Monday, June 30, 2008

Cindy Glass RKC II

This morning I received a burning missive from 30,000 feet (ok, probably from the airport) that Cindy had passed her RKC level II in what turned out to be something quite less than a cake walk. Cindy went in just barely recovered form the flu and a couple weeks short on training due to a less than optimally timed vacation, but still crushed the RKC II like Alexander descending upon whatever country it is he descended upon. Except with kettlebells.
Oh, look who worked her way into the front row for the group photo. Orange shirt, down in front. :) My friend John Wild was also present, far left in the back row.

I found videos. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Missed it by this much.

Today I went for a new deadlift max- 407 lbs. I have to say it came off the floor without much protest, but I was stopped a few inches from lockout. I hung in there for a while, but crossed that line where I knew it wasn't moving. Certain training factors today may have messed with my ability to lock out, but at the end of the day it just didn't go up. I know what I have to do to rectify this, and so alterations in programming will reflect that necessity.
I also know my form went down the pipes about halfway through the pull. Mainly this was due to a lot of sloppy pulling during the last cycle, yanking the weight up just because I could. In the future I need to prepare myself mentally and treat every pull no matter how light in the same manner as I would treat a maximum pull.
On the upside I hit my first rock bottom pistol with a 16 kg. bell. Greasing the groove on the pistols and one arm push ups every day is helping me to master the full body tension I need to maximize my deadlift. Coming out of the bottom of the 16 kg. pistol I could feel every muscle firing off, and was surprised to feel how hard my left quad extended out front fired. I'm working in more variety with the one arm push ups. One arm push ups with elevated feet, one arm/ one leg, and one arm divebombers are all on the menu. I am diligently working on bringing up the left side.
I also tried something I read in an article by Adam Glass- Gooseneck pull ups. Instead of grabbing the pull up bar you gooseneck your wrists and hook them over the bar. This was a whole different deal than a regular pull up, and pretty challenging. Only one this time, but I'll work on them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cindy Glass RKC heads to the Level II

This weekend Cindy Glass RKC heads off to Minnesota for the RKC Level 2.
It was a little less than two years ago that this journey began, so I thought I would take a moment to reflect upon it. :)
I started training Cindy while I was working as a trainer at Equinox Fitness in Palo Alto, CA. She was an avid cyclist and 'equally avid gym avoider', as she put it. We started working to balance out the super strong lower body, with the less than super strong upper body. About a month into training I told her about a workshop I was going to for something called a kettlebell that looked like a cannonball with a handle on it.
"That sounds dangerous." was her reply. Little did we know how this cannonball with a handle on it would change both of our training plans, and have a profound effect on our lives as well.
Cindy quickly become like a local rock star in the gym and an inspiration to many women who were not finding the results they wanted dancing around in circles and riding bikes that went nowhere. She is still spoken of in whispers, and the Indians in the mountains sing a folk song about her.
Often people will refer to Cindy as a 'natural athlete' or 'mutant'. My feeling about that sort of thing has always been that it's an excuse for those who don't succeed because they don't want to do the work.
The truth is that Cindy is another example (like Todd) of someone who just showed up and did the work. You can be as big a mutant as you want (or bigger!) but if you don't show up and move the weight you're not going to progress. It may not sound like that big a deal, but showing up and getting the job done even when you don't feel like it, or it's raining, or you had a bad day at work, is the line of demarcation between failure and victory.
Below is some video of myself training Cindy in the old Mountain View location. In some circles it was referred to as 'Jordan's teenage dance gym'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One arm dive bomber push up complete.

I remember when I first read 'Naked Warrior' looking at Pavel doing a one arm dive bomber push up and thinking that it was im-freaking-posible, and clearly this guy was some type of mutant.
Well, at 1820 hrs. today I managed to pull it off. I felt like my head was about to pop off, but I did it.
One arm push ups are easy to knock off now, one arm/one leg push ups aren't that bad, and now onto this. Apparently the one arm/one leg is supposed to be harder than the one arm dive bomber. I could go either way. Once I clean it up a bit I'll get some video up.
Still working on the pistols. I get good solid ones on the right, not so much on the left.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Max VO2 PR

I actually didn't intend to do this, but it happened anyway. Started out today with a 36/36 on the 20 kg. bell going for 15 reps per as usual. First set I locked it out after the 15th rep and looked at the timer.
I still had seven seconds left.
So I pretty much had no excuse for not kicking it up to 16 reps per set. After I realized I was going to make it to a respectable number of sets I fired up the video camera.
This was definitely hard, and the main negating factor was grip. I wasn't on my stretches like I should have been, and I know that makes all the difference.
I might actually start chalking too, if it's going to mean the difference between being a mutant and not being a mutant. We'll see.
Something else that certainly effected my grip was going hard-style all the way, up and down. I think I did a few corkscrews down when my grip started to fry, but only a few. I know I can snatch faster hard-style than I can GS, and I'm working on something, so we'll see.
Made it to 14 sets this time. Next time I'll go for the full twenty.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bulldog tenacity and pitbull humility.

