Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009-11-19 – A snatch session

The weather here is cold, wet and miserable; totally different from our normally hot Novembers. I just couldn’t get myself to go out again after I got home this evening so no Systema class for me tonight. Instead I worked through a snatch based session that looked like this:

Warm up: Intu-Flow level 1

16kg Snatch: 150 reps

Systema core exercises

Cool down: Intu-Flow level 1

I am steering away from 24kg Snatches for now because my shoulders have been taking a bit of strain lately due to old injuries that pop around for the occasional visit. The snatches went well and felt smooth. The extra Intu-Flow session as a cool down also seems to be a good idea because it leaves me feeling a lot looser and more relaxed than I normally feel after a session. I should probably make this a regular part of my sessions. Tomorrow I’ll probably do some more kettlebell work and next week I’ll be back (hopefully) to three days with the bells and two days at Systema class. Now, if this awful weather would just go away!

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009-11-16 – Jerks and Swings

My session today focused on one arm jerks and swings followed by some Systema basics. Here is the result:

Warm-up: Intu-Flow level 1

24kg OAJ: 100 reps / 2 minute rest periods

24kg Swings: 100 reps / 1 minute rest periods

Systema core work and breathing practice

The jerks and swings felt smooth and easy. I am definitely becoming more comfortable with the new technique and the relaxed Systema breathing is also having a positive impact.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009-11-12 – Knives and the psyche

Our Systema class tonight placed the focus on the neutralization of bladed weapons. From the outset it was apparent that defending yourself against an assailant with a knife brings up completely different issues from what you are likely to experience when just going head to head with no weapons. Even though the knives we used are made out of wood and cannot inflict real harm my nervous system went into overdrive and brought up all the old fears associated with any kind of weapon. The drills during the class were expertly planned to make not only your body but more importantly your psyche comfortable with the idea of going up against an armed assailant. At the end of the class I had a chat with Vadim and he told me that even the Russian special operations soldiers consider a knife to be a pretty special weapon. The knife just seems so up close and personal and I guess we all have some pretty primal responses to being cut. They key thing that made an impact on me tonight is that all attacks are just attack…don’t let yourself get too involved with the knife, the gun or, for that matter, the punch…just maintain a state of relaxed attention and you will notice many options for breaking down the structural integrity of the opponent. In the meantime…don’t be cut…too much!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009-11-11 – Taking it easy

After the intense Systema class last night my body needed an easier day. As the day progressed my good old friend DOMS set in, in places I forgot that I had. My easier session today went like this:

16kg Snatch ladder: 138 reps / 90 seconds rest between sets

Systema core exercises

Systema breathing and tension / relaxation drills

The new snatch technique is coming along nicely and is starting to feel much smoother than when I used it last week. I am also placing a lot more emphasis on applying Systema breathing and relaxation principles during the kettlebell work, which really seems to make everything easier.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009-11-10 – A pretty intense Systema class

My third Systema class tonight has been the most intense since my recent return to the Russian martial arts. Vadim started us off with the usual warm up drills such as jogging, hopping on one leg etc. This time around he extended the warm up phase and also included various drills with a partner. Some of these included squatting back to back and then jumping around the class sideways in a squat position, rolling sideways with your partner on top of you in push up position, and doing various forms of wheelbarrow pushups, hops and walking on the knuckles. At this point, about thirty minutes into the class most of us were ready to go home but the fun was only just about to start!

The rest of the class focused on neutralizing attacks via first “riding” the incoming energy and then giving it back via a take-down. Initially this was done slowly and smoothly. In the latter parts of the class we had a rare opportunity to work at full speed. This part was really interesting. A lot of non-Systema practitioners criticize the system for the heavy emphasis on slow work and assume that the methods are therefore not practical. I can say in all honesty that the slow work that preceded the full speed work actually made the speed work seem easier. The intent of the Russian system is to teach the body and psyche basic movement patterns via slow and efficient work. Once this has been accomplished the full speed work actually seems almost effortless. I think that a key difference is the fact that a full pace attack brings so much energy to the party that the defender needs to do very little to re-direct the attack or neutralize the opponent.

It was also great to notice that my body is already starting to remember some of the skills I developed during my previous exposure to Systema.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2009-11-09 - Kettlebells and Systema breathing

My session today consisted of:

Warm up: Systema breathing and jogging

24kg OAJ ladders: 108 reps / 2 minutes rest between sets

24kg Swing: 15/15

Systema basic exercises

The focus during the session was on incorporating the basic Systema principles and breathing methods into everything. One of the key principles of Systema is proper breathing. In fact, everything in the Russian System flows from proper breathing. Another important aspect of Systema is proper structure (or body posture). The idea is to keep the breath flowing freely and easily no matter what you do and to keep your posture as relaxed and natural as possible. During my Jerk sets today I tried to keep my posture as natural as possible and also focused mainly on breathing rather than the mechanics of the movement. What was interesting about this approach was that the actual jerks became almost a side issue. Focusing on breathing allowed the movement to happen almost without any effort. I also noticed that my posture was far less exaggerated than usual. I used hardly any knee dips and the movements felt easy and fluid. I think this approach will help me to discover my own most efficient style of kettlebell lifting. Being naturally lazy this style will probably revolve around minimalism, but the weeks ahead will tell exactly how this will turn out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2009-11-5 – Another great RMA class

We started class tonight with the familiar warm up section consisting of light jogging, bouncing on one leg, rolls, etc. All of these exercises place the emphasis on breathing and relaxation…conditioning is a by-product.

This was followed by the Systema core exercises (push ups, sit ups, leg lifts and squats). Again the emphasis was on form, relaxation and primarily breathing.

The theme of the drills tonight was on dealing with punches. The first drill was based on the idea of actually receiving a punch (which is sort of inevitable at some point in a real life confrontation) and then allowing your body to find a way of letting the punch dissipate. In other words, rather than blocking, simply let your body deal with the punch in such a way that it doesn’t find a real sticking point, which is where all the damage will come from. The next drill expanded on this concept by also including subtle stepping, which will either totally deflect the punch or at least not provide it with any real penetrating ability.

I was again amazed at the simplicity, subtlety and economy of the Russian System. Some of the drills may not always look beautiful and expansive like the methods found in other arts but I assure you that there is a deep beauty in the simplicity of it all. More to come next week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009-11-03 – First Systema class in over 2 years

I should have done this a long time ago! After an absence of more than two years I finally listened to my inner urgings and to Jocelyn’s gentle prods (she knows I’m happiest when I do martial arts) and went to class tonight. After an hour and forty five minutes worth of training I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to return.

The class started as usual with gentle jogging (while focusing on breathing in a relaxed manner) followed by some rolls, duck walks and other mobility drills. This was followed by some of the Systema core exercises such as push-ups, abdominal work and squats. All of these are seen as breathing exercises rather than strength work.

Our instructor Vadim Dobrin followed this with one of his favorite drills; lying down and getting up again as efficiently as possible. This one exercise if done for long enough can be a thorough workout all by itself.

The rest of the class was based on some basic Systema movement drills. The idea was to receive an attack and then evade it with as little drama and movement as possible. One of the key concepts covered was the idea that minimal and natural movement often neutralizes a conflict whereas big and aggressive movements tend to increase conflict.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class and from now on I’ll be blogging my experiences with the System regularly. That’s all for now. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

2009-10-30 - 24kg Snatch set

Today's session was really pretty pathetic. Here goes:

Warm up: 24kg swings

24kg Snatch: 3 minutes @ 12rpm

24kg swings: 5x10/10

Systema basics

I'm experimenting with my snatch technique because I know beyond any doubt that it needs some serious reform. I only managed a three minute set. I'm not sure whether it is simply because I suck at snatching or whether it is just part of the process of learning. Hopefully by the end of next month things will look a lot better.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009-10-29 - 24kg OAJ

A short session today.

Warm up: 24kg Swings

24kg OAJ: 5 minutes @ 8rpm

24kg Swings: 5x10/10

Systema basics

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2009-10-27 - 16kg Snatches

Today was benchmark day for 16kg Snatches. I chose to go with a six minute set. Here is the session:

16kg Snatch: 6 minutes @ 14rpm

Cheat pull ups: 3x3

Systema basics

I feel OK about the Snatch set, not happy, just OK. I haven't been training long sets for the past month so a six minute set is not too bad for now. At the end of next month I'm looking for an 8 minute minimum though. Thursday and Friday I'll test myself with the 24kg.

Monday, October 26, 2009

2009-10-26 - Starting my first "test" week

Lately I've been doing mainly volume work in a rep rather than timed format. In order to gauge my progress (or lack thereof) the last week of each month will be a test week. I intend on doing 4 sessions this week, 2 with the 16kg and 2 with the 24kg to see where I'm at. The session today went like this:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

16kg OAJ: 8 minutes @ 9rpm

32kg swing: 15/15

24kg Bent over row: 3x5/5

Systema basic exercises

So what have I learnt so far? The Jerks were easy but the rack position wasn't. It seems to me that volume work "greases the groove" when it comes to the actual execution of the lift but perhaps lacks a bit when it comes to longer sets that require a solid resting position. This is something my next month needs to look into (perhaps via more rack holds). The 16kg set actually felt pretty easy (apart from the rack part) and I'm pretty sure that I can work at this weight at a higher rpm. Tomorrow I will test snatching with the 16kg (my weak exercise). I'm not expecting much, perhaps only a 6 minute set, but we'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2009-10-23 - Short and simple

Given the high volume work lately (and the resulting tired shoulders) I nearly decided not to train at all today. I did eventually manage to get myself into training mode and I decided to follow a classic timed set approach. Here is the session:

16kg OAJ: 6 minutes @ 10 rpm

16kg Snatch: 5 minutes @ 15 rpm

Some Systema drills, both individual and with Warren.

That's it! Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009-10-22 - Back to the source

After spending some time training exclusively with kettlebells I started incorporating some stretching and joint mobility work from people like Pavel, Scott Sonnon (Intuflow) and Eric Cobb (Z Health). My main fitness background has been martial arts (Chinese Kung Fu and the Russian martial art simply called "the System".) I recently realized that the work of Sonnon and Cobb come from the Russian martial art tradition so for my session today I decided to go straight back to the source.

