Monday, December 27, 2010

Pura Vida Kettlebells Hubs Abound!

Also been writing on Hub Pages.  Here are my last 4.  On Hub Pages, I cover a wide range of topics including Kettlebell Training, but also touch on Sales and Selling (if you run your own business, this might be of interest to you) and I also am promoting my book, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone with a series of Hubs about smoking or not smoking.  There is, as always a article or two (or 3 or 40) dedicated to the spiritual side of things.  Not necessarily religious, just an expansion of the warrior spirit and more often than not it's connection to strength training.  All in all, interesting reading can be had by all. 




        more »


Now if you've ever though about writing for yourself and are considering an additional venue to express your thoughts, ideas and market yourself a little, Hub Pages is a great place to do that.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pipes and Cogs

Saw this video called Pipes and Cogs on Facebook courtesy of Ken Froese, RKC II.  Needless to say I am jealous of these young men as this to me is how a gym should look and function.  Finding a spot like this in Los Angeles would probably indicate the Second Coming.  Bally's, L.A. Fitness, 24 Hour, Crunch, Equinox...  forget about it.  Give me a retired bomb shelter, some welding equipment and a few Kettlebells and I'm a happy man.  Old School strength, passion and grit.  This video is beautiful.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's Your Excuse?

Inspiration and humility all in 6 minutes and 10 seconds!  A buddy from High School posted this video on Facebook last night.  As it turned out, I too went to High School with this gentleman.  What was most moving for me was that when I was in High School, somehow, this concept of "do it anyway" or "push your limits" and "blast through your alleged limitations..."   Somehow, I just didn't get it.  At least not like I do now.  Perhaps I wasn't ready for that wisdom.  This video showed up today to remind me that any limit I put on myself is just that.  A limit of my own design and making and certainly not an excuse.  I'm going to go do some snatches now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today's Training

Training up date:

After warming up...

Spent 20 minutes practicing Pistols and Stacked Presses with two 16kg's plus reinforcing the form by immediately pressing the 32kg after the stacked 16's.

Finished with 2 descending ladders of Bulldog Swings 15/12/10/8/6 in just under 10 minutes.  That's 200 reps or 17600 pounds lifted in a ten minute period.

Gloriously smoked...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pull Ups: How To and How Come

Pullups: How to and How Come

Another article for Hub pages!  Actually this turned out to be my 100 Hub.  I've been writing on Hubpages just over a year now and to hit 100 feels pretty good.

So for this article, I take a look at the ins and outs of the pull up and a few progressions on how to get there if a pull up is currently beyond your reach.

Let me know what you think, click the link!

Pullups: How to and How Come

Saturday, November 13, 2010

101 Kettlebell Workouts: Intervals and Tabata

Over on Hub Pages I just published a Hub looking at High Intensity Interval Training and the Tabata Protocol and how that plugs into Kettlebell Training.  With it will be a video from YouTube of my most recent Tabata Workout using the Kettlebell Snatch.
Feel free to take a look and a gander:

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

40 Days

Doesn't seem like a long time does it?  Trust me, it's not.

Here's what I'm working on.

Recently I got a CD called Mantra:  A Practice for Power, Peace & Prosperity.  In it is a challenge to practice Mantra for 40 days.  Mantra is energy.  It is vibrational sound energy that can be used to stimulate growth, awakening, healing, abundance, peace, and transformation among many other blessings.

This 2 disc set talks about what the Mantra is and what it is not.  What I enjoyed most about it was that there is no Dogma, no preaching, no "rules".  There is a constant encouragement to find what works for you and an invitation to practice in a way that best meets your needs and helps you with whatever it is your working on in your current situation.  From there, Niurka and Larisa Stow guide you through several options on how to practice Mantra.

So, why 40 days?  Well, here you will find yourself listening to two women talk about a practice that is considered by most a Hindu or Buddhist practice and when it comes time for the 40 day challenge, they mention Jesus.  That's the level of tolerance and wisdom behind this CD.  It's all good.  They've taken "religion" out of the equation and instead aligned themselves with finding a way to connect with Source.  Source can be so many things for so many people.

Now, I accept the challenge and since there are no "rules" here's the plan.  I don't have any beads (yet) and the most sacred space I have that I can be in twice daily unfortunately is my car.  The real job has me in the car twice a day for at least 15 minutes both ways.  I have examined and isolated what I want to focus on in my Mantra.  In a nutshell, I want to clear a path for myself and get out of my own way while attracting more abundance, prosperity and freedom in my life.  This sounds like a job for Ganesha.  Which brings me, an Irish Catholic Registered Republican, to another miracle hidden within this CD on Mantra and a sidebar.

There is one true Source, one true God, but many paths to God.  God speaks to us in many ways.  Your challenge is to be open enough to listen and hear.  What if the Hindu gods/deities are really just reflections of our own conscientiousness?  Hmmm...  just be with that for a moment.  If you're a Christian or like me, a Catholic this is important to realize.  This isn't about worshiping an Elephant or a woman with four arms.  It is about getting in touch with ourselves and our own divinity  Remember, God mad man in His image.  Look how different and unique man is!  Yet, somehow genetically, we are all so similar.  We are all part of his divine creation and it is the uniqueness of all religions that affords each citizen of this planet the opportunity to experience the divine.

The plan will be to listen to and sing/chant along with the Ganesh Mantra from Larisa Stow's CD Reaching In.  I will do this once on the way to work and once on the way home from work.  On my days off I'll do it on my way to training (exercise) and after training.

40 days.  There we go again.  Jesus was in the desert for 40 days.  Noah had rain for 40 days.  Moses?  40 days on Mt. Sinai.  The whole tribe was in the desert for 40 years.  40 is a significant number.  It is where habits are formed and clearly 40 is associated with transformation, enlightenment and discovery.  So 40 days it is. 

And with that in mind and considering that this is a blog dedicated to Inner Strength through the development of the body I will also lay out for you my 40 day exercise plan as well.

Physically the last 5-6 months have been a strain on my body with Periodontal surgery in July my system has been rocked.  I've been up to a lot of Qi Gong Recharge and Super Joints.  Kettlebell training has been sporadic.  Last week I had a cold, this week I'm ready to return to regular activity.  That cold felt like my body releasing the last bit of negativity from the surgery and it's now time to once again play full out as Niurka puts it.

Workouts 1 & 3

SuperJoints to warm up
Goblet Squats 16kg bell and Pumps 3 sets of 5
Practice Movements 1-5 with Indian Clubs while alternating 1+1 TGU with 32 kg KB
12 minutes of Snatches with 24kg bell (workout 1 go for it, workout 3 medium intensity or plug in Tabata protocal)

Workout 2 (EDT)

SuperJoints to warm up

20 minutes of alternating: 
Clean and Squat 24kg 5+5
Pullups 5

15 minutes of:
Ring Push Ups 10
Chest Expander 10

Hanging Leg Raises 5 sets of 12

Workout 4 (EDT)

SuperJoints to warm up

20 minutes of alternating:
Clean and Press 32kg 3-5+3-5
Box Pistols 3-5+3-5

15 minutes of:
Bulldog Swings Man Maker style

Hanging Leg Raises 5 sets of 12

I'll train 4 to 5 days a week.  I'll monitor fatigue, eat right and often and practice my Mantra twice daily.  40 days.  This adventure will set forth Sunday 11/7/10.  Sunday really is the first day of the week as far as I'm concerned.  I don't know if I'll be able to check in with this blog everyday, but I'll make it a point to continue journaling the experience as I go through it.  You are all welcome to tag along!  In my last posting, I put forward this challenge.   If you'd like to read the last post for an idea as to how this all started, CLICK HERE.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Tao of The Kettlebell - Verse 12

The five colors blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavors dull the taste.
The chase and the hunt craze people's minds.
Wasting energy to obtain rare objects
only impedes one's growth.
The master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
He prefers what is in to what is without. 

