Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snatch Experiment

With a few free minutes this afternoon, I wanted to give something I had read a try. Rather than performing as many Snatches as possible within an allotted amount of time, I wanted to try performing a single Snatch at regularly timed intervals.

So to start I grabbed a 12kg bell and decided to Snatch once every 10 seconds. I would hold the bell overhead until my Gymboss told me to go.

I did this for 4 minutes. That equated to 12 Snatches on the Left side before switching over and performing 12 Snatches on the Right side. With this weight 10 seconds overhead felt like a long time to wait.

I then decided to try it with the 16kg bell. But this time set the Gymboss to beep every 5 seconds. Only 2 minutes through this time. But again, performed 12 Snatches on the Left followed by 12 Snatches on the right. Five seconds seemed a bit too short for this weight. I would like to feel a bit more solid in between Snatches and this seemed just a bit rushed.

This sort of system might allow me to up my numbers while still keeping focus on my form during each rep. I'll have to settle into a good interval for the 16's, work up to bigger numbers, while making sure my forearms stay well. Then do the same (eventually) with the 24kg.

I think this will be a good addition to my program!

Saturday - Brett Jones RKC #2

Today I was scheduled to perform Brett Jones' RKC Preparation Workout #2. Knowing that this was the Clean & Press-intensive session, I opted to work with Double 12kg bells. I figured pressing with 12kg would not put too much stress on my forearms while still giving me something of a decent whole body workout.

Only went through the cycle once today. I'll gradually start adding multiple cycles, but not this week. This is what today looked like...

BJ#2: Double 12kg

Clean & Press: 8
1-Hand Swings: 20
Clean & Press: 8
Clean & Front Squat: 8
Clean & Press: 8
Getups: 8/8 (these were single 12kg, yeap easy, but that's why I bumped up to 8 on each side)
Clean & Press: 8
Snatches: 8/8 (same as Getups, 8 each side, focusing on a loose down swing)
Clean & Press: 8

I was surprised how well the Presses felt with this weight. I might also have to do with the arm positioning when performing doubles. In the rack position, my hands were pretty close together, on the chest, under the chin. Pressing straight up from here, didn't bother the forearms as I had expected. Also lighter bells help that too. I'm going to try to better emulate that same position when I perform single presses.

I was also very pleased with how my forearms felt this morning. I wasn't sure how they would hold up after yesterday's work, but no worse than usual. Of course, I'm hoping that they soon start to feel better, but for now being able to do some work and not feel worse is an improvement in itself. I'm going to continue working with the lighter bells for a while longer to see if they do start to feel better. That's my only option right now, aside from totally laying off the bells. And that's my last resort. Hopefully, I'm now headed in the right direction.

That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll try to squeeze in the BJ#3 session. It's going to be tough as we have a BIG 2nd Birthday Party for Anthony tomorrow. Lot's of family and friends coming by. So the rest of today will be filling with cleaning up and getting organized for the party. Oh yeah, and blowing up balloons and making cup cakes!! =)

My First Foray Into Video Editing

Now that I am video capable I started messing around with some home video camera footage and the Adobe Elements software that came with my computer.

Here's the culmination of my first efforts, I hope you enjoy...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Brett Jones RKC Cert Preparation #1

Ran through Workout #1 of the Brett Jones RKC Certification Preparation sessions today.

Only 1 time through with the 16kg. Still watching my shoulder motion throughout my movements. I did notice on my Snatches that I have a tendency to try to decelerate the kb on the descent and am not going deep enough into the whole at the bottom. At least not on every rep. So for the few snatches I performed today, I tried to correct that. One thing I pushed through which I probably shouldn't have was the Clean & Presses. Forearms hurt on the Press, I think I'll be substituting the Palm Press for these in the following workouts, until I'm healed up.

So this was today's session...

BJ#1: single 16kg

1-Hand Swings: 10/10
Clean & Press: 8/8
1-Hand Swings: 10/10
Clean & Front Squat: 8/8
1-Hand Swings: 10/10
Getups: 4/4
1-Hand Swings: 10/10
Snatches: 8/8
1-Hand Swings: 10/10

Just once through today. Then finished up with...

