Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tapering = Time Off

Well my taper week hasn't gone as well as planned. I haven't gotten a session in since Monday morning. It's been a rough week. I've been working late every night, didn't leave the office till 10pm last night, and at the same time fighting off this same 'super germ' that I had for all of January. The cold and cough thing is really starting to get old. Luckily, it appears that the super germ this time around isn't as super as the previous culprit. (See, it ain't so bad.)
Hopefully I'll get home at a decent hour tonight and be able to get a good night's sleep. Depending on that we'll see if I get a session in tomorrow morning. Otherwise it'll have to wait until the weekend.
On a good note, I did receive my copy of Resilient yesterday. So I am excited to give that a watching.
Also remember to watch Fight Quest on the Discovery Channel tomorrow night. This week's episode explores the devastating art of kajukembo!! For those of you who are not aware, Fight Quest on Discovery is the older, badder brother to History Channel's Human Weapon series. Both are similar to the closest detail, but Fight Quest is just a bit more hard core. Sweet!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Start of Taper Week

I've been on a pretty good tear lately, hit some new PRs last week, so I thought it was a good idea to taper down a bit. My goal this week is to try to hit somewhere around 70% of what was my normal intensity/volume per session.

First off, I did not attend Steve Freides' workshop yesterday. I had wanted to, but the whole family had come down with another cold/cough this week, and trying to be the new me, I decided not to push it, but allow myself to rest while I had the chance. To make up for it, I did order Pavel's Resilient DVD. I see it includes some elbow work and hope its something applicable to my condition.

Anyway, today's session was performed with just the 16kg rather than the 24kg. It comes in handy that just dropping from 24kg to 16kg, my weight is already reduced to about 70%. Therefore, I decided to hit the same number of swings as last week, easily slipping me into my 70% intensity range.

Getups: 16kg - 4/4

1-Hand Swings: 16kg -

Why start off with 27 swings per side? Given my body weight today, I would have to complete 54 snatches at the RKC cert. I just wanted to know how it felt performing 54 reps non-stop. This is probably the first time I've done this. Not too hard doing swings with a 16kg. =)

I then followed up with some misc forearm work. That's it for today. Easy Peasy!! (I think that's a Cheathamism.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Plow Man!!

It's snowing here in NY today. There was a lot on the ground when I woke up this morning and it continues to fall. Therefore, it gave me a good excuse to work from home today. With laptop plugged in, I'm good to go.

On my "lunch hour" I squeezed in just a few swings...

2-Hand Swings: 24kg - 20

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

Performing the 1-Handed Swings felt pretty good on the right side, but not so good on the left. Entire left side just feels weaker - grip not as strong, shoulder strength/stability (not exactly sure how to describe it) not as strong. I started out performing these first on left side then switched to right, but not feeling it on the left side, I reversed the order and it seems to help a little bit. Maybe getting my body moving into the motion first while feeling strong and stable assisted in carrying over to the left side. I suppose this is something I'll need to work on.

And Aaron you were right, started my warmup with the 24kg and it felt good. Thanks buddy!
(P.S. Looks like the spell checker is working again!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My One Regret

My one regret about attending the August RKC Cert at UCLA is that I'll be in Los Angeles and NOT Minnesota. I would have liked to have met my good friend Aaron Friday in his home town. I imagine we could have had some good times together.

This is how I pictured it in my head... [go to dream sequence]

Taikei, you could have joined us too. I guess I'll have to see if I can muster up similar good times in LA. Any takers??

RKC Cert, Here I Come

As of right now, I am signed up to attend the UCLA RKC Cert!

Money is down and I am psyched!!

RKC, here I come.

Smashing PRs and Taking Names

In an untimed match this morning, between Howie and the 24kg kettlebell, by unanimous decision, we have a new volume PR for 1-Handed Swings at 11,722 lbs!! [The crowd is on their feet. The applause is deafening. The arena is shaking. Howie steps up to the mic...] "Uh... thank you. I couldn't have done it without each one of you out there. And I'd like to thank my opponent, the 24kg kb." [Howie bows out and disappears into the sea of fans.]

Yeap, that was pretty much how it went down this morning. [Cough, cough] OK, maybe not exactly like that. Let's think back...

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

Windmill: 24kg - 5/5

1-Hand Swings: 24kg "Pyramid Style"

For a total of 222 swings equalling 11,722 lbs!

