Monday, December 31, 2007

Mon, New Years Eve SNATCHES

DAMN! That pretty much sums up today's session. I smoked myself this morning working on my Snatches. Following last week's first RKC Test-Style session, where I was able to perform 30 consecutive snatches with the 24kg, and also enjoying a tapering week since then, I came out of the gate today hungry to start bringing my training up to a new level.

With the helpful suggestions of my kb brethren (thank you all for your support and encouragement, you know who you are), I increased the volume of my snatches today. Last week after performing my set of 30 I called it a day. Not today. But first, let's start at the beginning....

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20, 24kg - 10, 32kg - 10

Windmills: 16kg - 5/5m 24kg - 3/3

Snatches: 24kg - 17/17

Man, I haven't hit this kind of intensity since training on the Ergs in college. Lungs burning, giving it everything you got. And that was all in the first set! It was tough! The following sets were all easy compared to the first. I liked tapering down because it allowed me to feel strong again in those later sets, without over stressing the respiratory system. I do know one thing for sure, I am going to be feeling this tomorrow. Great way to start the New Year! Have a Happy New Year everyone!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fri, 12/28 - Playing with the 32kg

Still keeping the intensity low for the remainder of this week. On Monday, I ramp things back up. And like a good taper week, I am itching to start pushing myself again. I guess this physical/psychological tapering is working. I am feeling good physically - I started directing more attention to my forearm extensors, stretching them, doing some Z-Health elbow work and the tightness/pain in my biceps is starting to improve (hence the light Clean & Presses today), and mentally I ready to kick things up a notch. So today's session included...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10

Clean & Presses: 16kg - 3/3, 5/5, 5/5

Pistols: 8kg - 1/1

(Noticed some tightness again in the left shin. I am convinced that it is shin splints since I increased the weight of my swings on Wed introducing the 32kg. Going to introduce some of the stretches in Relax Into Stretch to see if that helps. There is one specifically for shins I recall.)

Swings: 32kg
6 2-Hand, 2 L, 2 R (10 reps total)
10 2-Hand
5 L, 5 R
10 2-Hand
10 2-Hand

I experimented a bit today with the 32kg. Wanted to get my first taste of swinging it with one arm, so I mixed it up a bit keeping the total number of reps in my target range for today. The Swings feel good and strong.

Now that I have a 16kg, a 24kg and a 32kg bell, along with an interval timer things are going to get good. 2008 is going to rock!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wed, 12/26 - Swings

I had decided that I would taper back a bit this week to give my body a chance to rest and recuperate. At the same time I was itching to Swing my new 32kg bell. So I took a look at the total volume of Swings that I performed last Wednesday (weight x total reps) and multiplied by 70% to come up with a target volume for today. So even though the weight of the kb went up, total volume is reduced. Now I realize that there is probably some non-linearity involved with a new weight being introduced, but close enough! So after all of the graduate school mathematics was over, here's my reduced intensity session for the day...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30
Halos: 16kg - 4/4
Figure 8 to Hold: 16kg - 4/4

2-Hand Swings: 32kg - 10 for 5 sets

And yes, overall at the end of it, it does feel like a lighter workout!

As a follow-up from yesterday's Overhead KB Walks, shoulders felt fine today, lower back was just a little tight upon waking my felt fine after warming up. Will try next time with the 24kg.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day, 12/25 - Take Your Kettlebell For A Walk

I guess I've been a good boy this past year because Santa brought me some cool new toys to play with this year.

Under the tree this morning I found:

(1) Pavel's Relax Into Stretch book
(2) Gymboss Interval Timer
(3) 32kg Kettlebell

oh yeah and (4) a LOT of Lindt chocolate(!)

Very cool!

I can also say that I've messed around with all of them already. A few 2-handed swings with the 32kg felt surprisingly easy. I was expecting much worse. I am looking forward to using it tomorrow for my Swings Day.

