Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I have a new way to unwind

I came home completely fried today.  I used to sit in front of the TV for about 30min to unwind, but the last couple weeks I've actually been more comfortable standing in my bare feet than sitting in a chair.  That's in large part to work I've done on posture, hip mobility, and barefoot training, all material for another fitness article.

Stretched out, got my spine straight and my hips folding over properly.  Did some mobility work on my spine and shoulders.  Felt frisky, so I set up some kettlebell swings.  These just clicked, and I ran with it.  Understand that I struggle with a neural issue in my wrists, so my grip goes numb before I get winded.  Not today.  I did a long, uninterrupted set.  I did sets with a heavy bell, 1-handed.  I did snatches and get-ups.  I worked until the iron had enough, and it felt great.  Took me no more than 30min.

It feels good to not be dependent on a TV to clear my head.  I can play some music or get some exercise or share time with my wife.  Those are all good, proactive activities.  I spend way too much time on passive things, like sitting in front of glowing rectangles (ironically like this one).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

06/17 In the New Routine

Back from vacation and premiering the new schedule.  High volume press/swing day, heavy work day, bodyweight and snatch day.

Sunday: 16kg for 5x5 presses, carries, and 264 swings
Tuesday: 24kg for get-ups, a few cleans and presses, some swings, and weighted pullups
Today: 16kg for get-ups, some NW prelim work (pistols to horizontal, low incline OAPs), 6x3 pullups, and a snatch maxVO2 cadence of 24

First, I should probably do maxVO2 snatches at 12kg.  I can snatch 16kg, but it's heavy for extended cardio work.  96/6min during my cadence test was a labor.  I should either start Team Rif's Freestyle Max counts or some ladders or something more "practice" oriented to build up the 16 first.

Second, I am LOVING 24kg get-ups.  I cannot MP that for more than a couple singles yet, but I am doing get-ups visibly better each week.  I may modify that day to include front squats instead of presses until I'm stronger.  Fewer different exercises, all heavy.  And I am so pleasantly surprised that I can do pairs of +25lb pullups.

Third, I had the good sense to start OAPs and Pistols again with intermediate steps.  Split squats are helping my knee.  Goblet squats are strong, straight, and deep.  Working back down the incline on OAPs and adding sets of divebombers and 3-pt pushups on the 24 day.  Preparation, preparation, preparation.

Last thing, I am so seriously thinking about packing my 16 and my 12 to do a double-press day.  Maybe do double-press 5x5 on Sunday and split 12kg snatches and 16kg swings.  I think my shoulders will handle 25 presses and 100 snatches as well as the ROP H 150 presses.  Skip get-ups (on the tile gym roof), shorten time on presses, 100 snatches and 200 swings.  Not bad.

Teaching a swing basics class tomorrow to a group of people from work.  Psyched.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Circuits and Complexes

My last post outlined a change to circuit training that I made a couple weeks ago.  Over the past 5 months, I've made big gains and reached some limits.  I've acclimated to a heavier weight, but that upper weight limit has not moved in about a month.  Any clinical research or anecdotal experience will tell you that strength gains occur rapidly at first and then plateau, and mine has.  I've been looking for a way to break that plateau.

I've been studying questions about my volume over those last 2 months, and I'm intrigued that I stumbled onto "complexes" currently being published by Master RKC Geoff Neupert.  Most of the books will say that I'm not advanced enough to do double kettlebell lifts or max VO2 snatches or this or that because I haven't completed the SSST or pressed half my bodyweight, then say that the way to massive gains in presses and snatches is to follow their book.  I just need to change "something".  I'm having good success and improved recovery with short, dense complexes.

Geoff's article in the summer 2010 Hardstyle Magazine from Dragondoor describes complexes as groups of exercises performed in an uninterrupted sequence with the same weight.    Geoff's example complex looks like this, all done without setting down the weight.

  • Begin complex -
    + Double Swings x5
    + Double High Pulls x5
    + Double Military Presses x5
    + Front Squats x5
    + Rest 120 seconds, perform five complexes

The rest necessary between traditional strength sets is provided by the time between sets of an individual exercise.  A mantra quoted to victims at the Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge workshop was "doing something different is rest", so your shoulders get roughly 3 minutes rest between sets of military presses.

I made a transition to (what I called) circuit training some months ago, as I just got tired of wasting the time between consecutive press ladders.  I've already posted my reasons for intermingling swings, and the design keeps me performing well throughout the session.  There wasn't much sophistication in the decision, but it did evolve into something deliberate and useful.  Copied from my last post.

  • Begin circuit -
    + Swings: 24/min 2H, then 20/min 1H (2min)

    + 5-rung MP ladder
    + 5 Goblet Squats
    + 60step overhead walk on each arm (roughly the perimeter of my gym's rooftop)

    + 1-2min active recovery (shorter than usual), perform 5-6 circuits
    + finish with 6-8min of swings as outlined above

I finished 6 circuits as shown above on my last "long" day, which shows I'm performing well once I warm up.  A separate heavy-bell complex day each week has me acclimating to get-ups and cleans at 8kg up from my regular pressing bell, over 1/3 my bodyweight.  This is paying serious dividends in  strength and saving me hours of time each week.  I'm also a little intrigued by the ROP use of 5x5-rung ladders vs so many strength trainers' use of 5x5 sets.  I've done high volume, but I eventually could not recover fully between 3 sessions a week at any serious weight or accelerated pace.  I'm migrating my way into short, intense complexes with full recovery between workouts, and it's bearing good fruit so far.  I may not be lifting double 24s or otherwise qualified to do this kind of work, but it's still yielding good results.