Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Crime in your neighborhood! The shame of the city!

Apparently my last post pissed some people off and I believe a gang of angry middle aged distance runners attacked my house last night.
We were sitting in the living room at around 1am when we heard the loud 'boom' of our garage door getting kicked in. If you've never witnessed me hauling ass out the door into my driveway with a sledge hammer at one in the morning, well you are just letting the best in life pass you by.
I came to find three out of four tires on my car slashed for the second time in two weeks. Joke's on them though, I have a spare! Not three, but...
They also took the time to leave a message on my garage door. Hell if I know what it means. I can't tell if they want our money (of which we have none, they should know because we just had to replace six tires last week) or if they were telling us we are money, like in the movie Swingers. Being a cock eyed optimist I prefer to think it's the latter.

The important thing in a situation like this is that you must not let them win! You have to hold your ground and show them you are not afraid!
Let me know how that works out for you, as I am in the process of moving and will not be able to keep up with the daily goings on of your crime fighting.
Do you know who the real victim is here?
IT'S ME! I was very close to wrapping up season three of 'Heroes' when this happened, and now who knows when I'll be able to get back to it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Born To Run?

I'm reading this book Born To Run. It's very good and pretty much re-enforces a bunch of things I already knew.
It hasn't made me want to run yet. Nothing can make me want to run. :)
I do plan on putting some running back into my program, just once every week or so to maintain the skill.
Where does my great disdain for running come from? It comes from being a runner. Not just a runner, but a lunatic runner. While I was still in the Marines it wasn't unusual for me to get up at 5 to run a few miles, then run PT with the platoon a few more miles, then run all the run drops (people who couldn't keep up on the unit PT) for a brisk 3-5 mile run. That's Marine Corps logic for you. "You couldn't keep up on the run, so I am going to now make you run even more in the hope that you'll somehow magically get better at it." I would also routinely log miles in boots or full combat gear. I would run in a gask mask, I would run up and down hills and with a pack on. I still sucked at hiking because at the time I didn't realize the problem wasn't my endurance, it was leg and back strength. I wasn't even all that fast. My fastest three mile time on record was 18:30. The trick was that I could run forever.
I was also running with shin splints for about 6 years, as well as various other impact induced problems.
Point being, unless you're an ultra endurance athlete there probably isn't much you have to tell me about distance running.
That bring me full circle back to 'Running may not be the greatest thing for you.'
I'm always amazed at the horrible running form I see displayed by people running down the street, or people running in full on mechanical leg braces! Are you freaking kidding me? I know someone who has to go in to get some meniscus snipped out, and she is still running!!!
Use common sense in your running. I think part of this goes back to a sense of entitlement, as if there should be no skill acquisition required in order to begin running. At some point you had an innate ability to properly propel yourself across the earth just as you understood how to properly squat and roll from side to side, but those days are gone. Now you indeed must re-acquire these 'lost' movement patterns.
Particularly if like the Author you took it up late in life.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A narrow focus, better pistols, and better function.

I've taken the time to identify what caused problems for me in 2009 as far as my training goes. I can't assign blame to having too many goals, but I can say I lacked organization of those goals. So this year I have a more narrow focus. Partly to prep for the April TSC as I already told Chris Gaines RKC I would enter the elite division if he did and I have RKC II coming up. So focusing on my Beast Tamer Goals and my 32 kg. snatching is the way to go. Everything else goes by the wayside until I make marked progress there.
My FMS and Z-Health work has paid off big dividends. Today I hit 8 singles (both legs) with pistols on the 32 kg. A big improvement from all the problems I've had in the past.
I know my nutrition has also been a problem. I generally eat pretty well, but it could be better, and again more regimented. I've been doing a lot of research on nutrition. Lots of conflicting information, but also lots of common threads.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Battling the mis-information Pt. 2

"I'm going to the RKC to learn how to use kettlebells."
Yeah, good luck with that.
You're going to the RKC to perfect your use of kettlebells, and to understand the system with which we use them. If you show up at the RKC without already having a solid grasp on the six core techniques (Swing, Get Up, Squat, Clean, Press, Snatch) you will be crushed.
While we work to refine your ability to safely and effectively use kettlebells, this is not about the kettlebell. You can apply the Hard-Style system of training to anything. Barbells, sandbags, bodyweight, it doesn't matter.
I hear comments from people all the time about how the RKC is a 'rip off' or "I don't need to attend a three day course to learn how to swing a kettlebell."
Well I guess that would explain why you swing kettlebells the way you do.
As to the 'rip off' comment, well... what is there to say? This isn't exactly an algebra equation. Half a dozen paid instructors, another 15-20 voluntary assistant instructors, thousands and thousands of pounds of kettlebells shipped across the country in some cases, years of experience from hundreds of instructors distilled down into a manual you get... you do the math. If you think you can pull this off cheaper than the RKC does be my guest. If you don't understand the value in it, I can't help you.
My friend Nick used to say "Do it right the first time and you won't have to do it again." I've lost track of all the people who second guessed my advice and just ended up following it later. It's like the kettlebell itself. I tell people to pay for quality. They second guess me. After the off brand kettlebell has finally torqued their wrist or the vinyl covering has taken the skin off their forearm one too many times they just end up buying a quality kettlebell. Same thing with RKC. After they go to some BS course with a guy in a community rec center for a day they just end up going to RKC anyway, less the $500 they blew inflating someone's ego.
I'll tell you something about myself. I don't send clients to the RKC. I see that a lot, and it's cool, but it's not my bag. Have I had clients go to the RKC? Yes. I had one go all the way to RKC II. I'm prepping half a dozen right now who are going in February. They all came to me. I'll mention it, but I never push it. Personally, I just don't think it's necessary for most of them. That's just me.
Trainers? If you're using kettlebells with your clients and you don't see the value in this, again I cannot help you. No one can. I've seen websites for personal training studios with kettlebells plastered all over the website, and not a single RKC or HKC trainer on staff. It is reflected in what I see their clients doing in photos and videos. As to the cost again, I think it's hilarious when trainers complain about the expense. You charge $100 an hour. Are you serious?
Someone slashed my tires last night. Which may help to explain the tone of this post.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Battling the mis-information Pt. 1

Recently there was some hulabaloo in the kettlebell community (at least locally) over this article.
Let me first say that I think this Dr. Wagner is probably a very good trainer who gets results for his clients. More than anything I think he is a victim of mis-information and probably a little bit of fear/jealousy. After all it would look kind of silly if a couple of guys in a studio full of cannonballs with handles on them were getting comparable results to him in a 100k facility.
Notice how I make an effort to treat Dr. Wagner with at least a modicum of respect, something he did not feel the need to do in his article.
What I would like to hit upon here is something that I think would have really benefited the good Doctor.
There is a mis-conception out there that we're kettlebell guys. We know a lot about kettlebells but not much else. I'll start with me. I have a long background in combat conditioning, both for Martial Arts and actual combat soldiers and Marines. I've also done more than my fair share of studying and application of Power Lifting methods and Girevoy Sport. There's more, but I won't bore you.
Mark Reifkind Master RKC has been an elite level gymnast, top ranked power lifter, endurance athlete, and part time Space Cowboy.
Brad Nelson Senior RKC is a Black Belt, accomplished Z Health Practitioner, and consultant to police agencies.
Dave Whitley Senior RKC is a Massage Therapist, Martial Artist, and Professional Performing Strongman.
Dr. Mark Cheng RKC Team Leader, L.Ac., Ph.D is the Chief Physician and Head Instructor for the Chung-Hua Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine & Martial Arts Research.
These results are typical. You will be hard pressed to find anyone in the RKC leadership who is 'just a kettlebell guy'. They don't exist.
Here's the other thing, and this is where I'm going to twist off just a little bit. If you're going to go out on a ledge and assail our training methods, be ready to put your money where your mouth it. Not by pointing at some elite baseball player, you. See, the great thing about the population I work with is that they come from all walks of life and we build them into the elite. I am unimpressed by people who work with a population that is already elite and make them a hair more elite-er-er. I don't think that was a real word.
"Oh, but I'm so busy I don't have time to train."
I haven't slept since 2005. Save it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New photos taken at Girya

