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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A window into my own private hell

I thought this was a joke. I thought at any minute Pavel was going to jump into frame and kick this guy in the stomach. Of particular note is the fact that the 'kettlebells' are hollow.
Sorry I have to do this to you, but we cannot pretend it isn't happening. That's how they win.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Reviewed on Yelp

As part of my networking I'm looking at different sites that people use to find trainers, etc. One of my clients was good enough to get the ball rolling by reviewing me on Yelp, so if anyone else wants to jump in it would be appreciated. You can even post negative things. Yeah, like that would ever happen. ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A direct line of power- Grip Strength

You have of course heard the phrase 'a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link'. That same logic applies to your strength training. Regarding the upper body, what is one common factor in all exercises? Your grip. You must hold the dumbbell, barbell, or kettlebell. Who do you know who truly trains their grip strength? I don't know as many as I should. we train what we think of as the 'prime movers' such as the biceps, triceps, etc., but we do not seriously train what needs to be the strongest link in that chain. If you are doing barbell forearm curls and thinking that trains your grip, you are deluding yourself.
"Okay smart guy, so what should I do to train my grip?"
Well I ain't smart and I ain't a guy, but I'll give you an idea. Take it back to school. Don't overthink it. Just doing pull ups is going to strengthen your grip and is a good way to develop a solid base. It used to be standard practice for strong men to be able to do a good amount of pull ups, twenty or more. Something else I have taken to doing is using a thick rope to pull a kettlebell or weighted sled hand over hand toward myself. This works your grip, forearms, and the rest of your arms as well as your back. I will normally incorporate it into one of my training circuits with some swings or sprints.
Many of you who may get into heavy deadlifting will find your grip to be a rather sinister hobgoblin that can halt your progress as surely as any injury. You cannot 'quick fix' grip weakness, so you will have to roll your training back until your grip catches up with your back and legs. Some people use lifting straps, and I see nothing wrong with this so long as their use is justified. Too often I have seen people using these with ridiculously light weight. they use them because they are fashionable, and they short circuit their grip strength development.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

E-book Version One

I have finished the first version of my e-book that explains my perspective on fitness. The only thing that really makes this a V 1.0 is that I will be adding things to it as I go along, links to instructional videos, etc.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Average To Elite Training Equipment

The equipment fabrication arm of Average To Elite Training Systems is up and running. Below is a photo of our first generation dragging sled. We'll be coming out with a cut down version of this for more convenient transportation. We used Diamond Plate steel for a more agressive look, and it has three underhooks on each side for attaching a variety of harness configurations. We will also be doing custom work, different colors, shapes, etc. In the future we'll have video posted of the sled being put through it's paces. For now here is a video of Nick explaining the process.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Store online and progress on the e-book

I now have my store online and will be linking it to the website soon after I work out any bugs. It's here at
This is mainly just me putting goofy things on t-shirts, but I like it.
I am finished with the first draft of the e-book and hope to have it up by next week. This will help others to get a bird's eye view of just what it is I do, and how my training differs from that of other personal trainers. Have a good weekend. :)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Slaughter at the Lion Street Steps

NEWS FLASH: I am not 21 anymore! I cannot just cease training for two weeks and expect to start right where I left off.
Last week I walked over to the Lion Street steps on Green and Lion, and standing at the bottom began thinking of what the worst possible workout was that I could put someone through with them. As is my custom, I must first put myself through it. the resulting video only contains one of the many scenes where I was leaning against a wall wishing I was dead. The sled dragging may have been a bit much for the first day back, but hey, what can you do? Jumping and stair climbing definitely seem to be two of the great equalizers.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

'This is the new old school' and 'Nothing to read'.

As I am re-establishing myself as an independent trainer I am getting the chance to get first reactions from clients again, which is always entertaining. A new client today remarked that despite having done no direct abdominal work that he had seen from our first session, he was feeling his entire abdomen had been worked for days after.
We are a very visually based society. If we see it, we really do believe it, and if we do not see it, we find it hard to accept it as fact. Abdominal training is no different.
For longer than I have been alive the fitness industry has been preying on the desire of the average person to have six pack abs by selling them silly machines, and having them crank out endless repetitions of exercises that are not even close to being the most effective that they could be doing. Yes, you can re-engineer the crunch to make it more effective, but that's like dropping a V8 in a VW Bug because you want a faster car. Just go get a faster car.
Let's look at kettlebell swings. If you were to watch someone performing Kettlebell swings, abdominal work is probably not the first thing that would come to mind. However, this is a movement that punishes the midsection far more efficiently than a crunch ever could.
Before you start thinking I'm some kind of kettlebell nut (which I am) this also carries over to compound movements preformed with barbells and dumbbells, sled dragging, pull ups and other body weight exercises. Men all over the world seek to build leg strength by doing sets of 12, 10, and 8 barbell squats, when dragging an 80 pound sled a few miles down a trail would most likely yield greater results, as well as building the cardiovascular and respiratory system.
Many of the things we have accepted as gospel in the fitness world, preached from the pulpit of the men's fitness magazines, are in fact heiracy.
Speaking of which...
I keep going back. I know what I will find, but like an abused wife I keep going back for more. The fitness section of the magazine rack. There's just nothing there. How can there be so much full of nothing? I keep expecting there to suddenly be a print copy of the crossfit journal, or a copy of MILO.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Training at the Aquatic Park in SF

Today myself and some clients trained at the Aquatic Park in SF, at Larkin and Beach. I really like training outdoors. Aside from not having to endure the 'thump thump thump' music it just feels more energizing. Of course the view is nice as well.

A kettlebell disaster

I am definitely not the authority on kettlebell training, but when I started using these bad bears I took it upon myself to learn everything I possibly could. Not only for myself, but so that my clients would be getting the maximum benefit from their training, and more importantly so that no one sustains any injuries. It's true, it is possible to injure yourself using kettlebells if you do not know what you're doing.
I've said before that kettlebells will never be in the mainstream because it's such a hard workout. More and more now I am seeing people trying to float this as a group exercise method, and as something that is super easy to learn on your own. This is all about nuance. On the surface it would seem relatively easy. You just swing it, right? Those of you who have done kettlebell swings with me know how much goes into this. Weeks or even months after you have started doing swings I am still fine tuning your form. Never-mind Cleans or Snatches.
Trying to sell this as group fitness is a bad idea, and I'll tell you why. Unless everyone comes in with solid form, you are going to have to correct it, or teach it. I have already considered doing this, and I broke it down in this manner. How could I run a kettlebell based group fitness class safely and effectively? The goal not being to cash in on a new craze, but to give effective training? It would have to be based around swings, and kept to a minimum. Most likely I would never have more then five per class, and if I did I would require another instructor for each five or so. It would be timed intervals of swinging with bodyweight exercises and simple kettlebell movements like squats.

Ok. I didn't want to have to do this, but it's time for Kettlebell Concepts to get owned. I literally just visited their site.
This is some company doing their own certification, and the ones who sparked this whole blog. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt until I saw that their 'testimonials' seem to spend a lot of time talking smack about the RKC run by Pavel Tsatsouline, and basically saying their cert is better. One of them even mentions that they did not get as much floor time at the KBC cert, but it didn't affect his technique. He also states that he had already attended the RKC. Well gee, could your technique possibly be good because of that? You cannot learn to be an instructor by listening to someone talk. They also say the RKC (Pavel's) is like bootcamp and made them feel bad. Well boo hoo. He also states:

"Now if you are the type of person who likes to be screamed and yelled at, demeaned and drilled non-stop from 9—6pm on a dusty field(one hour for lunch) lifting kettlebells that that are required weight to pass, but too heavy, (in other words you LIKE Boot Camp)then do not read any further!"

I have yet to attend the RKC, but am pretty sure this is exaggerated. This statement about lifting kettlebells too heavy, but required to pass the course is laughable. The passing requirements are clearly stated on the site. Don't show up for the big show out of shape, that's all. You showed up out of shape. You lose. Of course I do like bootcamp, so...

I do think this type of attitude is indicative of a bigger problem in society. Too many people think no one should ever be hard on them. Anything worth winning, will be snatched from the grasp of a worthy adversary. It doesn't make you less of a person if you respect the skills and experience of another. If I enter into a situation where I am learning something it is always 'yes sir, no sir', because I try to be a respectful person. I think this guy was probably lacking that. I do not want a 'kinder and gentler' alternative to traditional kettlebell training, and it looks like that is what KBC is trying to be.

I then watched some of the videos on their site, and lost track of all the form deviations and people who looked like they were about to inure themselves any minute. Totally awesome.

In short: Beware of kettlebell concepts.

Monday, July 2, 2007

How to shop at GNC

I definitely do not make a habit of shopping at GNC, but while out at Fort Dix I found myself in one. I felt like I was in a foreign land. What the hell is Anavator or whatever it is. I found myself reading the labels of these outlandish supplements and feeling stupified. Apparently I'm out of a job, because any one of these magical powders will pack 10 pounds of muscle on you in only one month! Wow!
Ok, so we all know that vast majority of these claims are total nonsense. I often have people ask me what supplements they should use.
Ok, there are some decent ones, but you already know what they are.
-Essential Fatty Acids
-Glucosamine complex
-A little protein
-Creatine once you have established a solid foundation of training and nutrition.

There's the problem. Many people jump into using all these supplements before they have ever even established a solid training plan. Even protein usage is wildly out of control. I used to go by the one gram per pound of body-weight rule, but have switched over to one gram per kilo (2.2 pounds) based upon research I've been reading. I have been using this formula myself for about four months now and seen no degradation in performance or body composition, so I feel it's dead on.
So what is a good formula if you must shop at GNC, to avoid the snake oil they sell there? If you look at a label, you should know what it is.

Protein. Vitamin C. Water. I know what that is. Looks good!

Aplodan. If you put a gun to my head, I couldn't tell you what this is. Case closed.