Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year "One Bell Challenge", long sets, dropped weight sets, and more :)

Gosh darn it!  I hate it when I snatch a minute longer than I'm supposed to!  It's probably because for some reason my entire body rotated to the left, away from the clock so I couldn't see it!  The set was supposed to be a 12 minute, 20rpm set, but it turned out to be a 13 min 20 rpm set! 7 min R, 6 min L = 140/122

Okay, so anybody that know me knows how much I try and stay away from this word, "challenge"!  I think one of the reasons is because many times "challenge" is mistaken for "competition"!  And I'm not wanting for anybody, especially me, to be pulled into competing or comparing strengths, or level of conditioning to anybody else, instead, only to be able to measure and improve one's own progress.  So this year I'm presenting a challenge, meant for each individual to track over the next 9 months, that at it's heart is about training/exercising consistently and progressively, not rep count or weight of the bell.

Here are the guidelines:

One bell Challenge guidelines, as many reps as possible

Choose 1, 2, or 3, 20:16 min rounds to complete.   No extra time for rest between rounds.

One skill per round swing (any type of swing, one two hand, OR overhead swing (not to be combined with hard style swing), snatch OR half snatch (NO switching from one to another), squat goblet and/or front squats can be combined (but keep track), clean/press / push press/ jerk (can be combined, but counting exact reps of each must be done), press only.  I don't have room for a Get Ups, but that's an option for people that have the room and the desire.
One weight for all skills; no matter which 1-3 skills are chosen, the same weight bell is required, no switching of weights. 
The same skill/weight will be tested 3 more times, quarterly, in 2016 (first weeks in April, July, and Oct.). No change of weight, no change of skill (s).  The goal is individual, either to increase rep counts by increasing total amount of sets/reps, or increasing reps per longer set.  Example; 10 sets of 10 reps is different than 1 set of 100.  BUT the goal is to increase total rep counts over the next year.
The same order of skill will be kept throughout the year; strategy will be of utmost importance, so think carefully about it.

This is a "Hardstyle" challenge.  No "GS" or Kettlebell Sport style swings, snatches or jerks.

IF one could do all of their chosen skills continuous, then the weight was not appropriate.  This is a personal challenge with the intention of inspiring consistent practice and commitment over the next 9 months to mark improvement. This is not a competition to see who can do this challenge continuously!  Everybody will be choosing their own individual weights and skills (which is why I'm not posting what I'm choosing until after the deadline).

The difference between a Snatch and a Half Snatch is that in the former skill the bell is "casted" over the top of the movement, and the latter the bell is brought down to the shoulder, in the rack position before starting the next rep.  Half snatch allows the athlete to rest at the shoulder position therefore not challenging the conditioning as much.  It may be a better option for those not used to snatching for 20 + minutes.

I would have liked to post this sooner, but perhaps it's a good thing!  The idea is not to "train" for this event, but see where your skill and conditioning is right now, today!  If you have never swung for 20 minutes you may only choose that one skill and improve on it, resting as long as you need to between sets, but going for the entire 20 minute 16 sec.  If you only know how to swing, then maybe it's time to test that one skill with a heavier weight?  If you are competent in more than one, or all of the skills, then choose according to which combination using only one bell will be challenging.

I will be testing this tomorrow morning starting at 5:30am PST. Since I am only presenting it today, then I suggest it be done within 1 week, Jan. 7 (maybe this weekend?).  Post your results if you like, I'll be posting mine with a plan on how to improve each quarter.  This most definitely will bring out my strengths as well as my weaknesses, so I'm excited....I hope you will be too!


Next Sport Training Cycle; 16kg snatch, 100 reps, 10 min

Okay, so I'm over the moon with how my last training cycle went, hitting all of my progressions on time.  At the end it became clear to me what I needed to focus on in the next few weeks:

Left bicep needs more progressive training, and technique needs more improvement to avoid strain on that muscle.

Plan: To spend more time with the 12kg and 14kg, building up strength endurance.  To pay attention to keeping my arm and back connected so as not to "pull" with my bicep.

Tuesday, speed day (12kg/14kg)
Thursday, reps/sets (14kg)
Saturday, weight (16kg dropped sets)

Here is the first week's dropped weight set and the following weeks program:
16kg 2 min/14kg 1 min.  3 min each side (above video)
16kg 2 min/14kg 2 min.  4 min each side
16kg 2 min/14kg 3 min.  5 min each side
16kg 3 min/14kg 1 min.  4 min each side
16kg 3 min/14kg 2 min.  5 min each side
16kg 4 min/14kg 1 min.  5 min each side
16kg 5 min each side = 10 min set.

Speed day
10 min 12kg 20 rpm
12 min 12kg 20 rpm (video above shows my mistaken 13 min set!)
14 min 12kg 20 rpm
16 min 12kg 20rpm
10 min 12kg 22-24rpm
12 min 12kg 22 rpm
14 min 12kg 22 rpm

50/50 x 1 (100 reps)
50/50 x 2 (200 reps)
40/40 x 3 (240 reps)
30/30 x 4 (240 reps)
30/30 x 5 (300 reps)
25/25 x 6 (300 reps)
25/25 x 8 (350 reps)

At least, that's the plan!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Marathon Swings Tuesday :) 20 Rep Swing Progressions as a Jumping Off Point

As I mentioned last week, my focus for Tuesday morning swing training is longer sets, up to and sometimes over 100 reps.  100 reps takes 2.5 min and in my own personal practice once I exceed a 1 min, 40 rep set, ALL rest periods are never longer than 1 min.  I decided to make it easy and simply practice my 20 rep swing progressions as a warm up, since the theme of this Saturday's class is 20.  Here is the video demo:

20 2 hd swing x 2 sets
20 transfer swings x 1 set
1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 x 2 sets (20 reps total, I decided to repeat this set with the focus on finishing the hips at the top of the transfer swing)
5 R/5 L x 2 x 1 set (20 reps)
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set 

140 swings, 7 min.

Using these sets as a jumping off point I knew I was going to string them together to get to my 100 rep set, here's how it went down:

20 2 hd swing + 20 transfer swings
20 2 hd swing + 20 transfer swings + 1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10
20 2 hd swing + 20 transfer swings + 1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 + 5 R/5 L x 2
20 2 hd swing + 20 transfer swings + 1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 + 5 R/5 L x 2 + 10 R/ 10 L

quick quiz....which is "harder"?  The uphill ladder of one hand swing progressions, that start with 2 hand swings, and end with 10/10, or the downhill one hand swing progression ladder that starts with 10/10 and ends, after 80 swing reps with 20 2 hand swings?  Well, let's find out!

10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/5 L x 2 + 1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 + 20 transfer swings + 20 2 hd swing

both have their difficulties!  Continue on to finish the downhill ladder, only dropping the first sets, always ending with 20 2 hd swings:

5 R/5 L x 2 + 1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 + 20 transfer swings + 20 2 hd swing
1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 10 + 20 transfer swings + 20 2 hd swing
20 transfer swings + 20 2 hd swing (30 sec rest)
20 2 hd swing

580 swings, 22 min (to give you an idea of what equal work to rest would be, 580 reps would have taken 29 min, so shaved 7 minutes off by taking less rest, but with still an entire minute to recover!)
720 swings, 29 min

And this was just my swing workout!  Wait until you see the snatch sets! But right now, I gotta go....

Friday, December 4, 2015

Set Up, Set Down, and more lessons about not being in a rush

For the  last few weeks or so I've been practicing a more solid start and stop to my swing set up...and making my students do the same!  It's been an interesting experiment!  I don't like saying something is "hard" or "challenging", or "not as easy", because I'll let you be the judge of it!  But for me, myself, and for what I'm seeing my students experience, it's an eye opener :) :) :) , so I suggest you give it an honest go and give me some feedback about it :) :) :)

A solid start and a solid stop (in the past I've referred to it as "parking" the bell) adds a few more seconds to the work set, which means it takes away from your rest between sets.  Be prepared for the result!  Putting more effort into setting up the swing, with a strong grip, engaging the lats by the pulling the shoulders back and into the "sockets", chest up and forward, and gazing forward, might be something that's forgotten in high volume interval swing training.  The focus sometimes gets put on the clock, rushing into and out of a set, and not on form and technique....I'm not saying that that's true for you, but it was true for me, so I set about fixing it!