Fighter Pushups: 8, 8
supersetted with
Double 12kg Overhead Holds: 30sec, 30sec

RKC Arm Bar: 12kg - 1/1

RKC Shoulder Rotator: 12kg - 1/1

Will be attempting to get in BJ#2 and BJ#3 over the weekend. This will be the first time going 3 days in a row. Should be exciting!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Active Rest

Took it easy this morning. (1) Because I was exhausted - stuck in the office until about 9:30pm, almost 10:30 before getting home, didn't eat well and late getting to bed. And (2) forearms were a bit tight and sore today.

But rather than sleep in, I got up because I am now trying to shift into a Tues-Wed-Fri-Sat-Sun schedule using the Brett Jones "Preparing for the RKC Cert" plan. Therefore even if I didn't do too much work today, it's a start to get the body used to the pattern.

Today consisted of a mix of Super Joints, Z-Health, Resilient and other miscellaneous work. Played with the Hack Chest Opener which really stretched out the shoulders and collar bone nicely. Aside from that nothing else really exciting to bring up so that'll be it for today. Swing 'em hi, y'all!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Grinding Than Swinging

This morning's session consisted mostly of pre-hab shoulder work. And few Swings and Snatches at the end.

"Shoulder Flow"®: 12kg - 2x thru each side

Overhead Squat: Empty Barbell - 3 sets of 8

A1) Double Overhead Holds: 2x12kg - 30 sec x 3 cycles
A2) Russian Karate Twists: 2x12kg - 30 sec x 3 cycles
These two were supersetted for 3 minutes in total. Left shoulder Rice Crispies (snap, crackle and pop) didn't start until the third time through.

"Fighter" Pushups - 8, 8, 8

1-Hand Swings: 16kg - 2 sets of 20/20

Snatches: 16kg - 3 sets of 5/5

A little forearm pain during my second set of Snatches on the left side, but I was able to adjust my downswing and follow through so that it lasted only about a rep or two. I suppose this will be my learning process now, watch for what triggers the discomfort and then adjust my mechanics.

On another note... I finally picked up a video card for my computer, so I am now video-capable. But when one is a beginner like me, what does one upload for the world to see that they haven't already seen from others better qualified?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone.

Today was a quick trip through the Brett Jones RKC Prep Workout #1 (BJ#1, using Gabi's nomenclature).

My entire shoulder girdle was feeling the effects of yesterday's work. No pain, just a nice tightness. Forearms a bit sore, but that's because I was demonstrating my form to Steve using his DragonDoor 24kg kettlebell. I have to say, the DragonDoor bells are very nice. I have decided that all my future purchases will be from DragonDoor.

So today was a quick trip through using a single 16kg bell. Did I mention that I would be using reduced weight for a little while? Today's swings did not bother my forearms while performing the swings or snatches. A little bit with the cleans, but as I tried to keep my upper arm glued tighter to my body, that helped alleviate the discomfort.

Also with the swings, I tried to over exaggerate pulling my shoulders into their sockets. This did reduce the height of my swings just a bit, but not too much. And I did notice that it was more difficult to accomplish this for the right shoulder than the left. So this will continue to be my main focus for the time being. The little bit of Snatches today felt really good. I'm looking forward to start these up again.

So this is what's today's session looked like, all with a single 16kg...

1-Hand Swing: 10/10
Clean & Press: 5/5
1-Hand Swing: 10/10
Clean & Front Squat: 5/5
1-Hand Swing: 10/10
Get Ups: 3/3
1-Hand Swing: 10/10
Snatches: 5/5
1-Hand Swing: 10/10

That's it for today. Hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And The Verdict Is.... ???

Met with Steve Freides, RKC today to discuss my problem forearms. Steve was fantastic about watching my forms and trying to determine the source and solution to my problem. What looks to be the problem as Steve says (and I'm trying to quote as closely as I remember), "You have some real funny things going on with those shoulders of yours. Like nothing I have seen before."

