing a circuit of isolation movements will not condition you properly for the ring. Sorry. The fact that Franklin won for so long does nothing to validate this training either. The guy is obviously a very skilled fighter, but I've noticed his lack of conditioning before. I mean REAL conditioning. I also refuse to believe the cameras just didn't catch the really hard exercises.
I've noticed the college wrestlers who get into MMA are training right, so there's something there. There are plenty of fighters out there using kbells, pulling tires, doing sandbag training, etc. So what gives? I think a lot of fighters are pretty close minded. I recall talking to a guy at Fairtex in SF about my style of training, and he informed me that he gets all the conditioning he needs from his fight training.
If I was training him this mofo would be swinging kettlebells, pulling tires, lifting kegs, etc. I refuse to believe there is some 'secret magic' in this long bodybuilding routine that I'm not getting. Rich, if you think you're nervous getting ready for this workout, you're walking on the wrong road.


This is a device that I think some of you might find useful for timing your sets. Particularly useful for Max V02 or Tabata Protocol.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Article featured on

In the course of trying to spread the good word about effective training, I've started writing articles on the subject of fitness, and things related to fitness. One of my articles is currently being featured on
This article primarily relates to the business of personal training (which you know I hate) but I figure it's best if trainers have as many tools as possible to better serve their clients. This article focuses on my use of the google calendar on my website, which I would love to see more trainers start using as my clients always tell me how much they love it.
Read the article here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Office Work Intervals

I feel like I'm really back on track with my own training now, and ended up doing something interesting today in the SF space. Those of you who know me, know that I am insanely busy. During my workout I found myself stepping into my office for a minute or two at a time to check e-mails, etc. Then I just decided to do it between each set, essentially doing interval training. I stepped my windmills up to the 20, and then the 24 kilo. I need heavier kettlebells. I also worked on performing seated cleans, which really fire up the shoulders, particularly the traps. I found it to be a well brutal performance.
I'm getting more and more excited about the group fitness deal I'll be doing. The one downfall of personal training for me has always been the expense. Being able to bring kettlebells and other forms of torture to the masses while keeping it more affordable is like a dream come true. I've been especially inspired by Will at Mainline Kettlebells and how effective he has been with his group training. Looking forward to it. Just think of it! Ten times the cries of pain! :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Switching Over

It's weird to feel your body switching over from one form of homeostasis to another. My body's 'internal environment' has been one of improper exercise, bad nutrition, and enough caffeine to kill an average person. Partially this is because I am lazy, but also because I am busy, busy, busy.
Realizing I was going to eventually hit the wall, I started putting changes into effect. More vegetables, fruit (berries in particular), no more frozen thingies from the supermarket, more foods that have a shorter chain from the source, little to no caffeine, and no more processed sugars.
When I get up in the morning I run through joint mobility drills and let my body wake up in it's own time. Just getting things moving does wonders for opening your eyes. I have myself some berry juice, and a few hundred rotations of various joints, and I'm on my way. This is the way to do it, for sure.
We are so focused on the obvious physical changes which occur with exercise, that sometimes we forget there is a whole other universe residing within this flesh that also requires care.
By the way, this video is freaking awesome.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Swing Class in Palo Alto and the break down pull-up bar

I had been contemplating this for a while, and now that I have a great space in PA I'm going to be starting up a swing/conditioning classes in Palo Alto. Most likely one in the morning and one in the evening. There will be a limit of ten spaces per class, but if there is enough demand I will bring in a second instructor to facilitate a 20 person class. I will also be holding a 'basics' class once a month (or more often depending again on demand) where students will learn the basics of the kettlebell swing, proper push ups, squats, etc. Safety will be king during these classes. Many people enjoy the fun and atmosphere of group exercise, but don't like the lack of results. Hey, if you think walking in circles pumping a 6 pound 'bodybar' over your head is going to give you the results you really want, go to it. Or you can do something that within the first five minutes will obviously be very effective. Plus we'll have a good time. I promise. I brought one of those little joke books. More details will be forthcoming, and classes will begin on October 1st.

