Monthly Archives: September 2012

Rite of passage

For the last couple of months I have performed the rite of passage as per Anthony DiLuglio RKC of


It was a great program and one that challenged me for sure. The basic idea of the program is to perform clean and press ladders, pull-ups (optional) and high rep ballistic swings or snatches three times a week. You work up to doing 5 ladders or 5 reps. i.e.…1 rep right,1 rep left, pull-up, then 2 rep right, 2 rep left, 2 pull-ups. Up until you hit 5 rungs. At the end of the sets you perform swings or snatches for a random period of time. The days are split between heavy, light and medium days. The heavy day is 5 ladders of 5 rungs, the light day is 3 ladders of 5 rungs and the medium day is 4 ladders or 5 rungs. You perform easy snatches on the light days and swings on the other days.

I started out with a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell for both the presses and the ballistic movements. I switched the swings/snatches to a 44lb (20kg) kettlebell on week 7 (4 weeks of program minimum then 3 weeks of the Rite of Passage) due to the beating my forearms were taking on the long swing sets. I did the program outlined above and also performed the pull-ups as well. Nearly every pull up I performed was the overhand style in order to work on the muscles of my back in particular. It quickly became apparent that 5 ladders of 5 rungs is a lot of work. This program had you perform this for a month or so. I think it is a great program but I think that if you reach this level you should get the next higher kettlebell and then work your way back up to this level. Once you comfortably achieve 5 ladders or 5 rungs you should move to the next higher kettlebell. With that being said in the last month or so I switched over to the 53lb kettle bell for my swings and snatches. Swings and snatches are brutal to your forearms. Especially at the amounts that are expected in this program. I am going to be focusing on shorter swing sets due to my idea of what swings should be. With the higher swing sets I found that my form would break down. I believe that swings are a power movement that happen to be great at conditioning. Therefore I am going to get a heavier kettlebell and continue this program. In the meantime I am going to do double kettlebell workouts.

I feel strong and fit. I weigh 165 pounds at 5’10, a few months ago I weighed 154. I am not worn down and I also have not had any injuries. I feel confidant that I can continue through this program. Like I said, I am going to get a 28kg (62 pound) kettlebell and continue on until I can press that one for 5 ladders with 5 rungs. I’m also going to do weighted pull-ups. I want to do this program up to the 32kg (72 lb) kettlebell and then move onto doing the double kettlebell program in the Return of the Kettlebell book by Pavel. I have however changed my ballistic portion of the workout. Instead of just doing swings/snatches which I believe is a fantastic program, I have decided to perform a short set (10 swings or 10 snatches (5/side) with a sprint afterwards. I am just starting this program and I am using the jog back from the sprints as my rest period. I think that this is going to work very well, and I intend to keep you informed of the progress as well.

I was really close to moving onto doing the Power to the People program, but doing some double kettlebell workouts and also running across this mans blog changed that vision. I love kettlebells. They are a fantastic workout, they are fun and they are very effective.

As I said, this is a motivating and inspiring blog post here. Feel free to check it out.

Developing my training philophosy

Throughout my lifetime I have been training. Strength and cardiovascularly. I believe that i have been doing it wrong until a few months ago. My methodology changed, my perspective changed. I want to be strong and fit, with a focus towards longevity. I want to find a high level of fitness, with a minimum of time and a maximum of safety. Now, a brief history of my training. I am a US Marine. I have run obstacle course after obstacle course, I have pulled for days, done sit ups for hours and ran mile upon mile. I have carried packs that weighed as much as I for more miles than I would like to remember and I did all of this between 130 and 145 pounds. I was a strong, fit lean mean fighting machine. I worked hard everyday of my life and I was in incredibly good shape. The physical training that I did was based upon deployment cycles and training cycles. I left the Marine Corps strong and fit. However, I think that training philosophy fails in creating stronger, fitter individuals throughout a lifetime. This is the training philosophy of work harder not smarter. Building toughness is the goal of this training philosophy, not strength. Toughness is key as a US Marine, not physical strength. The ability to endure ensures that your mission will be accomplished, not brute strength. After I left active duty I hit the gym. I lifted heavy, gained a lot of strength and weight. I used progressive resistance as my training philosophy, and then I burned myself out and I hopped out of the gym and lost my strength. I didn’t know any other way to train. So I lifted heavy, practiced form and burned myself out. Then I would do it again, work really hard then become sick. Working harder all of the time leads to over training and the possibility of injuries. This is why I have changed my training philosophy. No use in being strong last year. I want to continue strength my gains. I want to ensure a steady dose of training without over training or burning myself out.

With my new methodology (very strongly influenced by Pavel Tsoutline) I have produced results, and i am not worn down. The former will produce results but it will not allow me to continue to gain. In order to do that you must have training specificity. The Marines trained toughness, the ability to gut it through. The Marines expected you to accomplish the mission no matter what. The Marines expected you to be fit, however they did not necessarily expect you to be stronger a year later. I already did 100 situps in two minutes, 20 pull ups and ran a very comfortable 21:30 3 mile run giving me an easy 1st class PFT without hardly even breaking a sweat.

My goal now is to be fitter next year than I am now, and to do that without injury or feeling worn down. I want to increase my strength and endurance in a patterned, structured way. I want to train effectively and intelligently.

My training is now centered around increasing strength with large, functional full body moves; and increasing my cardiovascular fitness. This requires specificity. In order to train strength you must lift heavy. In order to train cardiovascular fitness you must increase your heart rate.

The way that I have chosen to do this is through a year long program. I have spent three months training with a 53lb kettlebell. I have been doing Russian ladders where I am completing 75 clean and presses/side and Pullups for every press. At the end of that I am performing either swings or snatches for a determined time frame. After this program I intend to do a power to the people style workout with a couple of additional exercises. For three months I will do side press, deadlift and floor press. I will work these through using cycles. I will focus on strength training during this portion and then I will continue with the swings/snatches at the end of the workout to train for power and conditioning. In order to continue the gains I will return to kettlebells using the “Return of the Kettlebell” philosophy with a heavier kettlebell. This I will do for three months, then return to the barbells to finish off the year. When I train with weights I will be doing two sets the first go around. Two heavy sets of 5 and then I’ll move on. I’m choosing the floor press because I won’t have a rack at home. The second go around I am considering following the training philosophy laid out in “The Purposeful Primitive” by Marty Gallagher. Starting with sets of 8 and culminating at the end of 3 months with heavy sets of 1. Using additional back off sets to mimic the heavy, light and medium days. Ie…3 sets for the light day, 3sets plus 1 back off set for the medium day and 3 sets and two back off sets for the heavy day. The weights are always 50%, 75% 100% and then the back off sets are at 75%. Always leaving one or two reps left in me. Once I complete the year I will refocus and reset again with heavy kettlebells. I expect my training philosophy to change/develop throughout the year and it to be a little bit different next year, however I think this plan will work wonders for me in regards to developing strength and fitness and also keeping my training interesting.