Today I finally broke down and decided to take some photos for promotional purposes. I have NO photos I can use for brochures, website, etc. so I figured it was the thing to do. They turned out pretty good. The new color of the walls at Girya is very conducive to good photography, apparently.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 In Review

As the year comes to a close I decided to compile some of the things I achieved into a video. There may be another one as I've still got a bunch of other stuff.
I will note that I did not achieve the goals I had set for myself this year, but I think that was more a case of being overly optimistic than anything else. I did make marked progress toward all of them, I just didn't hit them. A narrower focus on just one may have served me better. I was going for a Beast Challenge, Red Nail Bend, and 100 reps on the 32 kg. in five minutes.
I did bend a Grade 8 Bolt, which is progress. I did pistol a 95 pound bell, press the 36 kg. and pull up the 28 kg. I did hit 20R/20L snatches on the 32 kg. We will see what 2010 brings. I'll be competing in the elite division at the April TSC and will be going for a new 32 kg. snatch test PR.
I feel good about this past year and look forward to what the next will bring.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Men's Helth gets owned

If you didn't already know it, these men's magazines just recycle the same BS 'fitness' info over and over again, most of which doesn't work anyway. I thought this was hilarious when I saw it. Finally caught red handed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Palo Alto HKC announced for Feb. 6th

We've just announced an HKC in Palo Alto, CA for Saturday February 6th. If you're interested in doing this I wouldn't wait too long as I'm on a mission to sell this thing out as fast as possible.

Feb. 6th HKC- Palo Alto, CA

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Convict Conditioning

This is rapidly becoming my favorite book. A lot of people are getting torqued out about the title.
Grow up.
I've studied body weight training and implemented it in my own training for a long time, but never like this. The bottom line is I've never seen anyone lay it out like Paul Wade has and really have the experiences to back it up. 100 pistols in a row? Seriously?
Paul basically says this program was instrumental in him surviving in prison. I don't train for martial arts or anything like that, but it is foremost in my mind that my strength translate should I ever need it to defend myself or my family. So Paul talking about using the methods described in this book to protect himself in the penitentiary really caught my eye.
It's rare that I read a book the way I am reading this one, absorbing every piece of information. It has made a long time goal of mine, the one handed chin, seem much more within reach. In a few days it has changed the way I train.
Not only does Paul have the experience and the know how to back this up, he is obviously very intelligent and has a solid grasp of the mechanics of the human body.
In my opinion the combination of Convict Conditioning and Naked Warrior is a complete atheltic program for anyone who wants to build unreal strength. It can be combined with your current program or used as a stand alone program.
What did Paul Wade go to prison for? Don't know. Do I care? Nope. If you're not going to buy this book because an ex-con wrote it that's fine by me. I like being stronger than 99% of the people I meet. No complaints here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The First Palo Alto HKC

This past Saturday Rif held the first Palo Alto HKC at Girya.
I believe in what we do and I believe in the validity of the RKC as a 'school of strength', and an organization that holds itself to a higher standard. Would the standard be dilluted by the new Hard Style Kettlebell Certification? Only time, and the first group of these certifications would tell.
Now the answer is clear. Not only will the HKC not dilute the RKC, it will enhance it.
We had ten participants, three of which were already signed up for the RKC. By the end of the day we had three more determined to sign up for the RKC.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Featured in a Dragondoor video!

This is cool. Dragondoor put together a video on kettlbells for the armed forces, and I'm in it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Barbell Juggling

Just what it sounds like.

I didn't feel this was that risky, felt in control the whole time. Not really that heavy. It's a whole body workout, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bending a 12" Timber Spike and Kettlebells in Outside Magazine

A client sent me this link: Kettlebells in Outside Magazine.

Today I got a decent bend out of a 12" timber spike. I also finally got the hang of bending a horseshoe across my hip vs. the inside of my leg. It was just a hand positioning problem.
Card tearing is going well. Today I got 30 cards using Adam's overhand technique.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Long Cycle with 32's

I'm getting ready to really break into RTK in preparation for RKC II, so I decided to get under the 32's again. Went well. I think most of my issues were mental 'residue' from the last time I did this. I was expecting it to be harder and so I kind of managed to 'make it' harder. The only place I felt a little unstable was during the drop to catch, and I know a lot of that had to do with not getting my hips going enough. My breathing was a little messed up too.
More to come.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coming back stronger

Today I pulled off my first reverse bend of a 60 penny nail. I ended up getting some bracing against my leg, which isn't ideal, but I'll work on it. Looking at the video I see a lot of areas where I can improve.
I'm getting better with Adam's overhand card tearing technique. Almost up to 30 cards now. I can still shred a deck with the old style, but this is worth working on. Working the overhand tearing and the reverse bending is making everything else stronger. I have attacked my weaknesses and it's paying off.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I have bent 100 sixty penny nails

For the past few months I haven't done much double overhand bending. Most of my work has been reverse and double under styles, just trying to get stronger and balanced out. It worked.
Today I worked my way through a bucket of 100 sixty penny nails. It got harder toward the end, but I didn't run into the same pain issues I did last time with the 50 blues. I just started feeling really punchy around the 80's.
Why did I do it? Because I thought I could. I'm glad I did because I learned a lot about my technique, particularly getting my glutes tight. Guess what helps stabilize your core? Duh.
My wrists and grip are a hell of a lot stronger. I've been working on grabbing the nails hard vs. 'folding' them.
I feel like I was hit by a truck right now, but it was a good day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Justin Timberlake Death Metal and Bad Company

I love this. I half expected Justin to start slaughtering people at the end of the video.

Then there's this.

Adam Glass had this on one of his videos. I lived and died by this little black cassette tape when I was fifteen. I was given it by my uncle who is now about half way through a 35 year bid at Corcoran, one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Strange how that worked out.

Listening to stuff like that makes me want to get back into music. For the better part of a decade I played in a lot of bands. Mostly metal and one delta blues metal project that no one understood, mainly because it didn't make a lick of sense. Go cross Robert Johnson with Pantera and tell me what you get.

It's interesting the different kinds of music that people dig on. Some think my tastes run kind of on the harder core side, but I don't really see it that way. Erik Blekeberg was listening to stuff that will take some of your brain cells with it on the way out the door when Eric Kenyon and I were staying with him in San Diego. Not in a Bad Way, it's just METAL. No additives, no preservatives, just the real deal.
Folks dig on different things and that's cool. Everyone's musical tastes are valid.
Unless you listen to R&B.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Attacking your weakness

Regressing yourself can be a bummer, especially if you're making great progress. However, if you want to reach your goals that's the gig. For example I was getting very strong with my double overhand bending. I was getting some respectable bends out of Grade 8 bolts. After talking to some different folks I came to the conclusion that I needed to bring up my double under and reverse technique as well, so that's what I have been doing. In addition to assistance exercises I've been burning through piles of green nails, same method I used to build my Double Over. This morning 25 in a row went down using double under. Last week I moved a Gr2. I think next week I'll get my first solid double under bend of a Gr2. I can already reverse bend a Gr2 and a 60D nail. I think that once I'm evened out I'll be stronger Double Over.
Still working the card tearing using Adam's method, the same one Dave Whitley Senior RKC talked to me about at HSV. Getting better all the time. It won't be long before I can rip a deck that way.
My mobility is improving by leaps and bounds. A combination of FMS, Z-Health R Phase, and Inversion Therapy is doing the trick. I've been hanging upside down for ten minutes at a time and I can feel myself lengthening out. I cannot recommend the inversion table enough. This is the model I use.
These things can be kind of pricey, but you can find them on Craig's List or Ebay cheaper. I got mine new in the wrapper for 150.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A better 36 kg. press and re-aligned thinking

Mark Reifkind very correctly pointed out that the manner in which I was cocking my hip prior to my 36 kg. press was helping me drive it up, and effectively negating it being a strict military press. With this in mind I went for it again.