I haven't visited with the Tao since June.  Lot's of things have happened for me and now seems like the best time to continue on in my journey to understand the Tao a little better while understanding myself though it.  With a little bit of luck and inspiration hopefully you too will find a pearl or two of wisdom for your own life as the Tao speaks to us all.

This twelfth verse of the Tao challenges us to go inside ourselves to find the answers to our questions.

"Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them."
                                                          -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars

To put too much weight on the physical senses can impair judgment.  Deep down, under the voice of the ego lies the inner voice of conscience.

"Always let your conscience be your guide."
                                                        -Jiminy Cricket

How often people enter the fitness craze and ignore the inner wisdom for the promise of a quick fix.  How often do we find ourselves looking for the magic machine or wonder pill that will transform our bodies into that of a Greek statue with little or no effort.

The effect of a good diet and exercise program goes far beyond the consequence of how you look naked.  In a recent blog post by Eric J Moss, he discusses the difference between training for yourself and training for the mirror image.  Which is more rewarding ultimately?  He called the blog, "Survival of the Sexiest/Fittest".  In it there's a great analogy about busting hump for 6 months to look good for your ex at a reunion only to find they didn't show.  HA!  Instead, Eric suggests to train for you.  Eric trains for the love of training and his appearance, as mentioned, is a consequence of the training but certainly not the prime motivation behind his training.  

For the love of the game.  Would Tiger Woods golf for free?  Would Kobe still play ball if he grew up in Timbuktu?  Would Dhani Jones play Football for free?  I'd argue yes.  Because their income is a consequence of their love for the game.   So it must be for you, the fitness enthusiast.

The chase and the hunt craze people's mind.  Wasting energy to obtain rare objects only impedes one's growth.

This can apply to so much, but we're talking strength, conditioning and health here so let's stay on that.  The Bowflex is the worlds most expensive coat hanger.  The Ab Roller is the thing you trip over when you come home after a night of drinking.  The Shake Weight got turned on by mistake an shook it self under the bed one day while you were at work until the battery died and now you can't find it.  Your 8 Minute Ab video tape collects dust because you haven't have a VCR for how long?

The master observes the world but trusts his inner vision.

Yes, as Eric put it, we are social beings and unfortunately the opinions of others have meaning.  But keep in mind, If you're in a room in front of 100 people, you'll have 101 opinions of you.  Which one is most important?  The challenge is to release the ego and realize that you are not your reputation or what others think of you.  You may not even be what you think of you based on what you think.

You are a divine being having a human experience and as that, train for the love of training.  If you don't love training, you're on the wrong type of training.  Find something physical that you love to do and do it often and let the mirror, scale and the look on your ex's face be a consequence of your effort and not the motivation.  Eric and I have a deep love and passion for Russian Kettlebells.  What's yours?

Allow things to come and go...  look within...  and what is without will not be an issue anymore.

Challenge for you!

40 days.  Cover the full size mirror, toss the scale, find a physical activity you love and for 40 days journal your experience with said activity.  Call it a training log.  Eat well.  Listen to your conscience and look within.  See what happens in 40 days.  You'll be different and for the better.

Are you up to the challenge?

In my next post I will reveal my plan for my 40 days... and also talk about why 40 days.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last Night's Smoker

Well somehow I got roped into participating in wifey's Thai Pad class at her Krav Maga studio in Sherman Oaks. 

The class consisted of Thai Pads (of course) plus bodyweight exercises, stretching and some Kettlebells thrown in at the end for good measure.

We started with jumping rope.  I haven't jumped rope since Rocky III!  Needles to say I tried in vein to look cool but spent more time getting my feet tied up then actually jumping rope.

From there we moved into shadow boxing which did nothing but leave me in a complete state of self consciousness considering I've never shadow boxed (in public) in my life.  There was one cool move we did though here which was: shadow box, shadow box, shadow box, drop and sprawl, hop back up with a right knee.  That one was fun.  Like a martial burpee!

Then we did some bodyweight exercises and stretching.  Push Ups, Squats, Sit Ups, Downward Dogs, etc.  The pace was fairly high and the sweat really started in.

When the Thai Pads came out there was a lot of punching and kicking.  Not a martial artist, I did my best to kick high and punch well.  Mrs Bradley coached me and encouraged me to keep going and the Instructor was patient with my first timer ass.  Multiple combinations of punching and kicking, push ups and sit ups.  Trading off with my partner (in more ways than one) I had a blast training with Mrs Bradley.

The main part of the workout and what I think is the main reason for the cesspool of lactic acid in my calves and hams was this combination of punches and kicks that worked like Ladders almost.

1 right jab, 1 left side kick
2 right jabs, 1 left side kick
3 right jabs, 1 left side kick
4 right jabs, 1 left side kick...  all the way up to 10 and then switch sides!

Then Push Ups on your knuckles with the gloves on and then this flipped over to:

1 right kick, 1 left jab
2 right kicks, 1 left jab
3 right kicks, 1 left jab
4 right kicks, 1 left jab...  back to 10 again, switch sides and try not to fall over.

After a quick breather and swig of water the Kettlebells came out.  We did about 1 minute of each of the following:

-Still Legged Dead Lifts
-Sumo Squats
-Right Arm Cleans
-Right Arm Clean and Press
-Right Arm Press
-Left Arm Cleans
-Left Arm Clean and Press
-Left Arm Press
-Crush Curl
-Crush Curl+Press+French Press

Cooled down with more stretching and Yoga-esc poses and wrapped it up.  All in all the class was about an hour and 10 minutes, thoroughly invigorating and a nice change up for this Hard Style Kettlebell fanatic.  All in all a good time was had by all.  I enjoyed the challange and was happy to have kept up and not completely embarrased my dear wife!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

101 Kettlebell Workouts Goes Stacking

101 Kettlebell Workouts goes Stacking

Working through David Whitley's ebook 101 Kettlebell Workouts and journaling the experience on HubPages.

This morning I posted the Stacking workout.  The Article is up on Hub Pages now if you'd like to read it and you can see the video of the workout right here!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Equipment Required

This is a little article I wrote for HubPages. No need to let time, money or equipment get in the way of a good workout!

Let me know what you think!

No Equipment Required

There's an accompanying video too...

