Friday, January 1, 2016

Some Blasts from the Past - "I will be better, stronger and more fit at the end of next year than I am today!"

I once had someone say to me, "It must be nice to not have 'lose weight and get in shape' as one of your New Year resolutions!"  I had never thought about it because it wasn't something I needed to think about!  And yes, it's awesome to have that checked off my list, permanently!  But that doesn't mean that there is no room for improvement!  Which is why I presented the idea of a year long "One Bell Challenge".

Before I get too wordy I thought I would share some fun stuff!  The first time I ever tested my ability to snatch the 16kg for 10 minutes was in 2007, and I was able to complete 178 reps.  Back then it was known in the kettle bell community as the "USSST", or USST, I forget, (ultimate secret service snatch test), and for females it was with the 16kg and for men it was the 24kg.  Boy has kettle bell training come a long way in the past 8 years, and so has my video capabilities because back then I could only video 3 minutes at a time on my Canon camera!!!!  (goodness, that means I was 44 in this video!) So here is the 3rd of 3 videos, the last 3 minutes of my first USSST:

The second time I tested it was in 2009 at Girya.  I believe I completed 213 reps....notice how serious I was!  But also remember, very few women, maybe a handful, if even that, were doing this kind of training at all!  This was epic for the time, and hella scary!

In between 2009 and the next video, 4 years later, 2013, I'm sure I had trained hundreds of thousands of snatch reps (no kidding, I think I've calculated well over 50,000 per year, just think about how many swing reps I've done, double even triple that!), AND I had been introduced to, and practiced the training and techniques of Kettlebell Sport, also know as Girya Sport (GS).  Before training GS a 10 minute set still produced fear!  Seriously, no one in the Hardstyle KB was training or testing anything past 5 minutes, a standard originally set with one of the qualifications of earning a KB Instructor Certification.  This is because "Hardstyle" is about "power and acceleration", similar to sprinting, while anything past the point of losing the ability to contract and hold maximum muscular tension is not considered HS, so technically most ballistic sets past 30 seconds (imo) are not HS.  Okay, okay,'s my best 10 minute 16kg set, but done with a competition bell (continue reading next about a comp bell):

Okay, what about a comp bell?  MY opinion, based on my hundreds of thousands of swing and snatch reps, FOR ME, are easier to do with a comp bell.  FOR ME, the handle is much smaller making it easier to hang onto, without challenging the grip in the same way those thick handled HS bells do, and the slight difference in how the weight is distributed (the center of gravity further away from the handle) lengthens the arc, and again, for me, makes doing long sets and heavy sets, whether it's swings or snatches, easier.  This may be part of the reason I blew my former rep record out of the water with an increase of another 10 reps, and with less effort (and ugly face, lol!).

The last thing I'm going to bore you with, because it's a question I get asked about a lot, is that I DO NOT recommend comp bells for "exercise" kettle bell training.  Of course if that's all you have, then that's all you have, but I recommend the black cast iron bells for what I do, what I teach and how I train when I'm not specifically training Sport.

Today?  Well, more like yesterday?  Yesterday I completed my first 2016 One Bell Challenge.  I chose to test 3 skills, the first was the snatch.  I used a 16kg bell and knowing the round was for 20 minutes, not 10 minutes, it was not my intention to take it full force!  The snatch round was only the beginning, I still had two other 20 minute rounds to test!  My strategy was to cruise the first 10 minutes with a continuous set to gauge what it might feel like to do a longer continuous set in the future.  The result, with some effort, not going to lie, was 208 reps:

How much fun is this?  I learned a lot, as I always do with video taping and reviewing my sets/workouts!  I went on to finish out my 20 min 16 second round with multiple sets totaling 370 reps, which I'll go into when I write my post about the entire event.  Gosh, this just solidified the fact that I must do this more often....and lucky me I'll get to do it again three more times this year!


"I will be better, stronger and more fit at the end of next year than I am today!"

How do you know you'll be better, stronger and/or more fit if you don't test yourself with something measurable?  For the first time in a long time I jumped out of bed yesterday morning (at 4:00am) excited and nervous about testing myself!  And now that I've done it I'm even more excited about my workouts this next year! My "One Bell Challenge" I presented gives one many opportunities to measure progress because it's a year long challenge.  One that insists on, and rewards consistency, which is truly the biggest challenge for most people.  "In shape" is not a stationary goal, it's a moving target, and you've got to move to catch it!

Having a starting point lets you map out the route to your next fitness/health destination, so the point of this first one is not to be a hero and try and do each round as one consecutive set.  The idea is to put in effort for sure, but it's more about letting your weaknesses show themselves, with the appropriate weight, so you can improve, and reap the rewards of your commitment in the second challenge (first week of April).

The improvement I want to see in my snatch round is that I want to increase my first continuous set to 12 min.  Total rep count is not the improvement I want to work on, although if it does indeed increase, then all the better.  If I succeed, I mean when I succeed, I'll reevaluate and set another goal for the 3rd challenge (first week of July), and so on and so on!

Choose one, two or three kettle bell skills to test.  How many reps can you complete in 20 minutes, 16 seconds, using that time to work AND rest as needed to collect the data necessary for a baseline starting point. Read my last blog post for all of the details and join me, us, for a great, productive, invigorating, satisfying, rewarding, amazing, most fun 2016!


