Monday, March 31, 2008

5 minutes= 94 snatches

That's quite a jump from 80. Today I did my last pre-TSC snatch test with the goal being to lift my psychological dampers and rip out as many as I can. It worked. It's amazing how your mind can screw with you and keep you from fulfilling your potential. I was able to nail 94 snatches with the 24 kilo in 5 minutes. I know I can hit the 100 mark on Saturday, so that's good. Pull ups went well with 14 (but will be better) and the deadlift I'm going to do tomorrow at Diesel as there is no chalk in Equinox. I've snatched with chalk and without, and I'm consistently better without. Something may not be right there, but now is not the time to fix something that isn't broken, I'll figure it out later. That being said, my hands are perfect. Haven't torn them since that fateful Max VO2 a couple months ago.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


One of the worst things you could be known as in the Marine Corps (in my opinion) was an 'integrity violator'. If you don't have any integrity, what good are you? To your family, to your friends, what use are you?
Fortunately I only align myself with those I know it's safe to put my trust in.
I snagged the below video off of David Whitley's Blog. It should be required viewing in our school system. The problem is that the people who really need to hear this will be too busy snickering and mocking 'antiquated' ideas like integrity and honor to get the message.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Randomized training vs. training plans.

I get people asking me about putting together training combinations. There is a difference between training combinations and a training 'plan'. Both are good, and can be part of the same equation, but are different. I know many people follow a sort of randomized training, never repeating their workouts, and this is fine if your goal is general conditioning. When I was still training for tactical fitness I followed a similar pattern of no pattern (ala crossfit) to be ready for any possible situation. As I said, this is fine if you are training for a generalized level of fitness (and assuming you have the training knowledge to ensure you aren't leaving out body parts) but it will not help you if your effort is to max your deadlift, increase your kettlebell snatch numbers, etc. Granted, you cannot train for an event by simply practicing the event over and over again, but you absolutely cannot train for an event with no plan.
Also, in my opinion if you are going to pursue randomized training you should already have a solid base in the deadlift, squat, kettlebell snatch, pull ups, overhead press, etc. There can be carryover from randomized training, but if you're engaging in this type of training, and aren't able to pull twice your bodyweight (preferably more) in a deadlift you should build that foundation first.
So, after that long winded explanation the below video is just one example of a kettlebell training combination you can utilize to boost your general strength, endurance, and just overall work capacity. As I state in the video, I try to do this back to back, using only a plank position as my rest. Learning to rest under duress is key if you really want inhuman work capacity. One thing the GS athletes do well is resting under duress. I.E. in the descent of the snatch, in the rack position, in the lockout, etc. It may only be a split second, but rest is rest.
This combination is nothing new. You've seen things like this before from Steve Maxwell among others, and of course Tracy Reifkind. You can find a ton of these from her on Rif's Youtube page and through Tracy's blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Applying strength

Since I've been doing the warrior diet I feel like my head is a little clearer, and I'm physically realizing concepts that I understood before, but hadn't quite put into effect. This is what led me to push press a 40 kilo kettlebell the other day. I had been trying to put this thing up for a while but could never quite do it. Part of it was a psychological mechanism that was effectively 'stopping' me from performing the movement. Originally I was trying to jerk it, but found I didn't need the jerk when I tried it the other day. So I decided to try performing a Turkish Get Up with Cindy Glass RKC as my weight. I managed to get into the lying position with her locked out and stabilized over head, but opted not to get up. Granted, this was hard, but it wasn't that hard to keep her locked out. I felt like I could at least get into the sit up, but I also felt that having to 'ditch' Cindy halfway through the get up might not be so awesome. I'm going to keep working it with the barbell and kettlebells, then try it again with someone else standing by to catch her. I think I should make sure I can get up at least 125 lbs. before really trying to get her up.
This all leads to a feeling of 'connection'. If you feel like a collection of bodyparts when you're swinging, snatching, whatever, you aren't achieving your potential. The body is one piece, there's no real reason to treat it as anything other than that. If you visualize that you are one functioning unit, you're going to swing longer, snatch harder, and your singing voice will be delightful.
Well, maybe not the last one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eating clean on a warrior diet.