Top 10 Reasons Why Swinging Like This Is A Good Idea

10.  You lost your P90X DVDs.

9.  You just received a years worth of free Chiropractic adjustments.

8.  You've used up all your vacation time at work and need a week off.

7.  You think wearing a back brace to the gym like those guys at Home Depot looks cool.

6.  You 're one of those people who likes to say one thing and do another, just for effect.

5.  You need to drop 5 pounds in a week.

4.  You've always wanted the L.A. Times to slam you.

3.  You've always wanted the L.A. Times to get your name wrong.

2.  You promised your spouse you'd spend the weekend in bed and are looking to get out of it on a technicality...

1.  Number one is up to you!  Put you're number one reason in the comment section here and the winner will get a free set of Kettlebell Stickers.  I'll pick and announce a winner on Monday night (the 18th).

The Rest of the Story...

Russian Fatigue Cycling from Beyond Bodybuilding by Pavel Tsatsouline is a training program designed to keep things simple while creating enough variety for you and your body to not get bored and stagnant. 

In Power to the People, Pavel taught us about the traditional, simple and highly effective power lifting cycle.  Train often, add a little weight each time, when you reach your max, take a couple days off, reduce the weight and start climbing again.  Kind of like a self-imposed Sisyphus style of training.

What Russian Fatigue Cycling basically looks like is this.  You take a group of exercises with the same sets and reps and then arrange them in a comfortable line up that targets the whole body.  That will be Workout A.  Workout B will be exactly the same as Workout A except you will change the order of the exercises.

This style of training will have you training a lift once early in Workout A, but then training the same lift later in Workout B.  Essentially cycling your fatigue.  For example if your Workout A starts with pull ups and you can bang out 4 sets of 8 pull ups when your fresh, can you still knock out 4 sets of 8 after doing 5 other taxing lifts?

Training and planning your training can be confusing.  When you change things up, you're sore as hell the next day because your body has been introduced to a new stimulus.  But does that mean new gains?  Not necessarily.  Programs sold on T.V. endorse "muscle confusion" as the end all be all of training.  When you look at Wikipedia's description of P90X, it has this to say:

"P90X's advertising emphasizes "muscle confusion", a method of cross-training and periodization achieved through switching the order of exercises and incorporating new and varied movements. Muscle confusion prevents the body from adapting to exercises over time, resulting in continual improvement without plateaus."

Is the last sentence as confusing to you as it is to me?  If the body can't adapt, how can it improve?  Beyond Bodybuilding puts it like this:

"Scientists who study complex systems - the human body is one of them - know that in order to thrive, these systems must teeter 'on the edge of chaos'...  If the training schedule is totally erratic...  you get very sore but you are not building much muscle and even less strength."

Think about it, the last time you helped someone move, did you get ripped or just sore?  A buncg of lactic acid  pooling in your arms and legs does not necessarily mean you're getting buff, ripped or stronger.

Fatigue cycling will give you the best of both worlds.  Structure that allows the body to actually adapt to the stimulus you're giving it and enough variety to keep it guessing.

So what happens when you plug Kettlebells into the mix?  That's exactly what we're going to find out...

I have an affinity for the past.  I have always been drawn to the Old Timey Physical Culture type stuff.  So why wouldn't I exercise in a similar fashion? 

The warm up I use is either Qi Gong Recharge or Super Joints.  From there we get into training.

Workout A

  • Pull Ups 4 x RM
  • Renegade Rows with 24kg 4 x 5
  • 1 Arm Clean & Press with 32kg 4 x 5/5
  • 1 Arm Clean & Squat with 24 kg 4 x 5/5
  • Push Ups between 24's 4 x 10
  • Iron Cross with 16kgs 4 x 5
  • Chest Expander 4 x 10
  • Hanging Leg Raises 4 x 12
Workout B

  • Push Ups 4 x 10
  • Iron Cross with 16kgs 4 x 5
  • Chest Expander 4 x 10
  • 1 Arm Clean & Squat with 24kg 4 x 5/5
  • Pull Ups 4 x RM
  • Renegade Rows with 24kg 4 x 5
  • 1 Arm Clean & Press with 32kg 4 x 5/5
  • Hanging Leg Raises 4 x 12
I've also thrown in a conditioning/active recovery session to be done in between workouts A and B.

Workout A1

  • Goblet Squats and Pumps 3 x 5 in a circuit
  • Club Swinging Practice Movements 1 - 5 alternating each movement with 1/1 TGU's with a 24kg
  • Snatches 12 minutes EDT style
  • Stretch out
Workout B1
  • Same as Workout A1 only I'm doing Swings with George the Bulldog instead of snatches
I'll do Workout A, take a day off, then A1.  Workout B, rest a day, B1.  Then repeat.  This is how I've been spending the last part of September and how October looks.

As I am still working on writing one Hub (on Hub pages) for all if David Whitley's 101 KB Workouts, I will be plugging Stacking and Tabata into the conditioning parts and some of this will pop up on YouTube shortly as well.

I'll keep y'all posted!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So what's been going on lately...

Well there was periodontal surgery in July.  That was fun.  August was recovery.  September found my immune system still trying to reset.  I started back to training, even slowly at first.

1 Workout would look like this:
  • 1 Arm Bulldog Swings  1 x 3/3
  • 1 Arm Clean & Press @ 32kg 1 x 3/3
  • 1 Arm Bottoms Up Press @ 24kg 1 3/3
  • Pull Ups & Dips Superset 1 x 5
  • 1 Arm Front Squats @ 24kg 1 x 3/3
  • Finish with 12 minutes of Snatches sets of 5/5
Workout 2 would repeat the above except sub in 12 minutes of Bulldog Swings instead of Snatches.  I worked up to sets of 5, then 2 sets of 5 with a goal of 5 x 5.  On each Swing/Snatch workout, I'd try to add a rep or set just; improve slightly each time.

All the while my immune system was/is trying to reset after the surgery.  Amazing how the oral surgery wreaked havoc on my body systemically.  I started getting canker sores, sore throats, nasal drip, allergy attacks that seemed stronger than just the normal hey fever that would pop up this time of year.  My system was rocked.  Even on such a light (for me) routine, I quickly became over trained.  I felt sluggish, depressed and like I was coming down with something.  Just blah!

So...  I backed off.  Way off.  AGAIN!  Not happy about it, but not interested in getting hurt or sick either, I down shifted to Qi Gong Recharge, Super Joints, and Club Practice when I felt like it.  Once or twice a week, tops!

On 9/26, I thought, OK.  What have you wanted to do KB but haven't tried yet, workout wise?  I need to regain my strength and strength endurance while not slipping back into an over trained condition. 

Beyond Bodybuilding Has a section Pavel titled Russian Fatigue Cycling and I've wanted to plug KB's into that for a long time. 

In my next blog here, I'll tell you how I did it, where I'm at now and what my next move will be...  so stay tuned, kiddies!

Optimum Fitness Resources

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Top 5 Sales Books

Over on HubPaegs is a Hub I wrote about good reading for sales and sales professionals.  If you're a trainer, believe you me, you're selling something.  Are you selling skills as good as your swing and get up?

These 5 books will help with that:

Let me know what you think!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back in the Saddle part 2

Sunday morning at the park, I warmed up for about 15 minutes with some light dumbbell and Clubbell practice and then got into the workout...

