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.