To keep things moving today, and since it was pretty warm outside with a lot of the snow and ice melted, I took my 16kg out for a walk. At the suggestion of Taikei, I walked with the kb in the overhead position up and down the block just a bit. Only two house lengths which I'm estimating to be about 90 feet or so in each direction (the 40 foot ranch is a common house on this block each with driveway).

I walked one way with the kb overhead on the left side, turned around, switched arms and walked back. Did this 3 times. I could definitely feel bones moving around a bit in the shoulder blade area, but no problems. I'll wait till the morning to see if there are any after effects. But this too I thought was pretty easy. Next time I'll try it with the 24kg bell.

So a good day!! Hope you all had yourselves a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mon, Christmas Eve - Snatches

Today was my first planned RKC Snatch Test outing. I planned to do this today, two maybe three weeks ago. I figured I would peak today with the test then taper off for the rest of the week, before starting up again in the new year.

I admit I made myself pretty nervous about today. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself as it was only my first attempt, and I know I wouldn't be able to hit 52 needed to pass the real RKC test, and I kept telling myself that the whole point of this was to give myself a baseline to work from, but regardless I was nervous.

So anyway, to cut to the point... I completed 30!

Warmed up with...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10

Then went right into the test...

Snatches: 24kg - 15/15

Started out on the left side. The first 15 were surprisingly easier than I expected. The second half was another story. I definitely felt constrained from wind and not from strength. I guess that's telling me that I should start stretching out my sets to some higher reps as I have been doing sets of 5/5.

I am very happy with today's result. I knew I'd be able to do twenty, thirty I thought was possible but would be a stretch. Well I stretched it! Maybe 52 isn't impossible after all... hahaha. Nice Christmas present to myself.

Thanks for stopping by. And have yourself a very Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,
I know I have been getting very excited and asking for a new 32kg kettlebell this year. Well, I will admit that a 32kg bk would be a lot of fun to play with in the coming year, but there is something that I want even more.
For Christmas this year, all I ask is for my little boy Anthony's health to continue improve and for 2008 to require less hospital stays than this past year. As you know, Anthony was born with a condition called Tuberous Sclerosis and from this condition, he has tumors in his brain, his heart and his eyes.
Most pressing now are the brain tumors which cause him to have epilepsy. The constant seizures have caused a major delay in his cognitive development and he needed to be admitted to the hospital 7 times this past year for extended stays requiring video EEG monitoring. At twenty-months old now, Anthony continues to progress, having 8 therapy sessions each week which include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and special education. The combination of medications that he is on now are working well at controlling his seizures. Please let this continue as long as possible.
Tuberous sclerosis is a devastating genetic disorder. As difficult as it gets at times, we realize that we are actually quite lucky as some families have lost their children to this condition. To help raise awareness and potentially find a cure, I have set up a fundraising page in Anthony's name. If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation, no matter how small, it would be most appreciated. Anthony's page can be found at:
Thank Santa and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fri, 12/21 - High Pulls

Oh what a week it's been. Work has been crazy intense. Working late just about every night. I guess you can blame the holidays for that. Try to get everything done now, so we can take next week off. It's been tough. I haven't been getting enough sleep the past few nights. Put in a 15 hour day on Wed. Eating isn't optimal. That's why I skipped my Variety Day Thursday. But today's session is a MUST session. So regardless of the circumstances, I had to get up early today.

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40, 24kg - 10

Windmill: 16kg - 3/3, 24kg - 2/2

Clean & Press: 16kg - 3/3

High Pulls: 24kg - 5/5 for 7 sets

Now last week I performed 8 sets of High Pulls. But today, on my 7th (last) set I felt my form breaking down on the left side and then felt some 'clicking' in my shoulder when I worked the right side. Now I have become a proponent of telling people not to let their egos interfere with good training principles. So today, as much as I wanted to do more than 8 sets, I bit the bullet and stopped where I was.