  • Pull Ups:  4 sets of 5.  First set; overhand grip, second set; over under, third set; under over, fourth set; under under.
  • 24kg 1 Arm KB Rows 3 sets of 5
  • Ring Rows 3 sets of 5
  • 16kg Crush Curls 3 sets of 5
  • 24 kg Snatch:  12 minutes, as many comfortable sets of 5 and 5.
I wound up with 8 sets (80 reps) on the Snatch.  Considering a month and a half without Snatching and that I didn't push myself too hard, I felt pretty good about this outcome.  I really tried to focus on the form and technique aspect of it before I go back into "smoke yourself" mode.

Monday night after work we'll work legs and swings and then see about getting back into the Rite of Passage...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back in the saddle...

Well after a month in a half of intermittent Program Minimum, Clubbell practice, Qi Gong, Super Joints and recovery from Periodontal Surgery, I had my first heavy KB workout in a long time.  Took it easy but felt great.  Here's what was done:

32kg 1 Arm Clean and Press: 3 sets of 3/3
16kg Double Clean/Press and Iron Cross: 3 sets of 3
Chest Expander: 3 sets of 10
SWAT Dips in the Rings: 3 sets of 5
Push Ups in the Rings:  3 sets of 5

Finished with some leg raises and cobra stretch.

It was great to put the 32 up again.  Felt heavy but not intimidating.  Looking forward to getting back to ladders in a couple weeks.

Tomorrow will be "back" in action with Pull Ups, Rows and Snatches...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Tao of the Kettlebell - Verse 11

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
it is on the hole in the center that 
the use of the cart hinges.

Shape clay into a vessel;
it is the space within that makes it useful.
Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness.

The usefulness of what is
depends on what it is not.

There is much strength in this verse.  I promise.  We all tend to come from places of isolation.  Even in the womb we were alone.  When we are sad or feel weak we tend to want to be left alone.  You can also look up to the sky on a clear night and feel very alone.  Even when you're right next to someone.  Space is vast.  Yet so is the table.  When you look at a solid object through a microscope, you will eventually realize that it is made up of mostly empty space.  Yet, when you look at space, it would be if it weren't for the galaxies, stars, planets, moons, comets, and asteroids that populate space.  Could there be a table without the atoms and molecules that make up the table?  Could you do a pull up with just you biceps?

If the center of a wheel doesn't fit, the cart can't roll.  If the cart can't roll, where can you go?  But what about the middle?  The center of the wheel.  The Gap.  The space between.  Without that "empty" space, there is no wheel.

In Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention, he begins his chapter on Connecting to Intention by quoting Thomas Troward.  "The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things, but by contemplating the floating of things which float naturally, and then intelligently asking why they do so."  If your vessel is too heavy, if it has holes, if its shape is not deep enough, it will sink.  You will not get yourself or your goods very far down the stream if the boat don't float.

A beautiful home that is empty.  The space is there to be filled.  Filled with people, laughter and love.  Without the void, the space, there is no house to fill with love.

And so it is with our practice of strength.  The space between.  The top of the Snatch, Press, or Get Up.  Any drill really.  At it's halfway point; the moments when a Kettlebell is weightless.  Without these parts, the Snatch doesn't exist.  And what muscles are involved?  Can you really isolate your bicep when you curl a weight?  What happens when you ask you lats for help with a press?  Separate parts are weak.  When you work your body as a whole, you are stronger.

For those in the field of strength and conditioning, this is simply stating the obvious.  For those new to strength and conditioning or those who have read too many bodybuilding magazines, this idea of working the body as a whole might seem either new or primitive.  First off, there is nothing wrong with primitive training.  Secondly, the body, as most things, like the cart, works better as a unit.

So what about this gap?  The void?  They say the music lies in the space between the notes.  Let's go back to the Kettlebell Snatch because that is Kettlebell music if you ask me.  There's these moments where the bell is weightless as it rises to the surface. It is there that you punch up and through to complete the movement.  Then there you stand.  Tall and proud, Kettlebell straight overhead, paused.  From here it's a gentle toss over and through, back to a swing, hike, Snatch again.  And so it goes.  On and on and in those moments of weightless iron and repetition, can you find yourself in the Gap? 

The Space Between.  This is where you can commune with spirit.  Many religions practice mantra to silence and focus the mind.  For me, the Snatch is like a mantra.  I take all my pains, prayers, intentions and pour them into my workout.  There with in enjoying the pain and pushing through mental and physical barriers I have been able to transcend the physical.  My training is more ritual to me then just mere exercise.  My training is as much a spiritual practice as it is a physical one.  I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that.  And it is in this way of communing with spirit that we will truly experience our self as in this universe and as being a part of it instead of isolated from it.

This Weeks Training

Sunday morning was my Medium Day.

After warming up with a little Super Joints and the ETK warm up of Wall Squats, Halos and Pumps, I got into my Clean and Press Ladders.  5 Ladders of 1,2,3 with the 32 kg bell I humbly call Ivan.  In between rungs I practiced Pistols.  Going as low as I could while maintaining some semblance of control.  Finished with Bulldog Swings.  Dice rolls for time; rolled a 7; did 7 minutes of 7 Swings.  Got 7 sets.  Lucky me!

Monday was Variety.

Practiced with the Clubbells.  Qi Gong Recharge to get going and worked on Movements 1,2 and 3 from Club Swinging Essentials.

Wednesday was Heavy.

Warmed up with Super Joints.  Then practiced some Overhead Squats with a 35 lb. bar, stretched out the Hips, and got in a few TGU's with a 16kg bell.

Then it was on to Clean and Press ladders. 5 x 1,2,3,4.  For the Pistol practice, I wanted to work on the eccentric portion.  Since I was down at old Muscle Beach, I worked on stepping up onto a waist high balance beam while eliminating as much momentum as possible from the movement.  I matched reps with the press.  Felt good.  I'm now officially chasing the 5 x 1,2,3,4,5 or 150 reps.

Finished with Bulldog Swings.  Sets of 7.  Wanted 12 sets in 12 minutes.  Got it.

Friday was back to Light.

Goblet Squats and the RKC Arm Bar, TGU, Windmill combo to get things going. Used a 16kg for that.

Light day is Clean and Press Ladders and a 3 Tier Box Squat Pistol.  3 Ladders of 1,2,3 with 32kg.  Then it was on to Snatches with the 24kg.  14/14, 12/12. 10/10, 8/8, 6/6.  Took 9 minutes.

In Conclusion

A great week in training.  I isolated some leakage in my press, felt stronger in my Pistol practice and my Swings and Snatches are doing fine.  Want to work on increasing the volume with the Bulldog and get the Snatch numbers up.  Shoulders are a little sore but the Club Swinging and TGU's are a Godsend.  I plan to back off just a bit before starting my run at the 150 reps.  I have no desire in hurting myself and going backwards.  Better to pull back to go forward.  Will spend the next week working my Old Timey Physical Culture Routines, Kalos Sthenos, Pistols, and Club Swinging Essentials.  I may press on Tuesday or Wednesday but only if I feel completely up for it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

ETK "Easy" Day - 6/10/10

The call this the easy day or the light workout.  For me it's about grinding out a near perfect rep each and every time.  The higher the volume the more one tends to sacrifice form and slip into muscling it just a little bit.  Fatigue sets in, form slips a bit.  To press perfectly each and every time is the goal.  Then again, to press 40kgs perfectly is also the goal.  On higher volume days with the 32 the ladders will climb.  5 ladders of 1,2,3,4 is the current target.  Then it'll be 5 x 1,2,3,4,5 or 150 total reps.  So when there's an easy day or light day, my task is to not only perform a perfect rep but an ultra super duper extra perfect rep.  Hell, they're called "grinds" for a reason.  Slow the "f" down and grind.  Flare the lat, pull the shoulder down, push yourself away from the bell, squeeze the glutes, brace the abs, pull the kneecaps up, spread the floor with your feet, tssssssstt!  That's a press.  Do that everytime...

