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.