And here I wasn't even going to get up this morning!! I was a bit tired from yesterday. But I wanted to get back onto my regular schedule so that Friday can be 32kg swings before the weekend. So I dragged my butt up and never would have imagined I would have/could have put up those numbers this morning. But I did! Excellent!!

So Friday is 32kg swing day. So far, things are looking good to attend Steve Freides' workshop on Sunday. Following that, I think next week is going to be a taper week. Last one of those was right after Christmas. Of course I have been sick pretty much since then and probably not training at max capacity, but it has been a while, so I think I'm due. Plus, with these new PRs the last few days, it's either step back or fall off the cliff (props to Rif on that one).

That's it for today. Swing 'em high!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mixing It Up

Switched things up a bit today. I could feel the effects of my 200 swing effort yesterday. Legs were tired and my traps were shredded. So today I decided to warm up with a few swings but that was the extend of them in my workout.

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20, 24kg - 15, 32kg - 10

Getups: 16kg - 6/6

3-Movement Circuit...
Pushups between blocks - 10, 10, 10
L-Sit between blocks - 10 count, 10 count, 10 count
Double Cleans: 16kg - 10, 10, 10

Palm Press: 12kg - 5/5, 16kg - 5/5, 5/5

Finished off with some forearm work.

This Sunday is Steve Freides second workshop. Things at the moment look like I just might be able to attend. We were ready to admit my little guy into the hospital for a video EEG last week, but during the time it took to get pre-clearance from our insurance company and time for a bed to open up, the seizures we were seeing pretty much stopped. So at this point, we are now in 'watch and wait' mode. If he continues to do well, no need for a hospital visit. I'll be praying.

That's it for today. Not sure if tomorrow is a rest day or a workout day. I guess only time will tell. Swing 'em high everyone! (And why doesn't Blogger's spell check work anymore????)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How Do You Visualize Your Training?

Rif had a great post the other day about training one's will. Part of that is visualizing your training sessions. Not just when you get your butt to your "place of workout" but beforehand. Hours before, days before. It is so true. When you're seeing results and feeling results, you start to look forward to your next session. Thinking about what you are going to accomplish.

At the same time, consistency is sooooo important. And for most ordinary people, this is probably the most difficult issue, for a variety of reasons. For me, I started out wanting to simply get in 3 sessions each week. Regardless of how much or how little I did, I just wanted to be able to check that day off. To help me, I use a calendar like the one below. I hang it up so that I can see very easily how often I have been getting my sessions in. On this calendar I don't get too detailed. I write down the exercise I performed and the size kettlebell used. For more detail I keep a training journal that I write in during my sessions.

The pic here, although not as clear as I'd like, since I write in pencil, shows what I accomplished in the month of January.

If you click on the pic and examine it up close, you'll see I got in 16 workouts during the month. That averages to about one every two days. Not too bad! My goal is to increase that gradually over the course of this year. How does two workouts every three days sound? I admit it's been a tough winter for me. I've pretty much had a cold and a cough since the beginning of January, and still have traces of it lingering. I am really looking forward to the Spring.
So anyway, that's one of my training 'secrets'.
For the month of February, I added a workout to today's box. Simple, but effective.
Turkish Getups: 16kg - 6/6
1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 5/5 on the Minute for 20 minutes (for a total of 200 swings)
I was very happy with today's swing session. 200 swings with the 24kg equates to about 10,560 lbs in total. In terms of volume in one session, I believe this is a PR. Excellent! And I have to say that it was VERY do-able for me. It didn't kill me as I might have thought, but I suppose all my prior training is showing dividends. Another Excellent!!
Yesterday, I watched a bit of the Z-Health DVD to give myself a bit of a refresher course. Made it about half way through, then did a bit but not enough worth posting. Also did a few handstands as well.
Tomorrow is President's Day and that means for me, it's a day off from work. Hurray! More training tomorrow and another update. Later!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Is It Just Me?

Or does this kettlebell of mine look a bit cockeyed??

Swings, Just Swings

The name is Swings, Just Swings. I'll have my protein cocktail shaken, not stirred, thank you.

Well this has been a rough week for me, both physically and mentally. To be honest, I am glad the week is over. Just for the fact that next week HAS to be better. I pushed myself through most workouts and didn't feel too enthusiastic. Although today offered a glimmer of hope. Actually felt a little more like myself today. This is good.

Today, I performed two-handed swings. That's it. (OK, I did do a few sets of forearm extensor prehab work in between, but those don't really count for anything until I am able to perform my snatches and clean & presses without pain.)