I found that doing it this way was actually easier. I just have to get my mind right about committing myself to grinding the press out.
I've had a bad habit in the past of not thinking of the 28 kg. and 36 kg. bells as 'real weights', which is silly. I wasn't really that thrilled about pressing the 36 because I'm so narrowly focused on the 40 kg., but that again is silly. Pressing 36 kg. at 170 pounds is no joke.
For the moment I've dropped back to the 28 kg. for Rite of Passage because my left shoulder was getting tweakey. I think part of it was a sloppy pressing pattern from that hip drive. I can bang out presses on my right with the 32 no problem, but every single one on the left is a struggle. I need to give my left some time to catch up.
I knocked out 100 snatches on the 28 kg. in about ten minutes, a fairly leisurely pace. The 28 feels like the 24. I've been working on my corkscrew descent, as I think that is the only way I'll make it through the USSST on the 32 kg. It hurts just thinking about that.
Steel bending is going. Opening the horseshoes I have now is relatively easy, finishing them is hard. Mostly a technique thing for me I think. I open shoes weird, so there's an odd transition to the finish. More videos to watch. I have noticed the Gr5's I got from FBBC are waaay harder than the ones I got from Fastenal. I can knock out about 15 Fastenal Gr5's in a row, but the FBBC stock is a fight for every one. Oh well. Get stronger. Problem solved.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FIrst run at my RKC II tests

The other day I decided to make an impromptu run at my three RKC II strength tests. A pistol, a 24 kg. pull up, and a 36 kg. press. We'll see what happens to me during RTK, as that 36 kg. press may quickly become a 40 kg. press.
I was surprised at how easy the press was. That 40 is coming fast.
The pull up was hard, but I can see I'm not engaging properly right out of the gate. Way too much arm, not enough lat. I did clear the bar, but I don't think I would get passed on that. I need throat or chest to bar contact.
Pistol was easy. I'm doing a lot of mobility work now to smooth it out.

Right now I'm on Rite of Passage with the 32 kg. Today I hit 5 ladders of 3 rungs each. Followed up with 200 swings. 4 sets of 25, and 5 of 20.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making progress- ROP on the 32 kg. and a nice shoe bend

I'm very fortunate to have fallen in with the crowd I did. I owe a lot to the RKC, Rif, Pavel, Adam Glass, Jedd Johnson, and everyone else who has selflessly given of their time and advice as I make my little journey.
Last week I decided to attempt another horseshoe bend. The first time I tried this I thought my head was going to explode. This time the initial opening of the shoe was actually fairly easy. I then forgot how to finish it, and Zach Coulter brought it to my attention that it might be easier to stand up. I realized I had in fact been standing last time I did this. Not sure why I started kneeling. So now I now.
V bar work is okay, and Jedd gave me a tip on how to improve this.
I've been working the hell out of my reverse and double under style bending and it's paying off. Lots of axillary work as well. My double over dropped off a bit, but no surprise there. It will ultimately be better.
I've started into Rite of Passage with the 32 kg. this week. I already feel I could blow through four rungs on the 32 kg., but I'll be patient.
My pull ups are razor sharp after HSV. I am easily doing things that were hard before. I used to tell people if your lats aren't sore down to your lower back a day after doing pull ups you're not engaging properly. Now I have one to add: Ribs. My ribs are so freaking sore the day after a lot of pull ups.
Pain is good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Palo Alto Kettlebells Promotional Video

As virtually no one knows I am transitioning myself over to a new local identity called 'Palo Alto Kettlebells'. Average to Elite isn't going anywhere, but it will become more of the international identity, while PAKB will be the place to go for local kettlebell training and group classes. I've made a short promotional video breaking down what we do. Thanks to Adam Glass for the use of his slogan from Unbreakable Fitness. I just thought it fit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Current training progress

Things are going well with training. There has been a lot of taking a step back. I stepped back on my bending and have been working my reverse and double over bending hard, and am getting better at it as my wrists and grip get stronger. I've also switched to the style of tearing Dave Whitley recommended and am back to square one with that.
Otherwise I'm currently doing Rite of Passage with the 28 kg. Ladders of 4 rungs aren't too tough right now, and I should be up to five ladders of five rungs next week. The 40 kg. isn't too far off, I just have to keep working and keep my shoulder down.
Mobility of massively improved, and that has been my priority lately, particularly since HSV.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hardstyle Ventura Group Photo

Thanks to Jennifer Bryan for taking this photo.

What is the purpose?

I dislike crossfit kids. I give Crossfit some leeway because I've seen some people get good results when the technique and programming are correct. When they start doing this stuff to kids who trust them I run into problems.
There was a video a while back of another kid doing the exact same thing the kid in this video does, but facing a wall. He dumps the weight and misses ramming his head into the wall by about an inch.

The point of this isn't to pick on Crossfit, but to pose a question. Why are we doing the things we are doing? Even in so called 'randomized training' the exercise selection should make sense. Unless you're training to be a powerlifter what exactly is the purpose of doing max load barbell back squats? Now, I've attended Louie's seminar and heard him talk about using powerlifts for athletes. The key there is 'athletes', and high level ones at that. Louie also doesn't only do powerlifts with them.
The question is WHY does the general population need to do heavy barbell back squats? Or even barbell deadlifts? This isn't to say the movement is bad. All of my clients squat and deadlift, but they do it with kettlebells, or sandbags, or sticks. What is going on with a barbell back squat that isn't occurring during a front squat, or a kettlebell goblet squat? Some things to be sure, but are they necessary for the man or woman on the street. I regularly see trainers loading up female clients with heavy barbells on their backs. Why?
Aside from the question of 'why' do the exercise at all, what about dysfunction? A barbell back squat requires flexibility, mobility, and stability to a degree most people do not have. So why load them up to do an exercise that even if they want to do it, they flat out can't?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hardstyle Ventura

Saturday I was in Ventura, CA for Pavel's Hardstyle workshop. Talk about information overload. I am continually amazed by the depth of technique there is to everything we do, and the amount of collective knowledge possessed by all of the upper level RKC instructors. Met Paul Daniels RKC Team Leader again and he gave me some essential pieces I have been missing from my military press. Adding to that everything Pavel taught us, and the 40 kg. is going down soon after a long battle. Dave Whitley took the time to look at my card tearing technique. He handed me one of his decks and asked me to tear it. I looked at it. I had seen the type of deck before because I have a stack of them on my shelf. I have barely been able to put a dent in them. The decks I usually tear have no plastic coating. Well I wasn't about to turn into a whining little sissy, so I said a silent prayer and went at it. I flaked a lot of cards off the deck in the attempt, but eventually tore it in half. I mean it was UGLY, but it happened. Dave gave me some good advice I had already been considering, but his additional insights just solidified it. I'll be working on the style of tearing Adam Glass uses. It's more versatile and is more of a testament of true grip strength. I have a long road ahead of me. Fortunately I have big feet and a long stride.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recognizing and Respecting your Dysfunction Pt. 1

Gray Cook said something that really hit home for me: "You haven't earned that lift yet."
We live in an instant gratification society where we have to have everything RIGHT NOW, and for most people the concept of patience and the requirement to earn things is a foreign idea. So why wouldn't this cross over into exercise?
When new people come to train with me I give my spiel about mastering the basics and most of them get it. Every so often though someone just cannot grasp it and is perpetually interrogating me about how long it will take before they can learn how to snatch, or clean and press.
Well... you can barely do a get up. You can't even get a decent number of swings yet. If you cannot do an appreciable number of swings with an appropriate sized kettlebell or stabilize yourself at the top of a get up there is no earthly reason for you to be snatching a kettlebell other than your need to be entertained.
Looking at this from another anlge, there is also no need for you to be snatching a kettlebell if your shoulders and thoracic spine are completely locked up. If you try to touch your hands together (one on top one on the bottom) and there is a foot of space between them, or there is a different amount of space form one side to the other, probably any overhead work is not going to be an awesome idea for you until you remedy that. Unless you have giant hands. It's an FMS joke. :)
You're not stable. You have poor flexibility/mobility.
You haven't earned that lift yet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Are you ready for the HKC?

