Saturday, January 31, 2009

Workshop at Crossfit Silicon Valley

Today Joe Sarti and I did a kettlebell workshop at Crossfit Silicon Valley in San Jose. All went well, but I met with defeat in my efforts to snatch and bent press the beast. Recently I both snatched and bent pressed the 95 pound bell at Girya, but apparently that extra 11 pounds is the breaking point for me. I did manage to flip the 450 pound tire they have there, but in my opinion it's not that heavy. I thought it would be harder.
Below is some video of one of my clients Kai taking his snatch test. He nailed 80 reps in 5 minutes. He'll get 100 in April at the TSC.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

24 kg. Pull Up

Finally. Today I finally got the 24 kg. over the bar. I just cleared the bar with my chin, so it's not a 'tactical' pull up yet, but I'll get there. The point is I'm finally progressing. I'm not going to bother with video on this until I hit the 32 kg.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Max and Joe's snatch test, ponderings, and progress.

Below is some video of Joe Sarti and Max Shank re-certifying at the Pendleton RKC.

Now, I'm going to throw this out there and see if it sticks. The snatch test is too easy. Some may not like to hear that, but it's a fact. Joe, Max and I are all about 5'7"-5'9" and 170-185 ish. So we're about the same size. I'd lay down money we can all pass our snatch test in about 3 mintues. Maybe 3:30 on a rough day. We can all hit 100 reps in 5 minutes in our sleep.
So my thing is, right now big guy's get screwed. They have to hit 100 reps, but probably do not have the S&C or technique that we have. Meanwhile we skate.
So here's my crazy plan: 100 reps across the board. That's it. Problem solved dude! It also addresses the issue of people who only need 80 snatches squeaking through with bad technique. They don't have to fix their technique flaws because they only need 80 snatches. Also, think of all the time you save not weighing everyone!
I think switching the majority of the women taking the snatch test to the 16 kg. was perfect. No problem there.
Want to make RKC II real interesting? Go back to measuring out your reps by bodyweight in kilos... but on the 32 kg. Let's see some people just hitting the floor! Don't worry, get them a Gatorade and they'll be just fine.
Don't get me wrong, I love the RKC and it is the best certification out there. Notice I didn't say 'I think' it's the best cert out there. It is.
However, we all know I'm not in the business of making things easier. The great thing about the RKC is that it is a living organism, like rust we never sleep. If we're doing one thing and realize that something else works better, we change and adapt.

On another note my training is going very well. I'm locked down on the warrior diet. Remember that thing I said about not having a nutritional plan? Scrap that. Hey, I'm just as screwed up as any of you on a daily basis, so this type of stuff shouldn't come as a surprise.
Anyway, I have been super strict with my eating and it is being reflected in my training progress. I'm scary close on all three of my goals for 2009 and we're in the first month. I think I can knock them out by June. We'll see. My Beast pistol is close, and I'm finally leaping ahead in my pull up progress. I Bent Pressed the 40 kg. like it was a toy, and next time I see a 48 kg. it's getting bent pressed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The 40 kg. is pistoled.

Just barely, but I got it. Brought it just below parallel and back up, parallel being the crease of the hip below the knee. I have to say I probably made it harder on myself by not dropping lower. I wasn't expecting my arms to get worked as much as they did, just by virtue of holding the bell up.

I'm not going to go any higher on the weight until I own the 40 kg. I just said I'd do it this month, so it needed to get done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sign up for the Average To Elite Newsletter

I've started up an e-mail newsletter. My goal is to actually make this thing useful to you, so it will include links to articles and videos on training, nutrition, etc. as well as my own videos and articles. Basically I'll be thinking to myself "Would I want to read this?"
I'm also interested in what you have to say. If you find an article that you think is cool or come up with an idea I'd like to hear about it so that, so that I can use it and claim all of the credit.
If you would like to sign up use the link on the upper right hand corner of this blog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

135 pound Turkish Get Up with Windmill

I worked with Ivan at a couple of my workshops a few months back. This guy is un-sanely strong.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kettlebell Workshop in San Jose

On Saturday January 31st Joe Sarti and I will be doing a kettlebell basics workshop at X-Body in San Jose. This workshop will run 9am-4pm
We will cover the basics of the swing, get up, squat, clean, press, and snatch. The cost of the workshop is $150.
If you have any questions or would like to sign up e-mail me directly at

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Camp Pendleton RKC

This thursday and Friday I had the great honor of serving as an assistant instructor at an RKC held for the Marines on board Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Over sixty Marines took the field Thursday morning, and Friday evening they were all proficient in the core drills, and some even received their RKC. This is quite an achievement considering most had never used kettlebells, and many did not even know what they were.
I served in the Marine Corps from 1997-2001 and 2005 in the Infantry. Back then I knew that what we were doing for physical training was off the mark, and being able to see and be part of the evolution of physical training for these Marines was great.
In a bizarre twist of fate a friend of mine who I was at 2nd F.A.S.T. with in 98 and 99 was there as well.
Most of the instructors there were on their own dime, volunteering to help make this happen. Being part of this school of strength is a matter of great pride for me. The RKC is not just a 'kettlebell certification', there's something more at work here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A grade 5 bolt down... mostly.

I've take a couple runs at this and been stopped cold both times. This time I managed to get a good bend in it. The only reason I didn't finish it off is that I was having some confusion trying to figure out how to do so. I think I've got it figured out, so the next one will be better. In retrospect I probably should have done the grade 2 first.
This was much, much harder than the yellow or blue nail.
I'm going to start working more on my shoulder flexibility, and getting the nail up higher under the chin. I've been watching a lot of videos of Red Nail certs, and this seems to be a common theme. Can't hurt.

Tara's snatch test- 117 reps (16 kg.)

Today Tara took her RKC snatch test again and crushed it with 117 reps in five minutes on the 16kg. She will hit 120 before February.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Four blue nails in Ironmind pads

Today four blue nails went down like sweet, sweet muffins. All were done in ironmind pads, which is a good jump for me from the suede pads I was using. I find bending in the IM pads to be much harder. Below is the video. Watching it back is very useful as I saw many technique points I need to tighten up.

I've also started making solid progress in my pull ups again. Took the 20 kg. over the bar without too much trouble. I know I got it over the bar because I racked my chin on the way down. I'm really starting to nail down the pull up correction Pavel gave me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Breathing through pressing ladders

This is a video I put together in response to someone's question about maximizing technique in pressing ladders. Primary points covered are breathing and minimizing early muscle fatigue.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One arm chin progress

Today I got my chin over the bar for the first time in an assisted one arm chin. I've been working these for a while, albeit not as dilligently as I should. I do my assisted OAC's by pushing my free hand against the side of the power rack and pulling myself up. So I don't really do any work with my free hand, it's primarily stability.
I also did some barbell pressing work and managed to ferret out what was giving me trouble before. I'll most likely add some of these to my low volume pressing day.
These also helped really drive home the concept of creating a wedge of myself between the ground and the implement.

Monday, January 5, 2009

High volume pistols= smoked

I'm sure I've put up this exact same blog entry before. Today I returned to the high volume pistols starting with the 12 kg. and then moving to the 16 kg. for a total of about 50 reps per leg. Ultimately I need to double that. Everything felt good, knees felt great, but man I was smoked by the end.
I set up a white board in front of me and wrote down all of my performance cues so that they were in my line of site, as well as using it to track my sets and reps.
Pistols equal strong legs. I was thinking about this today, and that I've often seen people set the pistol as the goal, and once the goal is achieved they move on instead of adding the pistol to their strength training arsenal.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Heavy swings are... heavy.

Lately I've been doing more heavy swings, with double 32 kg. bells and with the 95 lbs. bell we have at Girya. I realize I was holding back on my swings for a long time out of some perceived limitation that didn't exist. After only a few weeks of doing these heavier swings I've seen a jump in my posterior chain and grip strength.
That's all. Maybe do some heavier swings than you otherwise might, within reason.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Full... metal... jacket.

Believe it or not Full Metal Jacket is playing in the theater tonight in Mountain View at 10pm. I will be there. This movie tells you everything you need to know about Marine Corps boot camp. Granted it's not quite as hardcore as this anymore, but when I went through it was still pretty damn close.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Kettlebell Workshop in Palo Alto Sunday Jan. 11th.

Sunday January 11th I will be doing a kettlebell basics workshop in Palo Alto, CA. It will run 9am-4pm with a lunch break. We will cover the basics of the six core lifts: Swings, Get Ups, Squat, Clean, Press, and Snatch. My aim is for you to have solid form in the swing, get up, and squat, and a solid understanding of the mechanics of the clean, press, and snatch. If you've already done some work with kettlebells you will find this is an opportunity to tighten up and refine your technique.
I've also got other workshops coming up, and I'll be updating this page with information as I get it. For more info e-mail me at:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Re-Enginerring My Pistols

I've run into a number of people in the past who were trying to 'wing it' with pistols. I already knew this was a bad idea, and now I have an even better conception of just what a bad idea it is.
Strength is a skill. That is drilled into you by Pavel's books and during the RKC, but most people don't get it. Too often athleticism is treated by those for whom it is not a priority in their lives as something less than an intellectual pursuit. This is why people are so cavalier about their strength training programs, and never bother to learn proper form in bench press, squat, etc.
More than a few times I've heaard someone laugh and say "I don't need someone to show me how to exercise."
Like I said, no respect is given to the pursuit, and so they never make any real progress, and often encounter injury and disappointment.
After my failed 40 kg. pistol I returned to the Naked Warrior to sharpen up the intellectual aspect of my strength skill. I really don't believe that my strength is the problem, the strength is there. I just need the right key to unlock it.
Last night I probably knocked off dozens of sub-maximal pistols as I read and re-examined my form and my practice of this strength-skill. These are things I found.
1. I was trying to sit up too straight. It isn't necessary. It's okay to round forward so long as it is not excessive.
2. As suggested by Steve Cotter performing a motion similar to a one-legged Janda sit up via 'clawing' the floor is hugely beneficial and causes me to engage more.
3. I flat out need more hamstring flexibility.
There's much more of course, but those are the main things I was missing that were really cutting into my ability to properly perform.
Making the necessary corrections has me doing pistols on my left leg again, problem seemingly solved. I'll get the 40 kg. in the next 30 days. Mark it on your calendar.