Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rest & Acupuncture

I've taken this week off to rest following last week's visit to the sports doc. After getting much feedback from my kettlebell brethren, I decided to not be so stubborn and start the healing process sooner than later.

That means I'll be skipping the upcoming AKC Coach's Certification. As much as it pains me to do so, it is for the best. No sense digging the hole I'm now in deeper. It'll only take longer to climb out. And when I thought about it, I'd much rather attend the cert while 100% and nothing less.

So after resting for a full week, I feel anxious. I need to do something physical!

I went back to the doc today and had my first session of acupuncture. Nothing exciting to report. It was fine. Didn't hurt. Lasted about 20 minutes. This was then followed about with some light massage and a small injection of Novocain into my back. I'm interested to see if I can feel any difference tomorrow.

Next Wednesday I am scheduled for a Cortisone shot. Following that I am required to take it easy for a few days to allow the inflammation to go down. In the meantime, I have been given the green light to hit the stationary bike. Problem is I'm swamped at work this week and won't have a chance until Thursday. This sedentary lifestyle is killing me!! =)

That's it for now. More will be posted when I have more to tell.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not So Good Diagnosis

Went to see a new Sports Doctor today to have him check out this nagging pain in my back.

In August it will be a year since the pain began and so far I have yet to get any lasting relief. I have been able to tolerate training and have not had any bad flare ups, but there is always some pain to deal with.

After an examination and x-rays, the diagnosis is that I have a sprained sacral-iliac ligament.

And the only way for it to heal, it to rest it. Resting it does not mean, no activity. Because this ligament (actually it's three ligaments that hold the sacrum and iliac together back there) is used to stabilize the hip and spine, any closed chain movements will aggravate it. In simple terms, anything that I do standing. I can perform open chain exercises, ones where I am either sitting or lying.

This is not the kind of news that a kettlebell lifter wants to hear. Apparently, I could continue to have this pain for the rest of my life if I don't allow it to hear properly. And there is always a chance that it could return again in the future, now that it's been injured once.

So what's the plan? Good question.

Between now and June 20, when I attend the AKC Coach's Cert, I am going to increase my rest days and drop down to lighter bells just to keep my groove on. Once the Cert is behind me, the doc suggests a cortisone shot coupled with a few weeks of acupuncture.

Ugh... I can't believe this. But at the same time, I need to think about my long term health and wellness. Whatever shall be, shall be. Just another day in the life of Howie Brewer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Focus on Quality

After digesting some of the suggestions I received from this weekend's video post, I decided today to focus on quality instead of quantity. Here's today's session:

Jerk: 2 x 20kg - 4-1/2 minutes @ 6 rpm

Snatch: 20kg - 4 minutes @ 16 rpm

The Jerks were going well all along but then at the 4-1/2 minute mark my brain seemed to cross some wires and I lost my first bump. It was really weird. So I stopped the set.

On my Snatches, I was very focused on coordinating my leg drive with timing the bump of the bell upward. I want to be sure I'm launching the bell with my legs and not swinging it upward. I was also focusing on not over-rotating my left hand at the top of the Snatch.

Lots of things were being thought about during today's session. Maybe I was thinking a little too much. But from time to time, you need to do it. Tomorrow morning, I see the back doctor!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Video

I had a few minutes today to bust out the video camera with the intent of filming myself for some self critiquing (sp?). It's been almost a year since I taped myself and it's about time that I did again.

It's a valuable tool to record yourself and watch it back afterward when you are calm and not heaving from being out of breath. I was not happy with my form in the video, but hey, it's a candid, honest view of me on a Saturday without any real preparation.

I did get some valuable feedback from a very well, respected lifter, which made my weekend. Rather than type any more, here it is, unedited. (You'll notice during my jerks that I'm speaking to my postman who happened to be delivering the mail and wanted to watch a bit.)

As always, any and all comments are welcome.

Friday, May 15, 2009

These Damn Bells

Only with bells can one hit a PR and still be unsatisfied with their workout. Today was something of an experiment. I decided to see what it was like to perform my snatches first and my jerks second. So here's what it looked like...

Snatch: 20kg - 6 minutes @ 16 rpm (**PR**)

Jerk: 2 x 20kg - 2 minutes @ 6 rpm

As I was afraid the Snatches fried me. Although I was able to keep up my 16 rpm pace for the full 6 minutes, which is a personal record (PR). So I should be happy. But I am not happy with my Jerk set. Since this was a sparse week for training, I'm going to try to squeeze something in over the weekend. TGIF!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Simple Jerk/Snatch Day

I woke up early today feeling pretty good. As a matter of fact, by yesterday evening, the neck and back spasms I was having had disappeared. And I didn't even have to resort to taking an Advil! Anyway, this morning I treated myself to a Z-Health R-Phase (with I-Phase cervical and thoracic spine thrown in) session.

This afternoon's session went simply...