Well, it looks like everyone is out of excuses.
This December 5th and 12th Mark Reifkind Master RKC will be holding the first California HKC right here in Palo Alto.

Dec. 12th 2009

Spots are limited to 12, so register before they fill up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A week without sugar

For the past week I have had zero additional sugar. This means I have not eaten or drank anything that had sugar added to it. This was not easy as I am a sugar addict and have been my entire life. However after reading Nourishing Traditions and beginning to work my way through The China Study as well as other books and articles I have come to the conclusion that sugar is doing me no favors.
I've found it to be interesting how many people are dismayed and bordering on being offended that I would give up sugar. What exactly are the health benefits of taking in mass amounts of sugar? Oh that's right... there are none.
Then I have people suggesting chemical alternatives. People! Do not trade a sugar for a chemical. That does not make a lick of sense.
So what has my experience been this week? I feel much better. I am getting stronger, I am functioning more efficiently, and in just seven days I am noticeably leaner. It isn't just the absence of empty calories either. I think the whole mechanism runs more smoothly when you aren't monkeying with all of the essential reactions.
So I have to ask: What has sugar done for you lately?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trainers without certifications

This has been popping up more and more lately, so I thought I'd meditate on it for a moment.
Whatever your gig is, I think we can all agree that it's important to be qualified to actually do it. Usually this means some schooling and then a piece of paper saying you understand the basics. In my realm this is the personal training certification.
Now I am standing at the front of the line when it comes to declaring that most of what you learn getting this thing will not relate one iota to what you actually do with clients. I use waaay more of my RKC, FMS, etc. skills working with clients than I do my ISSA CFT. However, the CFT gave me my foundation. Regardless of whether I use them or not it drilled me in on some basic stuff.
Now here's the meat of it. If you are a personal trainer, particularly one trying to make a career of it, and you do not have your personal training certification you are wrong.
Just to clarify this, your RKC is not a personal training certification. Your Crossfit Level One is not a personal training certification. No matter how much you may want it to be, it just isn't. I also don't care how many times some guy you work with has declared he learned more in blah blah blah than he did from his PT cert. That does not mean he learned nothing from his PT cert.
I've seen some discussions lately on forums where people talk back and forth about shy you don't need a PT cert. Here's the thing though... can you tell me why it's bad to have one? Probably not.
So this brings me to my ultimate conclusion. If you are trainer working without a PT Cert you're telling me something. Not that you don't know what the quadratus lumborum is or what it does, you are telling me that you're not serious.
PT certs aren't hard to get. What's 3-6 months out of a 20-30 year career? You're really trying to tell me you can't take the time?
I'm not buying it.

Now a word on Master Trainers...

I've seen more and more self-proclaimed 'Master Trainers' popping up. I know a few Master Trainers. Someone else had to tell them they were Master Trainers. None of them declared it. If you're a 'Master Trainer' you don't have to tell people, it's obvious. My whole philosophy of learning in regard to strength training revolves around one guiding concept: I know nothing.
This has served me pretty well. I come across things everyday that just leave me scratching my head, but that's okay. I look it up. I do a google search. Turns out a vastus lateralis is a real muscle and not a Star Trek character like I thought it was.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big food is going to make Big Tobacco look like Mother Theresa

Over the last few months I've been taking baby steps to clean up my diet. This is the only way for me to do it. Of late I'm making my final strike against sugar, dairy, and pasteurization. Go stand in the drink aisle and try to find something that isn't pasteurized and doesn't have any extra sugar in it. It's hours of fun.
Just to be clear, the dairy thing is unique to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with dairy, I just can't handle it. The anti-pasteurization thing is just me being weird, I do not recommend it for you.
The more I read and look at things like cancer rates and the rise of other forms of malignant disease during the 20th century I can't ignore the following conclusion.
I think Big Food is killing more people than Big Tobacco. I might be way off on this, but it's my blog.
You can reasonably expect to get cancer or some other malignant disease in your lifetime. Someone you know will die of cancer. ALL OF YOU. Does this strike anyone as odd?
Think about it this way: People like to point the finger, just not at themselves. In the heyday of smoking what was the percentage of the population smoking cigarettes? I have no idea and don't care to research it, but let's say 50%. Well that still leaves half the population to condemn and feel good about themselves. Now let's look at Big Food. What's the percentage of the population eating fast food or processed foods? 99%? Maybe 95%? That's a big number. Acknowledging this creates a huge job. You have to re-engineer the whole system. You also have to get all of the sugar addicts and chemical addicts to stop looking for their fix.
Everyone wants to talk about the obesity epidemic, but everyone wants to work around the problem. Let's exercise! Let's get rid of coke machines in schools! Well duh.
Until we get to the point where we stop thinking it's okay to replace sugar with chemicals (diet soda anyone?) we're pretty much screwed.
We have to change the way we think, and what has become our nature.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Registered for RKC II and CK-FMS

I am now registered for both the San Jose RKC II and CK-FMS. Many big things will be happening in 2010. I am currently hard at work on my first book and am looking forward to it coming out late 2009/early 2010.
More to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A better double 32 kg. press.

First, this is the end of my PR attempts until I complete six weeks of Adam's program. The end. I am now in week three.
I had been wanting to get an idea of my strength in the double military press so today I cleaned up two 32 kg. bells and went at it.
Conclusion: not really that hard, and much better than last time. I went for a second rep, but no go. Got it halfway up and stalled. All technique and mobility, as I felt strength wise I could do it.

Here is today.

Here is before.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's good to relax...

Chairman Meow and I take a break.

A few inches from a 32 kg. bottoms up press...

is still not a 32 kg. bottoms up press.
I haven't posted about it but I've been back on Adam Glass's pressing program for about two weeks now. Tomorrow is my second heavy day. Things are turbulent right now and I wanted to make sure I could stay on it with my schedule how it is before I said anything.
Before today I have never been able to get a 32 kg. out of the rack in the bottoms up position. Today I not only got it out of the rack, but was only inches away from completing the press. This is why I love video. When I went back and watched the failed attempt I saw the exact moment my shoulder popped out of the socket and I lost it. I think if I just keep it sucked in and grind through I'll get it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Swinging double 40's

I've had an interest for a while in swinging double 40 kg. bells, as I had a notion this would mean I had developed a good base of strength. I finally pulled it off at the TSC.

I have to admit it wasn't really that tough, though my technique could be better.

I am learning to understand the difference between 'goals' and 'interests'. This helps avoid having too many goals and spreading yourself too thin.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Palo Alto TSC

The competitors at Palo Alto this year killed it!
I struck up a deal with Chris Gaines RKC (Equinox PT Manager) that if he goes Elite next time I will compete as well.

