Monday, March 30, 2009

20 Blue Nails and 10 Grade 2 Bolts in a row

The other night I decided to bend pretty much everything I have left within reason. This amounted to 20 Blue Nails and 10 Grade 2 Bolts. The last 4 blue nails had a half inch cut off them, which made the finish much harder. All told I can't say this was that hard. I'm not completely satisfied with my technique, but it worked.

Full video here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

32 kg. snatch PR and killing it with pistols

Today I hit a 32 kg. snatch PR- 15R/12L
My legs were the problem, and it probably didn't help that I had just done a bunch of pistols, presses, and pull ups. I'm confident that were I fresh and had started on my left hand it would have been 15/15 or more and without the pause between hands. I'm confident I'll break 20/20 in the next month, without the pause. The key is that my backswing is vastly improved. All told it took me about a minute and a half total to hit 27 reps. This bodes well for my goal of 100 in 5 minutes.

Today I hit more pistols on my left leg and it was fine. I have to keep the knee joint tight and surround the weak point with tension, or I can feel it getting cranky. I hit 8 sets of 2/2 with the 16 kg.
Today was a good day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ripping Bikes

When I started tearing playing cards I must admit to being a little bummed that I couldn't take out the whole deck. I worked my way up to 35 cards and was stonewalled a little. I knew Adam or Jedd or someone was coming out with a resource on card tearing, so I decided to put it aside until then.
Jedd Johnson recently put out an e-book on card tearing so I picked it up. The first thing to hit me went something like this: "Trying to start out tearing decks of Bicycle playing cards is rough as they are one of the toughed decks of playing cards to tear in the world."
I went to my desk and pulled out the deck of playing cards I had been tearing.
At least I feel a little better now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Solid pistols on the left leg.

I'm not getting too excited yet, but I pulled off four solid pistols on my left leg with a 12 kg. kettlebell today, no pain. I think all of my flexibility work is finally paying off.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Show them what they can do, not what you can do.

When I do workshops I go out of my way to try not to do a bunch of feats of strength. Some stuff can't be helped, but me running around snatching the 40 kg. and bent pressing two 20 kg. bells in one hand isn't doing much to serve to serve those trying to learn from me. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to do that stuff at the appropriate time, but when it's the running theme that's when I see a problem.
I find it much more entertaining to unlock potential and get people doing things they didn't think they were capable of.
I did a workshop today and had a number of PR's get pulled off. One of the attendees pressed out a 32 kg. kettlebell, and I believe he had only ever pressed the 24 kg. He also came close to pressing the 40 kg. at a bodyweight of 155 lbs. I know he'll get that press soon.
If you asked me why I became a trainer the answer would be "Because I have no job skills."
Answer number two though would be stuff like this. Putting people on a path and seeing them achieve things they otherwise might not have been able to, or would have taken much longer to achieve.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I pledge myself to a life of struggle...

Recently I was talking to someone about how I use self-hatred to drive myself to correct problems. I think she thought I was joking, but I really wasn't. I reached a point with my general nutrition where I really was hating myself. I knew how I was consuming was counter-productive not just to training, but to my general health and happiness. Humming to myself and telling myself that I am on a peaceful path and am a gentle spirit in need of guidance was out, so I decided that self-loathing and shame were good options.
If you embark upon my two fold path of self-loathing and shame, you have to understand that it is a tool, and you have to understand what it is.
What is shame? I had this conversation with a group of people years ago. The general consensus was that shame was bad, and you should never be ashamed of pretty much anything. This kind of thinking to me is insane. There is a good reason for the things we feel. What kind of tool is shame? Unless you're just suffering from a psychological disorder, generally shame keeps you from doing things you know you are not supposed to be doing. However, if you simply push it away and declare shame is always bad, what is to stop you?
Many of us are driven by compulsions, and generally they are things that feel good, at least momentarily. After the act we may hate ourselves. If we push that hate away and try to demonize it, we may just fall back into that pattern. If we acknowledge that there is a valid reason to hate ourselves and accept it, we are more likely to correct it. Once we do, we become better, and the self-hatred falls away. Not because we wished it away, but because we have earned freedom from it.
My two fold path of self-loathing and shame leads to happiness. You have to go through hell to get to heaven. I went through my period of struggle, and now that I have acknowledged and corrected the problem I am much happier.
Many seem to have a sense of entitlement, that struggle is bad, that everything should be serene and peaceful. This isn't a bad idea, but the struggle continues whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

"If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War."
-George Washington

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A subject matter expert eh?