Jerk: 2 x 20kg - 5 minutes @ 6 rpm

Snatch: 20kg - 6 minutes @ 12 rpm

Cooled down with compensatory movements, stretching (started revisiting splits!) and other miscellaneous movements.

If my next Jerk workout goes as well as today's I'll be pushing into 6 minutes. I would have today, but I was intent on getting at least 6 minutes of Snatching in. Without having a lot of time to rest between sets, my Snatch form deteriorates quickly, as it did today with only 6 minutes rest in between sets. I am happy that I am now consistent with my 5 minute Jerk sets.

I'm also going to try to start eating more. I'm finding that with volume of my current sets I'm now starting to feel a bit fatigued in general. Maybe more calories with help.

That's it for today. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get in a Long Cycle session.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ouch, What A Difference A Few Days Can Make

Last week's training was pretty much a bust. Lots going on at home and at work, didn't allow me to work my usual routine. I only squeezed in two sessions during the week.

On Saturday, I gave a short kettlebell demonstration at a local tai chi school. Looks like I will be going back soon to teach a beginner's seminar.

Even with this I could feel my neck and back tightening up on me over the weekend. And today, things were even worse. Not only did my workout feel tough physically, given my recent time away, but the muscles in my neck went into spasm. I can feel the tightness through my neck and up onto my scalp. It's been a long time since I've felt this way. Just goes to show what happens when you stop moving!

Anyway, enough crying from me. Here's today's 'easy' workout...

One Arm Press: 20kg - 4 minutes @ 12 rpm

Snatch: 20kg - 4 minutes @ 16 rpm

One Arm Long Cycle Push Press: 20kg - 4 minutes @ 10 rpm

Funny how I now go into automatic Jerk mode when I first started the Push Presses. I feel like my energy is lacking as of late. I think I have hit a point in my training where I need to start increasing my caloric intake. I'm weighing in around 162lbs (73kg) these days. Good excuse to eat, huh?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

High Altitude Training

Well, that's at least what I'm equating working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to - high altitude training.

What a difference early morning workouts are to working out later in the day. I really have to summon up more inner strength to get through these workouts. I was tempted to put the bells down early today, but I did not. I worked through, as tough and grueling as it was. And you know what, I'm glad I pushed through it! =)

Today I returned to the 20kg bells. One thing I need to re-teach myself is patience. These bells are a lifetime pursuit. No need to rush through things. I am going to continue with the 20kg's until I am at Rank II level. Only then will I move up. (What's wrong with me? I know better.)

So here's this morning's session...

Jerk: 2 x 20kg - 5 minutes @ 6 rpm

Snatch: 20kg - 6 minutes - 46L/46R (16rpm first two min, 14rpm third min, then switch, repeat)

I'm really starting to appreciate the yin/yang relationship between these two lifts. First of course is the double bell/single bell relationship. And then there's the linear/circular aspect of the lift trajectories. But there is also the contrasting movement dynamics. The Jerk, for most part, appears to be a static lift where time can be spent relatively motionless, while the Snatch is pretty much non-stop movement. And each of these taps into a different kind of energy utilization. "Resting" in the rack position reminds me of horse stance training in martial arts. Anyone watching would think there was not much going on. But if you were in that horse stance, you knew how hard you were working! This might be a good topic for the future. But for now, that's it. Until tomorrow! (And I'm thinking Long Cycle for tomorrow!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jerking the 24's

This was a busy weekend for me, but also a productive one (preparing for the new baby). The only thing I did training-wise was revisit Z-Health. I was able to quickly review both the R- and I-Phase programs and ran through a R-Phase session yesterday. I'm going to give Intu-Flow a bit of a break and mess with Z-Health again for a bit.

I woke up early today to squeeze in a workout before the day gets started. I had intended to Jerk and Snatch this morning, but unfortunately my son decided to wake up early as well. So I was able to squeeze in my Jerks, but that's all. Today is also the first time I attempted to Jerk the 24kg bells.

Here's how it went...

Jerk: 2 x 24kg - 1 minute @ 5 rpm

Jerk: 2 x 24kg - 2 minutes @ 5 rpm

The first set started off a bit rocky. Probably because I hadn't warmed up any. And the bells felt heavy. I stopped a little bit into my second minute during the first set as I missed a lockout on my left side. But then decided not to allow myself to stop there, I cleanly made through another two minutes. And that's when Anthony decided to get up. So that's where I finished.

More tomorrow!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Going Green

I always recycle and like to think that I'm environmentally conscious, but today's reference to green is with regard to the 24kg bells. Wanting to give them a go again, I got up early today and ran through a short session...

One Arm Jerk: 24kg - 2 minutes @ 16 rpm

Snatch: 24kg - 2 minutes @ 16 rpm

One Arm Long Cycle: 24kg - 2 minutes @ 10 rpm

It was just about a month and a half ago that I attempted this same workout. Since then I've gone back and worked with the 20kg bells. I'm interested to see how my body reacts this time around. I'm not sure if I'm going to move full steam ahead with these or not. Only time and my body will tell.