Even though I already swing with proper shoulder placement, no matter how seemingly carelessly I pick up and put down the bell for each set (especially when I'm pushing myself hard), it may not be true for beginners, or for some that have just become lazy about the importance of the safety of our shoulders.  These demos use the two hand swing, since it's easier to apply the technique, but with one hand swing practice it might emphasize the point even more dramatically, so err on the side of a lighter bell for testing it on the one hand swing (maybe I'll post a demo of that next week).

Since I've been practicing it for a few weeks now it's not as evident in the first 10 x 10, I've gotten much better at not rushing the start and stops of my swing sets....which is the point!  But in the second 10 x 10 I really take the time to focus on this part of the movement, which is why I get more out of breath....which is great!  The more effort you put into the swing the more you are asking your body to work, no heavier bell required! A little more precision and mindfulness kicks up the intensity a notch....good stuff!

The theme of this week's workouts is "10", so in keeping with that after I did my 10 x 10 rounds I added in something that Mark helped me realize had been missing from my own, advanced, training. Longer sets, longer than 40 reps.  In The Swing I write about my experience with training with those sets of 2 minutes or longer, and the benefits of how they are at the crossroads of both anaerobic (oxygen independent) and the aerobic (oxygen dependent) systems. (pages 144-145)

In this next video I only demo the first 4 sets my own swing workout, but these will be the four sets I'll use, in addition to some 10 x 10 rounds of swings, for my weekend swing class.

Do as many rounds as you have time for, OR if you swing at an advanced level (more work to less rest) then here's the entire workout:

10 2 hd sw (15/15)
10 R, 10 L x 1 set (30/30)
30 2 hd sw (45/45)
10 R, 10 L x 2 x 1 set (1 min/1 min) (video demo)
50 2 hd sw (1.25 min/1 min)
10 R, 10 L x 3 x 1 set (1.5 min/1 min)
70 2 hd sw (1.75 min/1 min)
10 R, 10 L x 4 x 1 set (2.0 min/1 min)
90 2 hd sw (2.25 min/1 min)
10 R, 10 L x 5 x 1 set (2.5 min/done...or one more set of 100, taking 1 min rest)
10 2 hand swings + 10 R, 10 L, + 10 2 hd sw + 10 R, 10 L, + 10 2 hd sw 10 R, 10 L, + 10 2 hd sw = 100 swing reps (2.5 min/ now you're done!)

total swings, 650 reps
total time, 25 minutes, 45 seconds


Unlike the last few weeks of starting my Kettlebell Sport snatch practice before my swing workout at 5:30am (and actually Thursday workout includes squats :) ), I was busy making pumpkin caramel for some macaron cookies I'm making (at 4:45am!), so I didn't get my butt out to the gym at 5:00am :(  I had to do my set after my swings, which is long as I don't wimp out and actually do them!

Big, big, big lesson learned with this set!  I had mapped out a slow and decent progression to the end goal, of snatching the 16kg 100R/100 L in 10 minutes, over the next few weeks/months, but getting caught up in a rush I decided to do more than what I put on my program forgetting one very important!  Just because I can do something, doesn't mean that I should do something, and this set warned can't see it, but I sure felt it!  (looking at the video you can really see the decline in the very last two reps, both the swing and the snatch)

Having so much success, and fun, with my 14kg sets I pushed this 16kg swing snatch set from this week's programmed 40/40 to 50/50.  Kind of forgetting that Tuesday's 14kg (and 12kg) sets were a peak, not exactly the time to also peak a 16kg set....duh!  Argh.  What you can't see in the video is that on the last 10 reps L, the force of the descending bell, with still technique corrections to be made and strength to build, put some strong stresses on my bicep muscle....but I stupidly let my ego push me through to the end, more focused on completing the set than anything else.

I write "stupidly" because, not to make excuses or anything, I am a 52 year old woman, who has a lot to lose by tearing a bicep, compared with very little to nothing to gain by snatching a 16kg a little bit longer than prescribed.  On a positive note....if I had done a little research beforehand I would have found the video of my last 50/50 swing snatch from February and seen how much of an improvement already!  8 months ago my grip started to give out, on both my R and L, way before 50 reps (double reps), and this week's set my grip wasn't the issue at all.  In fact it was so fine, and was part of the reason I decided to go past the prescribed 40/40.  My R bicep was fine, but I think with the fatigue of over 8 minutes, combined with the extra 20 reps (dumb), my form went to shit and put too much strain on my L bicep.  I knew it at about 45 and should have put the bell down.  The good news is that I learned a huge lesson, so far without injury, but even so I'm going to really pay attention to the increases I make towards my end goal from now on :) :) :)

Here is yesterday's set, 16kg swing / snatch 50/50, and the same set from last February:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Reverse Rest" and an answer to a question about progressive workouts :)

Today's workout is something that I've played around with before, but I've never posted a demonstration of it.  It's what I'm calling "Reverse Rest"!  My usual way of designing progressive work sets is that after you do a set amount of work, say 10 reps = 15 sec, you get to rest for the equal time of the work, which is 15 seconds.  20 rep = 30 sec work/rest, 30 reps = 45 seconds work/rest, 40 reps = 1 min work/rest, etc.  It's always worked fine, but it makes going from a set of 10 to a set of 40 challenging in it's own way.  Resting only 15 seconds before having to work or an entire minute is doable, of course, but more fun for some than it is for others :)

In the warm up sets I give you the extra rest before and after the first sets of 20 reps, mostly to give me time to explain this method to you. Then in between the 3rd and 4th round I lead you through the reverse rest progression, or maybe "regression" would be more appropriate.  The warm up does have slightly more rest than work, but I do believe it's still 160 swing reps, all with two hands, and it should take under 9-10 minutes.  Rest up, because when we get to the workout there's no "extra" rest, and by the time we get to part 2, last round, I actually lead you through less rest, by reversing back to my original way of timing work to rest intervals....enough explaining, now doing!  Enjoy :)

I also thought I'd take this chance to share with you a recent email question I received from Lori Storfer, who learned about my training via Heather Robertson's Half Size Me podcasts (look Heather up if you are interested in weight loss success stories!). Lori's question was about workout progressions;

"Hi Tracy, 
I bought and read your book and have been loving my swing workouts. Presently I am watching your YouTube videos and I'm up to workout 6. I want to buy your workout DVDs but I'm not sure which one to buy. Is there an order that the DVDs should be purchased/utilized? Also, how do the DVDs coincide with the YouTube videos? 
By the way, I learned of you via the 2 Half Size Me interviews you did. 
Thank you so much, 

this was my answer;

"Hi Lori :)

Thank you so much for taking the time to email me :)  You ask a great question, and yes, there is a sort of progression to my workout dvd's, and I'm loving how you are thinking "progression"!  That's is absolutely the critical key to learning how to train yourself, never get bored by challenging yourself on a regular basis!

The first dvd I would suggest is Give and Take, then Top 40, or Give and Take 2 would come next.  Dirty 30 can be quite difficult as it includes some sets that are "more work, less rest", and the same with Side by Side.  Of course all of them would be more difficult if you did two, of the three, workouts back to back (they all include 3 workouts), but that could be said of The Swing workouts too!  I do have to add that Top 40, D30, include a joint mobility warm up (10 min) that I love, and a 15 min OTM beginners workout, similar to workout #1-4 of The Swing.

My Youtube videos are random :)  If I recorded every original workout I did it would equal over a thousand (and counting)!  When I record a video, mostly, it's my own training, and my own training is of course mapped out in advance progressively, but it would be almost impossible to put a thousand workouts in order.  The more you train with me the more the "groups" of progressions become obvious.  My group swing/kettlebell classes reflect where I am in my own training, which is how I'm able to "program" larger groups. 

For instance, lately I've been talking about a "rep theme". 10, 20 , 30 or 40.  This is all part of a new business I'm launching soon to help people program their own workouts, either using routines designed by me, or making up your own, but educating you about the process.

All the best, and keep swinging!

What a great question, huh?  You can find links to all of my DVD's right here on my blog in the left side bar.  And if some of you have trained to my dvd's and have an opinion based on your experience please share :)  Thank you all for your interest and support through all of these years :) I'm so lucky that I found this training and it never stops being fun for me.  It may not be fore everybody, but everybody can do it,or find something, some way of moving that inspires them to keep showing up!