Open Division

Name/ Weight
Pull Ups

Kai Johnson/188

Michael Corrales/198

Ian Droze/149

Shaun Eagen/ 225

Billy Bybee/159

Chris Gaines/235
Thanks to everyone for coming out and to Equinox Palo Alto for hosting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First try double snatching 28's

This went okay, but as soon as I looked at the video I realized my hips weren't really snapping, I was definitely muscling these up. Back to the 24's for more sets and reps. This isn't really any kind of goal, more of an interest. I'd like to be able to smoothly put up 32's.
I'll steer clear of the 28's until I can get 10 solid reps on the 24's.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dead start one arm/ one leg push up

I don't think I posted this before. Max Shank RKC brought up doing a one arm/ one leg push up starting from the floor.
How hard could it be?

Pretty damn hard. I think this is a great expression of tension. If you don't get tight you ain't moving. I can't do it on my left yet, but I'm working on evening out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Palo Alto Tactical Strength Challenge at Equinox

Next Saturday 9/26 I will be holding the Palo Alto TSC at Equinox Fitness in Palo Alto.
Weigh ins start at noon and lifting begins immediately thereafter.
Equinox Fitness, 440 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, CA 9430

Are you legit, or are you full of... well you know.

I recently watched this three part interview by Ron Jones on Dr. Rusty Smith.

I've run into Rusty three times now. First he was inextricably hanging around the UCLA RKC. Then I ran into him at Pavel's stretching workshop in Sacramento. Then last month he was on my team at the San Diego RKC. I didn't really get Rusty at first, and then he said something that connected a lot of dots for me.
"Living like this... in cities is very counter to our nature."
Some of you may not get that, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Many people know I'm not a big fan of the tree huggers or the shrub humpers, but they mistake why this is. It's not because I'm against eating organic, protecting the earth, etc. It's because so often these people come off as so fake it leaves a taste of plastic in my mouth. I can tell when you're doing this stuff because you're legit, and when you're doing it because you want to communicate what a good person you are. You don't perceive the value within yourself, so you seek validation from others by trying to become a reflection of what they wish they saw in the mirror. It's a viscous cycle.
This is like people who are constantly spouting lessons learned from a life they never lived. Okay I get it, you read a book. Here's the problem. When you haven't lived that life, when you haven't truly suffered and shouldered responsibility and had leadership thrust upon you, it sounds fake. It's like a five year old walking around in his father's suit and trying to convince everyone he is the real deal. Stop worrying so much about the next brilliant thing you're going to say and just frigging BE!
Stop worrying about trying to attain enlightenment in this life, it's a cheat! You haven't done the time, so you don't get to pass go, you do not get to collect $200. Go get beaten for a few years and get back to me if you want your hall pass.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The more I watch this the more amazed I am by it

Do you have any idea how hard it is to do that just once?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nourishing Traditions

Erik Blekeberg RKC recommended this book to me during the San Diego RKC. So I read it, and it basically changed how I eat in the space of a few hours. There's a lot of stuff in this book that seems unbelievable at first, but if you let your common sense take over and forget what you think you know about nutrition and food in general it makes perfect sense. I was already familiar with Weston Price's research, and Sally Fallon obviously being a strong supporter of Dr. Price made it all the more palatable.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
I've been looking for a book for a while that was basically like 'one stop shopping' to address everyone's questions regarding nutrition. This is as close as I've come that wasn't linked to some goofy diet. The other day I ordered a dozen copies for my clients. That should tell you something.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time is running out! Register for Pavel's San Francisco Workshop!

December 13th Pavel will be conducting a Tactical Kettlebell Workwhop in San Francisco, CA. Save $150 when you register before Sept. 15th!

Click here for more information.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Register now for the February San Jose RKC

Today they announced the February San Jose RKC. If you're interested it would behoove you to sign up ASAP. I expect this one to sell out fast.
San Jose 2010 February RKC.
Particulalry if you're a trainer and you use kettlebells with your clients this should be on your to do list. If you're a trainer who uses the kettlebell as your main tool and you choose not to do the cert, you're negligent. That may seem heavy handed, but it's not. I'll be signing up for RKC II this year. It's not because I've got $1700 to spare and too much time on my hands. Possibly I know something you don't?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

San Diego RKC After Action Report

This past weekend I served as an assistant instructor at the San Diego RKC Kettlebell Certification. I believe we had 104 registered participants plus about 30 Instructors. People often ask why I think this cert works so well. Gee, let me think. Could a 3 to 1 student to instructor ratio have something to do with it?
On Friday and Saturday it hit 104 degrees on the field in La Jolla. Eric Kenyon RKC described it as a 'viscous beatdown', and I think that's pretty accurate. I know a lot of people were taken right to their limit, but in a good way. It's not that anything is really that challenging, it's just that it goes on and on. Brett Jones Master RKC put it aptly "It's a grinder."
More importantly than the grinder is the quality of instruction. Rif has talked a lot about the amazing changes people go through from day 1 to day 3. I didn't quite get it before this weekend. It's hard to see when you're going through it yourself, but as an instructor it's crazy to witness! Someone who looks like they have never swung a bell before has razor sharp swings by day 3, despite being worked into the ground for three days. They get better, not worse.
I hear people question this system all the time, but they usually haven't gone through it.
"But why do you have to do so many swings? Seems kind of like you're beating up on people."
Go cry to someone else. There are two kinds of people. The kind who when presented with a challenge steel up and give it their best, and the kind who start whining and trying to find a way out. If you're the latter we do not want you anyway, so it's not an issue. What's great is that often people do not realize what is inside of them until they get on the field and start putting out their max effort. When I was in the Marines we said 'The Marine Corps does not build character, it reveals it.' I feel the same way about the RKC.
Here is some video of the Graduation Workout.

That was Mark Snow RKC crossing the finish line. If you're wondering why Mark was lagging I'm pretty sure he was using heavier bells than just about everyone else. Mark was on my team and he is locked on.
I had the honor of running the max vo2 snatch workout as well as doing a short presentation on my individual tweaks on the kettlebell snatch. Presenting to over 130 people will really let you know if you have any public speaking issues. :)
If you are not familiar with the mvo2 snatch workout it is a beatdown. Fifteen seconds of snatches alternated with fifteen seconds of rest for 40 minutes. We only did it for 10 minutes, but believe me that was enough. At the conclusion I inquired if anyone wanted to go 'beyond thunderdome' with me and proceeded to go another five minutes. I think nearly everyone stepped up and did it. To really grasp this you have to realize that probably just about everyone on that field was ready to eject a lung at the end of ten minutes, yet they still opted to keep going. It's called a gut check for a reason. Why did I do that? Not to beat people down, but to show you what's left inside of you just in case you didn't know, and how far you can really go.

I was on Brett Jones' team with Terrence Robertson and Jill Knapp. Terrence came from New Zealand under his own power to do this, and did a bang up job. Jill was a great example of the 'silent assassin'. Just a tap on the shoulder and a couple words fixed most issues.
It was interesting to see the new 100 rep snatch test implemented. I know a lot of people were freaking out about 100 reps in five minutes (men on the 24 kg. women on the 12 kg. or 16 kg.) but it seemed to not be a big deal. Nearly everyone on my team passed, most with time to spare. I think the 100 rep standard just forced everyone to step up their game.
I'm sure I'll have more to say on this later, but that's enough for now. I will add that I grabbed a 48 kg. kettlebell for myself. When I returned home I also took another run at my 36 kg. stacked press. I had done this before I left and it was very, very hard. Applying some of the things I learned at the RKC I hit it again and it was much, much easier.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why is it cool to make fun of special needs children?

It seems like the only population left that it's okay to slander and make fun of is those with special needs. I don't talk about this much, but my stepson is a special needs child. He is the light of my life and is a constant inspiration to me. His life is a struggle but he never quits and he is already a better man than most people I know. So why is it okay to make 'short bus' comments or refer to things as 'retarded' in a demeaning manner? Why is it okay to actually compare someone to a 'retarded kid' to cut them down? I'm not talking about grade schoolers, I'm talking about grown adults. What the hell is wrong with people? I have been around special needs kids my whole life, my parents ran an emergency care service. There is nothing there to make fun of, believe me. We look a lot more foolish on a daily basis than these children ever do. Why would you make fun of someone who is so full of life and love and determination? I see plenty of fake people running around talking about how full of love and enlightenment they are, then turn right around and make 'retarded kid' jokes.
I just don't get it. Maybe that's for the best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Can I still do a one arm/ one leg push up?