My friend Nick has been working on the break-down pull up bar, and it looks great! Even better than I thought it would. It breaks down into 7 fairly lightweight pieces, and is simple to assemble. I love the TAPS pull up bar from tactical athlete, but let's face it, that thing is freaking expensive at $450. I'll be the first to tell you, the TAPS bar is better, but again the cost issue. Ours will be about half the price, and will only lack a couple of the options the TAPS bar offers. The driving force behind this for me was making something that is affordable to the military community. Having a pull up bar that is easily broken down and transported is highly valuable when you are in deployed status. I'll have more info on purchase, as well as photos and demo footage in the coming weeks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Training Video and the 3 month challenge

I tried not to go crazy with the Final Cut filters, but I think this came out pretty well. This is myself doing some training in the SF space, which obviously needs a lot of work, but a month from now it will be looking good. :)
Some of the slow-mo stuff is good for observation of technique. You might notice my cleans are a little different from what you may be used to. I've tried the 'around the side' version, but I've been doing them 'over the top' for so long it's a habit I don't care to break, and it has had no ill effect on my training and development. It does however require more synchronization of movement if you plan on giving it a try.
I'm still trying to figure out how to get rid of the grey screen in the intro. It's some sort of mac thing.

3 Month Challenge
The 3 month challenge is an idea I have been toying with and am now thinking about kicking off January 1st. The idea of this type of thing (when put out by 24 hour fitness, etc.) is usually pretty dopey, and is mainly to take advantage of your new year's resolution mindset and separate you from your money. They get you to sign up for your gym, maybe some training, but most of the time you come out the other end with nothing. The only reason mine starts January 1st is because it ends as spring begins. The goal here is to lock down your fitness and nutrition, and not only look great, but reach a maximal level of fitness. This is not some gimmick. This is the idea of turning your fitness into a full time job for 3 months. Then when you pull it back down to sane proportions you will still be far ahead of where you were. Part of this will be 'field meets' of a sort, to foster the idea of community, and that we're all in this together. There will also be a forum on the website for discussion, etc. More details will come in the next month.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cindy's Training Day

As Cindy gets ready for the RKC we are pulling it back a notch to ensure she doesn't fry out before the Big Show. The below videos are both from the same training session.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bad Ass Training Video

I could probably write five pages on the video below, but I'll keep it short. This embodies the attitude we should all have. This is not about being stupid and training 'on top' of an injury, but training 'around it', which I have talked about before. For the last two months I have been training around my right hand, and keeping my training just as intense as it was before. Well, nothing will be as intense as my pre-deployment training cycle, (I was a beast and actually blacked out a few times during training) but I was damn close. The point being that if I had backed off and done light work to 'maintain' I would be getting my head handed to me now that I'm rolling back into a two handed training cycle.
Rolando is also a perfect example of what I mean when I talk about 'real strength'. Fighters can't mess around with ineffective training. You find out real fast if your training is working or not. This works. You may not be a fighter, but you engage in the ultimate contest of strength, endurance, and willpower every day.

This has also inspired me to work harder on my video editing. Time to read the final cut express instructions... I guess.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A shiny red kettlebell, and the double snatch

Today was pretty eventful in terms of my own training. I have my brace off now and have been working my right hand. I don't have much grip strength, but enough to hold onto a kettlebell. I ran through some swings and snatches. I think doing this everyday in limited amounts will really help to strengthen the damaged finger. I'm sticking with the GS style grip for the most part, as I think the HS style would be a little too much stress.
I performed a double snatch with two 16 kilos, which proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. Cindy brought her Russian Red 16 kilo to the training. I love that thing. I think the smoothness of the coating will make it better for high rep snatching. I plan on ordering one as soon as possible. Highly recommended.
I also pulled off a bottoms up press with the 20 kilo.

Cindy and I also started experimenting with an empty handed turkish get up. This is performed by doing a Turkish get up with both hands in the air. This works the core a tremendous amount. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH TWO KETTLEBELLS. It is very difficult, and you could easily injure yourself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Muscle memory, pregnant models, and fat bodybuilders

