Thursday, March 11, 2010

The kettlebell is the tool, but what is the goal?

Number of clients I have had come in to the studio with a goal of maxing out their SSST: Zero. Donut hole. Zilch.
Most people come to me with more human goals. Dropping some weight, getting rid of back pain, stronger core, stronger legs for cycling, etc.
I am hesitant to get so wrapped up in the kettlebell culture that i forget why I even started doing it in the first place. It's like I've said before regarding my Beast Challenge goal. I'm not doing it to nail the Beast Challenge, I just figured being able to do those three things with a 106 pound kettlebell would mean I was pretty strong.
If someone comes to me as a cyclist I know a some things right off the bat with a fairly high degree of certainty. No core, no toe touch, glutes don't fire, spends a lot of time in a kyphotic position. The math isn't too hard on that one.
Value in spending a lot of time trying to nail the SSST: Eh. Negligible. He already has more endurance than 99% of the people who will walk in my door, so why hammer on an attribute that is already pretty locked in? Sure it's a different 'type' of endurance and there will be some benefit, but it's not number one on the list of things that need to be addressed.
After corrective work there is probably more benefit in, stop me if you've heard this one: Swings and Get ups. Swings to get the glutes firing, get ups to address the core (plus everything else) and start to balance out the lower and upper body strength.
Folks are resistant to the idea that one or two exercises can do it all. We are conditioned to believe we need 5 exercises to hit the bicpes, and what about my rear delts?
It is this simple though, and this complicated.
Are your goals in line with your goals? Dan John has a great line in his Philosophy of Strength Training DVD: "Let's make sure we keep the goal, the goal."
SDon't get so wrapped up in the kettlebell that you forget why you picked it up in the first place. There's nothing wrong with the SSST, I think it's a great goal, but make sure it's the goal for you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Promoted to RKC Team Leader

Do you know how hard it is to keep a secret like this?!



I have been promoted to the position of Team Leader in the Russian Kettlebell Challenge. This is a big honor for me and I worked myself halfway into an early grave to get it. Someone asked me today how this compared to being promoted to Sergeant while I was in the Marines. I put this over that. Why? Let's face it, if you hang around the Corps long enough and don't punch too many officers or shoot yourself in the face you'll most likely pick up Sergeant eventually. This was different. I had to have a narrow focus and stay on the ball. It reminds me more of when I was involved with Kajunkenbo, a Martial Art with it's roots in Hawaii. Average time to black belt in our school: 5-7 years. Sometimes longer. When you put in your time and passed your belt test, you still had to 'take' your belt from the head instructor. He would say it too, "You're going to have to take this from me." You had to reach out and yank the thing out of his hands. One time a guy didn't pull hard enough and he told him to try again next week, he obviously didn't want it enough.
I had to take this, and I did want it. The process of earning it however, is not over.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Taking down a 5.5 inch Gr5

I'm in the midst of a Bear Style PTTP cycle right now as well as working back into regular grip training. I feel like my deadlift max is probably significantly greater than it was previously. I based my Bear weight off my last 5 rep max, but I'm still hitting 15-17 sets of 5 before I finally call it quits. That will most likely change in a couple weeks as the weights go up.
Today I got a decent bend in a five and a half inch Gr5 from John B at Fat Bastard Barbell. John's Gr5's are waaaay harder than the Gr5's I had been getting from Fastenal.
This was decent, but I obviously had an issue on the final crushdown. That's typical for me, same thing happened first time with the blue nails. A few more rounds and I'll get it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The new DVD is coming soon.

I've bumped the release date up to April 1st due to my superior editing skills. More info will be disclosed this coming week such as the contents, price, etc.
Below is the full introduction from the DVD.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jedd Johnson's Card Tearing E-book Sale

Jedd's e-book on the art of card tearing is on sale for a few days. I am of the opinion that it would be a good idea to take advantage of this opportunity. Even if you're not that interested in card tearing there is a ton of great information in here on grip training and general strength work. There is also a great section on dealing with elbow pain that helped me greatly in remaining pain free during my grip work.

Click here to check out Jedd's Card Tearing E-book.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

RKC II: I passed!



Wow. It's over. Brain hurts. I took copious notes to try and retain as much of the information being launched at me as possible. Today I hit my 24 kg. pull up and nailed it. I passed all of my level one and two tests and am now RKC II. Not bad for a course that has had as high as an 80% failure rate if memory serves me.
To be honest I did not expect to pass. I went in barely able to press the 36 kg. (my required half body weight press) some serious flexibility issues and a jacked up left shoulder. However i just applied what I was taught and pulled it off.
A big thank you to the RKC Instructors who taught the course. No way would I have made it through without all of the information and attention I received.
If you are an RKC Instructor and think the level two is some sort of 'bonus course' or 'merit badge', guess again. This is no joke, and you will easily learn 3 times as much as you did at level one if not more.
The standards were very, very high. No one was given a free pass.