"Consistency trumps intensity, all of the time"
-Mark Reifkind

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Main Gig :)

Wanna swing?  Here is the workout that I'll be leading in class this weekend, it starts with a 10 minute "warm up", starting with 3 sets of 10 reps, progressively working up to the workout's theme of 30 rep sets.  I never to a "second take" when I practice, so bear with me as I stay in order best I can :)

The workout consists of 10 sets of 30 reps.  It is a classic TracyStyle "one hand swing sandwich"!  Each set starts with two hand swings, completes a one hand swing ladder, and ends with more two hand swings!  Enjoy :)

30 two hand swings :)

My own kettlebell workouts, on average, take about 90 minutes.  This old body needs at least 15 minutes of light swings to warm up, and then, depending on what's on the agenda, swings, snatches, presses, squats, the next 30 minutes will focus on one or more of those skills.  There is always at least a 30 minute swing routine, which, if I'm training the other skills will come at the end of the workout. Since my 16kg snatch Sport set is a priority these days, after my warm up I spend 20-30 minutes on sport, then I'll continue on with that days skill practice.

1st workout
GS snatch volume
swings (14kg, this is when I practice and design the week's class routine)

2nd workout
GS heavy snatch
swings (double bells and super heavy two hand 24kg-32kg)

3rd workout
GS speed snatch
"Snatch Vo2"
presses + complexes
swings (16kg +, then 14kg for 30 minutes in class)
Get Ups
yoga (this is the only time I do KB's and yoga on the same day)

If I wasn't training sport I'd simply increase the time I spend on the other stuff by about 20 minutes, which is easy to do when you''re having so much fun!  I haven't made it 100% consistent, but I also do some pull up practice, both strict and kip, push ups, barbell presses, sandbag, and I just added one legged step up in preparation to train my pistol again.

I'm going to be posting videos of my sport sets, but I will not be including much commentary. They are really for my own study and archive.  My main gig is using kettlebells for exercise, health and fitness, this sport stuff is completely different, but requires thoughtful programming and a critical eye on technique.

I really, really, really want to start posting about more than training again.  So much cooking, and now baking, so little time!  The nutritional side of health and fitness is about more than the food we eat, it's how we eat it and how we think about the food we eat :)  Health and nutrition for our bodies as well as our brains, combining the physical with the non physical for general well being and longevity. 


I did not get a chance to write or upload video from Saturday's speed practice.  It's a combination of Hardstyle and GS (sport).  After my warm up I practiced and ladder up short 15 second sets of 8 HS snatches, with fast and light GS snatch.  This is my last round, top of the ladder, 8 sets of 8 12kg HS snatch (15/15 work/rest), with a two minute set, 29 R/31 L

8 R/ 8 L x 1 (2 sets total) + 30 sec set, 14 reps
8 R/ 8 L x 2 (4 sets total) + 1 min set, 28 reps
8 R/ 8 L x 3 (6 sets total) + 1.5 min set, 42 reps
8 R/ 8 L x x 4 (8 sets total) + 2 min set, 60 reps (video)
This was my first week of speed training, and again, it was to take some baseline data.  Not counting my warm up reps the workload equalled 304 snatch reps.  Looking over the results I will plan the next 7 weeks progressions and post them this weekend.

Tuesday volume

Whew, I'm soooo glad this workout was already programmed!  It made going in the gym at 5:00am so much easier knowing I didn't have to think, I only had to do!
25/25 x 4 sets w/14kg
60/60 x 1 set w/12kg
This was a very humbling workout!  200 snatch reps before I got to the last 120 was a bit much, but it was an important experience in the fact that looking at next week's progression I think it's going to be "just right"!  It was more challenging that I anticipated, and I'm fine with that :)  Reviewing the video I caught a HUGE error in technique on that last set of 25/25.  I tried to correct it best I could on my set of 60/60 with the lighter weight.  Now I'm so grateful I saw it because since I'm practically starting from scratch again I'll get try my best make the correction while I'm using the lighter weights.
set 1

set 2

set 3

set 4

set 5 60/60

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Make What's Important the Priority, and Do It First!

"Make What's Important the Priority, and Do It First!" - Mark Reifkind

Words of wisdom.  Hearing exactly what you need to hear at exactly the right time.  There are a few things I need...I mean, want to get done, and my excuse is either no time, or no energy when I have the time...yep, same as everybody else :)  But Mark called me on the carpet and in doing so lit a fire under my ass to get my priorities in order!

Snatching the 20kg 100/5 min is not a priority.  I'm close enough any day of the week, so it's back to my sport set, for my own personal satisfaction.  In order to get it done I have to put myself first, my own training, which I haven't been doing.  The other priority is getting my regular yoga practice back.  Enter the "luxury of no choice"!

Training on my own first of the week I'm changing my KB practice to Monday, instead of Tuesday.  The workout starts with GS snatch and I have the next 10 weeks planned out already.  Thursday workout starts at 5:00am, instead of 5:30, when the girls get there, so I can get my sets in before they come...brrrr, it's a hell of a time to start earlier too!  Darker and colder, in fact out in the garage it'll be freezing in a few weeks.  Saturday I already start before my first client/workout, but new target, new focus, Max snatch will be on the agenda from now one else likes to do it but me it seems :)  So, I'll do it on my own, it's easier that way anyway.

Thursday heavy 16kg GS snatch

typical warm up w/12kg and 14kg, but I only have about 15 min

16kg swing snatch x 25/25
16kg 1 min R/ 1 min L x 2 sets (1 min rest between)

I decided to do a "swing snatch" set to see where my grip was w/16kg.  I'm not sure the last time I did a long set, maybe 40/40 was around or before my birthday, and the last time I did a longer set was months before that one, so baby steps....  20/20 was the plan, which is 40 reps per side, but when I got to 20 it was easy, so I made the executive decision to go to 25.  I could have done more, but that's not the point....t's not time to kill myself just yet!  In fact it was enough on the easy side that with the few minutes I had left I wanted to see how a simple 1 min R/ 1 min L felt like, so I finished with 2 sets, one minute rest between.

Wow, it exposed the challenge.  I'm plenty strong enough, until my cardio starts to come into play.  Nothing makes you weaker than no oxygen!  Okay, so now I know better what to expect and where I need to put some attention on.

Here is my swing snatch set, the other two practice sets you can find on my Youtube channel:

The girls arrived and I continued on with squats being the focus practice for their/our TH morning practice, sandbag clean and squats and some barbell presses, finishing off with double bell swings.  I have some baseline skill/strength targets for this coming year, and I want the girls to have the same, so no avoiding squats, so in the next two weeks we'll be building some flexibility and depth in that movement.

I'm seriously proud to say that I made it to yoga 4 days this week, changing half of my practice to that 5:30am class time!  Ouch!  I'm my least warm and flexible that early in the morning, but I have to get it done first!  Id rather be making cookies!  But too bad for me :)  (more about the cookies coming soon :) )

What have you been putting off?  What have you been wanting to make a priority but haven't committed to taking the action needed?  Mark gave me the words that inspired me to take the responsibility and make the changes I needed to far, so good :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Giving Up is not the same as Letting Go

I love the morning.  I have my clearest thoughts in the mornings. I get the most done and feel the most energized.  I've got a solid 10 weeks to train without interruption of travel so what to do...what to do?  As of this writing I only have Tuesday workouts figured out.  I can only have so many strength goals at one time and since I have the luxury of training by myself for a while I thought I better hit some GS sport numbers that still have my name on them ,16kg 100/100 10 minutes.

So, I know where I want to go, now I just gotta figure out how to get there, and the first thing is to find out where I am, right now, today.

In order to get to the 16kg I've got to go through the 14kg, so that's where I'll start.  Something relatively easy so I can ramp up and through it quickly. 20/20 is easy, but 5 sets of them add to the difficulty, so 5 sets it is (although I felt strong enough to double this workload this morning, more is not necessarily better).  My last set was a lighter and longer set for my grip, again, nothing too challenging, I don't want to rip up my hands.  My hands are a big priority to me lately, more about that another time.

So the plan?  The plan is to increase the rep count and length of set w/14kg over the next few weeks, with a longer lighter set at the end for grip.  Thursdays will be heavier, slower, 16kg snatches and holds, Saturdays will be speed, light and fast.

