Easy Strength

An interesting email from Chris Lopez – his website is Kettlebell workouts. Com

Mastering overhead pressing with a kettlebell has ALWAYS been my Everest.

I can blame bad muscle-building or strength genetics, but really, is that the reason? Most people cop out and say that they’re not where they want to be because of this or that outside cause and never look within themselves.

The sad part is that by making excuses and blaming outside circumstance, you also are saying that you’re relinquishing control.

I take a different approach…and from this day forth, I think you should too.

It’s waaay to easy for us to place the blame elsewhere and to not take responsibility for our lives.

I’m going through some personal struggles right now and as a result, I’m struggling internally as well.

But the one thing that I’ve come to realize is that everything that I’m going through is a result of what I did (or did not do) – either directly or indirectly. I put myself in this situation and in the end, I’m the only one who can pull myself out.

Nobody else can “make” me react the way I do. I’m responsible for my reactions and my actions.

OK, so what does that all have to do with pressing a kettlebell over your head?

Well for years, I blamed my lack of pressing strength to the fact that I played sports all my life that involved the overhead throwing motion – I was a baseball pitcher up until my junior year in highschool and I played volleyball for most of my life.

And because of poor throwing mechanics or pattern overload (doing the same thing over and over again), I developed some overuse injuries. Even today, as much as I’m trying to correct my right shoulder, I still stand with it slightly rotated inward.

So when I started to really try to increase the weight of my press, I had a lot of trouble.

I was using old methods of too high volume and impatiently progressing to heavier weights too soon. The result would be finding myself on a rehab table again with my chiropractor’s thumb in my shoulder joint trying to strip out an aggravated supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle).

Enter the ladder.

After being so aggravated with my lack of progress, I started to re-read a lot of the basic materials that I had studied about kettlebell training, specifically Enter the Kettlebell.

I wanted to see if I started using a very submaximal weight, if I could progress slowly and steadily and not gas myself out after a few weeks. You know, being the “tortoise” instead of the “hare”.

So I revisited using ladders to get stronger.

What happened next amazed me.

I started with a very light weight – 20kg to be exact – which was 1 kettlebell less than my “snatch-sized bell”. (In the SFG, when we talk about using weight, we normally do it in relation to which kettlebell you would perform your snatch test with.)

Slowly working from 3 ladders of 1, 2 & 3 and training 3 days per week where I was alternating Medium Intensity, High Intensity and Low Intensity days, I gradually worked my way up to 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. My plan over the weeks on my HIGH intensity days looked like this…

Week 1 – 3 ladders of 1, 2, 3
Week 2 – 4 ladders of 1, 2, 3
Week 3 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3
Week 4 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4
Week 5 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The difficulty that I had with this plan was that it felt TOO easy. 

It felt like I wasn’t really doing anything. But, if you take a look at the volume that I was doing in total reps per workout, I was in fact, progressing nicely…I just wasn’t “feeling it”…

Week 1 – 3 ladders of 1, 2, 3 = 18 total reps
Week 2 – 4 ladders of 1, 2, 3 = 24 total reps
Week 3 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3 = 30 total reps
Week 4 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4 = 50 total reps
Week 5 – 5 ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = 75 total reps

In week 5 I was doing more than 4 times the volume than I was in week 1. Now that’s progress.

Master RKC Dan John calls this concept of practicing with a submaximal weight “Easy Strength”. And after the 5 weeks of doing these pressing ladders, I tested myself with pressing a 36kg kettlebell (the most that I’ve ever pressed). That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I still have a lot of “dumb jock” left in me, I guess.

Can you guess what happended?

After a thorough warm-up, that bell went up and I pressed it with my “bad” shoulder.

The take home message here is that there is something to be said for patience and adaptation. 

Even though I was using a weight that I could press easily, the accumulation of volume and steady progression was enough to help me get stronger.

If you’re having trouble with your press, or any exercise for that matter, I suggest you take a step back, look honestly at your program, and adopt the mentality of “PRACTICE and NOT working out”.

It’s a different mentality and a tough concept to grasp especially if you’ve been brought up to recognize your training as being some form of torture. 

But if you’re struggling to progress and are frustrated with your lack of results, isn’t it time for a different approach?

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Lake Como May 2015

Just back from a fantastic break at Lake Como- Italy. Fantastic hotel, lovely scenery, good food & great company.SAM_0339

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Ever Wonder What the Extra Shoelace Hole on Your Trainers Is For?

http://hiit-blog.dailyhiit.com/hiit-life/ever-wonder-what-the-extra-shoelace-hole-on-your-trainers-is-for/ A bit of useful information if you suffer from blisters.