I spent about 40 minutes "playing" with various drills from RMA and I can say in all honesty that I am feeling pretty good right now. A lot of the drills are somewhat similar to what you will find in the work of Sonnon and Cobb, yet totally different. Systema is all about teaching you to use your OWN body wisely. For that very reason it can never be a martial art based on stances, katas or ranks. In some ways I guess it allows you to capture yourself at your from restrictions and savoring the moment. When I look at my little girl, Caela, I realize completely what life eventually sucks from us...the ability to react freely and totally spontaneously to whatever situation you find yourself in. The process of reclaiming myself must include at least something of this.

Today I just "played" in the garden with some basic Systema exercises and I had a pretty good time. A part of the reason why I chose this route was the fact that my shoulders are taking some major strain from high volume KB training. Luckily all the rolling around on the grass seems to have brought about some improvement. More to follow!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2009-10-21 - Snatching away

Today the focus was on snatches. I'm still following a volume rather than time based approach. I'll test during the last week of the month to see what I've gained through this. The session today went like this:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg Snatch: 5,7,9,11,13
16kg Snatch: 5,7,9,11,13

Some RMA basic exercises

The 24kg set was followed immediately by the 16kg set. Rest period between sets was 2 minutes. Total reps: 180

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009-10-21 - GS and Russian martial arts

Pavel brought about a mini revolution in the West when it comes to fitness and strength training via his "Russian Kettlebell Challenge." Since then it has become clear that there are various other approaches to kettlebell training that are less famous in the Western world. The same thing seems to be true when it comes to martial arts. Most Westerners are familiar with Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, etc., but very few Westerners are familiar with the Russian martial art simply known as "the System."

What seems to distinguish Russian approaches to kettlebells and martial arts is the emphasis on no-harm, relaxation and survival. Whereas there is often an emphasis in Western countries on the external aspect (such as a flat tummy or gorgeous pecs) the Russian approach is all about survival and economy of motion. The intent of both RMA and GS is to survive a confrontation (whether it be with an enemy or a set of heavy kettlebells) with the least effort. I have yet to find any system that is so user friendly and that allows for anyone to discover their own unique movement potential as the Russian "System." Systema has no "rules" or "katas" in the formal sense of the word...just movements that contribute to health, survival and freedom of expression. Systema also does not include the concept of competition or an opponent...just blending with the force being imposed on you. Use just the tension that is really required...nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully I will soon be in a position to share some more practical info on the power brought about by a thorough study of the traditional Russian martial arts. For now; feel yourself living via your breath!

2009-10-20 - Some heavier work

I worked in some 32kg OAJ's during today's session. This is what I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

32kg OAJ: 5,5,5,5,5
24kg OAJ: 5,7,9,11,13

Core work and RMA basic exercises

The rest period for the jerk sets was 2 minutes and I completed the reps with the 32 and then the 24 before resting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009-10-15 - Light snatching

I did a light session today consisting of:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

16kg Snatch: 5,7,9,11,13,15,9,7,5,3,5,7,9 - 210 Snatches in total

Core work

The snatch sets were done both on the Right and Left followed by 2 minutes rest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009-10-14 - I finally managed to squeeze some training in

Work is absolutely insane at the moment! My usual early evening training schedule has taken a bit of a battering as a result and I am REALLY not going to get up even earlier in the morning to train. Today I luckily had a slightly earlier end to the work day so I managed to squeeze in some training (possibly the only time this week). I focused on one arm jerks.

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ: 5, 7, 9, 11, 10, 10
16kg OAJ: 5, 7, 9, 11, 10, 10

32kg Swings: 15/15

Core work

My approach to the jerk sets was slightly different today. I started off doing 5 right / 5 left with the 24kg followed immediately by 5 right / 5 left with the 16kg (20 reps total). I then rested for 2 minutes and repeated the process all the way up the ladder. This added up to 208 reps. I'll be pretty happy when I get to 300 reps per session but so far I seem to be on track. I also need to get some competition bells so I can start training proper jerks as opposed to only OAJ's.

Friday, October 9, 2009

2009-10-09 - Friday fun and games

After my heavier session yesterday I experienced something I don't feel too often with my kettlebell regime - the DOMS. As a result I decided to take it fairly easy today and only play a bit with the 16 kg bell. The session went like this:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

16kg Snatch: 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 15 (left and right, 2 minutes rest)

16kg Kettlebell juggling

Core work

I planned on doing more snatches today but my form started breaking down towards the end. I decided to listen to my body and fooled around with some juggling instead of forcing the snatch issue. Juggling the 16kg is awesome and I am for sure going to do more of it. Looking at someone like Vasily Ginko on Youtube makes juggling seem easy but I assure you that it is a fun way of training that really requires mastery of the bell and can induce a major butt kicking.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009-10-08 - Shorter, heavier and more intense

I didn't feel like a very long session today so I decided to go heavier instead. This is what I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

32kg OAJ: 5,5,5,5,5
24kg OAJ: 5,7,9,11,13

Some core work

I did a set with the 32kg followed immediately by a set with the 24kg. The rest period was 2 minutes between sets. I did a total of 70 one arm jerks per arm; quite a bit less than normal but the 32kg bell really ramped up the intensity. It was fun to work with a heavier weight for a change and I'll definitely need to do more of this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009-10-06 - Snatching for volume

The volume in both OAJ's and Snatches are gradually going up but I'm still far from any kind of respectable numbers. Anyway, so far, so good. Here is my session for today:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg Snatch: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 9, 7, 5, 3 (Did this on L and R with 2 mins rest)

Some core work

I did 84 snatches per arm total. This process needs to continue until I can do at least 180 per arm - WOW! After my second chiro appointment today I decided to start adding in some dedicated core stability work. Apparently a lot of my physical discomfort has a weak or unstable core as a major contributory factor. I thought it was all bullshit until I tried some of the core work. OUCH!

Monday, October 5, 2009

2009-10-05 - A slowish start to the week

In preparation for the heavier snatch session tomorrow I decided to take today relatively easy. I just worked a few sets of OAJ's with the 24kg. This is what I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 9
(I did these Right then Left with 2 minutes rest)

That's all for today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Elimination diet

One aspect of my physical health that I've been neglecting for a LONG time is diet. Even though I've been training pretty consistently I've put just about anything going around into my mouth. As one wise person once said: You cannot outrun a doughnut. As a result I finally decided to clean up my eating and drinking habits. I've had a copy of Dax Moy's Elimination Diet ebook for some time now and I eventually decided to incorporate it on the 21st of September. So far I have dropped 11 pounds and I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable. The promises made by Dax are pretty big and thus far I've been suitably impressed.

One thing I love about this "diet" is that it is not some silly crash diet or gimmick. All it really entails is to eliminate all the "crap" from your diet. This includes processed foods, anything containing caffeine (because it leads to water retention), alcohol, and simple carbs. So far on this eating strategy I've been eating WAY more than normal and yet, the pounds keep dropping off. Another plus about this way of eating is that I think it is pretty sustainable. It really just entails eating healthy, natural food rather than shoveling unnatural stuff into your mouth. If you are in any way interested in a healthier way of eating I can highly recommend the Elimination Diet. Check it out here (and it is free):

2009-10-02 - An easy outing

This week has been hectic. Work was in fact so busy that I didn't even get time to train yesterday. Given the tough week and heavy training lately I decided to give myself a break by only working with the 16kg today. I followed a similar format to the one I used for the OAJ's on Wednesday.

Warm up: Z NWU 1

16kg Snatch: 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 30, 15

32kg Swing: 15/15

The snatch sets were done as follows: 10 right - rest 2 minutes - 10 left, and so on all the way up the ladder. This resulted in 135 snatches right and 135 left for a total of 270. I'm very happy with this outing since this is by far the highest snatch volume in a single session for me (the numbers still suck though). More on Monday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2009-09-30 - Some new ideas

Lately I've been on a quest to find an approach to GS that works for me. I've been lucky enough to receive some great ideas from John Buckley and Paul Tucker. Mainly what I've been focusing on as a result has been working on building volume via multiple short sets rather than a daily dose of ten minutes in the OAJ and ten in the snatch. Today another piece of the GS "puzzle" fell into place for me when Ken Blackburn of the IKFF shared a pretty nasty jerk workout with me. The volume of work in what Ken shared is simply insane (which means I like it a lot). Although designed for Jerks I decided to apply the protocol to my One Arm Jerks (I really do need more bells). Here is what I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ followed immediately by 16kg OAJ: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 (on the right and left)

The way I did this was to do 5 OAJ's with the 24kg followed immediately by the same with the 16kg. After 2 minutes rest I did the same with the other arm and so on. The total volume was 180 one arm jerks (90 right / 90 left).

I really like this protocol and it will become a major part of my training going forward. BTW, this is a very abbreviated version of the full progression. The volume reached in the full version is incredible. I might have to start thinking about only training 4 days a week rather than five - too much volume might lead to burnout eventually.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2009-09-29 - More snatching

I finally relented and went to see a chiro today. It was quite an interesting session. I expected a few quick manipulations but he just did a basic spine and neck adjustment and then told me exactly where I have imbalances - get this - without me even telling him where I have problems. I will probably need a few sessions as well as some remedial exercises but so far I'm pretty impressed. Anyway, after I got home I did a session focused on snatching that went like this:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg Snatch: 10 sets of 12

32kg Swing: 15/15

Like with the OAJ's yesterday I first did all the sets on the right and then the left handed sets. I like this way of working because it feels a bit more like the conditions likely to be experienced in competitions. I am also gradually cutting the rest time between sets in order to ensure that each successive set is started from a position of mild fatigue rather than allowing myself to recover fully.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009-09-28 - A new week

I'm back at work this week after 3 days of paternity leave last week. Not cool - I would much rather hang out with my girls but I suppose life must go on. My training focus today was on one arm jerks. I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ: 10 sets of 10

32kg swings: 15/15

My approach to the jerk sets was different from what I've been doing lately. Instead of alternating between sets on the right and left I first finished all my right handed sets and then did the left handed sets. I decided to do this to more closely mimic the one hand switch approach used in GS. Things felt nice and smooth and it was actually a pretty easy session.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009-09-25 - Forget yesterday

The only thing that impressed me about my training yesterday was that I actually did it. The intended easy session turned out to be far from it. Today I decided to set things right. I replaced the 16kg in the OAJ set with the 24 kg and added 1 minute to my snatch set. Here's the result:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ: 5 minutes @ 8rpm

16kg Snatch: 6 minutes @ 12rpm

32kg Swing: 15/15

Today felt a lot better than yesterday. More next week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009-09-24 - A tough easy session today

My muscles felt tired today, probably due to the heavier work lately. I decided to give myself a break and go for an easier session with the 16kg bell. The session turned out harder than I thought it would.