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 20, 24kg - 10 (this was my warmup)

2-Hand Swings: 32kg - 15, 15, 15, 15, 20, 10, 10

That's it! 100 swings in total.

I can say, in my opinion, that 20 reps are considerably harder than 15 reps. More than only 5 reps worth.

On Z-Health... I found a certified Z-Health trainer not too far from me in NJ. I may try to hook up with him over the weekend, circumstances allowing. Maybe he can point out to me all of my shortcomings. Physical shortcomings. No, wait, anatomical shortcomings. No, that's not right either. Postural shortcomings??? Well, maybe he can help fix me. =P

Tomorrow night on Showtime is a big MMA fight. I'll record it to see if it's any good. This is an added bonus I get for switching to Showtime for Dexter, now I can see guys (and gals) submit one another. I think I'd like jiu jitsu. Also on Sunday night on the Military Channel at 10pm EST, an hourlong show about the Spetsnaz, followed by another hour on the Army Rangers. Interested to see if they mention kettlebells.

OK, gotta go. More over the long, 3-day President's Weekend. Does anyone agree that Ron Paul might do better in the polls if he wore Zubas?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Easy Workout

Or maybe I just wussed out today. Woke up tired. Mind definitely wasn't into today's workout. There's a lot going on these days - wife's been sick with a nasty virus, my son's seizures have been starting up again which means we'll be shacked up in the hospital for a few days starting sometime this week (we're just waiting for the call to tell us when a bed opens up), and on top of it all we're preparing our year-end financials and earnings release at work which makes things quite busy. So maybe it's all just catching up with me. But I move onward.

Here's what today's easy session looked like...

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

Windmills: 16kg - 5/5

Pistols: 16kg - 5/5

1-Hand Swings: 16kg - 8/8, 9/9, 20/20

I originally planned to due another pyramid with the 24kg today, but since I wasn't feeling it, decided to drop to the 16kg. Then I pretty much quit after the second set. But didn't want to end it like a real loser, so I pumped out another 20 reps on each side. That's it!

OK, now I need fend through what's left of the snow, through some heavy rain, to get to the office where I'll be until probably late tonight. Man, I am in a piss poor mood this morning. Well, at least I got some new skinny jeans!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing

Now everyone has probably read all the marketing hype about kettlebells and how incredible they are for peak fitness, weight loss and fat burning. I myself was skeptical in the beginning. Hell, it took me over a year to order my first kettlebell after picking up a copy of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge.

Today, I consider myself one of the converted. I am a huge proponent of kettlebells and kettlebell training. And I am living proof of its effects.

Back around the holidays, I picked up a new pair of jeans. Instead of the 34 inch waist I had been wearing for the past couple of years, I bought a size 32 waist. Over the past few months, I had started to get tired of my pants hanging off of my when I wasn't wearing a belt. Not too bad I thought to myself. Still this was only a single pair of jeans that I added to my wardrobe.

Over the past week, I was wearing those 32 inch waisters, and noticed again, that without a belt on, they were hanging off of me. "I am getting sooooo sick of wearing baggy pants!" Was my reaction. So today I picked up two new pairs of jeans, size 31 inch waist.

I probably could have gone with the 30 inch waist, but I had a real hard time getting those things over my thighs and butt. The waist might have fit but I couldn't even get them on comfortably to find out. I also had to upgrade from the Levi's 550 to the 560. With the smaller waist, I needed to move to the 560's which are Comfort Fit and are roomier in the seat and thighs than the Relaxed Fit. It's tough finding jeans that fit right!! Am I the only guy with this problem? Maybe I should start buying custom-made jeans. That's gotta be expensive huh?

So, as much as I love my kettlebells, I just hope I don't have to keep investing in new jeans. Tough problem to have huh? =)

Not Kettlebell Stuff

Over the weekend the family made one of its regular outings to our local neighborhood Lowes. For those of you not familiar, Lowes is a competitor to Home Depot. Similar in its offerings and price, only cleaner and more pleasant. While at Lowes, I picked up some new tools for my training arsenal - cinder blocks! Two cinder blocks and they only put me back $2.82!

It's been a while since I've done anything in the way of pushups so today I worked 3 sets of 10 of pushups between the cinder blocks. In between sets, I then performed static L-holds for a 10 count. (I'm not sure if I'm using the correct term - I'll look into it.) Also threw in a handstand as well as some bicep/forearm/wrist light dumbell prehab work.

