Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Off to the RKC.

Tomorrow morning I'm heading over to pick up a car much better than mine and drive down to Los Angeles for the RKC. That's right, I'll be driving a Yugo all the way to UCLA.
Ha, ha... get it? Because a Yugo is a piece of... well, anyway.
This has been a long time coming for me. I would have gone sooner, but life got in the way. Well, life and the Defense Department.
I feel really good about the whole situation. I avoided injuring myself this week and my hands are as good as they're going to get. I get to spend three days with dozens of the best strength trainers in the country. Are you kidding me?! People keep bringing up the physical exertion part. Not sure what they're talking about. I hope they don't want me to work out or something at this thing. It's just a lot of note taking, right?
Sometimes people say I take all this stuff too seriously. To that I say "You take your heart medication too seriously. You take the birth of your child too seriously."
Whether you realize it or not, this stuff is life changing. I went from being the weakest person in any given room (often including the women) to being one of the strongest. I am healthier than I have ever been and I never worry about things like heart attacks or joint problems. I am actively working to build my future.
See, I'm the guy who believed the ads. "Build android work capacity and the pain tolerance of an immortal!" and the classic "Lunges are for sissies." Good, I hated lunges anyway.
Not only did I believe the ads, but I believed in myself. I just needed the proper tool to unlock my own potential. I found it, and it has a convenient carrying handle.
Truthfully though, it's not about the kettlebell. It's just about you. It's about developing an unshakable belief in yourself and your ability to do anything.
Except fly. You can't do that, and furthermore you were foolish for thinking you could.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

5 minute 24 kg. snatch test- 115 reps.

That went well. I took Aaron Friday's advice and stopped setting the bell down to take long and luxurious breaks. Part of the problem was that before my shoulder strength endurance sucked, but after bringing it up I don't have that problem anymore. If anyone is doubting the ability of doing Max VO2 with a 16 or 20 kg. kettlebell to bring up your 5 or 10 minute 24 kg. snatch test numbers, you may find this progression interesting. Bear in mind that during my whole training cycle leading up to this very little work was done with any kettlebell weighing more than 16 or 20 kg.
Here's how it's gone so far.
Below is April 5th 2008 at the TSC. A measly 91 reps and I am clearly at death's door.

I started getting serious with Max VO2 and refining my snatch technique. Rif's two admonitions during the test "More backswing!" and "Lock it out!" were at the forefront of my mind. It wasn't just a matter of proper technique, these two things would shave 20% or more off of my work output if done properly.
About two months ago (I think) I squeeze out 98 reps in 5 minutes. Aaron tells me to stop setting the bell down and slow down.

He was right. My lack of a brief pause in the lockout was robbing me of active rest I needed to keep snatching.
Today I bang out 115 reps in my living room. I have really refined my backswing and my punch, and pause at the lockout.

I began at a deliberately slower pace figuring I was going to gas out around minute four. It never happened, and I realize I could have gone faster. I'm fully confident I could get 120 reps right now. Doing the mid-swing switch made a huge difference. I still need to work on it, but the basic idea is there and it probably netted me 4-5 extra snatches. I forgot to do it in the last few minutes and that cost me.
I have noticed my form is super efficient in the beginning, but as I fatigue it starts to crumble, thus my lack of a mid-swing switch at the end and the disruption of my backswing. You can see in the beginning that I am 'face to the floor' and turning slightly into the backswing. This is efficient for me as I am effectively 'riding hte bell down' vs. fighting with it. Partway through I start looking forward again and effectively make myself work harder.
More lessons learned, and I will get 125 snatches in September. Minimum.
BTW today I weighed 160 lbs. I'm still 5'8".

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Max VO2/ 80 sets/ 20 kg./ 7 reps

This was hard. I almost tossed my cookies, but I made it. I think for me a lot of this is mental. I feel like I can go to 100 sets, but I'm not sure how productive that would be. I'll stick with this cycle for a few weeks and start working in some 8 rep sets in there. I'm not sure which hit the floor first at the end, me or the kettlebell.
I have to give a lot of credit to my training partner and massage therapist Tara Robertson who hung in there for all 80 sets snatching her 12 kg. She stayed on 7 reps until I think around set 50, then dropped down to 6 but still finished strong.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jump stretch bands and kettlebells swings

This is a video I put together of a training combination I sometimes do combining kettlebell swings hooked up to a JS band and burpees. Assuming correct basic swing mechanics are already in place I've also had some success with really emphasizing the tension at the top and the virtual force hike with the bands.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

80 sets... is a lot.