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Silly Season

I could never understand, as a young pup, when people said time is the most precious commodity. Now as a grizzled veteran of life,  at the ripe old age of 52!! I fully understand.  We are entering the silly Season with enormous demands on our time. Xmas parties to go to, shopping for presents,  family visits etc etc.I read somewhere the average person starts the new year 10lbs heavier due to overindulgence over Xmas &new year.
I have started circuit training with Kettlebell and bodyweight drills, for a maximum of 20 minutes a day and I am feeling the benefits immensely.  Combining this with my Krav Maga lessons is paying huge dividends. Time after time it pays to keep it simple, “Experts are people who master the basics” – this is so true. I’m planning on keeping it simple this Xmas, training with the circuits and 3 meals a day of good wholesome food, but Xmas day, Boxing day and New year’s eve will be enjoyed. 
Training is done in the morning so you start the day on a high..
Give it a good go,and start the new year ahead of the crowd

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Go hard or go home

We’re 12 days in to the new year and I am amazed at the times I’m seeing advertisements for the latest fitness trends. This year, and for a while previous, the trend seems to be for the hardest workout going. There is a series of DVD’s called Insanity being advertised, all the usual hype attached – get ripped in 60 days etc. Thing is every person I know who has tried this has ended up injured, some quite seriously. The body just cannot take the pounding that programmes like this give out. I have no doubt the guy selling these DVD’s is genuine, and used sensibly I can see the value in the training system, but I think for the average joe it’s way too much. Another trend is caveman training, and I’ve heard a few horror stories from that, one of the worst being an out of shape office worker doing box jumps and breaking their wrist. You can’t go from driving a desk and not exercising for years to doing box jumps or Plyometrics. There has to be some preparation work done first. In the interests of fairness – I know some people need protecting from themselves, but I do wonder when I see the tabata protocol hitting mainstream DVD. I haven’t seen this particular DVD apart from on an advert, but Tabata’s are not something you just jump in to. Perhaps with me being 52 this year, but I like everyone else only have so much time, energy and recovery ability. My main focus now is my 3 hours of Krav Maga a week, so any additional training has to be planned around that, I use Kettlebells and bodyweight training as an adjunct to my Krav Maga- which is a defensive tactics system, so I don’t need to train like a pro MMA fighter. I need a certain amount of strength & endurance but I’m not a pro, so I don’t emulate their training. In the words of Dan John -” keep the goal the goal”. I find a four day rotation on non Krav days serves me well. Two days based around strength, using kettlebell complexes and grinds along with convict conditioning style brief bodyweight workouts , then two days based more on conditioning, using kettlebell ballistics like swings seems to be optimum for me. The maximum time for these additional training sessions is around 30 minutes, but usually more like 20 minutes. Notice I say training sessions, as I am training for a specific goal in each session, strength in the strength days and endurance on the conditioning. 20 minutes doesn’t sound much – but try swinging a 32kg kettlebell for that time then get back to me!! Fridays are usually a day off from training – as I do 2 hours of Krav on a Thursday night, the last hour normally involving sparring so its quite intense. Weekends tend to have a longer training session

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A Change in Strategy

Reading the Strongfirst blog, I see all the time how getting stronger fixes most things. Also as a by product fat loss happens almost effortlessly. As we are approaching the busy season,  between now and Xmas,  I need a strategic plan to keep me on track with my training.  I am currently training 6 days a week with kettlebells,  for  around 20 minutes a time. General warm up is the resets from.original strength – these are awesome 
A couple of “naked ” ie no weight Turkish get ups this takes @ 5 minutes 
The training session is @ 10-15 minutes doing as many sets of possible of one kettlebell exercise in the alloted time. For example,  a favourite at the moment is double kettlebell front squats,  a heavy day would be sets of 6, a light day would be sets of 4 reps. I’m feeling fresh and strong after each training session,  and at 52 keeping up with the young bucks in my Krav Maga class.  My instructor asked me last night what I was doing, as I’m moving better and  looking sharp – music to my ears :-) 
I can see me using this protocol for a while yet, as It is really easy to fit in a busy life,  and it is working well

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Training 1/2-8/2

Sat 1/2 Kettlebell PHA
Bodyweight warm up
Push up 10
Bridge 10
Leg raise 10
Half get up 3 e/s
Cross crawl 10 5 min

Press
Deadlift
Plank 30 sec
Row Suitcase Squat
10-8-6 24 kg bell 1 min between sets Total time 20 mins

Sun 2/12 30- 30 complex 1h swing Clean Snatch Clean/press Lunge Deadlift 2h swings Goblet squat Push press 1h swing 18 min Done on 30 sec work rest ratio 16kg bell Increased reps on all exercises 9504 lbs moved 237remaining

Mon 3/2 1hr Krav 236 remain

Wed 5/2 Kettlebell PHA Bodyweight warm up Push up 10 Bridge 10 Leg raise 10 Squat 10 Cross crawl 10 4 min

Press Deadlift Plank 30 sec Row Suitcase Squat 4×6 24kg bell 21 min 21 secs 

Thurs 6/2 1hr Krav

Sat 8/2 30- 25 complex

1h swing 18/18 Clean 13/13

Snatch 12/12 Clean/press 9/9 Lunge 13/13 Deadlift 15/15 2h swings 18 Goblet squat 11 Push press. 18/18 1h swing 17/17 18 min Done on 30 sec work 25 sec rest ratio 16kg bell

233 remain

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