The other day I received a certificate of commendation from USMC 1st ANGLICO. That's pretty cool. I thought my days of getting commendations from the Marine Corps were over. I have been declared to be a 'subject matter expert in strength development through the use of kettlebells.'
The Camp Pendleton RKC really was the culmination of something I've been wanting to do for a long time, namely getting back to my roots and schooling my military descendants in some hardcore job specific training. Like I've said before, I wish I'd had these tools and methods back when I was on active duty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Re-wiring the military press

Yesterday at Rif's RKC II Prep course I tweaked my back out pretty bad. It was one of those pains where you break into a cold sweat the second it happens. I had to work through it and it was fine, but still present when I went home. I took some time to soak, do some extensions, stretch the tight flexors out, and relax. This morning I felt better and decided to do a light workout.
Yeah... anyway. 15 Grade 2 bolts and 15 sets of 5/5 military press on the 20 kg. I feel better. Not quite a 'light' day, but the results were good.
Using the technique corrections Rif gave us my press is so much stronger it's absurd. Looking back I shudder at how many junk reps I put up that just meant absolutely nothing. I understood pulling my shoulder in the socket and tightening up, but what serves me better is using the pulling down of my shoulder not just to get it in the socket, but to wedge my entire body into the ground. I was so tight my calves cramped. After the set my legs are smoked. I have to say I felt the press more in my abs than in my shoulders. The 20 kg. felt like a toy and practically pressed itself.
Rif pulled out a copy of the original 'Russian Kettlebell Challenge' book and pointed out that just the photo of Pavel pressing on the cover pretty much said it all. Every muscle tight, forearm vertical, shoulder packed, hip out. Now I am basically pressing exactly as it is seen on the cover, and it makes all the difference. My free hand pushes my hip out, and importantly I am also crush gripping my hip bone.
I have also found an easy way to track my sets of presses by bending a bolt in-between each set.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kai Pulls 357 lbs. and my 55 reviews.

Even when it's about someone else, it's still about me. :)

I've been working with Kai for a while now helping him prep for the TSC and he has made amazing leaps forward in his strength and endurance. Right now he is on track to hit 100 snatches in 5 minutes, pull 385 (my prediction) and hit 15 pull ups.
Last Friday Kai came in to Girya and successfully pulled 357 lbs.

In other news I recently hit 55 reviews on my RKC instructor page, bringing me ever closer to the top 10.
Don't be shy about putting in your two cents. Just remember, I only want to hear good things.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hard-wired for maximum tension with the one arm push up.

During my struggle to press out the 48 kg. I am learning many lessons by force. Over the past month I have found myself having days where I couldn't press out the 32 kg. I knew this was not a factor of strength, as I was stronger in everything else. It was a factor of technique. Knowing this I went back to GTG with one arm push ups. If you've done many oapu's you know that you have to be tight. There is no being loose in a oapu.

I did the below a little over a year ago...

