Monday, May 24, 2021

What does "Accountability" mean to you?

I know what accountability means, and I get it, it's fine, but why does it not always feel right to me?  I admit that sometimes it helps, it motivates, it can even be fun! Let me just get right to the point of this subject on accountability as it relates to a group who's purpose is that of supporting others in their weight loss and fitness desires and/or goals. Okay, there it is, I said it.  Weight loss. I kind of tried to soften it by adding fitness.

Weight loss. It is still a thing? A thing people can admit they want, or have we moved so far into "self love" that we are supposed to settle for whatever we have, whatever we are, in this exact moment, even if it's being of an unhealthy body weight?  Is it a judgment to suggest someone is, or may be, unhealthy because of how much they weigh? Do you think I am measuring others by my standards?  Man, this is getting deep.

Let's get back to the idea of accountability. When does it help and when does it hurt? I think we know right away, I know I do. When I agree to check in with someone else, or a group, and make my progress, or non progress public, if I'm honest, it only feels good when I'm doing what I said I wanted to do!  When I'm not it's the number one sign accountability is not going to work!

I want to find some other way. Another way to remind myself I'm worth it. Another way to remind myself of who I truly am. And that has nothing to do with anyone else but me. 

I'll think about it. What are your thoughts?

 Accountability is when an individual or department experiences consequences for their performance or actions. Accountability is essential for an organization and for a society. Without it, it is difficult to get people to assume ownership of their own actions because they believe they will not face any consequences.

Monday, January 2, 2017

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!

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....