I've always been a proponent of eating clean. This is similar to how I would always tell people to get a full night's sleep, and then be falling off a barstool around 2am. Hey, it happens. :)
On some level, I always grasped that there was something seriously wrong with the manner in which our society was shoving non-sense into their bodies. It goes hand in hand with how I never even considered smoking, because it looks an awful lot to me like you're actually breathing smoke into your lungs. People run out of burning buildings to avoid doing this.
So many people will rant against the dangers of smoking, while poking the last bit of that twinkie into their mouths. What is in that thing anyway? In my adult life I don't think I've ever eaten a twinkie or a ho ho. I've eaten many other foods that are bad for me (is a twinkie even a food?) but not that bad.
I am the guy who really wanted to be healthy and eat clean, but could never pull it together enough to do it consistently. So what turned me around?
Warrior Diet. When I first heard about this diet I was skeptical, and I think that's healthy as long as you don't dismiss it out of hand. To me, it looked like a lot of not eating. For those of you who don't know, I'm a skinny guy. No, you don't understand. Not like you're thinking. At 21 I checked into MCRD San Diego standing 5'8" and weighing 114 lbs. That was my walking around weight. I hadn't been on a prison ship for a year, I wasn't fasting. That was my average weight. Being that small is psychologically demoralizing. Sure I was grappling with guys who outweighed me by nearly 100 lbs. and beating them, but I always knew that if this guy manages to me up and slam me to the ground it's over. You are on the bottom of the food chain when you're that small.
So the concern that I would start losing weight fast on this thing was a valid one. The first week I was doing it wrong, and sure enough I started to thin out. You have to understand that I have read every book ever written. Actually, let me clarify. I have read the first 30 pages of every book ever written. As Rollins pointed out it is primarily so that I can be so impressed with myself that I can say 'Raskalnikov' and have a vague understanding of who he was.
Okay, so I went back and actually read the book, which caused me to up my protein intake throughout the day. Weight went back up, bodyfat plummeted. By the scale I'm only two pounds down, but I'm visibly leaner.
Eating one meal a day makes it much easier to eat clean. I've eaten more vegetables in the past three weeks than I have in the past three months. I'm not joking. Ask Cindy.
Most importantly, I'm not consuming any nonsense. Everything is organic, everything is healthy. Right down to my milk. Oh, did I say I'm drinking milk? I'm the most lactose intolerant guy you have ever met. I smell milk and I'm doubled over in pain. Now I'm drinking organic unprocessed milk, and I get no ill effect.
I have a consistent energy level, no highs or lows. When people hear about the warrior diet they ask what I do for energy during the day. I eat healthy. Problem solved.
Now that I am doing this I'm looking more closely at what is in the foods we eat, and all of the lurking dangers. People tell me it's not that big a deal, but it really is. If you thought there were granules of sand in the gasoline at a certain station, would you pump that into your car if you had another option? So why would you do that to your body?
In addition to the energy and body composition changes I've becomes stronger and have better endurance as my body is not fighting itself at the same time it is fighting an external load.
I'm also much more aware of supporting the independent farmers who produce these fruits and vegetables. Believe me, I'm the last guy who will be complaining about 'Corporate America', but I do believe many companies take the easy way out by overly processing their products and running farms that look more like something out of a science fiction novel. Happy Cows= Happy Milk= Happy Body.
The moral of this story is- Don't expect to live healthy and achieve optimum athletic performance if you're treating your body like a garbage bin.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Handed Turkish Get Ups

I'm intrigued with these because they're hard. I mean really hard. Yesterday I got up to putting up two 16 kilos, which I think is good. I feel like I've got two 20's in me and I'm going to work up to that. Below is another of my whacky videos.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kettlebell Round Table

I recently received Jason C. Brown's kettlebell round table DVD with Jason, Steve Cotter, Jeff Martone and Steve Maxwell. It's pretty good and definitely good for people who want to see samples of different styles of kettlebell training.
I've seen a few good examples firsthand of gentlemen in their fifties who have been lifelong athletes and maintain a level of conditioning that makes me look like the 98 pound weakling in Charles Atlas's ads, and Steve Maxwell is another great example. Too many of us just accept that when we get into our fifties we start falling apart. Granted, you're not 20 anymore, but you ain't dead either.
All four men in the DVD do a great job of presentation and I think it comes together well, particularly the Q&A portion, which may answer questions many of you didn't even realize you had.
It's also interesting to look at their individual technique and how it has evolved from where they began.
I also got a little surprise and found that there is also a Dave Schmidt Seminar on the DVD. If you don't do any work with bands this will give you some insight into their use.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No, no... I'm a strength trainer.

The other day my girlfriend mentioned that she has stopped referring to me as a 'personal trainer'. Whenever she did this she would then get the follow up question of whether or not I work at 24 hour fitness. Of course she knows that this is a question that will send me off on a tirade of epic proportions no matter how much I try to bite back my discontent with the state of the industry. So she has begun referring to me as a 'strength trainer', and the 24 hour fitness interrogatives have ceased. Thank god. What is a personal trainer anyway? I think it actually makes sense for most trainers to carry this incredibly vague title. Hey, I can personally train you in how to best eat chicken McNuggets, or how to do a rockin' set of cable flyes. No, no... I'm a strength trainer. Or as Will Williams RKC Team Leader takes it a step further I could be an 'Authentic Strength Trainer'. Yeah, I like the sound of that.
You are what you decide you will be. Strength trainers do not get certified via weekend courses or by mail. They find themselves in dark gyms or dusty fields suffering through another lesson learned in pain. They trudge through learning the origin and insertion of the interspinales. They do not vanish on you for two months to go snow boarding or surfing. They do not tone down the training program out of fear you will think it is too hard and quit. If you wanted it easy and ineffective you would work with a personal trainer. One can be a personal trainer of ineffectiveness and potential injury as well as fitness and health.
Or Strength.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TSC Pre-test