Friday, February 26, 2010

RKC Level II: Day One

I am sitting here at home getting ready to hit the Tempurpedic. How nice it is to have this taking place 25 minutes from home.
Some folks think I know how to swing a bell. About two hours into this course I realized I know nothing. As the time ticked by I thought back to the blogs or posts I see every so often declaring "I don't need to spend three days learning to swing a kettlebell, it's so simple!"
Yeah, right. I realize that if I tell someone I just spent a half a day learning how to do a pull up there will be two sorts of recipients. The type who mockingly declares he does not need someone to show him how to do a pull up, and the type who is curious as to what it is we did for all that time, who approaches it with an open mind.
Consider that the entry fee includes a pull up with a 24 kg. kettlebell hanging off your foot. That is one of the three strength tests to qualify as an RKC II. So before you start spouting off, aren't you the least bit curious how a pull up with a 53 pound kettlebell hanging off your foot can be the standard?
Those who excel are doing 106 pound pull ups or more. There is a good reason, it is not coincidence.
I stepped on the scale today a little concerned I would weigh in a 169 and be required to press the 40 kg.
161.4
How did that happen? I pressed the 36 kg. easily. It felt like the 32 kg. I missed the pull up by about an inch. I know what I did wrong, and if I don't get it this weekend I will get it imminently.
All is good in the land of kettlebells and honey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Average To Elite crew kills the RKC

I did some math the other day and figured out that I in some way trained about 20% of the attendees at this past weekend's RKC in San Jose. Nearly all of them passed. Not only did they pass, reportedly they killed it. Some of them had their first introduction to kettlebells at one of my workshops. It is pretty cool to know that you started someone on this path, and they then picked up the ball and ran with it all the way to the RKC.

Below are Denise, Meg, and Alyssa with Team Castrogiovanni. Meg brought up an interesting point to me, which is that the three of them snatch tested together at my RKC Prep workshop and then ended up on the same team. below is the photo and then the video.





Pretty weird.

I was also priveldged to meet some of the folks who purchased my DVD including Doug Descant RKC and CJ Brown RKC.

Now it's off to the Level Two this weekend to do my own certification. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The new DVD is in the books



This Sunday I filmed a new DVD with Max Shank RKC. It covers some of our individual methodology of strength training as well as some useful tips for different exercises such as the bottoms up press, push up (believe it or not, most people do them wrong), long cycle, pistol, and more.
I'm not going to get super detailed on it, but I will tell you this.
I had been stuck on my 36 kg. press for a little over a month. I hurt my left shoulder in December and had to back off of pressing until I rehabbed it. Prior to that I had pressed the 36 a couple times. I have to press it this week for RKC II. When I tried to press it again in January I couldn't do it. Up to last week I still couldn't do it. For some reason last week I could press a stacked 24 kg. and 12 kg. but not the 36 kg. Sunday Max gave me a couple pressing tips and we drilled the bottoms up press.
Yesterday I pressed it. Twice.
Let me throw another one at you. Max has been trying (for longer than he would care to admit) to bend a sixty penny nail with zero success. Not a kink. After I gave him about two minutes of instruction not only did he bend it like nothing, he was laughing as he did it. Fortunately we caught it on film so you will be able to see it for yourself.
This is going to be two discs with a planned release date of April 15th. You will not want to miss it, I promise you that. I predict it will blow The Corrections out of the water.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Average To Elite T-Shirts available again.

Average to Elite t-shirts are available again here.
This t-shirt has the logo of the rattlesnake wrapped around the kettlebell with the slogan "The snatches will continue until morale improves."

If it's good enough for this guy...



It's good enough for you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

De-greasing your bells

Do me a favor. Go put a thin coating of oil on the handles of your kettlebells, then wipe it off with one swipe. Now chalk up. Let me know how that works out for you. :)
De-greasing kettlebell handles is something I virtually never hear anyone talk about, though I can probably find 18,000 threads on the DD forum about how to properly use chalk.
I first picked up on de-greasing after reading Jared Savik's excellent book on Girevoy Sport.
Jared mentions that regardless of whether you choose to chalk or not 'De-grease you bells!"
So how do you do this? Using rubbing alcohol will break down the hand oils that have been accumulating on the surface of your kettlebell handles over the months or years. Particularly if you have any that feel kind of 'slick' you will notice a big difference after you de-grease them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The August 2010 RKC in San Diego has been announced!

Click here for the upcoming August RKC Kettlebell Certification in San Diego!