Warm up: Z NWU 1

16kg OAJ: 5 minutes @ 12rpm

16kg Snatch: 5 minutes @ 14rpm

My muscles were complaining throughout the session. I got it done but it was pretty tough going, especially during the snatch set. I'll decide what to do tomorrow depending on how the muscles are feeling in the morning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009-09-23 - The snatches are catching up

I did more snatch volume work today with the 24kg. For the first time since I started training GS methods I did more snatch volume in a session than OAJ volume. This is a GOOD sign since snatching has always been my weak area. The session went like this:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg Snatch: 8 sets of 12

24kg Snatch: 2 sets of 15

32kg Swing: 10/10

Something I'm doing is clearly working. I think it might have to do with a gradual improvement in my snatch technique. It really is amazing what happens when you start working with your body to find your own technique rather than merely imitating others.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009-09-21 - More volume work

My focus on increasing my training volume continued today with my Jerk focused session. I did:

Warm up: Z NWU 1

24kg OAJ: 8 sets of 10

24kg OAJ: 2 sets of 15

24kg swings: 15/15

That's it for today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

2009-09-18 - Working on snatch volume

Today the objective was to work on snatch volume. Here is the session:

Warm up: Z-Health NWU 1

16kg Snatch: 10 sets of 15

24kg OAJ: 4 minutes @ 8rpm

The snatches went well and was in fact quite easy. As a result I treated myself to a quick timed set of one arm jerks with the 24kg. Next week the 24kg jerks must start moving closer to the 6 minute mark.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009-09-17 - A bit of both

Today I decided to do a session incorporating both OAJ's and snatches. Lately I've generally been splitting these into different days. The session went like this:

Warm up: Z-Health NWU 1

16kg OAJ: 5 minutes @ 10rpm

16kg Snatch: 5 minutes @ 14rpm

The jerks were EASY! Snatching still needs some work but Howie's advice yesterday to follow a trajectory more similar to jerks rather than an arch made a clear difference. I had no lower back pain after the session and will work more on this new trajectory in future sessions. Thanks Howie!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009-09-16 - Some snatching

Just a simple snatching session today. Here goes:

Warm up: Z-Health NWU 1

24kg Snatches: 10 sets of 10

I did 10 snatches on the right, rested 1 minute, 10 left, and so on. The session was fairly easy but the snatch technique still needs work because I could feel my lower back complaining during the last two sets. Hmmm, what exactly am I doing wrong?

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009-09-14 - One Arm Jerk volume PR

Since getting back under the bells again a few weeks ago I've been exploring various methods of training for GS. In the West the AKC way still seems to be the most familiar method but different approaches are gradually emerging from the likes of great lifters like Vasily Ginko and others. A common theme I've been noticing lately on the internet is the idea that GS should be adapted to the athlete and not the other way around. Of course certain basic principles need to be adhered to but there can really not be only one training regime that will impact each athlete in exactly the same way.

While doing research today on the various GS training methodologies I started thinking again about Z-Health and the concept of the perfect rep. I read through my Z-Health materials again and decided to focus my session tonight on perfect reps as well as on finding a lifting style that feels comfortable to me (rather than trying to imitate one of the champions like Fedorenko or Ginko). The result of the session surprised me. I did:

Warm up: Z-Health Neurological Warm up level 1

16kg OAJ: 10 sets of 20

Finisher: 24kg swings: 15/15

My jerk sets consisted of 20 jerks right followed by 2 minutes rest, 20 left, etc. My end total was 200 OAJ's, a significant PR in terms of training volume in one session. I don't know what brought this about really. Obviously my training with the 24kg over the past few weeks helped but I do think Z-Health had something to do with this as well. My technique just felt so much more efficient and also, um, unique to me. Everything felt smooth and efficient and to a large extent minimalistic. My initial dip was hardly noticeable and even the second dip was not deep but crisp. I also found myself spontaneously changing my swing motion. Rather than following the bell with my eyes I chose to keep my neck aligned with my spine and the bell just seemed to move by itself. Hmmm, there seems to be something to the idea of finding your own "groove" and tonight I was definitely well inside that groove. Hopefully something good will come from this in the next few days and weeks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009-09-11 - Just for fun

I only trained on Monday this week given the fact that Caela decided to arrive on Tuesday. I'm really glad that she did because she is just totally awesome. Anyway, now that my girls (mom and baby) are back home at last I decided to pick up the bells again. The session today really was just for fun and had no intense purpose.

What I did was three sets of 4 minutes each that were basically an OAJ and Snatch cocktail.

I did two minutes of OAJ and two minutes of snatches with the 16kg. OAJ @ 10 rpm and snatches @ 14rpm. I took 2 minutes worth of rest between sets and did three sets in total.

Twelve minutes worth of training time (plus the rest periods in between) that gave me exactly what I needed today. Next week serious training will commence again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009-09-08 - Another miracle

Today's training was of a very different nature. No bells, no timed sets, no ordinary levels of exertion; just nature doing its thing. Our little baby girl Caela arrived in this world via C Section today at 2pm South African time. It was a hard day from a physical and emotional point of view but so well worth it. In moments like these you re-realize what is really important. I'm so looking forward to bringing mommy and baby back home. At that point my training will start anew...not for another PR, but simply for being the best dad and husband I can be for my two amazing girls. Love you both immensely and am so grateful for having had the opportunity to be there through this entire process.

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009-09-07 - Monday

Monday is here again which means work in various forms, including the bells (at least the latter is fun work). My session for today went like this:

Warm up with swings and squats

16kg OAJ: 2 minutes @ 10rpm

24kg OAJ: 4 minutes @ 8rpm

24kg OAJ: 2 minutes @ 8rpm

16kg Snatch (finisher): 2 minutes @ 14rpm

At the moment the main objective with the 24kg OAJ's is to work towards six minute sets. This will obviously translate into longer sets with the 16kg bell on the days I mainly use it. I think it is also time to expand my collection of bells in order to start working competition style jerks.

Friday, September 4, 2009

2009-09-04 - Snatch Friday

The focus was on snatching today. Here's the session:

16kg Snatch: 2 minutes @ 14rpm

16kg Snatch: 6 minutes @ 12rpm

24kg OAJ: 2 minutes @ 8rpm

That's all for this week.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009-09-03 - Impressive stuff by Valery Fedorenko

This guy is a machine. Check this out:

2009-09-03 - Just jerks

Today the focus was on one arm jerks. The session was short and energizing and I'm feeling pretty good right now. Here is the result:

16kg OAJ: 2 minutes @ 10rpm

16kg OAJ: 6 minutes @ 8rpm

24kg OAJ: 2 minutes @ 8 rpm

Some swings as a finisher.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009-09-01 - No training today

Given the quiet state of the economy at the moment I'm kind of grateful that I didn't have training time today due to late meetings. Although I missed the bells it feels good to be able to be working on new and interesting projects from a work perspective. The next couple of days at work will also be filled from early to late but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to fit in some time under the bells during the evenings. BTW, for all those in the Southern hemisphere - happy Spring day. There really is little that compares to snatch sets with sweaty palms.

Monday, August 31, 2009

2009/08/31 - A light start to the week

I started this weeks' training on a lighter note. I'll be bringing in the 24kg and perhaps the 32kg bell as the week progresses. Here is the result:

Warm up with swings and squats

16kg OAJ: 6 sets of 15 (alternating sets between right and left hand): Total of 90

16kg Snatch: 4 sets of 15 (alternating sets between R and L hands): Total of 60

The session felt easy and energizing; just what I needed after yet another long day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

2009/08/28 - Last one for the week

I ended my week with a short session with the 24kg bell. This is the session:

Warm up: 32kg swings / squats

24kg OAJ: 5 minutes @ 8rpm

24kg Snatch: 2 minutes @ 12 rpm

32kg Swings: A few short sets as a finisher

It really is quite amazing how much lighter the 24kg bell feels after just a short warm up set of swings with the 32kg. The 32kg bell will definitely see some more action next week. That's all until next week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009/08/27 - Just a short Snatch session

The days this week had been pretty long so I decided to take it easy today. I just did:

Warm up: Swings / squats

16kg Snatch: 6 minutes @ 12rpm

Cool down

That's all for today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2009/08/26 - Jerks

I did exactly the same volume of jerk work today as on Monday but following a different format. My session looked like this:

Warm up: Swings / squats

24kg OAJ: 4 sets of 20 (10L/10R): 80

16kg OA Overhead squats: 5 / 5

Some deep body weight squats

I realized something interesting today. When I first started using the GS lifting methods as opposed to the hard style methods I was WAY too relaxed. Trying to follow someone doing GS lifts on Youtube is not necessarily a great idea. In my case I was trying to mimic their apparently relaxed style resulting in not only a loss of strength but a pretty inefficient lifting technique on my part. Today's jerk sets drilled this point home nicely. My movements were snappy and explosive when necessary and relaxed when not. Now I understand viscerally why GS can make you strong - it is far more explosive than it seems so don't be fooled by how flowing the lifts can look at times.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009/08/25 - Snatching away

I just did snatches today. Here's the session:

Warm up: Swings / squats

Snatch (24kg): 10 sets of 10 (5 right and 5 left): Total: 100

Overhead squats with a towel

Bit of stretching

I was happy with the snatch form today. The bell flowed smoothly and I worked at a comfortable pace. Now I just need to keep doing this for ten minutes!