Clean and Press Ladders @ 32kg 5 x 1,2 = 15 x 2 = 30 reps x's 32 = 960kg's pressed

Then Pistol practice...  after every rung, I did the, "just go as low as you can under complete control until you loose control, fall on your ass, roll back, pop up, grab a pole and try to not fall back on your ass again while maintaining the static tension and stretch your hamstrings" pistol. 

I'm getting deeper before the falling part.  I can almost sit down on one leg and it seems that I'm using the pole less for the static holds, so not bad.  Not great either but I'm not letting this one go.

On to the "light" Snatch session.  I followed the David Whitley "push yourself but don't be stupid" philosophy and since today was strictly a day to work on ultra super duper extra perfect form, I decided that each Snatch should be as clean and as crisp as the first one.  No iffy Snatches.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and in EDT fashion got as many perfect sets of 6+6 as I could.  Meaning I didn't allow myself to rush the rep or the set.  Each rep was it's own rep.  Stay in the moment of that rep.  Everything clean and solid.  Crisp.  Such a great adjective for the Snatch.

Ended up with 10 x 6+6 24kg Snatches = 120 reps or 2880 kg Snatched.  Felt good.  Real good.  Looking forward to 200 in 10.  I can taste it.  I can taste this 1/2 bodyweight press.  I can taste the Pistol.  Clearly, I'm hungry...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Heavy Day and a Visit from God...

After working with two clients, it was my turn.

Superjoints to get the ball rolling
TGU's 2/2 @ 16kg, 2/2 @ 24kg, 2/2 @ 32
32 kg Clean and Press 4 ladders of 1,2,3,4
Bulldog Swings 1 x 26, 1 x 24
Pump Stretches, Hanging Leg Raises

Today God stopped by to let me know I am on the right path.  He was, however, disguised as a 72 year old former Russian soldier.  He said his name was William, but that didn't fool me. 

William looked at my 32 kg like he just saw a pet from childhood.  He was walking 2 little lap dogs through the park.  He was short and stout.  His accent clearly Russian.

"That is 2 pood," he said.
"Yes it is," I replied amazed.

William then went on to talk about trianing with Girya's in the Army and as well as the weightlifting.  He said guys like us were called "Culturists."  He talked about, "large American man of strength...  what was his name?  He came to Moscow.  I saw him do demonstration.  Very strong.  Anderson, I think..."

"Paul Anderson?" I asked.

"Yes, yes.  You've heard of him.?"

"I have.  He was a very famous guy."

When we shook hands, his hands we rugged, warn tough, and warm.  His grip still strong as ever.  It was such a pleasure to meet this older Girevik and to see his eyes light up as he went back to a time long, long ago.   

So, what did I mean by comparing this guy to God?  I have had too many coincidences in my life to believe in accidents.  When two people converge like this it is not by accident.  William showed up today as God's way of letting me know I'm on the right path.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Easy Like Sunday Morning... on a Thursday

Whenever you have an opportunity to quote Lionel Ritchie...  take it!

Thursday started with a warm up of Joint Mobility then light Clean & Press ladders of 1,2 for 4 rounds using the 32.  In between ladders I practiced the Pistol.  Lowering myself as low as possible under as much control as posible and to my suprise I got pretty low under much more control than I've had in the past.  Once I got down to bottom, I'd stretch the extended leg and practiced genetating as much static tension as possible trying to stand back up.  A few close calls with getting out of the hole, but we're still quite far from the cigar.  Clean & Press felt pretty solid. 

Snatch session after was 12 sets of 6/6 with no time limit.  Just looking for 144 solid reps.  Next week I'll see how fast I can get those 12 sets of 6/6...  Each set felt strong and tight. 

Cooled off with some mild stretching and hanging.  All in all good training was had by all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Heavy

Tuesday at the park, Rite of Passage heavy day.

Warmed up with Pavel Tsatsouline's Super Joints and the warm up drills from Enter the Kettlebell.  I also tossed in a few Overhead Squats, Turkish Get Ups and some Goblet Squats for good measure.  It looked like this:

Face-the-Wall Squats: 3 sets of 5
Overhead Squats: 3 sets of 5
Goblet Squats: 3 sets of 5
Halos: 3 sets of 5
Pump Stretches: 3 sets of 5
TGU's 3 left/3right 16kg bell

Now for the work:

32kg Clean and Press 3 Ladders of 1,2,3,4 alternated with box pistols.

Press Volume looks like this 3 x 10 total reps per side which ads up to 60 reps or 1920 kg's pressed.  In pounds that's about 4233 lbs pressed.

Anybody else having a Rainman moment or is it just me?

The Clean and Press is coming along well.  Today I put my focus on pushing myself away from the Kettlebell and exploding out of the clean. 

So it looks like I may have found the only acceptable use for a High Step in the RKC community.  I will accept any and all insults and teasing, but know this; for Box Pistols, they're great!  Here's how I put it to use:  I laid out each rung of the step, the lowest being two rungs.  For the first rung of the ladders, I'd do 1 Clean and Press left and 1 right then head over to the high step for a very low Box Pistol; 1 left, 1 right.  For the second rung, I did 2 Clean and Presses left and 2 right then set the step at three rungs for 2 Box Pistols left and right.  3 Clean and Presses left and right and 3 Box Pistols at 4 rungs.  Then I'd finish up with 4 Clean and Presses left and right and 4 Box Pistols left and right.  As the volume increased, the height of the box increased so I could stay 100% focused on tension and lowering myself under control and not worry about too much fatigue.

Wrapping it all up with Swings.  The dice roll came back Snake Eyes so I did a Power to the People tribute.  1 set of Bulldog Swings to near failure.  24 reps.  Caught my breath and did 22.  Took another breather and on a whim knocked out 20 more for good measure.  

I cooled down with some Hanging Leg Raises, Stretched out a bit and am looking forward to tomorrow's Active Recovery which will involve some Club Swinging Practice.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Morning Training

Warmed up with the Super Joints.  This is such a great way to get started and loosen up.  Especially when the real job has you riding a desk most of the time. 

ROP Medium Day.

Clean and Press Ladders 3 ladders of 1,2,3 @ 32kg  with Pistol Practice in between. 
Two Hand Swings with Bulldog.  Dice rolls for time.  Rolled a 9.  Did :20 seconds of work and :40 seconds of rest for 9 rounds.  Averaged 14 reps in those :20 seconds.

