Monday, September 1, 2014

The Mother of All "51" workouts! A complete 40 minutes of swings

On Saturday we taped this special "51" swing workout designed for me by Meg.  This is not the exact original version of it, which we did on my actual birthday on August 5th, but that one will be repeated at some point! As I was reviewing the pattern, 3 sets of 17 reps every 45 sec interval, followed by one set of 51 reps done in a 2 minute interval I was inspired by the possibilities of the many options that I might be playing with this one for a while!  Leave it to Meg to come up with this crazy rep count pattern!

What I like most about this rep count pattern is that...well, first of all, how brilliant is it that 3 sets of 17 = 51?  I would have never thought of it!  17 reps done every 45 seconds comes out to about 25 seconds of work, to 20 seconds of rest, just slightly more work and I think it's a great way for beginners to push themselves just a tad.  And the set of 51 can easily be reduced to only 40 reps giving an equal work/rest option for anybody that needs it. What kind of swings you do can add to the difficulty for sure, and I'll write about that in a sec.

Here is the workout:

15 2 2 hd sw + 2 R (15 R/ 2 L)
17 2 hd sw
2 L + 15 2 hd sw (2 R/ 15 L)
2.25 min per three sets of 17

15 2 2 hd sw + 2 R  + 17 2 hd sw + 2 L + 15 2 hd sw = 51 reps (10 R/10 L x 2 = 40 reps)
2 min per each set of 51
4.25 min per round

13 2 hd sw + 4 R (13 R/ 4 L)
17 2 hd sw
4 L + 13 2 hd sw (4 R/ 13 L)

13 2 hd sw + 4 R + 17 2 hd sw + 4 L + 13 2 hd sw (5 R/5 L x 4 = 40 reps)

11 2 hd sw + 6 R (11 R/ 6 L)
17 2 hd sw 
6 L + 11 2 hd sw (6 R/ 11 L)

11 2 hd sw + 6 R + 17 2 hd sw + 6 L + 11 2 hd sw (1 sw 1 tr x 20 = 40 reps)

9 2 hd sw + 8 R (9 R/ 8 L)
17 2 hd sw
8 L + 9 2 hd sw (8 R/ 9 L)

9 2 hd sw + 8 R + 17 2 hd sw + 8 L + 9 2 hd sw (40 tr = 40 reps)

7 2 hd sw + 10 R (7 R/ 10 L)
17 2 hd sw
10 L + 7 2 hd sw (10 R/ 7 L)

7 2 hd sw + 10 R + 17 2 hd sw + 10 L + 7 2 hd sw (40 2 hd sw = 40 reps)

now reverse and go back up hill:

9 2 hd sw + 8 R (9 R/ 8 L)
17 2 hd sw
8 L + 9 2 hd sw (8 R/ 9 L)

9 2 hd sw + 8 R + 17 2 hd sw + 8 L + 9 2 hd sw (40 tr = 40 reps)

11 2 hd sw + 6 R (11 R/ 6 L)
17 2 hd sw 
6 L + 11 2 hd sw (6 R/ 11 L)

11 2 hd sw + 6 R + 17 2 hd sw + 6 L + 11 2 hd sw (1 sw 1 tr x 20 = 40 reps)

13 2 hd sw + 4 R  (13 R/ 4 L)
17 2 hd sw
4 L + 13 2 hd sw (4 R/ 13 L)

13 2 hd sw + 4 R + 17 2 hd sw + 4 L + 13 2 hd sw (5 R/5 L x 4 = 40 reps)

15 2 2 hd sw + 2 R (15 R/ 2 L)
17 2 hd sw
2 L + 15 2 hd sw (2 R/ 15 L)

15 2 2 hd sw + 2 R  + 17 2 hd sw + 2 L + 15 2 hd sw = 51 reps (10 R/10 L x 2 = 40 reps)

end with one last set of 51

17 R + 17 2 hd sw + 17 L


51 2 hd swings!

Just shy of an entire 40 minutes, 869 swing reps

Oh gosh, now I've got to do the math....

Meg and my version, 100 one hand swings (50 R/50 L) and 769 two hand swings!

