Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some Basics

I'm starting to feel like this cough/cold of mine is finally starting to let up. Although if you ask the people around me, they might think otherwise. But I can feel it's grip on me starting to ease. So today I kept it simple, didn't do too much, but wanted to hit the major movements.

Warmed up with Super Joints "Select". That's what I'll call it, since I didn't hit everyone of the 17 movements but a select group. I pulled my rattan staff out of the garage and practiced the Russian Pool movement today. The second half of this move is pretty rough.

Then onto the kettlebells...

2-Hand Swing: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20, 32kg - 10

Halos: 16kg - 4/4

Circuit - 3x through:
Pistols: 16kg - 3/3
Military Press: 16kg - 5/5
Snatch: 24kg - 5/5

I wanted to press the 24kg but wasn't feeling it this morning, so dropped down to the 16kg. Forearms are hurtin'. Pistols felt good, got down rock bottom. Snatches felt light as a feather at top with good drive from the legs and hips. (Probably should have thrown in a few more sets at the end, but opted out today.) Time to prepare for morning rush hour!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Joints and more

Worked through the Super Joints routine this morning. Worked through each of the 17 movement (except for Russian Pool, since I didn't have a staff handy) for 10 reps each. This took about 20 minutes in total. I was briefly reading each description as I went through the list, so I imagine I'll be able to cut this back a bit as I get used to the movements. Then again, if I perform one rep for every year of age, this routine could end up taking an hour all by itself!! =)

Joints weren't the only thing Super this morning. I am (still) Super Sore from Sunday's Workshop! My arms are killing me. Delts, triceps, elbow extensors - I am just before the point where it hurts to straighten my arms. And I've still got this cough. So following Super Joints, I decided to go easy and just try to get things warmed up and moving for the day. Looked like this...

2-Hand Swings to warm up: 16kg - 25

Halos: 16kg - 4/4

Clean & Press: 16kg - 5/5

Windmill: 16kg - 3/3

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

That's it for today. I think I'm going to break a PR soon... almost the entire month of January sick. I can't believe it. And here I thought I was a 'healthy' person. This germ just does not want to go away!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

RKC Steve Freides Workshop

I have literally just gotten home from this afternoon's Kettlebell Workshop hosted by RKC Steve Freides - and I am POOPED!

Steve gave us two solid hours of quality instruction. I was amazed that for the first 45 minutes of the class we never touched a kettlebell! But that was good! Steve started us off with a host of joint mobility, bodyweight and stretching drills. Steve is able to lower himself with ease into a full split. Awesome. I was pretty impressed with my own flexibility as well. For someone who hasn't practiced a split stretch in about 10 years, I was able to get down there pretty good. I guess it's all about your foundation. As long as it's built correctly, it doesn't take too long to get back to where you left off.

Once we got into kettlebells, Steve had us go through 2-Hand Swings, 1-Hand Swings, Cleans, Presses, Windmills and finally Snatches. He was able to give me a few pointers, such as keeping my arms in tighter on my cleans as well as keeping my shoulders down (particularly on my right side) at the top position of my snatch.

We then finished off with Steve's "7 Minutes of Doom". Luckily we were running just a few minutes behind otherwise we would have been subject to a full 10 minutes of doom. And those 7 minutes consisted of performing 10 snatches (5 left, 5 right) on the minute for 7 minutes.

Now this is something I have as of late become all too familiar with! The only difference is that today I brought the 20kg bells with me, not the 24kg. I was able to 'comfortably' perform the full 7 sets of snatches, although the last set was starting to get weak.

So I'm pretty tired right now. I think I'll take tomorrow morning off from working out. Still coughing - 3 weeks now - this is just crazy - but improving. All in all, a great afternoon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Max Efforts

Training near one's max effort can certainly mess with one's motivation and confidence. When your goal is on the opposite side of a brick wall, what do you do? You can either point yourself forward, put your head down, hit the gas and accelerate and hope for the best, or you can find a path around the wall. It's a given that ultimately you will want to overcome the wall head on, but sometimes you need to know when to pick your battles.