Monika said...

Happy New Year!
I'm going to join you with the 2016 One Bell Challenge. I haven't even worked with KB's for a whole year now, so my goals are way different then yours.
I'm still working on getting stronger. I've been using 25lbs kb mostly, but in December I've started to use 12kg, 30 and 35lbs kb's. I have a 20kg and 24kg as well, but was just doing Farmers walk with them. A few month ago I wanted to know if I could do a few swings with the 20kg, and did 5 swings.
So this past week, I wanted to know if I had improved at all. Did 10 x 5 reps with 15sec work/30sec off.
This will be my challenge to swing the 20kg as many times in 20:16min as possible.
I'm not quite sure how to train for this yet. It will be my only challenge set.
As I'm working on other goals like military press etc. with way lighter bells, this will have to do. Looking forward to it.
I will do a test later today, as I've done my kb workout in the morning, and forgot about this challenge.

Tracy Reifkind said...

Great way to step up Monika! I'm going to be writing about some different strategies for participants to shoot for and how to program training cycles, short term and long term goals. You can make a long term goal after you get the baseline result. Here is what I caution you about using the 20kg considering you have not been training with it. DON'T BE a HERO! Take as much rest as you need to get GOOD reps. Stay solid and grounded. Once the bell starts swinging you STOP. Recover and keep going. Keep the rep counts low and stay on the SAFE side. The LAST thing I want anybody to do is hurt themselves.

So, with all that being said, there will be many options for you to choose from in order to measure progress, and I'll help you with that! Thank you for your comment and all your support! We're in this together!

Hanneke Schiffleger said...

I like it. I would like a little more information.
Do I understand it correctly that I can chose a different weight for every separate exercise? All three not done on the same day right?
Maybe I should read it again. I do need something to work on this year for myself.
As always, thanks for sharing.

Tracy Reifkind said...

Hanneke, Yep, you have to use the same size bell for all three, but you don't have to choose a swing, and you don't have to choose three skills, only one or two. It's just a little test to use as a way of setting some small goals throughout the year in order to design your own program and be your own inspiration.

My training partner marble choose the push press, front squat and snatch (12kg), no swing. While my other training partner Matt choose the press and swing (20kg)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Spell Check turned "Maribel" (my training partner, into a "marble"!

Monika said...

I did the 20:16 test, and did 5 reps on the minute. It's too much rest cardio wise, but not weight wise. I did 21 sets during that time.

I could have chosen a lighter kb and do 3 sets, but my main goal is getting stronger.

I was doing military press for December and made great progress. I like to have a challenge each month, and overall goals for the year.

And let me just say, heaven help those who do 20 minutes of front squats! ;o)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Monika, AWESOME! And your results exposed exactly what was intended for this challenge! Swinging heavy is more taxing on the cardio than most can imagine, which is what my challenge is when I swing those heavy bells!

21 x 5 = 105

So, maybe your next goal is 21 x 6? Or a ladder, 5,6,7, 5,6,7,5,6,7,etc.... maybe it's sets of 10, with longer rest. 10 reps every 1.5 min x 14 sets = 140, or maybe that's an end goal? Who knows, but what we do know is what you need to work on, which is your conditioning, and that is one of the easiest to just takes not missing any workouts! Woo hoo!

Tracy Reifkind said...

Monika, Oh, and my legs have been seizing all day! And this morning yoga was pure torture after my round of front squats yesterday! lol But I'm loving it!

Diana said...

OMG.....that first video!! I used to LOVE doing my KB workouts in jeans!!
I like the 20:16 idea, I'll have to get off my ass and try it!

Monika said...

Tracy! Yoga is something I haven't done before. My daughter has for years, and she's so strong! She doesn't do any extra strength training. She wanted me to get into it, but it wasn't for me, until now. I've signed up for 30 days Yoga camp with Adriene. Today is day 2. Actually looking forward to it.

I do squats too, goblet and just plain, but never more then 10 at once. :o) I do them in between sets. Maybe someday I will give it a try to do them for time.

I have the book "The RKC Book of Strength and Conditioning" I've only used Mark's workout in it, which is the first workout in the book. It made the most sense to me as I consider myself still a beginner. I think this will work also for this challenge.
And thanks for the tip. I like the ladder idea. Hmm, I also like the 10 reps longer rest idea. :o)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Diana, I know huh! We'll train in some jeans when I'm there next week.....WOOT! It's next week! I'm so looking forward to seeing you and Jeff and Jarod :)

But yes, get off your ass and do a 20:16!

Tracy Reifkind said...

All the best with the yoga! It's like anything...consistency. Don give up, don't give in, just consider yourself a yogi :)

Monika said...

Tracy, I wanted to share this with you, since I thought it funny.
I have 3 dogs. One, male, doesn't like when I do kettlebell workouts (I think because I dropped one in the beginning, in front of him :o)), so he hides in the crate, while I do my practice.

This morning, I was reading blogs, and accidentally clicked on your 10x10 transfer swings video, which I do almost every day for warm up. He heard your voice, and stood up and went into the crate, thinking I would do my training now. :o)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Monika, that's hilarious!

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