Today is my last day in the office until after New Year's. So I will be trying to get a bit more sleep in the coming week, as well as get some R&R. Oh, but only after Monday's RKC-style Snatch session. On Monday I get to push myself - need to get a baseline on consecutive Snatches. 2008 is upon us! And with that, RKC can expect me. =)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wed, 12/19 - Swings

... and other things.

Felt good waking up today. A little tired maybe. This is going to be a rough week at work. Rest of the week looks to be filled with late nights. If anything, I can now just focus on getting my Friday workout in and be happy because next week I'm off! (Well, technically there will be some things I'll have to tend to, but that's what laptops are for, so I won't have to go into the office).

Anyhow, back to the fun stuff. Here's my Wed, Swing-Focused session...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40, 24kg - 20

Getups: 16kg - 5/5

Pistols: 8kg - 3/3, 3/3

1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10/10 for 5 sets

The Pistols are feeling good again! No pain in the left shin. It's gone as mysteriously as it came. Hopefully everything I'm doing now will keep it from showing up again. Very cool. Next week I'll bump up the weight a bit and see how it feels. Slow and steady.

Notched up an additional set on the 1-Hand Swings. Rep for rep, I'm in line with my Snatches, although these are giving me a chance to work through longer continuous sets. This seems to be working for me. That's all folks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TueZday, 12/18 - Z-Day

Just some Z-Health drills this morning. Woke up, immediately noticed traps were a bit sore from yesterday's Snatches. But that's all that got my attention as I tip toed out of bed this morning.

Over the weekend, I watched and read through two additional sections of the Z-Health R-Phase manual - Hips and Elbows. I've definitely been taking my time with this. I've sort of started around my core and am radiating outward in each direction as I continue to add the pieces together.

The most difficult area for me (so far) is the Thoracic. I think maybe its just a tough spot to develop isolated movement, even though its only supposed to be a very limited range of motion. But nonetheless I will keep working it.

I love the way the shoulder scapula movement feels. The neck has definitely improved from when I first started, but still has a ways to go. Particularly with the tilt & lateral slides.

My next biggest challenge is to figure out what the deal is with my right bicep/forearm. It continues to exhibit this "overuse" injury (as my previous physical therapist termed it). I'm thinking it might be the biceps tendon that is strained. First popped up a few years ago, when I started doing a lot of pullups. I think I might have increased the volume too quickly and developed this strain. Over the years now, if I had curled too heavy it would rear its ugly head. Although when I was doing pullups at the gym, the pullup station had angled handles that allowed me to perform higher rep sets without pain. Once I started doing them at home on a straight bar (while also performing Clean & Presses) the pain re-appeared. Even while in physical therapy we couldn't get the pain to go away. It took a long time of non-use to do that. Definitely not optimal.

Always something to work on, something to improve.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mon, 12/17 - Snatches!!

Turns out the only type of exercise I performed over the weekend was some snowblowing and shoveling. We got some more snow Saturday into Sunday, so I was outside yesterday clearing it away. I did wake up this morning with my back a bit tight from it. And with today being my Snatch day, my first thoughts were "better warm up well".

Although I am not one who can remember what he dreams about during the night, I do recall that Snatches were a running theme in my dreams last night. I guess it's just the nervous anxiety of Snatch Day. I've been making awesome progress in the last few weeks and I had been hoping to continue to see that this morning.

So here is the result of this past week's work....

2-Hand Swings:
16kg - 30
24kg - 10

16kg - 5/5 for one set
24kg - 5/5 for 10 sets!!

10 sets!! Might not sound like a lot for some, but this is a PR for me. It was only a few weeks ago that I felt like I couldn't even control the 24kg on the downswing for a few reps. Last week I performed 7 sets of 5/5. All week I had planned to get 8 sets under my belt today. But something inside me yesterday said, "you can do 10 sets tomorrow". Maybe that's the reason for the dreaming - my brain planned for 8, while my body was confident on 10. Who knows. Regardless I feel awesome!

