Friday, August 26, 2011

At least exert yourself

Ed. note: There is a slim chance that a couple of people I know will recognize the situation I describe and the people I'm talking about. I mean no offense, but this profoundly affected me and needs to be said. It's not hurtful, it's just blunt, and it is heart-felt and honest.


I did some jerk and some long cycle with a pair of 20kg (44lb) kettlebells today, my current standard, and a pair of modest jerks at the end of the 90min session with a pair of 24kg (53lb) bells. Now the 2 24kg bells were a personal record, and 48kg (106lb) overhead for the first time was every bit heavy. Not three months ago, I nearly put 2 20kg bells on my head with that same lift, but now I train with them regularly. It was a big deal to me that I didn't eat those green 24s.

I saw some new folks training this week. One was pressing a pair of 35lb weights without pausing at the shoulder or at the top and deadlifting 53lb in a circuit.  Realize that they were deadlifting, from the floor with both hands, less weight than they were lifting overhead. Now realize that again. When I was 16 years old, I deadlifted a spinet piano once when it tipped over on a moving truck ramp, and I had never lifted weights in high school. They were deadlifting 53 pounds, in a gym, for which they paid money.

These folks were turning their heads to make eye contact and chat. They were talking freely instead of bracing themselves with a deep breath to protect the spine. These are not just my pet peeves; these are details that you cover subconsciously every day to lift things out of your car because the reach feels awkward.

I'm glad they were trying, but let's face facts. This was not exercise. This was not focused; this was not even safe. Going to a gym to get less old/fat/feeble does not automatically make you less old/fat/feeble. Hard work does. I accept I'm good at this because it's my hobby, but I am not the strongest person my size that I know. I know a 120lb woman who can deadlift over 200lb, which I cannot. If some guy bigger than me doesn't want to launch 40kg (88lb) overhead like I do, that's fine, but I know he can lift it off the floor. The point is that he was not even exerting himself, so he was wasting his time and not getting any healthier.

Clinical studies have shown as little as 15min of strenuous exercise on 3 days a week can reduce your body fat and blood lipids.  90min a week was shown to add as much as 3 years to your life expectancy in a long-term study in Taiwan. This isn't about kettlebells or about fat shredding or cardio vs HIIT vs strength training. What I do and call "cardio" is carry 40kg up and down stairs after my regular workout, but I couldn't survive a modern aerobics class. I don't care. I'm stronger than 3 months ago. My cholesterol is down. I eat like a puppy in a bacon store, and I can see my abs in the mirror. None of this would be true if I were too lazy to actually exert myself or too bored by the experience to keep it up.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The longest 10min of my life, and the next-longest 10min

I prematurely published my log for 08/14-08/20 on the 19th, so I edited the title and wrote a new piece for today. I even did some sets of 5 heavy last night after work that aren't listed, but I'll just call it pre-dinner and let it go. Today's session was good enough to post on its own. I don't do this often.

08/20 Sat 2x20kg Jerk
Mobility, band work, 2 sets 5 Bench Jumps

Goal = J:2x20/6-8/1'/1'r x7-9 (felt another set in me at the end)
Done = 10 sets 8/1', a PR by 3 full minutes

Partial BW dips: 2 sets 20
20kg SW: 30ea, 20ea
10’ Stair carries: 2'carry/30"rest x5, longer rest on #5


This is actually the first time I've accumulated 10 minutes of Jerk in one session. My Spring cycle was organized to stretch short sets into long sets. The long sets wore me out, so I never actually did 3' x 3 or 5' x 2 or any volume that added up close to 10'. I was one of the few competitors at State who did not finish the clock. The pure beginners, the still-overweight women snatching 8kg, finished their clocks. I made rank plus 9, completely drained, and set the bells down. I knew I had done something wrong.

This was a technically good session, including a few recoveries. The overhead squat training helped me later on. I'm working on launching the bells straight up instead of up and back, more Denisov, less Goncharov. The balance is tenuous, but there's less strain on my back. My new shoulder-width stance can accommodate a clean, more stable and ready for LC. And obviously, I'm recovering well. This is a good place to be 11 weeks out from Regionals.

Clearly, this was not elite mastery of the 10' clock, but this is my new baseline. I had a baseline a year ago of 3200kg ballistics every workout, based initially on 200 16kg swings. Now I have 80reps/10' at 2x20kg... which is ironically 3200kg. (I just noticed that!) What's important is that I did 10 minutes of my skill, then 10 minutes of 2x20kg stair carries for conditioning. This cycle, that's step 1, ground floor, my de-loading routine after a month of heavier stuff.