I always do my best to be straight up and down with people regarding the advances they can make with training. I don't sell anyone a six pack abs myth, although I do remark upon the amazing amount of definition I achieved in my mid-section last year after I had been doing a ton of kettlebell swings.
In the spirit of that I wanted to take a moment to clear up some common misconceptions about what goes on in the fitness industry and training in general. Whenever you are doing a study, you want to look at all the angles, and also be very aware of your study subjects. Some trainers will have early success utilizing a certain training protocol, and then stick to that come hell or high water. After all, it worked before, so why would it not be a constant? The problem with this is that either their study subjects consisted of them and their buddies, or of people who had previously been fit or were brand new lifters. If you have never lifted weights and I have you hold a sack of potatoes over your head and squat, you will probably make great gains. This is more along the lines of GPP (general physical preparation) than specific training. At this early point in training, periodization is most likely not even necessary for a while. This is also why so many people stick to the same program forever, because it worked for so long.
Now we look at another angle, which is muscle memory. Your body remembers the condition it used to be in. If a trainer works with someone who used to be in great shape but became deconditioned, similarly they will most likely meet with quick success. Unfortunately, this is nothing to base a system of training on. I want to address the widest possible audience, and be prepared for any contingency.
People often mention to me the before and after photos they see for training programs on tv, or diet pills. Some of these are legit, but for the most part it is trickery. You will notice with many of these 'fat men' they have well developed arms. This is because they are simply bodybuilders in a bulking phase where they happen to have a gut from eating a ton to get bigger. Hydroxcut is notorious for this. They could have lost that weight without the pills, and most likely many of them do. The steroids help them achieve this. A while back Hydroxcut even got popped for having a female model who was PREGNANT in her before photo. Well, duh.
My whole point here, is not to be discouraged if your progress is slower than these miracle photos. This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are always looking for a quick fix or a miracle diet or pill, you will always fail. You will succeed by eating right, training hard, and being committed for the long haul. Don't look at exercise as something you have to do for a while to get in shape, but look at it as a healthy part of your life.
The fact is, that this works. If you are training properly, getting enough rest, and lifting, pushing, swinging, or dragging progressively heavier objects, you MUST get stronger. If you are not, fix your program. If you are working hard, and burning calories, you must lose weight. There's no way around it. The amount of people out there with 'glandular problems' who cannot lose weight are far, far fewer than the number who claim to be.
You know what you need to do to be happy, and no one can do it for you. The effort, and developing the fortitude to get the job done will give you a sense of satisfaction that will be a reward in itself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New logo and one handed/one legged push ups

If you've been doing one armed push ups and want something more challenging, you might try what I've been working on lately. While performing your one armed push ups, lift the opposite foot off the ground. This adds a whole new dimension of difficulty to an already difficult exercise. You can find more things like this in Pavel's book 'The Naked Warrior'.
I received my logos tonight and of course am already plastering them everywhere. They come from Cathe Holden of Home Grown Logos.
She does excellent work and is easy to work with.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Calendar Upgrades

It's been a rocky start with the individual calendars, but please bear with me as I get organized and flesh out a system. From now on all calendars will be completed and online by Tuesday morning, to include your independent workouts. Remember that your independent training sessions are an important part of the overall training system, and not simply my way of keeping you occupied when I'm not around. :) If you would like to plug in more or fewer independent sessions to make it work with your personal schedule, please let me know.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New kittens and T-Shirts!

My cat Allie gave birth to three beautiful kittens tonight! Pony, Chococat, and Girevik are now among us.

I have also been working on new t-shirt designs, and the logo is also in the works and should be released in the next couple weeks.

We are now firmly in the SF location and will be doing upgrades and bringing in new gear to get it going full speed.
Still looking for a Palo Alto location...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Trainers and Trainees, Read This.

Interview with Coach Glassman from Crossfit

The above is an interview with Greg Glassman, the creator of Crossfit. Now I am not saying Crossfit is the best or only way to do things, but all of the key points are there. Like clockwork my clients start telling me a couple weeks in to training that they are stronger, have more endurance, and are even starting to see physical changes. Normally they ask me if that's possible, as their past training experiences have led them to believe it's not. When I began training I was always told clients may feel different after a month, but physical changes take 2-3 months. Or in some of your cases not at all, apparently.
Of course this begs the question, what is the difference between my training and yours? Why is it I have such dramatically quicker results? I really believe that partly it is that if you tell me something I am doing is wrong, and provide good evidence to back up your claim, I will take your advice and change. I have met way too many people who will not, and so they never grow and improve.
My mantra to my clients is "If your body is pushed, it will respond." I see it over and over again. The key is knowing how to push it, and where the line is. If I walk through a modern health club I mostly see a sad state of pure isolation training with clients who lack the ability to truly isolate a muscle, rampant machine usage, and outright dangerous training. Ironically, some of this dangerous training takes place on machines, while my training which involves tire flips, swinging around an iron ball, and throwing heavy bags over your shoulders is actually quite safe.
Which provides a better cardio workout? Riding a stationary bike, or performing sets of high rep push presses? Sadly, most people would probably state that 'obviously' it is the stationary bike. Read the article above to find out why it doesn't even come cloe.

Upcoming Long Army Drill Weekend

Next week I have a long Army Training Weekend, which somehow starts on Wednesday and extends through to Sunday. Training will cease starting at 4pm weds. through sunday. After that we should not experience another interruption like this.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New video and the depths of the kettlebell sea.

