Wednesday, January 20, 2016

NYE 20:16 Round #2, Swings, and Tuesday endurance workout 1-2-3

Gosh, it seems as if this was forever ago!  Probably because I took a little trip last week to see my bestie Fawn in St Paul and then off to Milwaukee to snowshoe with Diana (and The Fonz!).  It's become an annual January snow trip, losing a little momentum, but now I'm back to the routine that I love! First things first, I need to finish up journaling my New Years Eve 20:16 results.

Strategy.  First of all my normal workouts are at least 1 hour long, so this is the reason I chose to do 3 twenty minute rounds instead of two.  Maribel, who trains with me on Thursday mornings also chose three rounds, whereas Matt, who trains with me on Saturdays chose two rounds because his workout is normally 45 minutes long, so each of us chose an appropriate length of time.  None of us trained specifically for this test, which was part of the point, instead we were able to see where our strength and endurance would fall given our current conditioning.

Last blog post I journaled about my first round, snatches.  I chose that one first as it was the most important to me, swings next because I wanted the first two rounds to focus on the ballistics, finally slowing down and measuring what kind of strength and endurance I would have at the end with squats, a relatively new skill I've added in the last 1 1/2 years, training more regularly, but again, a ton of room for improvement.

I deleted my swing round from my iPad before posting it, but you can see the first part of it at the end
of my snatch video.  I decided just that morning that I would do only two hand swings, and NO one hand swings, for 2 reasons; I had previously accomplished 1000 continuous one hand swings w/16kg swings, and because the point of this challenge is not continuous "unbroken" sets, it would be impossible to do with two hand swings anyway!  There is no way, until someone proves me wrong, that anybody could do 20 minutes of continuous two hand swings, with the appropriate weight, without it going extremely ugly after the first 200-300 reps (5-7 1/2 minutes), and that's extremely subjective :)  Personally I'm good for about 200, then it's all over!

So you can imagine my surprise when I only got to 20 reps in my first set before I had to put the bell down!  20 reps!  20 reps!  Shocking! Shocking at first, because I think so darn highly of myself apparently!  But not so much after taking into account I had just completed 370 16kg snatches in 20 minutes...duh!  In fact, after that first set of 20 swing reps bitch slapped me it became clear that sets of 20 would be the order of the day! I abandoned any other strategy I thought I had, even if I could increase the length of the reps/sets it would be much easier to keep track and measure improvement by sticking to sets of 20, not tracking rest periods, just starting each set as I felt appropriately recovered from the last.

It took the better part of that 20 minute round, maybe about 12 minutes, before I felt I could do longer sets, say up to 1 minute/40 reps sets.  BUT that was not the point, BUT it was a relief!  It was a relief to finally feel like I hadn't been beaten down with a stick and my recovery between sets was faster.  I recorded 22 sets of 20 reps, and one last set of 16, for a total of 456 two hand swing reps.  20 minutes of "equal work to rest" swings is approximately 400 reps, so to complete almost 60 more reps means that I averaged just under 23 reps per minute....again, tons of room for improvement!

I'm actually surprised by this because it seemed as if I was working at a 2 to 1 ratio, 2 parts work to one part rest (30 sec work, 15 sec rest), but since I don't have the video showing the exact number of reps and sets I have to rely on what I scribbled down on the chalk board :)  It's not my goal to improve this number too much as my main goal is to improve my snatch round while maintaining my swings and squats for the next challenge!  (I just did the math, and if I'm correct I actually wasn't too far off!  20 minute of 30/15 = 466 reps, so 10 reps short, whew!)

Speaking of swings....

Last week I missed a Saturday workout and a Tuesday workout. Although I got a few swings/snatches in on Monday, it's rarely ever close to the regular workouts I get at home and on a schedule.  I got back home late Tuesday night and Thursday mornings are my regular workouts so although tempted as I may have been to pick up a bell the next day I needed to get back to my yoga practice as well.  Wednesday was a yoga day and I picked up almost where I left off on Thursday.  It's really my sport training that suffers the most.  But no official competitions, no pressure.

Yesterday was my first Tuesday practice, after a warm up I completed a simple 80/80 12kg snatch set, then moved on to some swings.  I did a "30" rep themed workout in class last Saturday that I loved so much that I thought I'd practice the progressions again so I can remember it for a future workout video routine.  I'm calling it 1-2-3.

1-2-3- uses 5 swing combinations that are practiced in sets of 10, 20, and 30.

