Saturday, June 23, 2012

New personal record, new weakest link

Anyone in an individual sport -- weight lifting, track and field, rock climbing -- understands the notion "what fails first". You can carry more weight, but you can't get it up from the ground. Running just 1mph faster changes your breathing and cuts your endurance. These sports are all about finishing strong instead of failing. I managed to push my 2x20kg kettlebell Long Cycle up an extra 8 reps and an extra 4 minutes today over my previous records, and I was stopped by a new weakest link.


Previously, I was struggling to breathe and recover between reps. Today I started using a side rack around minute 5, and it fixed my breathing problem. My elbow was squarely on my iliac crest (pelvis), totally legal, and I was breathing deeply. My launch was fine, my overhead was fine, but my grip started slipping during the cleans.

I figured it out near the end, but there was no recovering from this before the buzzer. In the side rack, the fingers on my top hand never got to truly rest. This was my first substantial set beyond 5:00. By 8:00, my left hand was slipping, enough to truly fear I would toss a bell. I made 9:00 with good reps and good wind in me, and I called it.

So I'm exactly 4reps/1:00 from the number I need to rank at 143lb bodyweight. I got down to 145.6 this morning, including a little water cut overnight. This snapshot is from immediately after today's session. Anyone is welcome to highlight areas where I'm 3 or 4 pounds heavy and send them to me.


(I know. The compression shorts make my thighs look fat.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

One-week countdown

On June 30, I'll be competing in double 20kg Long Cycle Clean & Jerk for the first time. My goals are a 10:00 buzzer and a WKC rank, either 42 or 49 reps depending on my bodyweight. The peaking cycle these last few weeks has been a study in fine-tuning, oddly beginning with a PR that I have not since bested.
  • 1 month ago = 30/5:00 at sheer exhaustion and missing reps
  • 2 weeks ago = 20/5:00 at fatigue with solid technique
  • 1 week ago = 24/5:00*, then 22/5:00, then 30/5:00 with double 16kg
  • 2 days ago = 23/5:00, then 22/5:00, alternating 5rpm and 4rpm
These marks were a mix of fasted, early morning and early evening after work, all with substantial warmups. The session marked with a "*" was actually interrupted when my camera fell over and I didn't have an independent count. The set of 16s was penance for stopping instead of following the clock to 10:00.

I've also experimented with an overnight water cut, with good results the next day. I have not been able to drop below 147lb the last month, despite a pretty clean diet. I cannot believe how hard it has been to find 4lbs to lose since my barbell program in the off-season. 143 is my competition weight, but it is not my walk-around weight. I have successfully cut 2.5lb overnight and replenished in a timed 1hr the next morning, then completed great scores. That changes my target weight, and gives me some science to play with.

At this time, I may barely have the numbers to rank at 65kg, let alone 70kg, and I accept that. My goals have to be different. Forgetting ranks and placement, what I need, what I have failed to do 3 of the 4 events I've competed publicly, is to make the buzzer. I've shown I can clean and rack for 10:00.  This is now about self-respect.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Getting Heavy and Long-winded

Yes, there has been a long-term plan.  I needed to be stronger while resting. I needed to be able to operate with far less than 100% effort. I needed better cardio. And, I needed to address some sport posture issues. e.g., my wrists would go numb in a 20kg rack. So then, this has been my calendar.
  • 04/13 - 2 x 20kg kettlebell Jerk, 30 reps in 5:00. Significant personal record at this new weight class. I stopped because I missed locking my elbows at the top twice and the heels of my hands were going numb. I was "done".
  • 04/21 - 2x20kg kettlebell Jerk, 40 reps in 6:40, on the platform in a meet. A huge PR.
  • 05/15 - 2 x 20kg kettlebell ("Long Cycle") Clean and Jerk, 30 reps in 5:00. Significant PR at this weight class, with no LC practice in a month.
  • 06/07 - 2x20kg kettlebell Long Cycle, 20 reps in 5:00. I stopped because I set a 5:00 time limit, not because I was exhausted or failing technically. I had deep breathing, good launches, solid lockout and fixation, and I had minutes more left in me.
From mid-April through May, I did two things. First, I gave up kettlebell "sport" work in favor of cleans and rack holds for timed sets. Second, I started an actual published barbell program, 3 sessions a week. I got stronger (+80lbs to my 3-lift total in a month), and the program itself kept me from screwing around. I also got a few pounds bigger, all muscle. I'm not sure what I'm going to cut to make weight.

In the month of June, I've focused on Long Cycle and running multiple days per week and 1 weekly barbell session. Each week tends to cycle in a wave from short sets to a long test. I have run and walked several days each week, and my conditioning is rapidly improving. All I need now is to cut 6 pounds.

I had a goal from the beginning of the year, to make WKC rank II (20kg) in Long Cycle. At my usual 45kg weight class, my rank number is 42 reps. If this slower pace is, indeed, sustainable, it adds up to 40 reps in 10min. I am, in theory, 2 reps from my goal, 3 weeks early.  Let's see how that test goes tomorrow.