Susie's version, 819 swings total, 632 one hand swing (316 R/ 316 L), and 187 two hand swings

Whew!  I did not check the math, but at the end of the day it's not a big deal!  Susie's workout is posted in the parentheses in pink.

Who's Susie you might ask, lol!  Susie Grossman is an HKC from Indiana that contacted me about coming in for a private session while here in CA on vacation with her husband.  They hiked Yosemite for a week and then drove up here to the Bay Area.  Susie and I worked together on some SFG prep training and she stayed for my class.  I keep warning you all if you come for a visit to my group training you are likely to end up in a swing video!

Susie's "51" workout was done with mostly one hand swings.  Meg and I did two hand to one hand swing sets, while Susie demonstrated R to L one hand swing sets in the first and third sets of 17.   Also, while Meg and I did 51 reps (the three sets of 17 strung together) Susie did a set of 40 using my progressive swing combinations.  The kind of swings you do is up to you, it's your workout.  Personally, for me, I find the more two hand swings I do adds to my difficulty.

Thank you Susie for demonstrating the one hand swing reps options, especially since she had to count them on her own while I was counting our crazy rep pattern!  She did a much better job than I did keeping it right :)

ps: This was the first time we did this version and although we were using a "cheat sheet" I did manage to screw up a few sets! Oh, and you may notice that on the very first round Susie did in fact follow our lead, but finished the rest of the workout using those one hand swing options.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Some Seriously Hot Stuff! Pickled Jalapeno Relish

I've been making my own pickled jalapenos for a while now.  What got me interested in doing so in the first place was a jar of hot pickled "dilly beans" my Wisconsin bff Diana sent me that her husband Jeff made.  The bean were delish, but it was the vinegar they were canned in that was even more amazing!  I needed more hot vinegar so I had to start making my own!

I started with this basic recipe I found online;, it also comes with a video.  The only difference I make is that I use fresh dill instead of oregano.

In my opinion the vinegar is the most valuable IF you like hot foods!  Hot pepper vinegar in salad dressings is amazing, but one of my absolute favorite things to do with the vinegar is to submerge boiled eggs in it and brine them in the spicy liquid! I got that idea from a facebook friend of mine, I believe it came from Jon Gibson.  I make my eggs in the PC (pressure cooker) and peel them when they are still warm, then quickly get them into the pickle vinegar, usually six at a time.  When I pack them for lunch I cut them into quarters and arrange a big crunchy jalapeno ring on top with a pinch of kosher salt!  If I only need a snack I'll pack two, if it's a meal I'll pack three.

I use the spicy vinegar in all kinds of salads and deviled eggs, even soups!  Jalapeno rings are rather large and I often end up dicing them to add to egg or tuna salad, so this time I decided to make a kind of relish and do all of the dicing first.  I added red bell and carrot because, why not?

As many times as I've diced jalapenos I still don't wear gloves and this batch of peppers were especially HOT!  My fingers are burning as I type this post!  I've got to be careful and not touch my face....or maybe start wearing gloves?  lol

I can't wait to try this batch out!  Do you pickle?  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indian Spiced Glazed Carrot Soup

I never think to make carrot soup.  Who makes carrot soup?  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, carrots used to be a vegetable I was afraid of because I kind of placed them in the same category at potatoes, a starchy root full of sugar.  I got in the habit of only buying two or three carrots a week, at most, mainly to use in mirepoix or maybe to shred one in a salad.  So imagine my surprise, when taking inventory in my fridge looking for possible ingredients for a batch of soup or stew, I looked at the four large carrots I had in a different light.

I had made carrot soup a couple of times but it has been years (due to the fact I was afraid of them, lol), and in fact I wrote two blog posts about it;, and
This time I was curious about someone else's take on carrot soup so I took out my favorite cookbook, "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman, and found "Glazed Carrot Soup".  Well, I knew how to glaze carrots, it's one of my Xmas dinner side dishes, and I knew how to make soup, and yes, it was simply combining the two methods together!  Glaze the carrots first, and then continue on and make soup!