Next Monday, I plan to work a straight set in RKC testing fashion to get a baseline for where I am at. Then I am going to taper for a week, only work with the 16kg, before starting up the next cycle. By then, Christmas will be behind us and hopefully (fingers crossed) Santa will have delivered me a 32kg bell.

I am psyched for 2008!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fri, 12/14 - High Pulls

Friday's has become my High Pulls Day (at least for now). Monday has turned into Snatches Day and Wednesday has become Swings Day. When I finally did get around to the High Pulls today, the first couple of sets were rough, particularly on the left side, as my hands were hurtin' big time today. It was hard getting a good grip on the bell, but I finally seemed to settle in on a comfortable position (or maybe my hands just went numb) around the third set or so.

Here's this morning's practice...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20

Clean & Press: 16kg - 5/5

Windmills: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 1/1 for 3 sets

High Pulls: 24kg - 5/5 for 8 sets

It's likely I'll take the weekend off from training. At least that's what my brain is saying right now. I guess I'll have to wait and see how I'm feeling tomorrow. I do like having the day before and the day after Snatches off. So tomorrow is my last chance to get something else in for the week. Later!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thurs, 12/13

Today is a (relatively) easy day for me. I was going to say I didn't touch a single kettlebell, but that's not true since I used one to support one arm while working on one-arm pushups. They have infiltrated every aspect of my life!!

Anyhoo, today was somewhat short and quick...

Standing Ab Wheel Rollouts - 5, 5, 3, 3, 1

These are definitely getting tougher now as I'm almost fully stretched out at the bottom position.

Assisted 1-Arm Pushups - 5/5 for 2 sets

Used the 24kg kb to keep the non-working arm raised out to the side while concentrating on my form with the working arm.

Finished off with some Z-Health: Lengthening, Pelvis, Lumbar, Thoracic, Neck & Shoulders (in that order). I guess it's time to watch some more of the DVD and add another body segment...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wed, 12/12 - Swings

Good morning! I was feeling pretty good today. And I should since I took yesterday off from working out. This has happened twice now in the last two weeks and I think it's because I'm bumping up the intensity of my Monday Snatch workout. Which is a good thing. So for now it looks like on Tuesday's I get to sleep till 6am!!

My hands are still a bit sensitive from the Snatch workout as well, so luckily I am able to hang on to the 24kg for reps using the hook grip. Here's what today looked like...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40, 24kg - 20

Turkish Getups: 16kg - 5/5

Pistols: 8kg - 5/5

1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10/10 for 4 sets

Today was the first day in a long while that I was able to get to rock bottom on my left leg Pistol. I had been working the movement just up to the point of tightness (that arose out of nowhere that I could determine, and was painful to work through) and slowly over some time was able to increase the range of motion without feeling any pain or tightness. The first few reps I was stopping prematurely because I thought I sensed a bit of tightness, but on the 4th rep, I tried inching beyond that point and though "hmm". Last rep all the way down and felt good! Then I thought, "should I do another set?" But common sense told me no, don't push it. Baby steps.

So all in all, very happy with today's session. Swing 'em high!

Monday, December 10, 2007

No Dead Lifting

Today I ran over to the Planet Fitness facility near my office. They gym that I had belonged to has been bought out by Planet Fitness and my membership was transferred to their other location. Now I haven't been to the gym in months, since I've been working out with my kettlebells consistently at home in the early mornings. But my monthly membership fee was so small that I hadn't cancelled in case things at work change which would allow me to return to getting a workout in on my lunch hour.

But I finally decided to cut loose. As I stood in the facility, which looked pretty nice, I took note that it was painted nicely, looked clean, with a myriad of weight machines and cardio equipment, but was missing free weights. Then I spotted a small rack containing new looking rubber dumbbells. Next to it was another rack with some fixed plate barbells. And right above both on the wall was a big sign that read "No Dead Lifting".