(set 1)

week #1
20/20 x 5 w/14kg, 2 min work, 1 min rest = 15 min
40/40 w/12kg, 4 minutes.

week #2
25/25 x 4 sets w/14kg, 2.5 min work, 1 min rest = 14 min.
60/60 w/12kg, 6 min.

week #3
35/35 x 3 sets w/14kg, 3.5 min, 1 min rest = 13.5 min
80/80 w/12kg, 8 min

week #4
50/50 x 2 sets w/14kg, 5 min, 1 min rest = 11 min
100/100 w/12kg, 5 min

week #5 (no 12kg)
60/60 w/14kg, x 1 set = 6 min.
40/40 + 20/20 + 10/10 + 5/5 x 1 set w/14kg = 10 min

week #6
test, 10 min 14kg snatch

week #7 take off
week #8, repeat week #1 w/16kg and 14kg, set numbers for the next 3 weeks.

This may seem like too long of a ramp up to the 16kg, but I'll be training with the 16kg and heavier on Thursdays, so the heavy stuff will be on that day.  I really don't believe in not paying my respect to the lighter weight, but maybe that's just me.  It's not like once I reach my target I quit :) , the joy is the ride, and I love, love, love seeing progress over the weeks and earning strength and conditioning with consistency :)

Complete workout
12kg warm up, hard style
40 2 hd sw x 5 sets
swing/snatch progressions, 1 min work, 3 sec rest x 4 sets
16 min.

(set 5, for sets 2, 3, 4, go to my Youtube channel)

GS practice (above)
19 min.

14kg swings
warm up 100 swings, 5 min
20 rep theme, practice for classes ( see my Youtube channel for part 2 of this workout :) )
total of 50 minutes of swings

(part 1, 10 min, 180 swing reps, fyi :) )

Oh, so what does the title of this post have to do with my workout?  At some point during my workout I started thinking about a client of mine that recently decided to give up. Give up on some of the things she truly wanted only because she believes that she can't have least that's my interpretation of it. And my interpretation only matters to me, it may or may not actually be the case to her, and so as I was thinking about that I realized it paralleled the reason I chose to go back to my sport training this morning.  I'm not going to settle for giving up on something I absolutely can achieve, and that I actually want, but I will let go of doing it in order to "prove" something.  (as if anybody else really cares!  lol)

It will be fun when I do what I set out to do, it will be fun all along the way, and it will be fun to move on to something else after I get there...or maybe it will be such a nice place to be that I'll stay there for a little while!

My purpose is to feel the joy, the hope, the inspiration, and the belief of, and in, the process :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

First Tuesday Morning 11/3 Workout, pre Pensacola

Just getting home from 8 days in Veitnam, now here in Pensacola I'll wait to set some training goals for next week.  In the mean time I want to get my reps in, break a sweat and challenge myself appropriately (not too much because there's no hurry, and not too little, I don't want to get too far behind where I was, or where I've been)

12kg warm up
40 2 hd sw x 5 sets = 10 min, 200 sw

warm up sets
10 2 hd sw
20 2 hd sw
10/10 + 5/5 + 10 2 hd sw
5 min., 100 sw

work sets
10 x 10 2 hd sw
5/5 sn (30/30)
5 swing snatch R, 5 sw sn L (45/45)
10/10sn (1 min/1 min)
10 swing sn R, 10 sw sn L (1.5/1 min)
12 min per round, 130 sw, 60 sn
repeat round, only using transfer swings instead of 2 h =d sw for 10 x 10

end with one last 10 x 10 2 hd sw

total work w/14kg
360 sw, 120 sn

pull up / kip practice

24kg swing
100 continuous reps (video)

I haven't done this in a while so I wanted to test it as a baseline to train for the 28kg, which is going to seriously be a big goal considering this set was much harder than I anticipated as far as cardio challenge.  I couldn't even count my heart rate pulses correctly after the set because they seemed as if one was running into the next.  The grip or the weight was not a problem but my heart rate was through the roof.  Not sure how I'm going to adapt to the workload of the 28kg, but I'll start that program this next week, hoping to hit that training goal before the end of the year.

The first video demonstration above is of the snatch portion of work set rounds, adding on a continuous set at the end
5/5 sn
5/5 sw sn
10/10 sn
10/10 sw sn
repeat with no rest between progressions.

The theme of the workout this morning was "10".  As I designed the snatch sets I knew I did not want to focus on speed, but instead do a little grip endurance work in anticipation of getting back to some sport sets when my travel schedule calms down.  Although 10-20 reps is hardly any kind of test for eral grip endurance for me now, I remember quite clearly that at one time it was!  Everybody has to start  somewhere!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

the best ever 10 years.

I love November.  November is the month of my favorite holiday (meal!), Thanksgiving, my wedding anniversary, and 10 years ago this month I celebrated a weight loss of 100lbs in 11 months time!  Since then, 2005, November solidifies many more favorite things about my new life that I love, including my yoga practice, and November seems to be perfect timing to rev things up and get some great momentum to swing through the holidays, much less affected by all of the former feelings of obligatory eating of foods given, presented and shared by well meaning friends and family in the "spirit" of the holidays :)

I love November!

I'm thrilled to not have anything take me away from teaching my regular Saturday class, or my own weekly training schedule until after the first week of about you?

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to come and train with me, or take my Saturday morning Swing Class in Palo Alto just email me!

January 1st, 2016 might not ever look so good for you!  Start your best ever next 10 years!

picture at top was Nov 2005, 100lbs down. picture on the right was Nov 2006, 1 year after, total weight loss of 120lbs.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me! "52" workouts, the first of a month long theme :)

Yesterday was my 52nd birthday!  Can you believe it?  Gosh, it really didn't hit me until this morning, a second before I started my first rep of my special B-day workout.  I had a fabulous day that started out with macaron experiments for 3 hours, starting at 5:00am!  After I journaled my results I went out and ran some errands that I wanted to do, like going to my favorite store, Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market! I love that store!  I found some really killer snack bars that are actually made for kids!  (Clif Kid Z Bar, honey graham flavor, $1.99 box of 6)  Next I went for a nice long walk and listened to a book on tape, "Soul of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman.  Came home, took a nice long nap with Mark, got up and went back in the kitchen to cook! (with a glass of wine of course!)  Kissed and hugged on Mark and had a great night's sleep.  What a great day!

The only thing that could have made it better, other than spending time with my kids and granddaughter would have been to have done a killer workout! But I don't kettlebell on Wednesdays, it's a recovery day, so the killer workout had to wait until this morning!  Maribel walked into the Lioness's den at 5:30 and joined me in the first part of my "52" themed workout.

Lucky me the 24kg weighs about 52 lbs, so it stands to reason that double 12kg's is the same weight. Thursday is usually double kb day, so double 12 kg's it was.  This year was like no other, in the fact that it wasn't just swings (today, but that's coming, don't worry!).  I wanted to do all of the kb skills (minus Get ups, but that's coming too!).  52 double 12kg reps each, swings, presses, squats, snatches, clean, and....pull ups! (assisted)  I had absolutely no idea how long this would take or how I was going to break it up, but I decided on the order I just listed, done in 4 rounds of 13 reps per.  This video demonstrates my first two rounds, minus the pull ups because the rack is on the other side of the gym and I wanted to video at least two rounds.  After I stopped this video I did my first set of 13 assisted pull ups, and then I dispersed sets of 5 and 6 throughout the rest of the workout.

I was able to do the first round in continuous sets of 13...but that was it!  Swings, snatches and cleans, no problem, all 4 sets of 13 were done continuous, but I had to break down the presses, squats and pull ups.  I'm not sure what Maribel's strategy was, but she finished in about the same time.  Gosh, it was fun!  Now I'll have something to measure next year when I have 1 more rep of each skill to complete, fingers crossed within the same amount of time :)

So, we started the workout at 5:30am. did a 15-20 min warm up, finished in 30 min, had 10 minutes left in the hour.  I started the next part of my workout, which was 52 sets of 10 double 12kg swings (520 reps, 26 min), and Maribel finished with a 10 x 10 w/24kg. I think it's been a while since she swung the 24kg, but it's my birthday and that's what was required :)

After my 52 sets of 10 double 12kg swings I did three last snatch sets.  The first w/12kg, the second w/14kg and the last w/16kg, all 52 R/ 52 L with a comp bell, done GS style.  Here was my entire workout:

52 dbl swings
52 dbl presses
52 dbl squats
52 dbl snatches
52 dbl cleans
52 assisted pull ups
30 min

52 sets of 10 dbl swings
520 reps, 26 min

12kg snatch 52/52 on hand switch, 5 min
14kg snatch 52/52, 26 x 4, 5 min
16kg snatch 52/52, 13 x 8, 5 min
312 snatches, 25 min, I took 5 minutes between sets. workout isn't over!  My good friend Emily has the same exact birthday as me! And she was 36 yesterday! (gosh, I hope I don't get in trouble!)  Soooo, I've got 36 sets of 10 w/36lb bell in order around 10:00am this morning....  And then last, but not least an hour long ruck walk with Mark at 1:00pm, my favorite part of Thursdays now.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Training is the Source" - Mark Reifkind, and Sunday's Finisher (explained)

(round 1)

Training is the Source.  What does this mean?  Mark has so many great phrases that Pavel and many others have, for years, encouraged him to write a book titling each chapter with these phrases, his inspired words of wisdom....and this is one of my favorites.

