Friday, November 28, 2008

2008/11/28 - Moderate day

This session felt like it lasted for hours. Not the kettlebell part but the warm-up and cool-down periods. I'm busy learning the Kettlebell foundation joint mobility sequence and the compensatory cool-down sequence and it is taking quite a bit of time to get used to the movements. I guess once I've got the movements and sequence memorized and I don't have to pause-play-pause-play the DVD the whole time it will go much quicker.

My session went as follows:

Kettlebell specific joint mobility

One Arm Jerk (32kg): 3 x 1 minute sets @ 8rpm (right arm)

One Arm Jerk (16kg): 3 x 1 minute sets @ 8rpm (left arm)

Kettlebell front squats: 3 x 5 x 32kg right / 2 x 5 x 16kg left

Swing: 2 x 5 x 40kg (right) / 2 x 5 x 24kg (left)

Compensatory cool-down sequence

I'm glad to report that my left shoulder felt great during the jerks and squats. It is still a bit uncomfortable when I move my head in certain ways but there was no discomfort in the kettlebell sets. I'll keep things light on the left for now but I'm glad to be able to train the shoulder again.

I quite like the compensatory cool down. Some of the movements are not easy but they really do work some of my trouble spots like the left hip. I can see how these movements can become a very valuable part of my total training plan.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review of Scott Sonnon's Kettlebell Foundation DVD's

Scott Sonnon is known on the world wide web as the Flowcoach. His health first fitness philosophy is rather unique during this time of quick fixes and cosmetic approaches to fitness. Most modern people seem to spend their time developing their public "fitness" persona's by developing an ideal set of pecs or tightening the buns in an attempt to look good in the public eye. In my opinion Scott has always been a bit of a maverick by placing the emphasis on deeper aspects of fitness than just what looks good. He has successfully managed to bring ancient concepts of fitness into modern culture through his development of the Clubbell, the Circular Strength Training (CST) system, Prasara Yoga, his unique take on ancient Russian martial arts and various other innovative and integrative methods.

I was lucky enough to discover Scott's work via Facebook (yes, social networking does have value sometimes) and chose to start off with his magnum opus known as the Intu-flow system. Intu-flow on the surface is about creating full mobility throughout all the joints of the human body but at a deeper level encourages all of us to reclaim our full potential as human beings. The subtext of Intu-flow is all about learning to flow along with all the challenges life throws at us without responding from a place of fear and uncertainty.

I recently got a copy of Scott's Kettlebell Foundation DVD set. Kettlebells are of course currently one of the "cool" tools in the fitness industry. Unfortunately a lot of absolute fluff is being taught in modern gyms about Kettlebell exercises. Just do a search on Youtube and you are bound to find some really...ummm...silly examples of people using kettlebells as if they are the same as any form of modern gym equipment. If you really want to do bicep curls please use a dumbbell - they were designed for that.

Scott's take one Kettlebells is firmly rooted in the original Russian methods. In Western culture strength is often gauged by one's ability to lift a heavy weight once. Naturally a lot of individuals in Western culture will approach any heavy object from this vantage point which leads to people getting excited about their ability to lift a 40kg or 48kg Kettlebell above their heads once. Scott understands that Kettlebells were designed not so much for max strength but for the development of work capacity or strength-endurance, an often neglected aspect of modern fitness programs. Typical gym protocols require one to do 8 - 12 repetitions of a movement whereas the bells were designed to do upwards of a 100 reps per set. Imagine for one moment doing 100 repetitions of Kettlebell jerks with 2 X 32kg bells during a set that lasts a full ten minutes. That is enough to make a grown man cry. Scott understands this approach to fitness, strength and endurance fully.

The Kettlebell Foundation DVD set consists of three DVD's that will allow any aspiring Kettlebell athlete to not only learn proper technique but also essential (and often neglected) methods for keeping the body healthy and mobile for a very long time. In DVD one Scott covers essential breathing methods (derived from Yoga and Russian martial arts) that not only prepares the lifter for hard work but also allows him or her to recover faster and survive the intensity of long term work with Kettlebells. I tried the breathing methods and can honestly say that they make a major difference during my training sets. During my Kettlebell session last night I experienced more endurance and work capacity than I have for a while.