That made me smile as I cancelled my membership and walked out the door.

Mon, 12/10 - Snatch Day

For those of you who have been following along, last Monday was a breakthrough day for me in terms of Snatches. It was the first day that I really felt comfortable and was able to Snatch for decent volume with the 24kg. All week I continued to train and prepare for this morning's session. Was last week just a fluke? Could I comfortably repeat last week's numbers?

Well I am happy to say that last week was not a fluke and this week saw an improvement over last (with some minor adjustments to my routine). So here goes...

Warmed up with the usual sequence of movement, only reduced the number of Swings a bit from the usual amount.

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10
Halos: 16kg - 5/5
Figure 8 to Hold - 5/5

Then moved right on to the main feature...

Snatches: 16kg - 5/5
24 kg - 5/5 x 7 sets

Amazing. I don't think I overdid it either. I'll see how I feel during the day today. I'm trying to incrementally increase my volume without feeling any harsh after effects. I guess my sessions are working. Sweet!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Quick Swings

Did two sets of quick swings today, just to keep things loose and moving...

1-Hand Swings:
16kg - 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1
24kg - 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1

These were performed 1 rep left, 1 rep right, 2 reps left, 2 reps right, etc. non-stop up and down the pyramid. Therefore each set consisted of a total of 50 swings. I got the idea for this from the mentioned on the recent Power by Pavel email newsletter, "what 200 snatched can do for the relative beginner". Not too bad.

Howie B., RKC??

Well first things first. Recovering from getting rear ended on my way in to work yesterday morning, if you want to call it recovering, is going extremely well. As a matter of fact, I don't have any post-accident problems or issues today whatsoever. I was a bit tight around my obliques this morning, but I think that's a result of yesterday morning's Windmills. So I am a very fortunate guy. Getting hit from behind on a highway is not something anyone wants to brag about. My rear bumper looks like it needs a bit of a lift, but other than that I think my car is ok as well. That Civic has been very good to me over the years.

Now on to the title of today's posting. I have decided that I will pursue an RKC certification. If any certifications get scheduled following the coming June session, I'll be there. I am already a great proponent of the kettlebells, whether it be to family, friends or coworkers. I'll always telling people how great they are, how much fun they are to swing and how amazing they are for one's health and fitness. I've taken my kb with me to work and demonstrated for friends, directed people to dragondoor and Enter the Kettlebell. I think it only makes sense to go all the way.

I know the April certification is already sold out, and that's all well and good because I don't know if I'd be ready for the Snatch test by then. And the June certification falls over the same weekend as my wife's birthday. And there's no way I'm going away during that time. So that leaves me to hope that the second half of 2008 will offer me a chance to get certified. I'll keep my fingers crossed and keep my eyes on the dragondoor website. Oh yeah, and I'll keep working on my Snatches!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fender Bender

Ouch! Got rear ended this morning on 95 North. Car in front of me slammed on their brakes. I slammed on mine. Stopped just in time. Looked in rear view mirror... uh oh, this isn't going to be good. BAM! pause... BAM! I got hit from behind then bounced forward into the car in front of me.

We all pulled off to the side. Took me a few seconds to catch my breath and let my adrenaline level come down. Everyone got out of their cars, all were ok. Car in front of me, no damage. Car behind me, front hood, bumper and one head light smashed in. My Civic, rear bumper somewhat dented, but not enough to worry about on a '99 model. Front of my car, nothing noticeable.

I'll carefully try to stretch out my back and neck today. I don't expect any problems beyond maybe some tightness. We shall see. Glad I worked out this morning, so that I was already warmed up and loose when struck.

Just another morning in NY.