Mark and I talk about training every single day.  Every single day we share a discovery or something learned from our own training or that of a client / student.  It was during one of these conversations that I was telling him about an experience I had during my own training, something I hadn't known about myself before and was exciting to recognize, that he first said to me, "Well, training is the source!"  And I knew right then and there exactly what he meant.

For me, my personality, my knowingness, my beliefs about myself come to the forefront through how I feel before, during and/or after my training.  My training brings out the best parts of me, and it rewards me with self confidence, self knowingness.  Things don't always have to go my way in my workouts, but often they do, more so than in other parts of my life because I'm able to experience a balance between body, mind AND heart!  And heart?

I have this physical body and training puts me, smack dab, right in the middle of it.  I love being in my body, especially since there was a large portion of my life that I cut myself off from it. The power of being able to manipulate this physical apparatus is exciting to me! Manipulate how it moves and even how it looks.  I love my body.

My mind is the one that tends to overthink, the one that sometimes judges, the one that gets competitive (good and not so good), but also the one that can calculate reps, loads, and time.  It can think ahead and visualize possibilities.  It remembers success and lessons learned.  My mind is what tells my body what to do, to push it just far enough to gain / maintain strength and the feeling of being fit.

My heart however is what keeps my mind in check!  It's the one that brings my thoughts back around to reason, to compassion, to ease.  Reason to not compete with anybody else, and to focus on keeping and maintaining my own physical goals and desires based on my life.  Compassion to back away from my own judgements that I can sometimes get caught up in to do more, to be more, in order to get approval from others.  Ease.  To be easy with myself doesn't mean to sleep in and skip workouts!  It means to not be in a hurry.  There is no finish line, there is no one keeping score.

What does this have to do with my last Sunday workout? lol  This past year I've incorporated a different style of ending my Sunday workouts, and it was my friend Fawn that reminded me of what's called a "finisher" when I was in St Paul this past January.  A finisher is usually a short burst of all out effort at the very end of a workout that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin!  I always learn something about myself when I push myself in this way.  And what I learned this week (again) was how I never get tired of training kettlebells!   I so believe in it, as it gives me evidence of my own power to decide how I choose to live a large part of my life.  It reminds me to appreciate the fact that I'm a really good teacher and coach and how much I love what I do.  I used to call it luck, and sometimes I still call it a miracle, but the truth is that it's just me, it's who I am.


Finishers are never exactly pre planned, but instead, most times, I decide how to end a workout based on a number of things;

Who's training with me that day and what are their skills and level of conditioning? It must be scalable.  What I like best about this way of finishing a workout is that it lets each person decide on what's exactly right for them on any particular day.

How does it fit in with what was done in the first part of the workout?  For instance it would not include presses or squats if presses/squats were already done earlier.

It always varies in time, in load, and in skill.  Because the intent is intensity it usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes, but this Sunday is a rare example of up to 30 minutes.  It's never the same length of time every week, and although 3 out of 4 times it's just swings, I'll add in snatches or squats every once in a while (mostly because everybody can do swings :) )  Intensity is achieved three ways; increasing weight, increasing reps/time, and/or increasing speed/decreasing rest.

This Sunday's Finisher was a long one! The longer the "set", the lighter the loading, often times I'll ladder down the weights, starting with the most difficult, in this case the 32kg.  Laddering up in weight has it's place as it makes the set (s) more difficult, appropriate for sets lasting less than 15 min (in my opinion).  Looking at the clock (remainder of the workout), 36 min., and having Meg as my Sunday partner I knew we could handle a long one and heavy one.

Originally each round was going to be a 10 x 10 with a full minute of rest after each (x 6), allowing recovery of the choice of a really heavy bell.  A 10 x 10 takes 5 minutes to complete, one set every 30 seconds, allowing 15 seconds to work (swing) and 15 seconds of rest (15/15).  I changed my mind about intervals, instead favoring no prescribed work / rest.  The guideline was to finish 100 reps (same as a 10 x 10) within each 5 minute round. The rest you would get would be determined by how fast you completed your 100 reps!


I decided to use the 32kg for the first two rounds, the 24kg for the next two, and the 16kg for the last two.  Going "old school" and skipping the intermediate weights (28kg and 20kg).

(round 2)

The first set would be 10 reps at a time, taking only enough rest to start my next set of 10 again (first video).  This took me approx 4.5 min, with an average rest period between 11-13 seconds  I hadn't swung the 32kg in a workout in a long long time, and it became obvious to me in order to maintain appropriate power I would have to keep the rep count under 15.  For the second set I decided to do sets of 12, (x 7) the last set = 16. This took 4 min approx. (second video)

The next two sets w/24 (rounds 3 and 4) I did 5 sets of 20, 30 seconds work, with only 15 seconds rest, taking me just over 3.5 minutes to complete.  The second set, I did 12 x 4 and 13 x 4.  Surprisingly this took me longer! It took almost 4 min to complete, but it was broken down into 8 sets versus 5, three more starts and stops....interesting! See you can always learn something new :)

(round 3)

(round 4)

The last two sets (whew!) were going to be easy!  I did the first one 50 x 2 (1.25 min work/45 sec rest), completing in 3.25 min (no video), and because it had felt like forever since I had done a 2 hand, 100 continuous rep set w/16kg ( 2.5 min) I had to "finish" off with that!  (last video)

(round 6)

I've been working on double front squats during the first part of our Sunday workout (7:15-8:00am), and double jerk and 16kg snatch for GS practice (8:00-8:45am), so there was time and energy for a long end to the workout.  We were done at 9:15, 15 minutes earlier than usual.  Meg is going to compete in a couple of weeks at the California Open Kettlebell Sport Championships with 20kg LC and after that we will not be practicing GS on Sunday's anymore.  I will continue on with my own personal KB sport goals on my own time however, but no plans to compete in the future.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

So Cal Cruz Ranch Family Reunion Weekend Workout

I'm in Southern California (I live in No. Cal), for a huge family reunion in Moorpark CA (near Ventura).  We, my oldest son Rick, my daughter in law Cristina, and my granddaughter Sophia, drove down here (6 hours) yesterday and plan on staying three days in total.  I packed some good foods for the trip, and of course I threw a bell in the back of the car knowing I'd like to train at least one time while I'm bell, but which one?

I thought I'd bring a 16kg, since Sunday's are usually a heavy day, but at the last minute I decided to grab a 14kg thinking I may do two workouts while I'm here and it's just a little more versatile.  I completely forgot that most hotels do have a small workout room, but I was 100% prepared to swing away in my room, no problem!  But without having to disturb my family I snuck away to the gym, with my bell and did a fun, and what seemed fast but wasn't, workout! My favorite way to design a workout is around the theme of "10".  Easy and hard (boring!) at the same time!

10 x 10 2 hd sw (5 min; 100 sw)

1 swing/1 goblet squat x 10 (1 min long set/30 sec rest = 15 min; 100 sw/100 sq)

swing sandwich ladder w/ "work into rest method"
5 two hd sw + 5 R/5L + 5 2 hd sw
5 + 6/6 + 5
5 + 7/7 + 5
5 + 8/8 + 5
5 + 9/9 + 5 (5 sets total = 5 min; 85 swings)
10 R/ 10 L x 5 sets (30/30 = 5 min; 100 swing)
("10" sets of swings in total)

5 clean/press R alternate L (45/45 = 15 min; 50 R/50 L, 100 total) (video 1)

1 sw, 1 snatch x 5 R + 1 sw, 1 sn 5 L x 10 sets (45/45 sec = 15 min; 100 sw/100 snatch) (video 2)
5 R + 5 L x 2 "squat snatch" x 10 sets (30/30 sec = 10 min; 100 snatches)

The "squat snatch" is similar to a "dead snatch" only it doesn't touch the floor at the beginning and end of each rep.  It's right in between a dead snatch and a regular swing snatch, using more legs than glutes.  In this video I demonstrate the difference between the two, first with 5/5 squat snatches, then 5/5 swing snatches.  If you want to try these the part you need to use caution with is the down stroke. You can't cast the weight too far out in front of you, and you have to get timing right or you risk the bell pulling you over and out of position putting your lower back as risk. This is not a skill I would teach to beginners, use your own discretion.