I was pretty happy with how this went, considering how slipshod my training has been, and that my hands were wrecked for a few weeks. No excuses though, it is what it is.
I have to work out some deadlift issues. I think it's mostly psychological. I got stopped at 365 pounds, then brought it down to 335 and pulled it without too much difficulty. Key is that I had one of the trainers at Equinox who's a friend of mine watch me pull it. It's not a big mystery that you work harder in competition and when you're being observed. Reportedly I kept my back pretty straight, which I'm happy about. This was also sans chalk, so grip was an issue.
I definitely slacked on the snatches, so I think I can work it up to 90, possibly 95 or 100. We'll see.
I hate pull-ups. I actually get a feeling of despair before doing them.
Here it is:

Pull-Ups- 15
Deadlift- 335 lbs.
24 kilo snatches in 5 minutes- 80

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TRX for Soldiers in Iraq

Thanks to the generous donation of one of my clients Christopher Bosch a TRX unit each was delivered to Sgt. Steele USNG Infantry (3rd tour, first with Marine Recon, second with Marine Infantry), and SPC Jackson USA. I'm still tracking the one for SPC Jackson as USPS Tracking is worthless, but as Sgt. Steele received his fine I don't think there will be a problem.
If you're not familiar with the trx it's a great tool for the forward deployed soldier or Marine as it is highly transportable and allows for functional training in austere environments.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Group X kicks off

Group X kicks off this monday at Girya. This is a new graphic I put together with permission from Renee an RKC in North Carolina.

I am also contemplating putting together an advanced KB class for those who have been doing kbell training for a while, but need some motivation or aren't sure how to put together a workout. I'll post more information about this as I move forward with it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Clap behind the head push ups

This was just a little exercise in speed and explosive power. Exercise extreme caution if you try these, and protect yourself at all times.

Also, I just found this on BJ Bliffert's blog and it is fricking awesome. If you like Pantera (and you should) you will dig this.

Turkish Get Up Variation

This is just bad ass.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Make your own Meal Replacement

My recommendation is always to derive as much of your nutrition from whole food sources as possible. The key word there is: nutrition. Most people have no idea just how 'dead' most of the food they're eating is. Our modern criteria for food consumption has become "I can digest it and I don't die." That really is pretty much it.
For some of my clients who I just know are not going to fix their diet whether it's due to a lack of will or a crazy schedule I will sometimes recommend a meal replacement powder. Something like Myoplex or Met-Rx. However, if I can get them to do a little chore I normally recommend to make your own. What's in a meal replacement? Protein, Carbs, and Fats. That's it. despite all of the marketing and 300 pound monsters screaming at a mountain or whatever on the box, there are no magic ingredients in these things. In other words, make it yourself. Not only will you save more than a few bucks, but you know exactly what is going into it. What do you need? Protein, Carbs, and Fats. You can also add your own bits and pieces such as fish oils, vitamins, etc. I try to get my vitamins in liquid form (via vegetable sources), and if it didn't taste and look like garbage bag leakage, I could mix it in. Then however, my whole shake would taste like garbage.
Get yourself a coffee grinder from Target ($20) and grind up a bunch of oatmeal to powder. I would try to do several servings at once, then toss it in a ziplock bag. Then fill another ziplock bag with protein. Done. You can even make several single serving packs with smaller baggies.
Of course now that I'm warrior dieting I don't do this anymore, but if you're trying to put on some weight this is very useful.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Group X

Gradually the concept takes shape, and then it takes off. Group X begins 3/17 at Girya- 132 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto. The first 'elements class' will be held 3/15 at 6pm. Classes are $15 each, but there is no charge to attend the elements class. This class is held to ensure you have a solid basis of technique prior to starting the class. A calendar will be maintained on the Group X Website, and classes will consistently be mon-fri in the 12:30-1:30pm and 6:00-7:00pm range. Each class will be 30 minutes long, and trust me, it will be plenty. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell everyone. Classes are limited to 8 each. In order to secure your spot e-mail me directly

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Group Exercise coming to Girya

I have decided to start doing group kettlebell classes at Girya in Palo Alto. What's the difference between my group fitness classes and all the other group fitness classes out there? You'll actualy get results! Ha ha. Just kidding, but not really.
The classes will incorporate basic kettlebell movements such as the swing and bodyweight exercises. Classes will only be 30 minutes, but if you've ever experienced my training you know that will be plenty. Everyone will be required to attend an 'elements class' prior to the regular classes in order to ensure good technique is used.
I know many people like the group exercise dynamic, but that shouldn't mean you're relegated to jazzercise and body 'pump' or 'sculpting' classes. Sculpting your body sounds painful and dangerous. :)
For now the schedule will be Mon, Weds, Fri. at 12:30pm, 6:00pm, and 6:30pm. Times will be added as I go, this is just to get us started. Class size will be limited to 8 for the moment.
In other news my CHEK Scientific Back Training Course arrived today along with my Ironmind Sandbag. Normally I'd just make a sandbag out of a seabag, but as I'm going to use this for clients, the ability te easily change the weight was a big plus. I've also been working on my Diesel Crew Bending Book and am looking forward to destroying some nails in the near future.
Below is some video of Rif's Kettlebell Workshop at Axis Personal Training, which I assisted at.