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: