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.