So it appears that I am some sort of mutation from normal folks! Well actually, my shoulders tend to raise up at certain points of motion. They raise and drop ever so slightly at certain points in my swing. Similar when I demonstrated the Z-Health "under elbow" mobility motion, it became more apparent how they have trouble staying pulled into their sockets.

Nevertheless, I have some homework to do! Steve then went on to show me Pavel's Fighter Pullups, which is a pullup variation that I had never heard of and at first seems counter intuitive. I explained to Steve that I have stopped performing pullups because they aggravated my forearms. But this version of the pullups felt particularly better on my forearms than the traditional bodybuilder type pullup. You can find a copy of these at

Similarly, Steve gave me a modified version of the pushup to work on, similar to the Fighter Pullup, where one keeps their shoulders rounded forward throughout the movement. Additionally, I am going to incorporate double kb overhead holds as well as kb overhead squats.

Although I've attempted overhead squats in the past, I was not performing them correctly. With Steve's guidance I used a single 12kg kb and worked myself through the correct movement. And let me tell you, not only did I hear lots of snap, crackle, pops in my left shoulder, but the stretch across my mid back was intense! I have never felt that tightness before. Incredible. Maybe at some point I'll work up to double overhead kb squats, but for now, that single is enough.

As for my swing and snatch form, except for the weirdness in the shoulders, all else looked ok. So for now, I am going to drop down to some smaller kbs, focus on form and introduce some of these new movements. Will also refresh myself with the Resilient shoulder exercises, since it appears it's my shoulders causing me trouble and not my elbow.

At the moment, my two-year old is napping, so I am going to take advantage and groove some of this stuff. More to come...


Back from my session. This should have been easy, but it definitely was not.

Gabi's "Shoulder Flow" - one time through with a 12kg (this I liked although I need a refresher on the arm bar - and I had to move into another room as my usual spot isn't big enough to accommodate the arm bar stretch out)

Overhead Squat: 12kg - 5/5 (performing these correctly... they are just hard!)

"Fighter" Pushups - 10 (also hard)

Double 12kg Overhead Holds: 30 sec (snap, crackle, pop in the left shoulder - no pain, just funny noises)

Overhead Squat: Empty EZ Curl Bar - 10 reps (used an extra wide grip and focused on stretching the bar out to the sides, keeping the shoulders down and the elbows locked - still hard!)

"Fighter" Pushups - 10

Double 12kg Overhead Holds: 30 sec (the noises continue)

I stopped here. I had attempted to perform "Fighter" Pullups but the design of my chinning tower forces one to keep your body to the outside of the bar meaning you can't get any of your body curved underneath during the motion. Could be another cause of my pain. Not a natural motion. These will have to be put on hold until I can design a better pullup station.

I'm sure I'm gonna feel this tomorrow...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Back to Basics

Swing Basics, that is.

I think I've come to realize that the source of my forearm pain is that I am using too much muscle at the bottom of my swings as a means of controlling the bell during its descent and have been overtraining the muscle. This all started probably somewhere in December when I started increasing my 24kg Snatch reps.

So today I decided to take a few steps back and really concentrate on my form with lighter bells.

Without writing down the actual number of reps (since I lost count at times anyway), I performed the following movements mostly with the 12kg but also a few with the 16kg...

2-Hand Swings
1-Hand Swings

I cycled through each really trying to stay loose as the bell passed under me. The only time I felt any strain on the forearms was during some of the snatches. I have arranged to meet with Steve Freides, RKC on Saturday to see if he can help me out with my form.

If we are able to confirm this as the problem and correct my form, then I will have to restructure my workouts until I can internalize the changes and start to see some improvement in the discomfort. It seems like I've been dealing with this for some time now and it's really very frustrating because it is definitely hampering my progress. But then again, I have to remind myself, I'm not in a race. Worse case, I have to push RKC Cert out until I am improved enough. But hopefully this will all be long gone by the time August 1st arrives.

That's it for today. Will update on Saturday after my Steve Freides session.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Some Double Swings & Some Snatches

Wanted to change it up a bit today as well as do some experimenting relative to the forearm pain I have developed. Today's session looked like this...