Looking back on it now I see a lot of room for improvement. Part of my current quest is to balance out my right and left as well as perform my one arm push ups with feet together. Really, I don't consider one arm push ups to be that difficult if you know how to get tight. If your tension techniques are not locked in, then yes they will be damn near impossible.
This applies to heavy presses as well. I am taking the remedial lessons I am learning from my one arm push ups and now applying them to my presses. I cannot allow myself to get lazy with my technique or my shoulders will pay the price. Nothing is given, it must be taken.
So today during my presses it wasn't just about sucking my shoulder into the socket, but sucking my whole body into it. This worked. The 32 kg. went up easily. I pressed out the 28 kg. for 3 reps each side with authority, and probably could have gone 5 reps.
When you first start using the hard-style method you have to think about everything. You have to keep a mental index of what is tight, what is loose, etc. Over time it becomes more intuitive and you don't have to think about it as much. Instead of indexing what is tight, you just look for what is loose, or half-loose. Then you realize you can tighten up 5 times as hard as you used to be able to. The process is never ending, so don't rest on your laurels just because you figured out how to squeeze your glutes.
By the time you get a ways down the road, hitting your glutes, abs, legs, etc. during a press should be like hitting a rock.
I recall during RKC someone telling me that he couldn't properly clean a 16 kg. because it was too light. That's a no go. Whether it be a clean, a swing, or a press, you should be able to apply maximum tension and proper technique with any weight or no weight. The point that I really grasped the basic elements of high tension was during the UCLA RKC when Rif was called out to perform a deadlift with no weight. You would have thought he was pulling six-hundred pounds. Your press with an empty hand should look the same.
So, to wrap it all up I leave you with this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Beast Challenge Progress and Recovery

Here's the current stats on my Beast Challenge Progress.
Pistol- 40 kg.
Press- 36 kg.
Pull Up- 28 kg.

My Pistols and Pull Ups keep building, but I've momentarily stalled on my presses. No big deal, this is just the ebb and flow of the training cycle. I'm going back to school on my TGU, dropping to the 24 kg. bell and going for more continuous reps and ironing out movement pattern and ROM issues I'm having from right to left. I think this will contribute to my pressing. I'm also doing a lot of bent pressing on the 32 and 40 kg., and really emphasizing the negative at the finish of the movement. I'll also be going back to work more strictly on pressing ladders and working GTG with pistols and pull ups. I think I can do this in 2009. That being said, I probably won't actually do the challenge until 2010. Can i pistol the 40? Yeah, but the rules say I have to go calf to hamstring. I am below parallel, but not that low. My chin is over the bar with the 28 kg., but not throat to the bar. When I walk out on that field I have to be able to kill all three events. None of this guessing game BS. "Can I pistol the Beast? Gee, might as well find out in front of 70 strangers."

On another note, recovery is good. Right now I'm probably at an hour or more of recovery work everyday. Stretching, Rolling, Z-Health. I'd have a hobo hit me in the head with a bag of dead cats if I thought it would help.
Already I can see a big difference. My hips are finally unlocking, my right hamstring is un-strung, my right shoulder is behaving, and my left knee has stopped popping and the stiffness is gone. I figured out (with Tara's help) that my left quad and IT band were just insanely tight. Tomorrow I'm going to try my first full pistol on my left leg in a while. I'm looking forward to killing it with one-legged squats again. It's amazing I basically worked my way up from the 24 kg. to the 40 kg. barely doing any pistols.

A 28 kg. pull-up... finally.

I tried this a few weeks ago and was stopped cold about a quarter of the way up. Tonight I managed to get my chin over the bar with a 28 kg. kettlebell hanging from my belt. I'm still about 170, so I know this is due to a strength increase, and not just dropped weight. Lately I've been doing a day or two of volume training as well as GTG, which seems to be working.
It's very gratifying to finally get some movement with the pull-ups after I was stalled for so long.

Paul Chek Article

Check out this article.

I particularly like the way he hammers on nutrition. I don't have money falling out of my pockets, but I eat organic, and I make an effort to eat healthy. Every so often someone tells me organic food is a scam. Now, I recognize there is a wide spectrum between organic food and McDonalds. For most people I think falling in the middle is just fine. Remember, just because you can't see the damage being done doesn't mean it isn't there. I've just read too much research and had it re-enforced by too many people who know their stuff to think organic food is a racket. Just the experience of how I function now vs. when I was eating food full of chemicals and pesticides is evidence enough for me.
Recently I've taken to trying to drink only water. Just in the past week or so, but again I'm already functioning better.
I love when people tell me organic food is too expensive, at least in CA. It's a different gig out here, and I'm sure in other parts of the country it is waaay more expensive. That being said, I've noticed people seem very entitled about food, and don't think much of their budget should be assigned to it. How much of your budget will be assigned to that oxygen tank or that rascal scooter?