Monday, August 24, 2009

2009/08/24 - The Experiment continues

I started my third week since I got back in the saddle today. I'm still experimenting with an approach to GS that will work for me in the long run. From recent contacts via email with people like Paul Tucker, Denis Kanygin, John Buckley and Ken Blackburn it is becoming increasingly clear to me that different people require different approaches to GS. Having said that, the consensus is that there is no escape from long sets. It just seems to me that there are different ways of getting to that particular destination. At the moment my approach is based on building volume via shorter sets and testing longer sets once a week or so. Today I did the following:

Warm up: Swings / squats

OAJ (24kg) 4 sets of 15 and 2 sets of 10: total of 80

Snatch (24kg) 2 sets of 10: total of 20

OA Overhead Squat (16kg): 2 sets of 5

Cool down: Deep body weight squats and stretching

My approach to the sets was to do one set with the right arm, then rest for about 2 minutes, followed by a set with the opposite arm. In this way I found that my technique remained consistent rather than deteriorating due to fatigue. I will work on increasing the volume as the weeks progress. I feel pretty energized after the session - stimulated but not blasted.

Friday, August 21, 2009

2009/08/21 - Interesting

Today I finished my second week of consistent training with the bells after a few months of relative inactivity. My approach to GS is quite different from my previous outing. I have been lucky enough to get exposure to some of the methods used in Russia and Eastern Europe via people like Paul Tucker and Eugene (from GS over 40) as well as some updates from the IKFF. At the moment I'm not training mainly long sets 5 days a week as I did a while ago. I am focusing instead on areas I feel are a bit weak in order to prepare for the rigors of GS. At the moment for me the biggest issue is strength. For the past two weeks I've mainly been doing short sets of one arm jerks and snatches with the 24 kg bell. Today I chose to put in a slightly longer set with a lighter bell. Here's the result:

Warm up: Swings (24kg) / body weight squats

OAJ (16kg): 6 min / 8rpm

Snatch (16kg): 4 min / 12rpm

Swings and stretching to cool down

It was quite an interesting experience. The 16kg bell felt very light and flew up easily in both the jerk and snatch sets. I could have easily gone 8 minutes in the jerks and probably 6 in the snatch set but I chose to take it easy (I might finally have realized that impatience is never a good idea). So what do I take away from this session? Clearly shorter sets have a carry over effect if you use a lighter weight for the longer sets. For me this means that some form of strength work is pretty relevant in GS. There is still a lot of experimentation ahead of me but for now I'm glad to have found training templates other than those offered by the AKC or RKC crowd. I guess the real learning here is that there is no one true way; we have to adjust kettlebell (and other training) to ourselves rather than only adjusting ourselves to a particular regime. BTW. thanks to Ken Blackburn of the IKFF for stating this point so saliently in his recent email to me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2009/08/20 - Snatching

Just some snatches today. I did just 6 sets of 1 minute each and alternated hands each set. I took 1 minute rest periods between sets. That's all for today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009/08/19 - Jerk emphasis

What a long day this was. I got home at 7pm and pushed in a quick session before going to dinner with friends (btw. good cooking Angus!!!)

I warmed up with some swings and then followed with:

OAJ (24kg): 4 min / 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 min / 12rpm

That's all. Now it is bedtime.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009/08/18 - Snatching

Warmed up with squats and swings. The session looked like this:

Snatch (24kg): 2 min / 12rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 min / 12 rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 min / 12 rpm

Snatching is hard work.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009/08/17 - Mainly Jerks

Today I focused mainly on one arm jerks, the idea being to focus more on snatches tomorrow. Here's the session:

Warmed up with body weight squats and some swings.

OAJ (24kg): 3 minutes @ 8 rpm

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes @ 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12rpm

Cooled down with some stretching and more swings.

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009/08/14 - A simple end to the week

I had a pretty busy week so I decided to end my training with a short and simple session. I did a short swing set to warm up and then:

OAJ (24kg): 3 minutes @ 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12rpm

I finished off with squats and more swings. That's it until Monday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009/08/13 - Snatching is so much fun

I have always had an interesting relationship with snatching. Whereas the jerk always tend to improve quickly snatching is a different story. I did add on an extra minute to my snatch set today but man I've go my work cut out for me. I warmed up with some squats and swings and then did:

OAJ (24kg): 3 minutes @ 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 3 minutes @ 12rpm

The snatches didn't feel too bad but the more sweaty my hands became the harder it was to hold onto the bell. Maybe time to get some chalk.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009/08/12 - Step by step

I'm slowly moving forward but for a change I have no sense of haste. I once again warmed up with some swings and body weight squats followed by:

OAJ (24kg): 4 minutes @ 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12rpm

My cool down consisted of more squats, swings and light stretching. I think I'll stay on 4 minute jerk sets a bit and allow the snatches to catch up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009/08/11 - Staying with it

I don't want to talk too soon but I seem to be gradually getting back on track with my training. I'm being very conservative and even though I'm itching to up the volume I'm deliberately taking things one slow step at a time. Today I warmed up with body weight squats and some 24kg swings. My session involved the following:

OAJ (24kg): 3 minutes @ 8rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12rpm

I cooled down with more swings and squats and a bit of light stretching. More tomorrow!

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009/08/10 - Moving on

After my session on Friday I immediately went outside to start the braai (barbecue) and unfortunately managed to catch a bit of a cold..nothing serious, just some tightness in the nose and throat and a bit of difficulty catching my breath at times. I decided not to let the minor annoyance put me off and went ahead with my session for today. Here is the result:

I warmed up with some body-weight squats and 24 kg swings. This was followed by:

OAJ (24kg): 3 minutes @ 8 rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12 rpm

I finished off with some more 24kg swings and body-weight squats.

For now I'm keeping things as simple as possible because I think I tried to do too much during my previous outing. The plan for now is as follows (and thanks to Cate Imes for some ideas):

* Learn how to be explosive in the lifts without generating too much tension
* Master the absolute basics of the Jerk and Snatch
* Focus on proper alignment and technique rather than reps
* Keep moving!!!

Hopefully there will be more tomorrow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

2009/08/08 - Swinging Saturday

After my re-entry yesterday I wanted to keep the momentum going. I played around some more with the 24kg bells today. Coming Monday I hope to get into a proper 5 day per week schedule. Here is today's session:

Warm up: 24kg swings: 2 x 10/10

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes @ 10 rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 12 rpm

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes @ 10 rpm

Cool down: 24kg swings: 1 x 10/10

After playing with the bells Warren and I went outside and finished off a great day with about 30 minutes worth of one-on-one Soccer. Naturally he beat me 12-10. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

Friday, August 7, 2009

2009/08/07 - Moving again

I've been tracking my buddy Howie Brewer's inspiring progress with the bells over the past few weeks and months. Today I finally allowed the inspiration to penetrate the sense of inertia that I've been enveloped in for a while. After having not done any type of training since early June I took off slowly just to get a sense of where I'm at. Here's the result:

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes @ 8rpm

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes @ 8 rpm

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes @ 11 rpm

My strength didn't seem to suffer much as a result of the period of inactivity but my endurance needs serious work. I was quite happy to notice that I recovered pretty fast from a breathing point of view though; it is more the muscular endurance that will need some serious attention.

Monday, June 8, 2009

2009/06/08 - Going crazy

No, not me in white coats crazy...just more stagecrazy. I will be a rockstar yet! I'm still in cruising mode with my fitness training but I have to admit that I'm starting to miss the bells. I'm still very much in a process of redefining my life and making some decisions about what I want to do with my career. In the meantime Stagecrazy is a great companion for getting me out of my head and getting my heart racing in only 12 minutes. I'm doing the program 3 times a week (for now) and will probably start a more focused program fairly soon...if only it wasn't so bloody cold here!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2009/06/03 - Cruising

Just cruising along at the moment. I just did another stagecrazy session today. Maybe one of these days I'll start upping the pace a bit but for now this is enough for me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

2009/06/01 - Stagecrazy (again)

I seem to be cruising along with my training at the moment. For a change I have no specific goals and am just going with the flow. I am doing stagecrazy right now because it is quick (and nasty) and will ensure that I stay pretty well conditioned while dealing with some other...stuff...that I need to look at. I am looking at some career issues and more personal decisions right now so I'm glad to have something quick and effective for keeping the body moving.

Friday, May 29, 2009

2009/05/29 - More Stagecrazy

I just did another quick stagecrazy session today...3 x 3 bodyweight circuits of three minutes each. The total training time was about 14 minutes (including rests) but my ass feels soundly kicked.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

2009/05/27 - 12 Intense minutes

Thankfully my back spasm seems to be something of the past so I could get on with training today. I did a quick 12 minute session of Stagecrazy (3x3 minute body-weight circuits). Nasty stuff!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009/05/27 - A bit weird

I have not been training since last week Wednesday...due to some interesting developments. I've had back issues for some time now..especially after I fell down a flight of stairs. Recently I decided to let go of my stubborn insistence that I will cure anything by trying harder and actually went for 3 sessions with a practitioner of an alternative therapy known as Body-Talk. I won't go into too much detail but I can say that I'm impressed so far. The system seems to incorporate methods from applied kinesiology, chiropractic and even psychology into a package that allow the inherent healing potential of the body to deal with all types of discomfort in an appropriate manner.After my second session I ended up with a pretty severe back spasm - which seems to be related to stored memories in my body after my fall. Even though this has been the reason for me not training for the last week I am feeling a strong sense of moving forward. I will probably have another session next week and hopefully that would help me to finally let go of the tension that has been holding me back for a while now. Life is so weird and the logical mind really cannot figure it all out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009/05/18 - Starting a new cycle

After my back-off week last week I'm ready to tackle the body weight strength work again. Given the fact that the gymnastic type exercises I am focusing on take some time to master I will be following a steady state approach rather than the 4x7 cycles I'b been using lately. The idea with a steady state approach is not to push for PR's regularly but rather to maintain a certain volume / intensity until it becomes really comfortable. I will probably train M/W/F and do some light work like Prasara on T/T. Today I did:

Crow: 10 x 6 seconds

Ring Push ups: 3 x 3

Ring Rows: 3 x 3

Stagecrazy circuit x 3

That's all for today.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009/05/16 - Going "Stage Crazy"

So today I decided to take Ryan Murdock's new "stagecrazy" cardio circuit for a test drive. Like I said in my review of the program yesterday the program was designed for people with very limited time to train who need an intense metcon type program. Furthermore given the fact that stagecrazy comes from an RMax faculty member the program is firmly rooted in the RMax philosophy of health first and the concept of the "6 degrees of freedom." As a result this is not a typical circuit of things like push-ups, crunches etc.