Double Swings: 12kg - 20
Double Snatch: 12kg - 10

Double Swings: 12kg - 20, 16kg - 15

Snatch: 16kg - 5/5, 24kg - 5/5

It's becoming more clear that more forearm pain is either caused by or aggravated by the downswing of Swings, Snatches and Cleans. And the heavier the bell, the more these muscles are being pulled. Using a light bell, it's barely noticeable. Using the 24kg, it's apparent. I thought it had been the rotation of the hand at the bottom position, but it seems like its the eccentric swing that's causing this. It's been a while since 'gave up' Snatches and Cleans and my condition hasn't improved much at all.

After these kb stuff I grabbed an empty curling bar and performed 3 sets of reverse curls followed by your usual curls. And then with some different wrist rotation exercises. I plan on finally making a doctor's appointment to look into this further, probably sometime within the next seven days or so. In the meantime, I will focus on strengthening these forearm muscles. That's it for today, I'll keep y'all posted!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easy Heavy Workout

I didn't get my Heavy Day in this week, where I swing the 32kg bell. So today I decided to modulate my workout somewhat and perform some heavy work, but not to the full extent I usually do.

2-Hand Swings: 24kg - 10

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

That's it. Very short. And very sweet. I will most probably be sleeping till 6am tomorrow morning before returning into the office, so tomorrow will be an off day for me (as I'm still trying to regain some lost ground in terms of sleep) and I'll be back swinging in the am on Tuesday.

Hope everyone is doing well. Swing 'em high!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Heeeeeeere's Johnny!

I'm back from my multi-day, offsite meeting with my company. We stayed at a beautiful, old resort that in upstate NY that strangely resembled the hotel in the movie The Shining. Needless to say, there were a few ladies who ended up sharing rooms as they didn't feel comfortable sleeping alone in the big, old, spooky hotel.

The three days spent were filled with all sorts of business presentations from different functions within the company. We have a total of about 70 people in offices here in the US, Dublin and Singapore. I didn't count, but probably about 65 folks made it in to this meeting. We try to have these offsites about once a year. It is a great opportunity to spend time with people you typically only get to talk to on the phone and get to know one another on a face to face basis.

Along with all of the work activities, we got to enjoy some team building "athletic" events. On Day 1, we all made our way up to the outdoor ice skating rink and had some fun competing in the Human Ice Bowling Competition. On Day 2, there was a bit of ice skating for those who chose to partake (including myself) and a team-building exercise that consisted of several small teams each designing and building a sled out of pvc piping which would be used in a 2-lap race around the rink. One of the team members would be seated in the sled while two others pushed. This was a fun activity and I am happy to say that my team won the race with the best time for two laps at 52 seconds!

So if all this wasn't enough, I had agreed to teach an introductory kettlebell class to anyone who was interested in attending - and motivated enough to be at the fitness center at 6:30am. I lugged a dozen of my kettlebells up with me and on Thursday morning had a turnout of 8 individuals. That's more than 10% of the company!! With safety in mind, I made sure that there were no overhead movements performed. Also, the most technically complex movement was the basic kettlebell 2-hand swing.

This is what the session looked like:

  • 2-Handed Swing
  • One-Legged Deadlift
  • 2-Handed Swing
  • Tactical Lunge
  • 2-Handed Swing
  • One-Legged Row
  • 2-Handed Swing
  • Farmer's Walk
  • 2-Handed Swing
  • Russian Twist
  • 2-Handed Swing

This sequence took us about 25 minutes to get through. Afterward I took everyone through a series of basic stretches as a means to cool down. (I was told afterward that my stretches were as intense as the kettlebell drills.)

Happy with the outcome of the session I thought I would be able to sleep in the following morning, but that didn't happen. By popular demand I was asked to hold another session the next morning, not just by the current attendees but by others who heard how great the class was. More kettlebells?? Sure thing!

Next morning, we had 4 individuals show up. I suppose those who were enthusiastic the prior day were either up too late that previous evening or were a bit more tired and sore than they had expected. Three of the four that showed up had attended the previous day's class, so I decided to go a little slower and get into some more detail.