Since I wanted a deeper more substantial meal I knew I wanted to add red lentils, just about 1/2 c. and I also decided to give it a bit of an Indian spice twist using garam masala and red curry paste (1 tbl each). Mark's recipe suggests sugar, honey or maple syrup as the sweetener for the glaze, and I thought honey would be the appropriate way to go, given the rest of the ingredients.  I did use my pressure cooker, but this could easily be done without, and only taking about 15 minutes longer.

Indian Spiced Glazed Carrot Soup

1 tbl each, olive oil and butter
1-2 tbl sugar, honey, or maple syrup
4 lg carrots
1/2-3/4 c. water

combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until carrots are slightly tender, about 5 min.  Take cover off, increase heat to med high and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick glaze, about 5-10 min.  Add

1 tbl garam masala
1 tbl red curry paste

Stir to coat carrots and cook until fragrant.  Add

1/2 red lentils (rinsed if you like)
4-6 c. water

or if you want to make more it decadent

1 can coconut milk, either full fat or "lite", and water totaling 4-6 c.

I thought about doing this version, but I really wanted to taste the merit of the soup without the flavor and fat of coconut milk, not to mention the calories!

Bring back to a boil and cook until lentils are done, about 25 minutes, OR if using a PC, Lock the lid on, bring pressure to high, lower heat and cook 8-10 min.  (let pressure come down naturally or release pressure, how much time you have to finish the soup is the only factor)

Red lentils do not hold their shape and will dissolve into the soup, which is fine because this is a blended soup anyway.  An immersion blender is the easiest and fastest way to make smooth, but if you have to use a traditional blender you need to let the soup cool down a bit, but still be careful when blending hot or warm soups.

This soup was sooooo good the only thing wrong with it is that it only made three servings!  (2 c. each, 200 calories per serving approx.)  I can't wait to make it again, I think the spice measurements were perfect, no changes need to be made at all.  Of course you can make it without any spices and still have "Glazed Carrot Soup"!  Give it a go and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

This Month Everybody's "51"!

I've been doing "51" workouts all month and so far I'm loving it!  (until we get to Meg's "51" workout, lol).  In fact I've been digging it so much I'm thinking about redesigning the next Swing Quest into "51" themed workouts!  OR maybe continuing on all year with "51" swing workouts!  But before I get all crazy with it let's just do the next one together, shall we?  These video demos are two "double rounds" of five total. A double round has two sets of 51 reps.  Here is the order of reps and sets:

10 reps x 4 sets
11 reps x 1 set
20 reps x 1 set
31 reps x 1 set

You can do all sets with only two hand swings which is what we did in our first and last double rounds, or you can apply any of my one hand swing progressions to the the rep counts.  We practiced them in order starting with 5/5:

5/5 x 4 sets
5/5 + 1 rep x 1 set
5/5 + 5/5 x 1 set
5/5 + 5/5 + 5/5 + 1 rep x 1 set

In the first video we demonstrate the next progression, which are my one hand swing ladders:

2/1 sw ld x 4 sets
2/1 sw ld + 1 rep x 1 set
4-1 sw ld x 1 set
5-1 sw ld + 1 rep x 1 set

The third double round we did transfer swings:

10 tr x 4 sets
10 tr + 1 rep x 1 set
20 tr x 1 set
30 tr + 1 rep x 1 set

The fifth and final round we went back to two hand swings only, but increased the bell to a 24kg (from a 14kg)

10 reps x 4 sets
11 reps x 1 set
20 reps x 1 set
31 reps x 1 set

510 swing reps, 25 minutes

Maribel and I start out our 5:30am workout with a 30 minute heavy double clean/double swing workout that I've posted on Youtube but have yet to post it here on my blog.  I recently started my own Youtube channel (separate from Markrif's channel) so if you are interested in checking out all of my videos you will find them here: 

The next few "51"'s are already up on my channel, but I'll be back to post the details in the next blog post.  Until then, enjoy this one!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Belated Birthday Workout (s)

I have no idea how many workouts I can design based on the number 51, but I've got an entire month to have fun with it!  My first idea was to do simple 10 x 10's adding one extra rep onto the 5th and 10th sets of ten, and that's fine, in fact I like it a lot! But at a certain point doing all sets of 10 reps is...well, hard!  This first workout, part #1, starts out with four rounds of 51 reps done 10 x 4 sets + 11 x 1 set.