I had the pleasure of being an assistant instructor at the last San Diego RKC and hope to return for this one as well in some capacity. The last one was great. Over 100 people on the field swinging bells for 3 days. I ran the Max Vo2 workout and we went beyond thunderdome.
Read my after action report here.

Let me take a moment here to say that some people talk a lot of smack about the RKC and how you don't need to spend three days learning to use kettlebells. Most of them have atrocious form. Understand that technique is not just about 'looking cool' it's about safety, and performance. I will say that some people are able to develop razor sharp form learning from books and DVD's, but they are the vast minority. I have had many, many people come in to my studio to fine tune their technique. Most are a train wreck. It's not their fault, they really are trying hard, but at the end of the day nothing substitutes for experience and a guiding hand.
So as a trainer, if you are using kettlebells with your clients you owe it to them to learn how to do it properly. If you scoff at that then you are basically telling me you know more than Pavel, Brett Jones, Mark Reifkind, Kenneth Jay, Andrea DuCane, and pretty much everyone in the RKC myself included.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you are trainer using kettlebells as one of your main tools and you don't attend a real kettlebell cert (not the $200 cert at your YMCA) you are negligent. If you disagree feel free to e-mail me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First true unbraced reverse bend of a sixty penny nail

In the past when I've reverse bent sixty penny nails I was bracing my anchor forearm against my thigh. This makes it easier and reduces the need for quality tension throughout the bend. Today I hit my first unbraced bend. Much harder, but it felt pretty smooth. I just have to learn to keep my shoulders down.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big things are coming in 2010



Big things are coming in 2010, some so big I can't even talk about them. That's not hype either, I literally can't say what it is.
The Corrections Vol. 1 is about to be re-released in a better packaging and better format from a distribution house I have contracted with. Max Shank and I shoot our DVD in a little over a week with an intended release date of April 1st (no fooling), and The Corrections Vol. 2 is set for release in July. All DVD's will also be available for international purchase.
I'm working on a string of workshops for mid-late 2010, and the HKC's here in the Bay Area are only going to get bigger.
I am knee deep in my book 'The Hard-Syle Kettlebell User's Manual' and am going to do my best to get it out before the end of the year. It is a Monster. Whatever you think it is, it isn't.
More stuff coming.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Teaming up with Max Shank RKC to put out a new DVD!

Max performing Long Cycle with two Beasts.



In two weeks Max Shank and I will be shooting our upcoming DVD tentatively titled 'Max and Jordan's School of Strength'. I'll have more details coming soon, but suffice it to say you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beast Pistol

An obsessive focus for the first month of 2010 has paid off, and I have hit a pistol on both legs with the 48 kg.
This is not as strict as I would like, but I hit below parallel so I'll take it. Now that I've overcome the mental hurdle and know what I need to work on I think I'll get a more strict version of this within the month. It wasn't really all that hard on my legs, more so on my ability to just hold on to the bell. I'm most impresses with my ability to keep my extended foot off the ground. All of my flexibility work is paying off.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Getting deeper into Convict Conditioning

Now that it's had some time to percolate and folks have had a chance to, oh, I don't know... actually read the frigging book before passing judgment, Convict Conditioning is proving to be a runaway success. If you don't own this book you should.
My own strength practice has improved tremendously in 2010, and we're only a month in. I have been rock solid in my training and I am making leaps and bounds forward.
On my VWC days I have been doing my convict conditioning work. Hanging leg raises, pistols (obviously), one arm push ups, pull ups, bridges, headstands, handstands, all are showing marked progress.
People have given Paul Wade some guff because of his 'free weights are evil' attitude that is pervasive throughout the book. Well, in a lot of ways I can't really say I disagree with him all that much. Is it way easier to jack yourself up with external resistance that it is with your own body-weight? Yup. Do the bodyweight feats in CC require a solid degree of flexibility and stability that you can get away with not having when you use free weights? Yup.
A good trainer will insist you learn how to handle your own bodyweight before loading you with external resistance. It seems the myth of machines being 'safer' is finally starting to be dispelled (though not quick enough for my tastes) and so it would only seem logical that bodyweight exercises would become the foundational skill. However logic doesn't sell copies of Men's Fitness, so most likely we will see people hopping around on these.
Mastering even the basic skills in CC will give you a solid foundation to move into other things such as kettlebells. As you work through the progressions, take the time to ask yourself why a specific movement is so hard. I have people come to me to improve their pistols and the answer is always the same: "You have crappy flexibility." Likewise if you find the bridge to be insurmountable, you probably have some pretty good hip, t-spine, and shoulder tightness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Back on the VWC train...