If I'm doing the math right, Sunday's volume looked like this:

(1+2+3)2 x 3 = 36 x 32 = 1152kg pressed (2540lbs)
14 x 9 = 126 reps x 40kg  = 5040 kg swung (11113.2lbs)

Cool down:  Hanging Leg Raises 5x5 and Cobra Stretches.  Arm Bar when I got home with 24 # bell.

Highlights:  Mrs Bradley joined me and shadowed me on the ladders and the Swings.  She used a 24# bell for the Clean and Press and did her Swings with the 35#er.  My lady did some good work.

Felt the second round of Pistol practice was the best attempts of the 3 rounds.  I had more control in the decent which for me is important.  I know once I pass parallel, I start to get anxious about falling backward.  I think next time around I will try to go even lower and ride the anxiety all the way down.  Once I get to a certain point, I loose either strength, flexibility or both and then fall back.  I want to get that "fall back" part lower and consistent.

Tuesday (Heavy day) I will shoot for 3 x 1,2,3,4 on the Clean & Press plus Box Pistols and then see what fate brings for the Bulldog.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thursday Night Training

So Thursday night after working at the "real" job, I headed to the park to enjoy the receding daylight and get in my easy ladders and snatches.

Warm up was the classic warm up from Enter the Kettlebell.

The work was 3 ladders of 1,2 on the Clean and Press with the 32kg bell and in between ladders, I used a pole to lower myself into a rock bottom pistol and performed static holds for as long as it seemed "comfortable."  Just trying to stick the bottom with strength, flexibility and balance.  Slightly better than last time.  I felt a bit more flexible and my balance is improving.  Don't get me wrong, if I'd have let go of the pole, I'd have been on my ass faster than you could say "on your ass."  It's just that I didn't have to hold on so hard so I'm calling that an improvement.  After the holds, I would do a Pump/Cobra stretch and then return to the Clean and Press.

Interesting how sore you can get from a static hold.  Meaning had some good DOMF the next morning.  Mostly felt in in the hips and deep in the hams and glutes.  This wasn't the normal lactic acid cesspool you get after a high volume day of Romanian Deadlifts, this was a deep soreness, like muscles are working now that don't really get out much.

Snatches.  Goal was 120 in 10 minutes or less with the 24.  Got that.  Wouldn't say it was easy.  I had about 15 seconds left when I stopped.  I was simply doing sets of 5 and 5.  I split it up into rounds.  First round was 3 sets; 5/5, 5/5, 5/5, stop, 5/5, 5/5, stop, 5/5 stop,  5/5, 5/5, 5/5, stop, 5/5, 5/5, stop, and 5/5.

Slow and steady wins the race.  My glutes wore out and the last set was all heart.  It seems as if the conditioning is there, but it's been a while since I worked with the 24 on high volume snatching so my body is coming back to it a little reluctantly.  Which is fine.  200 in 10 will fall by the end of the year if not sooner.   

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Tao of the Kettlebell - Verse 10

Carrying body and soul
and embracing the one,
can you avoid separation?

Can you let your body become
as supple as a newborn child's?
In the opening and shutting of heaven's gate,
can you play the feminine part?

Can you love your people
and govern your domain
without self-importance?

Giving birth and nourishing;
having, yet not possessing;
working, yet not taking credit;
leading without controlling or dominating.

One who heed this power
brings the Tao to this very earth.
This is the primal virtue.

In Wayne Dyer's Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, he refers to this verse of the Tao as "Living Oneness."  Dr. Dyer also goes on to introduce this verse by reminding us of the paradoxical nature of the Tao.  Body and Spirit, Yen and Yang.  Same only different.  "We are connected to the power of the eternal Tao, while simultaneously being in a mortal physique."  That is how the verse starts off.  Lao-Tzu tells us:

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one, can you avoid separation?

We have this body, this vessel that is mortal, that carries an eternal piece.  A piece of the Tao or God or the Universe.  Many are not fully aware of the other side.  By that I mean the spiritual aspect of their body.  If you exercise, train with weights, Kettlebells specifically, and Hardstyle to be even more specific, then you understand the moments of euphoria when you hit a PR.  But wasn't it more about the journey?  Aren't you stronger for it and I don't mean just the body.

Whether you like it or not there's a whole other side.  The white to the black and it is eternal.  Eventually you will connect with it.  The question is, will you do it now or later?  By connecting to and maintaining that connection, you can harness the strength to lift yourself out of the deepest and darkest of holes.

Can you let your body become as supple as a newborn child's?

My neighbor's kid plops into a rock bottom squat in a way that makes me very jealous.  To see the ease and grace of it.  Children have so much to teach us.  They are still brilliantly connected to that beautiful source of all life.

Tension.  It helps generate force.  Tension is the beginning of strength.  But what about the opposite?  The Yang?  There must be time to relax.  To shake out the tension.  Release it and regain the suppleness of the child.  And through that practice, can we also reconnect to the childlike joy and peace that exists when Santa Claus is coming to town?

The RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) system in also known as Hardstyle.  Meaning the practice of Hardstyle Kettlebell training has one basic thread throughout the practice and that is compression.  Hardstyle Kettlebell training will teach you how to create strength and force through the focus of energy and generation of tension.  There's nothing "supple" about Hardstyle Kettlebell Training.

Or is there?  What is the Yang to the Yin of tension?  The Tao says "supple."  The RKC says relaxation.  In the RKC there are "grinds" and there are "ballistics."  When you grind out a repetition, there is lots of tension and when you're working your ballistics, like swings and snatches, you get to waver between tension and relaxation.

Ever evolving and creating balance in that, the RKC has now incorporated circular strength into their system.  A way to decompress and study another form of strength with Indian Club swinging.  The main reason I'm bringing this up is that in the resent F.M.S. Publication, Club Swinging Essentials, you'll read a note from the U.S. Army Manual of Physical Training circa 1914.  Re: Club Swinging, it says:

"The effect of these exercises, when performed with light clubs, is chiefly a neural one, hence they are primary factors in the development of grace, coordination and rhythm.  As they tend to supple the muscles and articulations of the shoulders and to the upper and fore arms and wrist, they are indicated in case where there is a tendency toward what is ordinarily known as muscle bound."

Notice the word supple?  Another method of creating supple is in Qi Gong.  More specifically, John DuCane's Recharge.  Either way, it's about balance.  And speaking of balance,

In the opening and shutting of heaven's gate, can you play the feminine part?

Think of the feminine.  Women tend to be more supple then men.  The woman is the creator of life.  The creative spirit is uniquely feminine.  Can one in their strength be strong enough to allow the creative to flow into them and then out to share heaven with the world?  By helping others regain that suppleness of children coupled with the firmness and tension of adulthood we can reconnect to that which we grew out of.  Can we grow back into suppleness?  Tension is one of the tool.  One must understand both to be the master. 

We can now start to see the challenge Lao-Tzu is putting forth.

Can you love your people and govern your domain without self-importance?

Whether you're an RKC, a coach, an educator, or none of the above, you are still a teacher.  You teach others by your example.  How you carry yourself.  Your actions.  Your deeds.  You teach others how you want to be treated.  Make it all about you and that is all you will have.  Make it all about them and you will know love.

Giving birth and nourishing; having, yet not possessing; working, yet not taking credit; leading without controlling or dominating.