This scenario has been playing in my head since Saturday's Snatch session. On Sat, I performed 8 sets of 10 snatches (5L,5R) on the minute for a total of 80 snatches. This was my max effort. Preparing for the RKC Snatch Test, I have been using Steve Freides' protocol and I knew that following this session, my next attempt should be 9 sets of 10 "on the minute". Knowing what it felt like to grind out those 8 sets and knowing how I felt afterward, there has been a constant fear, or anxiety, in me regarding today's session. How in the world could I get 9 sets out? Did I have it in me to push that hard? On top of it, I am still struggling to get over this cough and congestion that I've had for two weeks now. Six days on antibiotics and I'm only slightly better than I was than before I started the meds.

When the alarm went off this morning at 5:00, my body told me to get another hour's sleep. I didn't listen to it. After hitting the snooze once, ok maybe twice, I got up and got moving.

Warmup with 2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20, 24kg - 20

Double Clean-Squat-Push Press: 20kg - 3 sets of 5

Then it was time to start Snatching...

Snatch: 24kg - 5/5 on the Minute for 5 minutes
Snatch: 24kg - 5/5 on the 2nd Minute for 4 minutes

I didn't have it in me today to make it all the way through. But at the same time I wasn't going to end up with anything less than 90 snatches. This was definitely an easier workout than Saturday. I didn't find it easy by any means either. So I guess the 9 minute threshold will now be the focus of my training. Breaking through that barrier head first and not looking back. The anxiety is now gone.

I doubt I'm the only one who gets these feelings, when training hard right up against one's max. I probably could have saved myself a lot of worry by planning to go around this wall of mine immediately after Saturday's session. But at the same time, there's a part of me that thinks, 'hey you just did 8 minutes, with a few days rest you can certainly do 9 minutes'. I think that was my ego talking. Maybe the anxiety is good. Maybe it forces us to prepare in ways we wouldn't have otherwise. Regardless, it's probably always smart to have a detour map handy just in case you get to that wall and you don't want to get splattered.

Training Tip of the Day: If you do insist on swinging or snatching kettlebells while sick, do not use Puffs Plus Tissues with Aloe. Next time you pick up that kb, it will be very slippery in your hands and hard to control!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Body Needs Rest

Went to bed last night planning on getting up at 5am to workout and perform my timed Snatch session. When the alarm went off, my body didn't want to move. I decided to sleep another hour before getting up for work.

I'm realizing that unless I decrease the intensity of my current workouts, it's going to be very difficult scheduling them on successive days during the week. Therefore, for now, I will continue with my Mon/Wed/Fri (with something extra on the Weekend) schedule.

Maybe in a few weeks as my body gets used to these heavier, more intense routines I'll be able to start the Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri schedule. But for now, I'm going to listen to my body.

So tomorrow will be timed Snatches. Friday is up in the air. And looking forward to Sunday when I attend a workshop hosted by RKC Steve Freides!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mostly Grinds

With the office closed today, I had the opportunity to workout a little bit later in the morning than usual. And am still pretty sore from Saturday's workout. The Double Clean/Squat/Press sets coupled with Snatching on the minute left me hurtin'. My traps, hamstrings, abductors and hands are still feeling it. And since I still have this nagging cough (I think today makes two weeks) I decided to go just a little easier today and focus on some grinding movements (also because tomorrow will be more Snatching for time).

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

Double Windmill: 16kg - 5/5

Clean & Press: 24kg - 2 Ladders of 4 Rungs each

Left side press is definitely my weaker side. Once I got warmed up on these, the groove felt pretty good overall.

Then finished off with some heavy swings. My left hand grip wasn't there for the 1-Hand Swings although I toughed it for three sets, then finished off one more set with 2-Hand Swings.

1-Hand Swings: 32kg - 5/5 for 3 sets

2-Hand Swings: 32kg - 20

Tomorrow morning we work 24kg Snatches.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Kettlebells!