The program consists of 3 x 3 minute circuits, each circtuit consisting of 6 exercises (or movements). After a quick Intuflow warm-up I set my timer and jumped right in. The first circuit felt fairly easy but the second and third were pretty brutal. I was still breathing hard about 5 minutes after the end of the last circuit. I'll be playing some more with this program and Flowfit as my metcon tools in my next cycle starting on Monday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

2009/05/15 - Last back off day

I'm feeling really good right now. I can feel some pretty interesting and well-being inducing chemicals flowing through my body...don't worry, I didn't do anything illegal that involves needles, smoking or sniffing. These good feelings are in fact the result of just having finished my first long Flowfit set at level 2.

Flowfit was designed to be done for 14 - 18 minutes without stopping, not as a set/rep program. That was all good and well for me when I was doing Flowfit level 1. After a few weeks 15 minute rounds became quite easy. Flowfit level 2 has been a different story up to now. So far my best effort has been a 3 minute round. Something about the full body movements performed at level 2 just always seemed to really kick my ass hard. As a result I stuck to a set / rest format of either one:one work/rest or 2:1. Today I decided to use some advice I got over at the RMAX forums and also some good old fashioned GS wisdom. Basically this boils down to selecting a time period to work within and then to manage your energy in such a way that you are still moving when the timer sounds.

I set my timer for 12 minutes and set off on a pace of just over 1 minute per round. At the 5 minute mark I could feel myself working hard but for some reason things got a bit easier around the 9 minute mark. When the 12 minute mark was reached and the timer sounded I was still moving. In fact, I went just over 12 minutes in order to finish the last two movements of the flow. Granted, I took things fairly easy and didn't push the pace but at least I have one full 12 minute round under my belt. The key it seems is to manage energy effectively and to BREATHE.

Now that I've done Flowfit the way it was intended to be done I can really begin to appreciate the principle of breaking through the physiological barrier of distress that inevitably occurs at some point during the session. Once that has been overcome the body seems to adjust and becomes ready for more work. Wonderful stuff!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another kick ass product by Ryan Murdock

I've been a fan of CST (Circular Strength Training) for some time now. I've been using a variety of the CST training protocols such as the Intuflow joint mobility system, Flowfit and Forward Pressure on and off for some time. More recently I got hold of the Bodyweight Exercise Revolution by CST coaches Ryan Murdock and Adam Steer. The programs contained in this ebook volume and related downloadable video material really opens up the field of body weight only training to a remarkable degree and I've had some amazing results working through some of the material. Naturally when Ryan Murdock brought out his latest product, the 12 minute Stage Crazy workout for rock stars I was intrigued to say the least.

Ryan created this product to meet the physical demands of the rockstar lifestyle; long periods on the road, energy sapping stage performances, limited time (or space) for exercise and living off hotel (or junk) food for extended periods of time. Obviously this will also be most relevant for busy executives, people who travel a lot and in fact anyone with limited time or resources available for maintaining their fitness.

The program consists of a downloadable ebook and two video clips, one providing a breakdown of the exercises and the second a follow along circuit. The ebook is well written and filled with Ryan's trademark humor and straight talking. It also provides a very well written and concise overview of the concept of "the six degrees of freedom" which forms part of the core of CST's "health-first" philosophy. In addition the ebook does a good job of positioning the body weight circuit within the realm of metcon (metabolic conditioning) or high-intensity cardio. This is very much in sync with some of the great voices out there when it comes to modern approaches to fitness and weightloss, like for example Alwyn Cosgrove and Craig Ballantyne. A lot of these fitness "mavericks" have shown quite clearly that fitness doesn't have to be about extended and boring encounters with treadmills, rowing machines or jogging. In fact, major weightloss and cardio benefits can be obtained by short, intense sessions based on metabolic resistance training. Ryan's new product certainly falls into this category as well.

The exercises are clearly illustrated in the ebook and demonstrated in the two video clips and I cannot imagine anyone feeling that they don't understand an exercise once having read the book and watched the clips. One really cool thing about the program is that the exercises are...rather unique. If you think body weight training is boring and consists of endless push-ups or sit-ups, think again. Most of the exercises in the program you probably wouldn't even have seen (or thought of) before. Unless of course you have spent some time on some of the other CST products. However, even if you are fairly familiar with CST the Stagecrazy program will almost certainly teach you something new.

Another element that makes this product great is the fact that its foundation in the six degrees of freedom will not only allow you to get pretty fit pretty fast; it will also develop a great improvement in your general movement ability (and perhaps even your ability to approach life in a more playful or adventurous fashion).

All that is left to say is this: Get this product right now over at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Halfway through back-off week

I did another simple session today based on Intuflow and Flowfit. I did exactly the same volume of Flowfit today as on Monday but in half the time. On Friday I might cut the time even more. We'll see how I feel then. The session went like this:

Intuflow Intermediate

Flowfit level 2: 5 x 2 mins work / 1 minute rest

That's it for today!

Monday, May 11, 2009

2009/05/11 - Back-off week

I've been doing 4x7 cycles back to back for a few months now. This week I decided to take things a bit easier and work only on mobility and some Flowfit. The main reason for this is to give my joints a rest from the demands of the gymnastic strength work I've been doing lately. My session today looked like this:

Intuflow intermediate level

Flowfit level 2: 10 x 70 secs work / 60 secs rest

Some Tai Ji practice

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2009/05/09 - Day 28: High day

Today was the last day of my first cycle with Coach Sommer's gymnastic body methods. I've made reasonable progress but realize that this is a long term process. I will continue with these methods in my next cycle (and perhaps even beyond that). Here is today's session:


Tuck FL: 10 x 6 secs

Ring Support: 10 x 6 secs

Basic body weight movements:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Roccas: 3 x 3

Hanging leg lifts: 3 x 3

Arch ups: 3 x 3

Flowfit level 2: 4 x 2 minutes work / 2 minutes rest

The session felt good, except for the Ring supports. In the last couple of sessions the Ring Supports have been hurting the front of my shoulders. I don't know what this is about but I'll explore possible reasons in my next cycle and try and fix the problem. I again ended my session with some Tai Ji (this time inside since it is pretty cold outside).

Friday, May 8, 2009

2009/05/08 - Day 27: Moderate

Yesterday there was no training due to a lot of work that had to be finished. Luckily today's really nice session made up for it. I did:


Crow: 10 x 6 secs

L-Sit: 10 x 6 secs

Basic body weight work:

Bulgarian XR push ups: 3 x 3

XR rows: 3 x 3

Pistols (to box): 3 x 3

Hanging leg lifts: 3 x 3

Flowfit level 2: 3 x 2 minutes work / 1 minute rest

I was amazed with the static holds today. Both the crow and l-sit (still with bent legs) felt almost effortless. The Bulgarian push ups are however pretty taxing and was most likely the source of my sore shoulders earlier this week. Hopefully this won't be the case tomorrow.

I finsihed things off with a few rounds of the Yang Lu Chan form first section outside in the garden. I find the Tai Ji to be great for releasing stored tension after the strength work. In fact, Tai Ji feels like a joint mobility workout in its own right. During the form I felt a lot of releases of tension and also some interesting clicks in my spine. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2009/05/06 - Day 25: No intensity

My shoulders are feeling a bit sore after the hard work of the past two days. Today was luckily just a relaxing session of Intuflow advanced and Tai Ji. The two actually works very well together and I sometimes wondered which was which. I guess relaxed (and relaxing) movement is relaxed movement. Very nice. It is amazing how much warmer I'm feeling (particularly after the short Tai Ji session). Tomorrow will be more of the same plus some yoga.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

2009/05/05 - Day 24: High intensity

Some hard work today. Nothing different but I felt pretty worked after my session yesterday and I also pushed pretty hard today. Here's the session:

Static holds:

Tuck front lever: 10 x 6 secs

Ring support: 10 x 6 secs

Basic body weight:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca from box: 3 x 3

Ring jack-knives: 3 x 5

Arch ups: 3 x 5

Flowfit level 2: 4 x 2 minutes on / 1 minute off

Monday, May 4, 2009

2009/05/04 - Day 23: Moderate day

Nice session today. I felt strong and focused.

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 secs

L-Sit: 10 x 6 secs

Basic body weight work:

Ring push ups (Bulgarian): 3 x 3

Ring rows: 3 x 3

Pistols (to box): 3 x 3

Hanging leg lifts: 3 x 3

Flowfit 1: 1 x 14 minutes

After the session I went outside and worked through the first bit of the Yang Lu Chan form a few times.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2009/05/03 - Day 22: Low intensity

I don't have much to say today except that it is getting pretty damn cold over here. I was almost too lazy to train but I did eventually manage to get my butt moving. I did:

Intuflow advanced

A few rounds of the Cricket flow

Spider monkey practice

Tai Ji forms practice

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2009/05/02 - Day 21: My first outing with Intuflow Advanced

Having been working with both the Intuflow basic and intermediate levels for a few months now I decided to explore the third (or advanced) level today. Like all RMAX programs Intuflow is also based on the concept of gradual sophistication of movements. A simple example of this would be doing a push up from the knees, a normal push up, or a push up with the feet elevated. Although reps don't necessarily have to increase the complexity of the movement does, which will obviously tax the body in different ways. I can quite honestly say that I love the advanced level of Intuflow. Whereas level 1 works with basic cardinal directions and level two with circular movements the level 3 series contains a lot of figure eight (infinity) movements. It also includes some double arm work rather than just working one arm at a time. All of the changes gave my mind a lot of new things to focus on but also allowed my body to get into a really pleasant flow. For some reason the increased sophistication feels more flowing rather than less so and I felt thoroughly relaxed after my session.