Done!  Just in time to catch breakfast with my granddaughter :)

485 swings
100 goblet squats
100 clean/presses
200 snatches
1 hour, 10 min

My mother was is one of 7 children, and one of four born on a 87 acre ranch here in Southern California.  The eldest son, my uncle Leonard has maintained 40 of those acres and many of my cousins grew up here, and now our family is at least 5 generations strong. But this was our official 1st Cruz Ranch Family Reunion and it pretty much got rained out yesterday!  It was a crazy thunder and lightening storm here in Southern California in the middle of JULY!  This is practically unheard of, and even though the forecast predicted it I just refused to believe it and didn't really pack appropriately!  Nobody did actually, and my son had to leave early with my granddaughter and take her to Target for some warm and dry clothes!  Shoes were wrecked, full of mud, but the spirit wasn't dampened :)

Most everybody held tight, even putting up the pinata in the rain, but as it got worse it was clear the pony rides were going to have to be postponed. Were going back this afternoon and I hope to Sophia gets a chance to ride, maybe for her first time :)

Tonight I'll take a short train ride to Santa Barbara where I'll finish my short weekend vacation with my good friends, the Mishkins, Jen and Greg, and then we'll all drive home on Monday :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

1000 swing Tuesday; workout "m" plus Sunday Finisher (Tracy's ballistic wildcard!)

Youtube would not let me post workout "m" in it's entirety so I divided it into two parts.  If you repeat part 1 it will give you a 30 min swing workout.  I did this workout for my friend "m" and the intention for her to use a 10kg for part 1, then repeat it with a 12kg and finish the entire workout, part 1 and 2 with the heavier bell.  This may be a good opportunity for you to use this workout to increase your strength for one hand swings (10/10) too :)

(part 1)
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets (15/15)
20 2 hd sw x 1 set
10 tr x 2 sets
20 transfer swings x 1 set
5 R/ 5 L x 2 sets
5/5 + 5/5 x 1 set
10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set (part 1 video ends here, repeat these first 12 sets one more time through before moving on for a 30 minute workout)

(part 2)
10 R/ 10 L + 10 R/ 10 L = 40 reps ( 1 min work/1 min rest)
10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/ 5 L + 5 R/5 L
10 R/ 10 L + 20 tr
10 R/ 10 L
10 R
10 L
5 R/ 5 L + 5 R/ 5 L x 1 set
5 R/5 L x 2 sets 
20 transfer swings
10 tr x 2 sets
20 2 hd swings
10 2 hd swings x 2 sets

whew!  440 swings, 22 min (or 600, 30 min if you repeat the part 1)

first 600

same as the start of workout "m"
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets (15/15)
20 2 hd sw x 1 set
10 tr x 2 sets
20 transfer swings x 1 set
5 R/ 5 L x 2 sets 
5/5 + 5/5 x 1 set
10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set (160 reps)
now sets of 30 reps
10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/ 5 L
10 R/ 10 L + 10 tr
10 R/ 10 L + 10 2 hd sw (30 x 3 sets = 90 reps)
now sets of 40
10 R/ 10 L + 10 R/ 10 L = 40 reps ( 1 min work/1 min rest)
10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/ 5 L + 5 R/5 L
10 R/ 10 L + 20 tr
10 R/ 10 L + 20 2 hd swings (40 x 4 sets = 160 reps)
back to sets of 30
10 R/ 10 L + 10 2 hd sw
10 R/ 10 L + 10 tr
10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/ 5 L (30 x 3 sets = 90 reps
back to 1 set of 20, two sets of 10 (downhill progressive swing ladder)
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set
10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
5/5 + 5/5 x 1 set
5 R/ 5 L x 2 sets
20 transfer swings x 1 set
10 tr x 1 sets
20 2 hd sw
10 2 hd sw x 1 sets (160 reps)

total 640 swing reps, 32 min

honest mistake....I forgot when we went slightly over 30 min. I made some cuts and only completed one set each of 10 tr and 10 2 hd sw.

Most mornings, as I drive to teach class I start thinking only about the "theme" of our training that day.  This last Tuesday in June the theme was 40 rep sets, so the goal was to work up to one minute long swing sets.  How I get my class there depends on who I know will be in attendance and base the workloads so everybody can scale and successfully complete most, if not all of the work sets.

Tuesday is becoming what I call "1000 swing Tuesday".  So we started out the morning with a 600 + swing rep version of "m"'s workout knowing I would repeat it, or some of it to video tape and post for my friend.  In this workout we worked our way up to sets of 40 but had many sets of 10 (short work to short rest), as well as many sets of of 20 rep (the first workout even had sets of 30 reps), which increase in difficultly on a more progressive level.

I've never done this exact workout, and that's what I so LOVE about my job!  After almost 10 years of teaching and leading classes, with the average of 5-6 groups a week, I can still, and will forever be able to, create brand new and fun workouts using only the kettlebell swing, it's variations and intervals.  Gosh, I'm set for life!

Sunday's workout was a whole different ball game!  7:15 starts out with heavy presses, and some complexes, moves on at 8:00 for GS practice....and these days it's minimal :( ...then ends with my "ballistic wildcard"!  It's a simple and hard way of doing 40-45 minutes of ballistics in half the time!  This past weekend the BW was as follows:

10 - 1 snatch ladder (110 snatches)
10-1 two hand swing/squat ladder (55 swings, 10 squats)
10-1 one hand swing ladder (110 1 hd swings)
x 2 = 220 snatches, 330 swings, 20 squats

I knew I did not want to do two rounds with the 16kg.  I had already pressed earlier in the morning and did a set of 100 snatches with the 16kg comp bell, but the 14kg would have been a little too easy, especially for swings and squats....but not after completing one full round with the 16kg!  So that's what I did. I did the first round with the 16kg, the second with the 14kg and only screwed up the counting a couple of times!  I actually did about 10 more swings in the first round w/16kg....but who's counting?

It took me approx under 5 min to complete the snatch ladders, a little over 2 min for the sw/sqt ladders and the same for the one swing ladders.  Meg used a variety of weights for each set, which is also an option.  You may choose to snatch light, swing and squat heavy, or visa versa...will you try it?  And what's your planned strategy?


This should take about 10 minutes per round if done continuous, but there are no rules about putting the bell down at any point and as many times as you might need to complete the round.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday 6/11

Currently on Sunday mornings I've been training a heavy single bell press. This past weekend I completed 5 sets of 3 rep , R/L w/18kg.  My goal is 5 x 5 w/18kg, which should not be a problem at the end of this particular cycle which ends for me in 2 weeks.

This morning was my double press maintenance program, 5 sets of 3 16kg double presses, and in between sets I practice my pull ups.  Since this part of the program is not timed using intervals, we take turns completing our presses and help each other with hangs and pull ups for the first 30 minutes.  This time might also include heavy double cleans before moving onto the second 30 minutes of our hour of training.

swings.  heavy.  doubles.

10 2 hd sw x 4 sets 16kg single
10 x 4 sets 16kg double
5 2 hd + 5 R
5 2 hd + 5 L
repeat x 2 = 10 x 4 16kg
10 x 4 dbl 16kg's
5/5 x 4 16kg
10 x 4 dbl 16kg's
10 R
10 L
repeat x 2 = 10 x 4 16kg
10 x 4 dbl 16kg's
repeat the next 8 sets x 3
10 R
10 L
repeat x 2 = 10 x 4 16kg
10 x 4 dbl 14kg's

28 minutes
560 swings
280 single 16kg
120 dbl 16kg's
80 dbl 14kg's

GS practice
TALC, 10kg's
2 sets, 3 min each
14kg snatch
4 min (2/2) and it just about killed me :)

Off to CFPA for 20kg goblet squats, 400m run, 15 burpees x 4 rounds.  6 ring dips (assisted) 12 32kg swings OTM x 6

1:00-2:00 Ruck Walk w/Mark, 15lb pack.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"100 Snatch Transfers" Sunday Finisher

Sunday Workout

My strict press training is moving along, as programmed, and I'm quite happy actually.  In the past I had never had any real goals with my strict press, mostly snatch goals, reps / weight / time, because I tend to enjoy the ballistics, which I'm fairly good at, as opposed to the grinds, which I'm not naturally good at!  (I don't have any video mostly because I train with a couple of other people and it can be awkward and time consuming to set up the camera in the middle of workouts)

Currently I'm alternating my strict press training cycles between a single bell press, and double bell press.  I completed my 5x5 double 16kg program (double presses on Thursday mornings), and so I only train "maintenance" double 16kg reps, 3 x 5 every week, and I increase the loading of my single bell press on Sunday.  Yesterday I completed 3x5 w/18kg, easily on my R, and not so bad on my L.  I'm confident I'll get my 5x5, as scheduled in two weeks time.  Once that goal is completed I'll maintain my 18kg single press (3x3) while increasing my double 18kg press.