Living outside of ego in all you do.  This is the challenge Lao-Tzu is giving.  Can you be strong enough to have and own your physical strengths and weaknesses and yet not strive to posses it.  Will you give credit to where credit is due?  Would you be where you are if it weren't for someone?  Can you teach others with humility and grace?  Do you carry your strength with modesty.  Teach with tough love and respect?  Strive for constant improvement?  This is the way of the RKC.

One who heed this power brings the Tao to this very earth. This is the primal virtue.

This is the way of heaven.  A primal virtue.  Primal, to me means something that comes from deep down.  A part of our very fabric of being.  And virtue has always stood for something good that may require some work.  Patience is a virtue, they say.  Patience requires a decision and some effort.  So to have a virtue, moral excellence, as Webster puts it, that reaches deep down into the fabric of your being, that is something worth training for.

How can you apply this into your training? 

Kettlebell Stickers and Wounded Warriors

The Pura Vida Company is proud to announce that now through Monday, 100% of all sales from Kettlebell Stickers will be donated to the Wounded Warriors project! After Monday 5/31, 1$ will be donated!

Check em out and get your sticker today! 

Being Memorial Day, it's important to recognize the sacrifice that our troops past and present make daily and have made to keep our country safe and out of harms way.

The Wounded Warriors Project is a non profit group dedicated to honor and empower our wounded warriors.

This is a group that needs to be recognized, thanked and equally empowered as their cause is nobel.

I'd like to help this group if even in a small way which is why I'll be donating 100% of the proceeds this weekend and 1$ per sale there after! 

If you train with Kettlebells and are proud of this country and would like to thank that men and women who make it possible and keep us safe, having a Kettlebell bumper sticker is a nice way to say thanks. 

Tuesday/Wednesday - Heavy Day and Active Recovery

ETK ROP Heavy Day

My heavy day was...  well, heavy.  Clean and Press with the 32.  I did 5 ladders of 1,2,3.  That's 30 per side, 60 total.    1920kg lifted.  Phew!

Followed that up with 1 near max set of Swings with the Bulldog.  Got 22 good reps.  Anymore would have been sloppy.  Took a rest and knocked out 20 reps and then 18.  Called myself sufficiently smoked and went to stretch out.

Active Recovery

I love a nice day of Active Recovery.  Headed down to the beach off of Topanga Canyon and PCH.  Just below the Getty Villa, there a few nice spots.  I ran through John DuCane's Recharge and then Practiced Movement's 1 and 2 from Club Swinging Essentials.  From there I headed down to the old Muscle Beach.  Played on the rings for a while.  Overall, all was right with the world!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday in the Park with George and Lenny

Sunday morning's strength practice consisted of warming up with Super Joints and standard warm up from Enter the Kettlebell.

The workout consisted of alternating ladders with Clean and Press and Pistols.  Five ladders of 1,2.  The reason I'm calling this Sunday in the Park with Lenny and George is because, if you've read Grapes of Wrath, I feel like George on the Clean & Press and Lenny on the Pistol.

I finished the workout (or rather the workout finished me, however you want to look at it) with Bulldog Swings.  Dice rolls to determine the rounds and did :20 seconds of work with :40 seconds of rest.  Dice came back with a six, so it was six rounds set on the ol' Gymboss Timer.

On the press, I still need to work on keeping my shoulder packed down while pressing.  It also wouldn't hurt if I had just a tad more control on the decent.  The Clean feels solid and controlled but the bell tends to move or shift on my wrist as I start the press, so it's important to really stick the clean.  Take a moment to re-pressurize and generate a little extra force before pressing on.  Even if for just a split second.

Pistols...  OK George!  Diie-Uh...  YUP!  I'm like Sport Goofy over there.  But!  Maintaining tension and pulling myself deeper will be the focus.  Here's the basic plan.  Light day's I'm getting into the bottom position for some static holds.  Heavy days, I'm doing Box Pistols and Medium days we're doing what I like to call "Lenny" Pistols or the best I can manage at current skill level.  And that's the thing.  The Pistol really is a skill.  You, I, one must get VERY familiar with spacial awareness, trust in current strength, practice the techniques I have, not yield to gravity, be in balance and most importantly, believe that it will happen.  This if foreshadowing to a much larger blog...  I will continue on.  You'd think I'd have a copy of Naked Warrior on my night stand next to my bed, but I put in the bathroom where I will see it often and pay closer attention to it.

Swings.  Bulldog.  Heavy.  Punishing.  Work.  My right foot likes to creep out clockwise, so I need to stay in constant vigil there and I'd like to finish each Swing just a little tighter.

Heavy day coming on Tuesday.  Clubs tomorrow, video coming soon...

Thursday Morning Practice

So off to the park on a beautiful Thursday morning.

Warm Up:  Super Joints, Goblet Squats, Halos, Sling Shots and Pumps.

As planned, I practiced the Clean and Press with the 32kg.  Light day so just 5 singles and then in between lowered myself into the rock bottom pistol (with help from a tree) and just stayed there looking for balance and stability.  Didn't find much of it, but I'm understanding the importance of just being down there.

Next time I will continue working on staying in the bottom position with less and less help from the tree...

Snatch workout had a goal of 12 sets of 5/5 in 12 minutes with the 24kg and I hit that with 59 seconds to spare.  It's a tad humbling easing yourself back into heavy snatching, but also exciting as I climb the ladder to 200 in 10 minutes.

In about 15 minutes, I'm going to go hit the Medium day...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tuesday Heavy

Tuesday's my heavy day.  I don't have to report to my "real job" on Tuesdays, so I can train all day if I like.  Ironically here in sunny California on a Tuesday morning in Encino, it got cold, cloudy, misty, then rainy.  Fortunately, for me, I had the cover of some very large trees to get me through my Clean and Press/Box Pistols ladders.

So what's an Irish bloke to do when the weather starts acting like the land of my forefathers?  First, we take cover under the large trees.  Normally used to block out the sun and a favorite spot among weekend birthday party revelers, these large oak and pine with intermingled branches keep a small patch of Balboa park relatively dry.  We then fire up the old boom box with a little Lunasa and get to work.

After warming up with Super Joints and the warm up from Enter the Kettlebell, out comes the 32kg bell and I settle in to 4 ladders of 1,2,3.  Clean and Press left, then right.  Box Pistol left, then right.  For the Box Pistols, I'm down to tier 3 on the High Step.  However, for this workout, I left the box in the car and just practiced going as low as I can.  I have determined that my hams are too tight and won't allow for a full rock bottom pistol yet.  Also, I need to get comfortable with being in the bottom position of the pistol.  With that in mind, I think I'll make an adjustment here.  On Light Days, I'll focus on static holds and practice being in the bottom position.  Medium days will be pistols with no box, just going as low as I can without falling on my ass.  Heavy days will be the box pistol.  Needless to say, Pavel's Naked Warrior is always close a hand.  My current "day job" really doesn't allow for full blown GTG so instead, I've committed to always stand up with one leg.

The pressing is coming along fine, no major issues, just working on a smooth groove, keeping the shoulder down, lats flared and lots of tension.