DVD 1 continues with teaching the technical aspects of the major Kettlebell lifts. Scott's attention to detail is quite astonishing and he clearly is an expert when it comes to human movement potential. Even though I am a certified Kettlebell teacher some of the material he shared gave me some food for thought. Scott clearly has a very alert eye and the ability to dissect the minutiae of human movement like few others.

What really blew me away though is Scott's ability to analyze the impact of exercises on the body and to design a holistic protocol that will stop the body from becoming too much of a specialist in one form of movement. Years ago when I was a student of psychology I learned the following concept: The body adapts itself to its task in the world. Scott understands this concept fully and provides ways of keeping the body "unfrozen" rather than allowing it to become so comfortable with one way of being that all other ways of being become inaccessible. In the Kettlebell DVD set he provides a thorough joint mobility warm-up (based broadly on Intu-flow) and a series of compensatory cool-down movements that allow the Kettlebell athlete to remain flexible, mobile and alive rather than becoming locked into a few very specific patterns of movements.

Some of the warm-up moves and compensatory movements are relatively obvious for those who have spent any amount of time under the bells but Scott also shares some techniques that comes from a place of pure genius - or perhaps just way more perceptive abilities than most of us have. I've had many AHAAA moments while watching and working with the Kettlebell Foundation DVD's. All of it makes perfect sense not only on an intellectual level but very much on a visceral level.

If you really want to have a simple and streamlined protocol that will bring all round fitness and, more importantly, a lack of constriction, I would HIGHLY recommend that you invest in the Kettlebell Foundation Set. I will definitely be using these methods and concepts for quite some time. If you want to take your fitness, health and movement potential to another level please visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2008/11/25 - High Intensity with some new toys

I finally got my Kettlebell Foundation DVD set and the Prasara Yoga set (both from Scott Sonnon). Apparently they have been lying in waiting at the post office (who never bothered to notify me of the arrival) since the 7th of November. Anyway, I'm really glad I got them at last. Naturally I had to start playing with my new toys immediately. I started with the kettlebell joint mobility warm-up and will over the next few days work through the rest of the material. Here is how my session went:

Kettlebell specific joint mobility

24kg / 1 minute on / 2 minutes off (still only the right side) of:

One Arm Jerk: 16

Snatch: 16

Press: 10

One Arm Jerk: 14

Snatch: 12

Press: 7

Swing: 20 right / 15 left

Light stretching

The kettlebell specific joint mobility exercises are really cool. Obviously their base in Intu-flow is quite visible but they are much more specifically designed to compensate for some of the stresses placed on the body by kettlebell training. Even after my session today I feel loose and mobile and not as tight as I do normally after intense kettlebell work. Look out for my full reviews of both the Kettlebell Foundation set and the Prasara set in the next few days.

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008/11/24 - Moderate day

I'm thinking maybe one more week of resting my left shoulder before I'll be ready to slowly start working it again. Today I stuck to my basic moderate day protocol and the outcome looked like this:


One Arm Jerk (32kg): 5 x 1 min sets: 40

Front Squat: (32kg): 4 x 5

Swing (40kg): 3 x 5

1 x 4 minute round of Flowfit to release the tension

Total volume: 2520kg

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008/11/21 - High intensity day

Today's session was again based on the level 1 AKC fitness protocol (advanced version) with the 24kg bell. Now that I am working with the 24kg I am much stricter in terms of sticking to the rules of the protocol. When I was working with the 16kg I skipped levels and basically fooled around without much consistency or discipline. I don't think I can afford that with the 24kg so I'm staying well within the rules. Once the objectives for level 1 have been completed I will move up a level. Today's session went like this:

Intu-flow Intermediate level

1 minute sets with 2 minutes rest of the following with the 24kg (right side only):

One Arm Jerk: 16

Snatch: 16

Clean: 14

One Arm Jerk: 14

Snatch: 14

Clean: 11

Swing (24kg): 20

Flowfit: 1 x 6 minute round.