Directly after the Intuflow work I went outside and worked through most of the first section of the Yang Lu Chan form a few times. I am currently up to the first Fa Jing (explosive) movement in the form. Unlike a lot of Tai Ji seen in the West (except the Chen style) the Yang Lu Chan form contains both slow, flowing movements and sudden explosive expressions of power. The Fa Jing movements feel...interesting. Due to the fact that the internal martial arts don't use brute muscular force but rather a relaxed, whip-like expression of power the mind seems to go almost completely blank during the split second Fa Jing movements. Like Erle Montaigue says, Fa Jing is almost like sneezing in the sense that it feels like a totally involuntary full body movement over which the conscious mind has very little control. Interesting stuff indeed. I felt warm and calm after working through the form a few times and am now looking forward to a relaxing evening watching DVD's with the family...and of course some online XBox action.

Friday, May 1, 2009

2009/05/01 - Day 20: High intensity

I pushed the strength work a bit today. I didn't do more but I tried to use high tension methods to really work my muscles as much as possible. The result was a fairly tough session that will for sure lead to some DOMS in the morning. Here is the blow by blow:

Static Holds:

Tuck FL: 10 x 6 seconds

Ring Support: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic body weight work:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca with feet on box: 3 x 3

Ring jackknives: 3 x 5

Flowfit level 1: 1 x 14 minutes round

The biggest improvements I noticed today were in the Ring supports and Roccas. The ring holds felt solid and I was almost tempted to do a few ring dips but managed to contain myself. My upper body is now almost vertical in the Roccas which means I am fairly close to beginning headstand push ups. Tomorrow will be just Intuflow and Tai Ji.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009/04/30 - Day 19: Moderate day

Today's session consisted of a nice mix of strength work, Flowfit and Tai Ji. The session looked like this:

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 seconds

L-Sit: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic body weight work:

Ring push ups: 3 x 3

Ring Rows: 3 x 3

V-Up holds: 3 x 10 seconds

Flowfit level 1: 1 x 13 minute round

Tai Ji form practice

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, in fact, I would even say I had fun. Us masochists do however have a strange idea of what fun actually is. I felt a lot stronger in the static holds and body weight work. I am getting close to straightening my arms in the Crow and I am now able to keep my hips pushed forward in front of my hands with the L-Sit. I was also able to lower the rings to just a few centimeters above the floor for my push up work. One thing to keep in mind though is that Coach Sommer considers these early gains as mainly due to neurlogical adaptation to the exercises. Real strength that can carry over to other activities apparently takes significantly longer to develop. The Tai Ji is also improving but I have a long way to go to regain the fluidity I used to feel in the form. Luckily I do know that Tai Ji really is a life-long adventure. More fun stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009/04/29 - Day 18: Low intensity

Some more outside training today. I did:

Intuflow intermediate

Cricket Flow x 4

First section of Spider Monkey x 4

Back bend wall walks x 3

Some Tai Ji forms practice (Yang Lu Chan form)

Tomorrow it's back to the strength work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009/04/28 - Day 17: Intuflow and an old friendship rekindled

After my Intfuflow session today I felt like moving a bit more, but in a relaxed fashion. I went to and downloaded Erle Montaigue's excellent free ebooks on the so called "old style" of Tai Ji as developed by Yang Lu Chan. I used to practice this style (as well as the less martially oriented Yang Cheng Fu form) extensively a few years ago. It was great to rediscover this trustworthy old friend on the lawn outside. The movements felt a bit rusty but after playing around a bit with the first section of the form I felt great. Tai Ji really is a perfect compliment to the strength oriented training I've been doing lately. Who knows, it might just become part of my daily schedule again like it used to be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009/04/27 - 16: High intensity

I did some more body weight strength work and Flowfit today. I am really liking the exercises from the Gymnastic Body book but they are REALLY hard. This is what I did:

Static holds:

Tuck front lever: 10 x 6 seconds

Ring support: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength work:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Ring Roccas: 3 x 3

Ring Jack-knives: 3 x 5

Jump Squats: 3 x 5

Flowfit level 1: 1 x 12 minutes round

Out of all the exercises it is the front lever that needs by far the most work. I just cannot get my body horizontal yet. I'm not sure why this is the case but I think the most likely suspect is that I don't have sufficient core strength yet. Like I said yesterday - success with these methods are measured in years, not weeks. Now I just need to remain patient.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009/04/26 - Day 15: Moderate day

I just finished a very enjoyable session which consisted of a mixture of basic gymnastics strength work (for ABSOLUTE beginners) and some Flowfit. The session looked like this:

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 seconds

L-Sit: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength work:

Ring push ups: 3 x 3

Ring rows: 3 x 3

V-Ups (tuck) 3 x 10

Flowfit level 1: 1 x 11 minute round

I'm beginning to understand why Coach Sommer is an advocate of steady state cycles lasting 12 weeks or longer. He makes it very clear in his book that gymnastic strength is built slowly over long time periods. With this type of training I'm beginning to think in terms of months (and even years) rather than weeks. Although I have made some gains since the beginning of the cycle this work feels like something that should be chipped away at day after day and month after month to see real results. My most notable gains thus far have been with the ring push ups and crow posture. The rings were much closer to the floor today than the first time I did this. In the crow posture I'm beginning to feel as if I can almost lift my legs away from the arm support which means that a full planche will be on the cards before my 50th birthday (which is only 11 years away).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

2009/04/25 - Day 14: Low intensity

I trained outside on the lawn again today. I guess I'm trying to catch the last bit of warmth before winter really sets in. I did the following:

Full Intuflow intermediate sequence

4 rounds of the Cricket flow

2 rounds of the first part of Spider monkey

It was a great session except for the fact that I'm itching now because of rolling around on the grass.

Friday, April 24, 2009

2009/04/24 - Day 13: Fast Intuflow

I just did a short and fast Intuflow session today. I normally train inside but today I decided to train outside on the lawn. I really must do this more. It felt good to stand outside and watch the sun going down while training. For some reason I did all the movements very fast today and this generated a great sense of flow and relaxation. Quite nice!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009/04/23 - Day 12: High intensity

After my cold I was finally feeling up to a slightly more intense session today. Now that I'm writing this it doesn't seem like much but Flowfit really kicks my butt every time. Anyway, this is what I did:

Static holds:

Front lever tuck: 10 x 6 seconds

Ring support: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca (feet on box): 3 x 3

Flowfit (level 2);

2 minutes on / 1 minute off x 5 rounds

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009/04/22 - Day 11: Moderation

Today I just did some moderate day body-weight work and Flowfit. Here's the session:

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 seconds

L-Sit: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength work:

Ring push ups: 3 x 3

Ring rows: 3 x 3

1 x 10 minute round of Flowfit level 1

Monday, April 20, 2009

2009/04/20 - Day 10: Low intensity

Just a quick session today.

Intuflow intermediate level

4 rounds of the Cricket Flow

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So much to do, so little time

I am confused. Very confused. I started this blog because of my love for kettlebells. Initially kettlebells meant Pavel. Then it meant Girevoy Sport. Where I am now kettlebells somehow seem to have become a toy in a very big playpen. I have recently discovered that my main focus when it comes to fitness is the ability to move my body through as many ranges of freedom as I could possibly think of. The problem is that I feel that I am dropping the kettlebell crowd if I don't use the bells as much as I used to. At the same time it feels as if I am dropping myself if I rigidly stick to a protocol that is essentially linear in nature. I have always been a bit of a maverick when it comes to living life and now, finally, this personality quirk is beginning to express itself in my training as well. Ideally my training will allow me to develop the ability to move freely while using tools or while simply moving my body in space. I am also starting to wonder about the HUGE fight between the Hard Style and GS (soft style) exponents of kettlebell training. From where I am at (at the moment) neither of these methods seem to be "right". I guess I am starting to think that my body is a laboratory that is able and willing to try out various things. Obviously if I choose to become a performer in a specific sport I will have to narrow my focus to get good at whatever sport I choose. At the moment it feels as if life is my sport - which means that I will have to develop mainly the capacity to adapt to a variety of movements and modalities. For now I guess I will just be playing with all the various approaches to fitness rather than fully committing myself to any specific school of thought.

2009/04/18 - Day 9: Not too intense

I'm still taking things fairly easy but at least I'm moving (a bit). I did the following today:

Static holds:

Front lever (tuck): 10 x 6 seconds

Ring support: 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca (feet on box): 3 x 3

6 rounds of Flowfit level 2

Friday, April 17, 2009

2009/04/17 - Day 8: A pretty moderate session

I'm still taking it easy because of this nagging cold. At least I did do a bit of gymnastics body weight work today. This was the session:

Static holds:

Crow (10 x 6 seconds)

L-Sit (6 x 6 seconds)

Basic strength:

Ring push ups (3 x 3)

Ring rows (3 x 3)

5 rounds of Flowfit level 2

That's it for today. I'll hopefully do some more of this tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009/04/16 - Day 7: At last!

I've been out of action due to a cold for the past few days. I did do Intuflow a few times but nothing more serious than that. Today I decided to do a bit of a moderate day which included:


4 rounds of Flowfit level 2

4 round of the Cricket flow

Even though this session was not intense in any way I still felt a bit breathless. Having a cold is really not much fun. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to continue my exploration of the gymnastics exercises that form the core of my current cycle.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A couple of clips of what I'm working towards

Here are some clips of some of the gymnastics exercises I'm playing with. My efforts alas look nothing like this - yet.

