Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can I do this instead of that? No.

I just finished a 6-month program, laid out for me by a coach and culminating in a competition. I made small changes when my stamina improved or to improve mobility. Otherwise, the goals I laid out for months 4, 5, and 6 were met on schedule. I lost 8lbs in the 5th month, right on schedule, and I followed the program.

Then there's this. One of my social venues is a web forum for kettlebell and fitness enthusiasts like myself. New people join the forum, post comments on their own threads until their post count says "Senior Member", and start re-posting the same questions until someone agrees with them.

"Can I do cardio from this program alongside the strength phase of this other program?"

"Can I add high-volume calisthenics along the part of this other program that says 'no other strength training at this time'? "

"I have decided to program my workout this way instead of following the book.  I've been at it for a week, and I feel great. Doesn't everyone think this is a great idea?"

I'll summarize by quoting the FAQ of Pavel's "Enter the Kettlebell", with due respect and credit.
"Q: Can I substitute the... with the...?"
"A: No. By virtue of your asking this question."
I'm a student and an educator by nature, and a compulsive hobbyist. I'm bothered by little things "done wrong", like South American fish and Asian plants in the same aquarium. I also care a little and feel compelled to help. Step 1 is to have a goal. Step 2 is to take stock of your own resources and limitations. Planning your training is at least as late as step 3.

"Can I trade out dead lifts and squats from this powerlifting program for shoulder shrugs and bench presses from this body building program?" No, they are completely different. Do kettlebell swings, do rowing, do some sort of hip-driven pull. The shrug is a gesture of someone who does not care. Care.

"I tore my hands up doing snatches; can I keep doing snatches with gloves to train for my RKC." First, no. Pain will corrupt your technique. Let your hands heal. Second, you're not passing the RKC. It's an instructor's certification, and you didn't know better than snatching with blisters.

I'm taking some time off the forum, for my own sake. For the next 6wks, I'm doing 2x16kg Long Cycle, pullups, and carrying bells up and down stairs. Strength training for 6wks after that. Follow me here weekly if you like. You'll be on a program for the next 90 days, right? Send me a link to your training journal, and I'll follow that instead of the forum.

Training Log 06/19-06/24 (Long Cycle wk1)

I'm starting a block of Long Cycle (Clean and Jerk) training. My long-term goal is to maintain competency in both the Biathlon and the Long Cycle, so there will be milestones along the way to keep their ranks equal. After the 16kg bell, rank tests must be performed at competitions, which are not that common here.

The major competitions are at least slightly "seasonal", with LC in the Spring and Biathlon in the Fall. I may be able to make 20kg Biathlon for Southeast Regionals in November and 20kg LC at the GA State meet next June. I may find cause to travel for this...

06/21 Tue Pullups and 2x16kg LC
Warmup, mobilize.
LCCP and Pullups: 2 x1-2-3 in supersets
LC: 2',1'r x4
14,12,12,12 (call it 6rpm)
Cycling: L9 2.7/10' 135HR 75cal

Notes: good start. 6rpm, good volume. Triceps really sore. Knee felt fine.

06/22 Wed

Not a training day, but got asked about wreck 'n rehab. Did around 10 pistols each.

06/23 Thu 2x16kg LC
Warmup, mobilize, halos, single OH SQ
TGU: 2
LC: 12/2' x5, 1'r
13,12,12,12,17 (7,10) = 66/10' total

Stairs: 3laps/under 6'

Notes: felt good. A little stiff later, but not bad. Plenty of grip fatigue work, including stairs. I like this. Single overhead squat felt surprisingly good. Add some double OH SQ by the end of next week, and add some JSQ sets back into the mix. Not as critical for this slow pace as it was for the jerk, but good squat work will certainly help.

Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Georgia State Kettlebell Sport Championships

18 June, 2011, Duluth, GA at Extreme Fitness, hosted by WKC Master Trainer Scott Shetler. I counted 12 competitors on the card, male and female, representing biathlon, long cycle, and strong sport. There were several men competing 20kg LC, and several women put up numbers above rank and lasted the full 10 minutes.