2 hd swings
tr swings
2 hd swings

204 swings, 10 minutes

I wanted to do a full 25 minutes of swings, 10 rounds of 51 (510 reps), but I got to the studio 5 minutes too late!  Class starts at 6:00am but I managed to swing every minute I could for a total of 459 swing reps in 9 rounds of 51.  I wanted to post the 22.5 min workout uninterrupted, but Youtube wouldn't let me, so here is part two.  Four rounds of 51, done 20 x 2 sets + 11 x 1 set, and ending with one more round of 10 x 4 + 11 x 1.

The last two rounds ladder up and down my swing progressions so have fun with it because there is much harder workouts coming soon...really soon!


20 2 hd sw x 2 sets + 11 2 hd sw x 1 set
5/5 + 5/5 x 2 sets + 5/5 + 1 x 1 set
20 tr sw x 2 sets + 10 tr sw + 1 x 1 set

10 2 hd sw + 5/5
10 tr sw + 5/5
11 2 hd sw

10 2 hd sw
10 tr
11 2 hd sw

255 swings, 12.5 min

Speaking of much harder workouts....  In last week's 10 x 10 if you haven't been introduced to my "1/2 swing ladder"  and my "2/1 swing ladder" here you go!  It's what I consider an Intermediate/Advanced swing progression only because of the added concentration it takes to complete the ladder perfectly.  1/2 is the uphill progression while 2/1 is the down hill, and since I always teach downhill first you will find only practice that one it in this short workout.  Please repeat it as often as you want to (need to) as this morning's workout builds on this one and the 4-1 swing ladder I posted last week.

My special treat on my birthday last Tuesday was Meg leading me through a "51" workout she designed and lead the entire group through, and let me tell was hard!  It was soooo hard that over the next couple weeks left in my birthday month I'm going to post a few more workouts that lead up to the last day, the 31st, in which Meg and I will repeat her workout again to post for you all to join us!  Super hard, that's all I gotta say!  One little has tons of my favorite swing.....ouch.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's My Birthday Month! And the theme is Fifty One! (10 x 10 transfer swing practice videos)

Before we get to the more complicated stuff...last week's 10 x 10 was about making sure we keep our abdominal muscles contracted and tight at the top of the transfer swing.  I've demonstrated this before way back when we started two hand swings, but it's much more important with the one hand swing and all of it's variations.  More torque is created through the midsection while having to stabilize a moving weight on only one side of our body and if not practiced correctly with the two hand swing it can be much more difficult to master when graduating to one hand swings.

Like the demo I did the week before about finishing the glute / hip contraction during a transfer swing, it's easier to forget, or to lose the tension, while the kettlebell is "floating" from hand to hand.  Of most importance, keeping our midsection tight helps to protect the lower back and is a skill we must always practice in proper kettlebell swings.

Yesterday's 10 x 10 I take you through 5 of my swing combinations; 2 hd sw (two hand swings) 10 R (one hand swings right hand), 10 L (one hand swings left hand), 5/5 (one hand swings right and left, switching on reps 5), and tr sw (transfer, or hand to hand swings).

Transfer swings are taught last as you get used to anticipating moving the bell from one hand to the other progressively.  First you must be comfortable starting with two hands, then dropping one of them and continuing on with only one hand on the bell.  We practiced these combinations (both R and L) in the weeks after the second Swing Quest (April-June).  We then strengthened our one hand swings by starting to practice them 5 at a time not using two hands at all and  touching the handle at the top of each rep to anticipate the transfer swing.  Ten one hand swing reps without any switching from R to L further strengthened our skill and stability of one hand swings.

Now we have strong two hand swing AND strong one hand swings so it's time to have some fun!  That's where transfer swings and swing rep ladders come in! And just in time for my birthday month workouts!  Before you try the new swing rep ladder at the end of this post, quickly review the five swing combinations we have learned during this year's 10 x 10's!