I've been doing a lot of reading and studying lately, and part of that involves sifting through the piles of info on the internet. I've been reading about more than just kettlebells, but since kettlebells are my primary training tool, they receive the most attention. I consider myself to have a good grasp of training knowledge (for my client's sake, I should hope so) but every time I feel I have mastered a certain level, I pop my head up and discover I know nothing. :)
Especially with the emergence of American Kettlebell Club there is so much new information coming out, much of which is actually old information, but that's to be expected.
I'm trying to tighten up my personal training schedule as I've been so all over the place lately, and I'm primarily working on feats of strength. A couple of those are my one arm push ups and one legged squats. The squats have been suffering, but I'm able to knock out a fair number of true, chest to the floor one arm push ups now, so I can't complain too much.
The below video is a compilation of cuts from previous videos, and some new stuff.

How to have a google account without having a gmail account

One of my clients (Todd) brought this to my attention, and it is something many of you may find useful. The client calendar system that is online now requires you to have a google account if you want to make changes to your own calendar for a more interactive experience. For many of you this is cumbersome as you primarily use your work e-mail. Using this link you can create a google account using your own e-mail. So you will have a google account set up using your e-mail address
Once you notify me that you have linked your e-mail to a google account I can authorize you to make changes to your calendar, and privatize it if you like.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ramping intensity with burpees

By far the most hated exercise I have my clients do is burpees. Burpees are essentially dropping to a push up position, and then springing up into a jump. I have seen it done where you only hop up to your feet, no real jump.
Burpees are very useful when you have been doing a routine with kettlebells or other bodyweight exercises, and you want to ramp up your intensity.
We will take this very simple drill as an example.
3 sets of 10 two handed kettlebell swings with 5 seconds rest between sets. I normally start off with a lighter kettlebell to get going, and work my way up. If I want to increase intensity, what do I do? That's right. subsitute the 5 second rest with 5 burpees, no rest.
Do not dismiss burpees simply because they may not look to you like they should be that hard. They are the great equalizer.
Later we'll get into kettlebell burpees.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Glass Effect- Consistency based progression

Cindy has been training with me for nearly a year now. When we began she had virtually no weight training experience, and was a casual road biker. We began weight training, then moved to Russian Kettlebells, and then began utilizing the A2E training protocol, which is essentially a mish mash of storngman training, kettlebells, and crossfit.
In about a month Cindy is off to the RKC where she will be taught a very valuable lesson. :)
The key to Cindy's success has been simple: Consistency and Hard Work. 3-4 times a week of training with me and working hard for nearly a year brought her to where she is. She is insanely strong. She is stronger than most men I work with, and I don't mean proportionately. Her endurance is off the charts. She eats 16 kilo kettlebells for breakfast. With syrup.
Many people wrongly assume she is just naturally athletic, or a mutant. What she is, is an example of what anyone can accomplish if they just put in the time and effort, and of course have some qualified instruction. :)
When Cindy returns from the RKC, she will be a qualified kettlebell instructor, and has an open invitation to train clients at the SF A2E facility. Sign up early!

Early Success

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of my hard working clients for showing up every week and always maximizing work output. That means working hard. :)
All of you know there will never be a point where I'll suddenly lighten up and sacrifice your fitness progression to the gods of economic success. Meaning I'll never make things easier in order to try and get more clients. At the end of the day if I only have three clients that's just fine with me, as long as I know I'm doing right by you by making the workouts as efficient as possible. Normally that entails some sweat, some determination, and yes that familiar soreness.
I was talking to a client today about the impending opening of my space on 26th ave and Geary in SF on the 20th. We were talking about the equipment I needed to get and some upgrades to the space itself. He mentioned that it sounded like I was going to have to put out a lot of money, but that doesn't matter to me. The first client who does pull ups on the new A2E breakdown pull up bar justifies it. The first client who sets a deadlift PR with the new barbell and bumper plates justifies it.
The goal of this endeavor is not to make a ton of money so Jordan can go to Hawaii (although that will be happening. :) ) but so that each time you return for training it gets better. A new kettlebell. Some more bumper plates. A concept 2 rower. Some more knowledge inserted into my old noggin that you reap the benefits from.
I prefer to call this an 'endeavor', rather than a 'business'. I see this as the first step on a journey that will ultimately take us all someplace we've never been, someplace better. Someplace where we perform feats of strength that we think of as run of the mill, but others are in awe of. Someplace where our back doesn't hurt anymore, and that pain in our knees goes away. A place where we no longer accept this absurd notion that as we grow older our bodies break down, and that's just the way it is.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A handy trick for better posture