Friday, 12/7

I was sooooooo tired this morning. But I forced myself to get up when the snooze went off at 5:15am. Just like Rif said, never ask yourself, "Do I feel like training?" Because you know what the answer will be, particularly if the alternative is to stay under the covers and catch another hour of zzz's. So I got up and got moving. And had a pretty good workout. Here's today...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40; 24kg - 20
Halos: 16kg - 5/5; 24kg - 5/5
Figure 8 to Hold: 16kg - 5/5; 24kg - 5/5

These were done once through with the 16kg (swings, then halos, then 8's), then grabbed the 24kg and ran through each again in same order.

Windmills: 16kg - 5/5; 24kg - 5/2

My form broke down on the 3rd rep so I stopped right here and moved on.

Clean & Presses: 16kg - 5/5; 24kg - 3/3

These felt pretty good. I'm gonna wait and see how the bicep feels tomorrow.

High Pulls: 24kg - 5/5 x 7 sets

These felt pretty good today too. I increased the number of sets from prior sessions. Hoping to see that come Monday my Snatches are still feeling as good as they did this week.

That's all folks. Enjoy the weekend!!

KSB T-Shirt

My t-shirt from Rannoch was waiting for me when I got home from work last night. It is SWEET!! Thank you Rannoch. I'll take some pics over the weekend. Fashion show! Fashion show!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thurs, 12/6

Some easy work this morning. It's been a while since I did any 'in-between' exercises, so today wasn't as easy as it usually is. But still not bad, not even close to the intensity of my kettlebell workouts.

Standing Ab Wheel Rollouts - 5, 5, 5, 5

I'm still working up to a complete roll out from standing position. My goal was to be able to perform one before the end of the year. I still have a little bit of time. Today's session consisted of me rolling out to a stop (45lb plate) from standing position then return. Each set I inched back farther away from the plate. Right now the hardest part is initiating the return when I'm extended in the jack knife position.

Then went back to working on Z-Health movements. Still working my way through the book/dvd. Today practiced the following:

Z-Health - Lengthening, Pelvis, Lumbar, Thoracic, Neck, Shoulders

That's it and that's all!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wed, 12/5

Well all of our snow is pretty much gone now. I guess we'll just have to wait for the first big storm to blanket us with something that will last.

Still feeling the aftermath of Monday's awesome Snatch work, so I took it a little easy today.

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40

Turkish Getups: 16kg - 3/3; 24kg - 1/1

Pistols: 8kg - 3/3; 16kg - 3/3

1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10/10, 10/10, 10/10

And that was it for today. Friday will be High Pulls again.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday, 12/3

Took the day off from work today, so I didn't have to wake up early. Did do some early Christmas shopping at the mall, got home and squeezed in my practice session.

Warmed up with...
2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 40, 24kg - 20
Halos: 16kg - 5/5
Figure 8 to Hold: 16kg - 5/5

Then on to...
Windmills: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 5/5

16kg - 5/5
24kg - 5/5, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5

5 sets of 5 with the 24kg. This is a PR for me. Most volume to date. I was AMAZED at how good these felt. Only last week, I felt like I couldn't control the down swing using the 24kg. I guess a few sessions of High Pulls and 1-Hand Swings with the 24kg sure did help with that.

I'd like to thanks all those out there with your feedback and suggestions that have helped get me here. This feels awesome! Looking forward to next Monday's session already!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

"I really can't stay."
"But baby it's cold outside..."

My favorite seen from the movie Elf.

And it was cold outside today! Down around 30-degrees. And snow is expected tomorrow! I finished hanging the Christmas icicle lights outside on the house today and it was bitter cold out there.

But beforehand, I loosened up with a few quick Swings. I was also a bit stuff from yesterday's session and because I did some Pistols for the first time in a while, my glutes are hurtin' today!

So anyway, just to loosen up and get the blood flowing today consisted of:

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20
1-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20/20
2-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10
1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10/10

Not too much but something to hold me over till Monday. I wonder how much snow we'll get??? That reminds me, better get some gasoline for the snow blower!! =)