This week Merk Reifkind Senior RKC hit yet another milestone in a long and yet to be finished journey. A year ago he started in on the kettlebell snatch Max VO2 protocol. After a year of hitting it hard and sticking with it rain or shine he achieved this.
This is important because it displays something that many in our society have lost, and that is the ability to stay on task and finish the job. I recall the day I walked in to Girya to discuss the poossibility of my working there. I was mentally prepared for the coming onslaught, I had war gamed every possible scenario. I walked in, steeled myself up, and... was instructed that the thermostat is behind the refrigerator. :)
However, the following discussion left me with something to think about. It was something to the effect of: "People come up with all of these complicated training plans. What I want to see is them come up with something simple, and stick to it."
It was one of those things that was right in my face, but I hadn't focused long enough to see it. If I believed ADD existed, I would have it. I just see it as not paying attention, or letting your discipline slip.
It's easy to just do whatever or not follow any specific plan. The challenge I faced and found to be harder than anything else was to construct a plan, and as long as I felt it was working, stick with it. I have done so, and have made great progress in the past six weeks because of it. Next weekend I will pull a new PR on the Deadlift, and we will see just how much progress I have made as that has been my primary focus, closely followed by upping my 5 minute snatch numbers.
Another skill seemingly lost in society these days is the ability to shut your mouth and listen, not just spend your time while the other person is talking by thinking of what you'll say next. I do my best to accomplish this every day. I wake up each morning assuming I will learn something, and am often rewarded with new knowledge. There are many out there who don't do that, and that's kind of a bummer of a gig to have. I've been fortunate enough to have some pretty bright people take me to the curb every so often, and I'm glad that I generally shut my mouth and listened to what they had to say instead of just arguing what I believed to be true. It helped me to grow a lot.
That's all.

I just posted this because it's so bad ass.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The kettlebell half-snatch

I picked this move up a while back while I was still doing my morning snatches. I found it to be less shocking first thing in the morning. Other benefits I have found include training the 'drop' portion of the jerk, and using the descent from the clean to practice the drop and catch snatch descent.
To my understanding this was originally the method used for snatching in GS, but it became a problem as the rest in the rack position allowed the competitor to basically go one forever. As hard as it is to believe, it made GS even more boring to watch.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My reviews on Yelp!

I dig my reviews on yelp, and think that they're pretty dead on. Especially the part about me being a 'Sadistic Jack Ass'.

Average To Elite Training Systems

We went down to round rock beach on the coast the other day, so of course I decided to take an inspirational picture. :)
It's a start. Someday that right foot will point straight ahead like it's supposed to.
There's another good one of me looking doubtfully at a different rock and doing the mental arithmetic regarding the odds of me doing a header into the ocean while trying to do a pistol on a slippery ocean rock. After mentally recalling advice that I stop trying to snatch kettlebells out of my pay grade I chose the better part of valor, and opted for a more stable rock.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And various other things of that nature...

Not much to report at the present time. All is well. Progress snatching the 32 is going very well, and it feels pretty much like the 24 with the exception of some extra skin pinching while I find my grove. Ripped out a bunch of hard style snatches with it yesterday without issue. This was significant as I usually adopt the GS style to get through those sets. I'm definitely stronger in the movements. Often as I'm training clients they mourn the fact that they have to remember so many things while snatching. This might mean six points of potentially 13,452 separate things to remember while snatching. Of course it all depends on how far you want to go with it. I want to be un-human, so I have to remember more.
So much of it depends upon how you approach the implement. If you have even a thought in your mind that it's too heavy or you're going to get crushed, it will be and you will be. You have to approach it with a workman's like attitude. It's just a job you have to do. I forget off the top of my head who said that. I think it was Louie Simmons.
Found a cool website today
I'm a fan of well done websites, and he's a fellow Marine, so...
Oh, and I snatched the 44 kg. The form was practically a crime against kettlebells, but it worked. No more of that for a while. I need to get a solid 10-15 reps per side on the 32 before I return to the 40, and then up again. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Max VO2 PR

Kind of. I sustained a benign tear on my right hand little finger deadlifting. Not a big deal, but I decided to stick with the 16 kg. this week to avoid opening it up any further.
I was planning on doing 20 sets of 36/36 at 18 reps per, but decided to bring it up to 19 reps as I was using a lighter kettlebell. The 19th rep made a difference and got me breathing a little harder, but not significantly so. I did 20 reps for a couple of sets and that was a much harder pace to keep. Once the tear heals I'll bring it back up to the 20 kg. and start trying to push the pace a little more. I'm not having any of the grip issues that I was having before as far as my forearms getting fired up. All is good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sandbags, kettlebells, and pull-ups.