A couple years ago I used Naked Warrior to build up to a one arm/ one leg push up on my right side. I can get solid one arm push ups on both sides, but the one leg version eludes me on my left. I'm using FMS to work out my asymmetries and restrictions, so I hope to nail it on the left soon.
So on Friday I was working with a client who is building up to one arm push ups, and while explaining why a one arm/ one leg is such a great example of total body tension I decided to quit running my mouth about it, and demonstrate. Problem: I had not done one in a year. Could I still do it? Yes. Strength it a skill, and like any skill it needs to be sharpened from time to time, but it doesn't just go away.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lighting the spark once again

A friend of my wife's was visiting this weekend. She came to the UCLA RKC a year ago to watch me finish on Sunday and has been interested in kettlebells since then, but never found the time to try them. I arrived home Friday night at 9pm after a full training day to find her ready to learn how to use kettlebells. Like rust, at the RKC we never sleep, so instruction of hard-style basics and the kettlebell swing began. Within 5 minutes she had what I can honestly describe as a perfect hard style swing, hip snap included. To be fair she has very good body awareness, so I didn't have to spend ten minutes explaining what it means to keep your back straight. What fun! This allowed us to bang out a couple hundred swings on the 12 kg. before deciding it was too light, and moving up to the 16 kg. Lest your hearts be troubled, all safety protocols were observed and her life was never in danger. At least, not the imminent kind. Instruction of the Turkish Get Up commenced, and the toolbox was now stocked.
People talk about how us kettlebell people are like a cult. I couldn't agree more. What is important in life? Family? Job? Financial security? How about your health? Not just your health, but your ability to feel strong and powerful. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When you have not had control over your body and your health, and you suddenly realize that you have the tools to get it back, you feel powerful. Not in an 'annex Poland' way, but in a way of knowing you will be there for your grandchildren, you will not lose decades of your life because you can't walk without pain, you will be in control of your vessel.
I've seen so many people make amazing changes through use of the hard-style method that it is impossible to ignore. I'm often unkind in my words regarding so called 'traditional' training methods. It's not that I'm a snob, I just can't forget what I know. This week I watched a few amazing things happen. A female client who was initially honestly intimidated by the prospect of doing a get up with a 6 kg. bell was getting up the 12 kg. for multiple reps. Another female client hit her first legit tactical pull up. Not a chin up, but an overhand pull up. When she first came in she could barely hang on the bar. Another female client hit her first chin up with no specific chin up training. She just jumped up and nailed it. How did she do it? Pressing ladders. Shoulder connection/lat activation+tension generation= chin up.
This is what real training is about. This is why we do this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh, you mean that lat.

Today I had a revelation as I worked my presses. 32 kg. and up I was cleaning with my shoulder out. Not sure why. I dropped a little deeper today to load my hips and 'pop' in it went. Suddenly the 32 kg. goes up much easier. Oh well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rooting out weaknesses

Today I hit some steel bending, card tearing, and sledge leveraging. I pushed myself a little to find my weaknesses and address them. My wrists are not strong enough. I tried a DU bend of a 1/4"x7" nail and got owned. I could feel it in my wrists. Part of this was technique, but I need to bring my wrists up. I hit some respectable reverse style bends on yellow nails. I'm going to start hitting that harder.
My card tearing flat out sucked. I need to generate more power in my initial tears instead of wresting with the things for two minutes. It's also a grip issue from what I can tell. I had some of the outer cards flake off because I wasn't clamping down hard enough.
Sledge leveraging is going well. I hit the 12 pounder in the hardware store the other day. I see the 16 pounder not being far off, but it's a big leap.
I have to get back into my nail bending and card tearing books, watch some video, and work hard.

BTW I added in the clip from my previous Gr8 bend at the end. Everything else was from today's training. I went after the Gr8 a couple times but it kicked my ass. I think I was just too smoked from everything else and the previous day's workouts. Tomorrow off.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Took my snatch test today

I'm a little paranoid about this kind of stuff, so I wanted to make sure I can pass my snatch test at RKC this month under any conditions. So I opted to go for less than optimal conditions. Part of this included the fact I had barely eaten any solid food all day because of a topsy turvey schedule.
I did my workout today around noon which consisted of my beast tamer protocol. This added up to
Mil Press/ 28 kg. 30 total reps.
Pistol/ 32 kg. 10 total reps
Pull Up/ 12 kg. 10 total reps.
Then like the little genius I am I snatch tested myself four hours later. Still no solid food.
Outcome: 100 reps on the 24 kg. in 4:45. Slower than my previous 4:20.
It'll do.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Subscription site coming online next week

I'm in the testing phase this week, refining how everything works. Next week everything comes online. This section of my site will have videos, articles, and a bunch of training information that will be consistently updated. Think of it like my youtube page on steroids. Right now there are a dozen videos on there that no one aside from my online training clients have ever seen. By the time it goes live that number will be up to 20. More info to come as I work on it.

New article up on Dragondoor

I have a new article up on Dragondoor.com

Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My first bend of a Gr8 Bolt

Today I took down my first Gr8 Bolt. This should effectively be the precursor to bending the Red Nail. I think inside a month or two I'll have these going down pretty easy. We'll see what happens from there.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Working my Long Cycle ladders

These things are no joke. I've been working up the ladders from RTK and am currently on two 28 kg. bells for ladders of 2,4,6. I ran some video the other day. Overall I'm pretty happy with my technique. While I could get my elbow tighter, understand I am not going for a GS elbows on hips rack position. I did GS style jerks for about a year and a half before learning the hard-style jerk, and there is a difference.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kettlebells for Fitness Trainers at Equinox Palo Alto Sept. 12-13

I'm all locked in for another kettlebell training course for PT's at Equinox Fitness in Palo Alto. This will go September 12th-13th 9-5 both days. We will be addressing the basics of hard-style kettlebells along with a presentation on the Functional Movement Screen. This will cover just the very, very basic elements of FMS so as not to detract from learning proper technique with the kettlebells. Primarily we will be addressing specific aspects of it that tend to pop up over and over again in regard to the use of kettlebells.
In addition to the registered Equinox trainers I am also opening up two slots for outside trainers. I won't be doing another of these for a while, so if you're interested this is the time.
The cost for the workshop is $250. In addition to the workshop itself you'll receive a copy of my Corrections DVD and a manual.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Kettlebell Snatch Power Chain

I'm catching up on posts.
I came up with this concept to help correct some snatching issues. The power chain for the kettlebell snatch has four links.
1. Backswing
2. Hip drive
3. Pull
4. Punch
Miss any one link and you'll have problems. Break down your chain and see how it looks.

Getting serious and new projects.

