Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What exactly did you train today?

I read a few senior trainers' personal training logs, and I'm noticing a pattern.  They don't seem to organize their own training like the rest of us.  So many group sessions and forum posts at "my level" will include snatches, Russian twists, Renegade Rows, KB deadlifts, floor presses, but I less often see "long cycle clean & press" (LCCP) or "swings and get-ups".  The first elective, advanced training workshop I was privileged to attend in the RKC school was all about swings and get-ups, by MRKCs David Whitley and Jeff O'Connor.  The answer to every question was "swings and get-ups", and yet it was revolutionary when SRKC Zar Horton proposed a season dedicated to swings and get-ups to start 2011.  Rather than be surprised, we all should have seen it coming.

I laid out a recent group session with get-ups, front squats, LCCP, and swings.  I thought it was a little busy, but those were the elements of ETK and the HKC and should be familiar to everyone.  It caught some of them completely off-guard.  They were accustomed to 6-8 different things a session, some of which I'd call assistance drills.  I was accustomed to drilling 2 basics.  I've done just LCCP for 45min every weekend of the last three months, but I didn't think it would fly for a group class.  Maybe I should have tried it.

The journals of many elite trainers have entries like "snatches and pistols" or "pullups and long cycle".  It may be 5-7 days between repeats of a particular exercise.  Some of them will do those two exercises for dozens or hundreds of reps, as practice.  Some of them have a seasonal focus, like Rif's gradual return to the press or Dave's bending stuff while his knee heals.  More often, it's because they don't need a whole week, like I do, to put in a significant volume of practice.  They, better than I, can answer the question "what exactly did you train today?"

I spent a year-plus working my press to the next heavier bell.  It was successful, but it took forever.  Now I'm taking a season to work a) the "rest of my body", b) get-ups and swings with a heavier bell, and c) competition lifts.  I'm by no means an expert, but I've learned to recognize a plateau and I'm learning to focus.  Pistols and pullups (largely therapeutic), carrying a heavy weight, snatches and jerks.  That's maybe 6 months of work, with a good sense of focus.  My blog's going to be BOR-ing, but I like what Rif reposted recently: "Simple and boring usually is code for consistently basic, heavy and progressive."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Drills, focus, and drills

I'm in a recovery week right now.  That's when I've been working a tension exercise like the military press in high volume for 4-5 weeks straight and need a week off.  This type of fatigue is as much neural as muscular.  I've had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and a heavy-press test last week went worse than the month prior.  I wrote up a plan of calisthenics and heavy swings and get-ups. Then it was 6 days a week training 5 things a day, just not the military press.  That worked for exactly one session.  New plan.
  • Weekend: total fiasco with too many things.
  • Monday: stretching, squat-related drills, some GS biathlon practice.
  • Tuesday: heavy get-ups, short sets of heavy swings, a few cleans.
  • Thursday: leg raises, half-depth pushups (optional and short), GS biathlon practice.
  • Friday: pullups, single-leg squats, bridge-related drills.
  • Weekend: a heavy press, some pullups, a longer GS biathlon session.
First, I have one notably weaker leg that needs to bounce out from any lower than parallel.  Therefore, close-stance squats done :30 down, :30 up (thank you, Doc Cheng at KBLA).  I can actually feel the quads and glutes firing alternately until they sync up and "pull me out of the hole".  There is SO MUCH to learn about your movement when it's done super-slow, but that's a whole other article.

Second, in bridging and pushups, my left wrist goes numb.  Especially in bridging, I can feel the wrist catch the nerve pinch off at the armpit.  My left arm is a constant struggle, but I'm discovering the flaws one by one and addressing them without 50lb overhead.  It is definitely getting better.

Lastly, the KB work.  There's a difference between lifting a weight and supporting a weight on an extended arm overhead.  The snatch and the jerk launch a weight overhead and "land" it on the up-stretched arm.  If you did get-ups while someone shot a toy dart gun at the bell, you'd understand what I'm feeling and what benefit I'm getting from these two moves in a recovery week.  I may maintain this routine for a month if it feels right by the weekend.

P.S.  Notice that on any given day, I'm training 3-4 exercises.  I'm basically training biathlon, squats, and pullups with a few assistance drills for the torso. There's a whole other article about that in the works, how we have group sessions with 8 different things and our senior/master RKCs trained "pistols and long cycle today".  I did a group session with get-ups, planks (elbows and hands), swings, and long cycle C&P, and it wore people out.  I thought those were the things people trained the most, from day one, but it caught them completely off-guard.  What's up with that?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wrapping a Season of Press

It's been, what, 18 months on Rite of Passage presses and swings? I think 18 months is long enough to consider a program "thoroughly tested", even with schedule variations like Kenneth Jay's "Perfecting the Press!" protocol.  This week I pressed the 16kg kettlebell 120 reps each arm in 36min.  It was almost continuous work. I had stalled with strain injuries at the very end of 2 separate passes through the ROP at 16kg, but I'm doing 4-rung ladders of 20kg and reps of 24kg now.  I'm stronger, I'm snatching again, and it's time for a season of something slightly different.

I'm officially no longer chasing the RKC this year. I could get a few things up to speed in time.  Not the doubles work and the 24kg snatch test and the 3 straight days and the 1000 heavy swings wrapped around the rest of the workout.  If I'm not training this on my own, I won't have it for a whole weekend.

I've started training for my health again and for competition. Pullups, pistols and spine work from Convict Conditioning, all of which is basically physical therapy.  A heavy bell day of get-ups, short presses, and swings.  A medium bell day of long-cycle clean and press for volume, which may well turn into 2-bell long-cycle and double swings for time.  A day devoted to get-ups and snatches, and WKC protocol circuits a couple times a week.  I feel great.  I'm snatching 3 or 4 days a week, up to 20kg without nerve pain.  This is miles ahead of last year, miles ahead of 3 months ago.

I'm a lot less interested right now in programs than in being strong and healthy and enjoying a sport again.  It's a mystery to me why one coach would say 5x5 reps and another 5x1+2+3+4+5 reps and another 120 reps, all from the same discipline.  I'm really interested in going in without a quota for a while, seeing what I can do before I get fatigued, making my sport lifts and pullups stronger.  If I can be strong and mobile and enjoy myself, it will be worth a season off the reservation.  I'm not an employee.  I think I've earned it.

P.S. wow, some of this program stuff is really sticking in my throat lately...