Total volume: 2520kg

My numbers dropped a bit during the second round, mainly as a result of forearm and grip endurance. I'm sure consistent practice will take care of it though. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2008/11/20 - Moderate day (strength focus)

I think I'm finally starting to figure out the 4x7 protocol. The cycle I'm doing currently is the first one in which I'm actually beginning to get the difference between moderate and high intensity days. Although I knew the difference intellectually since first starting to use 4x7 I'm now also starting to feel it. Moderate days are clearly more about strength and should not leave you feeling smoked. Instead, I think they should leave you feeling stimualted, energized, strong and ready for the high intensity day that follows. Here is today's result:

(BTW. all of this is right side only - still nursing the left shoulder)

Intu-flow intermediate

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 4 x 1 minutes @ 8rpm: 32

One Arm Jerk (32kg): 2 x 1 minutes @ 8rpm: 16

Front Squats (32kg): 3 x 5

Swing (40kg): 5 x 5

Flowfit: 1 x 5 minute round

Total Volume: 2760 kg

The session felt good and strong. It had very little impact on my breathing and I feel pretty fresh and energized after the work. The 24kg is starting to feel relatively light too. Even the 32kg Jerks are improving fast.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008/11/19 - Light day with Intu-flow and Flowfit

I'm really getting into Flowfit and am trying to incorporate it into my training at every possible opportunity. With my shoulder injury I find the Prasara flows a bit of a strain so I'm using Flowfit as a substitute for now. Although, Flowfit is so enjoyable that I'll probably keep doing it in conjunction with the yoga flows. For today's session I did:

Intu-flow intermediate

Flowfit: 3 x 4 minute rounds with 1 minute rest

Tomorrow will be strength oriented work with the bells. Now if only my Kettlebell and Prasara DVD's will get here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

2008/11/17 - More one sided level 1 work

After my Saturday session the left shoulder is uncomfortable again. It is better than just after the injury but Saturday showed me that it's not ready for training yet (apart from some mobility work). Today I did another session from the level 1 AKC fitness protocol and here's the result:

Intu-flow intermediate

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 1 minute: 14 - 2 minute rest

Snatch (24kg): 1 minute: 14 - 2 minute rest

Press (24kg): 1 minute: 10 - 2 minute rest

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 1 minute: 14 - 2 minute rest

Snatch (24kg): 1 minute: 14 - 2 minute rest

Press (24kg): 1 minute: 9

Swing (24kg): 20 (just right arm)

Flowfit: 3 x 4 minute rounds with 1 minute rest between rounds

Total volume: 2280kg

I had a real blast today. The Jerks felt solid and the Snatches with the 24kg are getting easier as well. Flowfit is also really cool and it will definitely be on my Christmas list.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008/11/15 - Moderate day

Yesterday was one of those days that I just couldn't get myself to do any kind of training. When I came home after the office's end year function I could just manage to veg in front of the TV and watch some DVD's. At least Juno and Forgetting Sarah Marshall were very entertaining. In fact, the laughter muscles received a serious workout.

Today I decided to carefully start working the left arm again. The shoulder is not perfect yet but is a lot better. The session went like this:

Intu-flow intermediate

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 5 x 1 minute sets (3 sets right / 2 sets left) @ 8rpm.

One Arm Jerk (32kg): 1 x 1 minute set (right only) @ 8rpm

Front Squat (24kg): 5 x 5

Swing (32kg): 10 (only right)

Some stretching and Qi Gong

Total Volume: 2136kg

The left shoulder felt OK but started getting a bit uncomfortable during the second jerk set. I sprayed on some analgesic spray and considered forging ahead but luckily better judgment took over and I continued the session with the right hand only. John Buckley mentioned to us during the IKFF cert that kettlebells played a significant role in his shoulder rehab after his car accident and I'm hoping that some not too intense training will do the same for me. I do believe that training sends healthy nutrients to injured body parts - as long as it is not overdone. I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

One thing that I am very glad about is that my strength is starting to pick up rapidly. Steve's suggestion to re-incorporate the 24kg into my training is definitely paying off. Even the 32kg jerks felt pretty solid today. Going forward I will probably make the 24kg the main tool in my training arsenal and use the 32kg for assistance work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2008/11/13 - Light day with some Flowfit