2009/04/09 - Day 6: High intensity

Today's session felt like pretty hard work even though it seems pretty simple on paper. I felt particularly smoked after the gymnastics oriented strength work which is why Flowfit only got 10 minutes of my time today. The session looked like this:


OAJ (16kg): 2 minutes: 12/12

Snatch (16kg): 2 minutes: 16/16

OAJ (24kg): 2 minutes: 12/12

Snatch (24kg): 2 minutes: 12/12

Gymnastics strength work:

Tuck front lever (my version): 10 x 6 seconds

Ring support hold: 10 x 6 seconds

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca (feet on box) 3 x 3

Flowfit: 1 x 10 minute round

The objective with the tuck front lever is to eventually get into a full tuck position with the back parallel to the floor. This of course while hanging either from rings or a bar. The whole process starts from a basic hang followed by lifting the knees and hips up and forward while "leaning" the shoulders back. At this point in time my attempt looks more like a hanging knee lift but I am starting to get a bit of a lean and my hips are moving a bit higher and more to the front than on the first day I started this. The ring support was OK today and I managed to keep my body pretty upright and my toes didn't have to go down to the floor for some assistance like they did on the first day.

The pull ups are still a pain - I have always struggled with these and I'm still doing them with a bit of a jump at the start. I am however trying to make the negatives as slow as possible. For those not familiar with the Rocca the basic version looks very much like a downward facing dog posture from yoga. The difference is that you raise on your toes and then do a push up. This posture allows a push-up to become more like a military press than a bench press. The version I did paves the way towards hand stand or head stand push ups. It is performed by placing the feet on a box and then walking the hands in as close to the box a possible. The closer the hands to the box the more inverted the push up position becomes. I was pretty happy with my efforts today. Maybe I will one day master the hand stand push-up after all. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009/04/08 - Day 5: Moderate intensity

Today' session:

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 seconds

L-Sit (legs bent): 10 x 6 seconds

Basic strength:

Ring push ups: 3 x 3

Ring Rows: 3 x 3

1 x 14 minute round of Flowfit level 1

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2009/04/07 - Day 3 and 4: Prehab and compensatory work

Yesterday was just Intuflow focused. Today I worked through Intuflow intermediate level again. I also did 4 practice rounds of the first part of the Spider monkey flow and 4 full rounds of the Cricket flow. For good measure I also threw in 3 sets of back bend wall walks. These are pretty difficult but very good for enlivening the spine.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009/04/05 - Day 2: High intensity mix

Today's session was quite a mixture of methods. This is what I did:


OAJ: 16kg / 5 minutes / 12rpm

Snatch: 16kg / 3 minutes / 14rpm

Static holds:

Tuck front lever (attempt): 10 x 6 second holds

Ring support position (attempt): 10 x 6 second holds

Basic body weight work:

Pull ups: 3 x 3

Rocca: 3 x 3

Flowfit (level 1): 1 x 14 minute set

Most of the gymnastic work I did today feels really good but is also enormously difficult. With the front lever I wasn't anywhere near getting a tuck. The ring support position was also pretty ugly. My intent at the moment is to use as much tension throughout my body as possible while executing my very amateurish attempts at getting into some of the postures. Hopefully this will gradually build the required strength and body control to execute the full postures.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009/04/04 - Day 1: Starting the new cycle

In this cycle I am introducing gymnastics body weight conditioning methods from the book "Building the gymnastic body" by coach Sommer. The goal of the cycle is to begin building what coach Sommer calls "basic strength" which is the key requirement for eventually mastering more advanced gymnastic strength skills. My session today looked like this:

Static holds:

Crow: 10 x 6 second holds

L- Sit (legs bent): 7 x 6 second holds

Basic body weight work:

3 x 3 ring push ups

3 x 3 ring rows

1 x 15 minute set of Flowfit (level 1)

The gymnastics exercises are great and I can see the potential for some serious strength gains through regular practice of these methods. Now I just need to see how my body adapts to this work before I decide how much of the gymnastics work I will include in my weekly routine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

2009/04/03 - Day 27 & 28: No and Low intensity

Yesterday I just did Intuflow beginner level. Today I did Intuflow intermediate level and a 15 minute set of Flowfit level 1. That's it for the current 4x7. Tomorrow I am starting another aspect of my investigation of body weight exercises via Coach Sommer's gymnastics body weight exercises.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009/04/01 - Day 26: High intensity but no bells

I woke up this morning to the presence of an old "friend" - a solid spasm in my left shoulder blade near the scapula. I'm not sure what it is about but I have been getting this about once or twice a year for a few years now. I think it might be related to an original injury a few years back during too zealous a session of Ashtanga yoga. Anyway, the spasm makes some movements pretty difficult so I decided to leave the bells for today. I just did the following:

Flowfit (level 1): 1 set of 21 minutes

Flowfit at level 1 difficulty feels really good. Although working pretty hard it feels like a kind of moving meditation after a while. I'm quite curious to see how long I can go without absolutely having to stop. I definitely know that I could have gone for at least five more minutes today. Flowfit level 2 is of course a different story and even 4 minutes feel like a lot.

Today was the last high intensity day of my current cycle. My new cycle will start on Saturday with a program based on Coach Sommer's gymnastics conditioning methods on the low and moderate days and them bells on the high days for metcon; at least that is the plan at the moment.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009/03/31 - Day 25: Moderate day

I came home quite late this evening after having gone for dinner with some friends from the office. Thai Curry rocks! Anyway, as a result of time constraints I decided not to follow my full moderate day schedule. Instead I just did the following:

Flowfit (level 1): 1 set of 15 minutes

I set the timer for 14 minutes but added another round after the time ran out. Flowfit seems to be somewhat addictive. I can now understand why Adam Steer once did a 45 minute set. Maybe that is something that lies somewhere ahead for me too. That's all for today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: Scott Sonnon's Flowfit 2: Ground Engagement

I've been playing with Scott Sonnon's unique Flowfit program on and off for a while now. It has only been during my last training cycle though that I've been devoting a significant amount of time to it. Given my positive impression of Flowfit 1 I decided to get FF2 recently and boy, was I in for a surprise.

I have seen a short introductory clip of Flowfit 2 on Youtube and found it hard to imagine how the movements shown could be strung together as a flow. After viewing the FF2 DVD I was yet again amazed by the genius of Scott. He has managed to "mimic" the exact 6 degrees of freedom as expressed in Flowfit 1 in FF2, but in a very different way. You see, Flowfit 2 is all about engaging the ground. Before you ask; this is not only relevant to martial artists or wrestlers who fall down a lot but to anyone who wants to befriend the ground that they stand on. In fact Flowfit 2 brings to mind the freedom of movement we all enjoyed when we were kids (in my case this meant falling down and rolling a lot).

The DVD starts (like Flowfit 1) with an introduction to the concept of intuitive training and, dare I say, I think Scott does an even better job in this second iteration of explaining this concept in such a way that anyone interested in physical wellness can get something from his explanation.

Scott continues to break down all the elements of the flow into manageable chunks in such a way that even a big guy like me can see myself eventually mastering the movements. The DVD ends with the movements strung together as a flow, which is one of the ultimate goals of Sonnon's system. He calls it "flow" and I also like to simply refer to it as total freedom of motion.

If you are looking for something different from treadmills, weight machines, endless hours of running, or whatever, that will take your fitness and movement potential into a totally new direction I can heartily recommend Flowfit 2.

I have to mention that the program is not easy but the way in which Scott breaks everything down into manageable chunks brings into reach some pretty amazing movements even to mere mortals like me. Please visit for more info.

2009/03/30 - Day 24: Low intensity play

Today's session felt more like playing than training - and I quite enjoyed it. Spider Monkey is starting to feel a lot more solid and I am simply LOVING moving my body in this rather unique manner. The longer I keep training the clearer my "goals" are becoming. Of course strength and general fitness will always be part of my goals but I'm realizing more and more that total freedom of motion is probably my most desired goal. I used to love the way I could move when I did martial arts years ago. It is this fluidity of motion that I'm trying to recapture. Anyway, enough of my musings. The session went like this:

Kettlebell Foundation Joint Mobility

Kettlebell Foundation Yoga Compensations

A few playful practice sets of Spider Monkey (at least, my version of SM)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009/03/29 - Day 23: Only Intuflow

I just worked through Intuflow Intermediate level today. I kept the movements as relaxed as possible and didn't try to increase ROM much. The session felt pretty good and I feel a lot looser now than I did before the session.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009/03/28: Day 22 - High intensity

In keeping with the slight changes I introduced in my training protocol over the past couple of days I chose to focus today's session mainly on the kettlebells. I did:

Kettlebells / 16kg / 5 minutes work / 2 minutes rest

One Arm Jerk: 30/30

Snatch: 35/35

Push Press: 30/30

Flowfit (level 1): One set of 5 minutes

The fact that I did the kettlebell work fresh made the sets significantly easier. Because of difficulties with the kettlebell work on Tuesday I also chose to drop the rep per minute rate slightly. I again realized that it is not about the reps (initially) but about finishing the set. I have been rushing too much lately to make the AKC recommended rep ranges in order to finish the fitness protocol with the 16kg bell. In doing this my efforts have become counter-productive. I will not stop pushing myself but I believe that the discoveries I made during the last couple of days will allow me to approach the whole process in a smarter way.