Lastly, and this has also been something that I have been neglecting as of late, I went through the Z-Health R-Phase movements. All the way through except the for the wrists and hands (because I still have not gone through and reviewed those in detail, but I will!).

So today was something of a miscellaneous day. Not too difficult but sort of a fill-in-the-pieces kind of day. And I feel pretty good!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Presses, Getups and Swings

Warmed up this morning with 2-Handed Swings and Super Joints.

2-Hand Swings: 16kg - 30, 24kg - 20, 32kg - 10
Super Joints (just about everything except for the split switches)

Then tried my hand at some Palm Presses to see if they bothered the forearms - nope - used light kb.

Palm Presses: 12kg - 5/5 x 3 sets

Moved on the Turkish Getups, tried to keep my fingers open and extended as much as possible.

Turkish Getup: 20kg - 3/3

Last, performed 1-Handed Swings in pyramids. One set going up, another coming back down.

1-Hand Swings: 24kg - { 1/2/3/4/5; rest; 5/4/3/2/1 } x2

Performed 2 full pyramids for a total of 120 swings.

Cooled down with some light forearm extensor/wrist movements with an empty dumbell handle and a handstand to stretch out the forearm flexors.

That's it for the morning. Time for work!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Foam Roller and Prehab

So I ordered a foam roller about two weeks ago (3 foot long, 6 inch diameter). For a few years now, I have had flare ups of chronic pain in my forearms which in recent weeks/months have been making my kettlebell training difficult in some respects. I have recently started to try to minimize performing cleans, the pain intensifies when I try to perform heavy presses, I have had to totally remove pullups from my sessions - it's definitely made an impact.

After hearing so many good things about the foam rollers and given their minimal cost I ponied up and ordered one from Perform Better. Now not having any prior experience with a foam roller, I expected a roller made of something similar in nature to "foam". What to my surprise when I opened the box to find it more similar to hard styro-foam! My first thought was "and people roll on this?!?!?!"

Along with the roller came a printout explaining with photos some basic roller myofascial release techniques. No problem, let's give it a go. To my surprise (again) the roller felt pretty good on my muscles. I worked through the glute, hamstrings and calf positions. No pain, just nice massage feeling. Then I flipped over, rolled up and down the centerline of the quads - still felt good. Until I noticed a slight sharpness on the outer part of the quad just above the knee. Ahhhhhhh..... now that feels good! Yeap, on both legs, outer quad, just above the knee. It's hard to explain the feeling. I don't qualify it as pain. It's sharp, but soothing at the same time. And personally, I find it enjoyable. Others might not.

I then experimented with it along my lower back up until I hit the shoulder blades. Aside from hearing some minor cracking along the way, not bad.

Then it was on to trying to get into a good position to roll this thing up and down my forearms... With my arm positioned down my centerline and my body on top, I rolled up and down allowing my bicep and forearm to take the weight. With some adjusting of my hand/wrist position I was able to hit different areas of the forearm and bicep. Yeap, these definitely needed to be massaged. I hadn't realized it until now, that the very top of my biceps are tight as well.

All in all, I think this roller was a good investment. I just need to use it frequently along with some other prehab techniques to hopefully alleviate some of this pain. My biggest fear is that I will have to restrict more movements such as snatches, which could be a problem if I still want to attend and pass the RKC cert in the Fall.

In addition to the roller, I have now started to ice my forearms as often as possible, for short intervals at a time. I continue to stretch out both the flexors and extensors regularly. Problem here is, I think they are pretty loose already. I've always had good flexibility, so I don't know how helpful this will be. I have also started to incorporate some extensor exercises to strengthen these muscles, assuming there's an imbalance here which is the cause of the pain. Specifically, I'm using a wrist roller, hanging a small weight from a rope and rolling it upward and downward using just the extensors, also using the IronMind colored/graduated rubber bands (knowing what I know now, I would have gone to the supermarket and picked up a bag of assorted size rubber bands and saved a few bucks). Also today, I started practicing some handstands to stretch out the flexors. Maybe soon, I'll start trying to handstand pushups, but not right away. (This technique I picked up from reading Tim Anderson's blog last night. Thanks Tim.)

So that's where I'm at. It seems like it's going to be trial & error for a while until I start to see some improvement. I suppose I'll have to focus on my Swings for the time being and try to Grease The Groove with minimal Snatches and Cleans. I have time until the Fall, so now is the time to train smart!