I have been toying with the idea for a while now to get Scott Sonnon's CST Golden Three Package, which includes Flowfit, Forward Pressure and Be Breathed. Given that money doesn't grow on trees I however decided to only order his Kettlebell Foundation and Prasara Instructional DVD's. Yesterday I was lucky enough to receive a link via RMax coach Adam Steer's Momentum Training Newsletter to his Flowfit level 1 video clips that he uses for his private online clients. I watched the clips and immediately liked Flowfit. Naturally it had to be part of my session for today, so here is what I did:

Intu-flow intermediate level

Flowfit level 1 (4 rounds of 3 minutes each with 1 minute rest in between)

About 10 minutes worth of Qi Gong

I thoroughly enjoyed the session. I really loved the Flowfit and can clearly see the value of incorporating it into a holistic fitness and wellness program. On a light day like today Flowfit can serve as a relatively gentle workout for just warming the body and creating a sense of mobility and relaxation. On high intensity days it will be easy to up the pace and use it as a smoker. Although different from the Prasara A and B flows it is easy to see that Flowfit is a member of the Prasara family. Some of the movements will be familiar to yoga students whereas others are more general fitness moves that form part of a lot of different training programs. The ingenuity of the program is the way Scott strung the movements together in the form of a flow that encourages a relaxed, focused state of mind while the body is being worked. I will definitely incorporate this into my schedule on a regular basis.

For anyone interested I would highly recommend signing up for Adam Steer's Momentum Training Newsletter for some great fitness, health and wellness tips. You can find sign up information on his website at The subscription link is at the top right corner of the homepage.

Till tomorrow - Keep moving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2008/11/12 - Intuflow and Qi Gong

For my no intensity day I worked slowly through the Intu-flow intermediate program. I really enjoy the fluidity of the movements and the way each level adds more sophistication. During some of the more wave like movements I almost felt like I was doing Tai Chi. There was also a lot of popping and clicking going on in my spine and neck during a lot of the movements. Maybe some of the more persistent tight spots are finally starting to let go.

After my Intu-flow set I worked through the Qi Gong set Steve taught during the IKFF certification. For newcomers to Qi Gong it is a very simple, compact set that does a good job of teaching the basics of Chinese energy work. Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity though. In as little as ten minutes the set covers all of the Qi Gong fundamentals such as posture, relaxation, movement, stretching and even meditation. I probably worked for about ten minutes and was boiling hot and sweating after the practice. Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2008/11/11 - AKC Fitness Protocol and 24kg

My current 4x7 (my post IKFF certification 4x7) is designed to recover some lost strength in terms of pressing and squatting. Although the actual 4x7 is a bit on hold due to my shoulder injury the work I am doing is still focused on these goals. On my two moderate days I will focus on short timed sets of presses and jerks with the 24kg, some squat variations, windmills, get ups, and heavy swings. The high intensity days will either be based on the AKC fitness protocol with the 24 kg or long timed sets with the 16kg (and eventually the 24kg). For my high intensity day today I did a level 1 AKC session with the 24kg. Still only working the right side the session consisted of 1 minute sets with 2 minute rests. Here is the blow by blow:

Intu-flow Intermediate level

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 1 minute set: 12
Snatch (24kg): 1 minute set: 12
Clean (24kg): 1 minute set: 12
One Arm Jerk (24kg): 1 minute set: 12
Snatch (24kg): 1 minute set: 12
Clean (24kg): 1 minute set: 12

I did 20 swings with the 24 kg as a finisher and ended the session with some stretching.

Total volume: 2208kg

I thoroughly enjoyed the Intu-flow. The increased movement sophistication of the intermediate level feels great. The kettlebell work today also felt strong and solid and my technique was pretty sound. It really is amazing what a difference some solid instruction by masters like Steve and John can make. Something about the very hands-on teaching approach of the IKFF and the long practice sets seem to drill proper technique deeply into one's neurology. I caught myself a few times during today's session spontaneously correcting my technique when it started going a bit awry.