My 12 Minute Man Maker turned into a 4 Minute Getterdun as the rain began to seep through the trees and the wind kicked up.  So it was me and the Bulldog for 4,8,12,16, 20, and called it like a rained out baseball game, as a wet horn on an 88 pound Kettlebell is really just asking for something to go horribly wrong.

The press the Bulldog/pistol quest will continue...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saturday Morning ETK

Saturday morning was a good solid session for me.

Warmed up with Super Joints and 5/5 TGU's. 

From there I worked the C&P, 4 ladders of 1,2 with the 32kg and alternated Box Pistols.  In the C&P, I focused on three specific things.  The first was bracing at the end of the Clean.  The second was to press from lats and the third was creating max tension with the non-pressing side.  Clearly when elevating 32kg's overhead, the pressing side will have more than enough tension, but how much more power can you generate when you direct some attention over to the non-pressing side and equal the amount of tension you're creating?

Still struggling with the Box Pistol.  The box is getting pretty low, so that's the good news.  The bad news is it feels like you're back to square one, relearning everything from this new depth.  Worked hard on gripping the ground and leaning forward.  Hitting bottom is the main issue right now.  It is my suspicion that my hamstrings might be a little too tight, so I'm going to work on stretching them out see what that does.  Also, I will see about getting tighter and staying tighter all the way down.  I think I'm loosing some tension the closer I get to bottom.  Tuesday will be my heavy day, so I'm gonna leave my box in the car and just practice pistols as low as I can go.  Will update on my findings.

Bulldog Swings finished up the workout, with dice rolls at the 9.  Decided on :20 work, :40 rest.  Set the gymboss timer and got to work.  I was averaging between 12 and 13 reps per set.  Swings felt good and solid.  Hands are sore though.  88 pounds trying to fly away can be a bit tough on the grip, but I'm happy about seeing any WTH effect on my Bottoms Up Press. 

Finished up with some hanging leg raises (5x5) and a few drills from Relax Into Stretch

Monday night will be some Clubbell Practice...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Tao of the Kettlebell - Verse Nine

To keep on filling
is not as good as stopping.
Overfilled, the cupped hands drip,
better to stop pouring.

Sharpen a blade too much
and its edge will soon be lost.
Fill your house with jade and gold
and it brings insecurity.
Puff yourself with honor and pride
and no one can save you from a fall.

Retire when the work is done;
this is the way of heaven.


As I began to type this, I was instantly reminded of two other pieces of wisdom. The first piece of wisdom is one that I'm mentioned over and over in the writings I've worked on over on HubPages which is a quote from David Whitley's eBook, 101 Kettlebell Workouts.

"Push yourself, but don't be stupid."

The RKC Code of Conduct is the second piece of wisdom that I was reminded of after reading this ninth verse of the Tao.

This verse, along with the simple wisdom of Mr. Whitley and the RKC Code of Conduct teaches and encourages humility.  In my study of the Tao, I have used Wayne Dyer's book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life as my chief text for the Tao.  His interpretations are always insightful and even in the very title, there in lies the challenge of humility to "change our thoughts."  How often are our thoughts considered to be set in stone, as a principle?  The reality for us is that it may take great humility to recognize when a specific thought might not be the best way to look at something.  Another great quote from Dr. Dyer is, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."   

As we merge the wisdom of the Tao with the quest for strength, what can Lao-Tzu teach us about humility and how can humility help us get stronger?  Both in body and spirit... 

To keep on filling is not as good as stopping.

This is Lao-Tzu's way of saying, "push yourself, but don't be stupid."  As you train for strength, you will soon learn and understand your body better.  You will find yourself connected to and more in tune with many aspects of your body.  Situational awareness is a key result of strength training and Kettlebell training more specifically.  But so is the relationship between you and your body.  There will many cues from your body as to when to stop a session or a set.  Your task is to know when you have a barrier to blow through and when it's really time to stop.  You will soon recognize when it's the little voice in head that's trying so desperately to keep you in homeostasis, to the other voice that rings from your past, this is the one that reflects your self worth and ego...

(yeah, I grew up with a head shrinker for a father, so what?  I learned a lot and you're still reading, so just enjoy this little pop-psych for a moment and see if you don't get something out it)

See, right there was an example of the little voice manifesting itself right here in this blog.  Nice, huh?  So when you're shooting for a goal or PR and there's all these things saying stop, know when to stop and know when keep going.  There is no better way to say it than "push yourself, but don't be stupid."  It takes great humility to live to fight another day. 

Overfilled, the cupped hands drip, better to stop pouring.

This is direct contrast to the "leave it all in the ring" view.  This is the difference.  A professional boxer or weightlifter trains to peak in the ring or on the mat.  Powerlifters train for longevity.  Pavel Tsatsouline's book, Power to the People teaches us about cycling and progressive overload and also advocates not training to failure every time.  That it is better to stop pouring and only overfill our cup once in a while.  

Sharpen a blade too much and its edge will soon be lost.

This continues on to remind us not to over train our body.  That rest is an equal portion of the strong body equation.  We grow and develop while at rest, not while at work.  Work is to practice, train and apply.  Rest is where we process, repair, restore and rebuild.  The Seventh principle in Steven Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is "Sharpen the Saw."  Ironically, he talks about continual improvement, but this is not without giving the body, mind and spirit the time it needs to grow.

Now we will move deeper into the aspect of ego and self image...

Fill your house with jade and gold and it brings insecurity.

The fitness industry is filled with jade and gold.  The ego.  Your self image.  How you look and what you are worth should be separate.  You are a piece of God made flesh.  You do not need a 6-pack to be of value and worth.  You do not need to bench press your way to cut glass with your pecs in order to be attractive and wanted.  What happens when you can't bench?  If your sense of worth is locked into the image you see in the mirror you will be in a constant state of fear that the image will fade.  And when the image does fade, who will you be?

Instead train for strength.  Not so you can say, "look how much I can lift," but instead, what can you gain from the journey?  What can you learn from cultivating your strength, your will, your spirit?  What can you accomplish in the world when you take that strength outside the gym?

Puff yourself with honor and pride and no one can save you from a fall.

Use your lats!  You see guys in the gym who walk with puffed lats to look stronger or bigger.  In the animal kingdom you see countless examples of animals who puff and pump themselves up to look larger, stronger, tougher.  If that's all you got, what's going to happen when you really need that strength you've been feigning.  Like all mirages, it will fade and pass.  Pavel's book Beyond Bodybuilding has the "Strong As You Look Series."  This is an important aspect of training for strength verses training for looks.  The image that you put forth, like all aspects of yourself, should be congruent with your inner self.  Be as strong as you look and you will look as strong as you are.  Allow your appearance to be a residual effect, not the main goal.  Balloons loose their air over time but a rock is a rock regardless of its size and weight...  think about it.

Retire when the work is done; this is the way of heaven.

More for the sake of more is a waste of resources.  It is not in line with the Tao.  The quest for more because one believes that more of something is the way to happiness or success is the ego running rampant.  Instead, work hard in the moment and find your strength, joy, and happiness from what you are doing rather than looking to what this may bring.  And keep in mind, as I've said before, there is no way to strength or happiness, instead, strength and happiness is the way.

I'll end this with some wisdom from Carlos Castaneda.