Wow, where do I begin??? So much to talk about. Well first, I took yesterday off from my scheduled workout as I've been sick for almost two weeks now with a nagging cough. I finally broke down on Thursday and went to the doctor. Got some antibiotics to take for the next 10 days. I hope it helps.

So what else has been going on? I finished watching the Kettlebell Basics DVD's by Brett Jones and Michael Castrogiovanni. Awesome DVDs. They really give great insight into a lot of the details behind some of these basic movements. They also really inspire one to be, and I quote, "aggressive" with one's kettlebell training. Not only do they go through the basic movements along with some of the common mistakes (and appropriate corrections) that people make, but they then go into some of the more complex and challenging variations of the movements. In the past nine months since I got my first kb, I have been shying away from anything using two kettlebells, intent on getting proficient and mastering single kb movements. Well, I have not gotten over that inhibition. So what else happened this week?

I ordered some more kettlebells!! To round out my current collection, I now boast a pair of 12kgs, a pair of 16kgs and a pair of 20kgs. Along with my single 24kg and 32kg. I'm sure a second 24kg won't be too far behind. I am amped to start doing some double cleans, double front squats, double snatches... you name it. I specifically ordered the 20kgs because I read that one of the grad workouts at the RKC cert includes walking see saw presses with 20kg bells. So I figured, but not wait until the cert to pick up some 20's.

So to get things started, I shifted yesterday's workout to today. Still coughing a lot, I pushed through. (By the way, the doc cleared me that the cough was a result of congestion, my lungs are clear and healthy, otherwise I definitely would have held off longer before training.) Today's session looked like this...

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

Double Clean-Front Squat-Push Press: 16kg - 3 sets of 8

The first set of these I only cleaned on the first rep. The second two sets I performed the clean for each rep.

Snatches: 24kg - 5/5 on the Minute for 8 minutes - for a total of 80 snatches!

This was a max effort finishing these off. Maybe because I'm still not 100%. I was really amazed at how easy they started out though! I really focused on driving through with the hips. The bell came over the top so softly, I was amazed. Much softer than I've ever felt. It was only after the 6th set that fatigue and respiration took its toll. But I was intent on getting through 8 sets.

Next workout I'll have to be prepared to ease back if necessary. I'll either take a longer break or perform say 3/3 in the later sets. We'll have to wait and see. Or maybe I'll feel strong and be able to push through 9 full sets.

I love working with these kettlebells. There's nothing else like it!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ballistics & Grinds

Started watching Brett Jones' and Michael Castrogiovanni's Kettlebell Basics for Strength Coaches and Personal Trainers last night. I'm only about half way through the first of the two DVD's and am pretty happy with the content. It will probably not be until the weekend until I get through everything but in the meantime I'll savor every bit.

Woke up a bit late today. Still suffering from this incessant cough. Took some Nyquil last night which helped me sleep without too many coughing fits. I returned to my Mon/Wed/Fri routine this week since I need some extra rest until I get over this illness. My plan is still to increase to Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri.

Today looked a little something like this:

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20, 32kg - 10

Turkish Getups: 16kg - 3/3, 24kg - 2/2

Military Press: 16kg - 5/5
Clean & Press: 24kg - 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 3/3
(My last set was a 4 rep attempt, but my left arm wouldn't hear of it, so I finished off with another set of 3. This is when I looked at the clock and realized that I wouldn't have time to perform any more ladders if I still wanted to get some swings in, so I decided to move on from here.)

1-Hand Swing & Clean Combo: 24kg - 5/5 for 5 sets

Here I performed a single 1-handed swing followed by a clean with the same arm, this made up 1 rep. Therefore 1 set of 5/5 consisted in total of 5 swings left, 5 cleans left, 5 swings right and 5 cleans right.

That was it. Gotta go!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Timed Snatches

Suffering from a terrible cough for days now, I was worried it would affect my Snatch Workout this morning. I'm seeing good progress with my numbers and my conditioning and I do not want a minor illness dragging me off course. At the same time, I don't want to see this turn into something more serious, so I'm treading a fine line these days.