The other day my girl mentioned a man in her neighborhood who is most likely in his eighties, who is in very good shape, and has excellent posture. She also mentioned that he walks everywhere with his hands clasped behind his back.
Cause and effect?
Often I use body mechanics to re-enforce certain movements, stretches, etc. A good example is a standing hamstring stretch. I always instruct clients to keep their eyes forward and arms up and back as they bend forward. This causes the spine to stay straight. If you look down, your back will curve, as your body normally follows where your head goes.
So we do an experiment. Stand up in your normally slightly shoulder rounded and slumped position. Now clasp your hands behind your back. What I have found in myself is that this pulls my shoulders back, and by default correct my posture to a certain degree.
So do not be surprised if you find me walking around with my hands clasped behind my back.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Burn your gym membership

Do you want true strength and physical development? First, you must work your grip and your thumb. We will do this by using a lighter, and burning our gym card.
Let's run a game of percentages. We will look at the average crossfit or kettlebell training client, and the average training client from a 24, Gold's etc. Which do you think will have more true fitness and a better training experience? This is like me asking which shines brighter, the sun or a bucket of black paint at midnight.
We must divorce ourselves from this idea that we cannot train without a gym. If you have a few kettlebells at home and some learned technique, just think of how much time you save! Going to the gym and running through this workout that we seem to time at a totally arbitrary block of one hour becomes much more than that when we factor in travel, etc. the actual exercise portion of my kettlebell training rarely exceeds 30 minutes, because it doesn't need to. I used to see people at Equinox training for 2 or even 3 hours! Yet they couldn't even come close to my clients when it came to true fitness.
Time does not equal fitness, intensity and work output do.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We got the space!

No longer will I just be that crazy guy in the park with the kettlebells. I have secured a space for the average to elite training facility in the Richmond District of San Francisco at the corner of 26th and Geary. It requires some work to bring it up to standards, and it will always be 'spartan' in decor, but for those of you who know me, you will agree that this fits my training style perfectly. Not that wide, but long and with concrete floors with a little office for all of the office work I do. :)
This will give us the opportunity to do more traditional style lifting such as deadlift, push press, etc. and ultimately get into some Olympic lifting.
The current date to begin operating out of the house of pain- I mean- training facility is August 20th.
I still intend on having a space in Palo Alto within the next 60 days.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lisa the kettlebell tamer

This is some footage of Lisa from Equinox doing kettlebell drills with other exercises at the athletic field in Palo Alto, CA. While Lisa has a strong gymnastics background and extensive strength and conditioning training, she is attacking a new form of training in order to further her conditioning. This type of training and her level of conditioning is something that is totally attainable for anyone who is committed.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Yelp! and E-book links

I know some people had issues with my previous links, as I posted them wrong. :)
So now here are new links for the e-book and my page on Yelp!

Yelp! Reviews

Fitness E-book

Friday, July 27, 2007

A trip to Girya

This morning I went down to Mark Reifkind's training studio 'Girya' in Palo Alto to watch him training one of my clients, the notorious 'Cindy'.
Yeah, that's right. You're notorious.
Mark is doing specialized training with her as she prepares for the RKC.
Mark is a Senior RKC and has forgotten more about training that you or I will ever know. His wife Tracy is a phenom, and I will soon be starting a church in Nevada where the sermons will be entirely based upon her youtube videos.
I ama big fan of learning, particularly when it comes to fitness. I can pretty much just sit and watch people train all day. It was good to watch Mark training Cindy as it gave me an idea of what they're doing, so that's we're not running over eachother (well, mostly me getting run over) as we train her separately. It was also nice to see that there were some common threads in out instruction methods and verbiage, although we definitely have uniquely different training styles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A double dose of the 20 kilo

These are two videos using primarily the 20 kilo kettlebell. The first is Chris Gaines, a trainer at Equinox Palo Alto that happened to be on the field the same time I was. I like how he just tosses the 20 around like it's a toy. No, I hate it. :)

This one is of me doing a drill I used to do before I messed up my hand and became deconditioned. It is just ten squats in the rack position, and straight in to 10 snatches. I first do it with the 20 kilo, then try to roll straight into the 24 kilo, which doesn't work out so well. I think I hadn't realized how much doing everything with one arm takes out of you. On my next attempt I manage to pull out six snatches with the 24, but that's it. I'm also still conditioning my left hand after ripping the callouses off last week doing high rep snatches with the 20 kilo. Hey, it happens. I need to do some more work with the camera and editing, as the footage is looking more and more tweaked, in a bad way.