Monday, February 27, 2012

Light Day, a Little Heavier

Yesterday, Variety Day:

Windmills, singles to triples, 16 to 24 kg

Bent Presses, singles, 16 to 24 kg

Walk 2 miles

Today, ETK ROP Light Day

Planned: 5 x (1-2) w/ 24 kg press and 24 kg on foot for PU


1 x (28 mil press x 1, 28 PU x 1L, 24 mil press x 2, 28 PU x 2 R)
1 x (1-2 w/ 28 for everything, again double using R)

9 total reps left to go, decided to:

1 x (24 mil press x 4, PU @ (2 x 16) x 4 - nice, bw + 32 kg x 4, probably a PR

1 x (2-3) w/ 24 kg for everything


3 presses were @ 28 kg.
4 PU were @ 32 kg as 2 x 16.
6 PU were @ 28 kg.

Total sets were 7 instead instead of 10, average reps/set was 2 instead of 1.5, 10% of the reps were w/ a heavier weight including one double.

Feel very fresh at the end - that's good because light day will be double in volume in two more weeks as 5 x (1-2) moves to 5 x (1-2-3)

24: swing, 5L+5R x 3, no breaks, 30 reps, on schedule for me as I aim towards 100 swings on heavy day and 50 on light day by the end of this ROP cycle

Onward and Upward, Comrades!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ETK Heavy Day: 4 to 4, 1 to 3, Another 2-Hour+ Workout

Yesterday, Friday, off altogether

Today, Saturday:


BP 95 x 7 - my son has started lifting again, this was on the bar, felt like an OK warmup. Interesting that left shoulder hurt a little for first 2 reps but found a groove and the rest felt fine.

Getup: 24 kg x 3 alternating singles to elbow or hand - left down still worse but gap is slowly closing

ETK ROP Heavy Day:

(1-2-3-4) x 4

(1-2-3) x 1

Finished with 24 kg swings - (4L+4R) x 5 no breaks

Notes: I didn't actually do ladder #2 as written above. Everyone in the room was - at my suggestion - working on their long-neglected bottoms-up clean and press, so I decided to start ladder #2 with a 24 kg single, which in retrospect wasn't such a great idea. Both sides behaved the same - first clean failed, second clean worked and I was able to continue into and complete the press - but the presses were _slow_ and CNS fatiguing, not really what I wanted to do near the beginning of a Heavy Day.

I elected to skip the rungs of 2 and 3 in this ladder - I did the rung of 4 and decided that I'd done just as much work in most senses.

The other ladders were completed as planned.

Again, the workout took over two hours to complete - again, strength without bulk requires patience.

Next weekend, all ladders to 4, and then the real fun begins the week after.

Onward and Upward/

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Medium Day w/ a Twist, and a Run

Two interesting training days detailed below:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - ETK ROP Medium Day

I was a little short on time and also feeling the need for a change of pace, so I did normal sets instead of ladders

Planned: (1-2-3) x 5 = 30 reps in 15 sets

Actual: 2, 3, 5, 4, 6, 3 = 23 reps in 6 sets

To my mind, the workout still did what Medium Day was supposed to do, supply a moderate amount of moderately taxing volume without leaving me feeling totally spent.

I had an epiphany of sorts - bringing my feet closer together than usual results in better press form for me. It's too easy to turn a "strict" military press into a hip-kick through the sticking point, effectively borrowing from the side press. More to follow on this subject, I'm certain.

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - Snatches and Run

I'm going to be running with my son this summer but, at age 56 and nearly 57, I need a head start on him. So today, I ran a little outside. (Unfortunately, he followed my lead and also ran .)

Before I ran, I decided to try some 16 kg kettlebell snatches - no warmup of any sort, just mid-afternoon, pick up the bell, and have at it. The loose plan was 20-15-10-5 for a total of 100 reps if that felt good.

I did the 20L+20R+15L+15R, 70 reps total, in just under 3 minutes and stopped there. My breathing was still easy - it was both in and out through my nose to start, and still in through my nose at the end although exhaled through my mouth. I'm going to do something like this at least once a week, keep swinging a 24 or heavier for gradually increasing volume between those times, and hope to hit 100 x 16 kg snatches in short order, after which I will move to the 18 kg and then the 20.

Back to running - I covered, I'm guessing, all of 1/4 mile, just once around a block here, and ran perhaps 1/2 or 3/4 of it.

It's important to know your natural tendencies - I am running well when I'm running fast, and whenever I get back into running, I know the right thing for me is to feel like I just want to run faster and faster - faster is easier for me. Gradually, the ability to maintain good form and keep it up for a longer time will come back to me but, for now, it's basically free-flowing at what's clearly a faster pace than a jog.