Friday, March 27, 2009

2009/03/27 - Day 21: Down-scaling

The global economy is in disarray and even the really big corporate players are down-scaling and reconsidering the way forward. My training "economy" has gone through a similar process over the course of the last couple of days. My own thinking and the help of my bail-out consultant, Howie Brewer, brought me to the conclusion that I'm trying to do too much at the same time. Today's session looked a bit different as a result. I did:

Forward Pressure (level 1): 5 rounds with 2 minutes rest

Flowfit: (level 1): 1 round of 11 minutes

L-Sit (bent legs): 7 x 6 second holds

I dropped down from 8 rounds of FP to just 5. I also decided that I would rather keep moving with Flowfit rather than doing shorter multiple sets. For this reason I dropped back to FF level 1 and did a continuous 11 minute set. I probably went about 10 times through the flow in this time. In stead of feeling wasted after Flowfit I actually feel invigorated. I could have probably gone on for another 5 minutes or so and I really enjoyed getting into the flow of things. I will probably stick to Flowfit for a while, even in my next cycle, but for now I will stick to level 1 and keep moving until I have really nailed a 14 minute or longer set. Tomorrow will be exclusively devoted to the bells. Hopefully that will allow me to get the kettlebell sets under control again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009/03/26 - Day 20: Low intensity work

My session today consisted of:

Kettlebell specific joint mobility

Kettlebell specific compensatory yoga

Some Spider monkey practice

That's it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009/03/26 - Musings on training

I became obese when I was about six years old. Nobody really knows why. Maybe genetics, unhealthy eating habits, or whatever. I became lean for the first time again when I was about 17 when I took up the practice of Chinese martial arts. I stuck with this for about 6 years and then the cycle of laziness and unhealthy habits (as well as the world of work) took over again.

The first time I made a concerted effort to regain some of my fitness and health came after my divorce in 2001. I started off with Ashtanga Yoga and then ventured back into Chinese Kung Fu. My Kung Fu journey lasted about 2 years and then due to unforeseen circumstances shifted towards the exploration of Russian martial arts. I stuck with this for about two years when laziness and the culture of work above play once again took over.

In In late 2007 I decided to change my physical well-being for the better which resulted in me taking up training with kettlebells - the hard-style or RKC way. I made some impressive gains until I fell down a flight of stairs. This put me back significantly and I had to take a break for about two months. Shortly after taking up the bells again I discovered the GS (Girevoy Sport) method of kettlebell training for general fitness and work capacity. I grabbed this "new" approach with both hands and possibly with a foot or two as well. In 2008 I became a certified kettlebell teacher with Steve Cotter, a real kettlebell guru, who has managed to blend the best of GS with the RKC approach. Since the seminar I have been training with the "Iron Balls" pretty consistently.

More recently I have discovered the work of Scott Sonnon, father of CST (Circular Strength Training) and the guy who brought joint mobility back into public awareness. Since then I have also discovered Scott's 4x7 approach to training. This basically entails training specific attributes in 28 day cycles which include enough "rest" time and some very intense training. Via the teachings of Scott and some of his faculty members I also rediscovered the value of body weight only training.

I guess this brings me to the point of this post. I am a certified Kettlebell teacher and yet it feels to me as if I want to explore the full movement potential of my body beyond the confines of any external weights. My training over the past two years or so brought me to a point where body and mind have begun to communicate in such a way that I have had to ask myself what it is that I really am training towards.

The simple answer at this point in time is to develop my full movement potential. Kettlebells (as I've been using them) is great for developing endurance and work capacity. Yet it seems as if the use of the bells develop some very specific attributes (mainly related to kettlebell sport). Many of the proponents of kettlebell sport methods claim that the bells will develop fitness and health qualities that can transfer easily to any physical activity. From my experience I tend to disagree with this claim. Kettlebells are exceptionally useful when it comes to getting fit, but they are NOT the ultimate tool that will allow a person to discover everything they are capable of. I guess this leaves me somewhat confused regarding the goals of my training. Living in South Africa makes competitive Kettlebell sport seem like a goal far too distant to reach for. Partially as a result of this I've had to decide what it is that I'm training for (goals are so important).

Upon thinking about this I realized that what I really want is the freedom to use my body in as many ways as is possible. This includes building max strength, developing endurance and building the ability to be free to move in any way I wish to. This would naturally entail some changes in my training protocol - which I have yet to figure out.

Please do stay tuned in for my evolving thoughts in this regard.

2009/03/25 - Day 19: No intensity Intuflow

Just a slow round of Intuflow today. It was a great session with some nice depth in all the motions and postures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009/03/24 - Day 18: High Intensity

I started today with some "pleasant" DOMS in my triceps. I'm not sure if it is because of the increased volume of Forward Pressure yesterday or whether it was the 10 sets of L-Sits yesterday. Anyway I was dreading today's session a bit and, as it turned out, I had good reason to. Here is the result:

Flowfit (level 2): 3 x 4 minute rounds / 1 minute rest

After this I took my customary 15 minute rest and then did:

Kettlebells: 16 kg

OAJ: (5 minutes work / 2 minutes rest): 39/36

Snatch: (2 minutes work): 16/15

The plan with the kettlebells was to do my usual 3 sets of 5 minutes each but I knew I was in trouble already in the first minute of the jerk set. My wind was absolutely fine but my arms were simply gone. I managed to finish the jerk set but when it came to snatches I decided to call it a day after the second minute. It felt as if I was either flirting with injury or simply getting very close to burning out any endurance left in my arms. I'll have to wait for my next high intensity day to see if there is any improvement. If not I might have to rethink my approach to training a bit.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009/03/23 - Day 17: Moderate intensity

A short and simple session today:

Forward Pressure: 8 rounds / 2 minutes rest between rounds

Sit Up / Butterfly combos: 3 x 5

L-Sit: 10 x 6 second holds

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009/03/21 - Day 16: Low intensity

I worked through the following today:

Kettlebell joint mobility

Kettlebell compensatory yoga

A bit of Spider Monkey practice

The spider monkey is coming along slowly but nicely. I again just worked on the first few transitions (from quad squat to side plank, star fish, three legged dog, scorpion, table and back to quad squat). I first did two sets on the right and two on the left side and then finished with one set doing both right and left in one flow. I am also starting to do a bit of a tripod posture together with the table posture to get me closer to a full wheel posture. I always love the way my shoulders feel after this flow; kind of like the tension has been squeezed out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

200903/20 - Day 15: Intuflow

Today's Intuflow session was particularly nice. All the movements felt really smooth and there was no discomfort throughout the ranges of motion I worked. Something is definitely working.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009/03/19 - Day 14: More Flowfit and Kettlebells

I felt a bit tired today and decided to only do 4 sets of Flowit as opposed to 5. Anyway, the goal is not to do more sets but to work up to doing just one set of 14 minutes or longer. I think I will stick to this rule during the current cycle rather than adding more sets.

My session:

Flowfit (level 2): 4 rounds / 3 minutes work / 1 minute rests

I took my usual 15 minute break and then moved on with:

Kettlebells: 16kg / 5 minutes work / 2 minutes rest

LC OAJ: 25/25

Snatch: 39/39

Half Snatch: 23/24

Flowfit is really an unusual exercise program. It is so much harder than it looks and I also seem to be progressing more slowly with this than with every other exercise modality or program I took on recently. With kettlebells I keep going up the levels, with Forward Pressure I have been adding one set each time I do it, my Prasara seems better each time I do it but Flowfit, oh no, I started with 4 sets of 3 minutes and that's where I still am. I guess it really is the fact that you work your body in so many ways in the context of such a short, compact session. The kettlebell sets was not too bad today. The Long Cycle was solid (in fact fairly easy), the Snatches went well up to the last 30 seconds when my forearm muscles started complaining and the Half Snatches - oh well, I can just say "Ouch." I'm looking forward to an easy day with just some Intuflow tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2009/03/18 - More Forward Pressure

I added another round of Forward Pressure today and did some more core work as well.

The session:

Forward Pressure: 7 rounds with 2 minute rest periods

Roll up / Butterfly combos: 3x5

L-Sit: 5 x 6 second holds with a few seconds rest between holds

As usual FP produced a significant pump in the upper body as well as some solid muscle fatigue in the arms. I decided to add in the L-Sit for some additional core work since I discovered recently that I need work in this area. The exercise is from Coach Sommer's book "Building the gymnastic body" which arrived via mail today. I did the most basic variation with bent legs. I can see the potential for building some serious strength with this exercise as I work through the progressions.

Coach Sommer's book seems great so far and will most probably be the foundation of my next cycle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009/03/17 - Day 12: Low intensity

Both Jocelyn and I felt a bit weak and nauseous most of today - most likely the result of what we ate last night. I feel a hell of a lot better after my training session though. The session went as follows:

Kettlebell joint mobility

Kettlebell yoga compensations

Bit of Spider monkey practice

Before anybody gets the idea that I'm some kind of gymnast please take note: I am only working on the first few transitions of Spider monkey and I am not yet doing the full wheel pose; I am substituting it at this stage for the table. Having said that I am already noticing improvement in my arm strength and the strength of my core muscles. I have also become more aware of my core muscles and am keeping them flexed during the postures to facilitate greater strength and stability. Some of the aspects regarding this flow that I have noticed are as follows:

1. It is very much a general strength builder.

2. The core gets a great workout.

3. It is great for shoulder and upper back mobility.

I'm sure I'll discover more benefits as I move ahead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009/03/16 - Day 11: Just some Intuflow

Today's session was kind of like Intuflow Qigong. I worked through the sequence really slowly and focused on making the movements as fluid and relaxed as possible. After a while it felt very similar to the flowing, almost meditative experience generated by the practice of Tai Chi. I even had the same sensation of warmth in the hands and a sense of tingling in the limbs in general. My body felt pretty tight after my high intensity session yesterday and this slow Intuflow was just what I needed to get my body loose and comfortable again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009/03/15 - Day 10: Upping things slightly

My approach to Flowfit during the current cycle is based on a density training protocol, in other words gradually doing more work in the same amount of time while taking less rest. This is supposed to eventually build up to only one set lasting 14 minutes or longer. I didn't feel ready today to start increasing the time per set though so I chose to do an extra set instead. Here is the result:

Flowfit (level 2): 5 rounds / 3 minutes work / 1 minute rest

After the Flowfit I took about 15 minutes rest and then did:

Kettlebell fitness work: 16kg / 5 minutes work / 2 minutes rest

One arm Jerk: 35/35

Snatch: 35/35

Long Cycle Push Press: 20/20

Flowfit still kicked some serious butt today. I did however notice that the fifth set felt about as hard as my fourth did a few days ago. For the kettlebell sets I made my rpm sligthly lower given the fact that I added an extra minute of work per set. The first two sets felt fairly easy but the last one kicked my butt solidly and I had to set the bell down briefly a couple of times.