After wrapping up my last six weeks on the Beast Tamer protocol I'm now launching into some Viking Warrior Conditioning work. I took the cmvo2 test to get my cadence right and hit 30 reps in the last minute on the 16 kg. I feel I could have gone faster, but I wanted a strict lockout each rep. None of this 'illegal snatches' BS. From there I opted for the 36/36 protocol at 18 reps and launched into it. I got through 20 sets today and will tack on another two each workout until I hit 35. This should serve me well right up to RKC II. I'm still going to snatch heavy once a week, but this is the meat of my training. I'll also be hitting a ladder program with the Beast Tamer lifts.
No one seems to like the 36/36. I've noticed virtually no one does it, everyone seems to stick with the 15/15. I'm looking into this further, but I think it's generally grip issues. Solution: Get a stronger grip.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why the Beast Challenge?



Swinging double 40 kg. bells.

I've been asked this more than a few times. What's the point of training for the Beast Challenge? Why bother with the TSC elite division snatch test? Why put myself through that? What does it really mean if I accomplish these things? I have opted to compete in two events put on by a fitness sub-culture that no one knows about, so it can't be glory.
In August of 2008 I was standing on the field at UCLA during my own RKC watching the Beast Challenge. Mike Davis and Max Shank were two of the candidates who stepped up to the plate. The two of them weren't really much bigger than me.
"I bet if I could do that I would be pretty strong." I thought to myself.
It's really that simple. It's not that I'm trying to live up to some perceived RKC hall of fame. I just figure if I can pistol, press, and pull up a 106 pound kettlebell, then I've built a pretty good base of strength. A foundation, if you will, to further build upon. You see... I want to do it with the 52 kg. as well. That's probably a fairly bold statement from someone who ain't even close to the 48 kg., but why not? You're in no danger from setting your goals too high, only too low.
Same thing with steel bending. When I saw Adam Glass bending nails, bolts, and horse shoes I thought the same thing. Turned out it was true. My steel bending efforts boosted everything else.
Being very strong is a pretty unique thing, but it only really lets you know how far you have to go. It's easy to feel like you can't go further and to make excuses when the passageway is triple locked in front of you, but when you get your foot in the door you see just how far you really have to go. I hear people make excuses and I know it's a reflection of our fast food 'Now' culture. You just thought it would happen too fast, it's not that you can't make it. This applies not just to training but to everything in life. I see people launch a business venture and then bail on it almost immediately because they wanted instant gratification.
I've been training for the Beast Challenge for 18 months now. I recognize that previously my problem was not having a narrow enough focus. I have fixed that now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Progress this week: 100 pistols per leg and 32 kg. snatching

I had a pretty good week for PR's. I hit 100 pistols per leg with the 12 kg. in sixty minutes, and achieved 25 snatches on my right hand with the 32 kg. Left shoulder is still tweakey, so I opted not to test that side. I will hit 30/30 in the coming months with the 32 kg. and I will pistol the 48 kg. It's coming.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Killing the RKC Snatch Test

I had an RKC prep course this weekend at Girya. Below is footage of three female candidates taking the snatch test with the 16 kg. Alyssa Chang demolishes the snatch test in 3:35.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I have cracked the top 5 reviewed instructors and hit 80 pistols per leg.

Today I hit 80 pistols per leg with the 12 kg. This was fairly brutal and I kept a good pace. I took about two minutes between sets of 5 on each leg. Overall it took about an hour. I was stalled in the 40's for a long time, mainly due to mobility issues. I was very happy with these, every one was hamstring to calf. I'll hit 100 per leg next time.
I also seem to be in the Top 5 reviewed instructors on Dragon Door. At least for now. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back online and 36 kg. pistols

I've been sans internet for the past week during the move, but now I'm back.
Today for my low volume pistol day I hit 8 reps per leg on the 36 kg. These were all pretty clean, and I was generally happy with how it went down.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 begins with change...

I type this sitting in a hotel room as we house hunt on Day 2 of the new year. People always talk about starting off the new year with a change, but man we are doing it! I tend to think God puts you where you need to be right about when you need it. Sometimes that means being technically homeless for a while.
Training wise for me things roll along just fine. I'm in week three of Kenneth's Maximal Strength program using the beast challenge exercises. This is going very well, better than expected. The FMS work I have been doing has paid off. Yesterday I knocked off 40 pistols per leg in sets of 3 and 5 with the 12 kg. with absolutely no knee irritation. My left shoulder is very iffy, so pressing is on hold, but I'm working on it. I believe Pavel once said something to the effect of 'working your grip and abs will improve your press' so we're going to put that to the test. Until I rehab the left shoulder sufficiently all I have to do is maintain my ability to press the 36 kg. on my right side for RKC II. So far so good on that. Still might have to pull out of the May CK-FMS, but RKC II looks good.