Therefore, I did not want to overdo it this morning, but I did want to hit my target, and I did.

I warmed up with the following...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20, 32kg - 10

Figure 8 to Hold: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 5/5

Then on to

Snatches - 1 Minute Intervals, Sets of 5/5 on the Minute for 7 Minutes

for a total of 70 Snatches in 7 Minutes (really 6.5 min since I did them On-The-Minute)

At this point I was done a lot earlier in my workout session than usual. So I decided to cool down with some Z-Health drills. Worked ankles & feet, hips, pelvis, shoulders, elbows and neck.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to ME! Happy birthday to MEEEEE, happy birthday to me!!!

Today I turn 39 years young. Only one year away from 40. Funny, I don't feel a day over 21. I have so much to be grateful for in my life - a great marriage to my beautiful wife, who also happens to be my best friend in the whole world, a beautiful 22-month old son who everyday amazes me with the things he does even with the uphill battle he struggles with everyday, a job that I enjoy going to, and spend way too many hours at, great friends, a healthy mind and body and a new found passion for kettlebells.

I am looking forward to my 39th year of life. I might not have said that last year at this time. But even with all of life's ups and downs, good things have resulted and I look forward to more, even if this roller coaster continues.

Anyway, we'll be going out to lunch today with some family and next weekend we'll do dinner at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant not too far away. We had planned for this today, but one of my sister's is sick, so we'll wait till she's better. I too am struggling with an annoying dry cough. It's been interrupting my sleep the past few nights no matter what I take for it. I just hope it doesn't impede my Snatch Workout tomorrow. This cough also caused me to miss my scheduled workout on Friday. I needed the sleep. So I tried to make it up today with some Presses.

A very quick, get something in workout today:

Military Press: 16kg - 5/5

Clean & Press: 24kg - 3 Ladders with 3 Rungs

The 24kg felt pretty good today. Just need to make sure I continue to stretch out the forearms and work the elbows with Z.

Oh yeah, one of my gifts today was a speed jump rope. Looking forward to incorporating that into my sessions once the snow is behind us!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Snatches, on the Minute

Today I begin the 3rd Level of Steve Freides "Preparing for the RKC Snatch Test" protocol. In this phase one is to perform a set of 5/5 snatches every minute, on the minute. First session calls for a 5 minute block. This would have the kb'er perform a total of 50 snatches in those 5 minutes. Each session after that, you attempt to increase your overall time by an additional minute. Once you are able to work through 20 minutes in total, you are ready to move onto Level 4.

Before tackling the Snatches, the morning started like this...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20, 32kg - 10

Arm Bar: 12kg - 1/1
Wanted to try these out. I quickly learned I need to find a spot with some more room to be able to lie down and roll over.

Windmill: 16kg - 3/3, 24kg - 5/5
I was able to complete 5 on each side this morning with the 24kg. I decided to limit the 16kg set to only 3/3, rather than the typical 5/5, hoping to leave some gas in the tank for the 24kg. Worked!

Now it was time to pull out the Gymboss and set it for 1-minute intervals. 5 total minutes was my goal for today.

Snatches: 24kg - 5/5 on the minute for 6 minutes (60 Snatches in total)

Yeap, I got through 5 minutes and definitely had the energy to bust out another set. I could have pushed myself through another set or two after that, but decided to play it smart. There is always plenty of time for Snatches.

I was very surprised how strong I felt performing these, especially the first set. I haven't felt like this ever. My grip on the bell felt really solid. And my control felt great. I really felt like I was one with the kettlebell. Awesome feeling!

Not sure yet how I'm going to structure tomorrow's session. I want to focus on Clean & Press and Pistols. Not to worry, I have another 23 hours to think about it. =)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New 16kg Circuit

This week I decided to start practicing on a 4 day schedule, Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri. Mondays and Thursdays will be focused on Snatch practice, Tuesdays and Fridays other select movements.