2 hand swing
transfer swings
swing ladders
10/10 (15/15)

Here is the warm up, 200 swings, 10 minutes, where each combination is done in 2 sets of 10 and one set of 20.

The main workout repeats each combination 10, 20, 30 rep sets for 300 swings, 15 minutes.  And since it's my day to build up to and do sets of 60-100 I ended the workout stringing all the combinations together for two sets of 60 and one final set of 90 :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

20:16 NYE 2015 Round #1, 16kg Snatch 372 reps

New Years Eve 2016 results

Round #1, 16kg snatches 372 reps

10 minutes continuous, 20 rpm + 9 = 209
53 sec rest
10 R, 10 L, 10 R, 10 L
34 sec rst
10 R, 10 L, 10 R, 10 L, 5 R, 5 L, 5 R, 5 L = 60
35 sec rest
10, 10, 10, 11 = 41
41 sec rest
10, 10, 2
11 sec rest before;

Round #2 16kg Two Hand Swings
20 sw
14 sec rest
20 sw
etc x 22 sets + 16 = 456 swings

Round #3 16kg Front Squats
5 R/ 5 L x 13 sets
5 R x 5 sets
5 L x 5 sets + 1 rep
181 reps

In this first post of three I'll only be writing about Round #1, my 16kg snatch total.  My training goals over this next year will be to specifically work on only one of the three skills I tested while maintaining the other two skills at their current levels.  I'm going to assume that those totals will also improve, and we'll see, but not losing any strength/endurance in either of the other two rounds is the secondary goal.


Interesting.....  I knew I wanted to snatch for a continuous 10 minute set to start out with, so I did.  The idea was NOT to go all out, but to find a consistent pace and leave some gas in the tank :)  Knowing I was going to put the bell down at the 10 minute mark I sped up my pace slightly to get in a few more reps because, to be honest, I didn't know when I'd be picking up the bell again! This was the only part of the workout that I video taped in it's entirety because this is the part of the challenge I'll work on to make my first goals for improvement.  In the first 20 min., 16 second round I took a total of 2 minutes, 19 seconds of rest.  So roughly 18 minutes of snatching at approx 20.5 rpm (369), OR 18.4 reps per minute over the entire 20:16.

I could choose two ways to set a new goal, each would give me a higher total.  Faster rpm, of course, or longer (less rest).  Hmm....  Well, there's a part of me that would like to make a goal of snatching the 16kg for 20 continuous minutes (and longer!), so I think I'll make that my first goal.  THEN I'll work on speed.

I've got three months to train before I test this again.  Reviewing the video, and going by memory, there was a definite point in the first 10 minutes that it started to feel "hard", and the fatigue came fairly quickly as the weight appeared to feel "heavy" at that point and move slower.  Even though I was keeping pace, the effort that was required could be improved on.  Near the end even doing 10 reps at a time was a drag and I dropped down to switching every 5 before going back to 10's.

Goal #1
12 min continuous set, but stronger!  lol  Plus multiple sets = higher total  So, I'm only going to take away, maybe, 45 seconds of the 2 min 19 seconds of rest I took.  That equals out to about 15 snatch reps.  387 reps
Goal #3
15 min continuous set, plus multiple sets = higher rep total  Again, taking slightly more rest away, maybe 30 seconds, leaving about 1 minute total of rest.  + 10 reps = 397
Goal #4
Only two sets total.  The first set I'll back off a bit and only complete a 12 min set., then up to 1 min rest. (no more), finish off another continuous set until the end or the 20:16.  I'm unable to predict this one actually!  BUT, that being said, the two previous results will be of great importance and study for the last and ultimate test.
Goal 2017
20 minutes continuous 16kg snatch, 415 reps, 20.5 rpm.


Since there is 3 months in between each re-test then my main focus right now is to simply use my regular weekly workouts to tighten up my technique and form.  Allow enough recovery, and then 6-7 weeks out I'll get much more specific in preparation.  Again, the first goal is a 12 min continuous set, which I know I can do now, but I want it to feel a lot easier than that first 10 minute set felt!

I used a black Hardstyle cast iron bell with a large handle diameter.  I tried my best not to use any Sport technique, but double and triple breathing will alway come into play with endurance.

In my next 20:16 post I'll write about Round #2, swings, perhaps the most surprising result of all!

I know a few people commented or dropped me a message/email about their own results, an I thank all that participated.  If you would like some input about how to train for your next test or some thoughts about your results I'd be happy to give them to you, and I'd be thrilled if you share them here, in hopes of maybe inspiring others to do the same :)

I WILL be better next year than I am today, period

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!