I scored 60J, 54SN to make WKC rank III at 65kg with reps to spare.

I hoped for 60 Jerk and 55 Snatch, both of which would have been personal records by 5 reps. I tried to recover the last snatch, but I couldn't close my fingers around the handle. It was just "over".  I took a break in the Jerk at 50 reps, between rank and PR. That breather got me 10 more reps in the 7th minute. I am very close to a 10min set in the Jerk.

On a training note, this is the first time I've taken most of a week's rest before a max effort instead of maintaining momentum. I had a couple of light sessions, 10 reps of each and some bicycling and stretching. I do believe I went in rested, but I definitely came out more sore than I've been in a long time. My knee and triceps were sore for more than 48hrs afterward.

Where do I go from here?
  1. Make steady improvement on movement in my right knee and my left shoulder.
  2. Get my Long Cycle rank III by the end of July. I'm not actively competing it yet, but I don't want my two events to get very staggered.
  3. Train 3/wk for a while. Get a little of my life back on the weekends. Keep a 4th session of one-armed work on file for when I'm bored.
  4. Rank II (20kg) by the Autumn meet. Start some strength training now, which will involve some heavy lifting and more eating.  Maintain 10 pullups, 10 pistols, and <150lbs.
  5. Extend my 16kg work to 10min, no questions asked. I need a lightweight, high-volume option. I'm at 7min in both lifts right now.

Training Log 06/11-06/17 State Champs Week

Light training this week, resting for GA State meet on Saturday.

06/11 Sat Assistance work
Warm up, mobilize, stretch, jumps
16kg OALC: 2 sets 5 for warmup
Jerk, 10" OH hold: 3 sets 5
SW: 1'ea, 1'rest, 2 sets
2x16kg stair carries, 3 floors: 4 laps/8'

Notes: 143.5lbs, dressed.  Good session, not exhausted.  Good OH work.
PM 2x16kg Static holds: 4', 1'rest, 4'

06/12 Sun Biathlon
Warm up, mobilize, band stretch, jumps
Scratched plan to do multiple short sets in favor of short rank test
J: 12,12,12,9,5/4'30" (48 and 2 spares)
SN: 20,20,5 ea/4'40" (45)
2x16kg stair carries, 3 floors: 4 laps/7'30"

Notes:  142.0lbs. Just did not feel like 2' sets today.  J: 3'@12 was a very significant milestone for conditioning and sprint capacity.  Maybe try a comfortable 4-5' on Tuesday, 40 each lift.

P.S. Calves are no longer sore from stair carries.  This rank set and stair carry was in VFFs.  Stretching out well.  This addition may have peaked at an ideal time.

06/14 Tue
skipped morning for poor sleep, after work...
OAJ/GSQ: 2x5
TGU: 3 plus 1 ratchet
OAJ: 10, 16/1' ea
SW: 50ea non-stop
Cycling: L9 4.2mi/15', 130HR 125cal
Stretch lightly

06/15 Wed pm
8' static hold at arms' length, 2x16kg.  Stretching.

Notes: when this hits 10', move up to 20kg.

06/16 Thu mobility
BW 141.0
Lunch: mobilize and warmup
Superset pullups/pistols: 4, 3, 3
18 floor round-trip stair walk
Evening stretch

06/17 Fri light work
Warmup, stretch, light session
Cycling: 4.25mi/15', 120HR, 115cal
Few jerks, few OAJ, few SN
Some half-Get Up work with spine mobilization
Stretch out

Feels good.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bonus Round!

I got last-minute notice of an Indian Club training session this afternoon and bailed work early to get there.  Thanks to Scott Shetler for hosting at Extreme Fitness, and thanks to Dr. Ed Thomas for leading a tiny group of us in this surprising, challenging skill.  It's just a circle.  When did circles get so hard?

I also hung around to video a rank IV (12kg) attempt in Long Cycle.  I don't practice a lot of LC.  Most competitors focus on biathlon the majority of the year and prep for LC competitions the last couple months before a meet.  I'm a biathlon competitor, but I just love what LC represents as an exercise.  The heavy swing, the rack, the jerk, the slower pace and slower accumulation of points. LC's always appealed to me.  And LC video thumbnails just ROCK. 