Oh, one other thing... the one problem I have with the foam roller is that it isn't able to hit my upper back between my shoulder blades where most of my back spasms hit me (another old recurring injury). I see there are similar balls that are supposed to be used specifically for this area. Anyone have any experience/success with these?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Two-Handed Swings

I am definitely impressed with how quickly I am recovering from this latest muscle spasm. I have battled with these over the years following my sprained neck and various shoulder separations and impingements. The last one hit me this past October and that took a long time to get over. Although still a bit stiff in the extreme positions, I was able to get in a very good, very basic workout today without any discomfort. I still intend to see a massage therapist, probably tomorrow, to work some of this out.

Today, I wanted to keep it simple...

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

Turkish Getups: 16kg - 5/5

Two-Handed Swings: 32kg - 10 reps for 9 sets

That was it. I was gunning for 10 sets with the 32kg, but following the 9th, I got a funny little feeling around my ribs. As I am learning, to "train and not strain" I decided to end it right there. Although 10 is such a nice, round number... Self control is difficult sometimes (most of the time?).

On another note, performing these swings with the 32kg really has the effect of making you be strict with your form and forces you to fully recruit all of your muscles. It became evident at one point that I was using too much back and arms and not enough hip and leg drive/snap to move the bell. Even with the 24kg, I'm not sure I'm getting the same feedback. This was a good brush up lesson for me. Something I need to focus on with all my swings.

In between sets I also performed some Super Joints to help loosen things up. Thought it would be best to do these once my muscles were warm, rather than as a warm up. Looks like the weekend will consist of a lot of stretching and rolling.

I did get a foam roller and have started to use it. Maybe a post over the weekend is in order. But for now, that's it. Time to hit the shower. Swing 'em high everyone!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I think I must have pissed someone off in a prior life and now I am being forced to pay for it. OK, maybe I pissed off a few people in this life also. But I thought karma was much more retroactive?? Anyway, I ended up pulling a muscle in my upper back, right at the base of my neck, which ended my 5th (and planned last) set of snatches. This is the same muscle that I pulled a few months back. That time was due to over zealousness, today not so sure.

Anyway, this is what transpired up until the pull...

Warmed up with Super Joints Select.

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

Windmill: 16kg - 3/3, 24kg - 1/1

Snatch: 16kg - 5/5

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

I had planned to perform Snatches for 5 minutes, followed by 1-Hand Swings for another 5 minutes. Didn't get to finish... =(

I was planning on seeing a massage therapist anyway. Now at least I can be sure to get my money's worth. (Is it just me, or does nobody else's blogger Spell Check work?)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Snatches, Swings and More

Warmed up this morning with some Super Joints Select. Then moved right on to...

Turkish Getup: 16kg - 3/3

Combination Squat/Snatch/1-Hand Swing: 16kg - 8/5+5/5+5 for 3 sets

Snatch: 20kg - on the minute for 5 minutes
1-Hand Swing: 20kg - on the minute for 5 minutes

This was a single 10 minute period after the first 5 of snatches switched over to swings. I could have squeezed out a few more sets of snatches if I tried, but I heard this little voice in the back of my head that sounded like Rif saying, "train, don't strain". But this was good. I think I like this method and will try it out with the 24kg on my next snatch day (Wed?). I'll work within the same 10 min block. As I get closer to finishing the entire block with snatches, I'll then make it a bit longer by adding more swings to the end.

Finally finished off with some easy wrist extensor curls with a mere 2.5 lbs. Performed 3 sets, rolling weight up and back down to the floor.

This will be part of my new forearm rehab program. I need to dig up a few tricks that I learned in physical therapy so long ago. I also ordered some finger extensor bands from IronMind yesterday to try out and see if it helps. In the meantime, I am going to try to lay off cleans as much as possible, as I think they are the major culprit here. That's it for today, time to start a new week!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday Swings (Mostly)

Squeezed in a quick workout this morning while my little guy was taking his daily nap.

2-Hand Swings: 24kg - 15, 15

Double Snatch with Overhead Squat: 12kg - 5, 5, 5
(Snatched on each rep followed by squat with bells locked out overhead)

1-Hand Swings: 24kg - 5L/5R on the Minute - for 10 minutes (total of 100 swings)

That's it for today. Recuperation from this cough/cold is slow but symptoms finally improving. Looking to get back to Mon/Wed/Fri schedule this week.