We continued to work on the swing, both one-hand and two-hand. I also introduced the front deadlift, to emphasize the hip crease and hip/knee lockout. We also practiced "straight-shin" squats to emphasize sitting back into the hole and not just down. We also performed kettlebell front squats. I think that was about it. Again, we ended with stretching.

I had a great time and I believe all those who participated did as well. Teaching definitely helps one learn more for themselves. Watching others and finding areas for their improvement all carry over to one's own practice. This was also a great way to start developing my own teaching style. I am very proud of everyone that attended. They all worked hard and showed great enthusiasm. Looks like the start of more good things to come. Next stop RKC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Road Trip!

Today I'm headed to an offsite company meeting up in the beautiful mountains of the Hudson Valley here in NY. No training session this morning as I am still trying to maximize sleep these days. After this Friday, things should slow back down to a normal pace at work, so I'm hoping to get back into a more normal rhythm.

Tomorrow morning I have agreed to put some fellow coworkers through an introductory kettlebell workout. Some have already started using kettlebells, others have not. So I have tried to come up with a workout that is both introductory and yet somewhat taxing at the same time.

The most complex movement I plan to take them through is Swings - one and two handed. There will be no overhead movements (I can't risk having anyone getting injured). I will then sprinkle in some One-legged Deadlifts, One-legged Rows, Tactical Lunges, Squats and Russian Twists. Sounds a lot like my Saturday workout, huh? =) Depending on people's conditioning I'll alternate Swings with each of the other movements.

We won't have too much time, so we may only make it through one cycle. We'll see. Hopefully this will be just enough to get people excited about kettlebells. And yes, I hope to have some pics taken that I can share with everyone afterward.

On another note, with things slowing down at work, I think I'll schedule a visit to my local physiatrist to take a look at my forearms. No sense not getting another opinion. And a professional one at that! OK gotta run. Watch for a follow-up either tomorrow night or Friday. Later!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First Workout in DST

DST, that's Daylight Savings Time. Yesterday morning wasn't happening for me. With the time change over the weekend and my inability to fall asleep at a decent hour on Sunday night, I slept through my normal workout time yesterday morning. Today takes its place.

Getups: 24kg - 3/3

Pistols: 12kg - 3/3, 3/3
Palm Press: 16kg - 5/5, 5/5
(These were done as a superset.)

2-Hand Swing: 24kg - 10

1-Hand Swing: 24kg "On the Minute" - 6/6 for the first 12 minutes, 5/5 for the next 3 minutes
Total of 15 minutes, 174 swings, 9,187 lbs or 612 lbs/min (if one is interested in density).

I had originally wanted to make it through at least the first 10 minutes with the 6/6 and then hoped to finish off another 10 minutes with 5/5. But I got a bit greedy and kept up the 6/6 for another 2 intervals. At the 15 minute mark, I was tired. And as is now becoming a habit, a Mini Mark Reifkind was sitting on my shoulder telling me, "Train, don't strain!" So that's when I hit the brakes.

I then finished up with some forearm work. I experimented a bit with my last (silver) theraband and was able to find a nice angle to perform wrist extensions that perfectly target my problem area. (Luckily it's the same on both arms.) I've also been experimenting with some wall stretches to better target the spot. So we shall see. Lastly, performed two sets of French Presses with the 16kg for 10 reps each.

That's it, time to get ready for work. Swing 'em high!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Makeup Session

Here's a glimpse of what my workout area looks like. See that black mat on the floor? That's my area. I perform all my current movements right on that mat. One doesn't need a lot of space to get an awesome workout with kettlebells! There's an elliptical machine there on the right which has been collecting dust for about a year now. Who needs boring cardio when you can swing kettlebells??!!

On the workout bench you can see some of my daily tools. Polar heart rate monitor, Gymboss timer, small notebook to log in all my sessions with kb size, sets and reps, Super Joints to get me moving on rusty days and a copy of Brett Jones' article on how to prepare for the RKC Cert. On the floor a few small dumbbells that I'm currently using to strengthen my forearms/elbows along with my 'hammer' - the one side weighted dumbbell also used for the forearms. And of course my cement blocks that I'm using for pushups and L sits these days. You can also just barely make out the ab wheel (yellow) jutting out from behind the front of the elliptical. I need to start using that regularly again. So many toys, so little time!