I've posted these swing rep ladder sets before, but it's been a while.  This set of 20 swings fits into my progressions in between 5/5 + 5/5 and "swing/transfers" or "transfer swings".  So the downhill swing progression would be:

10 R/10 L
5/5 + 5/5
4-1 sw ld (swing ladder)
10 sw tr ( swing transfers)
10 tr sw (transfer swings)

In this video I only demonstrate 5/5 + 5/5, then introduce my 4-1 swing ladder.

switch hands on the 4th rep R/L
switch hands on the 3rd rep R/L
switch hands on the 2nd rep R/L
switch hands on rep 1 R/L

This set equals 20 reps total!  This swing ladder set is worth practicing because you will be seeing it again during my birthday month workouts.  Since I'll be 51 years old on Tuesday, the 5th of August, the theme of my workouts will be "51".  Fifty one swing reps is quite a lot, in fact it's just over 1 min 15 seconds of continuous swing reps if done in one set...which I will be doing.  But I hope to come up with some other creative ways to keep the theme of 51 so stay tuned!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Potatoes....bring em on!

I used to be afraid of certain foods!  Yes, I did buy into the whole no carb, low carb, slow carb diet mentality for just a little bit.  My original diet, although not restricting of carbs, was still fairly low in carbs and there were even a few foods I removed, and now I confess, it was because I was afraid they would make me fat.

Potatoes for sure!  Any kind, including sweet potatoes.  Butternut squash and carrots!  Yep, I was afraid of carrots!  Peas.  Corn.  It must have been two years before I ate corn, and beans, the same, over two years.  Oh man, I remember exactly when I started eating beans!  It was the first time I stayed with my BFF Fawn Friday and it was also the first time I ever saw a pressure cooker being used!  Fawn made a pork and bean dish with onions and apples, and it was after coming home from that trip that I became obsessed with the pressure cooker, and here is the original post, Nov 2 2007;  One of the reasons I decided to add beans into my diet was because Fawn is not, or never has been fat, and she ate beans on a regular basis.....if skinny people can eat beans then they must be fairly safe!

Which brings me to these days, especially this past year.  Last summer, almost eight years of permanent weight loss later, I decided that was not going to be afraid of corn anymore.  I really started to feel bummed that another summer was passing by me and the only reason why I wasn't enjoying eating more corn was out of fear of weight gain.  So I bought tons of corn!  I made corn chowder, I added it to salads, I ate corn on the cob, and no weight gain.  Hmm...I must be on to something.

So this year it's potatoes, and really all of the other foods I mentioned. But I am so enjoying potato salad!  Becoming a part time vegetarian has a lot to do with these changes.  Once meat and other animal proteins are off the table what's left?

Potato salad is just as versatile as anything other recipe.  In fact I'll bet practically everybody makes it their own way.  I happen to like the combination of fresh green beans, potatoes with a vinaigrette dressing just as much as I like my mother's traditional sweet relish, mayo and egg potato salad.  I happen to like it more vinegar-y while Mark likes it sweeter and more onion-y.  Lately since making my own pickled jalapenos and jalapeno relish I make mine hot! I've been making it so often these days I pretty much add anything and everything fresh and crunchy that I have in my fridge!   Celery for sure, red bell, red onion, and this morning those fresh green beans I bought at the FM.

I still measure out my fat, using only 2 tbl for an entire batch.  I thin it out with vinegar and add about 1 tbl of mustard, but I don't add more mayo.  I try and use as many fresh herbs that I have on hand. This morning I only had dill, but chives, parsley and maybe some cilantro if I had it, or all of it!  The more the better as far as I'm concerned. I did stop using egg though.  If Mark or I want protein there are plenty of other ways to eat it, and this way I can eat it any day, especially my vegetarian days.

So, there you have it.  Potatoes?  Bring em on!  How do you make you potato salad....or are you afraid of a little potato?

top photo is this morning's salad with the last addition of fresh green beans.  middle photo is the first pressure cooker meal I ever made using Fawn's recipe to which I posted the link.  bottom photo is tradition potato salad (minus the egg), potato, mayo, mustard, celery red onion, herbs (dill in this case).