I was thinking today about why we train. If you aren't in a sport, and your life doesn't depend on a certain level of fitness, why train? Well, general health and fitness are good. What else? I enjoy it. So if you can train in a manner that moves you towards your goals and you enjoy vs. a manner that move you towards your goals but you don't enjoy, hmm... decision, decisions.
It's important to recognize that you do need to have goals, if only to make sure you're going somewhere. They don't have to be crazy goals, but they need to exist.
I've become a little more free-form with my training of late, keeping the long cycle ladders from RTK as my centerpiece so to speak. As long as I keep moving forward that's okay. The important thing is to have the honesty to recognize when what you are doing is not working and make the necessary adjustments.
I love the bent press. I miss... the bend press. I've been working hard on my shoulder mobility and I'm up to 2/3. It won't be long before I even out. The internal rotation in my right shoulder is starting to dissipate.
I've been off the pistols because I know my tight hips and inability to hold onto the heavy bells is a problem. I'm working on the hips and have devised something I call goblet walks. They are exactly what they sound like. I bring up a 32 or 40 kg. like I'm about to do a goblet squat and go for a walk. I'll run some video soon. This sucks something awful.
I have a few projects on the horizon, two of which will be done this year.
The Corrections Vol. II should be done by the end of the year. More details to come. I'm working on an e-book I don't want to say anything about yet, but I think it will be good.
Nevermind the other 541 things I'm working on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The PDF manual for my DVD is now available as a free download

When you buy the DVD or Download you get a PDF format companion manual. I have decided to expand the manual over the next month for those who purchased the DVD. You will receive the expanded manual by e-mail once it is done if you buy the DVD.
I am now offering the basic manual as a free download on my site.

Click here to get the basic manual.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's a good time to be in the RKC

This past month RKC's were announced for Philadeplphia, PA and Seoul, North Korea. In addition to that we have the RKC II coming to San Jose, CA in February, and the HKC's starting up. There are a few other things about to go down (based on my theorizing) that are going to rattle the cage as well.
This is a good time to be a part of this organization. This has all been building for the past 9 years and it is finally coming to fruition. I was just fortunate enough to have walked in the door at the right moment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reaching the finish line

So I'm finally reaching the finish line with the DVD. The movie is encoding on my computer as I write this, then it burns to DVD, print the covers, and it ships. I'm guessing I start shipping next Monday.
I am also finishing the user manual now as well, and think I will ultimately offer the first few pages as a free download.
I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think I might have instructing the pistol down to 10 minutes. I've done it three times now. I'm going to keep field testing this so we'll see if it's a fluke or a pattern.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guest post by The World's Strongest Librarian!

Okay all you Average To Elitists, today we have a guest blog post by Josh Hanagarne RKC. I am mentioned favorably in this one, so it gets posted. :)
Keep an eye on Josh as I see great things coming from him in the not so distant future.

Because It’s Worth Doing Right
By Josh Hanagarne

I always hesitate to speak in absolutes, but during my first 16 months with kettlebells, I’ve learned indisputable facts.

1. Kettlebells can change your life in positive ways you can’t imagine
2. Improper kettlebell use will change your life in ways that really, really suck

Now, I haven’t made costly kettlebell mistakes that have punished me, but I could have. I trained for a year on my own before seeking instruction. When I did look for help, Jordan’s presence on the Dragondoor forum and his youtube videos convinced me that I was probably doing some things wrong.

Enter the RKC

One month ago I became an RKC. My suspicion that I had been doing some things wrong had been confirmed with a bazooka strike to my ego and also to my perceptions that self-assessment is the way to go.
Oh, I was a sweet, innocent little lad.
My instructors were all kind and insistent. They kindly insisted that I knew nothing and showed me how to do things correctly.

The misguided temptation to teach
Like most people I’ve known who get bitten by the kettlebell bug, I immediately set up a ministry in my head and ran around yammering to anyone who would listen the ravings of this new convert. I can be very persuasive and charismatic, so it was a slap in the face when people said, “Oh, that sounds awesome! Can you teach me?” and I then realized I couldn’t. Not really.

It was kind of tempting. I’m a pretty good guitar player, but you can show off for anyone who doesn’t play the guitar. You could strum any heinous Matchbox 20 song for someone who’s never held a guitar and you can come off like a virtuoso.
In the same way, people who saw me practicing with kettlebells were impressed at the power I could generate and the weight I could lift. They wanted to invest me with credibility I didn’t have.
It’s fun and easy to collect compliments, even if you don’t deserve them. But luckily I had the sense to step back and say, “I’m so glad you’re interested. I’m not qualified to teach you at all and should probably shut my mouth. Take care!”

I was fine letting people watch me do my exercises, but it was painfully apparent that I had no idea how to instruct.

Great instruction looks like this.
I’d been watching Jordan’s videos and was beginning to understand the meaning of thorough instruction. And those youtube videos, excellent as they are don’t even being to scratch the surface of how knowledgeable he really is. I didn’t realize this until I got the chance to preview his upcoming DVD The Corrections. And now I’m saying these long DVDs are also not scratching the surface of his knowledge. But I’ll take it for now until the next set comes out, which I can only hope is once a week from now on until I die.

Great instruction is impossible to misunderstand
Really good instruction is impossible to misunderstand. You don’t scratch your head and say, “I wonder what that means?” You don’t have to guess, and you shouldn’t have to guess, because a good instructor will be able to size you up. They’ll say, “Do this, cut that out, tighten this up.”
Proper instructors give examples and try to tell you why they’re having you do certain things. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you’re told, as long as it gets the results you’re paying for, but if you do ask questions, expect your instructor to provide answers. Answers that can’t be misunderstood.

A great teacher knows when to lighten up

I mean this in two ways.

1. You’ll get farther if your instructor has a sense of humor. It helps lighten the stress of a nasty workout. This stuff is fun and rewarding and it can improve the quality of your life by leaps and bounds—but it is not life or death. It can be okay to act like it’s life or death while training, but maintain perspective.
2. A great teacher has nothing to prove to themselves. They should respect how you say you feel and be aware if you start pushing yourself in dangerous or counterproductive ways.

Anyone can prescribe a nasty, horrible workout that will kick your butt. If I tell you to do 1000 snatches in an hour, that will be difficult. As soon as I realize you’re physically incapable of it, I should get you out of that situation. Good instructors don’t just smoke you—they smoke you in ways that lead to greater gains. There’s a vast difference between working hard and working hard and productively.

Accountability and integrity

Jordan’s sense of humor, his ability to quickly pinpoint and troubleshoot problems, and his concern for the welfare and results of his clients have led me to seek his advice over and over. I’ll keep doing it, too.
The RKC is an honorable system of strength. This sounds corny to some people, but we don’t apologize for it. Without integrity, you have no business teaching anyone.
A good hardstyle instructor teaches the RKC system in the way it is intended. They promote only the techniques and principles that are proven and brutally effective. They hold themselves accountable, admit their mistakes, and conduct themselves with honor—because he takes what he does seriously, and what he does is make us better.
I don’t care if it sounds corny. This “exercise” system has changed my life and taught me things about myself that there is no other way to learn.
The effects of physical health and strength are inseparable from the rest of our lives. I don’t believe you can separate your body from your mind, or your mind from your health. We are the sum of our parts and strengthening one area strengthens all in time. Strength leads to confidence. Confidence leads to progression. Progression leads to improvement and that is what gives us joy. The rejection of boredom.
Insist on evolving. Don’t be average, because that makes a mockery of profound and awesome human potential.
Hard training changes you. If you commit to training hard, it is worth doing right. The time will come when you can do everything on your own. Until then, find a trainer that can help you reach that point in the least amount of time.

I know a guy in California who’s pretty good. His name starts with a J.

Josh Hanagarne, RKC, is the World's Strongest Librarian. If you're looking for more information on kettlebells, coping with Tourette's, buying pants when you're 6'8", you need a shoulder to cry on, or you're wondering how to write a successful but unfocused blog, he's your man.

Please subscribe to Josh's Stronger, Smarter, Better newsletter and RSS updates to stay in touch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My DVD is now available for purchase on my website

Click here to go to the sales page.

So far I've received many good responses to the material, so I do not think you will be disappointed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The first reviews for my DVD

"My points are:
1. This is definitely not one of those useless, but flashy dvds, and I am grateful for this...
2. You stick to the basics, and that is one of the biggest advantages of the DVD. You show details that many of us know already, but are probably not using actively.
3. The DVD is a big help for medium level kettlebell practitioners, but most of all it is mainly a very useful source for RKC instructors, kind of a video notes for the RKC manual.
I am very satisfied with the quality of the information, and I would definitely buy a copy."