I didn't want to get more than one or two biathlon ranks and have to start over from scratch at LC, so I planned to "throw together" a LC rank attempt whenever my jerk was good enough. Started shaky, got progressively smoother.  That lighter weight never really "pinned" me into the rack or forced me to counterbalance the swing.  By rep 40 or so, I was keeping time at four breaths for well over 7 minutes.  This is remarkably focused and cathartic for me, especially at a lighter weight like this.  If I hadn't trained twice already, I could have done this all day.

Training Log 06/04-06/10 The Home Stretch

Hands are healing well. First couple sets of snatch did not tear, which is a good thing. Made my target weight on Saturday, 143.0lbs. 143.3 is exactly 65kg, so I am there without rounding or fudging. Finally sustained 12rpm jerk Sunday for the first time. Stair carries are more relevant and sustainable GPP work than squats, more challenging than bicycling. I wish I could run.

Thursday, I hit the 70kg rank III numbers at a weigh-in of 65kg.  PR on both lifts, and broke a month-long plateau on snatches.

06/04 Sat Assistance work plus 2x16kg bells
Mobilize, warm up, band stretches, 30' total
2x16 LC + 10" OH hold: 2 sets 5
 - worked out to around 3rpm with this extended OH hold.
5CL, 5SQ, 10JSQ: 5 sets with 45" rest
1H SW: 1'ea x2, 30rpm

Cycling: upgrade to L9.  4.4mi/15', 150HR, 130cal

Notes: BW 143.0. +2lbs by end of session, most of it on my shirt.  Band and mobility work helped my squat form.  OH holds were really helpful, actually relaxing my quads in lockout a couple times.  LC is always fun.

Tiny bubble under new skin on a finger.  May need anti-perspirant and tape for snatches. Clean and squat finisher was fun and challenging, but it fried my hips for the next 2-3 days.

06/05 Sun Biathlon short sets
Slept poorly, woke up with stiff hip and sore knee.  Mobilize and warm up, band stretches.

J: 12/1', 1'rest x5, 15/1' blind sprint to finish

SN/SW: 90"ea, 1'rest x4
25, 22, 18, 10sn + 30"sw each

In lieu of cycling,
3-floor stair carries, shoulders up and farmers down: 5 laps in 9'


Notes: hips REALLY tight, but hamstrings loose enough to forward fold head to shin.  Never acheived a useful 12rpm jerk before.  This will certainly help my conditioning.  Band work on my shoulder external rotation really helped.

Stair carries made a GREAT finisher.  Leg drive and dip absorption.  Shoulder/rack and vertical posture going up, grip impact going down, intense general cardio.  Breathing like a train for 9'; I would love to do this for 15-20' instead of cycling.  Left my calves really sore, but works the conditioning really well..

06/07 Tue Biathlon for time (on video)
Mobilize, warm up, band stretches
Goal: 6'/6'

J: 54/6' (10,10,10,8,8,8) (PR! woo!)
10' rest
SN: 43/6' (tragic)

3-floor stair carries: 3 laps/6'

Notes: calves REALLY sore, hips not so much. Surprised I had any launch at all.  1 possible no-count jerk, and a couple of under-dip snatches.  Jerk was a PR for time and reps, 6/30" improvement with a little in the tank. Left stopped at 44, almost dropped the bell. Did not have 1 more rep in that hand. Right actually dropped the bell at 43, and there was a peeled callus on the floor. Need to find a better use of intermission to prep forearms, maybe add some static holds or carries. I shouldn't be fighting with this right now. I should be reaching for 60 or 65 reps right now.

06/08 Wed
Slept in, soreness in L shoulder from pulling snatches.  Worked on that all day.
a.m. 2x16kg side carries, 4', 1'r, 4'
12kg single OH holds 4x1' alt hands.
p.m. 2x16kg side carries, 4', 1'r, 4'

Notes: Start doing these drills regularly.  This was good stuff.  Standing static holds will help.  The overhead holds revealed that my left brachial/ulnar trunk gets impinged and numb over time, even under flexible and optimized posture.  May change my strategy on resting during snatches until I can address this later in the summer.