On friday I ran into Cindy Glass RKC II at Equinox after I had just finished my max vo2 snatch workout. I was very proud of myself as I had completed 50 sets of 7 reps a set with the 20 kg. She then informed me that Kenneth Jay Senior RKC had upped the sets to 80. Riiiiight.
So the question was: Do I drop back to the 16 kg. at 8 reps per, or stay at the 20 kg. for 6 reps per set? I then read a post from Rif on the DD forum saying that one should 'own' 80 seets of 8 reps on the 16 before kicking it up. So I swallowed my pride and dropped to the 16 kg.
Today I hit 80 sets of 8 reps per on the 16 kg. and definitely 'owned' it. :)
I actually felt like I could keep going damn near all day. So now I will look into this boost and bring it up to the 20 kg. again. Good times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New shoes, the inch dumbbell, and 28 kg. of pain

Today I got some new shoes. Vibram Five Fingers.
I couldn't find any stores in SF or the Peninsula that carried them, so I randomly called the REI in San Carlos. They didn't carry them either, but they had one pair. Someone had ordered them special and decided they didn't want them. They just happened to be in my size, the model I wanted, and the color I wanted. Seriously? I lead a charmed life.
These things are awesome. They really force you to walk properly, and I feel much more stable and have better foot flexibility in them. My pistols feel much more solid.
I decided to do a mini snatch workout with the 28 kg. today. It went up easy and I'm handling the weight the way I usually handle the 24 kg. I did snatches on the minute, 5 each side for 10 minutes for a total of 100 28 kg. snatches in 10 minutes. Finished strong, and I know I can rip out more than that.
Found this video on youtube of a guy working the Inch Dumbbell. Pretty inventive stuff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Max VO2 PR

Today was Max VO2, 36/36 with the 20 kg. My rep count has been 15 reps per 36 seconds. First set I hit my 15 and locked out. I waited. I waited longer. I ripped out another snatch and the gymboss beeped. So I decided to bump up to 16 reps. I made it to 14 sets and really, really wanted to stop, but decided to suck it up and stop being a crybaby and made it to 18 sets before my grip was toasted and I started feeling a little 'funny', and I don't mean like Dennis Miller.
This was good, as my last PR was 16 reps with the 20 kg. but for only ten sets. Definitely feeling much stronger.
Afterward I did some abdominal and stability work with the TRX. I got the bright idea of doing pikes on two medicine balls. This worked not only my core but my shoulder stability as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

RKC Snatch test numbers

Ok, right now I weigh in at 160 lbs. on the nose. This means my RKC snatch requirement is 52 snatches. Well... I've never done the snatch test. Whoops. It kind of slipped by me. I mean, I've done a boatload of snatches (obviously if you follow this blog) but I've never done the official test. So at 9:45 pm tonight I hoisted my 24 kg. and went to work. I finished out with 60 snatches, 30 on each hand. No problem. I really took my time and ensured a good solid lockout on each one. I was actually surprised as I figured it would be more of a struggle. Don't get me wrong, it was hard and I was breathing like a locomotive, but I feel I could have gone up to 70 before I actually lost my grip on the thing. I'll take it outdoors and go for a PR in the next week or so.
Ok, Ok Aaron, you were right! Happy now?! If I don't put down the bell and I slow down I see that I can eclipse my old 5 minute snatch test number, probably by quite a bit. Fine. Whatever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Netter's Anatomy for the iphone and ipod touch

This might be the coolest thing ever invented. I updated my Iphone with the new 2.0 software, found the app store, and promptly found the Netter's Anatomy application. This is the real deal, no shortcuts. In fact it's probably better than the flash card and CD-Rom versions. I'm sure it is. Leave me alone, I'm learning about tiny bones.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back on the horse what threw me- Max VO2

Today I picked the 20 kilo back up and went to work. The result was 50 sets of 15/15 at 6 reps per set. The key here is that I blew through it with no problem, and could definitely have gone to 7 reps, but I chose to take it slow. Last sunday I was suffering from the word "go", left spinal erector and glute were fired up, and my grip was getting killed. Diet is a huge factor for me and being back on the Warrior Diet this week has helped a ton. After last Sunday's debacle I walked back inside and the first thing I said to Vanessa was "I'm back on the warrior diet." and so it was.
I also had no grip issues, and my hands stayed together just fine. Whenever I make a significant push in the VO2 I'm going to video the whole workout, as I did today. It's broken up into three clips displayed below. The music I put to it was the same stuff I was listening to- Flyleaf.