Later, grab a 24 kg and front squat - 5L, 5R, just for fun and because I haven't done any 1-kb front squats in a while.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Light Day - In a Hurry

Monday was ETK Light Day but I was short on time - my wife was off and we had a planned day trip to PA to visit her parents. Here's how I executed my 5 x (1-2) plus swings:

0:00 - 1 press left, 1 press right, 1 pullup, took :30
1:00 - 2 presses left, 2 presses right, 2 pullups, took 1:00

3:00 - rung of 1
4:00 - rung of 2

6:00 - rung of 1
7:00 - rung of 2

9:00 - rung of 1
10:00 - rung of 2

12:00 - rung of 1
13:00 - rung of 2

This way, quite the opposite of my most recent Heavy Day, which took 2-1/2 hours, I was able to complete all the presses and pullups in 14 minutes.

I took a 5 minute rest, and did several sets of swings, 4 per arm, and didn't put the bell down until I hit about 25 reps total, which took about a minute, and then I was done for the day.

After going on about the benefits for strength without hypertrophy of taking a long time between rungs and ladders, today I did the opposite. The schedule above represents about equal amounts of time for work and rest. Life intervenes sometimes; I wanted the workout, so I did it more quickly than usual. Left to my own devices, I would have probably done the rungs of 1 and 2 together then taken 5-10 minutes between ladders.

Onward and Upward!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Strength Without Bulk Requires Patience

If you wish to work on your strength without gaining muscle size, you need to be patient in your workout, taking full recovery as often as needed. Case in point:

Today's ETK Heavy Day presses took two hours and thirty minutes to complete, just presses supersetted with pullups as the book says:

(1-2-3-4) x 3

(1-2-3) x 2

Complete recovery before every rung of every ladder, which meant walking out of the room before every rung of more than 2 reps, and at least 10 minutes between ladders.

Video of Final Set, Click Here


24 kg for all presses.

24 kg for most pullups but some singles and doubles w/ 28 kg to keep heavy day what it's supposed to be, heavy.

Pullup pause at top and throat height (what you'll see if you watch the video) are good training practice for anyone prepping for the RKC-II.

Even though I missed the last two heavy days due to schedule and illness, I was able to continue with the plan and get a third ladder to 4 today.

At the end, a few 24 kg swings.

Onward and Upward!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Medium Day w/ a Bit of Variety

My first lifting in a week, went pretty well, all things considered.

Wednesday: ETK Medium, 24 kg for presses, 24 kg on foot for pullups except as noted:

5 x (1-2-3)


After first ladder, did a single 1-leg DL w/ 24 kg each side
After second ladder, did a single 2 x 24 kg front squat
After fourth ladder, did two 2 x 24 kg front squats

For final rung of 3, tried 28 kg for pullups on right foot but lost the bell after only 1 rep. Put the bell on the other foot, which seems to dorsiflex stronger, and did 2 more reps.

Played with extended t-spine and/or externally rotating shoulders at bottom - doing both felt really powerful.

Still deciding if a 1" or 2" higher box to stand on might work better - getting the right height to start weighted pullups helps.

Variety Thursday: Walked 2 miles plus some light stretching.

Variety Friday: Crane Frolic Qigong including 3 bw-only crane pistols each side, several alternating getups singles w/ 18 kg, and a short walk

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Training When Sick

My last post was six days ago because that's the last time I did any real lifting.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife and I are heavily involved in a big volunteer project in our town at this time of year. Add to that the fact that we both got sick and you'll understand why I haven't lifted. I had a fever over the weekend and had to play 4 shows plus teach a few private lessons - besides those obligations, I did nothing else except rest and try to get better.

It's very, very important to know when to back off on your training - whatever you lose in the short term, you gain in the long term because you've made sure your training will continue after only a brief interruption. The alternative of pushing through with planned training often results in a longer layoff because the illness doesn't get dealt with in a timely manner, and all sorts of other problems often arise, e.g., you lift something heavy with poor form - poor because you're not feeling well - and you get hurt.

I missed a planned Heavy Day last Saturday, and a planned light day on Monday because, even though most of my symptoms were gone and I could have lifted, I elected not to - I still felt quite tired and that was reason enough to skip the planned lifting session for me.

Yesterday, I did some light stretching and a few one-legged deadlifts with a 28 kg bell. Today, I hope to have a more or less normal Medium Day, and I will take the upcoming Heavy Day this weekend by feel - if I can move forward, I will, if I need to repeat my most recent Heavy Day or go backwards, then that's what I'll do.

Onward and Upward!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One Side Teaches The Other

Variety Day today, partial and full getups with 18 and 24 kg.

A bit of injury history is in order:

While recovering from pneumonia in 2003, I broke a rib coughing. It's around the back of my rib cage, on the right side. The doctor said it's fully healed, and it never bothers me doing anything, even the heaviest of lifts, with one singular exception - getups with my left elbow down and my right arm up.

It isn't the weight overhead that's the issue - the discomfort in that spot happens with an empty upper hand just the same as it does with a weight.

Today, I "asked" my bad side to learn from my good side and achieved a good result.