I've been carrying a pretty serious left elbow annoyance for a couple of years now. A holdover from the days of heavy skull crushers. It's pretty much kept me from ever really training pull ups as picking up my toothbrush feels like someone is stabbing me in the elbow, so clearly pull ups are out.
Over the past few weeks between the Zyflamend and Tumeric, myofascial release on a particularly cranky left triceps, and stretching I am nearly pain free. for the first time I can really bang out the pull ups at will, so I'm anxious to see how close to the old max (28) I can get, 8 years later and 25 pounds heavier of course. :)
Below is a video I put together of a sandbag and kettlebell snatch combo I put together. This is particularly useful if you have to throw strikes and drive back to your feet under duress, and applies well to the tactical operator who must work from disadvantageous positions.

I don't know what the deal is with youtube. When I load these things up they work fine, then the video goes out of sync.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Crossfit HQ moves to Camp Pendleton SOI

This is pretty cool. Greg Glassman donated the equipment from Crossfit HQ in Santa Cruz to the Marines of the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton. Apparently they're implementing Crossfit at SOI to start seeding it throughout the Marine Corps. It's not my bag now, but if I was still active most likely I would be incorporating crossfit with my kettlebells because of the heavy emphasis on endurance. The one size fits all programming makes it a good match for the Corps.
Check out the video here.
I could do without the dopey 'landslide' interlude, but whatever.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Todd

About a year ago, when I first got back to CA I started training The Todd. Back then he wasn't The Todd yet. He was just Todd. Not to diminish the importance of being Todd, but it isn't at the same level as being The Todd.
Todd had no natural athletic gifts. He knew he wanted to become more athletic and fit, but wasn't certain of the path. Lacking said natural athleticism Todd made up for it with hard work and commitment. 3 days a week, rain or shine he showed up. Even when I was training in that creepy storage room on Geary Blvd. in San Francisco. He made the journey from the water park in SF to Girya in PA. He made the journey from seven very iffy push ups to handily besting his twin brother in a push ups contest by cranking out over forty reps. He made the journey from being hammered into submission by 7 reps of 16 kg. kettlebell swings, to snatching the 24, ten minute sets of 16 kg. snatches and one arm long cycle, and other assorted feats.
The key here, is the work. I know that no matter where you come from, no matter what your condition, no matter what anyone says, if you show up and do the work, and believe in yourself you can do anything.
Well, you can't fly or shoot lasers out of your eyes, but you get the idea. Of course i can do both of those, but that's beside the point.
The point of this is, never quit. Quitters never win because, well... they quit. It's hard to win if you're not in the race. You might get whipped a thousand times, but if you keep coming back eventually you'll win.
Ok, quick story. When I was a kid there was this bully. I swear I'm not making this up. :)
One day it came to a head, and I jumped him. Of course he was about twice my size. He threw me right over his shoulder and onto the ground. I think this happened about a dozen times, no exaggeration. He actually wore himself out throwing me on the ground, and the last time I went down I took him with me and choked him out. I think I was nine.
That's when I figured it out. You can't ever quit, you have to hang in there. Some of you are looking down the barrel at seemingly insurmountable odds. Maybe you need to lose 100 lbs. maybe you need to do a Secret Service Snatch Test. Find a reference point, a star to guide you. Someone close to your stats who can do it. Once you set your compass, push forward.
See how I started this about Todd and it became about me? :)
Check out Todd's blog here.
I love the quote. "As long as you're not crippled we're good." I don't remember saying it, but it sounds like me. Take note that there is a year's lapse in the blog, so you jump from our first week's training right to this week's.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

5 minute snatch test- 98 reps

Okay, actually i hit a hundred reps, but the last two were just over the line, so I didn't count them.
There were probably a lot of 'no counts' in this video, but I let it go as I am the judge as well as the competitor in the Guerneville, CA 2008 snatch classic.
Conditions were not optimal as I had to keep checking the time, had just finished a hard workout, and other factors as well. Overall I can't complain though.
I am clearly not as distressed as I was during the TSC, and I didn't feel the strength component lacking as I did then. The killer this time was cardio.
I ripped out over 50 snatches in the first two minutes, which was the plan. complete fifty percent of the goal in the first two minutes. Goal was 100 snatches, mission accomplished. The killer for me is minute three. It's this weird no-man's land where I still have so far to go, but am not fresh anymore.
I'm going to start doing regular two minute snatch sets and five minute tests once a week. I feel like it's in me to keep that initial pace, I just have to work at it. The 140 goal is achievable.
I'm approaching this whole thing from an analytical perspective. It's just a puzzle that must be solved by aligning all of the pieces in the correct manner.
That's all it is. That's all anything is.

You eagle eyed viewers will notice my display of a Hello Kitty car mat at the beginning. Spetsnaz used these while training in the field in the 80's while fighting their Afghan campaign against the Mujahideen.
Not really. I pulled it out of my girl's car so I wouldn't drop my bell on the concrete.