06/09 Thu Biathlon for reps, on video
BW 143lb (65kg)
Mobilize, warm up, band stretches
Goal: 55J/55SN

J:55/6'40"  PR!  Gave myself 1 no-count, had more in the tank.
10' rest
SN:50ea/6'30" PR! 

3-floor stair carries: 3 laps/6'

Notes: On video, timing was approximate. Jerks worked well. Focus on a visible second dip, even though I'm slamming the heels with my knees bent. Snatches went better at a slightly higher pace on the left.  These are both PR numbers and rank III 70kg numbers.  I am so relieved to hit 70kg rank at 65kg weight a week in advance.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Training 05/28-06-03

Dialing back from 5/wk to 4/wk.  This weekend was uncertain going in, but long-term something like this.
Sa Jerk sets and squats
Su Snatch/swing sets and cycling, OR Biathlon closer to competition
Tu Biathlon for a timed set
Th Biathlon for a rep number
Remembering that I peeled calluses off left hand last week, I'm willing to switch snatches to swings if needed.  I wish I could snatch consecutive days.  I wish I had another month to do 1-arm heavy support work, but it's time to scale that back and do the show.  Here we go.

05/28 Sat
BW 144.5
DL 5x110,130,160
Parallel pistols: 5,5,5 alt
Cycling: 5.8mi/20', HR135, 160cal, 2' end sprint: 125rpm, HR 150.
Stretch well

Notes: first pistols since 05/09, felt good. DL felt good. "Rest" day, right? De-loading at least.

05/29 oh, well.  Other plans did not materialize.
Mobilize and warm up
J: 2x3', 1'30" rest
SN: 2x2-3', watch skin
2'ea@15, peeled other hand. 40sw ea and done.

Notes: peeled other hand during snatches. Did not hurt, came off in a lump on the handle. Actually flicked it and finished the set. Like a boss.  6rpm jerk actually felt almost uncomfortably slow.  Breathing never got into a rhythm.  That's kind of good.

05/30 Memorial Day
Warm up
Pullups: 6,6,6
110#DL: 10,10,10
Cycling: 5.5/20', 135HR, 155cal
Stretching and yoga on roof

Notes: BW 143.5. Pizza Hut made me poop into a lower weight class. Who knew?  Good pullups.  DLs felt great.  Good basic Exercise Day.  I wish I could fit this in more often.

05/31 Tue Biathlon
Mobilize, warm up
Goal 5'/5', 40 ea optimistic
J: 5'
8rpm, 40/5'
5' rest
SN: 5' split
15,14,6/15,14,6 (34,34/5')

Notes: mashed middle finger cleaning up gym.  Big bruise over the first knuckle. Affected overlap grip, but worked around it and finished the time.  Not a bad snatch total for being a little out of practice.

06/02 Thu Bi
Mobilize, warm up
Goal 50/45
J: 50/6'-plus w/o clock.
 - 10' walking and mobility work
SN: 42/6'-plus w/o clock.  Shoot.
Stretch well

Notes: BW 143.5, and apparently stable!  For reference, my WL shoes are 2.5lb.

Jerks felt good.  I had a couple more.  I was resting fairly well in a left-side slouch.  I was very tired at the end, but I was not at failure.  I've not done jerks to failure in weeks; I have no idea where my actual limit is.  My rightward lean seems to be from residual tension in the left glute and hamstring.  Right hip flexor stretches can practically dislocate, so it's not the flexors.  After a set of hip openers last night, just standing up straight was visibly rotated to the right.  May work on SLDLs and some pistol/lunge progressions.

Snatches have not been 100% in a while.  Left arm has a persistent ulnar groove tightness, like there's a tendon or nerve slightly inflamed.  I got to 42 legit, plus one obvious no-count.  Grip just died; my hand was this weird claw that wouldn't close anymore.  I was so stressed that my right hand was sweaty before it ever started.  My record is 45, so this is more recovery than progress.  May do a third biathlon day on weekends and actually take the full 30' with light cycling.