On my good side, I noticed my thoracic spine was extended as I come up on my elbow. On my bad side, I "turtle", rounding through the neck and t-spine, living in fear that my formerly broken, now still not-quite-right rib cage will hurt. I'll try not to be dramatic, but it doesn't hurt just a little when this happens. I ask my doctor about it every year at my physical, and he says he can't find anything wrong. My suspicion is that I "hinge", putting a big load inappropriately on one small spot, and therein lies my problem.

Attempting to keep my t-spine extended on my bad side was a big help today - progress with my getups and, I hope, a lesson that will stick with me - get the form right, and there's no pain, but getting the form right requires facing, not doing an end run, around the possibility of pain.

NB: 25 years of running has left me unable to put a lot of pressure on my knees, especially in certain positions. There is a limit to the number of full-range getups I can do, even though I have modified the movement to minimize pressure and rubbing on my knees. This works out OK for me because the place in the getup where I am poorest is the very beginning, from on the floor to up on my elbow. This range of motion is what I practice most, and I do the full getup only once every few weeks just to be sure I'm still comfortable doing that, which I am. Today I did one 18 kg and one 24 kg full getup on each side.

Onward and upward.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ETK Medium - Video

Today, an uneventful ETK ROP Medium Day

5 x (1-2-3), 24 kg mil press, 24 pullup on foot.

The plan was to start a new ladder every 10 minutes, and although there was a phone call or two interrupting, I did finish the workout in about an hour.

Video of the final set, click to view


On the clip, I kick my hip around when pressing on the first side, my left.

I have a history here - if I get into anything other than perfect lumbar posture for my press, I pinch my herniated disc when I press on my left side. I did that once today, and this is why video is helpful - the hip kick means I'm cheating, and I need to keep confronting this issue head on. I can get it right, it's just a bit tricky, and I hope to do better next time.

NB: If you're new to kettlebell pressing, you get a pretty good view of the wrist position we're after in the RKC - straight.


Two entries today - ETK Medium Day to follow.

Yesterday, Tuesday, an off/variety day, I found myself feeling tight in the shoulders, hips, and lower back - that's a too-long list of major joints in which to feel tight. The solution, the (drum roll, please):


The Cossack stretch, if you haven't done it yet, is not only worthy of your investigation, it's worthy of an entire book and/or DVD on its own.

I found this video that I think demonstrates good form, although the "Full Monty" here would be to do the entire sequence shown in Pavel's SuperJoints.

Although I cannot go into everything that's wonderful about the Cossack stretch here, allow me to make a couple of key points and suggest you try it.

- Treat it like a one-legged squat - keep your heel on the ground and your torso fairly upright.

- Flex your foot on the straight leg and get a nice hamstring stretch on that side.

- Stay facing front.

Did you know that the Cossack will stretch your lats? Do it correctly and enjoy the results!

Fun with Easy Day

Monday was a planned ETK ROP Easy Day but since the last Heavy Day was low volume and not terribly strenuous, I decided to have a little fun while staying close to the Easy Day guidelines. Easy doesn't always have to be boring, right? :)

Plan: 5 x (1,2)


Ladder #1:
24: C&P + PU for 1,2 - I'd been doing straight presses, not C&P, just a change

Ladder #2:
28: mil press x 1, PU x 1
24: mil press x 2, PU x 2

Ladder #3:
28: mil press x 1, PU x 1 - again
16+10 stacked: mil press x 2 (very easy!), 24 PU x 2

Ladder #4:
24: mil press x 3, 28 PU x 2 (lost off left foot after 2 reps)

Ladder #5:
24: mil press x 3, 24 PU x 3

Note - 28 kg presses were solid, even more solid than at last Friday's test.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heavy Day But No Time? Test Instead

My planned Heavy Day was Saturday but I had a 7-hour rehearsal. (Click to read about Ridgewood Jamboree, an annual, all-volunteer project in which my wife and I participate.)

The solution: Lift a day early, on Friday, and make it a test day.

The results:

28 kg press x 2 reps each side - not great, but I wasn't feeling 100%, either, and I'm happy with that.

Pullup @ bodyweight + 24 kg on right foot, 7 reps, which is a PR rep count for that weight and method of holding it.

On Saturday, what was supposed to have been heavy day, I did a few quick sets of 16 kg and 24 kg swings before leaving for rehearsal, and several splits, cossack stretches, and bodyweight pistols during breaks.

Mission accomplished - the coming week will be back to regular schedule, I hope. The rehearsals are the hard part, the upcoming performances should be easy in comparison.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ETK ROP: Light and Medium Days

Everything went according to plan:

Monday: ETK Light, 5 x (1-2) presses w/ 24 kg, pullups w/ 24. The final ladder was a triple instead of a single plus a double.

Tuesday: completely off, just a little light stretching

Wednesday: ETK Medium, 5 x (1-2-3) w/ weights above. Experimenting with pullup grip - no false grip today, and even tried gripping a little lower on the hand so that it was more fingertips - really don't notice much of a difference. The good thing is that every rep is consistently Adam's Apple to or above the bar.

Life is very busy and I will probably have to push Heavy Day back to Sunday due to rehearsal all day on Saturday. It's either that or do it on Friday, which I will do if time allows.