After reading the Brett Jones' article on preparing for the RKC Cert Challenge, I decided it was time to shake things up a bit and introduce at least one circuit workout into the week. Also wanting to add Clean & Squats somewhere, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

Everything today was done with a single 16kg kb, and it went something like this...

2-Hand Swings: 20
Clean & Squat: 4/4
Get Up: 3/3
2-Hand Swings: 20
Clean & Squat: 4/4
Snatch: 4/4
2-Hand Swings: 20
Clean & Squat: 4/4
Clean & Press: 3/3

I worked the circuit once through at a steady pace. Paused at the end. Well actually I took a bit of a longer break than I would have thought as the new Foo Fighters video for Long Road to Ruin came on VH1 and I just had to watch it. It was pretty funny. Oh and also starred Rashida Jones. Another good reason to watch. Once the video was over I went through the circuit one more time and called it a morning.

2 times through the circuit today. Right now I'm not sure if I'll do this, like this, once a week. Or maybe throw in another mini circuit on Fridays. We'll have to wait and see. Now tomorrow I get to rest. But I have to say, I sure am digging this!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Snatches on the 3rd, no, 2nd Minute

Monday is Snatch Day. And I have started to really work my Snatches in preparation of attending an RKC Cert in the Fall. The past two Monday's I performed max rep sessions. Over this weekend I read the article by Steve Freides, "The Party Line for Passing the RKC Snatch Test", which can be found in the article section of

In the article, Steve's plan consists of 4 specific levels that one could work through to ultimately make their Snatch Test numbers. Since I have been training myself, I have been relying on what I've read, people I've communicated with and mostly on how I feel. So this article was a good objective way to gauge my current level and help assist me moving forward.

After reading the article, I felt that I was probably already somewhere between Levels 2 and 3. So to be safe, I decided to work through the last progression of Level 2 today to see if my suspicions were correct. The last session in Level 2 calls for performing a set of 5 Left + 5 Right Snatches every 3 minutes for a total of 10 sets.

Well first, as always, I performed some warmup exercises...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10, 32kg - 10

Windmills: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 3/5 (left side does not seem to have the same shoulder stability of the right, must continue to work on this)

After these few exercises it was time to start Snatching. I set my Gymboss Interval Timer to alarm every 3 minutes. First set great . . . . . resting . . . . . the remainder of the 3 minutes felt like an eternity. . . . Second set great . . . . I then decided to reduce the interval to 2 minutes each. OK, this was much better! So I finished off the remaining sets on 2 minute intervals, with gas still in the engine!

Snatches: 24kg - 5/5 for 10 sets (100 Snatches in total)

A little trial and error here, but well worth it. Next session I will begin Level 3 which calls for reduced volume but performing sets "on the minute". I might introduce a second Snatch Day sometime during the week if this seems too easy. Again, a little trial and error, or experimentation, which has a better sound to it, is called for.

Oh yeah, I also reviewed the Z-Health Foot & Ankle section over the weekend and have start working those joints now as well. It's funny how some of these movements have now worked themselves into my every day life. Without thinking, I'm working some of the drills throughout the day. I think some of the foot and ankle will be part of that as well. Only section left is Hand & Wrist.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Clean & Press - A Warm Sunday in NY

I've been itching to add another day of practice to my kettlebell sessions. I now do a steady 3 days each week with a little extra here and there, but nothing consistent or too substantial. I felt pretty relaxed today and in good spirits so decided to throw in a ladder of Clean & Presses along with a little bit of Waiter's Walks and Farmer's Walks since it is a pretty warm day here for January - about 40 degrees F.

Clean & Presses: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 3 Ladders/2 Rungs each

Waiter's Walk: 16kg - 3 laps of approx 180 feet each lap, 90 ft in L arm/90 ft return in R arm

Farmer's Walk: 16kg - 2 laps, same as above

These made my day. Felt good and feel ready to tackle some Snatches tomorrow morning.