Anyway, here's today's session, a makeup since I missed yesterday.

Getups: 20kg - 5/5 (this might have been 6/6 as I lost count somewhere along the way)

1-Legged Deadlift: 32kg - 3/3

1-Legged Row: 16kg - 5/5

Tactical Lunge: 16kg - 5/5

I felt like a little experimentation with these, just for fun.

1-Hand Swings: 32kg - 5/5, 8/8, 5/5 for 4 more sets (6 sets in total)

These 1-handed swings felt really good today! My grip felt strong up until the very last set (which is why I stopped when I did). I focused on solid form the whole way through. Brought the bell up to chest level. I was very surprised at how good these felt. So that's all for today. More on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Saturday, the new Friday

No workout this morning. I am in preservation mode at the moment. I am trying to maximize my ability to sleep these days as work has been kicking my butt this week and I'm not getting as much sleep or rest as I need. Therefore, my usual Friday session will be moved into tomorrow this week.

So on a good note, at least you have another post this week to look forward to!! =)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Swing Sets

No, not this kind!!

Anyone else notice how much harder it is to wake up on a Wednesday compared to a Monday?

I got up a little later than usual today, so nothing fancy in today's session, just went straight to work.

Windmills: 20kg - 5/5

2-Hand Swing: 24kg - 10

1-Hand Swing: 24kg -
20/20 (*PR*)

My first set of 20 Left + 20 Right is a PR. For the time being I am training my swings as if I had to pass a RKC Swing Test to get certified. 20/20 left me with some still in the bank. I didn't want to go all out today, so I'm confident that number will continue to go up in the near term.

Finished off with some miscellaneous elbow/forearm work. That's all, time to go to work. I think the next few days at the office are going to be long ones...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ramping Up

I'm back from my Taper Week, and decided not to jump back in with two feet just yet, but to ramp back up a bit. This morning was a very good session nonetheless. And this is how it went...

Getups: 20kg - 5/5

Palm Press: 12kg - 5/5, 16kg - 5/5, 20kg - 5/5

1-Hand Swings: 20kg - 5/5 on the Minute for 20 Minutes

That was it! I then cooled down with a few French Presses, Wrist Rotation/Flexion/Extension exercises and some stretching of the forearms. I'll try to continue greasing the groove with some Z throughout the day. Hopefully, I'm now on the right track...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Finishing February Off on a High Note

Well my Taper Week is just about over and I now only got two workouts in. They were both of reduced intensity, so I guess I didn't miss my goal by too much. The official count for the month of February is 13 workout sessions out of 28?, no 29 days. Pretty much on track with my consistency. This week kept me from hitting my minimum of 50% goal.

Anyway, today's session consisted of:

1-Handed Swings - 5/5 on the minute for 20 minutes with the 16kg

Dare I say this was an easy workout? I actually finished in 19 minutes, because I performed the second to last set as 5/5/5/5. I didn't see any use to waiting for the final minute and finished up early. So an easy 200 swings in 19 minutes.

I did notice something that I think might be contributing to my forearm/elbow soreness. On my downswings, when I hike the kb back between my legs, I have been rotating my hand so that my thumb is pointed behind me. At some point between my first two sets I noticed this started to aggravate my now somewhat rested forearms. Hmm... never picked up on this. And this is something that I do with swings, snatches and cleans. There just might be a connection here! So I finished off my sets without the hand rotation. I'll drop this for a while and see if it helps accelerate my healing. I definitely like how the hand turn makes my swings feel, and its something that I introduced relatively recently, so we will have to see if this is the culprit.

Only caught a glimpse of Resilient, specific to elbows and the Elbow Greaser move targets move exact point of discomfort. So it's definitely a wrist rotation thing going on. I'll be trying to get through the rest of the DVD over the weekend. That's it for now!