I'll program the next double bell press cycle starting with 3 sets, 1 - 3 reps each, and base it on how many I can complete, if any, at about 80-90% effort.  It is never my intention to press /push as hard as possible in any workout, except the last one, the one with the end goal :)

5 min swing warm up
10 minute press warm up
heavy single press, 18kg 3 reps x 5 sets, every 2 minutes = 10 min
heavy double cleans, 20kg's, 5 x 5 OTM = 5 min
goblet squat, front squat/press complex "I go, you go" 10 min (40 squats/30 press total)
swings, 6 sets of 10

My training partner Matt finished his double press cycle w/18kg's yesterday so he'll be moving on to either double 20kg's, or a single bell, his choice.  He's also working toward the Strength Matters Swing Test, so that's the reason we ended the workout with some sets of 10 swings (Matt used the 20kg).  We would have done more, but we simply ran out of time.  I could have cut the squats short, or not done them at all, but I was being selfish! I knew I still had a ton of swings to do during the last part of the morning and this would be my only chance to practice some squat reps. :)

8:00-8:45am GS
double jerk 10kg's 2 min
double jerk 12kg's 2 min
swing snatch 14kg 6 min

I'm playing around with double jerks these days, but I'll write more about that another time.  I haven't been practicing GS regularly for a number of reasons, mostly because I'm lacking in inspiration, therefore I'm not really motivated.  Having that horrible flu for over 3 weeks, then breaking my toe, and  then having one of my training partners gone for almost 3 weeks all didn't help either.  It's no wonder the 6 min14kg swing snatch set felt as difficult as ever, but awesome at the same time because I was still able to do it after weeks and weeks of no practice.

740 16kg swings 33 min
16kg snatch transfers, 6 min, 100 snatches, 100 swings (video above)

I started "Skypercising" with my friend Emily on Wednesday mornings, but she missed her workout last week so I tried connecting with her to swing during the last part of our workout.  Unfortunately we lost the connection 1/2 through the swing workout, but she later messaged me to tell me she continued to finish on her own!  The connection in the garage gym is sketchy but I'm happy we were able to get some work done at all :)

I swung really heavy last Sunday so anything above the 16kg was off limits, besides the 16kg for over 700 swings in about 1/2 hour is plenty challenging enough!  All of the swing sets were done in sets of 10 or 20 reps, with equal or less rest than work.

Now the Finisher..... 100 snatches, 100 swings ("snatch transfers")

We had about 12 minutes left on the clock so it had to take less than that, and besides, last Sunday the Finisher took me over 20 minutes, so again, no need to go that long this week.  I needed to snatch "heavy" (snatch test weight), but two hours of training already completed is not the time for hundreds of snatch reps. I knew 100 would be plenty....but how to make them just a wee bit harder?  Do them one at a time!  No more than one rep at a time means that you have to transfer R/L each rep with a swing! 100 snatches, 100 swings, for time!

I finished in 6 minutes exactly.  If I calculate correctly, based on 40 swings per 60 seconds (2.5 min.), that leaves 3.5 min it took me to do 100 snatches.  I'm pretty pleased with that result....could I have gone faster?  Maybe just a little, but I haven't trained specifically to improve that particular goal.  If I were to want to I would guess being able to shave 30 seconds off would be top speed (with that weight).

"snatch transfers" have always been part of my snatch progressions, similar in the same way "swing transfers" are part of my swing progressions.  I've calculated that one can complete 16 snatch transfers (8 R/ 9 L) in 1 min, on average.  Taking that experience into account it would have taken 6 min, 15 seconds at a "normal pace", so I did actually shave off 15 seconds, which ain't bad!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sunday Finisher 20 x 30 in 20!

I love my Sunday morning workouts!  Sunday is pretty much just for me because I do everything I want to, as long as I want to, and if I'm really lucky a few of my students join me!  The workout is broken up into three 45 minute sessions starting at 7:15am.

The first is focused on heavy presses after a quick warm up, and usually finishes with a much faster paced "I go, you go" swing / clean / squat / press complexes that may or may not be done with double bells.  This workout has the deliberate goal of increasing press strength which is why it's done first.

The second is GS practice.  If there is a competition date on the horizon the sets are programed accordingly, which hasn't been the case of late, so the practice focuses more on maintaining base levels of grip strength and cardio endurance.

The third is a ballistic wild card, and the last chance for me to put the nail in the swing coffin!  Which is why I've started to use the concept of a workout "finisher".  Just swings, or Max Vo2 snatches, a variation of high volume snatch / swing combinations.  If I include squats, it's not for strength so they're mostly done with lighter weights and higher reps, with the focus more about increasing and maintaining hip/glute flexibility.

But to be honest, if and when I have to do this last workout by myself, which is rare but more often lately, it could be a good thing and a not so good thing!  My long time student/training partner Meg is a tough cookie!  She's capable of crazy amounts of work, hard work, and game for anything I could come up with.  A lot of times if I want to "test" how difficult something is, like the Strength Matters Swing Test, I'll have her join me in trying it out because if she thinks it's challenging then I trust it is!  In fact, she did the very first trail run of the SMST with me, 200 24kg one hand swings (10 x 20) in 10 minutes!  And neither one of us would be required to use the 24kg based on body weight, so that goes to show you how powerful regular and consistent high volume swing practice can be!

Recently I've been "testing" more variations of heavy swings, for reps and time.  Yesterday, on my own, when it came down to my last 30 minutes of the morning's training I knew 600 swings was going to be the minimum amount of work left to complete.  I had done plenty of squats earlier in the week, and I want to snatch on Tuesday...that left only swings (lol, "only"!)  Well, being alone, and without the energy of at least one other person, and already almost 2 hours of training completed, I could barely get excited about another 30 full minutes of swings!  So I decided to stay with the 600 reps, but get them done as quickly as possible.

I knew I wanted to do some 24kg one hand swings, but not kill myself, because it had been a while since I last did them.  I knew I didn't want to do all 600 swings with the 24kg because Thursday mornings are my heavy double swing training and there's just no need to do that much heavy training in the same week.  100 wasn't enough, 600 way too many, so I settled on 200 reps, 1/3 of the total.  It made sense to break up the total into thirds, heavy, moderately heavy and moderate weights since the goal was to complete them in less time, much less time, than "equal work to rest", which would have taken 30 minutes.

I wanted to do one hand swings for half of my 24kg 200 reps, and two hand swings for the other 100 reps and so I decided to do that with all three weights.  I also know that most times, for me,  the longer the set is in continuous reps the "easier" it feels (the more times I put the bell down = the more I haev to pick it up again!), so I would limit the number of reps in each set to only 20, and the rest period would not be timed, instead, random.  In my head I was hoping to finish around 20 took me 22 min 40 seconds.  But this turned out to be a good thing because now I know I could have done it, if I would have paid attention, and this first result was me not pushing myself too hard.  So you know what that means, don't you?  Yep, I gotta do it again in 20 minutes or less (probably not less!).  So I'll wait a few weeks and repeat it with this new goal in mind.  And then....I'll try it in reverse!  Starting with the lightest bell, the 16kg, and ending with the heaviest, the 24kg!  I love testing out how simply changing an up hill ladder to a downhill ladder and visa versa can drastically change the effect of ease or difficulty of a target challenge.

Guidelines of this week's Sunday Finisher; goal of 600 swing reps under 30 minutes

3 bells, heavy, moderately heavy, moderate.
one hand swings for half of the swing reps
max of 20 reps per set, no minimum (you can do sets of 10 if you choose)
rest only as long as you need to between each set. 