And oh yeah, I ordered the Kettlebell Basics DVD by Brett Jones and Michael Castrogiovanni!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bumping Up The Weight

Today I decided to start playing around with my bigger kbs for a change. Although warmed up with my usual, I introduced a next size up kb for the rest of the movements. I was still a bit stiff and sore from Wed's session but got things going just fine.

Yesterday, the new issue of Hard Style was released and I found the article, "It's Called A Challenge For Good Reason", by Brett Jones. And I thought, 'this was written for me'. Brett describes how one should prepare for a RKC Certification weekend. Within the article he also mentions another article written by RKC Steve Freides on how to prepare to specifically pass the RKC Snatch Test. Turns out Steve is not too far from me, he's just over the NY/NJ state border. I found his website and am going to try to get to a workshop he is hosting at the end of this month. In addition, I'm going to test out his program on Monday. I'd like to see where in his plan I currently fall. I think I might already be somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd level.

OK, on to this morning's session...

2-Hand Swing: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10
Halos: 16kg - 5/5

Turkish Getup: 24kg - 2/2

2-Hand Swing: 32kg - 10
1-Hand Swing: 32kg - 5/5, 5/5
2-Hand Swing: 32kg - 10, 10

Cleans (from floor, kb behind heels): 32kg - 1/1/1/1/1/1 (alternated each arm 3x)

That was it for today. Forearms are tired from the week. Hammies, glutes and back sore. It's been a good week!! And now I shall rest and recuperate until Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Little Z To Get Things Moving

Woke up this morning a bit sore from yesterday's session. Decided I would keep things light today, since tomorrow I plan to do practice some swings with the 32kg.

Worked through all of the sections of R-Phase Z-Health that I've reviewed to date. That includes Lengthening, Knees, Hips, Pelvis, Lumbar, Thoracic, Neck, Shoulders and Elbows.

All that I have left are Feet & Ankles and Hands & Fingers. I'll go through one of those sections this weekend getting me closer to the finish line. That's not to imply that I'm anywhere even close to doing these movements as precisely as I could, but at least I'm moving in the right direction (I think).

Anyway, also decided to stretch out the shoulders a bit with some Overhead Holds using the 16kg. I performed each hold with one arm for 1 minute, then switched arms. Did this twice through. I have limited space in my little workout room, can take a maximum of 7 steps in one direction, so did a little bit of walking about during each minute.

Shoulders feel good. Biceps are feeling pretty good - a little tight but nothing even close to the pain I'd been getting a little while back. I have been doing Z- elbow circles a LOT lately. They have definitely been helping.

That's it for today. Looks like a lot of words for a little workout. Tomorrow I play with Sam.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Swings with Gymboss Timer

Happy New Year everyone! I decided to start off the new year by kicking my workouts up a notch. I realize that I have a long way to go in terms of conditioning so today I introduced the Gymboss Interval Timer into my Swing sets. Wow, what a difference!

But first, let's start at the top...

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 10, 32kg - 10

Turkish Getups: 16kg - 5/5

Clean & Press: 16kg - 1/2/3 x 2 (2 Ladders of 3 Rungs each)

Pistols: 8kg - 1/2/3 (1 Ladder of 3 Rungs)

And finally...

1-Hand Swings: 24kg
Set Gymboss to 30 sec on/30 sec off: (L/R)
Reset Gymboss to 30 sec on/60 sec off: (L/R)

As you can see, it took a little while before I realized that I should be doing sets of 8 here. That was a good tempo for today. Following the first three sets, I couldn't catch my breath, so I decided to lengthen my rest period. This felt better! I was able to crank out another 6 sets. On the last set I could feel my lower back starting to tighten up, so decided to end it there.

Finished off with a bit of Z - elbows, shoulders and neck.

What a difference using the Gymboss. Up until now, I would perform a set rest until I felt ready and go again. Using the intervals really makes you concentrate and push yourself past your comfort zone. This is a good thing. I was probably going too easy on myself and resting too long before now. Making this a regular in my workouts should really help catapult me to the next level of fitness.