Monday, November 10, 2008

10/11/2008 - Moderate day

My left shoulder is feeling a lot better but I still chose to be cautious and just work the right side today. Hopefully I'll get an appointment with the chiro later this week to work on the shoulder and some long standing back / hip issues. Today I did:

Z-Health NWU 1

One Arm Jerk (24kg): 4 x 1 minute sets @ 8 rpm
Chair Press (24kg): 1 x 1 minute set: 7
Front Squat (24kg): 3 sets of 5
Windmill (16kg): 1 set of 3

I cooled down with some gentle yoga stretching.

Friday, November 7, 2008

2008/11/07 - Light and moderate days

Yesterday I just did Z Health's level 1 neuro warm-up. Today I worked through Intuflow beginner level and fooled around a bit with the Prasara See Saw flow.

The left shoulder is starting to annoy me now because even the yoga is uncomfortable. I chose the See Saw flow for today because there is no real emphasis on shoulder work. Even so the flow created discomfort in the shoulder. Postures like the child and rabbit pose that stretches and releases the spine and neck somehow also pulls on the injured muscle or tendons in my shoulder. Stubborn as I am I think I will finally relent and go and see a chiro. A buddy of mine got some great results from a doc near us that is quite an expert when it comes to sports injuries.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008/11/05 - Still one sided

I looked at myself in the mirror after my session today - I looked positively scary. My right shoulder and arm were pumped and full of veins and the left side looked pretty puny in comparison. This left shoulder better heal soon otherwise I can start applying for roles in scifi or horror movies pretty soon. It was also interesting to notice how much more tired my arm felt during the snatch set. The time spent on the left arm during the jerk sets obviously allows the right arm to get some quality rest time. Not working the left side didn't give my right arm much time to recover but I got through it. Here is my session:

Z Health NWU 1 warm-up

One arm jerk (16kg): 4 minutes @ 10 rpm: 40
Snatch (16kg): 3 minutes @ 14rpm: 42

Swing (24kg): 20

I was also surprised today to notice how light the 16 kg bell is starting to feel. It almost flies out of my hand during the snatches. It might be the heavier presses on my moderate days that are beginning to pay dividends but a lot also seems to have to do with the improvement in my technique since the IKFF cert.

Before signing off just one last thing: CONGRATULATIONS to Barack Obama on the amazing election win.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008/11/04 - A pretty one sided session

Due to the still present left shoulder injury I had to train only the right side today. It feels weird to only work one side but I'd rather do something than just wait for the shoulder to get better. Here is the result:

Intu-Flow beginner level

Press (24kg): 5x5
Press (32kg): 3 singles
Squat (16kg+24kg): 2x5
Swing (32kg): 10

I planned on doing 5 squat sets but even the squats really pulled on my left shoulder so I decided to call it a day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008/11/03 - Shoulder injury

I somehow managed to injure my left shoulder during my previous moderate intensity day. I think I twisted the shoulder a bit when I did windmills and my Prasara cool down added to the discomfort. The fact that I did my high intensity day anyway was probably not a good idea and the shoulder is now really pretty uncomfortable. Luckily yesterday and today were lower intensity days anyway.

For a bit of a change (I love variety way too much) I worked through the Z-Health level 1 Neuro-Warm Up yesterday. Today I did the whole Z-Health R-Phase sequence, including the squat positions at the end. Even though I've been concentrating on Intu-Flow lately I enjoyed the precision of the Z movements. Because Intu-Flow is more flowing in nature I think I might have been neglecting proper form in my Intu-Flow sessions. In future I will be sure to focus on accurate execution of the movements rather than just flowing through the set quickly and with too little precision.

Hopefully my shoulder will be better tomorrow otherwise it will be a pretty one sided session.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

2008/11/01 - High intensity day

I am taking things easy this week. My body seems to need a lot of rest after the intensity of last weekend. Although today was supposedly a high intensity day I took things quite easy. I did:

Intuflow beginner level

One Arm Jerk (16kg): 6 minutes @ 10rpm: 30/30
Snatch (16kg): 4 minutes @ 14rpm: 28/28
Dbl Kbell front squat (16kg + 24kg): 2x5
Swing (24kg): 10/10

I ended off with mild stretching and some yoga breathing.