Peter Lakatos RKC Team Leader

"I received an advance copy of Jordan's DVD the "Corrections" and was wondering what more could he come up with since I have seen all of his youtube videos already. I was lucky enough to have a kettlebell nearby when I started watching the DVD. I got so excited about a few of the corrections I had to pause the DVD to try them out for myself. I have always been amazed how small corrections can lead to big leaps in progress. Through out the DVD the corrections Jordan suggested made so much sense I couldn't wait to try them out on myself and my clients. For myself I found many "wtf" or like we say "Ah Ha" moments in the DVD. Jordan's Corrections DVD is filled with "Ah Ha" moments. If you own ETK this is a must have to help in perfecting your technique. I give the DVD 5 Stars!!!!!"
Joey Williams RKC, NSCA-CPT, UC Berkeley Special Response Unit Police Officer

"I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to review Jordan Vezina's new DVD, The Corrections. Most of the people out there either new to hardstyle kettlebell training or following the progress being made in the evolution of hardstyle kettlebell training are familiar with Jordan's videos available for free online. Like most of you I rely heavily on Jordan's videos to help perfect my form. I'm very lucky in that I live 5 minutes from where Jordan trains and have benefited from private instruction from Jordan.
After viewing The Corrections I can say that, aside from personal instruction from Jordan, this DVD is the next best thing to having Jordan train you personally. The basic hardstyle movements are given full attention and you most likely find that you are making common mistakes in your training that can be difficult to self correct without guidance. This DVD is your guidance towards hardstyle perfection. Just the section on proper body posture and form in the military press alone is a gold mine of information. Be assured though that equally detailed sections on the goblet squat, clean, swing and snatch will have you making this DVD your most highly used resource for correction.
Beyond the extremely detailed instruction from Jordan, the production of the DVD is very nicely done. Like the Jordan's delivery of the subject matter everything is clearly presented, simple and efficient. Everything is geared towards making sure that you know precisely what you need to do. There is no glitz or excess fluff here, just knowledge being passed on to you from one of the best hard-style kettlebell instructors in the world. I consider this DVD an indispensable part of my kettlebell library and give it my highest recommendation."

Kai Johnson

"Using kettlebells properly will change your life in ways you can't imagine yet.
Using kettlebells improperly will change your life in ways that suck.
Kettlebell practice is worth doing throughout your life, as long as you can do it right. Jordan knows how to do it right and he has a wonderful ability to present complex concepts in simple, fun, and clear language that is impossible to misunderstand. I am an RKC and my technique is pretty good. After watching The Corrections, my technique is markedly better.
I can't say enough good things about Jordan and the new DVD. I hope he makes one each week until I die."

Josh Hanagarne RKC, World's Strongest Librarian

Stay tuned for the release this Wednesday. Or just click here. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Finally... a movie about our soldiers in Iraq that portrays them as the heroes they are and doesn't try to make them all out to be murderers, rapists, and criminals who don't want to be there. How sad is it that I think this is the first movie that actually shows them in a positive light?
The movie doesn't glorify the war, it definitely shows all of the darkness of it, but it's even handed.
Hurt locker is the story of an Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit in Iraq in 2004.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My time is coming to meet the USSST

So by now we know my current primary goals. They're insane so they're easy to remember. See how that works? I've made one small alteration, which is changing the 5 minute snatch test on the 32 kg. to a 10 minute test, otherwise known as the Ultimate Secret Service Snatch Test. I'm also eyeballing the ultimate clean and jerk with the 40 kg. but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

1. Bend the red nail in compliance with IM cert standards.
2. Complete the Beast Challenge by 2010.
3. 200 reps on the 32 kg. in 10 minutes.

I ordered these by how soon I think they'll get done. Where am I on everything now? I can crush Gr5 bolts pretty easily, and I recently took down 14 in a row. I'm going to make a run at some Gr8's this week or next. After the Gr8's I should be close to the red.
I can currently pistol the 40 kg. with authority (Hamstring to calf) and am very, very close to the 44 kg. I'll get the 48 kg. by the San Diego RKC in August.
I'm pressing the 32 kg. for 8 reps at a time. I'm still unlocking my shoulders, and I think once that is done I will rapidly press the 40. It will also be done by august.
I'm only now seriously starting my snatch prep by working into VWC. I'm going to set goals for the 10 minute test to work my way up. I.E. 100 reps in 10, 130, 150, etc.
We'll see.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are you training or just trashing yourself?

First, this is not directed at the Crossfit community, so calm down. I've seen several people get great results from CF when properly employed. What I've been seeing lately is more and more people just trashing themselves doing 'a bunch of stuff' until they almost pass out, and calling it a 'crossfit-type workout'.
If I were to show you a workout that was hard but didn't destroy you, and made you stronger, faster, and built your endurance, then I showed you another that smoked you but you made little progress on... which would you choose? Lately I've been running into more and more people who think they have to do the latter. It's almost as if this mentality is taking the place of the old bodybuilding mindset that you need 40 exercises to hit the biceps properly.
My question would be, is this getting you anywhere, or is it just a clever workout?
"Hey, let's do 30 deadlifts, 5 pull ups, and a 50 yard dash for time until we puke!"
Well, that's cute, but is it getting you anywhere?
Meaning you should pick a few things to test. They might be a 3 mile run time, a max deadlift, and max pull ups. Any combination of whatever is fine, but you need a way to measure progress. Sort of like how we use the SSST and a max press on Rite of Passage. If you do your tests and aren't getting anywhere, you have your answer.
The goal of training should not be to smoke yourself all the time. The goal is to progress in your chosen event.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th and the new 'action trailer' for my DVD

Happy July 4th everyone! We're getting ready to take off for the weekend and it looks like it will be beautiful out.
Here's the new 'action trailer' for my DVD.
Sorry I couldn't work in any explosions.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Taking my own medicine.

The other night I pretty much banned my kettlebell class from squatting until everyone addresses their ankle mobility issues.
So I have decided to take a dose of my own medicine.

That is my shoulder mobility. Knowing this I recently started RTK. Putting that much weight overhead consistently, really fired up my shoulders in a bad way. So as of right now nothing goes over my head until I at least hit symmetrical 2's.
I'm working my FMS corrections consistently and will report back.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exciting stuff for the DVD

I'm waiting on the transfers from the copy place to get into the editing as I write this. Now is the point of DVD production where I would normally be opening my wallet a lot for sound, editing, DVD packaging and design, but... I'm a multitasker! Now is where my ADD finally pays off since I've already done editing jobs with Final Cut, I have a stack of original music I've recorded over the years, and in a previous life I was a graphic artist and did a lot of project layout.
Unless something causes this to change the DVD will be available in three formats.
1. The physical DVD. I'm not sure on this, but the DVD will probably also include a compressed file for use on the iphone.
2. Downloadable files to burn your own DVD. Don't want to wait for delivery and want to save $5? Download the files from my site and burn your own.
3. Downloadable quicktime movie. Cheaper still, and not the quality of the DVD, but fast delivery and... did I mention cheaper?

If you have a website, mailing list, or blog I am going to be setting up an affiliate program where you can make money by simply putting up a link for this DVD. If you would like more information on this e-mail me jordan@averagetoelite.com
Put 'Affiliate' in the subject line.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The video shoot has wrapped

Today I shot the footage for the DVD. It went very well, aside from the fact that we had to kill the AC due to the background noise. So I was in a hot box sweating bullets for about 5 hours.
I'm very overly critical of myself with these sorts of things, but I have to say I honestly don't see how we possibly could have done this any better. The gentleman who shot the thing was very professional and came in with an arsenal of video equipment on these two giant carts. Nothing was left to chance, and that's the way I like it. Now on to the editing.