I chose to alternate my one hand swings sets using 5 R/ 5 L x 2 and 10 R/10 L because this made it easier to keep track of the 5 sets of 20, and I simply didn't feel ready to do my first set w/24kg 10 reps at a time, I wanted to ease into it.....see, I told you I was a weenie when I trained on my own!  lol

Looking at the video I know I could have shaved off a lot of the rest time I took between sets, in fact afterward I was able to calculate in order to get it done in 20 minutes I can only allow 10 seconds, or less to rest between sets.  But it's all good and fine because now I have a goal based on how difficult this trial test was, and I have more to look forward to in the next couple of months :)  Hmm...I should give this one a name since I'm going to do it again....20 x 30 in 20 :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tracy Reifkind's Overhead Swing Progressions (and a quick squat/overhead swing workout!)

I can't believe it's been a month since my trip to Vancouver!  Probably because the week I got back I came down with the worst flu I've ever had, ever!  The most notable symptom was that I had ZERO energy, I couldn't move.  A raging sore throat I could dismiss, some congestion, stuffy nose, no problem, but I couldn't get out of bed for a solid 7 days.  I tried, oh yes, I tried!  For the first time ever I had to completely cancel training appointments, but I managed to make it to a couple of classes only to be left even more zapped of my energy :(  It took me down for over 2 weeks!  (super sad face)  THEN....last Wednesday I broke my toe.  Things just seem to be going my way, huh? lol

By the time I broke my toe I just had to laugh about it!  And the good news, well there's two things positive about it, is that I can still do kettlebells with a broken toe, and I broke it doing something that I've been out all the clutter in my house!  I was tackling the laundry room when it tackled me back!  A 40lb box of kitty litter was sticking out into my path and I caught my second little toe on it, ouch.  When I looked down at my left foot my toe was pointing 90 degrees to the left!  Kind of an indicator something was not quite right!  Seriously, I wish I could have taken a picture of it because it was so darn funny :)  What hasn't been all that funny is missing my ruck walks with Mark on Thursday, and you know, the swelling and bruising is kind of a drag....but compared that that flu I had?  Easy peasy.  But enough already...moving on....

Sunday was a challenging workout. Not because of my toe/foot, but because my regular training partners were out for the "second and third" part of my Sunday workout.  Gosh, I'm not going to lie, motivation to really push myself felt harder than usual.  And to be perfectly honest, if it weren't for Matt who I know was coming over from 7:15-8:00 (heavy presses and half snatches) I contemplated taking the day off...oh no I didn't say that :(  But I pulled my head out of where it shouldn't have been and managed to continue on for another hour practicing double jerks with competition bells and this 30 minute "squat / overhead swing" workout.

I've neglected squats mostly because no one else likes doing them, but I've got to do them more regularly so no excuse when nobody else is there but me, huh?  Gosh, if I can't make myself do them then I have no business asking others to do them either.  So I started out with a set of 15 goblet squats, which took one minute.  Argh!  I certainly did not want to do another set right away, so I did a set of 20 overheard swings....not so bad, especially with my squat weight of 16kg.  I prefer to do overhead swings with a 20kg, but there was no way I was squatting with one and I knew the 3rd set I would alternate both the goblet squat with the overhead swing....maybe I'll repeat it with the 20kg this weekend :)

Since I've never posted anything about the overhead swing I thought I would video tape a quick tutorial about my own teaching/learning progressions for this movement.  The most IMPORTANT thing about practicing the overhead swing is that you DO NOT let the bell flop over, so if you are going to try it please maintain a firm grip!  The other important part of this movement, how I train it and practice it, is that you pull the bell in towards your body as the bell swing out and up in front of you.  I demonstrate and explain this in my video tutorial (above).  Personally I enjoy the overhead swings, and I've been teaching it in my groups for many years, but only recently have I been including it regularly into my own workouts.  Enjoy, but practice it cautiously please.

The usual Sunday workout is a "three parter"
7:15-8:00 warm up, heavy presses, double complexes
8:00-8:45 GS practice, both jerks and snatches
8:45-9:15/9:30 swings! ending with some kind of "finisher"

This past Sunday because it was just me for part 2 and 3, I only spent 30 minutes on GS, still limited by my foot, and 30 minutes on this "Squat/Overhead Swing" workout;

Set #1
15 goblet squats = 1 min work/1 min rest

Set #2
20 overhead swings = 1 min work/1 min rest

Set #3
10 goblet squat/overhead swing = 1 min work/ 1 minute rest

I especially like the last set where I combine both movements!  And in fact, Mark came into the gym when I was finishing one of these sets and commented on how much he liked it too :)  I love it when he likes something that I design :) .....I hope you do too!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Vancouver Weekend Workouts

As promised my Vancouver Weekend Workouts!  Teresa and I rolled into Vancouver last Friday after a couple of pit stops, okay, we did a little outlet shopping!  One of the stops we made was at the Pendleton outlet store where while I was in the dressing room trying on a few things, Teresa, having just lost 50lb (!) got into a conversation with one of the sales associates about weightloss....and kettlebells!   Teresa happened to have a couple of copies of The Swing in the car so I was happy to give our new friend, Aubrey, a signed copy.  You just never know who you are going to meet :)

Saturday we got up early and went for a lovely walk to Starbucks, followed by a couple of short hikes with Marshall and Christina's dogs, but they went home before we continued on to the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park.   Next was a little food shopping (omg, Polish deli discovery!) before heading out on a day trip to Point Roberts Marina to spend the day on the water, where Bacchus, a German Shepard mix, joined us!  We drove back to Vancouver around dinner time and relaxed the rest of the evening.  Early up the next day around 7:00am, another morning stroll and cup of coffee at JJ Beans.  The only thing left to do before we left, driving back to Seattle, was teach Christina how to swing!

I hadn't planned on doing any kind of workout myself over the weekend, but since the weather was perfect out back on the deck I threw together what I would describe as an "all around" kettlebell routine using swings to start and end one minute long work sets.  I call these "Swing Sandwiches"!  I post the Swing, Clean/Press Sandwich last week and as promised here are the snatch and squat variation, with a bonus swing progression variation if you are not practicing the other skills yet :)

As I posted last week, I started out with the snatch progressions, then the clean/presses, ending with squat progressions.  I did them in this order because I was using a lighter weight (12kg) than my regular "work" weight. (14kg-16kg).  The swing/snatches helped me warm this old body up for the presses and squats.  If I were doing these as part of my workouts at home I would start with the squats or presses, ending with the snatches.  Yesterday we did the squats first, the snatches next and ended with this bonus workout, that I did not do in Vancouver, of swing sandwiches.  The Swing Sandwich variation came about after I returned home and lead my Tuesday morning class.  I was so inspired with possibilities that I simply applied the sandwich method using my swing progressions.....but I forgot about you have a guess?

(video at top of page)
Training my 30 second squat progressions "sandwiched" in between 15 sec of swings (10 2 hd sw reps).

squat progressions:
1 swing, 1 goblet squat
goblet squat
1 swing R, front squat, switch hands, 1 sw L, fr sq (alternating)
cl/fr sq R, switch, cl/fr sq L, alternate x 6 total
cl/ fr sq R x 3, switch hands, cl/ fr sq L x 3
cl/fr sq R x 6
cl/fr sq L x 6

7 progressions, each set starting and ending with 10 2 hand swings, 1 min work, 30 sec rest.  If you want to practice "equal work to rest" ratio either take a full minute rest between sets, OR do not complete the last 10 swings.

Training my 30 sec snatch progressions "sandwiched" in between 10 2 hd swings!

snatch progressions:
1 sw, 1 snatch, 1 switch (alternate R/L)
1 snatch, 1 switch (alternate R/L)
5 sn R, 5 sn L
10 sn R
10 sn L

5 progressions, 1 minute long sets, starting and ending with 10 2 hand swings, 30 seconds rest between sets.

If you want to train "equal work to rest" simply take 1 min between sets OR omit the last 10 swings in each set (or the first 10!)

Ah...! You may not be snatching, squatting or pressing yet, so here is a simple "swing sandwich" using my swing progressions, laddering down starting with;

10 R/ 10 L
5R/5 L x 2
1/2 sw ld x 2
20 transfer swings, ending with all 
2 hand swings

.....if you've been training with me for a while can you guess which one I forgot?

Each one of these variations is a workout in themselves for sure, which one is your favorite?

Teresa sharing her homemade doggie treats with Brody, Murray and Bacchus!