By the way, I'd like to encourage everyone out there who is taking a run at the Max VO2 to stick with it. If your hands are getting shredded root out the problem and fix it. This is definitely worth sticking with and making the focal point of your training program. I think strength and endurance need to be balanced, and one without the other leaves you incomplete. Remember, your strength is only as good as your ability to use it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dimitri the Stud

I usually don't post 'funny youtube videos', but this is the exception. I heard in on the radio while I was driving today and found it on youtube. Make sure you're not eating or you'll choke. This guy lives in San Francisco.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rocking the Warrior Diet

I've been back on the warrior diet for two days now since my two week hiatus. Does it make me sound like a Zealot if I say I already feel a thousand percent better? Well I do. I killed my deadlifts and snatches today, and feel on a more even keel. My eating has been much better, super clean, and I'm full of vegetables.
I can definitely feel myself snapping back to where I was before, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Snatch VO2. I'm still keeping it ratcheted back a bit after Sunday's massacre, but I'm feeling like I'll be back to my former self soon.
Of course correcting my training path had a little to do with it. :)
Another important piece of the puzzle has been committing myself to an hour a day of stretching and foam roller work until I dig myself out of this hole I'm in. A half hour in the morning, a half hour in the evening. Remember kids, your recovery is just as important as your training.
Stay classy... internet.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TRX and kettlebell variation

This is a variation I do of a basic TRX movement. You can also replicate the TRX movement alone with your feet on a stability ball, rolling it out and back if you don't have a TRX.
The kettlebells add a grip, wrist strength, and stability component to the movement. The holds I do at the end are more advanced and you should be very careful if you attempt these.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New article published on Straight To The Bar.

I have a new article up on

It's titled 'From running to kettlebell swings' and covers what I have found to be the case regarding carryover from kettlebells to running.
As some of you know, I am not a big fan of running. Bear in mind this is all coming from a former 30, 40, on occasion even 50 mile a week runner. I just didn't know any better. :)

If you want to know how I'm feeling right now, check out this video.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Reflecting on Max VO2 and the Warrior Diet

For the past couple of weeks I've been off the warrior diet. The main reason is that my training schedule often goes until 9pm, which makes it very difficult to get a real warrior meal in if I'm pretty much training from 2-9pm. I finally hit a point with it where I felt the benefits were being lost due to my schedule and I would be better off returning to a regular diet and just eating better.
Today I did a Max VO2 session with the 20 kg.- 15/15 style. Something that should not have been a 'lifetaker' almost took mine. Sure I was sweating out some ice cold toxins from the day before and had done a pretty good row on the Russian River, but you can just tell when something is 'off'.
As I think others who work odd shifts may run into this problem, I believe I have come up with a solution, at least for myself. I just need to schedule my meal preparation the way I would schedule anything else, and understand that it is an important part of my training.
I think that the Max VO2 kettlebell snatch protocol is going to go down in history with the many other great programs that people use as standards like Smolov, PTTP, Westside Barbell, etc. I've been doing it kind of scattershot since March and brought myself up to a point where I can hit the 36/36 with a 20 kg. for 15-16 reps per set. For myself the biggest challenge is not jumping up to heavier bells or kicking it up to more reps just because I think I can. Pushing forward too soon will get you nowhere fast.
This week I am reorganizing my training in an effort to find the most direct line to achieving my goals. Aside from the TSC and a respectable SSST I would also like to do some nail bending and other feats of strength. Initially I was altering the entire plan to address this, but I think that was an error. While these things do require specialized training, it should be a smaller percentage of the program and not a complete overhaul. Keep the base consistent and strong, and build off of that.
It's a learning process, we all make mistakes. The people who are most greatly and negatively impacted by their mistakes are those who cannot admit to them, and then learn from them.
Having gone back through my training logs and assessed the situation, what I find to be common factors in my successful progression include:
-Max VO2 snatch protocol
-Limited heavy snatching
-Grind specific days
-1-2 Deadlift specific days (to be mixed or interchanged with kettlebell grinds) for TSC prep

In addition to this I require more swings and consistent and proper pressing.

Consider this quote:
"You have to turn your opponent into an assistant in his own ass whipping."
-From 'Unforgivable Blackness' The Biography of Jack Johnson

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

200 32 kg. Snatches.

Note: I'm going to start ripping off John Wild's cool photoshop ideas from his blog.

This was hard. Not the same quality as a Max VO2, it was more of a slow grinding down as I felt my life leaving me. 200 snatches is a lot. It is twice as many as 100, but only half as many as 400, which would be harder still.
All told this took about an hour. It was lengthened by the fact that I was hitting five pull ups with 10 kg. for the first six sets, then two sets of five with bodyweight. That's right about when I lost my mind and realized I had a deep need to do 200 snatches with the 32 kg.
I've heard this mentioned before, and it was true in my case: My form improved the further I got in my sets. It improved because I had no choice if I wanted to make it through. Hands held together fine, though some blisters wanted to raise on my right palm, which is a first.
All in all it was 20 sets of 5/5 with the 32 kg. All hard-style snatches, right over the top. I know, I know, I'm stubborn like that. Average rest between sets was 1-2 minutes, with a couple of luxurious 3 minute pauses.
I am completely smoked right now, but I feel good. Accomplished. The good news is that I know I can do more. The main reason I stopped was that I had to train clients and could sense that I smelled awesome... ly bad. So I had to sprint over to Equinox and shower.